Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
Last week, we read of Jacob’s emotional reunion with his son Joseph. Not only was he reunited with the son he thought he had lost years before, but he was introduced to two grandchildren!
The grandsons were named Manasseh (the firstborn) and Ephraim. What we read about in Genesis 48 is a formal ceremony whereby Jacob was adopting Joseph’s sons as his own (verse 5). This was done for the purpose of passing the birthright blessing to them. Remember, the birthright blessing of national greatness was passed from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob (bypassing Esau) and was now being given to Joseph (bypassing Reuben) through his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The birthright was now, for the first time, being divided between two brothers.
How this ceremony took place is fascinating.
Since Manasseh was the firstborn of the two brothers, Joseph had placed him on Jacob’s right side. The primary blessing was always given through the right hand (considered the hand of strength and dominance). The lesser blessing would be given to Ephraim by being blessed with the left hand. That’s how the blessings would have been given if Jacob had merely reached forward and blessed them. But he did something unexpected.
Jacob stretched out his right hand to the boy on his left (Ephraim) and his left hand to the boy on his right (Manasseh). In other words, he crossed his arms. This wasn’t a mistake, but was the full intention of Jacob under the inspiration of God (verse 14).
Joseph was confused when he saw this occurring and tried to correct his father (verse 17). But Jacob assured Joseph that this was the way it was meant to be.
Jacob, with his arms crossed, proceeded to pass the birthright blessings on to Ephraim and Manasseh. Tomorrow’s Daily Bible Verse Blog post will cover the amazing promises that were passed on to these two young brothers.
To learn more about the original promises given to Abraham, read “Promises to Abraham.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “Birthright Blessings Passed to Joseph’s Sons.”