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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Genesis 48:16

The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth."
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  3. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  4. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  5. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  6. James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
  7. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  8. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  9. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  10. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  11. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
  12. Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
  13. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
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  17. George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
  18. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
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Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Adoption;   Birthright;   Blessing;   Ephraim;   Firstborn;   Intercession;   Jacob;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Manasseh;   Parents;   Thankfulness;   Veneration;   Scofield Reference Index - Redemption;   Thompson Chain Reference - Blessings;   Blessings-Afflictions;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Adoption;   Christ Is God;   First Born, the;   Parents;   Protection;   Redemption;   Titles and Names of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ephraim;   Manasseh;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Blessing;   Ephraim;   Jacob;   Laying on of hands;   Manasseh, tribe of;   Tribes;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Hand, Right Hand;   Kinsman-Redeemer;   Redeem, Redemption;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Trust in God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bless;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Ephraim (1);   Father;   Manasseh (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Genesis;   Laying on of Hands;   Left Hand;   Manasseh;   Poetry;   Tribes of Israel, the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Angel of the Lord (Jahweh);   Firstborn;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Angels (2);   First-Born First-Begotten ;   Jacob ;   Redemption (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Jacob ;   Manasseh ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Archangel;   Peniel;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ephraim;   Manasseh;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Angel;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Abram;   Joseph;   On to Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Charm;   Hand;   Name;   Redeemer;   Trinity;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Angelology;   Custom;   Ephraim;   Fish and Fishing;   Junior Right;   Sandalfon;   Simḥat Torah;   Wachnacht;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil - הגאל המלאך hammalac haggoel . The Messenger, the Redeemer or Kinsman; for so גאל goel signifies; for this term, in the law of Moses, is applied to that person whose right it is, from his being nearest akin, to redeem or purchase back a forfeited inheritance. But of whom does Jacob speak? We have often seen, in the preceding chapters, an angel of God appearing to the patriarchs; (see particularly Genesis 16:7; (note)) and we have full proof that this was no created angel, but the Messenger of the Divine Council, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who then was the angel that redeemed Jacob, and whom he invoked to bless Ephraim and Manasseh? Is it not Jesus? He alone can be called Goel, the redeeming Kinsman; for he alone took part of our flesh and blood that the right of redemption might be his; and that the forfeited possession of the favor and image of God might be redeemed, brought back, and restored to all those who believe in his name. To have invoked any other angel or messenger in such a business would have been impiety. Angels bless not; to God alone this prerogative belongs. With what confidence may a truly religious father use these words in behalf of his children: "Jesus, the Christ, who hath redeemed me, bless the lads, redeem them also, and save them unto eternal life!"

Let my name be named on them - "Let them be ever accounted as a part of my own family; let them be true Israelites - persons who shall prevail with God as I have done; and the name of Abraham - being partakers of his faith; and the name of Isaac - let them be as remarkable for submissive obedience as he was. Let the virtues of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be accumulated in them, and invariably displayed by them!" These are the very words of adoption; and by the imposition of hands, the invocation of the Redeemer, and the solemn blessing pronounced, the adoption was completed. From this moment Ephraim and Manasseh had the same rights and privileges as Jacob's sons, which as the sons of Joseph they could never have possessed.

And let them grow into a multitude - לרב וידגו veyidgu larob ; Let them increase like fishes into a multitude. Fish are the most prolific of all animals; see the instances produced on Genesis 1:20; (note). This prophetic blessing was verified in a most remarkable manner; see Numbers 26:34, Numbers 26:37; Deuteronomy 33:17; Joshua 17:17. At one time the tribe of Ephraim amounted to 40,500 effective men, and that of Manasseh to 52,700, amounting in the whole to 93,200.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/genesis-48.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And he blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who hath fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth."

At this point Jacob began blessing, but in these two verses he had not yet come to the part of it that made any distinction between the sons of Joseph.

"He blessed Joseph ..." Actually, Joseph was being blessed in the persons of his sons, as indicated by "bless the lads" in Genesis 48:16.

One of the great things of significance in these verses is the triple designation of God, who is extolled as, "Deum Patrem, Deum Pastorem, and Angelum."[10] This means God of My Fathers, Shepherd God, and Angel of Jehovah. There are many names of God in the Bible; and, as always, the name chosen signified not some special "source" but some special significance. Habakkuk 1:12 also uses three names for God in a single verse! The Angel mentioned here is the Angel of Jehovah, identified with God Himself in the prophecies. Looking back over his life, Jacob was conscious of the guiding hand of God.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/genesis-48.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

- Joseph Visits His Sick Father

The right of primogeniture has been forfeited by Reuben. The double portion in the inheritance is now transferred to Joseph. He is the first-born of her who was intended by Jacob to be his first and only wife. He has also been the means of saving all his father‘s house, even after he had been sold into slavery by his brethren. He has therefore, undeniable claims to this part of the first-born‘s rights.

Genesis 48:1-7

After these things. - After the arrangements concerning the funeral, recorded in the chapter. “Menasseh and Ephraim.” They seem to have accompanied their father from respectful affection to their aged relative. “Israel strengthened himself” - summoned his remaining powers for the interview, which was now to him an effort. “God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz.” From the terms of the blessing received it is evident that Jacob here refers to the last appearance of God to him at Bethel Genesis 35:11. “And now thy sons.” After referring to the promise of a numerous offspring, and of a territory which they are to inherit, he assigns to each of the two sons of Joseph, who were born in Egypt, a place among his own sons, and a separate share in the promised land. In this way two shares fall to Joseph. “And thy issue.” We are not informed whether Joseph had any other sons. But all such are to be reckoned in the two tribes of which Ephraim and Menasseh are the heads. These young men are now at least twenty and nineteen years of age, as they were born before the famine commenced. Any subsequent issue that Joseph might have, would be counted among the generations of their children. “Rachel died upon me” - as a heavy affliction falling upon me. The presence of Joseph naturally leads the father‘s thoughts to Rachel, the beloved mother of his beloved son, whose memory he honors in giving a double portion to her oldest son.

Genesis 48:8-16

He now observes and proceeds to bless the two sons of Joseph. “Who are these?” The sight and the observant faculties of the patriarch were now failing. “Bring them now unto me, and I will bless them.” Jacob is seated on the couch, and the young men approach him. He kisses and folds his arms around them. The comforts of his old age come up before his mind. He had not expected to see Joseph again in the flesh, and now God had showed him his seed. After these expressions of parental fondness, Joseph drew them back from between his knees, that he might present them in the way that was distinctive of their age. He then bowed with his face to the earth, in reverential acknowledgment of the act of worship about to be performed. Joseph expected the blessing to be regulated by the age of his sons, and is therefore, careful to present them so that the right hand of his dim-sighted parent may, without any effort, rest on the head of his first-born. But the venerable patriarch, guided by the Spirit of him who doth according to his own will, designedly lays his right hand on the head of the younger, and thereby attributes to him the greater blessing.

The imposition of the hand is a primitive custom which here for the first time comes into notice. It is the natural mode of marking out the object of the benediction, signifying its conveyance to the individual, and implying that it is laid upon him as the destiny of his life. It may be done by either hand; but when each is laid on a different object, as in the present case, it may denote that the higher blessing is conveyed by the right hand. The laying on of both hands on one person may express the fulness of the blessing conveyed, or the fullness of the desire with which it is conveyed.

Genesis 48:15-16

And he blessed Joseph. - In blessing his seed he blesses himself. In exalting his two sons into the rank and right of his brothers, he bestows upon them the double portion of the first-born. In the terms of the blessing Jacob first signalizes the threefold function which the Lord discharges in effecting the salvation of a sinner. “The God before whom walked my fathers,” is the Author of salvation, the Judge who dispenses justice and mercy, the Father, before whom the adopted and regenerate child walks. From him salvation comes, to him the saved returns, to walk before him and be perfect. “The God, who fed me from my being unto this day,” is the Creator and Upholder of life, the Quickener and Sanctifier, the potential Agent, who works both to will and to do in the soul. “The Angel that redeemed me from all evil,” is the all-sufficient Friend, who wards off evil by himself satisfying the demands of justice and resisting the devices of malice. There is a beautiful propriety of feeling in Jacob ascribing to his fathers the walking before God, while he thankfully acknowledges the grace of the Quickener and Justifier to himself. The Angel is explicitly applied to the Supreme Being in this ministerial function. The God is the emphatic description of the true, living God, as contradistinguished from all false gods. “Bless the lads.” The word bless is in the singular number. For Jacob‘s threefold periphrasis is intended to describe the one God who wills, works, and wards. “And let my name be put upon them.” Let them be counted among my immediate sons, and let them be related to Abraham and Isaac, as my other sons are. This is the only thing that is special in the blessing. “Let them grow into a multitude.” The word grow in the original refers to the spawning or extraordinary increase of the finny tribe. The after history of Ephraim and Menasseh will be found to correspond with this special prediction.

Genesis 48:17-22

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 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 48:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/genesis-48.html. 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Note the three titles in verses: Genesis 48:15, Genesis 48:16.

The Angel = the creature form of the second person as the messenger of Jehovah (Elohim as consecrated by oath). This form not assumed for the occasion, but for permanent communion with His creatures (Genesis 3:8; Genesis 15:1; Genesis 17:1; Genesis 18:1, Genesis 18:2; Genesis 28:13; Genesis 32:24, Genesis 32:30. Exodus 23:20, Exodus 23:21. Numbers 22:21. Joshua 5:13-15. Proverbs 8:22-31. Malachi 3:1. Colossians 1:15. Revelation 3:14).

redeemed. Hebrew. g"aal = to redeem (by payment of charge).

See note on Exodus 6:6.

grow = swarm as fishes. earth, or the land.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/genesis-48.html. 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

16.The Angel which redeemed me. He so joins the Angel to God as to make him his equal. Truly he offers him divine worship, and asks the same things from him as from God. If this be understood indifferently of any angel what ever, the sentence is absurd. Nay, rather, as Jacob himself sustains the name and character of God, in blessing his son, (191) he is superior, in this respect, to the angels. Wherefore it is necessary that Christ should be here meant, who does not bear in vain the title of Angel, because he had become the perpetual Mediator. And Paul testifies that he was the Leader and Guide of the journey of his ancient people. (1 Corinthians 10:4.) He had not yet indeed been sent by the Father, to approach more nearly to us by taking our flesh, but because he was always the bond of connection between God and man, and because God formally manifested himself in no other way than through him, he is properly called the Angel. To which may be added, that the faith of the fathers was always fixed on his future mission. He was therefore the Angel, because even then he poured forth his rays, that the saints might approach God, through him, as Mediator. For there was always so wide a distance between God and men, that, without a mediator; there could be no communication. Nevertheless though Christ appeared in the form of an angel, we must remember what the Apostle says to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 2:16,) that “he took not on him the nature of angels,” so as to become one of them, in the manner in which he truly became man; for even when angels put on human bodies, they did not, on that account, become men. Now since we are taught, in these words, that the peculiar office of Christ is to defend us and to deliver us from all evil, let us take heed not to bury this grace in impious oblivion: yea, seeing that now it is more clearly exhibited to us, than formerly to the saints under the law, since Christ openly declares that the faithful are committed to his care, that not one of them might perish, (John 17:12,) so much the more ought it to flourish in our hearts, both that it may be highly celebrated by us with suitable praise, and that it may stir us up to seek this guardianship of our best Protector. And this is exceedingly necessary for us; for if we reflect how many dangers surround us, that we scarcely pass a day without being delivered from a thousand deaths; whence does this arise, except from that care which is taken of us, by the Son of God, who has received us under his protection, from the hand of his Father.

And let my name be named on them. This is a mark of the adoption before mentioned: for he puts his name upon them, that they may obtain a place among the patriarchs. Indeed the Hebrew phrase signifies nothing else than to be reckoned among the family of Jacob. Thus the name of the husband is said to be called upon the wife, (Isaiah 4:1,) because the wife borrows the name from the head to which she is subject. So much the more ridiculous is the ignorance of the Papists, who would prove hence that the dead are to be invoked in prayers. Jacob, say they, desired after his death to be invoked by his posterity. What! that being prayed to, he might bring them succor; and not — according to the plain intention of the speaker — that Ephraim and Manasseh might be added to the society of the patriarchs, to constitute two tribes of the holy people! Moreover it is wonderful, that the Papists, leaving under this pretext framed for themselves innumerable patrons, should have passed over Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as unworthy of the office. But the Lord, by this brutish stupor, has avenged their impious profanation of his name. What Jacob adds in the next clause, namely, that they should grow into a multitude, (192) refers also to the same promise. The sum amounts to this, that the Lord would complete in them, what he had promised to the patriarchs.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/genesis-48.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

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).’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/genesis-48.html. 1876.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter48

So it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, your father"s sick ( Genesis 48:1 ):

He"s dying.

and so Joseph grabbed his two sons to go and visit his father for the last time, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, your son Joseph is coming unto you: and so Israel gathered together his strength, and he sat up on the bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and he said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came in the land of Egypt, are mine; even as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, whichever you have after them, will be yours, and will be called after the name of their brothers in their inheritance. And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, and when there was yet but a little way to come to Bethlehem: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem. And Israel beheld Joseph"s sons, and said, Who are these? And Joseph said to his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them ( Genesis 48:1-9 ).

So as Joseph comes in to his father, Jacob first of all rehearses to Joseph the fact that God met him in the area near Bethel, Luz, which was later called Bethel, the house of God. And it was there that God promised to give unto Jacob and to his seed that land as an everlasting covenant. Now it is interesting that God gave to Abraham the promise, to Isaac the promise, and now to Jacob God spoke and gave the promise of this land. After Jacob there is no account of God"s appearing to any of the sons of Jacob to confirm the promise that He made.

God made the promise to Abraham, confirmed it to Isaac, confirmed it to Jacob. But now Joseph hears it from his dad, not from God directly. But now his father is relating to him the promise of God. How that God promised to me and to my seed that land, everlasting covenant. And so he is relating it on to Joseph.

Now, he said, the two sons that have been born from you here in Egypt I"m claiming them. They"re going to be mine. If you have any more children after this, they can be named after you. But these two I"m claiming for me, they"re going to be just like Reuben and Simeon and they will get their inheritance in the land.

Now it was customary that the oldest son receive a double portion of the inheritance. But here Jacob is promising to Joseph the double portion; the double portion will be in Ephraim and Manasseh. So he gets the double portion of the blessing from Jacob in that Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons born of Joseph will become tribes and will inherit the land as tribes. By which we then see that there are more than twelve tribes of Israel, because Ephraim and Manasseh became tribes and received their inheritance in Israel. So Joseph becoming two, Ephraim and Manasseh, in reality, there are thirteen tribes in Israel.

Now Jacob also said, "Any that are born after this, they"re yours. But these two are mine." So it is interesting that in one of the listings of the tribes, there is actually a listing of the tribe of Joseph. So if indeed there were descendants of Joseph and there was a tribe of Joseph, they did not receive any actual inheritance in the land, but the inheritance went to Ephraim and Manasseh. But the land was divided into twelve portions and apportioned out to the twelve tribes, but the thirteenth tribe was the tribe of Levi. They did not receive any portion in the land but actually dwelt in about forty-eight cities that were given to the tribes of Levi, but no portion of the land was apportioned out to them.

But it is interesting that we always read of twelve tribes. You never read of the thirteen tribes of Israel but of the twelve tribes of Israel. And whenever there is a listing of the tribes, there are always a listing of only twelve. At some times, one tribe or another is deleted from the listing of the twelve.

For instance, when we read of the twelve tribes of Israel that are sealed in the book of Revelation, chapter seven, the tribe of Dan is missing from that list. Usually in the listing of the tribes, the tribe of Levi is missing from the list, but Levi is inserted in Revelation chapter seven, and the tribe of Dan is deleted from the listing of the tribe as those who will be sealed during the Great Tribulation, the hundred and forty-four thousand sealed to be spared a portion, at least, of the Great Tribulation that is coming.

Twelve is a symbolic number. It is the number of human government. And that is the reason why you have twelve apostles, twelve tribes, though there may be more than the twelve. In talking about governmental purposes, there are always twelve listed and only twelve for the purpose of human type of government. Twelve is the number of human government. So the twelve tribes of Israel, though in reality there were thirteen actual tribes or possibly if indeed the tribe of Joseph existed separate from Ephraim and Manasseh you had fourteen tribes but never a listing of fourteen, only of twelve.

So here he claims the two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. They"re just going to be like Reuben and Simeon and they shall receive their inheritance in the land. And so then Israel, and no doubt his eyes were failing him, and he saw just the shadowy figure of Joseph"s two sons who at this time were probably in their twenties. They weren"t just little kids. They were probably in their twenties at this time because Joseph by this time was fifty-six years old. And so his sons are in their early twenties at this point.

And so Jacob sees these two others and he said, Who are these? And Joseph answered, "These are my two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim".

And Joseph thought that they bring them near to him and he kissed them and he hugged them. And Israel said to Joseph, I had given up ever seeing your face: and, lo, God is even showing me your children ( Genesis 48:10-11 ).

He had really figured that he would never be able to see the face of Joseph again. But God in His grace, not only did he get to see Joseph again but Joseph"s children.

And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with the face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel"s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel"s right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his hand, and laid it upon Ephraim"s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh"s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn ( Genesis 48:12-14 ).

So as Joseph brought the two sons up to his father in order that they might receive a blessing from his father, he brought them up so that Jacob"s right hand would rest upon Manasseh and his left hand would rest upon Ephraim, because Manasseh was the older and thus the first blessing to go to the older son. But as he brought them up in this order that the old man might just lay his hands on the two boys, the old man crossed his hands. And he put his right hand over here on Ephraim and his left hand over here on Manasseh and began to bless them. And Joseph said, "Wait a minute, dad, wait a minute, you got a mistake here". And he says, "Oh, son, I know what I"m doing". And so Ephraim was then blessed and given a place of prominence over Manasseh though he was not the firstborn.

Now this is not the first time this happened. Even with Jacob himself, the old man that was doing this, he was not the firstborn. His brother Esau was firstborn and yet the blessing had come to him. And so now he is doing the same thing with his grandsons crossing his hands and pronouncing the greater blessing upon Ephraim.

And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my father Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day ( Genesis 48:15 ),

That"s an interesting phrase, isn"t it? Recognizing that his provision the bottom line had come from God. Sure he"d been out there working. Sure he"d been out there taking care of the cattle and the sheep and so forth. And yet when it comes right down to it, I depend upon God for my sustenance. If God doesn"t sustain me I"m not going to be sustained. God has fed me all the days of my life.

And the Angel which redeemed me ( Genesis 48:16 )

Now this is interesting, he blessed Joseph and said, "God before whom my father Abraham and Isaac did walk." That is, God the Father. "The God which fed me all the days of my life to this day." That would be the work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry to the saints. "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil." That would be the work of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. And so here you actually have the trinity of God being mentioned in the prayer of Abraham. God of my father Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who has fed me; the Angel of the Lord who redeemed me.

bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father had laid the right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father"s hand, to remove it from Ephraim"s head to Manasseh"s head. And Joseph said to his father, Not so, father: for this is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. And Israel said to Joseph, Behold, I"m dying: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow ( Genesis 48:16-22 ).

And so one portion more; two portions going to Joseph and thus the birthright being passed on to Joseph; his receiving of the two portions. "

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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/genesis-48.html. 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible


Jacob Blesses Manasseh and Ephraim, the Sons of Joseph

He adopts them as his own sons with privileges equal to the others, thus making them heads of distinct tribes. By so doing he gives to Joseph, the eldest son of Rachel, whom he probably regarded as his true wife, the position of firstborn with a double portion of his inheritance. From the time of Moses we find Ephraim and Manasseh giving their names to tribes (Numbers 1), which received territory on the conquest of Canaan.

3. Luz] or Bethel: see on Genesis 28:19.

6. Any other children of Joseph would be reckoned as belonging to the tribes of Ephraim or Manasseh.

7. By me] RM 'to my sorrow.' The mention of Rachel here may be only a fond reminiscence called forth by the presence of her grandchildren. But the v. would be perhaps more appropriately placed after Genesis 49:31, where Jacob is speaking of the burial of his ancestors and of Leah.

13, 14. Joseph had so arranged his sons that Manasseh, as the first-born, would receive his father's right hand in the act of blessing; but Jacob, 'guiding his hands wittingly 'as taught by God, transferred that honour to the younger Ephraim, thus prophetically declaring the future superiority of that tribe: see Genesis 48:19. Owing to its preëminence the northern kingdom of Israel was often called Ephraim by the prophets, e.g. Isaiah 11 Ezekiel 37.

22. Portion] RM 'mountain slope '(Heb. shechem). The reference is to Shechem in the mountainous territory of Ephraim. Jacob gives Shechem to Joseph as his advantage over the others. The acquiring of Shechem by Jacob by force of arms represents a different tradition to that mentioned in Genesis 33, 34.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/genesis-48.html. 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jacob"s blessing of Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh 48:12-20

Ephraim and Manasseh had been standing close to Jacob, between his knees, so he could see and touch them ( Genesis 48:12). Ancient Near Eastern adoption ritual included placing the adopted child on the knees of the adopting parent to symbolize giving him birth in place of the birth mother. [Note: See I. Mendelsohn, "A Ugaritic Parallel to the Adoption of Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh," Israel Exploration Journal (1959):180-83.] Now Joseph took them back to where he had been standing, in front of his father. He then bowed before Jacob.

"Joseph may be the second most powerful man in Egypt, but he never loses his respect for his father, and he never ceases to be gracious toward him." [Note: Hamilton, The Book . . . Chapters18-50, p635.]

Arranging Manasseh and Ephraim in the normal order for Jacob"s blessing, by their age, Joseph then brought them forward again ( Genesis 48:13).

This is the first of many scriptural instances of the laying on of hands ( Genesis 48:14). By this symbolic Acts, a person transferred a spiritual power or gift to another. This rite was part of the ceremony of dedicating a person or group to an office ( Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9; Matthew 19:13; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17; etc.), offering sacrifices, and the healings Jesus Christ and the apostles performed. In this case Jacob symbolically transferred a blessing from himself to Joseph"s sons. Once uttered, blessings were irreversible (cf. Numbers 23:20; Romans 11:29).

Jacob"s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh also carried prophetic significance and force ( Genesis 48:19-20). Under the inspiration of God, Jacob deliberately gave Ephraim the privileged first-born blessing and predicted his preeminence. This was the fourth consecutive generation of Abraham"s descendants in which the normal pattern of the firstborn assuming prominence over the second born was reversed: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, and Ephraim over Manasseh. We can see this blessing in the process of fulfillment during the Judges Period when the tribe of Ephraim had grown very large and influential. The combined tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh increased from72,700 in the second year after the Exodus ( Numbers 1:32-35) to85,20040 years later ( Numbers 26:28-37). By contrast the tribes of Reuben and Simeon decreased from105,800 to65,930 during the same period. The Ephraimites took the lead among the ten northern tribes and flourished to the extent that the Jews used the name Ephraim equally with the name Israel. The Ephraimites occasionally demonstrated an attitude of superiority among the tribes that we can trace back to this blessing (e.g, Judges 12:1; et al.). The Hebrew phrase translated "a multitude (group) of nations" ( Genesis 48:19) appears only here in the Old Testament and probably means a company of peoples, namely, numerous. The reference to Israel in Genesis 48:20 applies to the nation in the future from Jacob"s viewpoint.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/genesis-48.html. 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15, 16) He blessed Joseph, and said.—In Jacob’s blessing there is a threefold appellation of the Deity, and a threefold blessing given to Joseph’s sons. God is, first, the Elohim before whom his fathers had walked. Next, He is the Elohim who, as a shepherd, had watched over Jacob all his life long. But, thirdly, He is that Divine Presence which had been, and still was, Jacob’s “goël,” redeeming and rescuing him from all evil. The blessing is first general, the verb “bless” being singular, which, following the threefold repetition of God’s name in the plural, is rightly used by Luther as a proof of a Trinity in Unity in the Godhead. Secondly, Ephraim and Manasseh are to bear the names, and be the representatives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Lastly, they are to grow into a multitude with extraordinary rapidity, the word used signifying that they were to increase with a prolificness as great as that of fishes.

The word “goël” is here used for the first time. It subsequently became the term for the nearest blood relative, whose duty it was to avenge a murder; but it is here used in its wider sense of a Saviour and a Deliverer. (Comp. Exodus 6:6; Isaiah 59:20, &c.) The angel who wrestled with Jacob cannot accurately be described as having appeared to him in the character of a deliverer (Genesis 32:24-30). He appeared as an adversary; and Jacob learned in the struggle, by overcoming him, that he had power with God and man, and would prevail over all the difficulties and foes that still stood in his way. Moreover, the verb is present, “the angel that redeemeth me from all evil.” Jacob recognised a Divine Presence which constantly guarded him, and which was ever his Redeemer and Saviour.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/genesis-48.html. 1905.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary

JACOB BLESSES JOSEPH’S SONS

Genesis 48:8-22

By his act in blessing them, Jacob reversed the verdict of birth, and gave the younger the birthright. Probably there were qualities in Ephraim which naturally put him in the foremost place. The Bible is full of hope for younger sons. He spoke of the Angel, Jehovah, so often referred to in the Old Testament, and who can be no other than the Son of God. He also is our Shepherd, Guardian and Friend. He will feed and tend us all our life long. He will redeem us from all evil and bring us to a blessed end in peace. Be of good cheer! He cared for you in your helpless infancy and will do no less in your helpless old age. If any lads hear this portion read let them notice that old Jacob prayed God to bless the lads. Evidently then, no little lad is too small for God to notice and bless! Though the fathers die, God lives and will bring us again to “the land of the leal.”

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/genesis-48.html. 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

CHAPTER 48 Jacob adopts Ephraim and Manasseh

1. The sons of Joseph brought to Jacob (Gen. 48-12)

2. The words of Jacob (Genesis 48:3-7)

3. Ephraim and Manasseh presented (Genesis 48:8-14)

4. Jacob’s blessing (Genesis 48:13-16)

5. Joseph’s interference (Genesis 48:17-20)

6. Jacob’s last words to Joseph (Genesis 48:21-22)

The adoption of Joseph’s sons is interesting and instructive. As the offspring of the Gentile wife Asenath they were in danger of becoming gentilized and thus forget their father’s house. Jacob frustrated this by adopting the sons. It was an action of faith. “By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped leaning on the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). Again the younger is preferred. When Jacob speaks of “the Angel, the Redeemer” (literal translation) he speaks of Jehovah who appeared unto him, whom he met face to face at Peniel. Full of hope, dying Jacob predicted the return of his offspring to the land of Canaan.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/genesis-48.html. 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The use of the two names is observed once more. Jacob was sick, but, hearing that Joseph was coming to see him, it was Israel that strengthened himself. Once again Jacob was the speaker and in what he said the planning of the schemer was still evident.

Yet how wonderfully the divine overruling is seen, for in Jacob's adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh the redemption of Joseph from Egypt was brought about. Joseph had married an Egyptian woman and occupied a place of peculiar power in Egypt. What more likely than that his sons should be brought up as Egyptians? The action of Jacob in claiming these boys as his retained the succession of Joseph within the border of the people of God.

In the latter part of the story the name is Israel and the whole life of the man was one of faith. Evidently he acted entirely under divine impulse in crossing his hands so that the right lay on Ephraim's head and the left on Manasseh. Thus it is seen that notwithstanding all his faults and failures, this son of Isaac and Abraham was indeed a man of faith and an instrument through whom it was possible for God to carry out His purposes.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/genesis-48.html. 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads,.... Ephraim and Manasseh, now about twenty years old or upwards: this is not to be understood of a created angel he wishes to be their guardian, but of an eternal one, the Son of God, the Angel of God's presence, the Angel of the covenant; the same with the God of his father before mentioned, as appears by the character he gives him, as having "redeemed him from all evil"; not only protected and preserved him from temporal evils and imminent dangers from Esau, Laban, and others; but had delivered him from the power, guilt, and punishment of sin, the greatest of evils, and from the dominion and tyranny of Satan the evil one, and from everlasting wrath, ruin, and damnation; all which none but a divine Person could do, as well as he wishes, desires, and prays, that he would "bless" the lads with blessings temporal and spiritual, which a created angel cannot do; and Jacob would never have asked it of him:

and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; having adopted them, he foretells they would be called not only the sons of Joseph, but the children of Israel or Jacob, and would have a name among the tribes of Israel, and be heads of them, as well as would be called the seed of Abraham and of Isaac, and inherit their blessings: and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth; where they increased as fishes, as the word signifiesF19וידגו "et instar piscium sint", Pagninus, Montanus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Ainsworth, and the Targum of Onkelos, and Jarchi. , and more than any other of the tribes; even in the times of Moses the number of them were 85,200 men fit for war, Numbers 26:34; and their situation was in the middle of the land of Canaan.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/genesis-48.html. 1999.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Jacob"s Final Days

The writer gives a brief record of the rest of Jacob"s life before he gives details of the events surrounding the time of his death. Jacob lived seventeen more years in Egypt and saw his descendants multiply. Before his death, he made Joseph promise to take his body back to be buried with Abraham and Isaac.

Some time prior to Jacob"s death, Joseph took his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh to be blessed by him. Jacob adopted them as sons who might have been born to Rachel. Woods says, "The act of placing the sons beside Jacob"s knees had symbolized their adoption by him." By placing his right hand on Ephraim"s head, Jacob designated which son was to receive the greater blessing from him. To Joseph, Jacob said, "Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow."

