The Ability to Bless

KEY VERSE: “His father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.” —Genesis 48:19


THIS SUBJECT BRINGS to mind the Almighty God, who has given to mankind the greatest of all blessings—his Son, Jesus Christ. Our lesson, centered around Joseph, reminds us of how in so many experiences of his life he pictured our Lord.

Jacob was about to die, and a messenger sent word to Joseph, who quickly went to the bedside of his aged father, bringing his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him. On this solemn occasion Jacob had the Lord uppermost in his mind and heart, and related to Joseph the covenant he had made with him at Luz, or Bethel. This was when he was favored with the inspiring vision of the ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with the Lord standing at the top, and angels ascending and descending upon it. (Gen. 28:10-13) This was a renewal of the covenant which God had made with Abraham to bless all the families of the earth.—Gen. 29:1

Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph and adopted them as his own sons, making them heads of tribes. Jacob indicates that these two sons of Joseph were to take the place of his own sons, Reuben and Simeon. Ephraim’s chief blessing as the adopted son of Jacob seems to have been that his tribe received the largest and choicest portion of the land when Canaan was divided under the leadership of Joshua.

Joseph, realizing that his father’s eyesight was failing, took precautions to place the boys before him in the proper positions according to their ages. But Jacob purposefully ignored this in giving them his blessing.

When Joseph saw that Jacob blessed Ephraim as the firstborn instead of Manasseh, he endeavored to interfere, supposing it to be wrong. Jacob explained that although Manasseh would become the head of a great tribe, or people, the tribe of Ephraim would become much more numerous, and that in their relationship to each other the two would be known as Ephraim and Manasseh.

Even though Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn, he forfeited his inheritance to the birthright, as the scripture explains: “Reuben was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph.”—I Chron. 5:1,2, NIV

Even as he lay dying, Jacob was certain that his people would be brought out of Egypt and into the Land of Promise. “Behold I die: but the Lord shall be with you,” he reassured Joseph, “and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.”—Gen. 48:21

Although the covenant with Abraham emphasized God’s purpose to bless all the families of the earth through his ‘seed,’ it was the land that God promised in that covenant which often seemed to be the major consideration in the minds of the Israelites. But Jacob did not forget the much broader features of the covenant, made so clear in Galatians. Paul wrote: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”—Gal. 3:8,9

Dawn Bible Students Association
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