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Bible: What Does Genesis 47-48 Teach Us About God's Blessing?
Pharaoh Shows Favor to Israel's Sons
Joseph's Godly Wisdom Saves the Known World From Famine
After Joseph informs Pharaoh that his family has arrived with all their goods, he presents five brothers to the king who subsequently questions them about their occupation (vv. 1-3a).
They reveal that they are “shepherds,” who have come to dwell in Goshen with Pharaoh’s permission (vv. 3-4).
Not only does Pharaoh allow them to live on the best of Goshen’s land, but he also instructs Joseph to put any competent brothers over his (i.e., Pharaoh’s) livestock (vv. 5-6).
In due time Israel approaches the king of Egypt and blesses him (vv. 7, 10; cf. Heb. 7:7).
At Pharaoh’s inquiry, Israel tells him his age, and then adds that his life has been short and difficult (vv. 8-9).
Joseph takes charge after his family leaves Pharaoh’s court, giving them land in Goshen and providing bread for them during the famine (vv. 11-12).
[The best of Goshen is “the best of the land of Rameses” (v. 11)].
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Joseph's Wise Administration
As the famine worsens, Joseph gathers into Pharaoh’s house all the money used for grain in Egypt and Canaan (vv. 13-14).
When no money remains, the people seek Joseph to feed them; he tells them to give him their livestock for food (vv. 15-17).
The next year they give Joseph their land and themselves as servants (vv. 18-19).
The entire land now belongs to Pharaoh (v. 20), and Joseph moves the people into the cities (v. 21).
[Many MSS say that Joseph “made the people virtual slaves.”]
Only the priests’ lands does Joseph leave alone, for Pharaoh had allotted these portions to them (v. 22).
After Joseph instructs the people to give Pharaoh twenty percent of their harvest, and keep the rest for their own needs, the people proclaim Joseph their savior and Pharaoh their master (vv. 23-25).
Joseph makes this twenty percent property “tax” Egyptian law (v. 26).
Israel the nation prospers in Goshen, and Israel the individual lives seventeen more years (vv. 27-28).
As a final request, Jacob (Israel) asks Joseph to bury him in Canaan in his fathers’ burial land; the latter responds affirmatively with a vow and Israel worships the LORD (vv. 29-31).
Ephraim and Manasseh
Israel Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh
When Israel calls Joseph to his deathbed, the latter brings his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, with him (vv. 1-2).
Israel then recounts to Joseph his vision of God Almighty at Bethel during which He promised him many descendants and a good land (vv. 3-4; cf. 28:13, 19; 35: 9-15).
He claims Joseph’s sons belong to him and possess an equal status with any of his own sons (v. 5).
All sons born to Joseph hereafter will “be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance,” and they will belong to Joseph (v. 6).
[Joseph’s future sons will return to Canaan to take possession of the land given to Ephraim and Manasseh, and will be called Ephraim and Manasseh].
Then Israel recalls burying his beloved wife Rachel at Bethlehem (v. 7).
[Why does he mention this incident now?]
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Israel Switches Hands
Finding Joseph’s sons nearby, Israel (who is nearly blind) embraces and blesses them (vv. 8-10).
Verse 11 seems to indicate that Israel has received revelation concerning Ephraim and Manasseh.
After bowing with respect, Joseph directs his sons to the proper “hand” according to birthright—Ephraim to Israel’s left and Manasseh to Israel’s right (vv. 12-13).
However, showing the LORD’s sovereign choice, Israel switches hands, putting his right hand on the head of the younger son, Ephraim (v. 14).
Calling upon Elohim, his Provider and Redeemer, Israel honors Joseph by blessing the boys with many descendants (vv. 15-16).
Seeing what he thinks is the mistake of an old man, Joseph tries to correct his father by transferring his hand from Ephraim to Manasseh (vv. 17-18).
Israel knows exactly what he is doing, however, proclaiming that Ephraim will be greater than Manasseh (v. 19).
[Were the sons old enough to understand what was happening?
How might this knowledge have affected their future relationship?]
Israel then blesses both boys, but places Ephraim before his brother (v. 20).
Finally, besides announcing his imminent death, he tells Joseph that the latter will return to Canaan where he will enjoy one portion of land (lit. “shoulder”) above his brothers.
Israel seems to refer to a burial ground in Shechem (vv. 21-22; cf. Josh. 24:32 with Gen. 33:19; 34:28. See also John 4:5).
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