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Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons


After this Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” he summoned his strength and sat up in bed. 3And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and he blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers; I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your offspring after you for a perpetual holding.’ 5Therefore your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are now mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are. 6As for the offspring born to you after them, they shall be yours. They shall be recorded under the names of their brothers with regard to their inheritance. 7For when I came from Paddan, Rachel, alas, died in the land of Canaan on the way, while there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, and he could not see well. So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I did not expect to see your face; and here God has let me see your children also.” 12Then Joseph removed them from his father’s knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them near him. 14But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15He blessed Joseph, and said,

“The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,


the angel who has redeemed me from all harm, bless the boys;

and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac;

and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father! Since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” 19But his father refused, and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will invoke blessings, saying,

‘God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.’ ”

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your ancestors. 22I now give to you one portion more than to your brothers, the portion that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

15. God before whom. Although Jacob knew that a dispensation of the grace of God was committed to him, in order that he might effectually bless his grandchildren; yet he arrogates nothing to himself, but suppliantly resorts to prayer, lest he should, in the least degree, detract from the glory of God. For as he was the legitimate administrator of the blessing, so it behaved him to acknowledge God as its sole Author. And hence a common rule is to be deduced for all the ministers and pastors of the Church. For though they are not only called witnesses of celestial grace, but are also entrusted with the dispensation of spiritual gifts; yet when they are compared with God, they are nothing; because he alone contains all things within himself. Wherefore let them learn willingly to keep their own place, lest they should obscure the name of God. And truly, since the Lord, by no means, appoints his ministers, with the intention of derogating from his own power; therefore, mortal man cannot, without sacrilege, desire to seem anything separate from God. In the words of Jacob we must note, first, that he invokes God, in whose sight his fathers Abraham and Isaac had walked: for since the blessing depended upon the covenant entered into with them, it was necessary that their faith should be an intervening link between them and their descendants. God had chosen them and their posterity for a people unto himself: but the promise was efficacious for this reason, because, being apprehended by faith, it had taken a lively root. And thus it came to pass, that they transmitted the light of succession to Jacob himself. We now see that he does not bring forward, in vain, or unseasonably, that faith of the fathers, without which he would not have been a legitimate successor of grace, by the covenant of God: not that Abraham and Isaac had acquired so great an honor for themselves, and their posterity; or were, in themselves, so excellent; but because the Lord seals and sanctions by faith, those benefits which he promises us, so that they shall not fail.

The God which fed me. Jacob now descends to his own feelings, and states that from his youth he had constantly experienced, in various ways, the divine favor towards him. He had before made the knowledge of God received through his word, and the faith of his fathers, the basis of the blessing he pronounces; he now adds another confirmation from experience itself; as if he would say, that he was not pronouncing a blessing which consisted in an empty sound of words, but one of which he had himself enjoyed the fruit, all his life long. Now though God causes his sun to shine indiscriminately on the good and evil, and feeds unbelievers as well as believers: yet because he affords, only to the latter, the peculiar sense of his paternal love in the use of his gifts, Jacob rightly uses this as a reason for the confirmation of his faith, that he had always been protected by the help of God. Unbelievers are fed, even to the full, by the liberality of God: but they gorge themselves, like swine, which, while acorns are falling for them from the trees, yet have their snouts fixed to the earth. But in God’s benefits this is the principal thing, that they are pledges or tokens of his paternal love towards us. Jacob, therefore, from the sense of piety, with which the children of God are endued, rightly adduces, as proof of the promised grace, whatever good things God had bestowed upon him; as if he would say, that he himself was a decisive example to show how truly and faithfully the Lord had engaged by covenant to be a father to the children of Abraham. Let us also learn hence, carefully to consider and meditate upon whatever benefits we receive from the hand of God, that they may prove so many supports for the confirmation of our faith. The best method of seeking God is to begin at his word; after this, (if I may so speak,) experimental knowledge is added. Now whereas, in this place, the singular gratitude of the holy man is conspicuous; yet this circumstance adds to his honor, that, while involved in manifold sufferings, by which he was almost borne down, he celebrates the continual goodness of God. For although, by the rare and wonderful power of God, he had been, in an extraordinary manner, delivered from many dangers; yet it was a mark of an exalted and courageous mind, to be able to surmount so many and so great obstacles, to fly on the wings of faith to the goodness of God, and instead of being overwhelmed by a mass of evils, to perceive the same goodness in the thickest darkness.

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