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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 48

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



Joseph brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to be blessed by his father: Jacob, adopting them, places his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and his left on Manasseh, and assigns to Joseph that part of the land which he took from the Amorites.

Before Christ 1700-1688.

Verse 3

Genesis 48:3. God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz Jacob, now approaching near his end, dispatched a messenger, Gen 48:1 to inform his son Joseph of his state, who immediately, full of filial affection, hastened to his aged father with his two sons, in order to obtain his blessing; dispatching first a messenger, Gen 48:2 to notify his arrival. The intelligence of his beloved son's approach revived the languishing spirits of old Jacob, who strengthened himself to receive him, and to communicate to him and his that blessing which God had heretofore promised him at Luz, or Beth-el, where God appeared twice to him, (ch. Genesis 28:13.Genesis 35:6; Genesis 35:6; Gen 35:9) and blessed him; i.e.. renewed the original blessing given to Abraham, ch. Genesis 13:15, &c.

Verse 5

Genesis 48:5. And now thy two sons The LXX have it, Now therefore thy two sons (thus expressing Jacob's faith in the Divine promises) are mine, as Simeon and Reuben; that is, shall be reputed my immediate sons, as if they were my natural offspring. I adopt them as my own sons, and they shall succeed to my inheritance in that quality; becoming, after my death, the heads of two different tribes, just in the same manner as Simeon and Reuben, my immediate issue, who are mentioned, as being the eldest: a double portion is thus bestowed upon Joseph, which was the privilege of the first-born, by putting his two sons upon a footing with Jacob's own children, 1 Chronicles 5:1. Whatever sons Joseph should have afterwards, 1Ch 5:6 were not to be ranked in this quality, but to be considered in the same light with the descendants of the other brethren.

REFLECTIONS.—1. As it is our duty to visit the sick, so it is a peculiar mercy to be present at the departure of dying saints; as it is fabled of the dying swan, they often then sing sweetest, and leave behind them a deep remembrance of their words.

2. Lest the glare of the world's pomp might seem to make the favour despicable which Jacob now confers on Joseph and his sons, the old patriarch recites the promise that God had made him, to encourage them, notwithstanding present appearances, to prefer the hope of Israel to the honours of AEgypt. Note; (1.) They who with dependance on God's promises renounce the world, to suffer reproach and affliction with the people of God, will find in the end the wisdom of their choice. (2.) We cannot be too explicit in our wills, to prevent disputes when we are dead.

Verse 7

Genesis 48:7. And as for me, when I came As much as to say, "the favour I shew to your two sons is a new tribute which I pay to the memory of my beloved Rachel. The sudden death which deprived me of her, in circumstances which permitted me not to convey her body to the cave of Machpelah, robbed me at once of a most beloved wife, and of the pleasure of seeing any more children from her. However, in some measure to repair that loss, I know not how to do it in any manner more conformable to the sentiments of my heart, than by adopting your sons for my own, as if you were three brothers of the same much-valued mother." Note; True lovers never forget: it is Jacob's comfort now, that he shall meet her in glory whom he lost in Canaan.

Verse 10

Genesis 48:10. The eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see The dimness of Jacob's sight well accounts for his not distinguishing these children of Joseph; but, as soon as they were known to him, he embraced them with all imaginable tenderness; and the feeling heart may easily conceive the satisfaction which the good old patriarch must have had, in beholding not only a son whom he had given over for lost, but that son in an honourable state, and blessed with a posterity. His heart was warmed with the grateful sentiment—I had not thought to see THY FACE, says he; I even despaired of that satisfaction; and lo! abundant in mercy to me, God hath shewed me also THINE OFFSPRING! Genesis 48:11.

Verse 12

Genesis 48:12. Brought them out from between his knees We must suppose Jacob to be sitting upon his bed, with his legs upon the ground, see ch. Genesis 49:33. and the children standing between his knees, while he embraced them; whence Joseph took them to dispose them properly for the reception of his father's blessing; for which purpose he seems himself to have kneeled down by his father, and to have ordered his sons to do the same, placing them in such a manner, that Jacob's right hand might be laid upon the eldest; for the right hand, as strongest, has commonly been esteemed and used as most honourable.

