When parents go before us, living long lives of faith in God with endurance to follow in His ways, they have an urgency in their hearts to pass on to us what is most important to them.  Especially to those who love them deeply, respect them, are at their sides, holding their hands.  I have experienced sitting with my mom as she passed from this life to the arms of Jesus. Six years later, the same for dad.  Mom, the practical, retired professional secretary, asked for a legal paid to write down her final instructions and blessings along with love and affection for dad and her two kids when she could no longer speak clearly.  Being the oldest, I received explicit instructions written on a yellow legal pad (so appropriate for mom) days before she died.  She already had a plan, she just wanted to make sure I knew, so she wrote, a sentence or phrase at a time, while oxygen was being pumped in to her struggling, worn out body.  I still have the “yellow pages”.  I refer to them when I wonder if I did everything she told me to do.  I did.

Therefore, these moments of Jacob with Joseph, hours before he passes from this life to the next, greatly touches my heart.  I know the feelings of love expressed.  I know the importance of passing on to your kids what you have in your heart for them—those dreams with prayers for God to be in their lives as He was in ours.  But, for Jacob, it went far beyond the normal conversation.  Jacob (Israel to God) was passing on God’s Promise to His people—given first to Abraham!  The Promise now is passing from Jacob (Israel) to Joseph and to his sons.  Jacob makes The Promise of God clear in his words to Joseph AND to his sons.  Jacob is proclaiming God’s work that WILL be accomplished through the next generations by his blessings over them!  Prophecy and a Promise!

Remember this conversation at the end of yesterday’s passage? 

29-30 When the time came for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said, “Do me this favor. Put your hand under my thigh, a sign that you’re loyal and true to me to the end. Don’t bury me in Egypt. When I lie down with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me alongside them.”

“I will,” he said. “I’ll do what you’ve asked.”

31 Israel said, “Promise me.” Joseph promised.

Israel bowed his head in submission and gratitude from his bed.  (Genesis 47:29-31)

Now read…

Genesis 48, The Message

1-2 Some time after this conversation, Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” He took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and went to Jacob. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come,” he roused himself and sat up in bed.

3-7 Jacob said to Joseph, “The Strong God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said, ‘I’m going to make you prosperous and numerous, turn you into a congregation of tribes; and I’ll turn this land over to your children coming after you as a permanent inheritance.’ I’m adopting your two sons who were born to you here in Egypt before I joined you; they have equal status with Reuben and Simeon. But any children born after them are yours; they will come after their brothers in matters of inheritance. I want it this way because, as I was returning from Paddan, your mother Rachel, to my deep sorrow, died as we were on our way through Canaan when we were only a short distance from Ephrath, now called Bethlehem.”

Just then Jacob noticed Joseph’s sons and said, “Who are these?”

9-11 Joseph told his father, “They are my sons whom God gave to me in this place.”

“Bring them to me,” he said, “so I can bless them.” Israel’s eyesight was poor from old age; he was nearly blind. So Joseph brought them up close. Old Israel kissed and embraced them and then said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has let me see your children as well!”

12-16 Joseph took them from Israel’s knees and bowed respectfully, his face to the ground. Then Joseph took the two boys, Ephraim with his right hand setting him to Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand setting him to Israel’s right, and stood them before him. But Israel crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of Ephraim who was the younger and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the firstborn. Then he blessed them:

The God before whom walked
    my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
The God who has been my shepherd
    all my life long to this very day,
The Angel who delivered me from every evil,
    Bless the boys.
May my name be echoed in their lives,
    and the names of Abraham and Isaac, my fathers,
And may they grow
    covering the Earth with their children.

17-18 When Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he thought he had made a mistake, so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s, saying, “That’s the wrong head, Father; the other one is the firstborn; place your right hand on his head.”

19-20 But his father wouldn’t do it. He said, “I know, my son; but I know what I’m doing. He also will develop into a people, and he also will be great. But his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will enrich nations.” Then he blessed them both:

Israel will use your names to give blessings:
    May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.

