Sunday, January 18, 2004

Jacob's blessings and death, the death of Joseph: Genesis 48-50

Genesis 48

Jacob Blesses Manasseh and Ephraim

1One day not long after this, word came to Joseph that his father was failing rapidly. So Joseph went to visit him, and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Jacob heard that Joseph had arrived, he gathered his strength and sat up in bed to greet him.
3Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 4He said to me, `I will make you a multitude of nations, and I will give this land of Canaan to you and your descendants as an everlasting possession.' 5Now I am adopting as my own sons these two boys of yours, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born here in the land of Egypt before I arrived. They will inherit from me just as Reuben and Simeon will. 6But the children born to you in the future will be your own. The land they inherit will be within the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh. 7As I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died in the land of Canaan. We were still on the way, just a short distance from Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). So with great sorrow I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath."

8Then Jacob[a] looked over at the two boys. "Are these your sons?" he asked.

9"Yes," Joseph told him, "these are the sons God has given me here in Egypt."

And Jacob said, "Bring them over to me, and I will bless them."

10Now Jacob was half blind because of his age and could hardly see. So Joseph brought the boys close to him, and Jacob kissed and embraced them. 11Then Jacob said to Joseph, "I never thought I would see you again, but now God has let me see your children, too."

12Joseph took the boys from their grandfather's knees, and he bowed low to him. 13Then he positioned the boys so Ephraim was at Jacob's left hand and Manasseh was at his right hand. 14But Jacob crossed his arms as he reached out to lay his hands on the boys' heads. So his right hand was on the head of Ephraim, the younger boy, and his left hand was on the head of Manasseh, the older.

15Then he blessed Joseph and said, "May God, the God before whom my grandfather Abraham and my father, Isaac, walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life, 16and the angel who has kept me from all harm--may he bless these boys. May they preserve my name and the names of my grandfather Abraham and my father, Isaac. And may they become a mighty nation."

17But Joseph was upset when he saw that his father had laid his right hand on Ephraim's head. So he lifted it to place it on Manasseh's head instead. 18"No, Father," he said, "this one over here is older. Put your right hand on his head."

19But his father refused. "I know what I'm doing, my son," he said. "Manasseh, too, will become a great people, but his younger brother will become even greater. His descendants will become a multitude of nations!" 20So Jacob blessed the boys that day with this blessing: "The people of Israel will use your names to bless each other. They will say, `May God make you as prosperous as Ephraim and Manasseh.' " In this way, Jacob put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21Then Jacob said to Joseph, "I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to Canaan, the land of your ancestors. 22And I give you an extra portion[b] beyond what I have given your brothers--the portion that I took from the Amorites with my sword and bow."

Genesis 48:8 Hebrew Israel; also in 48:10, 11, 13, 14, 21.
Genesis 48:22 Or give you the ridge of land. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

Genesis 49

Jacob Blesses His Sons

1Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, "Gather around me, and I will tell you what is going to happen to you in the days to come.

2 "Come and listen, O sons of Jacob;
listen to Israel, your father.

3 "Reuben, you are my oldest son,
the child of my vigorous youth.
You are first on the list in rank and honor.

4 But you are as unruly as the waves of the sea,
and you will be first no longer. For you slept with one of my wives;
you dishonored me in my own bed.

5 "Simeon and Levi are two of a kind--
men of violence.

6 O my soul, stay away from them.
May I never be a party to their wicked plans. For in their anger they murdered men,
and they crippled oxen just for sport.

7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
cursed be their wrath, for it is cruel. Therefore, I will scatter their descendants
throughout the nation of Israel.

8 "Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You will defeat your enemies.
All your relatives will bow before you.

9 Judah is a young lion
that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down;
like a lioness--who will dare to rouse him?

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,[a]
the one whom all nations will obey.

11 He ties his foal to a grapevine,
the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine
because his harvest is so plentiful.

12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth are whiter than milk.

13 "Zebulun will settle on the shores of the sea
and will be a harbor for ships;
his borders will extend to Sidon.