Bowed himself Joseph's duty and honour towards his father are among the brightest ornaments of his character. A writer has well remarked upon it, that, "highly exalted as he was in the court of the greatest monarch upon earth, he thought it no lessening to bend before his aged father, and pay him all the marks of submission and duty; nay, and this at a time when the text assures us Jacob's eyes were dim, and could not see; and consequently, when he could not be upbraided by his father for want of due respect, and, probably, would not have been blamed by any other mortal; for who would have been so vain as to censure the conduct of one who was at that time in the highest reputation for wisdom and prudence of all mortals then alive? Or, if their vanity could have carried them to censure his conduct, their fear of Pharaoh's first minister would certainly have obliged them to keep their thoughts to themselves; yet, under all these circumstances of his father's blindness, his own exalted station, unrivalled wisdom, and uncontrolled power, Joseph's affection and dutiful heart would not suffer him to dispense with the least form of respect and veneration to his aged parent: for we read, that when he brought his sons to present them to his father, he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And, surely, there is not any one circumstance of his grandeur which reflects half so much lustre on his character as this single instance of filial humiliation. When I consider him upon his knees to God, I regard him as a poor mortal in the discharge of duty to his Creator, of adorable majesty, and infinite height above himself! When I behold him bowing down to Pharaoh, I consider him in the dutiful posture of a subject to his prince, to whom he was indebted for the highest exaltation and honour. But when I see him bending to the earth, before a poor, old, blind, decrepit father, I behold him with admiration and delight. How doth that humiliation exalt him!" &c. See Delaney's Sermons, p. 147.

Verse 14

Genesis 48:14. Israel stretched out his right hand Laying hands on the head was always used among the Jews in giving blessings, in appointing men to any office, and in the consecration of solemn sacrifices. This is the first time we meet with the mention of it; but we often read of it afterwards; see Numbers 18:23.Deuteronomy 34:9; Deuteronomy 34:9. Matthew 13:15. Act 6:6. 1 Timothy 4:14. Jacob laid his right hand upon the head of the younger, which, we are told, he did wittingly, or although Manasseh was the first-born: he well knew, by the spirit of prophecy, that Ephraim's posterity would prove a more powerful tribe than that of Manasseh. It is observable, how God, from the beginning, has very frequently preferred the younger to the elder, as Abel before Cain, Shem before Japheth, Isaac before Ishmael, Jacob before Esau, Judah and Joseph before Reuben, and here, Ephraim before Manasseh, as afterwards Moses before Aaron, and David the youngest before all his brethren. This is to be resolved entirely into the wise but secret counsel of God, so far as it regards temporal blessings and national privileges, as the Apostle tells us, Romans 9:11. But this preference has no concern with God's conferring a greater measure of his love and approbation on one person than another; for this we are assured can arise from nothing but men's spiritual and moral characters; it is the determination of truth, that with God there is no respect of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him, Acts 10:34-35. But this subject shall be fully considered in its due place.

Verse 15

Genesis 48:15. And he blessed Joseph Probably he might bless Joseph as well as his sons: but the context would rather lead one to believe that the blessing here appropriated to Joseph was that given immediately to his sons: Jacob blessed him in blessing his children; for to bless the children is to bless the parents themselves. In his blessing he reminds Joseph and his children both of the piety of their ancestors, and of the goodness which God had shewn in consequence of that piety; "God, before whom my fathers did walk, strictly obedient to his laws, see ch. Genesis 5:24.; the God who fed me all my life long, see Psalms 23:0.; the God who protected and preserved me, and, like a watchful shepherd, supplied all my wants." Thus he at once reminds them of their duty, and encourages them to the practice of it, by setting before them what they might expect, if, like their forefathers, they walked with God.

Verse 16

Genesis 48:16. The angel which redeemed me from all evil See Gen 16:17 and chap. Genesis 31:11. It is to me evident, that this angel was Christ; 1st, Because this same name is given to Christ in other places, and particularly in Mal 1:2 nd, Because the angel who conducted the Israelites is called Jehovah, Exo 19:24 and, according to St. Paul, this angel was Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:9. And, 3rdly, Because the manner in which Joseph speaks of him, which redeemed me from all evil, naturally refers to that title of Redeemer, which God hath appropriated to himself, Psalms 19:14.Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 47:4.

Let my name be named on them i.e.. Let them be mine; I adopt them, and will have them henceforth called and esteemed the children of Jacob. These are words of adoption.