In that he made it explicit: he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21-22 Israel then said to Joseph, “I’m about to die. God be with you and give you safe passage back to the land of your fathers. As for me, I’m presenting you, as the first among your brothers, the ridge of land I took from Amorites with my sword and bow.”


The depth of this holy moment between Jacob and Joseph with his sons is fleshed out by Warren Wiersbe, Bible scholar and commentator.  The following help us to understand more fully the importance of the blessing of the Promise of God.

A Jewish proverb says, “For the ignorant, old age is as winter, but for the learned, it is a harvest.” Jacob was now 130 years old, and during those years, he had learned many important lessons about God, himself, and other people, especially his sons. Some of those lessons in the school of life had been difficult to learn, and Jacob hadn’t always passed every test successfully. But now, thanks to God’s goodness and Joseph’s faithfulness, Jacob would reap a rich harvest in Egypt during the next seventeen years.

Jacob had enjoyed Joseph for seventeen years in Hebron (37:2), and now he would enjoy Joseph and his sons for seventeen years in Egypt (47:28). It was tragic that the sins of his sons had robbed their father of twenty-two years of Joseph’s life, but even in this sacrifice, God had beautifully worked out His plan and cared lovingly for His people.

Jacob was bedfast, his sight was failing (v. 8), and he knew that the end was near. But when Joseph walked into the room, Jacob mustered enough strength to sit up on the side of his bed and talk with his son about matters that were too important to delay. He didn’t talk about the difficulties of his life; he spoke about God Almighty and what He had done for His servant.

I wonder, what will be our last words to those we leave behind?


When Abraham was nearing death, his desire was to find a wife for Isaac and transfer to him the blessings of the covenant (chap. 24). Sad to say, when Isaac thought he was going to die, he wanted to eat his favorite meal and then bless his favorite son, who was not God’s choice to bear the covenant blessings (chap. 27). Jacob’s concern was to bless Joseph, whom he had made his firstborn, and then adopt Joseph’s two sons as his own and make them “sons of Israel.” It’s a good thing to be able to end your life knowing you’ve completed God’s business the way He wanted it done.

Jacob reviewed some of the experiences of his pilgrimage with God, beginning with the promises God had given him at Bethel (48:3-4; see 12:1-3) and including the death of his beloved Rachel, Joseph’s mother (48:7). Jacob assured Joseph that God would multiply their number and one day take them out of Egypt into their inheritance in the land of Canaan. Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, would have an inheritance in that land, because their grandfather was adopting them.

Not only did Jacob adopt his two grandsons, but he also gave them his special blessing. Jacob was probably sitting on the side of the bed and the boys were standing before him, while Joseph was bowed down with his face to the ground. Whether the boys realized it or not, it was indeed a solemn occasion.

For the fifth time in the Book of Genesis, we meet a reversal of the birth order. God had chosen Abel, not Cain; Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau; and Joseph, not Reuben; and now He would choose Ephraim over Manasseh. Joseph was upset with what his father did and tried to change his hands, but Jacob was guided by God and knew what he was doing.

When Jacob spoke his will and shared his wealth among his children, Joseph received an unexpected gift that day: a piece of land that Jacob had taken in battle from the Amorites. This location appears in the New Testament when Jesus met the woman of Sychar there and led her to saving faith (John 4:15). Being now the firstborn, Joseph was eligible for a double portion of the blessing (Deut. 21:15–17), and Ezekiel 47:13 indicates that in the future kingdom, Joseph will have two portions of land.

God knows what He is doing.  Always and forever.  Believe.


As we end our time with Jacob, we learn how deeply devoted he was to fulfilling Your Promise in and through him.  Help us to be as diligent in passing the Good News of your saving grace to everyone we meet by our testimony of not only words but with our very lives.  May others see you in us. 

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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