Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 48

By Joseph Benson


Verses 2-4
Genesis 48:2; Genesis 48:4. Israel strengthened himself — The tidings of Joseph’s approach refreshed his spirits, and gave him new strength: and he put forth all the strength he had. God blessed me — And let that blessing be entailed upon them. God had promised him two things, a numerous issue, and Canaan for an inheritance. And Joseph’s sons, pursuant hereunto, should each of them multiply into a tribe, and each of them have a distinct lot in Canaan, equal with Jacob’s own sons. Set how he blessed them by faith in that which God had said to him, Hebrews 11:21.

Verse 4
Genesis 48:4. For an everlasting possession — His natural seed should long inherit Canaan, and his spiritual seed enjoy the heavenly inheritance typified by Canaan, for ever.

Verse 5
Genesis 48:5. Thy two sons are mine — By adoption: I shall own them as if they were my immediate children, and each of them shall have an equal share both in my present property, and in the future inheritance of Canaan with the rest of my children. Thus Jacob transfers the double portion, which was the right of the firstborn, upon Joseph, because Reuben fell from it by transgression; concerning which see Genesis 49:4, and 1 Chronicles 5:1. As Reuben and Simeon — Whom he names as being the eldest, and who, if any, might seem to claim a privilege above the rest.

Verse 6
Genesis 48:6. Thy issue after them — The Scriptures nowhere mention, nor does it appear that Joseph had any more children than these. But Jacob speaks this on supposition that he might, and in case he should have any more. Shall be thine — Shall be reputed as thy children and my grand- children, and shall not have any distinct share of my present and future inheritance, but shall have a part of their brethren’s lot in such manner and proportion as thou shalt think fit.

Verse 7
Genesis 48:7. Rachel died by me — This circumstance he here mentions, partly because the sight of Joseph and his children brought his beloved Rachel, Joseph’s mother, to his remembrance; and partly that he might assign a reason for transferring the right of the firstborn to Joseph, which was not only because Rachel was his first rightful wife by designation and contract, but because by her early death he was cut off from all hopes of having more children by her, and therefore it was but fit that he should supply that defect by adopting Joseph’s children. The removal of dear relations from us is an affliction the remembrance of which cannot but abide with us a great while. Strong affections in the enjoyment of any blessing cause long afflictions in the loss of it.

Verse 11
Genesis 48:11. I had not thought to see thy face — Having many years given him up for lost; and, lo, God hath showed me also thy seed! — See here, how these two good men own God in their comforts. Joseph saith, They are my sons whom God has given me — And to magnify the favour he adds, in this place of my banishment, slavery, and imprisonment. Jacob saith here, God hath showed me thy seed — Our comforts are then doubly sweet to us, when we see them coming from God’s hand.

Verse 12
Genesis 48:12. From between his knees — Not his own, but Jacob’s, between which they stood, while Jacob kissed and embraced them, and from which Joseph removed them, that they might not be burdensome to their aged and weak grandfather, and especially that he might place them in a fit order and a reverent posture to receive the blessing which he earnestly desired. He bowed himself — To testify his reverence for his father, his gratitude for the favour now shown to him and his children, and his humble request for his blessing upon them.

Verse 15
Genesis 48:15. The God who fed me, &c. — As long as we have lived in this world we have had continual experience of God’s goodness to us in providing for the support of our natural life. Our bodies have called for daily food, and we have never wanted food convenient. He that has fed us all our life long will not fail us at last.

Verse 16
Genesis 48:16. The Angel which redeemed me — Not a created angel surely, but Christ, termed an angel, Exodus 23:20, and the Angel of the covenant, Malachi 3:1, and who was the conductor of Israel in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:4-9. Add to this, that this Angel is called Jacob’s Redeemer, a title appropriated by God to himself, Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 47:4; is said to redeem him from all evil, and therefore from sin, from which certainly no created angel, but only Christ can deliver us, Matthew 1:21; and he is worshipped and prayed to by Jacob here, for the blessing desired for Joseph’s sons: all which circumstances show, that he was God and not a creature. From all evil — A great deal of trouble and hardship he had had in his time, but God had graciously kept him from the evil of his troubles. It becomes the servants of God, when they are old and dying, to witness for God that they have found him gracious.

Verse 17
Genesis 48:17. It displeased him — Joseph had placed his children so as that Jacob’s right hand should be put on the head of Manasseh the eldest, Genesis 48:12-13; but Jacob would put it on the head of Ephraim the youngest, Genesis 48:14. This displeased Joseph, who was willing to support the reputation of his firstborn, and would therefore have removed his father’s hands, (Genesis 48:17-18,) but Jacob gave him to understand that he knew what he did, and that he did it neither by mistake nor in a humour, nor from a partial affection to one more than the other, but from a spirit of prophecy.

Verse 19
Genesis 48:19. Truly his younger brother shall be greater than he — This prophecy was evidently fulfilled in the posterity of these two children: a convincing proof that Jacob spoke by inspiration of God; for who but he can foresee what is to happen in distant ages? About two hundred years after this, when the Israelites were first numbered in the wilderness, the tribe of Ephraim had eight thousand three hundred men more than that of Manasseh, Numbers 1:32; Numbers 1:35. In encamping about the tabernacle, Ephraim had the standard, and was set before Manasseh, Numbers 11:18-20. Of him came Joshua, the conqueror of Canaan, Numbers 13:18, and Jeroboam, king of Israel, 1 Kings 11:26. So that the name of Ephraim is often used to signify that whole kingdom. God, in bestowing his blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. And he often gives most to those that are least likely: he chooseth the weak things of the world, raiseth the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor doth God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleaseth him.

Verse 21
Genesis 48:21. I die, but God shall be with you, and bring you again — This assurance was given them, and carefully preserved among them, that they might neither love Egypt too much when it favoured them, nor fear it too much when it frowned upon them. These words of Jacob furnish us with comfort in reference to the death of our friends: but God shall be with us, and his gracious presence is sufficient to make up the loss. They leave us, but he will never fail us. He will bring us to the land of our fathers, the heavenly Canaan, whither our godly fathers are gone before us. If God be with us while we stay behind in this world, and will receive us shortly to be with them that are gone before to a better world, we ought not to “sorrow as those that have no hope.”

Verse 22
Genesis 48:22. I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren — This seems to have been the parcel of ground near Shechem, which Jacob purchased of Hamor, the prince of the country, (Genesis 33:19,) and which, it is probable, he took or recovered with his sword and bow, that is, by force of arms, from the Amorites, who had seized on it after his removal to another part of Canaan, although this is not mentioned in Scripture. This parcel of ground he gave to Joseph, as is mentioned, John 4:5, of whose sons we find it was the inheritance, Joshua 17:1; Joshua 20:7. And in it Joseph’s bones were buried, which perhaps Jacob had an eye to as much as to any thing in this settlement. It may sometimes be both just and prudent to give some children portions above the rest; but a grave is that which we can most count upon as our own in this earth.