Jacob then called all of his sons to him and blessed each one. With God"s help, these blessings were prophetic. Reuben lost the right of the birthright because he went into his father"s bed with Bilhah (). Simeon and Levi were scattered among the tribes with no real inheritance of their own because of their angry sin at Shechem (34:25-26). The Levites had cities throughout the land. Simeon"s inheritance was in the middle of Judah"s land and eventually caused his descendants to be absorbed (Joshua 19:1).

Of Judah Jacob said, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people." Of course, this was fulfilled in Christ. Zebulun was located in the perfect spot for commerce (; Joshua 19:10-16). Issachar received a beautiful piece of land but ended up serving the surrounding nations. Dan was the smallest of the tribes but would, by guerilla warfare, prove a difficulty to any enemy entering Israel. Gad was troubled with raiders but defended herself very well.

Asher received a plot of land that was among the most fertile in the promised land (). Rich foods came out of this region which were fit for kings. Naphtali is described as a hind, or gazelle, which Keil and Delitzsch say "is a simile of a warrior who is skilful and swift in his movements." The men of this tribe helped Deborah and Barak defeat the armies of Jabin, who was a king of Canaan (Judges 4:1-24; Judges 5:1-31).

Joseph, as Jacob"s firstborn by Rachel, received the double portion through the adoption of his two sons by his father. A fruit tree by a spring grew especially well in Israel. Joseph"s descendants faced strong opposition but overcame with God"s help. When the blessings were complete, Jacob died (; Genesis 48:1-22; Genesis 49:1-33).

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/genesis-48.html. 2014.

Geneva Study Bible

The e Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my f name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

(e) This angel must be understood to be Christ, as in (Genesis 31:13), (Genesis 32:1).

(f) Let them be taken as my children.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/genesis-48.html. 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

The angel guardian, who, by God's ordinance, has ever protected me, continue his kind attention towards these my grand-children. It is not probably that he, who was called God before, should now be styled an angel, as some Protestants would have us believe. (Haydock) --- St. Basil (contra Eunom. iii.) and St. Chrysostom, with many others, allege this text, to prove that an angel is given to man for the direction of his life, and to protect him against the assaults of the rebel angels, as Calvin himself dares not deny. --- Let my, &c. Let them partake of the blessings (promised by name to me, to Abraham, and to Isaac) among the other tribes; or, may God bless them, in consideration of his servants. Moses obtained pardon for the Hebrews, by reminding God of these his chosen friends, Exodus xxxii. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/genesis-48.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil. Jacob declares (Genesis 48:3) that this Angel was God Almighty (cf. Genesis 31:11; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 32:30; Genesis 35:1; Genesis 35:7; Genesis 35:11; Hosea 12:3-5) - the God of his fathers and the God of his own personal experience. The name is thrice repeated in Genesis 48:15-16. 'The analogy of the three-fold blessing of Aaron (Numbers 6:24-26) would lead us to expect that the name of God should be three times mentioned. No created angel could in this manner be placed by the side of God, or be introduced as being independent of, and coordinate with, Him. Such an angel can only be meant as is connected with God by oneness of nature, and whose activity is implied in that of God. The singular [ y

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-48.html. 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

The Last Days of Jacob

Genesis 47-49

We have seen Jacob a runaway, a stranger, a hireling, and a prince having power with God. His deceptions, his dreams, his prayers, his visions, are now closing; and the sunset is not without gorgeousness and solemnity. Every sunset should make us pray or sing; it should not pass without leaving some sacred impression upon the mind. The dying sun should be a teacher of some lesson, and mystery, and grace of providence. We shall now see Jacob as we have never seen him before. Who can tell but in the splendours of the sunset we shall see some points and qualities which have been heretofore concealed? Some men do seem to live most in their dying; we see more of them in the last mysterious hour than we have seen in a lifetime; more goodness, more feeling after God, more poignant and vehement desire for things heavenly and eternal. How is this to be accounted for? Base hypocrisy is not the explanation. We may be too ready to find in hypocrisy the explanation of death-bed experiences. Is there not a more excellent way,—a finer, deeper, truer answer to the enigma of that sacred and most tragical moment? Who can tell what sights are beaming on the soul, what new courage is being breathed into the heart, timid through many a weary year? Who can tell what the dying see? We have yet to die! Even Christ was revealed by the Cross. We had not known Christ without the crucifixion. The agony came into his prayer when the trouble came into his soul.

The history is a simple one, yet with wondrous perspective. Seventeen years did Israel dwell in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen, and when he was a hundred and forty and seven years old, the time drew nigh that Israel must die. Who can fight the army of the Years? Those silent soldiers never lose a war. They fire no base cannon, they use no vulgar steel, they strike with invisible but irresistible hands. Noisy force loses something by its very noise. The silent years bury the tumultuous throng. We have all to be taken down. The strongest tower amongst us, heaven-reaching in its altitude, must be taken down—a stone at a time, or shaken with one rude shock to the level ground:—man must die. Israel had then but one favour to ask. So it comes to us all. We who have spent a lifetime in petitioning for assistance have at the last but one request to make. "Take me," said one of England"s brightest wits in his dying moments, "to the window that I may feel the morning air." "Light, more light," said another man greater still, expressing some wondrous necessity best left as a mystery. "Bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt," said dying Jacob to his son Joseph, "but bury me in the burying-place of my fathers." What other heaven had the Old Testament man? The graveyard was a kind of comfort to him. He must be buried in a given place marked off and sacredly guarded. He had not lived up into that universal humanity which says—All places are consecrated, and every point is equally near heaven with every other point, if so be God dig the grave and watch it. By-and-by we shall hear another speech in the tone of Divine revelation; by-and-by we shall get rid of these localities, and limitations, and prisons, for the Lion of the tribe of Judah will open up some wider space of thought, and contemplation, and service. With Joseph"s oath dying Jacob was satisfied.

Now we come upon family scenes. Joseph will have his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim blessed, and for so sweet an office Israel strengthened himself and sat upon the bed. What hints of life"s mystery are there! The courteous old gentleman strengthened himself when he heard that princely Joseph was coming with his sons. How we can whip ourselves up to one other effort! How we can just blow the smouldering embers into a little flash and flame—one last sparkle! the effort of desperation. Now the old man will tell his life-story over We wonder how he will begin, and where. It is a delicate matter to be autobiographical. Jacob is about to look backwards, and to relate the story of his own earthly career. Where will he begin? There are some graves we dare not rip open. What will he tell Joseph about his own early life? To the last he is a kind of inspired schemer; to the last he knows where to draw boundary lines, how to make introductions and exceptions. He will tell about the old blind Isaac? No. He will say how he ran away from Esau whom he had supplanted? No. What will he say then by way of beginning? He will begin at the second birth. That is where we, too, are called to begin. Do not celebrate the old natural fleshly birthday—that was in reality death-day. Jacob will begin where he himself truly began to be, "God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me." What a subtle narrator! What a gift in history! Not a word about the old homestead and old doings; but beginning with regeneration, when he threw off the old man and started up—though with some rudeness of outline needing infinite discipline—into a brighter, larger self. This is a mystery in Providence as revealing itself in the consciousness of the redeemed and sanctified soul. We should be in perpetual despair if we went back to our very earliest doings, and bound ourselves within the prison of our merely fleshly and earthly memories. Each of us has had a Luz in his way. Surely every soul calling itself in any degree right with God, or right in its desires at least towards God, has had a vision-place and a vision-hour,—a place so sacred that other places were forgotten in its memory: an hour so bright that all earlier hours absorbed their paler rays in its ineffable effulgence. Now are we the sons of God. We began our true life when God began his life within the soul. So this well-skilled autobiographer will say nothing about other times. God himself has promised never to mention them to us. He says,—Come, now, and we will gather up the sins as into one great stone, and plunge it into the infinite depths, and the billows shall keep it concealed for ever. We must not drag back the memory to days of murder, dissipation, blasphemy, and all wickedness. We begin our life where God began the life of the soul. Now, being free at the beginning, Jacob is eloquent. After getting over some sentences how the soul can flow away in easy copious speech! He told how Rachel died in the land of Canaan when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath, and how he buried her in the way and set a pillar upon her grave which he meant to stand evermore, thinking that all ages must weep over the woman whose soul departed as she travailed in birth with Benoni. Heedless ages! The pillars of the dead have no sanctity in their cold eyes, yet it does us good to think that many will cry about the spots which mark our own heartbreak. Surely every man must cry where we cried; surely our tears have consecrated some places; surely no fool can laugh where our soul nearly died.

Now a scene occurs which must have had the effect of a moral resurrection upon dying Jacob. Joseph set his sons in the order of their ages. He was so far a technicalist and a pedant that he would keep up the well-known law of succession by primogeniture. But Jacob guided his hands wittingly and crossed them so as to violate that sacred law. Joseph was displeased and said "Not Song of Solomon, my father, but otherwise"; and Jacob said "I know it, my Song of Solomon, I know it; but this is right," Who can tell what passions surged through his own soul at that moment? What is this duplication of one"s life? What is this sudden enbodiment of shadows standing up and confronting us in a silence more terrible than accusatory speech, our other-selves, strange shadow-memories, actions which we could explain but may not: benedictions which express a philosophy which we dare not reveal in terms? A wonderful life is the human life—yea, a life within a life, a sanctuary having impenetrable places in it. Others may see some deeds or shadows of deeds upon the window as they pass by, but only the man himself knows what is written in the innermost places of the silent soul.

Israel is now in a mood of benediction. We need but to begin some things in order to proceed quite rapidly and lavishly. So Jacob will now bless his own sons. We must read the benedictions as a whole. Months might be spent in the detailed analysis and criticism of the blessings, but even that detailed examination would leave us in almost total ignorance of the real scope and value of those benedictions as revelations of the quality of the mind and heart of the man who pronounced them. What a mind was Jacob"s, as shown in the various blessings pronounced upon his children! How discriminating those now closing eyes! How they glitter with criticism! How keen—penetrating, even to the finest lines of distinction! Surely what we see in those eyes is a gleam of the very soul. This is no joint salutation or valediction; this is no greeting and farewell mixed up in one confused utterance. This is criticism. This is the beginning of a career of mental development which is the pride of human education and culture. How affectionate too! In nearly every line there is some accent of affection peculiar to itself. And how prophetic! The ages are all revealed to the calm vision and sacred gaze of this man who is more in heaven than upon earth. But this prophecy is no phantasy. We have accustomed ourselves now to a definition of prophecy which enables us in some degree to understand this way of allotment and benediction. Prophecy is based on character. We have already defined prophecy as moral prescience. Retaining the definition, we see in this instance one of its finest and clearest illustrations. This is no fancy painting. It is the power of the soul in its last efforts to see what crops will come out of this seed and of that; it is a man standing upon fields charged with seed, the quality of which he well knows, forecasting the harvest. Moral prophecy is vindicated by moral law. There was no property to divide. There was something better than property to give. What a will is this! It has about it all the force of a man being his own distributer—not only writing a will like a testator, which is of no force until after the testator"s death, but already enriching his sons with an inheritance better than measurable lands. What have you to leave to your children? to your friends? You could leave an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away,—bright memories of love, recollections of sacred sympathy, prayers that lifted the life into new hope, forgiveness that abolished the distinction between earth and heaven, and made pardoned souls feel as if they had seen their Father in heaven; great will: eternal substance.

How Jacob"s conscience burned up in that sacred hour! He remembered the evil of his sons. He reminded Reuben of what he had done; he recalled the deed of shame, never to be spoken aloud by human tongue, wrought by Simeon and Levi in the land of Hamor the Hivite; and because their anger was fierce and their wrath was cruel, he divided them in Jacob and scattered them in Israel. "The evil that men do lives after them." Simeon and Levi had forgotten what they did in their sister"s case. Jacob had not. In such a malediction there are great meanings, even so far as Jacob is concerned. Jacob knew the cost of sin. Jacob knew that no man can of himself shake off his sin and become a free man in the universe. The sin follows him with swift fate, opens its mouth like a wolf and shows its cruel teeth. No man can forgive sin. Who but God can wrestle with it? We fly from it, try to forget it; but up it leaps again, a foe that pursues unto the death, unless some Mighty One shall come to deal with it when there is no eye to pity and no arm to help. But presently Jacob will come to a name that will change his tone. How some faces brighten us! How the incoming of some men makes us young again! Jacob we have never seen until he comes to pronounce his blessing upon Joseph.

"Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren" ( ).

We read this as a speech of words: it came from the original speaker like a sacrifice of blood. What a marvellous poem! How judgment blazes in it in certain directions! "The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him. They have hamstrung this noblest of the offspring of Israel. Did the "old man eloquent" look round upon the brethren as he said this: "and blessings shall be upon the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren"? What sharp darts fell upon the consciences of the listeners! There are benedictions that are judgments. We encourage some men at the expense of the destruction of others. Words have atmosphere, perspective, relations that do not instantly appear upon the surface of the speech. The singing of a hymn may be a judgment to some who hear it; a kind word may awaken burning memories in many consciences. We cannot tell what we say. We cannot follow the whole vibration which follows the utterance of our speech.

Now let Israel die. Bury the old man where he would like to be buried. Wherever such a man is buried, now that God has wrought the evil out of him, sweet flowers must grow;—Eden must begin.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/genesis-48.html. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 48:1. His two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. We here see again with what alacrity, reverence and devotion the sons of the holy patriarchs awaited the final benediction of their departing Sires, while the children after the flesh paid no regard to it. God had on special occasions appeared to the patriarchs, and blessed them and their seed. The believing children therefore awaited it at the hands and from the prophetic spirit of their sires, being assured that they had a right to confer it. In the christian church the same custom is preserved, on the admission of young people to communion; on the appointment of ministers to their work; and in the apostolic age, they laid their hands upon them anew for almost every important mission, praying devoutly for God to give the Spirit.

Genesis 48:5. Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob, guided by the Spirit of God, preferred Ephraim before Joseph’s firstborn. He received them not as grandsons, but as sons begotten of his own body, and made them heads of tribes. Thus Ephraim shared with Reuben in the double portion given to the firstborn.

Genesis 48:6. And thy issue. Whatever issue Joseph might have, if any survived, they were associated with the two half tribes of which his sons were the heads.

Genesis 48:14. Israel—guiding his hands wittingly. Joseph having placed his sons kneeling, and in order, according to their age, to receive the blessing, Israel, as Tertullian supposes, crossed his hands to confer it.

Genesis 48:16. The angel which redeemed me. The word Angel, being joined here with Goel, is not equivocal. He is the angel who appeared to Abraham under the oak of Mamrè, and called to him out of heaven by the name of Elohim, and of JEHOVAH. Genesis 18:22. He is the ever-living Goel of Job; his only Redeemer and hope. Genesis 19:25. He is our near kinsman, to whom belonged the right of redemption. Ruth 3:12. Boaz said to Ruth, “There is a kinsman [Goel] nearer than I.” He is our Saviour and deliverer, as the word is constantly rendered in the book of Psalms. The christian fathers have so understood the word, and with common consent. Vide Bulli def. fid. This is the Word which was in the beginning, the Word that was made flesh, and dwelt among us. He is the Angel whom Jacob invoked in his last moments, as he had done through life; he is the Lord Jesus to whom St. Stephen commended his spirit. Acts 7:59. Where then, oh Socinian, where is thy Redeemer!

Genesis 48:22. Which I took—with my sword. The scriptures being silent concerning any violence used by Jacob, we can only say that some of the ancients have thought that Jacob retook Shechem a second time out of the hands of the Amorites; others have thought that he fought to rescue the sepulchre of his fathers; but certain it is, that Shechem was given to Joseph’s children. Joshua 17:1; Joshua 24:32. John 4:5. There also Joseph’s bones were interred. But many think, that the patriarch solely alludes here to the act of Simeon and Levi, who put the males of Shechem to the sword.

REFLECTIONS.

Jacob still remembered, and now recited, the promises which God first made him at Bethel or Luz; for God had made them to him and his children. In like manner let every believer keep his eye fixed on the promises through the whole of his pilgrimage, for those gracious words of God which comforted and encouraged him in his youth, or in his trouble, must encourage him to the end, and be the prop and support of his children. The recollection of past mercies seems, where faith is kept in exercise, to recal all the ancient heaven felt in the soul, when God delivered us in the day of trouble.

This venerable patriarch, on the approach of Joseph to his bed, was reminded of Rachel, though now dead more than half a century; and he wished Joseph to know that he received the birthright on her account. But oh how much does the recollection of saints in glory, whom we once so dearly loved, enliven the gloomy aspect of the grave. Wearied with the evils of life, and with the crimes of men, the good man wants to associate with the society of the blessed. He wishes to shake off the cumbrous load of flesh, whose infirmities daily increase; he wishes to pierce the veil of futurity, and escape away. At length death suddenly throws open the massy gates, unfolds the scenes of glory, and his soul springs up into everlasting life.

How happy, how divinely happy is the aged man, who in dying, sees himself surrounded with children and with grandchildren kneeling for a blessing, and in a fair way both for worldly and everlasting prosperity. This heightens the joys of dying, and augments the hopes of heaven. And surely this, with the children of the righteous, should be no small motive to conversion and piety. This divine change will, above all considerations, augment the joys of a good father in his last moments, and the want of it will be the greatest affliction of his soul.

But the lustre of Joseph’s blessing, on account of righteousness, eclipsed the glory of Reuben, on account of sin, and a sin committed forty years before. Mark then, oh my soul, the consequences of a single crime. Not to mention the destruction to which it exposes both body and soul, the consequences, even where the sincerest repentance follows, may be lasting as life, and afflictive to our children after death. The God of Israel is a jealous God, and it is better to die than to revolt against his arm.

In conferring those blessings, was the patriarch prompted by the Spirit to bless Ephraim above Manasseh? Then we learn that divine endowments, spiritual offices and temporal gifts, are bestowed by a sovereign act of God’s good pleasure. Are all apostles? Are all evangelists? Do all speak with tongues? If the secondary gifts and blessings are our allotment, let us adore him for what we have and diligently improve them, that at his coming we may be called good and faithful servants, and be invited to enter into the joy of our Lord.—And it is one presumed mark of Reuben’s repentance, that we never hear that he murmured either against Jacob, or against Joseph.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/genesis-48.html. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 48:16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Ver. 16. The Angel which redeemed me.] Christ, the Angel of the Covenant, the Mediator of the New Testament, the Redeemer, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world. "For we were not redeemed with silver and gold, but with the blood of Christ, as of a lamb undefiled." [1 Peter 1:19] Paul by that "freedom" [Acts 22:28] escaped whipping: we, by this, the pain of eternal torment.

And let my name be named on them.] Lest any should think it to be some prejudice to them that they were born in Egypt, and of an Egyptian mother, he adopts them for his own.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-48.html. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

The patriarch then stretched out his right hand and laid it upon Ephraim's head, and placed his left upon the head of Manasseh (crossing his arms therefore), to bless Joseph in his sons. “ Guiding his hands wittingly; ” i.e., he placed his hands in this manner intentionally. Laying on the hand, which is mentioned here for the first time in the Scriptures, was a symbolical sign, by which the person acting transferred to another a spiritual good, a supersensual power or gift; it occurs elsewhere in connection with dedication to an office (Numbers 27:18, Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9; Matthew 19:13; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17, etc.), with the sacrifices, and with the cures performed by Christ and the apostles. By the imposition of hands, Jacob transferred to Joseph in his sons the blessing which he implored for them from his own and his father's God: “ The God ( Ha-Elohim ) before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God ( Ha-Elohim ) who hath fed me (led and provided for me with a shepherd's faithfulness, Psalms 23:1; Psalms 28:9) from my existence up to this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads .” This triple reference to God, in which the Angel who is placed on an equality with Ha-Elohim cannot possibly be a created angel, but must be the “Angel of God,” i.e., God manifested in the form of the Angel of Jehovah, or the “Angel of His face” (Isaiah 43:9), contains a foreshadowing of the Trinity, though only God and the Angel are distinguished, not three persons of the divine nature. The God before whom Abraham and Isaac walked, had proved Himself to Jacob to be “the God which fed” and “the Angel which redeemed,” i.e., according to the more fully developed revelation of the New Testament, ὁ Θεός and ὁ λόγος, Shepherd and Redeemer. By the singular יברך (bless, benedicat ) the triple mention of God is resolved into the unity of the divine nature. Non dicit ( Jakob ) benedicant, pluraliter, nec repetit sed conjungit in uno opere benedicendi tres personas, Deum Patrem, Deum pastorem et Angelum. Sunt igitur hi tres unus Deus et unus benedictor. Idem opus facit Angelus quod pastor et Deus Patrum ( Luther ). “Let my name be named on them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,” i.e., not, “they shall bear my name and my fathers',” “ dicantur filii mei et patrum meorum, licet ex te nati sint ” ( Rosenm .), which would only be another way of acknowledging his adoption of them, “ nota adoptionis ” ( Calvin ); for as the simple mention of adoption is unsuitable to such a blessing, so the words appended, “ and according to the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, ” are still less suitable as a periphrasis for adoption. The thought is rather: the true nature of the patriarchs shall be discerned and acknowledged in Ephraim and Manasseh; in them shall those blessings of grace and salvation be renewed, which Jacob and his fathers Isaac and Abraham received from God. The name expressed the nature, and “being called” is equivalent to “being, and being recognised by what one is.” The salvation promised to the patriarchs related primarily to the multiplication into a great nation, and the possession of Canaan. Hence Jacob proceeds: “ and let them increase into a multitude in the midst of the land .” דּגה : ἁπ λεγ, “to increase,” from which the name דּג, a fish, is derived, on account of the remarkable rapidity with which they multiply.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/genesis-48.html. 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Jacob Blesses Joseph and His Sons

When Joseph brings his sons to his father, his father asks who they are. The answer is the same as the answer Jacob once gave to Esau (Gen 33:5). Although Jacob cannot see the sons of Joseph, his grandsons, he embraces them. He loves them, as a grandfather loves his grandchildren. They are his crown (Pro 17:6). He acknowledges God's goodness that he was able to see not only Joseph, but also his children, while he thought Joseph was dead for so long. He says that God has blessed him abundantly.

"By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph" (Heb 11:21). It has been said that Jacob has never walked as powerfully as here where he is sick in bed, and has never seen as clearly as here while his eyes have become weak. It is possible that when blessing the youngest before the eldest he thought of the deceit he committed as the youngest to get the blessing of the eldest (Gen 27:19).

Jacob also blesses Joseph himself in Joseph's sons (Gen 48:15), confessing God as his Shepherd. He knows that God has led him, even though he has not thought of Him so often. He knows that God has saved him from all need (2Tim 4:18), in which he has ended up through his own fault.

In the blessing which Jacob pronounces, he uses three indications for God:
1. First he speaks of "the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked". With this he indicates that he knows God as the God of the covenant.
2. He then speaks of "the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day". In this he indicates that God took care of him all his life and has never let him be wanting for anything.
3. Finally, he calls God "the angel who has redeemed me from all evil". Jacob is also aware of God's protection and liberation from all the tribulation he has experienced.

With these three special names for God he prays for God's gracious blessing for both boys.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 48:16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kng/genesis-48.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Blessing upon Ephraim and Manasseh

v. 8. And Israel beheld Joseph's sons and said, Who are these? The eyes of Jacob being dim with age, he had not noticed the presence of the two young men till now.

v. 9. And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Till now they had stood at a respectful distance, as becomes young people in the presence of their elders.

v. 10. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see, just as his father's had been at the time he blessed his sons. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them and embraced them. The grandfather had probably not seen the boys for years, and was overjoyed at the meeting.

v. 11. And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face, he had not even dared to suppose that so much joy would be his; and, lo, God hath showed me also thy seed, these children.

v. 12. And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, where Jacob had held them in a fond embrace, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth, awaiting the blessing which his father was ready to give.

v. 13. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him, his idea being that Jacob would thus naturally place his right hand on the head of Manasseh as he blessed the boys.

v. 14. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born; he purposely placed the younger before the older, although this made it necessary for him to cross his arms.

v. 15. And he 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,

v. 16. the Angel, the Son of God, who had assisted his fathers as well as himself at various times, which redeemed me from all evil, both of body and of soul, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; in them the dignity and the faith of the patriarchs was to be continued, in them God's gifts of grace and salvation should be renewed, even as they had been received by their fathers; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth, their increase should be as great as that of the fishes in the sea. Thus did Jacob confess his heartfelt gratitude to God, both as his Shepherd and as his Savior, and the threefold mention of God may well have reference to the Trinity.

v. 17. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, for the laying on of hands was a symbol of the transfer of spiritual gifts, and the right hand typified the greater share of these blessings; and he held up his father's hand, he gently took hold of it and supported it, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head, thinking that his father had made a mistake without being conscious of it.

v. 18. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father; for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head.

v. 19. And his father refused and said, I know it, my son, I know it, he was well aware of the fact that Manasseh, and not Ephraim, was the firstborn: he (Manasseh) also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. It was not merely an old man's whim or caprice, but Jacob was acting with prophetic insight and wisdom and transmitting the blessing of the Lord. As a matter of fact, the tribe of Ephraim did pass the tribe of Manasseh in numbers and power, finally assuming the leadership of the northern tribes.

v. 20. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee (Joseph) shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh; and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. So great and unusual was the blessing of God upon these two tribes that it became proverbial among the children of Israel and was used in special formulas of well-wishing.

v. 21. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die; he knew that his end was now very near; but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. He thus passed on the prophetic promise which he had received at Beersheba, Gen_46:4.

v. 22. Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, a strip of land in Canaan, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. This is also a prophetic saying and refers to the time when the children of Israel conquered the Land of Promise and drove out the Canaanites before them, at which time Joseph obtained the land which contained Shechem, where also his bones were laid to rest. Thus did Jacob give to his son Joseph the field at Shechem, Joh_4:5. And it was the Lord who, through Jacob, fixed the destiny of these descendants, just as He governs the entire universe according to His will.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/genesis-48.html. 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             NINTH SECTION

Jacob’s sickness. His blessing of his grandchildren. Joseph’s sons.

  Genesis 48:1-22

1And it came to pass, after these things, that one[FN1] told Joseph, Behold, thy father Isaiah 2 sick; and he took with him his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee; and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed 3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz [Bethel] in the land of Canaan, and blessed me 4 And said unto me, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and I will give this land to thy seed after thee, for an everlasting possession 5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh, that were born unto thee in the land of Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine 6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance 7 And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by[FN2] me in the land of Canaan, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath; and I buried her there, in the way of Ephrath; the same is Beth-lehem [reason for enlarging the descendants of Rachel]. 8And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? 9And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him, and he kissed them, and embraced them 11 And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face; and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed 12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees [Jacob’s], and he bowed[FN3] himself with his face to the earth 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand towards Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand towards Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding[FN4]his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first born 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed[FN5] me all my life long unto this day, 16The angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth 17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he held up his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not Song of Solomon, my father; for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my Song of Solomon, I know it; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than Hebrews, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim, and as Manasseh; and he set Ephraim before Prayer of Manasseh 21And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die; 22but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given to thee one portion[FN6] above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS

1. To the distinction of Judah, in the history of Israel, corresponds the distinction of Joseph, namely, that he is represented by two tribes. This historical fact is here referred back to the patriarchal theocratic sanction. In this Jacob authenticates the distinction of Rachel no less than of Joseph. The arrangement is of importance as expressing the fact that the tribe of his favorite son should be neither that of the priesthood (Levi), nor the central tribe of the Messiah (Judah). Only through divine illumination, and a divine self-renouncement of his own Wisdom of Solomon, could he have come to such a decision. It was, however, in accordance with his deep love of Joseph, that he richly indemnified him in ways corresponding, at the same time, to the dispositions of the sons and to the divine determination; and that, in this preliminary blessing, he prepared him for the distinguishing blessing of Judah. If we regard the right of the firstborn in a three-fold way: as priesthood, princehood, and double inheritance ( 1 Chronicles 5:2), then Jacob gives to Joseph, by way of devise, the third part, at least, namely, the double inheritance. Thus this chapter forms the natural introduction to the blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49 Neither of them can be rightly understood without the other.

