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Jacob Blessed Joseph’s Sons

Jacob lived a long and colorful life with more than his fair share of highs and lows starting from Genesis 25 up to Genesis 50. His history is listed on the Biblical Timeline Chart around 1704 BC. After his clan’s migration from Canaan to Egypt at the behest of his son Joseph, Jacob lived 17 more years. Bringing his age to a total of 147 at the time of his death (Genesis 47:28). In Genesis 48, old age had taken its toll on his body and the end of his life drew near. With his death fast approaching, he called Joseph to his side and made his son swear to transport his body out of Egypt and bury him where Abraham and Isaac were buried (Cave of Machpelah in Hebron).

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Not long after, Jacob fell ill. Joseph took his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to his father to have them blessed before Jacob died (Genesis 48). These were his sons by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of On (Heliopolis). The boys were born to Joseph in Egypt, but Jacob claimed them as his own (Genesis 48:5) and gave them his blessing. This is why after the establishment of Israel in Canaan, the Promised Land land was divided among the original ten sons of Jacob (except Joseph and Levi), plus Manasseh and Ephraim.

Jacob blesses Ephraim and Manasseh

His eyesight was failing, so Joseph had to introduce his sons to his father. Following the custom back in the days of the patriarchs, older sons were placed on the right side, and younger ones were placed on the left side for the blessing. Jacob crossed his arms and laid his left hand on the older Manasseh’s head and favored the younger Ephraim with his right hand.

This perplexed Joseph, and he tried to correct his father, but for unknown reasons Jacob was bent on giving the younger Ephraim a greater portion of the blessing. This draws a parallel to the case of the other patriarchs when the younger son is favored by the father above the older one, including the cases of Ishmael and Isaac, as well as Esau and Jacob. The chapter is followed by Jacob giving all of his sons blessings in Genesis 49.

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