By: Ely Lagajino
“…but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”Genesis 48:19 (NKJV)
Jacob or Israel becomes weak and could hardly see. As he feels his death nearing, he sends an invitation for his sons to come and receive the last tribute regarding their future.
Joseph arrives with his two sons as Jacob regains his remaining strength and sits up from the bed. Joseph introduces his sons to Israel, “These are my sons Manasseh and Ephraim, as the boys kissed their grandpa.
These young people must be the inheritors of the highest order of Egyptian priesthood through their mother and the opportunity to receive fame and wealth in the Egyptian court”. But, Joseph desires them to be shepherds serving the true God.
Then Israel asks them to sit on his side. Joseph arranges their proper position. Manasseh, the firstborn, sits on the right side and Ephraim on the left side. Israel says, “I will adopt them as my own sons. They will become the heads of separate tribes.” (PP p.240). Joseph receives a “double portion” of the inheritance, by dividing the inheritance between his two sons(Genesis 48:5).
Before the blessing, Israel crosses over his hands and place them on their heads.
Joseph is troubled. He thinks because of his father’s old age, he must have been suffering from Alzheimer’s, so Joseph tries to move his father’s right hand that falls on Ephraim, the younger, but the old man refuses and says, “I know my son, I know. He, too, will become a people, and he also will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he” (Genesis, 48:19). Israel is on God’s spirit as he blesses them; “whenever the Israelites bless someone they will say, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” By saying this he puts Ephraim ahead of Manasseh (Genesis 48:19, 20).
Centuries later, Ephraim is referred to as the whole northern kingdom of Israel. (Isa. 7:12-17) Jeroboam, its first king, came from the tribe of Ephraim. While Manasseh’s territory comprises the main cities of Samaria, Shechem, Meggido, and others under the northern kingdom. The blessing are fulfilled.