2. Contents: 1) The distinguishing blessing of Joseph, especially the adoption of his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, Genesis 48:1-7; Genesis 2) the blessing of Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh, Genesis 48:8-16; Genesis 3) the precedence of Ephraim, Genesis 48:17-19; Genesis 4) The preference of Joseph, Genesis 48:20-22.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The adoption of Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim ( Genesis 48:1-7). Delitzsch. “We must call it an act of adoption, although, in the sense of the civil law, adoption, strictly, is unknown to Jewish antiquity; it is an adoption which may be compared to the adoptio plena of the Justinian code (adoption on the side of the ascendants, or kinsmen reckoned upwards).” The theocratic adoption, however, has, before all things, a religious ethical character, though including, at the same time, a legal importance.—After these things.—Jacob’s history is now spiritually closed; he lives only for his sons, as testator and prophet.—And he took with him.—The sons of Joseph must now have been about twenty years old. They were already born when Jacob came to Egypt, and he lived there seventeen years.—And Israel strengthened himself.—Delitzsch: “It is Jacob that lies down in sickness; it is Israel that gathers up his strength (compare a similar significant change of these names Genesis 45:27 : Jacob recovers from his fainting; it is Israel that is for going straight to Egypt).”—God Almighty appeared unto me.—Jacob makes mention first of that glorious revelation which had shed its light upon the whole of his troubled life. He makes prominent, however, the promise of a numerous posterity, as an introduction to the adoption.—They shall be mine.—They shall not be two branches, merely, of one tribe, but two fully-recognized tribes of Jacob and Israel, equal in this respect to the firstborn Reuben and Simeon.—Shall he thine.—The sons afterwards born shall belong to Joseph, not forming a third tribe, but included in Ephraim and Manasseh; for Joseph is represented in a two-fold way through these. After this provision, the names of the other sons of Joseph are not mentioned; it was necessary, however, that they should be contained in the genealogical registers, Numbers 26:28-37; 1 Chronicles 7:14-19 ( Joshua 16:17).—As for me, when I came from Padan.—The ואני here makes a contrast to Joseph. The calling to mind of Rachel here would seem, at first glance, to be an emotional interruption of the train of thought. In presence of Joseph, the remembrance of the never-to-be-forgotten one causes a sudden spasm of feeling (Delitzsch). But the very course of the thought would lead him to Rachel. She died by him on the way to Ephrath (עלי would mean, literally, for him; she died for him, since, while living, she shared with him, and for him, the toils of his pilgrimage life, and through this, perhaps, brought on her deadly travail. She died on the way to Ephratah, that Isaiah, Bethlehem, after she had only two sons. And so must he make this satisfaction to his heart’s longing for that one to whom he especially gives the name of wife (see Genesis 44:27), his first love, that there should be three full tribes from these two branches of Rachel. And thus, through their enlargement, is there a sacred memorial, not only of Joseph, but also of the loves and hopes of Rachel and Jacob. Knobel rightly remarks that the descendants of Joseph became very numerous, inferior only to those of Judah ( Numbers 1:33; Numbers 1:35), and even surpassing them, according to another reckoning Numbers 26:34; Numbers 26:37); so that, as two tribes, they were to have two inheritances ( Numbers 1:10), a fact which Ezekiel also keeps in view for the Messianic times ( Ezekiel 47:13; Ezekiel 48:4); although ( Deuteronomy 33:13) they are put together as one house of Joseph. Knobel, however, will have it that it is the narrator here who must be supposed to make this explanation instead of allowing that the patriarch himself might have foreseen it.—Padan.—Put here for Padan-aram.—Bethlehem.—An addition of the narrator.

2. The blessing of the sons, Ephraim and Manasseh ( Genesis 48:8-16).—Who are these?—“The old, dim-eyed patriarch interrupts himself. He now perceives, for the first time, that he is not alone with Joseph, and asks, Who are these here? Here again Knobel puts us in mind, in his presumptive way, that the narrative follows the old view, that the uttered blessings of godly men have power and efficacy” (a view which has not wholly died out), and remarks that these young persons ought to have been well known to Jacob. In the Elohistic time-reckoning, therefore, the question was an improbable one (he would say). Then, too, ought the old, and almost blind Isaac to have been able to distinguish his two sons, Jacob and Esau !—And he brought them near.—The emotion of the grandfather grows stronger as he calls to mind, how God had given him joy beyond his prayers and anticipations. He had not even expected to see Joseph again, and now he beholds not only him, but his two children.—And Joseph brought them out.—Jacob, in his embrace, had drawn them between the knees, and to his bosom; for we must think of him as sitting. This would suggest the idea of boys, or of children in the arms, a thing which Knobel has not overlooked; and yet it is self-evident that even as grown-up children, they might stand between the knees of Jacob. The blessing was a religious Acts, and in receiving it, they must take another and more solemn attitude. Therefore does Joseph draw them back, and kneels down himself, to prepare the sons, and himself with them, for the patriarchal blessing. Hereupon he brings them in the right positions before Jacob. If Jacob would lay his right hand upon Prayer of Manasseh, Joseph must present him with his left, and, with like cure, must Ephraim be placed before the left hand of Jacob. Among the Hebrews the right hand was the place of precedence ( 1 Kings 2:19). But Jacob crosses his expectation.—Guiding his hands wittingly.—Delitzsch and Knobel are in favor of the LXX interpretation, with which agrees the Vulgate and the Syriac, he changed, crossed his hands; Keil disputes it. The expression denotes a conscious and well-understood act. This is the first mention, in the Scriptures, of the imposition of the hands in blessing ( Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23).—And he blessed Joseph.—In his blessing of Manasseh and Ephraim, “who are also comprehended as Joseph in the blessing of Jacob ( Genesis 49) and Moses” Knobel.—God before whom.—The לפניו here is not to be disregarded (see Genesis 48:16). It is the God who reveals himself to the fathers through His Presence the angel of His Presence, מַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו Isaiah 63:9).—Who fed me.—Led me, guided me, as my shepherd, Psalm 23.—The angel.—Compare Isaiah 63:9. The word הַמַּלְאָךְ has no Wau conversive. Delitzsch explains this as showing “that the separate self-existence of the God-sent angel mentioned Numbers 20:16, is inconsistent with the idea of his being a medium and mediator of the divine self-witnessing” This is evidently a mingling of the divine and the creaturely which the Old Testament does not recognize. A creaturely angel cannot stand in connection with God as a fountain of blessing (but see Keil, p281). It is inconsistent when Delitzsch would here, too, regard the Logos as represented by this angel. It is worthy of notice, that along with this threefold naming of God (which would seem to sound like an anticipation of the trinity; see Keil, p281), there Isaiah, at the same time, clearly presented the conception of God’s presence, of his care as a shepherd, and of his faithfulness as Redeemer—all, too, in connection with the laying on of hands. We have, therefore, in this passage, a point in which the revelation makes a significant advance.—From all evil.—Jacob could tell of many seasons of sore pressure, in which the prospect of deliverance had almost vanished. They are connected with the names Esau, Laban, Shechem, Joseph, and the famine. The most grievous calamity was the ban of unrevealed guilt, that, for so many years, lay as a burthen upon his house, and which threatened to carry him away into a death-night of anguish; for here, along with evil there is also wickedness, and so the first ground laid for that last prayer “Our Father (deliver us from evil).”—Bless the lads.—“There is expressed here, in the singular, the threefold denotation of God in the unity of the divine being” Keil. And so also in the unity of the divine government,—And let my name be named on them.—The blessing divides itself into a spiritual and an earthly aspect. Here, the first rightly precedes; for the words are not at all nota adoptionis (Calvin), in which case not only would the name of the fathers be unsuitable, but the extinction of Joseph’s name would be altogether out of place; much rather are they to be acknowledged as genuine children of the patriarchs, and so prove themselves to be, notwithstanding their mother was the daughter of an Egyptian priest. The remembrances and the promises of salvation are to be sustained by them and through them. The name of the fathers is the expression of the life of the fathers, and the thus becoming named denotes the realization of that which is verified in these names, that Isaiah, the faith of the fathers, as well as the recognition, which, by virtue of them, becomes their portion. To the predominant spiritual blessing there is added the predominant earthly, or, rather, the human, with like force.—And let them grow into a multitude.—The verb דגה is from דָּג with relation to the extraordinary increase of the fishes. And truly shall they so multiply themselves in the midst, that Isaiah, in the very core of the land.

3. The precedence of Ephraim( Genesis 48:17-19).—When Joseph saw.—Joseph looks to the natural right of the first-born. He supposes that his father has made a mistake, and this, all the more, from the pains he had taken in the proper presentation of the sons.—I know it, my Song of Solomon, I know it.—Joseph, with his merely natural judgment, stands here in contrast with the clear-seeing and divinely imparted wisdom of the prophet, who knows right well that, by his crossed hands, he is giving the precedence of the birthright to the younger son. From his interposition he takes occasion to announce to the father the future relations of the two. True it is that a rich blessing is bestowed upon Prayer of Manasseh, but Ephraim shall be the greater.—“This blessing begins to fulfil itself from the days of the Judges onwards; as the tribe of Ephraim in power and compass so increased that it became the head of the northern ten tribes, and its name became of like significance with that of Israel; although, in the time of Moses, Manasseh still outnumbered Ephraim by twenty thousand ( Numbers 26:34; Numbers 26:37).” Keil.

4. The preference of Joseph( Genesis 48:20-22).—In thee shall Israel bless.—This rich expression of benediction shall, in its fulfilment, become proverbial, in Israel.—And he set Ephraim before Manasseh.—These words close the preceding narrative, but they belong here, as denoting that Ephraim is preferred only in the sense that Prayer of Manasseh, too, was to be a great people. It was, moreover, a single tribe that again branched into two great districts, having separate inheritances on each side of Jordan.—And God shall bring you again.—This was, for Joseph and his children, a great promise and dispensation: Notwithstanding their Egyptian relations they are not to complete their history in Egypt.—Moreover, I have given unto thee one portion.Joshua 17:44. We may well suppose that שְׁכֶם is a play of words upon Shechem, which lay in the district of Joseph ( Joshua 21:11), and where, at a later day, the bones of Joseph himself were interred in the field purchased by Jacob ( Genesis 33:19). This is to be inferred from the great importance that Shechem attained in the later history of Israel; but not at all, as Von Bohlen and others suppose, that there is reference here to an actual occupation of Shechem, on the ground that Jacob had afterwards appropriated to himself the act of his sons. The perfect, לָקַחְתּי, is used in a prophetic sense. Keil: “The words cannot be referred to the purchase at Shechem ( Genesis 33:19), for a forcible taking by sword and bow cannot be called a purchase;[FN7] much less can they relate to the wicked robbery perpetrated by Jacob’s sons ( Genesis 34:25); for Jacob could not possibly take to himself, as his own Acts, this evil deed for which he lays a curse upon Simeon and Levi ( Genesis 49:6)—to say nothing of the fact that the robbery had, for its consequence, not the occupation of this city, but the withdrawal of Jacob from the country. Moreover, the conquest of that district would have been in entire contrariety to the character of the patriarchal history, which consists in renunciation of self-willed human works, and in resigned believing hope in the God of the promise (Delitzsch)” Nevertheless, this connection of Jacob’s prediction with the time then present, is not without significance. There appears here, in an isolated form, the first indication that the Israelites, in their return out of Egypt (when the iniquity of the Amorites shall have become full, Genesis 15:16), should acquire lands by conquest with sword and bow. This foresight of Jacob, however, may have had its suggestive origin in the thought, how two of his sons, in a religious yet unholy zeal, had once conquered the entire city of Shechem. In the germinal fanaticism of such “sons of thunder,” the prophetic eye discerns the seed of a future purer heroism. Thus regarded, the private acquisitions of the patriarchs in Hebron, and especially in Shechem, are a kind of symbolical occupation of the land, in which the promise of God is typically realized. Beyond all, in this respect, is the designation of Canaan as the home of Israel, and the strengthening of its home-feeling, as that by which, at a later day, the march of Israel, after the migration from Egypt, is directed. And Song of Solomon, too, the prediction of Jacob becomes the first established point for the future partition of Canaan, causing that Joseph’s children, especially the Ephraimites, would, at all events, be pointed by a well-understood indication, to the land of Shechem. On this account, too, might it have been said, in later times ( John 4:5), that Jacob had given his field at Shechem to his son Joseph. That pointing, however, must have exerted an influence in the whole partition of the land of Canaan among the twelve tribes.—The Amorite.—A poetical name for Canaanites generally.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. In the decline of life, the believer looks cheerfully back upon his entire experiences of the grace of God, that he may thereby quicken his hopes and prospects for the future, and for eternity.

2. The adoption had for its aim not only to incorporate into the people of Israel the sons of Joseph who had been born in Egyptian relations—not only to honor and glorify Rachel in her children—not only to assign to Joseph the double inheritance as the third part of the birthright—but also to keep full the tribes to the number twelve. By the adoption of Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh, there is also, already, introduced the spiritual distribution of the tribe of Levi among all the tribes; although this turn of things can only indicate such a dispersion ( Genesis 49). The historical compensation between the line of Leah and that of Rachel, is indicated in this blessing, as in later times there appears the contrast between Ephraim and Judah. The Messiah, indeed, is to come from the tribe of Judah; but the first elements of his Church, to say the least, came out of Galilee, the district of the ten tribes, and Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin.

3. The crosswise position of Jacob’s hands has been interpreted allegorically of the cross of Christ. On this account has the occasional appearing of the cross figure been regarded as momentous; and yet, without reason, unless there is kept in view the general idea, namely, that one direction, or determination, has been thwarted by an opposing one; as here the natural expectation of Joseph in respect to Manasseh. In the symbolical sense, the form of the blessing here carries with it no theocratic destiny of sorrow.

4. Here first appears the imposition of hands in its great significance for the kingdom of God. The evident effect, outwardly, is that Jacob makes a difference in the value of the blessing for both sons. It Isaiah, in the first feature, a symbolic of the blessing, through the symbol of the hand, especially the right. Then there is a theocratic inauguration and investiture. The grandchildren of Jacob are raised to the condition of sons. Thus, afterwards, does the imposition of hands denote a legal consecration, Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9. The impartation thereby of an actual power of blessing, appears already in the Old Testament, in its typical beginnings; but in the New Testament it comes forth in its full significance, Matthew 19:13; Acts 6:6. The idea in common of the different applications of the imposition of hands, is the transfer, or traduction, of the community of life through the hand. Through this, the animal offerings became symbolical resignations of human life, and Song of Solomon, inversely, the sick were restored to health. See the article “Imposition of Hands,” Herzog’s Real-Encyclopedia; also Keil, p281. On the significance of the hand see also the citations from Passavant by Schröder.

5. On the great place of Ephraim in the life and history of Israel, compare the History of the Old Testament.

6. The blessing of Joseph’s sons is throughout denoted as a blessing of Joseph himself in his sons. We cannot say that this was because Joseph had become an Egyptian. Such service had no more taken away his theocratic investiture, than the foreign position of Nehemiah and Daniel had done in their cases. Even Joseph’s bones still belonged to Israel.

7. It is incorrect to regard the effect of Jacob’s benediction as a representation merely of Hebrew antiquity; and so is it also when we regard the prophetic significance and power of the benediction alone, as a positive addition to the authority of the divine promise. The divine promise reveals itself even in the human life germs. Ephraim’s future lay in the core of Ephraim’s life, as laid there by God.

8. The elevated glow of Jacob’s spirit, as it lights up on the hearth of his dead natural life, his eagle-like clairvoyance with his darkened eye-sight, reminds us of the similar example in the blessing of Isaac. The fact of a state of being raised high above the conditions of old age, meets us here in even a still stronger degree. The possibility and inner truth of such a contrast, wherein the future life already seems to present itself, is confirmed by manifold facts in the life of old men when pious and spiritually quickened.

9. In the threefold designation of God in the blessing of Jacob, Keil, without reason, finds an anticipation of the trinity (p281). But, in fact, this is the first place in which the previous duality of Jehovah and his angel begins to assume something of a trinitarian form. That, however, which is to be regarded, in its general aspect, is the unfolding of the revelation consciousness in the blessings before us, especially the appearance of that conception of deliverance from all evil.

10. The prophetic bestowment of territory on Joseph, at the close of the blessing, is the first indication that Israel shall conquer Canaan by the sword and the bow. The allusion to Shechem can only be regarded as the crystallization-point for the whole Israelitish acquisition. If Shechem is to be a portion for Ephraim, Judah must be transferred to the south, and find its point, of holding (its habendum et tenendum) in the grave of Abraham. These determinations have others for their necessary consequences.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The benedictions of Jacob.—Jacob almost blind, yet with an eagle glance in the light of God—Joseph left out in the numbering of the brethren, yet obtains his blessing before them.—Joseph’s double inheritance.—The settlement of the birthright in Israel: 1. In correspondence with the facts, or the diverse gifts of God; 2. as a prevention of envy on the one side, or of pride on the other; 3. an indication of the divine source of the true, or spiritual, birthright; 4. a preparation for the universal priesthood of the people of God.—The blessing of Jacob as given to Ephraim and Manasseh: 1. The names; 2. the fulness; 3. the certainty.

1. The adoption of Joseph’s sons ( Genesis 48:1-7). Starke: Here, for the first time, is Ephraim preferred to Manasseh.—Herewith, therefore, is the first privilege of the birthright, namely, the double inheritance, taken from Reuben and given to the two sons of Joseph, in the same manner as the princehood, and the magisterial power, is given to the tribe of Judah, and the priesthood to Levi.—The duty of visiting the sick, of ordering one’s own household, of remembering kindred and friends when dead.—Calwer Handbuch: Observe how the names of Israel and Jacob are changed.—When the spirit is elevated and strong, the sick body gets a new power of life, especially for the transaction of high and holy duties.

Genesis 48:3. Canaan; ever Canaan. Egypt was only his transition-point, and so it must be for Joseph.—Schröder: They who are blessed of God can bless in turn.

2. The blessing of the sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (48:8-16). Starke: The laying on of hands in the various applications. Among others, in the condemnation of a malefactor ( Leviticus 24:14; Hist. Susanna,, Genesis 48:34.) [As far as concerns this kind of hand-imposition, it expresses merely that the witnesses feel themselves stained with the guilt of the accused, and this guilt, with its stain, they would lay upon his head (see Leviticus 5:1). A still deeper comprehension of this act of laying on the hands, makes it an acknowledgment of human community in the guilt, and a symbolical carrying over of a penitent guilt-consciousness to the guilty, as that which can alone impart to punishment a reconciling character. On the meaning of Goel (גּוֹאֵל), see the Dictionaries.]—Christians are called that they may inherit the blessing.—Calwer Handbuch: Though born in a foreign land, they are engrafted into the patriarchal stem.—Schröder: Ha-Elohim, who fed me, or was my shepherd; a form of speech dear to all the patriarchs, and, in the deepest sense, to Jacob on account of his shepherd life with Laban ( Psalm 119:176).—Heim: He is my redeemer (or, who redeemed me), my goel. It is the word that Job uses ( Job 19:25), when he says, “I know that my redeemer liveth”

3. The precedence of Ephraim ( Genesis 48:17-19). Starke: How God sometimes prefers the younger to the elder, we may see in the case of Shem who was preferred to Japheth, in the case of Isaac who was preferred to Ishmael, of Jacob who was preferred to Esau, of Judah and Joseph who were preferred to Reuben, of Moses who was preferred to Aaron, and finally, of David, who was preferred to all his brethren. God set thee: a form of speech to this day in use among the Jews. As they greet with it men and their young companions, so it is also said to wives and young women: God make thee as Sarah and Rebecca.—Cramer: Human wisdom cannot, in divine things, accommodate itself to the foreknowledge, the election, and the calling of God; but must ever mingle with them its own works, character, and merit.

Genesis 48:10. Cramer: When God speaks, the deed must follow.—Schröder: He fancies that the dimness of his father’s eyes may deceive him, even as he once deceived his father Isaac.

4. The preference of Joseph ( Genesis 48:20-22). God distributes his gifts as he wills; in so doing he wrongs no man.

Genesis 48:22. Citation of various interpretations (some hold that sword and bow mean merely the impressions on the coin with which he bought the field at Shechem. Rashi explains the bow as meaning prayer. There is also an interpretation of it as prophetic).—My God, let me set my house in order in due season, Psalm 90:12.—Schröder: Which I took out of the hand of the Amorite. With prophetic boldness, he uses the past for the future. The prophetic impulse, as it appears in this language, prepares us for that which immediately follows.

[Interpretation of the words Goel, Malak Haggoel, Redeemer, Angel Redeemer. Genesis 48:16.—In the Homiletical and Practical, just above, the reader is referred to the Dictionaries for the meaning of these words. Their great importance, both in the patriarchal and the Christian theology, makes proper a more extended examination of them. The primary sense of the root גאל is that of staining, or being stained, with blood. Then it is applied, metaphorically, to the one who suffers a brother’s or kinsman’s blood to go unavenged, on the ground that he himself is stained with it,—polluted by it, as the idea is afterwards applied to the land, or civil community, that takes the place of the individual Bluträcher in the ancient law. Then it is given to him officially, and he is called from it הַגֹּאֵל, or the one who removes the stain by taking vengeance. Hence it becomes a name for the next of in himself, and, later still, it is applied to him as one who redeems the lost inheritance,—being a transfer, as we may say, from the criminal to the civil side of jurisprudence. See Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 4:4; Ruth 3:12; Numbers 5:8. This civil sense could not have been the primary, as it could only come in after the establishment of property and civil institutions. Gesenius, in making it first, is illogical as well as unphilological. His referring it to the later Hebrew, Hebraismo sequiori, has no force. The word is found, in this sense of polluted, in Isaiah, and in the Lamentations of Jeremiah. There having been a few occasions for such use in Malachi and Nehemiah, decides nothing as to the earlier senses of the word. The land-redeeming idea, at all events, must be secondary. It is not difficult to explain, too, how the primary sense might come out in the vivid language of the prophets, whilst the secondary meets us oftener in the less impassioned historical portions of Scripture. Both transitions are clear. The next of kin who avenges, and the next of kin who redeems (buys back) the lost inheritance, is the same person. It is redemption in both legal aspects, the criminal and the civil, as said before. And so the shadow of the word, and of the idea, is preserved in the legal nomenclature of later times. Thus in the Greek judicial proceedings, whether in a criminal or a civil action, the plaintiff was called διώκων, the pursuer, the defendant φεύγων, the fleeer. We find it still in our most modern law language. The words prosecutor and pursuer (the latter used in the Scotch law) are remnants of the old idea, though redeemer has no counterpart.

The term Goel is applied to God, or to an angel representing God, and this makes the derivation from blood-staining, as above given, seem harsh and unsuitable. It has led Olshausen, and others, to reject it when given in the interpretation of Job 19:25, where Job says גֹאֵלֻי חָי, “I know that my Goel, my redeemer, liveth.” It is an appeal there to some one as an avenger of his cause, of his blood, we may say, as against a cruel adversary. Comp. Job 16:18, “O earth, cover not thou my blood,” and the appeal, in the next verse, to “the witness on high” (שָׂהֳדִי בַּמְּרוֹמִים, the same etymologically with the Arabic شَاِصلٌ the attesting, or prosecuting angel on the day of judgment, Koran xi21). Whom could Job have had in mind but that great one who was believed on from the earliest times, and who was to deliver man from the power of evil. He was the antagonist of the ἀνθρωποκτόνος or “ Prayer of Manasseh -slayer from the beginning” ( John 8:44), who plays such an important part in the introduction to this ancient poem, or Jobeid, as we may call it. It is this Deliverer that meets us, in some form, in all the old mythologies. He is the great combatant by whom is waged the μάχη ἀθάνατος, the “immortal strife” between the powers of good and evil,—“war in Heaven, Michael and his angels fighting with Satan and his angels.” He was to be of kin to us. The theanthropic idea can be traced in most of the old religions, and especially was it an Oriental dogma. All this points to that ancient hope that was born of the protevangel, Genesis 3:15, whatever form it may have taken according to the varied culture or cultus of mankind,—whether that of warrior, legislator, benefactor, or of the more spiritual Messiah as depicted in the Hebrew Scriptures. This Deliverer of humanity was to be בֶּן אָדָם, Son of Prayer of Manasseh, and, at the same time, one of the bené Elohim, Sons of God, or chief, or firstborn, among them. The patriarchs knew him as הַמַּלְאַך הַגֹּאֵל, the avenging or “redeeming angel.” The first, or rescuing aspect, however, is earliest and most predominant. The other, or the redeeming idea, in the more forensic sense, came in later. In modern times it has become almost exclusive. In the patristic theology, however, the avenging, or rather, rescuing aspect of the Redeemer’s work, had a conspicuous place. He appears more as a militant hero who fights a great battle for us, who delivers us from a powerful foe, when we “had become the prey of the mighty.” Redemption consisted in something done for us, not forensically merely, but in actual contest, in some mysterious way, with the great Power of evil, who seemed to have a claim, or who asserted a claim, to our allegiance, and whom the Redeemer overcomes before the forensic work can have its accomplishment.

From the two ideas have come two sets of figures, the forensic and the warlike, as we may call them, both clearly presented in the Bible, but the former now chiefly regarded. Hence the ideas of debt, of satisfaction, of inheritance lost and recovered. These are most true and Scriptural, but they I should not have been allowed to cast the others into the shade. Much less should they have led any, as has been lately done, to speak of the patristic view, in which these figures of rescue are most prominent, as “the devil theory of the atonement.” The redemption is explained by both: it is the ransoming of the captive taken in war; it is the paying of the bankrupt’s heavy debt. We owed ten thousand talents without a farthing to pay; but we were, none the less, prisoners to a “strong one” who had to be bound and despoiled of his prey,—or who had shed our blood, and who was, therefore, to be pursued and slain. The forensic language undoubtedly abounds in the New Testament, but there is there, as well as in the Old, much of the other imagery. Thus Colossians 1:13, “Who hath rescued us from the power of darkness”—the strong Homeric word ἐῤῥύσατο, so often used of deliverance on the field of battle. Compare also Colossians 2:15, “Having spoiled (stripped of their armor) principalities and powers,”—evil spirits (see Ephesians 6:12; John 12:31). The Redeemer did a work in Hades. It is clearly intimated as a fact, 1 Peter 3:19, though the nature of it is veiled from us. He made proclamation (ἐκήρυξε) in Sheol, not a didactic sermon, but an announcement of deliverance. “Thou wilt call,” says Job, “and I will answer” ( Job 14:15). The patriarchs waited there for the coming and the victory of the מַלְאָך הַגֹּאֵל, the angel Redeemer. In 1 John 3:8 it is said that the Son of God came, ἵνα λύση, that he might unbind the works of the devil, that Isaiah, free his captives. In Romans 11:26, he is called ‘Ο ΡΥΟΜΕΝΟΣ; “there shall come forth from Zion the Deliverer.” It is the LXX rendering of גוֹאֵל, Isaiah 59:20, as in Isaiah 48:20, and other places. The petition in the Lord’s prayer is ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ, “rescue us from the evil one” The rendering deliver would be well enough if the old sense of the word were kept, but probably to most minds it suggests rather the idea of prevention, of keeping safe from, than that of rescue from a mighty power by which we are carried captive; and thus the weaker sense given to ῥῦσαι obscures the personality that there is in τοῦ πονηροῦ, the evil one.

These ideas are as much grounded on the Scripture as the others, and it will not do to treat them lightly, as “specimens of patristic exegesis,” to use a phrase that has been sneeringly employed. John Bunyan may have known little of patristic interpretations, but he was deeply read in the Scripture, and impressed with the significance of its figures. This militant view of the Redeemer’s work Isaiah, therefore, the ground conception of his greatest book, the “Holy War, or the Battle for the Town of Mansoul, between Immanuel and Satan.” Such a view, too, is necessary to give meaning to some of the Messianic titles in the Old Testament, besides that of the Goel or Redeemer. Especially is it suggested by the El Gibbor (אֵל גִּבּוֹר) the hero God, or divine hero, of Isaiah 9:5, who “poured out his soul unto death, and divided the spoil with the strong,” Isaiah 53:12. It may be said, too, that this militant idea is predominant in Christian feeling and experience, although the forensic is more adapted to formal articles of faith. Hence, while we find the one prominent in creeds, as it ought to be, the other especially appears in the hymns and liturgies of the church, both ancient and modern.

For striking examples of גֹּאֵל (Redeemer, in the sense of rescuer or avenger), see such passages as Isaiah 49:26, “Thy Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob;” Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee;” Exodus 15:13, “thy people whom thou hast redeemed;” Exodus 6:6, “Redeemed you with a stretched-out arm;” Psalm 19:14, “My rock and my Redeemer;” Psalm 78:35, “the Most High their Redeemer;” Psalm 77:16; Psalm 103:4, “who Revelation -deemeth thy life from corruption; “ Psalm 119:154, “contend for me in my conflict and redeem me;” Jeremiah 50:34, גֹּאֲלָם חָזָק, “their Redeemer is strong, Jehovah of Hosts is his name;” so Proverbs 23:11, “come not nigh to the field of the orphans, for their Goel is strong.” Compare also Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them from Sheol, מִמָּוֶת אֶגְאָלֵם, from Death will I redeem them; I will be thy destruction, Sheol;” Isaiah 35:9, “the redeemed shall walk there;” Job 19:25; Isaiah 44:22; and many other similar passages.—T. L.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Genesis 48:1.—וַיֹּאמֶר. An ellipsis of הָאוֹמֵר or הַמִּגִּיד one who told. The construction is rare in the singular. It is probably used here, not impersonally, or passively, as some grammarians say, but emphatically, by way of calling attention to it—denoting, perhaps, a special messenger. Rashi gives it as the opinion of the Rabbins that it was Ephraim who was the messenger, and that the same is the subject of וַיִּגֵּד Genesis 48:2.—T. L.]

FN#2 - Genesis 48:7.—מֵתָה עָלַי. Died by me. It cannot here denote simply nearness of position; for Joseph need not have been informed of that. There is an emotional tenderness in the preposition. On account of me, for my sake;—as Lange intimates, she had borne for him the hardships of the journey in her delicate state, and that had brought on the deadly travail. Or it may be used like μοι redundant, as it is wrongly called, in Greek—Rachel to me, or my Rachel, more emphatic than the genitive would have been. Very near to it, would he Luther’s rendering, starb mir Rachel. The LXX and the Vulgate both omit it, but the LXX adds, Rachel thy mother, which has much, internally, in its favor; since it would seem strange that Jacob, in speaking to Joseph, her Song of Solomon, should call her Rachel merely, just as he would speak of Leah. כִּבְרַת, rendered a little way. Rashi makes it a thousand cubits, or the same as the תחום שבת, the limit of a sabbath day’s journey.—T. L.]

