2. THE BLESSING 8-22 a. Jacob changes the birthright. The first few verses set the scene for what follows. Jacob is sitting in bed while he talks to Joseph. Jacob has poor eyesight due to his age but can see enough that there are two other people with Joseph. Jacob asks who is with Joseph and Joseph explains that they are his two sons. Jacob hugs and kisses them and explains that he never thought that he would see Joseph’s face again but God has not only allowed him to see Joseph but his two children as well. When the Bible says that Joseph removed his boys from his knees and then bowed we must remember that Manasseh and Ephraim are not little kids. We know that they were born before Jacob arrived in Egypt and that Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years so the boys are both around 20 years old. Joseph, in respect to the birth order of his sons, places Ephraim at Jacob’s left hand and Manasseh at his right. The right would be where the older son would be, hence the right-hand man. But Jacob reaches out and crosses his hands. Here we have the preference of the younger over the older. Joseph noticed that Jacob had crossed his hands and tried to correct his father but Jacob refuses. He knows what he is doing. He has intentionally placed Ephraim in the place of firstborn, not Manasseh. Yes, Manasseh would be a great nation, but Ephraim would be greater than him. b. The God of the Fathers. Now let’s look at the blessing of Jacob. First, Jacob calls upon the God before whom his fathers Abraham and Isaac walked. The idea of walking before God has been a theme that we have seen in the book of Genesis. If you were to turn back to Enoch we were told that he walked with God. Move forward in time from there and you come to Noah who also walked with God. Of course, we remember the stories of both Abraham and Isaac and their walking with God. This theme is not just confined to the book of Genesis. We find the command to walk with God in his ways over and over again in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Joshua, as the eastern tribes were departing called upon the people to love God and to walk in his ways. However, in the book of Judges, we find, “They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.” King David as he was approaching death, charged his son Solomon to walk in the way of God. Solomon on the day that the temple was dedicated said that God keeps his covenant and shows steadfast love to those who walk before him. Also that Israel would never lack a man to sit on the throne as long as the walked before God. The prophets mention it many times. And it continues on into the New Testament as many of the writers speak of walking with God. This phrase then links the faith of the earliest people to the faith that we find in ourselves. The God that Jacob walked before and called upon in our God. c. The Shepherd God. Jacob also saw God as his shepherd. Jacob knew all about what it meant to be a shepherd and so this imagery would have been very real and important to him. He recognizes at the end of his life that God had been guarding and guiding his life all along. As we grow older this ought to be our perspective. We look back and see the events of our lives through the lens of God’s shepherding. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down. He leads me. He uses his rod and staff on and for me. Many years later, Jesus came and said, “I am the good shepherd.” Jacob’s shepherd is our shepherd too. d. The redeeming angel. Jacob also calls God, “the angel who has redeemed me.” Jacob’s days were few and evil and yet the angel of the Lord had redeemed him from it all. This is what Zechariah knew as he prophesied, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us.” This is what the disciples on the road to Emmaus were hoping for, that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. They were foolish and slow to believe but they did after Jesus explained to them what the prophets had said. The angel who redeemed Jacob from all evil has done the same for all God’s people. e. Equal recipients. Jacob calls upon God to bless Manasseh and Ephraim, that the names of Abraham and Isaac and his name would be carried on and that they would grow into a multitude like the fish of the sea. This would place Ephraim and Manasseh at the same level and equal recipients of the covenant as the other sons of Jacob. f. Examples of blessing. Finally, if you skip down to verse 20 we find the end of the blessing. Because God would make Ephraim and Manasseh’s descendants so numerous the people of Israel will use them as a blessing. They will bless each other saying, “God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.”