Genesis 48:5
And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
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(5) As Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.—That is, Ephraim shall be regarded as my firstborn, and Manasseh as my second son. This was undoubtedly the case; for though “Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the prince (and of him the Messiah), yet the birthright was Joseph’s” (1Chronicles 5:2). The legal right of the firstborn was a double share of the father’s goods. This was bestowed upon Joseph in giving him two tribes, and to the other· sons but one. It was in a spiritual sense, and with reference to the promise that all mankind should be blessed in Jacob’s seed, that the birthright was Judah’s. As Joseph was the son of the chief and best-beloved wife, he had a sort of claim to the birthright; but in agreement with the law afterwards specially enacted (Deuteronomy 21:15-17), Jacob acknowledges that the right had belonged to Reuben, but excludes him from the possession of it as the penalty of his great and terrible sin. Simeon and Levi are next passed over, because of their cruelty, and so Judah takes Reuben’s place.

Genesis 48:5. Thy two sons are mine — By adoption: I shall own them as if they were my immediate children, and each of them shall have an equal share both in my present property, and in the future inheritance of Canaan with the rest of my children. Thus Jacob transfers the double portion, which was the right of the firstborn, upon Joseph, because Reuben fell from it by transgression; concerning which see Genesis 49:4, and 1 Chronicles 5:1. As Reuben and Simeon — Whom he names as being the eldest, and who, if any, might seem to claim a privilege above the rest.48:1-7 The death-beds of believers, with the prayers and counsels of dying persons, are suited to make serious impressions upon the young, the gay, and the prosperous: we shall do well to take children on such occasions, when it can be done properly. If the Lord please, it is very desirable to bear our dying testimony to his truth, to his faithfulness, and the pleasantness of his ways. And one would wish so to live, as to give energy and weight to our dying exhortations. All true believers are blessed at their death, but all do not depart equally full of spiritual consolations. Jacob adopted Joseph's two sons. Let them not succeed their father, in his power and grandeur in Egypt; but let them succeed in the inheritance of the promise made to Abraham. Thus the aged dying patriarch teaches these young persons to take their lot with the people of God. He appoints each of them to be the head of a tribe. Those are worthy of double honour, who, through God's grace, break through the temptations of worldly wealth and preferment, to embrace religion in disgrace and poverty. Jacob will have Ephraim and Manasseh to know, that it is better to be low, and in the church, than high, and out of it.After these things. - After the arrangements concerning the funeral, recorded in the chapter. "Menasseh and Ephraim." They seem to have accompanied their father from respectful affection to their aged relative. "Israel strengthened himself" - summoned his remaining powers for the interview, which was now to him an effort. "God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz." From the terms of the blessing received it is evident that Jacob here refers to the last appearance of God to him at Bethel Genesis 35:11. "And now thy sons." After referring to the promise of a numerous offspring, and of a territory which they are to inherit, he assigns to each of the two sons of Joseph, who were born in Egypt, a place among his own sons, and a separate share in the promised land. In this way two shares fall to Joseph. "And thy issue." We are not informed whether Joseph had any other sons. But all such are to be reckoned in the two tribes of which Ephraim and Menasseh are the heads. These young men are now at least twenty and nineteen years of age, as they were born before the famine commenced. Any subsequent issue that Joseph might have, would be counted among the generations of their children. "Rachel died upon me" - as a heavy affliction falling upon me. The presence of Joseph naturally leads the father's thoughts to Rachel, the beloved mother of his beloved son, whose memory he honors in giving a double portion to her oldest son.5. thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh—It was the intention of the aged patriarch to adopt Joseph's sons as his own, thus giving him a double portion. The reasons for this procedure are stated (1Ch 5:1, 2).

are mine—Though their connections might have attached them to Egypt and opened to them brilliant prospects in the land of their nativity, they willingly accepted the adoption (Heb 11:25).