FN#3 - Genesis 48:12.—וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ. And he bowed. The LXX render it in the plural, καὶ προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ and they bowed, or kneeled down before him, that Isaiah, Manasseh and Ephraim; as if they had read וישתחוו which is given in the Samaritan Codex. The reading is also followed by the Syriac, and has much internal probability on its side.—T. L.]

FN#4 - Genesis 48:14.—שִׂכֵּל אֶת יָדָיו Literally, he made his hands intelligent, that Isaiah, did not go by feeling only, in aid of his dim eyes. The LXX rendering, ἐναλλὰξ τὰς χεῖρας his hands crosswise, and the Vulgate, commutans manus, is merely inferential, and requires no change in the Hebrew test. See Glassii Phil. Sacra, 1629.—T. L.]

FN#5 - Genesis 48:15.—הָאֱלֹהִים הָרֹעֶה אֹתִי—the God who fed me. It is the pastoral image. The God who was my shepherd,—or, in a more general sense, my tutor, guide, or guardian ruler. Compare the frequent Homeric ποιμήν, ποιμαίνει, to express the kingly relation.—T. L.]

FN#6 - Genesis 48:22.—שְׁכֶם אַחַד, See what is said on this in the Exegetical and Critical. See also the very same phrase Zephaniah 3:9 (.with one shoulder, that Isaiah, with one consent, or shoulder to shoulder), though its usage there does not shed much light on this passage. Glassius (Phil. Sacra, p1985) gives it as an example of the Biblical enigma. The conjecture of Gesenius seems very probable. He regards it as the common word for shoulder, taken metaphorically for a tract of land, from some supposed resemblance, like the Arabic سَناَىبٌ So the English word shoulder is used in architecture. See Webster.—T. L.]

FN#7 - It Isaiah, however, so called in the language of the English common law. According to Littleton and Blackstone, purchase (to which the Hebrew קנה and מקנה well correspond) is any mode of getting, or acquiring, lands, or other property, except by descent. Such also is the wide sense of the Greek κτῆσις, κτῆμα.—T. L.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/genesis-48.html. 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

ISRAEL'S BLESSING FOR JOSEPH AND HIS SONS

A little later Joseph was told that his father was sick, so he brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim to visit him. Jacob strengthened himself to sit on the bed. Then Jacob speaks to Joseph of God's first recorded appearance to him (Genesis 28:11-15) at Luz (or Bethel) in Canaan, giving him His special blessing, promising to multiply him into a multitude of people and to give that land to his descendants for an everlasting possession (vs.3-4). Jacob was therefore not interested in any other land on earth. Though he would himself be in heaven and have no part of the earthly inheritance, he was deeply concerned about the welfare of his descendants, and Joseph too has the same concern.

Now Jacob claims the two sons of Joseph as his own, calling the Ephraim and Manasseh in order of their birth (v.5). This was not just a whim of Jacob's old age, but history has proved it to be an important matter. Jacob had 12 sons at the time, the exact number of administrative completeness. Why should he give Joseph an extra place among the tribes by naming them after his two sons? The wisdom of God was in this, for later we find that Levi was given no distinctive inheritance among the tribes (Numbers 1:47-53) because that tribe was separated in order to do the service of God in the tabernacle and among all the tribes. Thus the 12 tribes were each given their distinct inheritance in the land of Canaan, while the Levites were dispersed among the tribes.

However, any sons that Joseph might have afterward would be considered connected with either Ephraim or Manasseh (v.6).

Verse 7 is the only expression we hear from Jacob's lips as to the death of his favored wife, Rachel. The depths to which his heart was affected is not at all dwelt upon, but though he so restrained his feeling, the memory of it was real and poignant as he tells Joseph of the exact location of her death and the place of her burial. These were things he would not forget.

By this time Jacob's eyesight had failed, so he did not recognize Ephraim and Manasseh (vs.8-10), but when Joseph brought them near, Jacob kissed and embraced them, telling Joseph he had not expected to see him again, but that now God had allowed him to see Joseph's sons.

To receive the blessing of Jacob, Manasseh was presented by Joseph on Jacob's right hand and Ephraim on his left (v.13), but Jacob crossed his arms, putting his right hand on Ephraim's head and his left on Manasseh's head (v14). Verse 15-16 tell us that he blessed Joseph, then invoked the blessing of the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac upon both Ephraim and Manasseh, speaking of God as the one who had fed him all his life. Consistently with his claiming them as his own sons, he asks that his name would be upon them, and the names of Abraham and Isaac, stressing the continuity of the blessing of God upon that family. Also, he says "may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." This is clearly earthly blessing, not having anything to do with heaven.

Joseph was not pleased that Jacob had placed his right hand on Ephraim's head and took hold of his hand to change it to the head of Manasseh, telling him that since Manasseh was firstborn, Jacob should put his right hand on his head. But Jacob firmly refused, for he knew well what he was doing. It is natural to think that the firstborn should have the prime honor, but God often reverses such things. Adam had the place of the firstborn in creation, but Christ has rightly taken the place of having all the rights of the firstborn (Colossians 1:15-16). Jacob too no doubt remembered that Esau was set aside so that Jacob would take first place (Genesis 25:23).

Another important feature of this is evident in the meaning of the names of these brothers. Manasseh means "forgetting" and Ephraim means "fruitful," because Joseph was caused to forget the natural blessing of his father's house because fruitful in Egypt. But forgetting is negative: fruitfulness is positive, and the positive must take the first place. Jacob says that Manasseh would become great, but Ephraim would be greater than he (v.19). Both are blessed (v.20), but Ephraim is set before Manesseh.

Jacob then calmly speaks of his death, but assures Joseph that God would be with him bring him again into the land of promise. This referred, not to Joseph personally (except for his bones), but to Joseph's family. He reminds Joseph again that he had given him a portion double to that of his brothers, speaking of taking it by conquest from the Amorites, the enemies within the land of canaan, though we are from the Amorites, the enemies within the land of canaan, though we are given no record of such warfare. But the sufferer, Joseph, is well repaid for all the affliction he had seen.

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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-48.html. 1897-1910.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Genesis

TWO RETROSPECTS OF ONE LIFE

Genesis 47:9. - Genesis 48:15 - Genesis 48:16.

These are two strangely different estimates of the same life to be taken by the same man. In the latter Jacob categorically contradicts everything that he had said in the former. ‘Few and evil,’ he said before Pharaoh. ‘All my life long,’ ‘the Angel which redeemed me from all evil,’ he said on his death-bed.

If he meant what he said when he spoke to Pharaoh, and characterised his life thus, he was wrong. He was possibly in a melancholy mood. Very naturally, the unfamiliar splendours of a court dazzled and bewildered the old man, accustomed to a quiet shepherd life down at Hebron. He had not come to see Pharaoh, he only cared to meet Joseph; and, as was quite natural, the new and uncongenial surroundings depressed him. Possibly the words are only a piece of the etiquette of an Eastern court, where it is the correct thing for the subject to depreciate himself in all respects as far inferior to the prince. And there may be little more than conventional humility in the words of my first text. But I am rather disposed to think that they express the true feeling of the moment, in a mood that passed and was followed by a more wholesome one.

I put the two sayings side by side just for the sake of gathering up one or two plain lessons from them.

1. We have here two possible views of life.

Now the key to the difference between these two statements and moods of feeling seems to me to be a very plain one. In the former of them there is nothing about God. It is all Jacob. In the latter we notice that there is a great deal more about God than about Jacob, and that determines the whole tone of the retrospect. In the first text Jacob speaks of ‘the days of the years of my pilgrimage,’ ‘the days of the years of my life,’ and so on, without a syllable about anything except the purely earthly view of life. Of course, when you shut out God, the past is all dark enough, grey and dismal, like the landscape on some cloudy day, where the woods stand black, and the rivers creep melancholy through colourless fields, and the sky is grey and formless above. Let the sun come out, and the river flashes into a golden mirror, and the woods are alive with twinkling lights and shadows, and the sky stretches a blue pavilion above them, and all the birds sing. Let God into your life, and its whole complexion and characteristics change. The man who sits whining and complaining, when he has shut out the thought of a divine Presence, finds that everything alters when he brings that in.

And, then, look at the two particulars on which the patriarch dwells. ‘I am only one hundred and thirty years old,’ he says; a mere infant compared with Abraham and Isaac! How did he know he was not going to live to be as old as either of them? And ‘if his days were evil,’ as he said, was it not a good thing that they were few? But, instead of that, he finds reasons for complaint in the brevity of the life which, if it were as evil as he made it out to be, must often have seemed wearisomely long, and dragged very slowly. Now, both things are true-life is short, life is long. Time is elastic-you can stretch it or you can contract it. It is short compared with the duration of God; it is short, as one of the Psalms puts it pathetically, as compared with this Nature round us-’The earth abideth for ever’; we are strangers upon it, and there is no abiding for us. It is short as compared with the capacities and powers of the creatures that possess it; but, oh! if we think of our days as a series of gifts of God, if we look upon them, as Jacob looked upon them when he was sane, as being one continued shepherding by God, they stretch out into blessed length. Life is long enough if it manifests that God takes care of us, and if we learn that He does. Life is long enough if it serves to build up a God-pleasing character.

It is beautiful to see how the thought of God enters into the dying man’s remembrances in the shape which was natural to him, regard being had to his own daily avocations. For the word translated ‘fed’ means much more than supplied with nourishment. It is the word for doing the office of shepherd, and we must not forget, if we want to understand its beauty, that Jacob’s sons said, ‘Thy servants are shepherds; both we and also our fathers.’ So this man, in the solitude of his pastoral life, and whilst living amongst his woolly people who depended upon his guidance and care, had learned many a lesson as to how graciously and tenderly and constantly fed, and led, and protected, and fostered by God were the creatures of His hand.

It was he, I suppose, who first gave to religious thought that metaphor which has survived temple and sacrifice and priesthood, and will survive even earth itself; for ‘I am the Good Shepherd’ is as true to-day as when first spoken by Jesus, and ‘the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall lead them,’ and be their Shepherd when the flock is carried to the upper pastures and the springs that never fail. The life which has brought us that thought of a Shepherd-God has been long enough; and the days which have been so expanded as to contain a continuous series of His benefits and protections need never be remembered as ‘few,’ whatsoever be the arithmetic that is applied to them.

The other contradiction is equally eloquent and significant. ‘Few and evil’ have my days been, said Jacob, when he was not thinking about God; but when he remembered the Angel of the Presence, that mysterious person with whom he had wrestled at Peniel, and whose finger had lamed the thigh while His lips proclaimed a blessing, his view changed, and instead of talking about ‘evil’ days, he says, ‘The Angel that redeemed me from all evil.’ Yes, his life had been evil, whether by that we mean sorrowful or sinful, and the sorrows and the sins had been closely connected. A sorely tried man he had been. Far away back in the past had been his banishment from home; his disappointment and hard service with the churlish Laban; the misbehaviour of his sons; the death of Rachel-that wound which was never stanched; and then the twenty years’ mourning for Rachel’s son, the heir of his inheritance. These were the evils, the sins were as many, for every one of the sorrows, except perhaps the chiefest of them all, had its root in some piece of duplicity, dishonesty, or failure. But he was there in Egypt beside Joseph. The evils had stormed over him, but he was there still. And so at the end he says, ‘The Angel . . .redeemed me from evil, though it smote me. Sorrow became chastisement, and I was purged of my sin by my calamities.’ The sorrows are past, like some raging inundation that comes up for a night over the land and then subsides; but the blessing of fertility which it brought in its tawny waves abides with me yet. Joseph is by my side. ‘I had not thought to see thy face, and God hath showed me the face of thy seed.’ That sorrow is over. Rachel’s grave is still by the wayside, and that sorest of sorrows has wrought with others to purify character. Jacob has been tried by sorrows; he has been purged from sins. ‘The Angel delivered me from all evil.’ So, dear friends, sorrow is not evil if it helps to strip us from the evil that we love, and the ills that we bear are good if they alienate our affections from the ills that we do.

2. Secondly, note the wisdom and the duty of taking the completer and brighter view.

These first words of Jacob’s are very often quoted as if they were the pattern of the kind of thing people ought to say, ‘Few and evil have been the days of the years of my pilgrimage.’ That is a text from which many sermons have been preached with approbation of the pious resignation expressed in it. But it does not seem to me that that is the tone of them. If the man believed what he said, then he was very ungrateful and short-sighted, though there were excuses to be made for him under the circumstances. If the days had been evil, he had made them so.

But the point which I wish to make now is that it is largely a matter for our own selection which of the two views of our lives we take. We may make our choice whether we shall fix our attention on the brighter or on the darker constituents of our past.

Suppose a wall papered with paper of two colours, one black, say, and the other gold. You can work your eye and adjust the focus of vision so that you may see either a black background or a gold one. In the one case the prevailing tone is gloomy, relieved by an occasional touch of brightness; and in the other it is brightness, heightened by a background of darkness. And so you can do with life, fixing attention on its sorrows, and hugging yourselves in the contemplation of these with a kind of morbid satisfaction, or bravely and thankfully and submissively and wisely resolving that you will rather seek to learn what God means by darkness, and not forgetting to look at the unenigmatical blessings, and plain, obvious mercies, that make up so much of our lives. We have to govern memory as well as other faculties, by Christian principle. We have to apply the plain teaching of Christian truth to our sentimental, and often unwholesome, contemplations of the past. There is enough in all our lives to make material for plenty of whining and complaining, if we choose to take hold of them by that handle. And there is enough in all our lives to make us ashamed of one murmuring word, if we are devout and wise and believing enough to lay hold of them by that one. Remember that you can make your view of your life either a bright one or a dark one, and there will be facts for both; but the facts that feed melancholy are partial and superficial, and the facts that exhort, ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice,’ are deep and fundamental.

3. So, lastly, note how blessed a thing it is when the last look is the happiest.

When we are amongst the mountains, or when we are very near them, they look barren enough, rough, stony, steep. When we travel away from them, and look at them across the plain, they lie blue in the distance; and the violet shadows and the golden lights upon them and the white peaks above make a dream of beauty. Whilst we are in the midst of the struggle, we are often tempted to think that things go hardly with us and that the road is very rough. But if we keep near our dear Lord, and hold by His hand, and try to shape our lives in accordance with His will-whatever be their outward circumstances and texture-then we may be very sure of this, that when the end comes, and we are far enough away from some of the sorrows to see what they lead to and blossom into, then we shall be able to say, It was all very good, and to thank Him for all the way by which the Lord our God has led us.

In the same conversation in which the patriarch, rising to the height of a prophet and organ of divine revelation, gives this his dying testimony of the faithfulness of God, and declares that he has been delivered from all evil, he recurs to the central sorrow of his life; and speaks, though in calm words, of that day when he buried Rachel by ‘Ephrath, which is Bethel.’ But the pain had passed and the good was present to him. And so, leaving life, he left it according to his own word, ‘satisfied with favour, and full of the blessing of the Lord.’ So we in our turns may, at the last, hope that what we know not now will largely be explained; and may seek to anticipate our dying verdict by a living confidence, in the midst of our toils and our sorrows, that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God.’

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/genesis-48.html.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Jacob Blesses the Sons of Joseph Jacob's Dying Prophecy. B. C. 1689.

8 And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these? 9 And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath showed me also thy seed. 12And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. 14And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he 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, 16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn put thy right hand upon his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. 21And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. 22Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

Here is, I. The blessing with which Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph, which is the more remarkable because the apostle makes such particular mention of it (Hebrews 11:21), while he says nothing of the blessing which Jacob pronounced on the rest of his sons, though that also was done in faith. Observe here,

1. Jacob was blind for age, Genesis 48:10. It is one of the common infirmities of old age. Those that look out at the windows are darkened, Ecclesiastes 12:3. It is folly to walk in the sight of our eyes, and to suffer our hearts to go after them, while we know death will shortly close them, and we do not know but some accident between us and death may darken them. Jacob, like his father before him, when he was old, was dim-sighted. Note, (1.) Those that have the honour of age must therewith be content to take the burden of it. (2.) The eye of faith may be very clear even when the eye of the body is very much clouded.

2. Jacob was very fond of Joseph's sons: He kissed them and embraced them, Genesis 48:10. It is common for old people to have a very particular affection for their grand-children, perhaps more than they had for their own children when they were little, which Solomon gives a reason for (Proverbs 17:6), Children's children are the crown of old men. With what satisfaction does Jacob say here (Genesis 48:11), I had not thought to see thy face (having many years given him up for lost), and, lo, God has shown me also thy seed! See here, (1.) How these two good men own God in their comforts. Joseph says (Genesis 48:9), 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 says here, God has shown me thy seed. Our comforts are then doubly sweet to us when we see them coming from God's hand. (2.) How often God, in his merciful providences, outdoes our expectations, and thus greatly magnifies his favours. He not only prevents our fears, but exceeds our hopes. We may apply this to the promise which is made to us and to our children. We could not have thought that we should have been taken into covenant with God ourselves, considering how guilty and corrupt we are and yet, lo, he has shown us our seed also in covenant with him.

3. Before he entails his blessing, he recounts his experiences of God's goodness to him. He had spoken (Genesis 48:3) of God's appearing to him. The particular visits of his grace, and the special communion we have sometimes had with him, ought never to be forgotten. But (Genesis 48:15,16) he mentions the constant care which the divine Providence had taken of him all his days. (1.) He had fed him all his life long unto this day, Genesis 48:15. Note, 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 no little has gone to feed us, yet we have never wanted food convenient. He that has fed us all our life long surely will not fail us at last. (2.) He had by his angel redeemed him from all evil, Genesis 48:16. A great deal of hardship he had known in his time, but God had graciously kept him from the evil of his troubles. Now that he was dying he looked upon himself as redeemed from all evil, and bidding an everlasting farewell to sin and sorrow. Christ, the Angel of the covenant, is he that redeems us from all evil, 2 Timothy 4:18. Note, [1.] It becomes the servants of God, when they are old and dying, to witness for our God that they have found him gracious. [2.] Our experiences of God's goodness to us are improvable, both for the encouragement of others to serve God, and for encouragement to us in blessing them and praying for them.

4. When he confers the blessing and name of Abraham and Isaac upon them he recommends the pattern and example of Abraham and Isaac to them, Genesis 48:15. He calls God the God before whom his fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, that is, in whom they believed, whom they observed and obeyed, and with whom they kept up communion in instituted ordinances, according to the condition of the covenant. Walk before me, Genesis 17:1. Note, (1.) Those that would inherit the blessing of their godly ancestors, and have the benefit of God's covenant with them, must tread in the steps of their piety. (2.) It should recommend religion and the service of God to us that God was the God of our fathers, and that they had satisfaction in walking before him.

5. In blessing them, he crossed hands. Joseph placed them so as that Jacob's right hand should be put on the head of Manasseh the elder, Genesis 48:12,13. But Jacob would put it on the head of Ephraim the younger, Genesis 48:14. This displeased Joseph, who was willing to support the reputation of his first-born, and would therefore have removed his father's hands, Genesis 48:17,18. But Jacob gave him to understand that he know what he did, and that he did it not by mistake, nor in a humour, nor from a partial affection to one more than the other, but from a spirit of prophecy, and in compliance with the divine counsels. Manasseh should be great, but truly Ephraim should be greater. When the tribes were mustered in the wilderness, Ephraim was more numerous than Manasseh, and had the standard of that squadron (Numbers 1:32,33,35,2:18,20), and is named first, Psalm 80:2. Joshua was of that tribe, so was Jeroboam. The tribe of Manasseh was divided, one half on one side Jordan, the other half on the other side, which made it the less powerful and considerable. In the foresight of this, Jacob crossed hands. Note. (1.) 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. (2.) He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him. It is observable how often God, by the distinguishing favours of his covenant, advanced the younger above the elder, Abel above Cain, Shem above Japheth, Abraham above Nahor and Haran, Isaac above Ishmael, Jacob above Esau Judah and Joseph were preferred before Reuben, Moses before Aaron, David and Solomon before their elder brethren. See 1 Samuel 16:7. He tied the Jews to observe the birthright (Deuteronomy 21:17), but he never tied himself to observe it. Some make this typical of the preference given to the Gentiles above the Jews the Gentile converts were much more numerous than those of the Jews. See Galatians 4:27. Thus free grace becomes more illustrious.

II. The particular tokens of his favour to Joseph. 1. He left with him the promise of their return out of Egypt, as a sacred trust: I die, but God shall be with you, and bring you again, Genesis 48:21. Accordingly, Joseph, when he died, left it with his brethren, Genesis 50:24. 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: They die 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. Further, He will bring us to the land of our fathers, the heavenly Canaan, whither our godly fathers have gone before us. If God be with us while we stay behind in this world, and will receive us shortly to be with those that have gone before to a better world, we ought not to sorrow as those that have no hope. 2. He bestowed one portion upon him above his brethren, Genesis 48:22. The lands bequeathed are described to be those which he took out of the hand of the Amorite with his sword, and with his bow. He purchased them first (Joshua 24:32), and, it seems, was afterwards disseized of them by the Amorites, but retook them by the sword, repelling force by force, and recovering his right by violence when he could not otherwise recover it. These lands he settled upon Joseph mention is made of this grant, John 4:5. Pursuant to it, this parcel of ground was given to the tribe of Ephraim as their right, and the lot was never cast upon it and in it Joseph's bones were buried, which perhaps Jacob had an eye to as much as to any thing in this settlement. Note, 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.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/genesis-48.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The two good men own God in their comforts. Joseph says, They are my sons whom God has given me. Jacob says, God hath showed me thy seed. Comforts are doubly sweet to us when we see them coming from God's hand. He not only prevents our fears, but exceeds our hopes. Jacob mentions the care the Divine providence had taken of him all his days. A great deal of hardship he had known in his time, but God kept him from the evil of his troubles. Now he was dying, he looked upon himself as redeemed from all sin and sorrow for ever. Christ, the Angel of the covenant, redeems from all evil. Deliverances from misery and dangers, by the Divine power, coming through the ransom of the blood of Christ, in Scripture are often called redemption. In blessing Joseph's sons, Jacob crossed hands. Joseph was willing to support his first-born, and would have removed his father's hands. But Jacob acted neither by mistake, nor from a partial affection to one more than the other; but from a spirit of prophecy, and by the Divine counsel. God, in bestowing 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. He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him. How poor are they who have no riches but those of this world! How miserable is a death-bed to those who have no well-grounded hope of good, but dreadful apprehensions of evil, and nothing but evil for ever!

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/genesis-48.html. 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The Angel; not surely a created angel, but Christ Jesus, who is called an Angel, Exodus 23:20, and the Angel of the covenant, Malachi 3:1, who was the conductor of the Israelites in the wilderness, as plainly appears by comparing of Exodus 23:20,21, with 1 Corinthians 10:4,9. Add hereunto, that this Angel is called Jacob’s Redeemer, which is the title appropriated by God to himself, Isaiah 43:14 47:4, and that from all evil, and therefore from sin, from which no created angel can deliver us, but Christ only, Matthew 1:21; and that Jacob worshippeth and prayeth to this Angel no less than to God for the blessing, and that without any note of distinction, the word bless being in the singular number, and equally relating to God and to the Angel; and that the Angel to whom he here ascribes his deliverances from all evil, must in all reason be the same to whom he prayed for these very deliverances which he here commemorates, and that was no other than the very God of Abraham, as is evident from Genesis 28:15,20,21 32:9-11 35:3.

Let my name be named on them, i.e. let them be called by my name, owned for my immediate children, and invested with the same privileges with my other children, be the heads of distinct tribes, and as such receive distinct inheritances. And hence they are called the children of Jacob or Israel, no less than the children of Joseph. For the phrase, see Deuteronomy 28:10 2 Chronicles 7:14 Isaiah 4:1 Jeremiah 14:9.

And the name of my fathers; let them be called their children; let them not only have my blessing, but the blessings of Abraham and Isaac; let all meet together upon their heads; and let that gracious covenant of God made with Abraham, and confirmed with Isaac and me, be ratified and made good unto them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/genesis-48.html. 1685.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 47:27 to Genesis 48:22. Jacob Extracts an Oath that Joseph will Bury him in Canaan, and Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh.

Genesis 47:22 f., Genesis 48:3-6 belong to P. To J Genesis 47:29-31 may be assigned. Genesis 48:1 f., Genesis 48:8-22 was formerly attributed to E, recent critics assign it to JE. The analysis is somewhat as follows: E, Genesis 48:1-2 a, Genesis 48:8-9 a, Genesis 48:10 b, Genesis 48:11 f., Genesis 48:15 f., Genesis 48:20 (from "In thee"), Genesis 48:21 f. J, Genesis 48:2 b, Genesis 48:9 b, Genesis 48:10 a, Genesis 48:3 f., Genesis 48:17-19, Genesis 48:20 a (to "day"). The origin of Genesis 47:7 is uncertain, it is out of place here. It may have led up to a request for burial in Rachel's tomb, which had to be suppressed as it was in conflict with P's statement that he was buried in Machpelah (Genesis 50:13). But if so, the tomb would hardly have been called Rachel's sepulchre (1 Samuel 10:2) but Jacob's. From Genesis 50:5, however, it would seem that J represented Jacob as buried in a grave he had himself digged, rather than in the family grave. The blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh explains how it is that the two sons of Joseph ranked as two independent tribes; Jacob had adopted them by the ceremony of taking them between his knees (Genesis 48:12); also why Ephraim the younger was a mightier tribe than Manasseh the firstborn.

Genesis 47:29. Cf. Genesis 24:2*.

Genesis 48:7. Cf. Genesis 35:16-20*.—by me: read mg

Genesis 47:8. Here Jacob can see, whereas in Genesis 47:10 a he is blind, like Isaac. In this story Jacob seems not to have seen them previously, so his death happened soon after his arrival in Egypt.

Genesis 47:22. cf. mg. The reference is to Shechem, where Joseph was buried (Joshua 24:32). We have no other account of any such capture by Jacob, who is nowhere represented as a warrior. Moreover the passage implies that Jacob had distributed their territory to all the tribes.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-48.html. 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Gen . And Joseph brought them out from between his knees.] "His," i.e., Jacob's. He was in a sitting posture, and in embracing them had drawn them between his knees.—

Gen . And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head.] This is the first mention of the imposition of hands in blessing. Also used for the investiture of office. In both senses, retained by the Christian Church (Num 27:18; Num 27:23; Deu 24:9; Mat 19:13; Act 6:6; Act 8:17). Guiding his hands wittingly. The LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac have, he changed, or crossed his hands. The expression denotes a conscious and intelligent purpose.—

Gen . And he blessed Joseph.] In Ephraim and Manasseh, his representatives. The two are comprehended in the dying blessing of Jacob (Gen 49:22); and of Moses (Deu 33:13, etc.). The God which fed me. "Fed," i.e., guided and tended me as a shepherd (Psalms 23; Psa 28:9).—

Gen . The angel.] The angel of God's presence (Isa 63:9); the Covenant angel. Redeemed me from all evil. Heb. Goel: the same as the word used for "Redeemer" in Job 19:25. And let my name be named on them, and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac. "My name," i.e. Israel; and let them be counted Abraham's seed and Isaac's. There is special reference to the blessing of the Divine promise on the seed of Abraham and Isaac (Gen 21:12). (Alford.)—

Gen . In thee shall Israel bless.] "The tribe of Joseph was only regarded as an example of prosperity for the rest of the Hebrews, whereas the Israelites were viewed as the cause of blessing for all the other nations." (Kalisch.)—

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH—Gen

THE BLESSING OF EPHRAIM AND MANASSEH

I. Its nature and property.

1. They were blessed in the person of Joseph. He is blessed in his sons. (Gen ; Gen 48:20.) The principle is recognised of blessing mankind in the name and for the sake of another.

2. With the covenant blessing. Not with that of the gods of Egypt, though he had cause to be grateful to that nation. He would have his children to know the true fount of blessedness. He invoked the blessing of the God of his fathers. (Gen .) The assurance that others have shared the gifts of grace with us is a support to our faith. We of the Church belong to a holy nation, which has a great and venerable past.

3. With the blessing of which he himself had experience. "The God which fed me all my life long until this day." (Gen .) He felt that God had tended and cared for him like a shepherd. This speech was dear to all the patriarchs, and was a favourite image with David and the prophets. In Jacob's lips, the figure is singularly appropriate, for he remembered his shepherd life with Laban. Jacob also invoked the blessing of "the angel which redeemed him from all evil." This was that covenant angel with whom he wrestled, even God appearing as his Redeemer. The chief aspect under which he contemplates God is that of one who rescues from evil—"the Deliverer." (Rom 11:26.) This idea is represented in its various forms by the words "Kinsman," "Redeemer," "Vindicator," "Rescuer," or "Avenger." (Isa 49:26; Isa 43:1; Exo 6:6; Psa 19:14; Psa 103:4; Jer 50:34; Hos 13:14; Job 19:25.)

4. With a different blessing for each. He bestows the larger blessing upon the younger. (Gen .)

II. Its outward form. It was conveyed by the imposition of hands. (Gen .) The blessing was not merely a wish or a hope, but a reality. This laying on of hands was the outward means or symbol of its conveyance. Outward forms impress, they steady the mind, and assist contemplation. The blessing was as real as the outward act which accompanied it, the reality of nature leading on to the reality of grace.

