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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Genesis 48

Verses 1-22

Joseph presumes that his father has gone astray through dulness of perception, and endeavors to rectify his mistake. He finds, however, that on the other hand a supernatural vision is now conferred on his parent, who is fully conscious of what he is about, and therefore, abides by his own act. Ephraim is to be greater than Menasseh. Joshua, the successor of Moses, was of the tribe of Ephraim, as Kaleb his companion was of Judah. Ephraim came to designate the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, as Judah denoted the southern kingdom containing the remaining tribes; and each name was occasionally used to denote all Israel, with a special reference to the prominent part. “His seed shall be the fullness of the nations.” This denotes not only the number but the completeness of his race, and accords with the future pre-eminence of his tribe. In thee, in Joseph, who is still identified with his offspring.

At the point of death Jacob expresses his assurance of the return of his posterity to the land of promise, and bestows on Joseph one share or piece of ground above his brethren, which, says he, I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. This share is, in the original, שׁכם shekem, Shekem, a shoulder or tract of land. This region included “the parcel of the field where he had spread his tent” Genesis 33:19. It refers to the whole territory of Shekem, which was conquered by his sword and his bow, inasmuch as the city itself was sacked, and its inhabitants put to the sword by his sons at the head of his armed retainers, though without his approval Genesis 34:0. Though he withdrew immediately after to Bethel Genesis 35:0, yet he neither fled nor relinquished possession of this conquest, as we find his sons feeding his flocks there when he himself was residing at Hebron Genesis 37:13. The incidental conquest of such a tract was no more at variance with the subsequent acquisition of the whole country than the purchase of a field by Abraham or a parcel of ground by Jacob himself. In accordance with this gift Joseph’s bones were deposited in Shekem, after the conquest of the whole land by returning Israel. The territory of Shekem was probably not equal in extent to that of Ephraim, but was included within its bounds.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 48". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/genesis-48.html. 1870.