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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 48

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verses 15-16

AN OLD MAN’S BLESSING

‘And be blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads,’ etc.

Genesis 48:15-16

When St. Paul wished to select from the history of Jacob an instance of faith, he took the scene described in the text, when Joseph brings his two sons to the deathbed of his father. The text is therefore to be considered as one in which faith was signally exhibited.

I. Jacob seems to make it his object, and to represent it as a privilege, that he should take the lads out of the family of Joseph, though that family was then one of the noblest in Egypt, and transplant them into his own, though it had no outward distinction but what it derived from its connection with the other. Faith gave him this consciousness of superiority; he knew that his posterity were to constitute a peculiar people, from which would at length arise the Redeemer. He felt it far more of an advantage for Ephraim and Manasseh to be counted with the tribes than numbered among the princes of Egypt.

II. Observe the peculiarity of Jacob’s language with regard to his preserver, and his decided preference of the younger brother to the elder, in spite of the remonstrances of Joseph. There was faith, and illustrious faith, in both. By the ‘Angel who redeemed him from all evil,’ he must have meant the Second Person of the Trinity; he shows that he had glimmerings of the finished work of Christ. The preference of the younger son to the elder was typical of the preference of the Gentile Church to the Jewish. Acting on what he felt convinced was the purpose of God, Jacob did violence to his own inclination and that of those whom he most longed to please.

III. Jacob’s worshipping (referred to in Hebrews 11) may be taken as proving his faith. What has a dying man to do with worshipping, unless he is a believer in another state? He leans upon the top of his staff as if he would acknowledge the goodness of his heavenly Father, remind himself of the troubles through which he had been brought, and of the Hand which alone had been his guardian and guide.

—Canon H. Melvill.

Illustration

(1)‘Life’s journey long before thee lies,

In summer heat,’ neath wintry skies,

A weary way thy foot must roam:

For every one who treads the earth,

In joy, or pain, in woe, or mirth,

Is but a traveller from his birth,

And all are going home.

Yet on, my child, nor look behind,

But journey with an honest mind,

God and His angels give thee aid,

Till, the long toilsome journey done,

Thou see at last, at set of sun,

That distant country duly won,

And rest within its shade.’

(2) ‘The Old Testament view of death is often a melancholy one, but there are intimations that for God’s people there was a hope beyond the shadowy Sheol [ i.e. the region of the dead], a hope of deliverance by the God who had entered into covenant with them. We Christians know that the promises of a Saviour, and of a salvation yet to come, were fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah. Those “old fathers” knew not how the fulfilment was to come, but they trusted God’s word, and “waited for His salvation.” And so it is that, as our Article states, “they are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look for transitory promises.’ Or, to amplify this statement a little, We do not assent to the false opinion, put forward by some persons, that the men of olden time regarded God’s promises as things which were only of a “temporary” value, and had no abiding importance.

The old fathers did not indeed know what has been revealed to us, but they felt that the Eternal God, in whom they believed, would never fail those that trusted Him ( Psalms 34:22).’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 48". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-48.html. 1876.
 
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