Grow into a multitude How far this was verified, see Numbers 34:29. See also Deuteronomy 33:17. Joshua 17:17. It appears from the texts here referred to, that there were in Moses's time eighty-five thousand two hundred men of war by these two sons of Joseph; a greater number than proceeded from any other son of Jacob.

Verse 17

Genesis 48:17. When Joseph saw—it displeased him Jacob was guided by the spirit of prophecy in what he did, Joseph only by paternal affection. Though Joseph himself was endowed with the spirit of prophecy, he possessed it not now; for prophets were not always inspired, nor with the knowledge of all things. Old Jacob speaks with prophetic energy: I know it, my son, I know it, Genesis 48:19. He also shall be great; but his younger brother shall be greater than he; his posterity shall be greater, both in number and in dignity: and in completion of this, the family of Ephraim was a more numerous tribe than that of Manasseh, Numbers 1:32-34. and in many respects had the pre-eminence, Numbers 18:20. Deuteronomy 33:17. Joshua and Jeroboam both were of this tribe; and the kingdom of the ten tribes is frequently called that of Ephraim, Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 11:13; Isaiah 28:1.Hosea 5:12-13; Hosea 5:12-13; Hosea 5:15. What is called a multitude of nations, shall become a multitude of nations, is, in the Hebrew, fulness of nations, that is, of families; as much as to say, "His offspring shall replenish the country with numerous families:" the fulness of the earth, and the fulness of the sea, is that which the earth and the sea contain, and which replenishes them, Psalms 96:11.Isaiah 42:10; Isaiah 42:10. Psalms 24:1.

Verse 20

Genesis 48:20. In thee shall Israel bless i.e.. So eminent and prosperous shall these two tribes be, that it shall become a proverbial form among my posterity, in wishing happiness to others: God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh; a form, we are told, which continues among the Jews to this day; while their blessing to their female children is, God make thee at Sarah and Rebecca. Zedekiah and Ahab are, on the other hand, proposed for execration. See Jeremiah 29:22.

Verse 22

Genesis 48:22. Which I took out of the hand of the Amorite Where are many particulars in the lives of the patriarchs, and of others, which are not related at all in Scripture; and there are some instances of a transient reference to facts of this kind, to things which have been said and done, but are never related. See ch. Genesis 36:24.Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:9. Joshua 24:11.Acts 20:35; Acts 20:35. Of this sort, I apprehend, is the present passage; at least, we have no mention in Scripture of any portion of land taken from the Amorite by the sword and bow of Jacob. All, therefore, which can be said upon the subject, must be mere conjectures; of which the most probable is, that the parcel of ground near Shechem, which Jacob purchased of Hamor, is here meant; and which, probably, he took or recovered, by force of arms, from the Amorites, who, it seems, had seized on it after his removal to another part of Canaan, ch. Genesis 35:1. for this place was the inheritance of Joseph's sons, Joshua 17:1; Joshua 17:18; Joshua 20:7. It is mentioned as the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to Joseph, Joh 4:5 and thither Joseph's bones were carried out of AEgypt and buried, Joshua 24:32.

REFLECTIONS.—The good old Israel was sinking fast under the infirmities of age; the eyes of his body were dim, but the eye of his faith bright and piercing. The sons of Joseph are brought near to him, and they are embraced with tenderest affection, and with deep acknowledgment of God's goodness. Note; God often exceeds all his people's hopes, and therefore deserves all their praises. We have here,

1. The blessing pronounced: that God, whose tender mercies he and his fathers had experienced, who had delivered them out of every affliction, and before whom they had walked, should bless the lads, and make them, according to the covenant of promise, a great people. Note; (1.) It becomes us to bear testimony for God in a dying hour, for the encouragement of others, as well as to testify our thankful acknowledgment to him. (2.) They who are redeemed from the evil of sin have no evil to fear in death. (3.) If we desire the blessing of our pious parents upon us, we must be careful to follow their steps.

2. The comfortable parting with Joseph. Note; (1.) When creature-comforts fail, still God is with us; and though the desire of our eyes is by death taken from us, we are encouraged to hope we shall shortly go to them, to this land of our fathers, though they cannot return to us. (2.) Every father may make distinctions in the portions of his children, if all be done with equity and without partiality: peculiar desert should have peculiar reward.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 48". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/genesis-48.html. 1801-1803.
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