14 "Issachar is a strong beast of burden,
resting among the sheepfolds.[b]

15 When he sees how good the countryside is,
how pleasant the land, he will bend his shoulder to the task
and submit to forced labor.

16 "Dan will govern his people
like any other tribe in Israel.

17 He will be a snake beside the road,
a poisonous viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels
so the rider is thrown off.

18 I trust in you for salvation, O LORD!

19 "Gad will be plundered by marauding bands,
but he will turn and plunder them.

20 "Asher will produce rich foods,
food fit for kings.

21 "Naphtali is a deer let loose,
producing magnificent fawns.

22 "Joseph is a fruitful tree,
a fruitful tree beside a fountain.
His branches reach over the wall.

23 He has been attacked by archers,
who shot at him and harassed him.

24 But his bow remained strong,
and his arms were strengthened by the Mighty One of Jacob,
the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.

25 May the God of your ancestors help you;
may the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above,
blessings of the earth beneath,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.

26 May the blessings of your ancestors
be greater than the blessings of the eternal mountains,
reaching to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. These blessings will fall on the head of Joseph,
who is a prince among his brothers.

27 "Benjamin is a wolf that prowls.
He devours his enemies in the morning,
and in the evening he divides the plunder."
28These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and these are the blessings with which Jacob[c] blessed his twelve sons. Each received a blessing that was appropriate to him.

Jacobs Death and Burial

29Then Jacob told them, "Soon I will die. Bury me with my father and grandfather in the cave in Ephron's field. 30This is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a permanent burial place. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried. There Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, are buried. And there I buried Leah. 32It is the cave that my grandfather Abraham bought from the Hittites." 33Then when Jacob had finished this charge to his sons, he lay back in the bed, breathed his last, and died.


Genesis 49:10 Or until tribute is brought to him and the peoples obey; traditionally rendered until Shiloh comes.
Genesis 49:14 Or saddlebags, or hearths.
Genesis 49:28 Hebrew Israel.

Genesis 50

1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2Then Joseph told his morticians to embalm the body. 3The embalming process took forty days, and there was a period of national mourning for seventy days. 4When the period of mourning was over, Joseph approached Pharaoh's advisers and asked them to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf. 5He told them, "Tell Pharaoh that my father made me swear an oath. He said to me, `I am about to die; take my body back to the land of Canaan, and bury me in our family's burial cave.' Now I need to go and bury my father. After his burial is complete, I will return without delay."
6Pharaoh agreed to Joseph's request. "Go and bury your father, as you promised," he said. 7So Joseph went, with a great number of Pharaoh's counselors and advisers--all the senior officers of Egypt. 8Joseph also took his brothers and the entire household of Jacob. But they left their little children and flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. 9So a great number of chariots, cavalry, and people accompanied Joseph.

10When they arrived at the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan River, they held a very great and solemn funeral, with a seven-day period of mourning for Joseph's father. 11The local residents, the Canaanites, renamed the place Abel-mizraim,[a] for they said, "This is a place of very deep mourning for these Egyptians." 12So Jacob's sons did as he had commanded them. 13They carried his body to the land of Canaan and buried it there in the cave of Machpelah. This is the cave that Abraham had bought for a permanent burial place in the field of Ephron the Hittite, near Mamre.

Joseph Reassures His Brothers

14Then Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father's funeral. 15But now that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers became afraid. "Now Joseph will pay us back for all the evil we did to him," they said. 16So they sent this message to Joseph: "Before your father died, he instructed us 17to say to you: `Forgive your brothers for the great evil they did to you.' So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive us." When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. 18Then his brothers came and bowed low before him. "We are your slaves," they said.
19But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you? 20As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people. 21No, don't be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families." And he spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them.

The Death of Joseph

22So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph was 110 years old when he died. 23He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim and the children of Manasseh's son Makir, who were treated as if they were his own.
24"Soon I will die," Joseph told his brothers, "but God will surely come for you, to lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he vowed to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

25Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, "When God comes to lead us back to Canaan, you must take my body back with you." 26So Joseph died at the age of 110. They embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.


Genesis 50:11 Abel-mizraim means "mourning of the Egyptians."