III. Its warrant.

1. The covenant position in which God had placed him. He stood with his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, in the same covenant relation with God. (Gen .)

2. The act was divinely directed. Old Jacob crossed his hands, and thus in bestowing the blessing reversed the order of nature. (Gen ; Gen 48:17.) He refused to be corrected by Joseph, for though his sight was dim, his spiritual eye discerned the will of God. He guided his hands "wittingly," with full knowledge of the decree of the Most High. God, who distributes His gifts as He will, prefers the younger to the elder. Nature and grace often take cross directions. Jacob had spiritual insight and foresight. He was a true prophet of God, and this was his warrant for that great act of faith when he "blessed both the sons of Joseph." (Heb 11:21).

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

Gen . The dying hour must have made an impression on those young men. In death itself there is nothing naturally instructive; but in this death there was simplicity; they saw the sight of an old man gathered ripe unto his fathers, and they would remember in their gaiety and strength what all life at last must come to.—(Robertson).

Gen . Perhaps this might remind Jacob of his conduct to his old blind father, Isaac. In him we see all the powers of life fading, and we are tempted to say, Can this live for ever? The eye cannot see God, therefore the eye fails; the ear cannot hear Him, therefore it is filled with dust; but faith and love, the things that are to survive the grave, exist in their strength up to the grave.—(Robertson).

Gen . How much better is God to us than our fears! Only let us wait with faith and patience, and our desponding thoughts will be turned into songs of praise.—(Fuller).

God delights to outbid the hopes of His people, and to be better to them than their deserts, than their desires, yea, than their faith (Isa ; Isa 54:12; Isa 54:14). As it is storied of a certain emperor, that he delighted in no undertakings so much as in those that his counsellors and captains held impossible, and he seldom miscarried. So God—Exo 15:11.—(Trapp).

Gen . As a man and a father Jacob would have been of the same mind with Joseph, but as a prophet he must give the richest blessing to him who was to partake most richly of the blessings of heaven. The appearance is as if his hands knew what they were about; they seemed to move themselves intelligently; they performed the office of the eye.—(Bush).

Joseph did this for the best; but "God only wise" had otherwise ordered it. We many times think we do well, when it proves much otherwise. "Lean not therefore to thine own understanding," saith the wise man (Pro ); but make out to him that "dwells with prudence." (Pro 8:12.)—(Trapp.)

Gen . This is the highest praise that can be given to ancestors; this is the crown of all commendation, to have walked with God as a man walketh with his friend. This is better than a thousand escutcheons. "The God which fed me all my life long." Jacob looks beyond all second causes, and sees, as once at Bethel, God on the top of the ladder. (Genesis 28.)—(Trapp.)

The Lord had been his shepherd, had kept and led him, as well as supplied all his wants. The Lord fed him when he was in his father's house; when he procured his food by toil at Laban's house; the Lord fed him even when in Egypt his beloved son supplied all his wants.—(Bush.)

Gen . This is the all-sufficient Friend who wards off evil by himself satisfying the demands of justice and resisting the devices of malice. There is a beautiful propriety of feeling in Jacob ascribing to his father the walking before God, while he thankfully acknowledges the grace of the Quickener and Justifier to himself. The Angel is explicitly applied to the Supreme Being in this ministerial function. The God is the emphatic description of the true, living God, as contra-distinguished from all false gods. Jacob's threefold periphrases is intended to describe the one God, who wills, works, and wards. And let my name be named on them. Let them be counted among my immediate sons, and let them be related to Abraham and Isaac, as my other sons are. This is the only thing that is special in the blessing. Let them grow into a multitude. The word "grow" in the original refers to the spawning or extraordinary increase of the finny tribe. The after history of Ephraim and Manasseh will be found to correspond with this special prediction.—(Murphy.)

God's people are said to have His name called upon them (Deu,—Heb. "That the name of the Lord is called upon thee." Let us endeavour to be an honour and a praise to that worthy name by which we are called.—(Bush).

Gen . Here are a couple of Holy prophets differing in their judgments; yet not about the substance of the blessing, but the circumstance of it. Wonder not though such things still fall out in the true Church, and the doctors sometimes divided in points less material, and that touch not the foundation.—(Trapp).

One reason why the Most High does not follow the rules which men would prescribe to Him in the distribution of His favours undoubtedly is, that we may learn not to glory in the flesh, but in the Lord. Were He to dispense His bounties according to such rules as might appear reasonable to us, high thoughts of human worth would be apt to be cherished, and losing our impressions of Divine sovereignty, we should be tempted to "sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag."—(Bush).

Gen . How God sometimes prefers the younger to the elder, we may see in the case of Shem who was preferred to Japheth, in the case of Isaac who was preferred to Ishmael, of Jacob who was preferred to Esau, of Judah and Joseph who were preferred to Reuben, of Moses who was preferred to Aaron, and finally, of David, who was preferred to all his brethren.

God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh. A form of speech to this day in use among the Jews. As they greet with it men and their young companions, so it is also said to wives and young women: God make thee as Sarah and Rebecca.—(Lange.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/genesis-48.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It is remarkable, how, even in gracious minds there is generally found a partiality to nature's choice. See Genesis 17:18. But what saith the LORD? 1 Samuel 16:7.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/genesis-48.html. 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/genesis-48.html. 1857.

Sermon Bible Commentary

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 xi.) 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.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2261.

References: Genesis 48:15, Genesis 48:16.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 274. Genesis 48:16.—J. Wells, Bible Children, p. 69; J. Burns, Sketches of Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 131; A. Mursell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., p. 186; J. Thain Davidson, Talks with Young Men, p. 133. Genesis 48:21.—J. P. Gledstone, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 152; J. Van Oosterzee, The Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 379; S. A. Brooke, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 265; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1630. Genesis 48:22.—W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 153. Gen 49—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 175. Genesis 49:1.—F. Whitfield, The Blessings of the Tribes, pp. 1, 13. Genesis 49:1, Genesis 49:2.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 554. Genesis 49:1-12.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 275. Genesis 49:1-27.—W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 171. Genesis 49:3, Genesis 49:4.—F. Whitfield, The Blessings of the Tribes, p. 53; J. C. M. Bellew, Five Occasional Sermons, p. 19. Genesis 49:8-12.—J. Monro Gibson, The Ages before Moses, p. 219.

Genesis 48 and 49

(with Deut. 33 and Judges 5)

Jacob's blessing of his sons marks the close of the patriarchal dispensation. Henceforth the channel of God's blessing to man does not consist of one person only, but of a people or nation. As the patriarchal dispensation ceases it secures to the tribes all the blessing it has itself contained. The distinguishing features which Jacob depicts in the blessing of his sons were found in all the generations of the tribes, and displayed themselves in things spiritual also.

In these blessings we have the history of the Church in its most interesting form. The whole destiny of Israel is here in germ, and the spirit of prophecy in Jacob sees and declares it. (1) Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted as sons of Jacob. No greater honour could have been put on Joseph than this: that his sons should be raised to the rank of heads of tribes, on a level with the immediate sons of Jacob. He is merged in them, and all that he has earned is to be found not in his own name, but in theirs. (2) The future of Reuben was of a negative, blank kind: "Thou shalt not excel"; his unstable character must empty it of all great success. (3) "Simeon and Levi are brethren," showing a close affinity and seeking one another's aid, but for bad purposes, and therefore they must be divided and scattered in Israel. This was accomplished by the tribe of Levi being distributed over all the other tribes as the ministers of religion. The sword of murder was displaced in Levi's hand by the knife of sacrifice; (4) Judah is the kingly tribe; from it came David, the man who more than any other satisfies man's ideal of a prince. (5) Zebulon was a maritime tribe; always restlessly eager for emigration or commerce. Issachar had the quiet, bucolic contentment of an agricultural or pastoral population. (6) "Dan shall judge his people." This probably refers to the most conspicuous of the judges, Samson, who belonged to this tribe. The whole tribe of Dan seems to have partaken of the grim humour with which Samson saw his foes walk time after time into the traps he set for them—a humour which comes out with singular piquancy in the narrative of one of the forays of this tribe, in which they carried off Micah's priest, and even his gods. (7) Gad was also to be a warlike tribe; his very name signified a marauding, guerilla troop, and his history was to illustrate the victories which God's people gain by tenacious, watchful, ever renewed warfare.

M. Dods, Israel's Iron Age, p. 173.


References: Gen 48.—F. Whitfield, The Blessings of the Tribes, p. 236; J. R. Macduff, Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains, p. 23; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 265. Genesis 49:1, Genesis 49:2.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 554.



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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/genesis-48.html.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 59

JACOB BLESSING THE SONS OF JOSEPH

Genesis 48:15-16. And he 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!

THERE are not any more profitable scenes than those which we behold in the chambers of dying saints. There religion is exhibited in the most lively colours, and evinces itself to be, not a visionary phantom, but a real and substantial good. We are bidden to “mark the perfect man, and to behold the upright, because the end of that man is peace.” Some instances there are, where persons on their death-bed are transported with unutterable joy: they seem to breathe the very atmosphere of heaven, while they are yet in the body. But it is more frequent to behold them waiting for their dissolution with a peaceful dignified composure; and improving their precious moments for the benefit of their surviving friends. Such was the closing scene of Jacob. We read not of any particular ecstasies that he enjoyed; but we see him with a hope full of immortality, and an affectionate attention to the welfare of all his children. It seems indeed that several of the patriarchs were on these occasions endued with a spirit of prophecy, and directed to pronounce blessings on those, for whom God, of his own sovereign will, had reserved them. They were not left to their own caprice or judgment in this matter; but were overruled, sometimes contrary to their own intentions to convey the blessings of primogeniture to the younger branches of the family in preference to the elder. Thus Isaac, having unwillingly given the blessing to Jacob, was constrained to confirm it to him, notwithstanding Esau laboured with tears to prevail upon him to recall his word. Somewhat similar to that was the transfer of the blessing to the younger of Joseph’s sons in preference to the elder. Joseph brought his sons to his dying parent, and placed them so that Manasseh, his first-born, should have the right hand of Jacob placed upon his head: but the dying patriarch was inspired of God to counteract the wish of Joseph in this particular, and, by crossing his hands, to convey the principal blessing to Ephraim, who was the younger son. We might remark upon this subject, that God often, if we may so speak, crosses his hands in bestowing his blessings, since he gives them to those, who, in our eyes, are least worthy of them, and least likely to receive them. But our object at present is rather to inculcate the necessity of attending to the spiritual interests of young people, and especially of those who by the ties of consanguinity are connected with us.

In prosecuting this subject, we observe, that,

I. We should feel a concern for the spiritual welfare of the rising generation—

We should by no means be indifferent to the souls of any: on the contrary, the conveying of religious instruction to children is an occupation well worthy the attention of all, who have leisure and ability to engage in it [Note: If this were the subject of a sermon for the support of charity, or Sunday Schools, the idea of relationship should be dropped, and the sentiments a little varied.]. But we are more especially bound to instruct those who are related to us and dependent on us: indeed they may justly claim this service at our hands—

1. Their spiritual welfare is incomparably more important than their temporal—

[All persons feel it incumbent on them to consult the temporal welfare of their children, and account themselves happy, if they can bequeath them an inheritance, that shall make them independent of the world; or give them such an education, as shall enable them to make a comfortable provision for themselves. But how much richer is a child that possesses a saving knowledge of Christ, however low he be in outward circumstances, than the heir of a kingdom would be, if destitute of that knowledge! — — — Shall we then be diligent in promoting the temporal prosperity of our relations, and shew no regard for their eternal interests? God forbid! Let rather our care be most bestowed on those things which most of all deserve our care — — —]

2. Their spiritual welfare greatly depends on us–

[Who is to instruct our children, if we do not? or how can they gain knowledge without instruction? We provide for their bodies, because nature, as well as custom, tells us that it is our duty to do so. But is it not equally our duty to provide for their souls? If we educate them in ignorance, what can be expected but that they should grow up in sin? and how can it be thought that they should bestow any pains in cultivating divine knowledge for themselves, when they see us, whom they suppose to have formed a right estimate of things, indifferent whether they possess it or not? On the contrary, if we conscientiously discharge our duty to them in this respect, we have reason to hope, that God will bless our endeavours, and make us instruments of good to their souls. For though the best efforts may not universally succeed, we may assume it as a general truth, that “if we bring up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.”]

3. Their souls will be required at our hands—

[This is a truth acknowledged in reference to Ministers: all agree that they must give account of the souls committed to their charge. Why then should not this be the case with those who have the care of children? Methinks every parent, as soon as ever a child is born, should receive it as it were from the hands of God, with this charge, “Bring this child up for me [Note: Exodus 2:9.].” As for the attention which a parent bestows on the temporal advancement of his children, it will not only not excuse his neglect of their better interests, but will be a fearful aggravation of it. The Judge will say to them as he once did to the hypocritical Pharisees, These things ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.]

If we should feel this concern at all times for the rising generation,

II. We should express it more especially in a dying hour—

Every word acquires weight from the circumstance of its being uttered at the approach of death. We should avail ourselves therefore of that advantage, to impress the minds of young people with a concern for their souls. Two things in particular we should do:

1. We should commend God to them—

[This Jacob did: and we cannot do better than follow his example.

Young people are ready to think, that religion is a new thing, and that the exhortations of their parents are the effects of needless preciseness, or of superstitious fear. On this account, it is well to shew them, that all those eminent characters of old, whom they profess to reverence, were devoted to the service of their God: and that, in recommending religion, to them, we recommend only what all the wise and good in all ages have approved; that, if God is our God, he was “the God also, before whom Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob walked.” Moreover, though it is not always expedient to be talking of our own experience, yet, at such a season, we may do it to good effect. We may declare to others what we have known of God, both as a God of providence and of grace. It is of great importance to make them entertain right sentiments respecting the providence of God, and to make them know, that whether they become rich by industry or by inheritance, it is “God who feeds them all their life long.” It is also indispensably necessary to direct their attention to that “Angel,” Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Angel of the Covenant [Note: The same Person is spoken of as in the former members of the text: nor would Jacob have prayed to him, if he had not been God. Compare Genesis 32:24; Genesis 32:28; Genesis 32:30 with Hosea 12:3-5 and Malachi 3:1.],” through whom alone we have redemption, either from the moral evil of sin, or from the penal evil of damnation. It is “He that redeems us from all evil,” temporal, spiritual, and eternal. If we can from our own experience bear testimony to Christ in this view, it will avail more than a thousand lectures given in a time of health: for then the surrounding relatives will see, the sting of death is taken away, and that “they are indeed blessed who put their trust in Christ.”]

2. We should pray to God for them—

[The prayer of Jacob is short, but sententious. The expression, “God bless you!” is often uttered in a dying hour, but without any just ideas affixed to the petition. But we, in imploring the blessing of God upon our children, should distinctly inform them wherein that blessing consists. We should inform them, that, to enjoy God in the dispensations of his providence, and Christ in the riches of his grace, and to walk before God in Christ, as our God and Saviour, in all holy obedience, is to be truly blessed; and that we are then indeed blessed, when God by his Spirit enables us thus to enjoy and to serve him. Having these things in our own minds, and conveying them to the minds of those whom we desire to instruct, we need not multiply words in prayer: while we entreat of God to bless those for whose welfare we are particularly concerned, we shall find acceptance with God, and obtain mercies for them.

It is recorded of Jacob, that in this prayer of his he exercised faith [Note: Hebrews 11:21.]. Now we have not precisely the same grounds for faith that he had; because he was inspired to pronounce over the youths the blessings which God had before determined to bestow: but the more we are enabled to believe in God as a prayer-hearing and promise-keeping God, the more reason we have to hope that our prayers shall be answered, whether for ourselves or others.]

Address—

1. To those who are advanced in life—

[You see before you the composure of a dying saint. Seek to obtain such for yourselves. And that you may “die the death of the righteous,” be diligent to live his life. If your own business be not already transacted with God, (so to speak,) you will have little disposition either to speak to others in a dying hour, or to pray for them: but if your own calling and election be made sure, then will your dying exhortations be delivered with ease, and received with benefit.]

2. To those who are coining forward into life—

[You are apt to slight the instructions of your parents, under the idea that they are unnecessary or unsuitable to your state. But you see what has always occupied the minds of dying saints. You know that Jacob’s example is commended by God himself. Be thankful then, if you have friends or relatives who walk in the steps of Jacob: and let that, which they above all things desire for you, be your chief desire for yourselves.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/genesis-48.html. 1832.

Scofield's Reference Notes

Angel (See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4")

redeemed Heb. goel, Redemp. (Kinsman type). Isaiah 59:20 (See Scofield "Isaiah 59:20").

Copyright Statement
These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Genesis 48:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/genesis-48.html. 1917.

The Biblical Illustrator

THE BLESSINGS OF THE TRIBES

Genesis 48:1-22; Genesis 49:1-33

JACOB’S blessing of his sons marks the close of the patriarchal dispensation. Henceforth the channel of God’s blessing to man does not consist of one person only, but of a people or nation. It is still one seed, as Paul reminds us, a unit that God will bless, but this unit is now no longer a single person-as Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob-but one people, composed of several parts, and yet one whole: equally representative of Christ, as the patriarchs were, and of equal effect every way in receiving God’s blessing and handing it down until Christ came. The Old Testament Church, quite as truly as the New, formed one whole with Christ. Apart from Him it had no meaning, and would have had no existence. It was the promised seed, always growing more and more to its perfect development in Christ. As the promise was kept to Abraham when Isaac was born, and as Isaac was truly the promised seed-in so far as he was a part of the series that led on to Christ, and was given in fulfilment of the promise that promised Christ to the world-so all through the history of Israel we must bear in mind that in them God is fulfilling this same promise, and that they are the promised seed in so far as they are one with Christ. And this interprets to us all those passages of the prophets regarding which men have disputed whether they are to be applied to Israel or to Christ: passages in which God addresses Israel in such words as, "Behold My servant," "Mine elect," and so forth, and in the interpretation of which it has been thought sufficient proof that they do not apply to Christ, to prove that they do apply to Israel; whereas, on the principle just laid down, it might much more safely be argued that because they apply to Israel, therefore they apply to Christ. And it is at this point-where Israel distributes among his sons the blessing which heretofore had all lodged in himself-that we see the first multiplication of Christ’s representatives; the mediation going on no longer through individuals, but through a nation; and where individuals are still chosen by God, as commonly they are, for the conveyance of God’s communications to earth, these individuals, whether priests or prophets, are themselves but the official representatives of the nation.

As the patriarchal dispensation ceases, it secures to the tribes all the blessing it has itself contained. Every father desires to leave to his sons whatever he has himself found helpful, but as they gather round his dying bed, or as he sits setting his house in order, and considering what portion is appropriate for each, he recognises that to some of them it is quite useless to bequeath the most valuable parts of his property, while in others he discerns a capacity which promises the improvement of all that is entrusted to it. And from the earliest times the various characters of the tribes were destined to modify the blessing conveyed to them by their father. The blessing of Israel is now distributed, and each receives what each can take; and while in some of the individual tribes there may seem to be very little of blessing at all, yet, taken together, they form a picture of the common outstanding features of human nature, and of that nature as acted upon by God’s blessing, and forming together one body or Church. A peculiar interest attaches to the history of some nations, and is not altogether absent from our own, from the precision with which we can trace the character of families, descending often with the same One knows at once to what families to look for restless and turbulent spirits, ready for conspiracy and revolution; and one knows also where to seek steady and faithful loyalty, public-spiritedness, or native ability. And in Israel’s national character there was room for the great distinguishing features of the tribes, and to show the richness and variety with which the promise of God could fulfil itself wherever it was received. The distinguishing features which Jacob depicts in the blessings of his sons are necessarily veiled under the poetic figures of prophecy, and spoken of as they would reveal themselves in worldly matters; but these features were found in all the generations of the tribes, and displayed themselves in things spiritual also. For a man has not two characters, but one; and what he is in the world, that he is in his religion. In our own country, it is seen how the forms of worship, and even the doctrines believed, and certainly the modes of religious thought and feeling, depend on the natural character, and the natural character on the local situation of the respective sections of the community. No doubt in a country like ours, where men so constantly migrate from place to place, and where one common literature tends to mould us all to the same way of thinking, you do get men of all kinds in every place; yet even among ourselves the character of a place is generally still visible, and predominates over all that mingles with it. Much more must this character have been retained in a country where each man could trace his ancestry up to the father of the tribe, and cultivated with pride the family characteristics, and had but little intercourse, either literary or personal, with other minds and other manners. As we know by dialect and by the manners of the people when we pass into a new country, so must the Israelite have known by the eye and ear when he had crossed the county frontier, when he was conversing with a Benjamite, and when with a descendant of Judah. We are not therefore to suppose that any of these utterances of Jacob are mere geographical predictions, or that they depict characteristics which might appear in civil life, but not in religion and the Church, or that they would die out with the first generation.

In these blessings, therefore, we have the history of the Church in its most interesting form. In these sons gathered round him, the patriarch sees his own nature reflected piece by piece, and he sees also the general outline of all that must be produced by such natures as these men have. The whole destiny of Israel is here in germ, and the spirit of prophecy in Jacob sees and declares it. It has often been remarked that as a man draws near to death, he seems to see many things in a much clearer light, and especially gets glimpses into the future, which are hidden from others.

"The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed,

Lets in new light through chinks that time hath made."

Being nearer to eternity, he instinctively measures things by its standard, and thus comes nearer a just valuation of all things before his mind, and can better distinguish reality from appearance. Jacob has studied these sons of his for fifty years, and has had his acute perception of character painfully enough called to exercise itself on them. He has all his life long had a liking for analysing men s rune life, knowing that, when he understands that, he can better use them for his own ends; and these sons of his own have cost him thought over and above that sometimes penetrating interest which a father win take in the growth of a son’s character; and now he knows them thoroughly, understands their temptations, their weaknesses, their capabilities, and, as a wise head of a house, can, with delicate and unnoticed skill, balance the one against the other, ward off awkward collisions, and prevent the evil from destroying the good. This knowledge of Jacob prepares him for being the intelligent agent by whom God predicts in outline the future of His Church.

One cannot but admire, too, the faith which enables Jacob to apportion to his sons the blessings of a land which had not been much of a resting-place to himself, and regarding the occupation of which his sons might have put to him some very difficult questions. And we admire this dignified faith the more on reflecting that it has often been very grievously lacking in our own case-that we have felt almost ashamed of having so little of a present tangible kind to offer, and of being obliged to speak only of invisible and future blessings; to set a spiritual consolation over against a worldly grief; to point a man whose fortunes are ruined to an eternal inheritance; or to speak to one who knows himself quite in the power of sin of a remedy which has often seemed illusory to ourselves. Some of us have got so little comfort or strength from religion ourselves, that we have no heart to offer it to others; and most of us have a feeling that we should seem to trifle were we to offer invisible aid against very visible calamity. At least we feel that we are doing a daring thing in making such an offer, and can scarce get over the desire that we had something to speak of which sight could appreciate, and which did not require the exercise of faith. Again and again the wish rises within us that to the sick man we could bring health as well as the promise of forgiveness, and that to the poor we could grant an earthly, while we make known a heavenly, inheritance. One who has experienced these scruples, and known how hard it is to get rid of them, will know also how to honour the faith of Jacob, by which he assumes the right to bless Pharaoh-though he is himself a mere sojourner by sufferance in Pharaoh’s land, and living on his bounty-and by which he gathers his children round him and portions out to them a land which seemed to have been most barren to himself, and which now seemed quite beyond his reach. The enjoyments of it, which he himself had not very deeply tasted, he yet knew were real; and if there were a look of scepticism, or of scorn, on the face of any one of his sons; if the unbelief of any received the prophetic utterances as the ravings of delirium, or the fancies of an imbecile and worn-out mind going back to the scenes of its youth, in Jacob himself there was so simple and unsuspecting a faith in God’s promise, that he dealt with the land as if it were the only portion worth bequeathing to his sons, as if every Canaanite were already cast out of it, and as if he knew his sons could never be tempted by the wealth of Egypt to turn with contempt from the land of promise. And if we would attain to this boldness of his, and be able to speak of spiritual and future blessings as very substantial and valuable, we must ourselves learn to make much of God’s promise, and leave no taint of unbelief in our reception of it.

And often we are rebuked by finding that when we do offer things spiritual, even those who are wrapped in earthly comforts appreciate and accept the better gifts. So it was in Joseph’s case. No doubt the highest posts in Egypt were open to his sons; they might have been naturalised, as he himself had been, and, throwing in their lot with the land of their adoption, might have turned to their advantage the rank their father held, and the reputation he had earned. But Joseph turns from this attractive prospect, brings them to his father, and hands them over to the despised shepherd-life of Israel. One need scarcely point out how great a sacrifice this was on Joseph’s part. So universally acknowledged and legitimate a desire is it to pass to one’s children the honour achieved by a life of exertion, that states have no higher rewards to confer on their most useful servants than a title which their descendants may wear. But Joseph would not suffer his children to risk the loss of their share in God’s peculiar blessing, not for the most promising openings in life, or the highest civil honours. If the thoroughly open identification of them with the shepherds, and their profession of a belief in a distant inheritance, which must have made them appear madmen in the eyes of the Egyptians, if this was to cut them off from worldly advancement, Joseph was not careful of this, for resolved he was that, at any cost, they should be among God’s people. And his faith received its reward; the two tribes that sprang from him received about as large a portion of the promised land as fell to the lot of all the other tribes put together.

You will observe that Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted as sons of Jacob. Jacob tells Joseph, "They shall be mine," not my grandsons, but as Reuben and Simeon. No other sons whom Joseph might have were to be received into this honour, but these two were to take their place on a level with their uncle, as heads of tribes, so that Joseph is represented through the whole history by the two populous and powerful tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. No greater honour could have been put on Joseph, nor any more distinct and lasting recognition made of the indebtedness of his family to him, and of how he had been as a father bringing new life to his brethren, than this, that his sons should be raised to the rank of heads of tribes, on a level with the immediate sons of Jacob. And no higher honour could have been put on the two lads themselves than that they should thus be treated as if they were their father Joseph-as if they had his worth and his rank. He is merged in them, and all that he has earned is, throughout the history, to be found, not in his own name, but in theirs. It all proceeds from him; but his enjoyment is found in their enjoyment, his worth acknowledged in their fruitfulness. Thus did God familiarise the Jewish mind through its whole history with the idea, if they chose to think and have ideas, of adoption, and of an adoption of a peculiar kind, of an adoption where already there was an heir who, by this adoption, has his name and worth merged in the persons now received into his place. Ephraim and Manasseh were not received alongside. of Joseph, but each received what Joseph himself might have had, and Joseph’s name as a tribe was henceforth only to be found in these two. This idea was fixed in such a way, that for centuries it was steeping into the minds of men, so that they might not be astonished if God should in some other case, say the case of His own Son, adopt men into the rank He held, and let His estimate of the worth of His Son, and the honour He puts upon Him, be seen in the adopted. This being so, we need not be alarmed if men tell us that imputation is a mere legal fiction, or human invention; a legal fiction it may be, but in the case before us it was the never-disputed foundation of very substantial blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh; and we plead for nothing more than that God would act with us as here He did act with these two, that He would make us His direct heirs, make us His own sons, and give us what He who presents us to Him to receive His blessing did earn, and merits at the Father’s hand.

We meet with these crossed hands of blessing frequently in Scripture; the younger son blessed above the elder-as was needful, lest grace should become confounded with nature, and the belief gradually grow up in men’s minds that natural effects could never be overcome by grace, and that in every respect grace waited upon nature. And these crossed hands we meet still; for how often does God quite reverse our order, and bless most that about which we had less concern, and seem to put a slight on that which has engrossed our best affection. It is so, often in precisely the way in which Joseph found it so; the son whose youth is most anxiously cared for, to whom the interests of the younger members of the family are sacrificed, and who is commended to God continually to receive His right-hand blessing, this son seems neither to receive nor to dispense much blessing; but the younger, less thought of, left to work his own way, is favoured by God, and becomes the comfort and support of his parents when the elder has failed of his duty. And in the case of much that we hold dear, the same rule is seen; a pursuit we wish to be successful in we can make little of, and are thrown back from continually, while something else into which we have thrown ourselves almost accidentally prospers in our hand and blesses us. Again and again, for years together, we put forward some cherished desire to God’s right hand, and are displeased, like Joseph, that still the hand of greater blessing should pass to some other thing. Does God not know what is oldest with us, what has been longest at our hearts, and is dearest to us? Certainly He does: "I know it, My son, I know it," He answers to all our expostulations. It is not because He does not understand or regard your predilections, your natural and excusable preferences, that He sometimes refuses to gratify your whole desire, and pours upon you blessings of a kind somewhat different from those you most. earnestly covet. He will give you the whole that Christ hath merited; but for the application and distribution of that grace and blessing you must be content to trust Him.