Thy two sons are mine, by adoption: I shall own them as if they were my immediate children, and each of them shall have equal share, both in my present estate, and future inheritance of Canaan, with the rest of my children. Thus Jacob transfers the double portion, which was the right of the first-born, from which Reuben by his transgression fell, Genesis 49:4, upon Joseph, 1 Chronicles 5:1. He names the two eldest, who, if any, might seem to claim a greater privilege than the rest. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh,.... Ephraim was the youngest, but is mentioned first, as he afterwards was preferred in the blessing of him:

which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt; and therefore must be twenty years of age, or upwards: for Jacob had been in Egypt seventeen years, and he came there when there had been two years of famine, and Joseph's sons were born to him before the years of famine began, Genesis 41:50; of these Jacob says, they

are mine: as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine; that is, by adoption; should be reckoned not as his grandchildren, but as his children, even as his two eldest sons, Reuben and Simeon; and so should be distinct tribes or heads of them, as his sons would be, and have a distinct part and portion in the land of Canaan; and thus the birthright was transferred from Reuben, because of his incest, to Joseph, who in his posterity had a double portion assigned him.

And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
5. are mine] Joseph’s sons are adopted into the family of Jacob (cf. Joshua 14:4); and the account records their acknowledgment to be full tribes in the parent stock of Israel.

Ephraim and Manasseh] Observe the change in order. The writer of P here, as E in Genesis 48:20, gives the precedent to the recipient of the greater blessing. But, while this order is found in Numbers 1:10, Joshua 17:17, the other is the more usual; cf. Joshua 14:4; Joshua 16:4.Verses 5, 6. - And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt (vide Genesis 41:50-52) before I came unto thee into Egypt, - this would almost seem to imply that Jacob knew of Joseph's having had sons born to him since his (Jacob's) arrival at Goshen - are mine (i.e. I shall reckon them as my own sons, giving them an equal place with the other members of my family); as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine - literally, Ephraim and Manasseh, as Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine. The double portion thus conferred upon Joseph in the persons of his son? was a practical investiture of him with the birthright of which Reuben had been deprived (1 Chronicles 5:1), in respect at least of the inheritance; in respect of the honor of being the next connecting link in the chain of redemption, leading on and down to the coming of the Savior, the birthright appears to have been transferred to Judah (Genesis 49:8-10). And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine (i.e. shall be reckoned in thine own family), and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. They should not form heads of separate tribes, but be ranked under the banners of Ephraim and Manasseh. It is uncertain whether Joseph had more sons than two (vide supra); if he had, they were included in the families of their brethren, as here directed (cf. Numbers 26:28-37; 1 Chronicles 7:14-29). Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years. He then sent for Joseph, as he felt that his death was approaching; and having requested him, as a mark of love and faithfulness, not to bury him in Egypt, but near his fathers in Canaan, he made him assure him on oath (by putting his hand under his hip, vid., p. 164) that his wishes should be fulfilled. When Joseph had taken this oath, "Israel bowed (in worship) upon the bed's head." He had talked with Joseph while sitting upon the bed; and when Joseph had promised to fulfil his wish, he turned towards the head of the bed, so as to lie with his face upon the bed, and thus worshipped God, thanking Him for granting his wish, which sprang from living faith in the promises of God; just as David also worshipped upon his bed (1 Kings 1:47-48). The Vulgate rendering is correct: adoravit Deum conversus ad lectuli caput. That of the lxx, on the contrary, is προσεκύνησεν Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ τὸ ἄδρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ (i.e., המּטּה); and the Syriac and Itala have the same (cf. Hebrews 11:21). But no fitting sense can be obtained from this rendering, unless we think of the staff with which Jacob had gone through life, and, taking αὐτου therefore in the sense of αὑτοῦ, assume that Jacob made use of the staff to enable him to sit upright in bed, and so prayed, bent upon or over it, though even then the expression המטה ראשׁ remains a strange one; so that unquestionably this rendering arose from a false reading of המטה, and is not proved to be correct by the quotation in Hebrews 11:21. "Adduxit enim lxx Interpr. versionem Apostolus, quod ea tum usitata esset, non quod lectionem illam praeferendam judicaret (Calovii Bibl. illustr. ad h. l.).
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