You may be at a loss to know why He does no more to deliver you from some sin, or why He does not make you more successful in your efforts to aid others, or why, while He so liberally prospers you in one part of your condition, you get so much less in another that is far nearer your heart; but God does what He will with His own, and if you do not find in one point the whole blessing and prosperity you think should flow from such a Mediator as you have, you may only conclude that what is lacking there will elsewhere be found more wisely bestowed. And is it not a perpetual encouragement to us that God does not merely crown what nature has successfully begun, that it is not the likely and the naturally good that are most blessed, but that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are? In Reuben, the firstborn, conscience must have been sadly at war with hope as he looked at the blind, but expressive, face of his father. He may have hoped that his sin had not been severely thought of by his father, or that the father’s pride in his first-born would prompt him to hide, though it could not make him forget it. Probably the gross offence had not been made known to the family. At least, the words "he went up" may be understood as addressed in explanation to the brethren. It may indeed have been that the blind old man, forcibly recalling the long-past transgression, is here uttering a mournful, regretful soliloquy, rather than addressing any one. It may be that these words were uttered to himself as he went back upon the one deed that had disclosed to him his son’s real character, and rudely hurled to the ground all the hopes he had built up for his first-born. Yet there is no reason to suppose, on the other hand, that the sin had been previously known or alluded to in the family. Reuben’s hasty, passionate nature could not understand that if Jacob had felt that sin of his deeply, he should not have shown his resentment; he had stunned his father with the heavy blow, and because he did not cry out and strike him in return, he thought him little hurt. So do shallow natures tremble for a night after their sin, and when they find that the sun rises and men greet them as cordially as before, and that no hand lays hold on them from the past, they think little more of their sin-do not understand that fatal calm that precedes the storm. Had the memory of Reuben’s sin survived in Jacob’s mind all the sad events that had since happened, and all the stirring incidents of the emigration and the new life in Egypt? Could his father at the last hour, and after so many thronged years, and before his brethren, recall the old sin? He is relieved and confirmed in his confidence by the first words of Jacob, words ascribing to him his natural position, a certain conspicuous dignity too, and power such as one may often see produced in men by occupying positions of authority, though in their own character there be weakness. But all the excellence that Jacob ascribes to Reuben serves only to embitter the doom pronounced upon him. Men seem often to expect that a future can be given to them irrespective of what they themselves are, that a series of blessings and events might be prepared for them and made over to them; whereas every man’s future must be made by himself, and Is already in great part formed by the past. It was a vain expectation of Reuben to expect that he, the impetuous, unstable, superficial son, could have the future of a deep, and earnest, and dutiful nature, or that his children should derive no taint from their parent, but be as the children of Joseph. No man’s future need be altogether a doom to him, for God may bless to him the evil fruit his life has borne; but certainly no man need look for a future which has no relation to, his own character. His future will always be made up of his deeds, his feelings, and the circumstances which his desires have brought him into.

The future of Reuben was of a negative, blank kind-"Thou shalt not excel"; his unstable character must empty it of all great success. And to many a heart since have these words struck a chill, for to many they are as a mirror suddenly held up before them. They see themselves when they look on the tossing sea, rising and pointing to the heavens with much noise, but only to sink back again to the same everlasting level. Men of brilliant parts and great capacity are continually seen to be lost to society by instability of purpose. Would they only pursue one direction, and concentrate their energies on one subject, they might become true heirs of promise, blessed and blessing; but they seem to lose relish for every pursuit on the first taste of success-all their energy seems to have boiled over and evaporated in the first glow, and sinks as the water that has just been noisily boiling when the fire is withdrawn from under it. No impression made upon them is permanent: like water, they are plastic, easily impressible, but utterly incapable of retaining an impression; and therefore, like water, they have a downward tendency, or at the best are but retained in their place by pressure from without, and have no eternal power of growth. And the misery of this character is often increased by the desire to excel which commonly accompanies instability. It is generally this very desire which prompts a man to hurry from one aim to another, to give up one path to excellence when he sees that other men are making way upon another: having no internal convictions of his own, he is guided mostly by the successes of other men, the most dangerous of all guides. So that such a man has all the bitterness of an eager desire doomed never to be satisfied. Conscious to himself of capacity for something, feeling in him the excellency of power, and having that "excellency of dignity," or graceful and princely refinement, which the knowledge of many things, and intercourse with many kinds of people, have imparted to him, he feels all the more that pervading weakness, that greedy, lustful craving for all kinds of priority, and for enjoying all the various advantages which other men severally enjoy, which will not let him finally choose and adhere to his own line of things, but distracts him by a thousand purposes which ever defeat one another.

The sin of the next oldest sons was also remembered against them, and remembered apparently for the same reason-because the character was expressed in it. The massacre of the Shechemites was not an accidental outrage that any other of the sons of Jacob might equally have perpetrated, but the most glaring of a number of expressions of a fierce and cruel disposition in these two men. In Jacob’s prediction of their future, he seems to shrink with horror from his own progeny-like her who dreamt she would give birth to a firebrand. He sees the possibility of the direst results flowing from such a temper, and, under God, provides against these by scattering the tribes, and thus weakening their power for evil. They had been banded together so as the ‘more easily and securely to accomplish their murderous purposes. "Simeon and Levi are brethren"-showing a close affinity, and seeking one another’s society and aid, but it is for bad purposes; and therefore they must be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel. This was accomplished by the tribe of Levi being distributed over all the other tribes as the ministers of religion. The fiery zeal, the bold independence, and the pride of being a distinct people, which had been displayed in the slaughter of the Shechemites, might be toned down and turned to good account when the sword was taken out of their hand. Qualities such as these, which produce the most disastrous results when fit instruments can be found, and when men of like disposition are suffered to band themselves together, may, when found in the individual and kept in check by circumstances and dissimilar dispositions, be highly beneficial.

In the sin, Levi seems to have been the moving spirit, Simeon the abetting tool, and in the punishment, it is the more dangerous tribe that s scattered, so that the other is left companionless. In the blessings of Moses, the tribe of Simeon is passed over in silence; and that the tribe of Levi should have been so used for God’s immediate service stands as evidence that punishments, however severe and desolating, even threatening something bordering on extinction, may yet become blessings to God’s people. The sword of murder was displaced in Levi’s hand by the knife of sacrifice; their fierce revenge against sinners was converted into hostility against sin; their apparent zeal for the forms of their religion was consecrated to the service of the tabernacle and temple; their fanatical pride, which prompted them to treat all other people as the offscouring of the earth, was informed by a better spirit, and used for the upbuilding and instruction of the people of Israel. In order to understand why this tribe, of all others, should have been chosen for the service of the sanctuary and for the instruction of the people, we must not only recognise how their being scattered in punishment of their sin over all the land fitted them to be the educators of the nation and the representatives of all the tribes, but also we must consider that the sin itself which Levi had committed broke the one command which men had up till this time received from the mouth of God; no law had as yet been published but that which had been given to Noah and his sons regarding bloodshed, and which was given in circumstances so appalling, and with sanctions so emphatic, that it might ever have rung in men’s ears, and stayed the hand of the murderer. In saying, "At the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man," God had shown that human life was to be counted sacred. He Himself had swept the race from the face of the earth, but adding this command immediately after, He, showed all the more forcibly that punishment was His own prerogative, and that none but those appointed by Him might shed-blood-"Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord." To take private revenge, as Levi did, was to take the sword out of God’s hand, and to say that Gods was not careful enough of justice, and but a poor guardian of right and wrong in the world; and to destroy human life in the wanton and cruel manner in which Levi had destroyed the Shechemites, and to do it under colour and by the aid of religious zeal, was to God the most hateful of sins. But none can know the hatefulness of a sin so distinctly as he who has fallen into it, and is enduring the punishment of it penitently and graciously, and therefore Levi was of all others the best fitted to be entrusted with those sacrificial symbols which set forth the value of all human life, and especially of the life of God’s own Son. Very humbling must it have been for the Levite who remembered the history of his tribe to be used by God as the hand of His justice on the victims that were brought in substitution for that which was so precious in the sight of God.

The blessing of Judah is at once the most important and the most difficult to interpret in the series. There is enough in the history of Judah himself, and there is enough in the subsequent history of the tribe, to justify the ascription to him of all lion-like qualities-a kingly, fearlessness, confidence, power, and success; in action a rapidity of movement and might that make him irresistible, and in repose a majestic dignity of bearing. As the serpent is the cognisance of Dan, the wolf of Benjamin, the hind of Naphtali, so is the lion of the tribe of Judah. He scorns to gain his end by a serpentine craft, and is himself easily taken in; he does not ravin like a wolf, merely plundering for the sake of booty, but gives freely and generously, even to the sacrifice of his own person: nor has he the mere graceful and ineffective swiftness of the hind, but the rushing onset of the lion-a character which, more than any other, men reverence and admire-"Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise"-and a character which, more than any other, fits a man to take the lead and rule. If there were to be kings in Israel, there could be little doubt from which tribe they could best be chosen; a wolf of the tribe of Benjamin, like Saul, not only hung on the rear of retreating Philistines and spoiled them, but made a prey of his own people, and it is in David we find the true king, the man who more than. any other satisfies men’s ideal of the prince to whom they will pay homage; -falling indeed into grievous error- and sin, like his forefather, but, like him also, right at heart, so generous and self-sacrificing that men served him with the most devoted loyalty, and were willing rather to dwell in caves with him than in palaces with any other.

The kingly supremacy of Judah was here spoken of in Words which have been the subject of as prolonged and violent contention as any others in the Word of God. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come." These words are very generally understood to mean that Judah’s supremacy would continue until it culminated or flowered into the personal reign of Shiloh; in other words, that Judah’s sovereignty was to be perpetuated in the person of Jesus Christ. So that this prediction is but the first whisper of that which was afterwards so distinctly declared, that David’s seed should sit on the throne for ever and ever. It was not accomplished in the letter, any more than the promise to David was; the tribe of Judah cannot in any intelligible sense be said to have had rulers of her own up to the coming of Christ, or for some centuries previous to that date. For those who would quickly judge God and His promise by what they could see in their own day, there was enough to provoke them to challenge God for forgetting His promise. But in due time the King of men, He to whom all nations have gathered, did spring from this tribe; and need it be said that the very fact of His appearance proved that the supremacy had not departed from Judah? This prediction, then, partook of the character of very many of the Old Testament prophecies; there was sufficient fulfilment in the letter to seal, as it were, the promise, and give men a token that it was being accomplished, and yet so mysterious a falling short, as to cause men to look beyond the literal fulfilment, on which alone their hopes had at first rested, to some far higher and more perfect spiritual fulfilment.

But not only has it been objected that the sceptre departed from Judah long before Christ came, and that therefore the word Shiloh cannot refer to Him, but also it has been truly said that wherever else the word occurs it is the name of a town-that town, viz., where the ark for a long time was stationed, and from which the allotment of territory was made to the various tribes; and the prediction has been supposed to mean that Judah should be the leading tribe till the land was entered. Many objections to this naturally occur, and need not be stated. But it comes to be an inquiry of some interest, How much information regarding a personal Messiah did the brethren receive from this prophecy? A question very difficult indeed to answer. The word Shiloh means "peace-making," and if they understood this as a proper name, they must have thought of a person such as Isaiah designates as the Prince of Peace-a name it was similar to that wherewith David called his son Solomon, in the expectation that the results of his own lifetime of disorder and battle would be reaped by his successor in a peaceful and prosperous reign. It can scarcely be thought likely, indeed, that this single term "Shiloh," which might be applied to many things besides a person, should give to the sons of Jacob any distinct idea of a personal Deliverer; but it might be sufficient to keep before their eyes, and specially before the tribe of Judah, that the aim and consummation of all lawgiving and ruling was peace. And there was certainly contained in this blessing an assurance that the purpose of Judah would not be accomplished, and therefore that the existence of Judah as a tribe would not terminate, until peace had been through its means brought into the world: thus was the assurance given, that the productive power of Judah should not fail until out of that tribe there had sprung that which should give peace.

But to us who have seen the prediction accomplished it plainly enough points to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who in His own person combined all kingly qualities. In Him we are taught by this prediction to discover once more the single Person who stands out on the page of this world’s history as satisfying men’s ideal of what their King should be, and of how the race should be represented; -the One who without any rival stands in the mind’s eye as that for which the best hopes of men were waiting, still feeling that the race could do more than it had done, and never satisfied but in Him.

Zebulun, the sixth and last of Leah’s sons, was so called because said Leah, "Now will my husband dwell with me" (such being the meaning of the name), "for I have borne him six sons." All that is predicted regarding this tribe is that his dwelling should be by the sea, and near the Phoenician city Zidon. This is not to be taken as a strict geographical definition of the tract of country occupied by Zebulun, as we see when we compare it with the lot assigned to it and marked out in the Book of Joshua; but though the border of the tribe did not reach to Zidon, and though it can only have been a mere tongue of land belonging to it that ran down to the Mediterranean shore, yet the situation ascribed to it is true to its character as a tribe that had commercial relations with the Phoenicians, and was of a decidedly mercantile turn. We find this same feature indicated in the blessing of Moses: "Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out, and Issachar in thy tents"-Zebulun having the enterprise of a seafaring community, and Issachar the quiet bucolic contentment of an agricultural or pastoral population: Zebulun always restlessly eager for emigration or commerce, for going out of one kind or other; Issachar satisfied to live and die in his own tents. It is still, therefore, character rather than geographical position that is here spoken of-though it is a trait of character that is peculiarly dependent on geographical position: we, for example, because islanders, having become the maritime power and the merchants of the world; not being shut off from other nations by the encompassing sea. but finding paths by it equally in all directions ready provided for every kind of traffic.

Zebulun, then, was to represent the commerce of Israel, its outgoing tendency; was to supply a means of communication and bond of connection with the world outside, so that through it might be conveyed to the nations what was saving in Israel, and that what Israel needed from other lands might also find entrance. In the Church also, this is a needful quality: for our well-being there must ever exist among us those who are not afraid to launch on the wide and pathless sea of opinion, those in whose ears its waves have from their childhood sounded with a fascinating invitation, and who at last, as if possessed by some spirit of unrest, loose from the firm earth, and go in quest of lands not yet discovered, or are impelled to see for themselves what till now they have believed on the testimony of others. It is not for all men to quit the shore, and risk themselves in the miseries and disasters of so comfortless and hazardous a life; but happy the people which possesses, from one generation to another, men who must see with their own eyes, and to whose restless nature the discomforts and dangers of an unsettled life have a charm: It is not the instability of Reuben that we have in these men, but the irrepressible longing of the born seaman, who must lift the misty veil of the horizon and penetrate its mystery. And we are not to condemn, even when we know we should not imitate, men who cannot rest satisfied with the ground on which we stand, but venture into regions of speculation, of religious thought which we have never trodden, and may deem hazardous. The nourishment we receive is not all native-grown; there are views of truth which may very profitably be imported from strange and distant lands: and there is no land, no province of thought, from which we may not derive what may advantageously be mixed with our own ideas; no direction in which a speculative mind can go in which it may not find something which may give a fresh zest to what we already use, or be a real addition to our knowledge. No doubt men who refuse to confine themselves to one way of viewing truth-men who venture to go close to persons of very different opinions from their own, who determine for themselves to prove all things, who have no very special love for what they were native to and originally taught, who show rather a taste for strange and new opinions-these persons live a life of great hazard, and in the end are generally, like men who have been much at sea, unsettled; they have not fixed opinions, and are in themselves, as individual men, unsatisfactory and unsatisfied; but still they have done good to the community, by bringing to us ideas and knowledge which otherwise we could not have obtained. Such men God gives us to widen our views; to prevent us from thinking that we have the best of everything; to bring us to acknowledge that others, who perhaps in the main are not so favoured as ourselves, are yet possessed of some things we ourselves would be the better of. And though these men must themselves necessarily hang loosely, scarcely attached very firmly to any part of the Church, like a seafaring, population, and often even with a border running very close to heathenism, yet let us own that the Church has need of such-that without them the different sections of the Church would know too little of one another, and too little of the facts of this world’s life. And as the seafaring population of a country might be expected to show less interest in the soil of their native land than others, and yet we know that in point of fact we are dependent on no class of our population so much for leal patriotism, and for the defence of our country, so one has observed that the Church also must make similar use of her Zebuluns-of men who, by their very habit of restlessly considering all views of truth which are alien to our own ways of thinking, have become familiar with, and better able to defend us against the error that mingles with these views.

Issachar receives from his father a character which few would be proud of or would envy, but which many are very content to bear. As the strong ass that has its stall and its provender provided can afford to let the free beasts of the forest vaunt their liberty, so there is a very numerous class of men who have no care to assert their dignity as human beings, or to agitate regarding their rights as citizens, so long as their obscurity and servitude provide them with physical comforts, and leave them free of heavy responsibilities. They prefer a life of ease and plenty to a life of hardship and glory. They are not lazy nor idle, but are quite willing to use their strength so long as they are not overdriven out of their sleekness. They have neither ambition nor enterprise, and willingly bow their shoulders to bear, and become the servants of those who will free them from the anxiety of planning and managing, and give them a fair and regular remuneration for their labour. This is not a noble nature, but in a world in which ambition so frequently runs through a thorny and difficult path to a disappointing and shameful end, this disposition has much to say in its own defence. It will often accredit itself with un-challengeable common sense, and will maintain that it alone enjoys life and gets the good of it. They will tell you they are the only true utilitarians, that to be one’s own master only brings cares, and that the degradation of servitude is only an idea; that really servants are quite as well off as masters. Look at them: the one is as a strong, powerful, well-cared-for animal, his work but a pleasant exercise to him, and when it is over never, following him into his rest; he eats the good of the land, and has what all seem to be in vain striving for, rest and contentment: the other, the master, has indeed his position, but that only multiplies his duties; he has wealth, but that proverbially only increases his cares and the mouths that are to consume it; it is he who has the air of a bondsman, and never, meet him when you may, seems wholly at ease and free from care.

Yet, after all that can be said in favour of the bargain an Issachar makes, and however he may be satisfied to rest, and in a quiet, peaceful way enjoy life, men feel that at the best there is something despicable about such a character. He gives his labour and is fed, he pays his tribute and is protected; but men feel that they ought to meet the dangers, responsibilities, and difficulties of life in their own persons, and at first hand, and not buy themselves off so from the burden of individual self-control and responsibility. The animal enjoyment of this life and its physical comforts may be a very good ingredient in a national character: it might be well for Israel to have this patient, docile mass of strength in its midst: it may be well for our country that there are among us not only men eager for the highest honours and posts, but a great multitude of men perhaps equally serviceable and capable, but whose desires never rise beyond the ordinary social comforts; the contentedness of such, even though reprehensible, tempers or balances the ambition of the others, and when it comes into personal contact rebukes its feverishness. They, as well as the other parts of society, have amidst their error a truth-the truth that the ideal world in which ambition, and hope, and imagination live is not everything; that the material has also a reality, and that though hope does bless mankind, yet attainment is also something, even though it be a little. Yet this truth is not the whole truth, and is only useful as an ingredient, as a part, not as the whole; and when we fall from any high ideal of human life which we have formed, and begin to find comfort and rest in the mere physical good things of this world, we may well despise ourselves. There is a pleasantness still in the land that appeals to us all; a luxury in observing the risks and struggles of others while ourselves secure and at rest; a desire to make life easy, and to shirk the responsibility and toil that public-spiritedness entails. Yet of what tribe has the Church more cause to complain than of those persons who seem to imagine that they have done enough when they have joined the Church and received their own inheritance to enjoy; who are alive to no emergency, nor awake to the need of others; who have no idea at all of their being a part of the community, for which, as well as for themselves, there are duties to discharge; who couch, like the ass of Issachar, in their comfort without one generous impulse to make common cause against the common evils and foes of the Church, and are unvisited by a single compunction that while they lie there, submitting to whatever fate sends, there are kindred tribes of their own being oppressed and spoiled?

There seems to have been an improvement in this tribe, an infusion of some new life into it. In the time of Deborah, indeed, it is with a note of surprise that, while celebrating the victory of Israel, she names even Issachar as having been roused to action, and as having helped in the common cause -" the princes of Issachar were with Deborah, even Issachar"; but we find them again in the days of David wiping out their reproach, and standing by him manfully.. And there an apparently new character is given to them-"the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." This quite accords, however, with the kind of practical philosophy which we have seen to be imbedded in Issachar’s character. Men they were not distracted by high thoughts and ambitions, but who judged things according to their substantial value to themselves; and who were, therefore, in a position to give much good advice on practical matters-advice which would always have a tendency to trend too much towards mere utilitarianism and worldliness, and to partake rather of crafty politic diplomacy than of far-seeing statesmanship, yet trustworthy for a certain class of subjects. And here, too, they represent the same class in the Church, already alluded to; for one often finds that men who will not interrupt their own comfort, and who have a kind of stolid indifference as to what comes of the good of the Church, have yet also much shrewd practical wisdom; and were these men, instead of spending their sagacity in cynical denunciation of what the Church does, to throw themselves into the cause of the Church, and heartily advise her what she ought to do, and help in the doing of it, their observation of human affairs, and political understanding of the times, would be turned to good account, instead of being a reproach.

Next came the eldest son of Rachel’s handmaid, and the eldest son of Leah’s handmaid. Dan and Gad. Dan’s name, meaning "judge," is the starting point of the prediction-"Dan shall judge his people." This word "judge" we are perhaps somewhat apt to misapprehend; it means rather to defend than to sit in judgment on; it refers to a judgment passed between one’s own people and their foes, and an execution of such judgment in the deliverance of the people and the destruction of the foe. We are familiar with this meaning of the word by the constant reference in the Old Testament to God’s judging His people; this being always a cause of joy as their sure deliverance from their enemies. So also it is used of those men who, when Israel had no king, arose from time to time as the champions of the people, to lead them against the foe, and who are therefore familiarly called "The Judges." From the tribe of Dan the most conspicuous of these arose, Samson, namely, and it is probably mainly with reference to this fact that Jacob so emphatically predicts of this tribe, "Dan shall judge his people." And notice the appended clause (as reflecting shame on the sluggish Issachar), "as one of the tribes of Israel," recognising always that his strength was not for himself alone, but for his country; that he was not an isolated people who had to concern himself only with his own affairs, but one of the tribes of Israel. The manner, too, in which Dan was to do this was singularly descriptive of the facts subsequently evolved. Dan was a very small and insignificant tribe, whose lot originally lay close to the Philistines on the southern border of the land. It might seem to be no obstacle whatever to the invading Philistines as they passed to the richer portion of Judah, but this little tribe, through Samson, smote these terrors of the Israelites with so sore and alarming a destruction as to cripple them for years and make them harmless. We see, therefore, how aptly Jacob compares them to the venomous snake that lurks in the road and bites the horses’ heels: the dust-coloured adder that a man treads on before he is aware, and whose poisonous stroke is more deadly than the foe he looking for in front. And especially significant did the imagery appear to the Jews, with whom this poisonous adder was indigenous, but to whom the horse was the symbol of foreign armament and invasion. The whole tribe of Dan, too, seems to have partaken of that "grim humour" with which Samson saw his foes walk time after time into the traps he set for them, and give themselves an easy prey to him-a humour which comes out with singular piquancy in the narrative given in the Book of Judges of one of the forays of this tribe, in which they carried off Micah’s priest and even his gods.

But why, in the full flow of his eloquent description of the varied virtues of his sons, does the patriarch suddenly check himself, lie back on his pillows, and quietly say, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O God?" Does he feel his strength leave him so that he cannot go on to bless the rest of his sons, and has but time to yield his own spirit to God? Are we here to interpolate one of those scenes we are all fated to witness when some eagerly watched breath seems altogether to fail before the last words have been uttered, when those who have been standing apart, through sorrow and reverence, quickly gather round the bed to catch the last look, and when the dying man again collects himself and finishes his work? Probably Jacob, having, as it were, projected himself forward into those stirring and warlike times he has been speaking of, so realises the danger of his people, and the futility even of such help as Dan’s when God does not help, that, as if from the midst of doubtful war, he cries, as with a battle cry, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O God." His longing for victory and blessing to his sons far overshot the deliverance from Philistines accomplished by Samson. That deliverance he thankfully accepts and joyfully predicts, but in the spirit of an Israelite indeed, and a genuine child of the promise, he remains unsatisfied, and sees in all such deliverance only the pledge of God’s coming nearer and nearer to His people bringing with Him His eternal salvation. In Dan, therefore, we have not the catholic spirit of Zebulun, nor the practical, though sluggish, temper of Issachar; but we are guided rather to the disposition which ought to be maintained through all Christian life, and which, with special care, needs to be cherished in Church-life-a disposition to accept with gratitude all success and triumph, but still to aim through all at that highest victory which God alone can accomplish for His people. It is to be the battle-cry with which every Christian and every Church is to preserve itself, not merely against external foes, but against the far more disastrous influence of self-confidence, pride, and glorying in man-"For Thy salvation, O God, do we wait."

Gad also is a tribe whose history is to be warlike, his very name signifying a marauding, guerilla troop; and his history was to illustrate the victories which God’s people gain by tenacious, watchful, ever-renewed warfare. The Church has often prospered by her Dan-like insignificance; the world not troubling itself to make war upon her. But oftener Gad is a better representative of the mode in which her successes are gained. We find that the men of Gad were among the most valuable of David’s warriors, when his necessity evoked all the various skill and energy of Israel. "Of the Gadites," we read, "there separated themselves unto David into the hold of the wilderness men of might. and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like. the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains: one of the least of them was better than a hundred, and the greatest mightier than a thousand." And there is something particularly inspiriting to the individual Christian in finding this pronounced as part of the blessing of God’s people-"a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last." It is this that enables us to persevere-that we have God’s assurance that present discomfiture does not doom us to final defeat. If you be among the children of promise, among those that gather round God to catch His blessing, you shall overcome at the last. You may now feel as if assaulted by treacherous, murderous foes, irregular troops, that betake themselves to every cruel deceit, and are ruthless in spoiling you; you may be assailed by so many and strange temptations that you are bewildered and cannot lift a hand to resist, scarce seeing where your danger comes from; you may be buffeted by messengers of Satan, distracted by a sudden and tumultuous incursion of a crowd of cares so that you are moved away from the old habits of your life amid which you seem to stand safely; your heart may seem to be the rendezvous of all ungodly and wicked thoughts, you may feel trodden under foot and overrun by sin, but, with the blessing of God, you shall overcome at the last. Only cultivate that dogged pertinacity of Gad, which has no thought of ultimate defeat, but rallies cheerfully and resolutely after every discomfiture.

PREFACE.

Much is now denied or doubted, within the Church itself, concerning the Book of Exodus, which was formerly accepted with confidence by all Christians.

But one thing can neither be doubted nor denied. Jesus Christ did certainly treat this book, taking it as He found it, as possessed of spiritual authority, a sacred scripture. He taught His disciples to regard it thus, and they did so.

Therefore, however widely His followers may differ about its date and origin, they must admit the right of a Christian teacher to treat this book, taking it as he finds it, as a sacred scripture and invested with spiritual authority. It is the legitimate subject of exposition in the Church.

Such work this volume strives, however imperfectly, to perform. Its object is to edify in the first place, and also, but in the second place, to inform. Nor has the author consciously shrunk from saying what seemed to him proper to be said because the utterance would be unwelcome, either to the latest critical theory, or to the last sensational gospel of an hour.

But since controversy has not been sought, although exposition has not been suppressed when it carried weapons, by far the greater part of the volume appeals to all who accept their Bible as, in any true sense, a gift from God.

No task is more difficult than to exhibit the Old Testament in the light of the New, discovering the permanent in the evanescent, and the spiritual in the form and type which it inhabited and illuminated. This book is at least the result of a firm belief that such a connection between the two Testaments does exist, and of a patient endeavour to receive the edification offered by each Scripture, rather than to force into it, and then extort from it, what the expositor desires to find. Nor has it been supposed that by allowing the imagination to assume, in sacred things, that rank as a guide which reason holds in all other practical affairs, any honour would be done to Him Who is called the Spirit of knowledge and wisdom, but not of fancy and quaint conceits.

If such an attempt does, in any degree, prove successful and bear fruit, this fact will be of the nature of a scientific demonstration.

If this ancient Book of Exodus yields solid results to a sober devotional exposition in the nineteenth Christian century, if it is not an idle fancy that its teaching harmonises with the principles and theology of the New Testament, and even demands the New Testament as the true commentary upon the Old, what follows? How comes it that the oak is potentially in the acorn, and the living creature in the egg? No germ is a manufactured article: it is a part of the system of the universe.

ANALYSIS OF CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

THE PROLOGUE, Exodus 1:1-6.

Books linked by conjunction "And:" Scripture history a connected whole.

So is secular history organic: "Philosophy of history." The Pentateuch being a still closer unity, Exodus rehearses the descent into Egypt.

Heredity: the family of Jacob.

Death of Joseph. Influence of Egypt on the shepherd race.

A healthy stock: good breeding. Goethe's aphorism.

Ourselves and our descendants.

GOD IN HISTORY, Exodus 1:7.

In Exodus, national history replaces biography.

Contrasted narratives of Jacob and Moses. Spiritual progress from Genesis to Exodus.

St. Paul's view: Law prepares for Gospel, especially by our failures.

This explains other phenomena: failures in various circumstances, of innocence in Eden; of an elect family; now of a race, a nation.

Israel, failing with all advantages, needs a Messiah. Faith justifies, in Old Testament as in New.

Scripture history reveals God in this life, in all things.

True spirituality owns God in the secular: this is a gospel for our days.

THE OPPRESSION, Exodus 1:7-22.

Early prosperity: its dangers: political supports vain.

Joseph forgotten. National responsibilities: despotism.

Nations and their chiefs. Our subject races.

The Church and her King: imputation. Pharaoh precipitates what he fears.

Egypt and her aliens: modern parallels.

Tyranny is tyrannous even when cultured.

Our undue estrangement from the fallen: Jesus a brother. Toil crushes the spirit

Israel idolatrous. Religious dependence.

Direct interposition required. Bitter oppression.

Pharaoh drops the mask. Defeated by the human heart. The midwives.

Their falsehood. Morality is progressive.

Culture and humanity.

Religion and the child.

CHAPTER II.

THE RESCUE OF MOSES, Exodus 2:1-10.

Importance of the individual.

A man versus "the Time-spirit."

The parents of Moses.

Their family: their goodly child.

Emotion helps faith, 30.

The ark in the bulrushes.

Pharaoh's daughter and Miriam.

Guidance for good emotions: the Church for humanity.

THE CHOICE OF MOSES, Exodus 2:11-15.

God employs means.

Value of endowment. Moses and his family. "The reproach of Christ."

An impulsive act.

Impulses not accidents. The hopes of Moses.

Moses and his brethren. His flight.

MOSES IN MIDIAN, Exodus 2:16-22.

Energy in disaster.

Disinterested bravery. Parallels with a variation.

The Unseen a refuge. Duty of resisting small wrongs. His wife.

A lonely heart.

CHAPTER III.

THE BURNING BUSH, Exodus 2:23-25.

Death of Raamses. Misery continues.

The cry of the oppressed.

Discipline of Moses.

How a crisis comes.

God hitherto unmentioned. The Angel of the Lord.

An unconsuming fire.

Inquiry: reverence. God finds, not man.

"Take off thy shoe." "The God of thy father."

Immortality. "My people," not saints only.

The good land. The commission.

God with him. A strange token, 53.

A NEW NAME, Exodus 3:14; Exodus 6:2-3.

Why Moses asked the name of God: idolatry: pantheism.

A progressive revelation.

Jehovah. The sound corrupted. Similar superstitions yet.

What it told the Jews. Reality of being.

Jews not saved by ideas. Streams of tendency. The Self-contained. We live in our past.

And in our future.

Yet Jehovah not the impassive God of Lucretius.

The Immutable is Love. This is our help.

Human will is not paralysed.

The teaching of St. Paul. All this is practical.

This gives stability to all other revelations. Our own needs.

THE COMMISSION, Exodus 3:10, Exodus 3:16-22.

God comes where He sends.

The Providential man. Prudence.

Sincerity of demand for a brief respite.

God has already visited them. By trouble He transplants.

The "borrowing" of jewels.

CHAPTER IV.

MOSES HESITATES, Exodus 4:1-17.

Scripture is impartial: Josephus.

Hindrance from his own people. The rod.

The serpent: the leprosy.

"I am not eloquent."

God with us. Aaron the Levite.

Responsibility of not working. The errors of Moses.

Power of fellowship. Vague fears.

With his brother, Moses will go. The Church.

This craving met by Christ.

Family affection. Examples.

MOSES OBEYS, Exodus 4:18-31.

Fidelity to his employer. Reticence.

Resemblance to story of Jesus. He is the Antitype of all experiences.

Counterpoint in history. "Israel is My son."

A neglected duty Zipporah. Was she a helpmeet?

Domestic unhappiness. History v. myth.

The failures of the good.

Men of destiny are not irresponsible.

His first followers: a joyful reception.

Spiritual joy and reaction.

CHAPTER V.

PHARAOH REFUSES, Exodus 5:1-23.

Moses at court again. Formidable.

Power of convictions but also of tyranny and pride. Menephtah: his story.

Was the Pharaoh drowned? The demand of Jehovah.

The refusal.

Is religion idleness? Hebrews were taskmasters.

Demoralised by slavery. They are beaten.

Murmurs against Moses. He returns to God. His remonstrance.

His disappointment. Not really irreverent.

Use of this abortive attempt.

CHAPTER VI.

THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF MOSES, Exodus 6:1-30.

The word Jehovah known before: its consolations now.

The new truth is often implicit in the old.

Discernment more needed than revelation. "Judgments."

My people: your God.

The tie is of God's binding.

Fatherhood and sonship.

Faith becomes knowledge. The body hinders the soul.

We are responsible for bodies. Israel weighs Moses down.

We may hold back the saints.

The pedigree.

Indications of genuine history.

"As a god to Pharaoh."

We also.

CHAPTER VII.

THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH'S HEART, Exodus 7:3-13.

The assertion offends many.

Was he a free agent? When hardened. A.V. incorrect.

He resists five plagues spontaneously. The last five are penal.

Not "hardened" in wickedness, but in nerve. A.V. confuses three words: His heart is

(a) "hardened,"

(b) it is made "strong"

(c) "heavy."

Other examples of these words.

The warning implied.

Moses returns with the signs.

The functions of miracle.

THE PLAGUES, Exodus 7:14.

Their vast range.

Their relation to Pantheism, Idolatry, Philosophy.

And to the gods of Egypt. Their retributive fitness.

Their arrangement.

Like our Lord's, not creative.

God in common things.

Some we inflict upon ourselves. Yet rationalistic analogies fail.

Duration of the conflict.

THE FIRST PLAGUE, Exodus 7:14-25.

The probable scene.

Extent of the plague. The magicians. Its duration.

Was Israel exempt? Contrast with first miracle of Jesus.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE SECOND PLAGUE, Exodus 8:1-15.

Submission demanded. Severity of plague.

Pharaoh humbles himself.

"Glory over me." Pharaoh breaks faith.

THE THIRD PLAGUE, Exodus 8:16-19.

Various theories. A surprise. Magicians baffled.

What they confess.

THE FOURTH PLAGUE, Exodus 8:20-32.

"Rising up early."

Bodily pain. Beetles or flies? "A mixture."

Goshen exempt. Pharaoh suffers. He surrenders.

Respite and treachery. Would Moses have returned?

CHAPTER IX.

THE FIFTH PLAGUE, Exodus 9:1-7.

First attack on life. Animals share our fortunes.

The new summons. Murrain.

Pharaoh's curiosity.

THE SIXTH PLAGUE, Exodus 9:8-12.

No warning, yet Author manifest. Ashes of the furnace.

Suffering in the flesh. The magicians again. Pharaoh's heart "made strong."

Dares not retaliate.

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE, Exodus 9:13-35.

Expostulation not mockery.

God is wronged by slavery.

Civil liberty is indebted to religion. "Plagues upon thine heart."

A mis-rendering: why he was not crushed.

An opportunity of escape. The storm.

Ruskin upon terrors of thunderstorm.

Pharaoh confesses sin.

Moses intercedes. The weather in history. Job's assertion

CHAPTER X.

THE EIGHTH PLAGUE, Exodus 10:1-20.

Moses encouraged.

Deliverances should be remembered. A sterner rebuke. Locusts in Egypt.

Their effect. The court interferes. Yet "their hearts hardened" also.

Infatuation of Pharaoh. Parallel of Napoleon.

Women and little ones did share in festivals.

A gentle wind. Locusts. Another surrender.

Relief. Our broken vows.

THE NINTH PLAGUE, Exodus 10:21-29.

Menephtah's sun-worship.

Suddenness of the plague. Concentrated narrative.

Darkness represents death.

The Book of Wisdom upon this plague.

Isaiah's allusions. The Pharaoh's character.

Altercation with Moses.

CHAPTER XI.

THE LAST PLAGUE ANNOUNCED, Exodus 11:1-10.

This chapter supplements the last. The blow is known to be impending. Uses of its delay.

Israel shall claim wages. The menace.

Parallel with St. John.

CHAPTER XII.

THE PASSOVER, Exodus 12:1-28.

Birthday of a nation. The calendar.

"The congregation." The feast is social.

The nation is based upon the family. No Egyptian house escapes.

National interdependence. The Passover a sacrifice.

What does the blood mean? Rationalistic theories. Harvest festivals.

The unbelieving point of view: what theories of sacrifice were then current? "A sacrifice was a meal."

Human sacrifices. The Passover "unhistorical." Kuenen rejects this view.

Phenomena irreconcilable with it.

What is really expressed? Danger even to Jews.

Salvation by grace. Not unbought.

The lamb a ransom. All firstborn are forfeited. Tribe of Levi.

Cash payment. Effect on Hebrew literature.

Its prophetic import.

The Jew must co-operate with God: must also become His guest.

Sacred festivals. Lamb or kid. Four days reserved.

Men are sheep. Heads of houses originally sacrifice. Transition to Levites in progress under Hezekiah, complete under Josiah.

Unleavened bread. The lamb. Roast, not sodden.

Complete consumption. Judgment upon gods of Egypt.

The blood a token unto themselves. On their lintels.

The word "pass-over."

Domestic teaching.

Many who ate the feast perished. Aliens might share.

THE TENTH PLAGUE, Exodus 12:29-36.

The blow falls. Pharaoh was not "firstborn": his son "sat upon his throne."

The scene.

The demands of Israel. St. Augustine's inference.

THE EXODUS, Exodus 12:37-42.

The route.

Their cattle, a suggested explanation.

"Four hundred and thirty years."

CHAPTER XIII.

THE LAW OF THE FIRSTBORN, Exodus 13:1.

The consecration of the firstborn.

The Levite. "They are Mine."

Joy is hopeful. Tradition?

Phylacteries. The ass.

The Philistines. No spiritual miracle.

Education.

THE BONES OF JOSEPH, Exodus 13:19.

Joseph influenced Moses.

His faith.

Circumstances overcome by soul. God in the cloud.

Hebrew poetry and modern.

CHAPTER XIV.

THE RED SEA, Exodus 14:1-31.

Stopped on the march.

Pharaoh presumes.

The panic.

Moses. Prayer and action. "Self-assertion"?

The midnight march.

The lost army.

ON THE SHORE, Exodus 14:30-31.

Impressions deepened. "They believed in Jehovah." So the faith of the apostles grew.

CHAPTER XV.

THE SONG OF MOSES, Exodus 15:1-22.

A song remembered in heaven. Its structure.

The women join. Instruments. Dances.

God the Deliverer, not Moses. "My salvation."

Gratitude. Anthropomorphism. "Ye are gods." "Jehovah is a Man--of war."

The overthrow.

First mention of Divine holiness.

An inverted holiness.

"Thou shalt bring them in."

SHUR, Exodus 15:22-27.

Disillusion. Marah.

A universal danger.

Prayer, and the use of means.

"A statute and an ordinance." Such compacts often repeated. The offered privilege.

It is still enjoyed.

"The Lord for the body." Elim.

CHAPTER XVI.

MURMURING FOR FOOD, Exodus 16:1-14.

We too fear, although Divinely guarded.

They would fain die satiated.

Relief tries them as want does.

The Sabbath. A rebuke.

Moses is zealous. His "meekness."

The glory appears.

Quails and manna.

MANNA, Exodus 16:15-36.

Their course of life is changed.

A drug resembles manna.

The supernatural follows nature.

They must gather, prepare, be moderate.

Nothing over and no lack. Socialistic perversion.

Socialism. Christ in politics.

SPIRITUAL MEAT, Exodus 16:15-36.

Manna is a type. When given.

An unearthly sustenance.

What is spirituality? Christ the true Manna.

Universal, daily, abundant.

The Sabbath. The pot of manna.

CHAPTER XVII.

MERIBAH, Exodus 17:1-7.

A greater strain. What if Israel had stood it?

They murmured against Moses. The position of Aaron. An exaggerated outcry.

Witnesses to the miracle. The rock in Horeb.

The rod. Privilege is not acceptance.

AMALEK, Exodus 17:8-16.

A water-raid.

God's sheep must become His warriors. War.

Joshua. The rod of God.

A silent prayer. Aaron and Hur must join in it.

So now. But the army must fight.

"The Lord my banner." Unlike a myth.

CHAPTER XVIII.

JETHRO, Exodus 18:1-27.

Gentiles in new aspect. Church may learn from secular wisdom.

Little is said of Zipporah: Jethro's pleasure.

A Gentile priest recognised. Religious festivity.

Jethro's advice: its importance.

Divine help does not supersede human gift.

THE TYPICAL BEARINGS OF THE HISTORY.

Narrative is also allegory. Danger of arbitrary fancies. Example from Bunyan. Scriptural teaching.

Some resemblances are planned: others are reappearances of same principle.

So that these are evidential analogies, like Butler's.

Others appear forced. "I called My Son out of Egypt" refers to Israel.

But the condescending phrase promised more, and the subsequent coincidence is significant.

Truths cannot all be proved like Euclid's.

CHAPTER XIX.

AT SINAI, Exodus 19:1-25.

Sinai and Pentecost. The place. Ras Sufsâfeh. God speaks in nature.

Moses is stopped; the people must pledge themselves. Dedication services.

An appeal to gratitude, and a promise.

"A peculiar treasure." "A kingdom and priests."

The individual, and Church order. "On eagles' wings."

Israel consents. The Lord in the cloud. Manifestations are transient.

Precautions. The trumpet.

"The priests." A plébiscite. Contrast between Law and Gospel: Methodius.

Theophanies.

None like this.

CHAPTER XX.

THE LAW, Exodus 20:1-17.

What the law did. It could not justify. It reveals obligation.

It convicts, not enables. It is an organic whole. And a challenge.

The Spirit enables: love is fulfilment of law. Luther's paradox.

Law and Gospel contrasted. Its spiritual beauty: two noble failures.

The Jewish arrangement of the Commandments. St. Augustine's. The Anglican. An equal division.

THE PROLOGUE, Exodus 20:2.

Their experience of God.

God and the first table. The true object of adoration: men must adore. Agnosticism.

God and the second table.

Law appeals to noble motives.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:3.

Monotheism and a real God.

False creeds attractive. Spiritualism. Science indebted to Monotheism.

Unity of nature a religious truth. Strength of our experimental argument.

Informal apostacy. Luther's position. Scripture. The Chaldeans.

Animal pleasure.

The remedy: "Thou shalt have ... Me."

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:4-6.

Imagery not all idolatry. The subtler paganisms.

Spiritual worship, like a Gothic building, aspires: images lack expansiveness.

God is jealous.

The shadow of love.

Visiting sins on children.

Part of vast beneficent law.

Gospel in law.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:7.

Meaning of "in vain."

Jewish superstition. Where swearing is wholly forbidden.

Fruitful and free use of God's name.

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:8-11.

Law of Sabbath unique. Confession of Augsburg. Of Westminster.

Anglican position. St. Paul.

The first positive precept. Love not the abolition of the law.

Property of our friends. The word "remember." The story of creation.

The manna. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.

Christ's freedom was that of a Jew. "Sabbath for man."

Our help, not our fetter. "My Father worketh."

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:12.

Bridge between duty to God and to neighbour.

Father and child.

"Whosoever hateth not." Christ and His mother. Its sanction.

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:13.

Who is neighbour? Ethics and religion.

Science and morals.

A Divine creature. Capital punishment.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:14.

Justice forbids act: Christ forbids desire. Sacredness of body.

Human body connects material and spiritual worlds. Modifies, while serves.

Marriage a type.

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:15.

Assailed by communism, by Rome. Various specious pleas.

Laws of community binding.

None may judge his own case, St. Paul enlarges the precept.

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:16.

Importance of words. Various transgressions.

Slander against nations, against the race. Love.

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:17.

The list of properties.

The heart. The law searches.

THE LESSER LAW, Exodus 20:18 - Exodus 23:33.

A remarkable code. The circumstances.

Moses fears: yet bids them fear not.

Presumption v. awe. He receives an expanded decalogue, an abridged code.

Laws should educate a people; should not outrun their capabilities.

Five subdivisions.

I. THE LAW OF WORSHIP, Exodus 20:22-26.

Images again forbidden.

Splendour and simplicity. An objection.

Modesty.

CHAPTER XXI.

THE LESSER LAW (continued).

II. RIGHTS OF THE PERSON, Exodus 21:1-32.

The Hebrew slave. The seventh year. Year of jubilee. His family.

The ear pierced. St. Paul's "marks of the Lord." Assaults.

The Gentile slave.

The female slave.

Murder and blood-fiends.

Parents. Kidnappers.

Eye for eye. Mitigations of lex talionis.

Vicious cattle.

III. RIGHTS OF PROPERTY, Exodus 21:33 - Exodus 22:15.

Negligence: indirect responsibility: various examples.

Theft.

CHAPTER XXII.

THE LESSER LAW (continued).

IV. VARIOUS ENACTMENTS, Exodus 22:16 - Exodus 23:19.

Disconnected precepts. No trace of systematic revision. Certain capital crimes.

SORCERY, Exodus 22:18.

Abuses have recoiled against religion.

Sorcerers are impostors, but they existed, and do still.

Moses could not leave them to enlightened opinion. Propagated apostacy.

Traitors in a theocracy.

When shall witchcraft die?

THE STRANGER, Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9.

"Ye were strangers."

A fruitful principle. Morality not expediency.

Cruelty often ignorance: Moses educates.

The widow. The borrower.

Other precepts.

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE LESSER LAW (continued).

An enemy's cattle. A false report.

Influence of multitude: the world and the Church.

Favour not the poor.

Other precepts. "A kid in his mother's milk."

V. ITS SANCTIONS Exodus 23:20-33.

A bold transition: the Angel in Whom is "My Name."

Not a mere messenger.

Nor the substitute of Exodus 33:2-3.

Parallel verses.

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE COVENANT RATIFIED. THE VISION OF GOD, Exodus 24:1-18

The code is accepted, written, ratified with blood.

Exclusion and admittance. The elders see God: Moses goes farther. Theophanies of other creeds.

How could they see God?

Moses feels not satisfaction, but desire.

His progress is from vision to shadow and a Voice.

We see not each other.

St. Augustine.

The vision suits the period: not post-Exilian.

Contrast with revelation in Christ.

CHAPTER XXV.

THE SHRINE AND ITS FURNITURE, Exodus 25:1-40.

The God of Sinai will inhabit a tent. His other tabernacles.

The furniture is typical. Altar of incense postponed.

The ark enshrines His law and its sanctions.

The mercy-seat covers it.

Man's homage. The table of shewbread.

The golden candlestick (lamp-stand).

THE PATTERN IN THE MOUNT, Exodus 25:9-40.

Use in Hebrews. Plato.

Not a model, but an idea. Art.

Provisional institutions.

The ideal in creation, 388.--In life.

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE TABERNACLE.

"Temple" an ambiguous word.

"Curtains of the Tabernacle."

Other coverings.

The boards and sockets.

The bars. The tent.

Position of veil and of the front.

CHAPTER XXVII.

THE OUTER COURT.

The altar.

The quadrangle.

General effect.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE HOLY GARMENTS.

Their import.

The drawers. "Coat." Head-tires. Robe of the ephod. Ephod. Jewels.

Breastplate. Urim and Thummim. Mitre. Symbolism.

THE PRIESTHOOD.

Universal desire and dread of God.

Delegates.

Scripture. First Moses.

His family passed over. The double consciousness expressed.

Messianic priesthood.

CHAPTER XXIX.

CONSECRATION SERVICES.

Why consecrate at all?

Moses officiates. The offerings.

Ablution, robing, anointing.

The sin-offering.

"Without the camp."

The burnt-offering.

The peace-offering ("ram of consecration").

The wave-offerings.

The result.

CHAPTER XXX.

INCENSE, Exodus 30:1-10.

The impalpable in nature.

"The golden altar."

Represents prayer. Needs cleansing.

A CENSUS, Exodus 30:2-16.

A census not sinful. David's transgression. The half-shekel. Equality of man.

Christ paid it.

Its employment.

THE LAVER, Exodus 30:17-21.

Behind the altar. Purity of priests.

Made of the mirrors.

ANOINTING OIL AND INCENSE, Exodus 30:22-38.

Their ingredients. All the vessels anointed.

Forbidden to secular uses.

Modern analogies.

CHAPTER XXXI.

BEZALEEL AND AHOLIAB, Exodus 31:1-18.

Secular gifts are sacred.

The Sabbath. The tables and "the finger of God."

CHAPTER XXXII.

THE GOLDEN CALF.

Sin of the people; of Aaron. God rejects them.

Intercession. The Christian antitype.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

PREVAILING INTERCESSION.

The first concession. The angel.

"The Tent of the Meeting."

CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE VISION OF GOD.

To know is to desire to know. A fit season. The greater Name.

The covenant renewed. The tables. The skin of his face shone.

Lessons.

CHAPTER XXXV.

CONCLUSION, Exodus 35:1-35 - Exodus 40:1-38.

The people obey.

The forming of the nation: review.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 48:16". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/genesis-48.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Genesis 48:15-16

And he 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, &c

Jacob’s deathbed

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 is 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 11:1-40.) 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. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

The last days of Jacob

I. WE SEE HERE THE BEAUTY OF FILIAL PIETY. Jacob was only a shepherd, and Joseph was an exalted and powerful statesman. Had there been a trace of meanness and pride and self-seeking in the son, he might easily have waited till the patriarch was dead before doing him honour. Death often compels a child to respect a neglected parent. But Joseph was a great man, so great that the distinction of station had no influence upon his mind. Like many other great men, his personal attachments were intense, and his loyalty to his family was deep and unchanged. Besides this, his father was the heir of the covenant whose mercies would enrich him more than all Egypt’s lands, and he could not alienate himself from that future commonwealth of Israel to which his faith pointed. This journey of Joseph to his father shows the man, and the man of God. He felt that the less was to be blessed of the greater.

II. WE ARE INTERESTED IS JACOB’S OWN VIEW OF HIS LIFE. When Israel strengthened himself for this last interview, and there came to him a flash of his old prowess and undaunted vigour, his memory was aroused, and the past in its great features lay spread out before him. The dark parts of his life seemed to remind him of Divine mercies, and from the summit he had gained appeared to him only as the shadows of summer clouds on distant hills.

III. THE BLESSING WAS A SOLEMN ACT OF PROPHECY, FAITH, AND WORSHIP.

IV. SEE HERE THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY, Oldest son, the most promising child, does not always, perhaps not usually, share the largest part of the joys and honours of life. Parental hopes are often thwarted, and we desire in vain to change the manifest development of character and circumstance. In the history of nations, outside Israel, we witness the same phenomenon, and wonder why the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong; why smaller states eclipse greater ones, and why heroes and leaders spring from such unexpected quarters. All is of God. In the workings of redemption around us every day we meet the same fact. One is taken and another left. Nor can we read the reasons. (E. N. Packard.)

The blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh

I. ITS NATURE AND PROSPERITY.

1. They were blessed in the person of Joseph. He is blessed in his sons (verses 15, 20). The principle is recognized of blessing mankind in the name and for the sake of another.

2. With the covenant blessing. Not with that of the gods of Egypt, though he had cause to be grateful to that nation. He would have his children to know the true fount of blessedness. He invoked the blessing of the God of his fathers (verse 15). The assurance that others have shared the gifts of grace with us is a support to our faith. We of the Church belong to a holy nation, which has a great and venerable past.

3. With the blessing of which he himself had experience. “The God which fed me all my life long until this day” (verse 15). He felt that God had tended and cared for him like a shepherd.

4. With a different blessing for each. He bestows the larger blessing upon the younger (verse 19).

II. ITS OUTWARD FORM. It was conveyed by the imposition of hands (verse 14). The blessing was not merely a wish or a hope, but a reality, This laying on of hands was the outward means or symbol of its conveyance. Outward forms impress, they steady the mind, and assist contemplation. The blessing was as real as the outward act which accompanied it, the reality of nature leading on to the reality of grace.

III. ITS WARRANT.

1. The covenant position in which God had placed him. He stood with his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, in the same covenant relation with God (verses 15, 16).

2. The act was Divinely directed. Old Jacob crossed his hands, and thus in bestowing the blessing reversed the order of nature (verses 14, 17). He refused to be corrected by Joseph, for though his sight was dim, his spiritual eye discerned the will of God. He guided his hands “wittingly,” with full knowledge of the decree of the Most High. God, who distributes His gifts as He will, prefers the younger to the elder. Nature and grace often take cross directions. (T. H. Leale.)

Jacob’s prayer for the sons of Joseph

I. THE GLORIOUS PERSONAGE ADDRESSED. “The Angel,” &c.

1. The title of this glorious personage.

2. His achievements.

II. THE INTERESTING PRAYER PRESENTED.

1. What is sought? “Bless.”

2. Who should thus pray?

3. The manner of presenting this supplication.

The last days of Jacob

I. THE HEIRS OF THE BLESSING--A SURPRISE.

1. The adoption of Joseph’s two sons to be reckoned among the patriarchs, equal with Jacob’s own sons, while Joseph personally is left out, was doubt]ass a surprise.

2. This adoption of Joseph’s two sons was by Divine direction.

II. THE CHARACTER OF THE BLESSING IS SUGGESTIVE.

1. The “elevated glow” of the dying patriarch must be regarded as the result of the Divine power that wrought upon him.

2. The spirit and terms of the blessing are very touching and instructive.

3. The sovereignty of God in the expression of His choice of the younger over the elder must be fully recognized.

III. THE PATRIARCH’S PERSONAL CONDITION WHEN THE BLESSING WAS BESTOWED.

1. Physical.

2. Mental.

3. Spiritual. Lessons:--

1. The sovereignty of God.

2. Divine sovereignty is not exercised in unreasoning arbitrariness, but in perfect harmony with the laws of justice and love.

3. Learn how gloriously a child of God can die. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

Jacob owning Divine care, and blessing his grandchildren

I. To ILLUSTRATE THE TEXT.

1. Here is Jacob’s recollection and acknowledgment of the Divine goodness and care. He acknowledgeth God, as the God of his pious ancestors, and as his constant preserver and benefactor.

II. TO CONSIDER WHAT INSTRUCTIVE LESSONS AGED CHRISTIANS MAY DRAW FROM HENCE.

1. It is their duty to recollect and acknowledge their long experience of God’s goodness and care.

2. It is the duty of aged and dying Christians to bless and pray for their descendants.

Concluding reflections:

1. Let children desire and value the prayer and blessing of their aged, dying parents.

2. Let the children of good men labour to secure the blessing for themselves. (J. Often.)

The last days

There is a splendour peculiar to the meridian sun. There is a majestic and uncontrollable energy, and boldness, with which it spreads light and blessedness on all around. The sun shining in its strength is a grand and exhilarating sight. But there is a still deeper interest attendant on its decline; when the warm and mellow tints of evening soften the dazzling brightness of its ray; and when surrounded, but not obscured by clouds, and rich in a golden radiance, on which the eye lingers with chastened and inexpressible delight, it sinks below the horizon. It is with similar feelings that we regard the faithful servant of God, when he comes towards the close of a long, consistent, and useful life. It is when viewed in this light, that the last hours of the patriarch Jacob become valuable to us. All is resolved into the Divine care. All the vicissitudes of his course, when thus scrutinized, by the accurate discernment of one who from long experience could not be deceived, appear but as evidences to him of the gracious and providential guardianship of his Almighty Friend and Father.

1. He admits without reserve the providential care of God through a long life. “God Almighty that appeared unto me in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, hath fed me all my life long unto this day.” Many there are whose last year’s savour of a very different spirit from this. They have set out in life with false and unwarranted expectations of prosperity. They began without God for their friend, and they lived a life of business or of folly. They never cherished any hope, but the hope of extracting happiness from a world which was never calculated to give it. And what has been the result? Year after year has brought its disappointments.

2. There is another essential point of difference between the experience of this venerable Patriarch and yours. Jacob recognizes fully the gracious, as well as the protecting care of his God. In looking back upon his way, he broadly and joyfully admits the truth of God’s redeeming mercy. This is the great secret of the exalted sublimity of his character, and the serenity of his end. We can recognize then in the creed of Jacob, precisely the same ground of hope as that of which we ourselves now rest. As truly as we see

Christians in the full confidence of the faith of the gospel approaching their dying hour, and saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”; so truly do we see Jacob in the exercise of the very same faith--a faith in a nameless Saviour. Learn that you can leave no better blessing to your children and your friends, than the mantle of your own piety--a measure of your own Christian hope. The last lesson is encouragement. Be encouraged to seek the Lord early, and to trust him through life. Jacob is one of an innumerable host of instances adducible in proof of the faithfulness of God. “He will never fail them that trust in Him.” (E. Craig.)

Joseph’s blessing

1. Though Ephraim and Manasseh were each constituted heads of tribes, yet they were blessed in the person of their father Joseph. Here, as elsewhere, God would exemplify the great principle on which He designed to act in blessing mankind in the name and for the sake of another.

2. Jacob, though now among the Egyptians, and kindly treated by them, yet makes no mention of their gods, but holds up to his posterity the living and true God. In proportion as Egypt was kind to the young people, such would be their danger of being seduced; but let them remember the dying words of their venerable ancestor, and know from whence their blessedness cometh.

3. The God whose blessing was bestowed upon them was not only the true God, but the God of their fathers; a God in covenant with the family, who loved them, and was loved and served by them. “God, before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, did walk.” How sweet and endearing the character; and what a recommendation of these holy patterns to the young people! Nor was He merely the God of Abraham and Isaac, but Jacob himself also could speak well of His name; adding, “The God who fed me all my life long unto this day!” Sweet and solemn are the recommendations of aged piety. “Speak reproachfully of Christ,” said the persecutors to Polycarp, when leading him to the stake. “Eighty six years I have served Him” answered the venerable man, during all which time He never did me an injury; how then can I blaspheme Him who is my King, and my Saviour?” Hearken, oh, young people, to this affecting language! It is a principle dictated by common prudence, “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not”: and how much more forcibly does it apply to the God of your fathers!

4. This God is culled “the Angel who redeemed him from all evil.” Who this was it is not difficult to decide. It was the Angel, no doubt, with whom Jacob wrestled and prevailed, and concerning whom he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

5. The blessing of God under all these endearing characters is invoked upon the lads, their forefathers’ names put upon them, and abundant increase promised to them. Surely it is good to be connected with them that fear God; yet those only who are of faith will ultimately be blessed with their faithful predecessors. (A. Fuller.)

A bit of history for old and young

1. Our text tells us that Jacob blessed Joseph, and we perceive that he blessed him through blessing his children; which leads us to the next remark, that no choicer favour could fall upon ourselves than to see our children favoured of the Lord. Joseph is doubly blessed by seeing Ephraim and Manasseh blessed.

2. Those of us who are parents are bound to do our best, that our children may be partakers with us of the Divine inheritance. As Joseph took Ephraim and Manasseh to see their aged grandfather, let us bring our children where blessings may be expected.

3. Furthermore, observe that if we want to bless young people, one of the likeliest means of doing so will be our personal testimony to the goodness of God. Young men and women usually feel great interest in their fathers’ life-story--if it be a worthy one--and what they hear from them of their personal experience of the goodness of God will abide with them. This is one of the best ways in which to bless the lads. The benediction of Jacob was intertwisted with his biography; the blessing which he had himself enjoyed he wished for them, and as he invoked it he helped to secure it by his personal testimony.

4. One thing further: I want you to note, that Jacob, in desiring to bless his grandsons, introduced them to God. He speaks of “ God before whom my fathers did walk: God who blessed me all my life long.” This is the great distinction between man and man: there are two races, he that feareth God, and he that feareth Him not. The religion of this present age, such as it is, has a wrong direction in its course. It seeks after what is called “ the enthusiasm of humanity,” but what we want far more is enthusiasm for God. We shall never go right unless God is first, midst, and last. All this is introduction; so now we must come at once and plunge into the discourse.

Jacob’s testimony, wherewith he blessed the sons of Joseph, has in it four points.

I. First HE SPEAKS OF ANCESTRAL MERCIES he begins with that” God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk.” As with a pencil he sketches the lives of Abraham and Isaac.

1. They were men who recognized God and worshipped Him, beyond all others of their age. God was to them a real existence; they spake with God, and God spake with them; they were friends of God, and enjoyed familiar acquaintance with Him.

2. They not only recognized God, but they owned Him in daily life. I take the expression, “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk,” to mean that He was their God in common life. They not only knelt before God when they prayed, but they walked before Him in everything. This is the kind of life for you and for me; whether we live in a great house or in a poor cottage, if we walk before God we shall lead a happy and a noble life, whether that life be public or obscure. Oh that our young people would firmly believe this!

3. They walked before God; that is they obeyed His commands. His call they heard, His bidding they followed. To them the will of the Lord was paramount: He was law and life to them, for they loved and feared Him. They were prompt to hear the behests of God, and rose up early to fulfil them. They acted as in the immediate presence of the All-seeing.

4. To the full they trusted Him. In this sense they always saw Him. We sometimes talk about tracing Him. We cannot trace Him, except as we trust Him; and because they trusted, they traced Him.

5. They enjoyed the favour of God, for this also is intended by walking before Him. His face was towards them: they sunned themselves in His smile. God’s love was their true treasure. God was their wealth, their strength, their exceeding joy. I say again, happy sons who have such ancestors! happier still if they follow in their track! So Jacob spoke of Abraham and Isaac, and so can some of us speak of those who went before us. Those of us who can look back upon godly ancestors now in heaven must feel that many ties bind us to follow the same course of life.

6. There is a charm about that which was prized by our fathers. Heirlooms are treasured, and the best heirloom in a family is the knowledge of God. The way of holiness in which your fathers went is a fitting way for you, and it is seemly that you maintain the godly traditions of your house. In the old times they expected sons to follow the secular calling of their fathers; and although that may be regarded as an old-world mistake, yet it is well when sons and daughters receive the same spiritual call as their parents. Grace is not tied to families, but yet the Lord delights to bless to a thousand generations. Very far are we from believing that the new birth is of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man. The will of God reigns here supreme, and absolute; but yet there is a sweet fitness in the passing on of holy loyalty from grandsire to father, and from father to son. A godly ancestry casts responsibility upon young people. These Ephraims and Manassehs perceive that their fathers knew the Lord, and the question arises, Why should they not know Him? Oh my beloved young friends, the God of your fathers will be found of you and be your God. The prayers of your fathers have gone before you; let them be followed by your own. A godly ancestry should invest a man’s case with great hopefulness. May he not argue, “If God blessed my ancestors, why should He not bless me?”

II. Now he comes to deal with PERSONAL MERCIES. The old man’s voice faltered as he said, “The God which fed me all my life long.” The translation would be better if it ran, “The God which shepherded me all my life long.”

1. He spoke of the Lord as his shepherd. Jacob had been a shepherd, and therefore he knew what shepherding included: the figure is full of meaning. There had been a good deal of Jacob about Jacob, and he had tried to shepherd himself. Poor sheep that he was, while under his own guidance he had been caught in many thorns, and had wandered in many wildernesses. Because he would be so much a shepherd to himself, he had been hard put to it. But over all, despite his wilfulness, the shepherding of the covenant God had been exercised towards him, and he acknowledged it. Oh dear saints of God, you to whom years are being multiplied, give praise to your God for having been your shepherd. Bear your witness to the shepherding of God, for this may lead others to become the sheep of His pasture.

2. This shepherding had been perfect. Our version rightly says that the Lord had fed Jacob all his life long. Take that sense of it, and you who have a daily struggle for subsistence will see much beauty in it. Mercies are all the sweeter when seen to come from the hand of God. But besides being fed Jacob had been led, even as sheep are guided by the shepherd who goes before them. His journeys, for that period, had been unusually long, perilous, and frequent. He had fled from home to Padanaram; after long years he had come back again to Canaan, and had met his brother Esau; and after that, in his old age, he had journeyed into Egypt. To go to California or New Zealand in these times is nothing at all compared to those journeys in Jacob’s day. But he says, “God has shepherded me all my life long”; and he means that the great changes of his life had been wisely ordered. Life ends in blighted hope if you have not hope in God. But with God you are as a sheep with a shepherd--cared for, guided, guarded, fed, and led, and your end shall be peace without end.

III. Thirdly, bear with me while I follow Jacob in his word upon REDEEMING MERCIES. “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil.” There was to Joseph a mysterious Personage who was God, and yet the Angel or messenger of God. He puts this Angel in apposition with the Elohim: for this Angel was God. Yet was He his Redeemer. Brothers and sisters, let us also tell of the redeeming mercies of the Lord Jesus towards us. You remember, too, when that pinch came in business, so that you could not see how to provide things honest in the sight of all men; then Jesus revealed His love and bade you think of the lilies and the ravens, which neither spin nor sow, and yet are clothed majestically and fare sumptuously. Many a time has the Lord delivered you because He delighted in you.

IV. Jacob has spoken of ancestral mercies, personal mercies and redeeming mercies, and now he deals with FUTURE MERCIES, as he cries “Bless the lads.” He began with blessing Joseph, and he finishes with blessing his lads. Oh dear friends, if God has blessed you, I know you will want Him to bless others. There is the stream of mercy, deep, broad, and clear; you have drunk of it, and are refreshed, but it is as full as ever. It will flow on, will it not? In closing, I wish to bear a personal testimony by narrating an incident in my own life. I have been preaching in Essex this week, and I took the opportunity to visit the place where my grandfather preached so long, and where I spent my earliest days. Last Wednesday was to me a day in which I walked like a man in a dream. Everybody seemed bound to recall some event or other of my childhood. What a story of Divine love and mercy did it bring before my mind! Among other things, I sat down in a place that must ever be sacred to me. There stood in my grandfather’s manse garden two arbours made of yew trees, cut into sugar-loaf fashion. Though the old manse has given way to a new one, and the old chapel has gone also, yet the yew trees flourish as aforetime. I sat down in the right hand arbour and bethought me of what had happened there many years ago. When I was a young child staying with my grandfather, there came to preach in the village Mr. Knill, who had been a missionary at St. Petersburg, and a mighty preacher of the gospel. He came to preach for the London Missionary Society, and arrived on the Saturday at the manse. He was a great soul-winner, and he soon spied out the boy. He said to me, “Where do you sleep? for I want to call you up in the morning.” I showed him my little room. At six o’clock he called me up, and we went into that arbour. There, in the sweetest way, he told me of the love of Jesus, and of the blessedness of trusting in Him and loving Him in our childhood. With many a story he preached Christ to me, and told me how good God had been to him, and then he prayed that I might know the Lord and serve Him. He knelt down in that arbour and prayed for me with his arms about my neck. He did not seem content unless I kept with him in the interval between the services, and he heard my childish talk with patient love. On Monday morning he did as on the Sabbath, and again on Tuesday. Three times he taught me and prayed with me, and before he had to leave, my grandfather had come back from the place where he had gone to preach, and all the family were gathered to morning prayer. Then, in the presence of them all, Mr. Knill took me on his knee, anal said, “This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes. I am persuaded that he will preach in the chapel of Rowland Hill, where (I think he said) I am now the minister.” He spoke very solemnly, and called upon all present to witness what he said. Then he gave me sixpence as a reward if I would learn the hymn--

“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”

I was made to promise that when I preached in Rowland Hill’s chapel that hymn should be sung. Think of that as a promise from a child I Would it ever be other than an idle dream? Years flew by. After I had begun for some little time to preach in London, Dr. Alexander Fletcher had to give the annual sermon to children in Surrey Chapel, but as he was taken ill, I was asked in a hurry to preach to the children. “Yes,” I said, “I will, if the children will sing ‘God moves in a mysterious way.’ I have made a promise long ago that so that should be sung.” And so it was; I preached in Rowland Hill’s chapel, and the hymn was sung. My, emotions on that occasion I cannot describe. Still that was not the chapel which Mr. Knill intended. All unsought by me, the minister at Wotton-under-Edge, which was Mr. Hill’s summer residence, invited me to preach there. I went on the condition that the congregation should sing, “God moves in a mysterious way”--which was also done. After that I went to preach for Mr. Richard Knill himself, who was then at Chester. What a meeting we had! Mark this! he was preaching in the theatre! His preaching in a theatre took away from me all fear about preaching in secular buildings, and set me free for the campaigns in Exeter Hall and the Surrey Music Hall. How much this had to do with other theatre services you know. After more than forty years of the Lord’s loving-kindness, I sat again in that arbour! No doubt it is a mere trifle for outsiders to hear, but to me it was an overwhelming moment. The present minister of Stambourn meeting-house, and the members of his family, including his son and his grandchildren, were in the garden, and I could not help calling them together around that arbour, while I praised the Lord for His goodness. One irresistible impulse was upon me it was to pray God to bless those lads that stood around me. Do you not see how the memory begat the prayer? I wanted them to remember when they grew up my testimony of God’s goodness to me; and for that same reason I tell it to you young people who are around me this morning. God has blessed me all my life long, and redeemed me from all evil, and I pray that He may be your God. You that have godly parents, I would specially address. I beseech you to follow in their footsteps, that you may one day speak of the Lord as they were able to do in their day. Remember that special promise, “I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me.” May the Holy Spirit lead you to seek Him this day; and you shall live to praise His name as Jacob did. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Jacob blessing Joseph’s children

I. First of all, THE REFERENCE TO JACOB’S FOREFATHERS: he says, “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk.” How various must be the thoughts suggested to all our minds by that same expression--“God, before whom my fathers did walk!” How many of us can say that it was the God of Abraham before whom our fathers did walk? How many must be constrained to say that it was the “god of this world . . . before whom their fathers did walk!” It is an awful question which we read in the prophet, “Your fathers, where are they?” How solemnly it recalls the history of our own youth! How solemnly it bids us ask, “Were those we loved in the flesh in Christ, or were they out of Christ? “But I stay not to dwell upon that: it is clear that the feelings which were in the mind of the patriarch were those of joy and gratitude; he knew who was “the God of his fathers”; he knew that their God was his God. In the expression, therefore, “God, before whom my fathers did walk,” he doubtless had reference to the sovereign grace of God, which had called Abraham from the midst of an idolatrous nation, to be “ the father of the faithful”--to be he in whose “seed all the families of the earth should be blessed.” His mind, therefore, was filled with lone to that God who had made Abraham “to differ,” and who had so mercifully kept Abraham, even to the end.

II. But, secondly, let us speak of THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT WHICH IS HERE GIVEN OF JACOB’S EXPERIENCE when he says, “the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil.” He appears here, I think, to refer to God’s providential care of him, as well as to the spiritual mercies vouchsafed to him, when he says, “the God who fed me all my life long.” For he would refer to His support in his early days at home. He would refer also to the manifest way in which God’s presence was vouchsafed to him at the time he was in the family of Laban; and even perhaps now he was referring also to the mysterious manner in which God had been pleased to allow his son--his beloved son Joseph--to be taken from him for a times when he was constrained to exclaim, “All these things are against me.” But now, having been taught of God the reason of the Lord’s dealings; having seen how good was brought out of evil; having perceived that the Lord had sent Joseph before him, so that he might be the instrument in the Lord’s hand of feeding him in the time of want and famine, he says, “the God which fed me all my life long unto this day.” But I apprehend that, grateful as the patriarch must have felt for these temporal mercies, his feelings upon this point were very far less intense than they were for those spiritual mercies which God had so graciously vouchsafed to him; for we see him also saying, “the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.” “The Angel who redeemed.” And who was this Angel whose blessing he was invoking? Had it not been the Angel of the covenant, the very expression made use of by the patriarch must have been the language of blasphemy; but, instead of that, we know that it was the Angel of the covenant, even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and from that we gather what the nature of those spiritual mercies are to which the patriarch more especially alludes: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.”

III. But, thirdly, we must remark upon THE BLESSING WHICH IS INVOKED: the patriarch says, “bless the lads.” He doubtless desired that there should be daily food provided for them; he doubtless desired that God’s care should constantly watch over them; but there was something far greater than this he desired for them. He desired the full blessings of God’s redeeming love, so that he might be able to feel that that Angel which had “redeemed him from all evil” would also redeem those children which were before him, and that they might have all that comfortable experience which he himself enjoyed. And what could be the groundwork of such anticipations existing in the aged patriarch’s breast? Think you, he considered that they would merit these blessings at the hands of God, while he disclaimed all merit himself? There were no feelings of this kind in his breast, for he had been taught of God; but he knew what God he had to deal with; he felt that he had to deal with a covenant-keeping God, and he was assured that all those blessings which he besought were covenant mercies in Christ Jesus. (H. M. Villiers, M. A.)

Jacob blessing Joseph

I. WE ARE TO CONSIDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE IMPORT OF JACOB’S BLESSING: “And Jacob blessed Joseph.” But more particularly--

1. Contemplate the persons before us: Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons.

2. Mark now the place where these persons met.

3. Remember the time when these persons met. It was the time of Jacob’s death.

4. Observe the import of the solemn action in our text. It is a dying blessing! “God-bless the lads!” God is the author of every blessing. We are, secondly--

II. To CONSIDER THE INSTRUCTION WHICH THE BLESSING CONVEYS.

1. This blessing teaches the nature of true religion. It is “walking before God.”

2. This blessing teaches the benefits of practical godliness.

3. This blessing teaches the advantages of pious parents. “The God of my fathers.” The children of pious parents have the advantage of religious instruction. Again: such children have the advantage of fervent and constant prayer for their eternal welfare. Further: such children have the advantage of religious example. Finally: such children, like Jacob’s sons, may have the advantage of their parents’ dying testimony and last blessing.

4. This blessing teaches the importance of educating the young. (J. Cawood, M. A.)

An old man’s blessing

I. A DISTINCTION OF BLESSING. Jacob was, doubtless, divinely guided to make this distinction. The choice he made was inspired by God; and God’s will was discerned and obeyed. We may learn to avoid pride, envy, and ambition, and to abide by God’s will and the Divine disposal of events and circumstances (comp. 1 Samuel 2:7; Psalms 75:6-7; 1 Corinthians 12:11).

II. A CONTINUITY OF BLESSING (read Genesis 48:15; Genesis 16:1-16, and note the reference to Abraham and Isaac).

III. A FUTURITY OF BLESSING.

IV. A UNITY OF BLESSING. The lots of one and another among God’s people may differ. But all that is good, and hopeful, and blessed, comes from the One source of blessing--the One God, Guide, Deliverer. Conclusion: Let us ask ourselves these questions: Are we trying to learn from our elders God’s truth? Are we seeking to live as those who look for God’s blessing as the best thing? Do we wish to hand down the truth and premises of the Lord to those that come after us (Psalms 78:3-4)? (W. S. Smith, B. D.)

And he blessed Joseph

In blessing his seed, he blesses himself. In exalting his two sons into the rank and right of his brothers, he bestows upon them the double portion of the first-born. In the terms of the blessing, Jacob first signalizes the threefold function which the Lord discharges in effecting the salvation of a sinner. “The God, before whom walked my fathers,” is the Author of salvation, the Judge who dispenses justice and mercy, the Father, before whom the adopted and regenerate child walks. From Him salvation comes, to Him the saved returns, to walk before Him and be perfect. “The God, who fed me from my being unto this day,” is the Creator and Upholder of life, the Quickener and Sanctifier, the potential Agent, who works both to will and to do in the soul. “The Angel that redeemed me from all evil” is the all-sufficient Friend, who wards off evil by Himself, satisfying the demands of justice and resisting the devices of malice. There is a beautiful propriety of feeling in Jacob ascribing to his fathers the walking before God, while he thankfully acknowledges the grace of the Quickener and Justifier to himself. The Angel is explicitly applied to the Supreme Being in this ministerial function. The God is the emphatic description of the true, living God, as contra-distinguished from all false gods. “Bless the lads.” The word “bless” is in the singular number. For Jacob’s threefold periphrasis is intended to describe the one God, who wills, works, and wards. “And let my name be put upon them.” Let them be counted among my immediate sons, and let them be related to Abraham and Isaac, as my other sons are. This is the only thing that is special in the blessing. “Let them grow into a multitude.” The word “grow” in the original refers to the spawning or extraordinary increase of the finny tribe. The after-history of Ephraim and Manasseh will be found to correspond with this special prediction. (Prof. J. G. Murphy.)

The redeeming Angel

I wonder if you know who the “Angel” is? Who do you think is “the Angel that redeemed him from all evil”? Do you know what the word “angel” means? It means a messenger--a good messenger. And the angels in heaven are so called because they carry messages. It is a nice thing to carry messages, if we carry them well. If we carry kind messages, and do it in an accurate way, like Christ, it is being like the angels in heaven--it is being like Jesus Christ. I hope you will be all good messengers. Perhaps you will have a very important message to carry, and you ought to do it well. I have a very important one to carry to-day. Therefore I am an angel, for ministers are angels. But it is not an angel from heaven, it is not a minister, it is not a common man, that is meant here. Jesus Christ is meant--Jesus Christ is the “Angel.” I want to help you now to understand another word. What is it to be “redeemed”? “Which redeemed me from all evil.” Can you think? Does “redeemed” mean “saved me,” “delivered me”? Is it the same as if it said, “The Angel that delivered me from all evil”? Not quite. That would only be half the meaning. If I were to save you from being drowned, and it was no trouble to me to save you, and if I did not expose my own life, I should not “redeem” you; but if I did it at great danger, at great pain, or at great loss to myself, then it might be called “redeeming.” To “redeem” is to save at great cost to one’s self; because the word means “buy”--to buy back. Therefore, if I spend a great deal of money, and become much poorer by it, in order to do you good, then I “redeem” you. That is the meaning of the word “redeemed.” Did you ever think what was the value of your soul--how much? When I see something very valuable, I sometimes say, “How much did it cost?” “How much did that watch cost?” “How much did that diamond cost?” How much did your soul cost? Thousands of thousands of pounds? The earth? The world? All the stars? Everything that was ever made? Much more! It cost Jesus Christ, who made everything--the life of Jesus Christ! And how had He “redeemed” us from sin? A poor heathen, who had become a Christian, wanted to explain how he became a Christian to another heathen who did not know anything about it; and he took a little worm--a poor, little, miserable worm; and he put the worm on a stone; and he put all round the stone where the worm was some straw. He then lighted the straw, and when it was all blazing he ran through the lighted straw, and took up the little worm in his hand when it was wriggling in the fire. The hot fire had scorched and drawn it up. “This,” he said, “is just what I was--a poor, miserable worm, with afire all round me; and I should have died, and gone to hell; but Christ ran in, took me up in His arms, and saved me; and here I am, a saved one.” I will tell you a remarkable thing which happened in a town in the West of England. One Sunday a clergyman was to preach a sermon. The people in the town did not know him--he was a stranger there; but he was known to be a very excellent clergyman, and a very clever man. A great many people went to hear him preach; and when the prayers were over, the clergyman went into the pulpit. The congregation noticed that he seemed to feel something very much; for he was silent some time, and could not begin his sermon. He hid his face in his hands, and the congregation thought he was unwell; but he was not. However, before he gave out his text, he told them something like this: “I want to say something. Fifteen years ago I was in this town, and I was in this church. I was then very young, and I came to hear the sermon. That evening three young men came to this church. They were very wicked young men. You may suppose how wicked, for they came not only to laugh, but they came actually to throw stones at the clergyman. They filled their pockets with stones, and determined they would throw at him. When the sermon began they were sitting together: and when the clergyman had gone on a little way, one said to the other, ‘Now throw! now throw!’ This is what they said, ‘Now throw at the stupid old blockhead I now throw! ‘The second said, ‘No; wait a little; I want to hear the end of what he is saying now, to see what he makes of it.’ They waited. But presently he said, ‘Now you can throw: I heard the end of it; there was nothing in it.’ The third said, ‘No, no; don’t throw: what he says is very good; don’t hurt the good old man.’ Then the two others left the church, saying something very wicked; they swore at him, and went away very angry, because he had spoiled their fun in not letting them throw.” The clergyman went on to say: “The first of those three young men was hanged some years ago for forgery; the second was a poor, miserable man, brought to poverty and rags, miserable in mind, and miserable in body; and the third is now going to preach to you! Listen!” So “the Angel” “redeemed” that poor boy (for he was only a boy when he went to throw stones) “from all evil.” It is not only sin; there are other “evils.” There are a great many troubles in life, are not there? Have not you a great many troubles? I am sure you have some. It is a great mistake to say to children, “Oh! you have no troubles.” I think children have quite as many as grown-up people--perhaps more. But people often say to children, “You have no troubles now; you have them all to come by-and-by.” That is not the case. I believe you have quite as many troubles as we have; but Christ “redeems” you from all trouble. Now there are two ways Christ can do it. Perhaps Christ will say, “Trouble shall not come to that boy or girl.” That is one way; but He could do it another way. He could say, “Yes, trouble shall come; but when it comes, it shall be turned into joy. I will make him so happy in his troubles, that he shall be glad. His sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Which, think you, will be the best: for trouble not to come at all, or, when it comes, to be turned into joy? I will tell you now about God “redeeming” a little girl in another way. Her name was Alvi, but she was always called Allie. She was three years old; and one day little Allie jumped upon her father’s knee, and said, “Pa, when’s spring?” Her papa stroked her little curly head, and patted her on her cheeks, and she looked up and smiled, and said, “I fat as butter.” She said again, “I loves my pa, I does; I loves my pa.” And her papa loved her very much. She said, “When’s spring, pa?” The father said, “Why do you want to know when spring is? Do you want to see the pretty flowers, and hear the birds sing, and play in the sunshine?” She said. “No, pa; me go to church in spring.” “Do you wish to go to church, Allie?” “Very much, pa.” “Why, Allie?” “God there, God there!” “And do you love God, Allie?” “Oh! so much, papa, so much!” “Well, my dear,” papa said to little Allie, “to-morrow is spring; spring will be to-morrow.” And little Allie jumped down from her father’s knee, saying, “To-morrow! to-morrow! Allie is so happy! To-morrow! to-morrow! to-morrow!” And she went about the house singing, “Allie is so happy! To-morrow, to-morrow, to-morrow! Allie so happy!” That night Allie was very tired; she wanted to go to bed an hour before her proper time. During the night she fell into a burning fever, and they sent for a doctor. When he came, he shook his head and said, “Too late! too late! nothing can be done.” They sent for four doctors, and all said, “Too late! too late!” And when the morning came, little Allie was dead; she was gone to heaven. Her mamma stood and looked at her, and thought of what she had said the day before--“To-morrow, to-morrow! Allie so happy to-morrow! “And she wiped away her tears at the thought. So God “redeemed” little Allie. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The dying blessing

A few days previous to his death, Dr. Belfrage, of Falkirk, hearing his infant son’s voice in an adjoining room, desired that he should be brought to him. When the child was lifted into the bed the dying father placed his hands upon his head, and said in the language of Jacob: “The God before whom my fathers did walk, the God who fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lad.” When the boy was removed he added: “Remember and tell John Henry of this; tell him of these prayers, and how earnest I was that he might become early acquainted with his father’s God.” Happy are they who have their parents’ prayers.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 48:16". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/genesis-48.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

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 Malachi 1:2 nd, Because the angel who conducted the Israelites is called Jehovah, Exodus 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 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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/genesis-48.html. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

THE BLESSINGS OF THE TRIBES

Genesis 48:1-22; Genesis 49:1-33

JACOB’S blessing of his sons marks the close of the patriarchal dispensation. Henceforth the channel of God’s blessing to man does not consist of one person only, but of a people or nation. It is still one seed, as Paul reminds us, a unit that God will bless, but this unit is now no longer a single person-as Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob-but one people, composed of several parts, and yet one whole: equally representative of Christ, as the patriarchs were, and of equal effect every way in receiving God’s blessing and handing it down until Christ came. The Old Testament Church, quite as truly as the New, formed one whole with Christ. Apart from Him it had no meaning, and would have had no existence. It was the promised seed, always growing more and more to its perfect development in Christ. As the promise was kept to Abraham when Isaac was born, and as Isaac was truly the promised seed-in so far as he was a part of the series that led on to Christ, and was given in fulfilment of the promise that promised Christ to the world-so all through the history of Israel we must bear in mind that in them God is fulfilling this same promise, and that they are the promised seed in so far as they are one with Christ. And this interprets to us all those passages of the prophets regarding which men have disputed whether they are to be applied to Israel or to Christ: passages in which God addresses Israel in such words as, "Behold My servant," "Mine elect," and so forth, and in the interpretation of which it has been thought sufficient proof that they do not apply to Christ, to prove that they do apply to Israel; whereas, on the principle just laid down, it might much more safely be argued that because they apply to Israel, therefore they apply to Christ. And it is at this point-where Israel distributes among his sons the blessing which heretofore had all lodged in himself-that we see the first multiplication of Christ’s representatives; the mediation going on no longer through individuals, but through a nation; and where individuals are still chosen by God, as commonly they are, for the conveyance of God’s communications to earth, these individuals, whether priests or prophets, are themselves but the official representatives of the nation.

As the patriarchal dispensation ceases, it secures to the tribes all the blessing it has itself contained. Every father desires to leave to his sons whatever he has himself found helpful, but as they gather round his dying bed, or as he sits setting his house in order, and considering what portion is appropriate for each, he recognises that to some of them it is quite useless to bequeath the most valuable parts of his property, while in others he discerns a capacity which promises the improvement of all that is entrusted to it. And from the earliest times the various characters of the tribes were destined to modify the blessing conveyed to them by their father. The blessing of Israel is now distributed, and each receives what each can take; and while in some of the individual tribes there may seem to be very little of blessing at all, yet, taken together, they form a picture of the common outstanding features of human nature, and of that nature as acted upon by God’s blessing, and forming together one body or Church. A peculiar interest attaches to the history of some nations, and is not altogether absent from our own, from the precision with which we can trace the character of families, descending often with the same One knows at once to what families to look for restless and turbulent spirits, ready for conspiracy and revolution; and one knows also where to seek steady and faithful loyalty, public-spiritedness, or native ability. And in Israel’s national character there was room for the great distinguishing features of the tribes, and to show the richness and variety with which the promise of God could fulfil itself wherever it was received. The distinguishing features which Jacob depicts in the blessings of his sons are necessarily veiled under the poetic figures of prophecy, and spoken of as they would reveal themselves in worldly matters; but these features were found in all the generations of the tribes, and displayed themselves in things spiritual also. For a man has not two characters, but one; and what he is in the world, that he is in his religion. In our own country, it is seen how the forms of worship, and even the doctrines believed, and certainly the modes of religious thought and feeling, depend on the natural character, and the natural character on the local situation of the respective sections of the community. No doubt in a country like ours, where men so constantly migrate from place to place, and where one common literature tends to mould us all to the same way of thinking, you do get men of all kinds in every place; yet even among ourselves the character of a place is generally still visible, and predominates over all that mingles with it. Much more must this character have been retained in a country where each man could trace his ancestry up to the father of the tribe, and cultivated with pride the family characteristics, and had but little intercourse, either literary or personal, with other minds and other manners. As we know by dialect and by the manners of the people when we pass into a new country, so must the Israelite have known by the eye and ear when he had crossed the county frontier, when he was conversing with a Benjamite, and when with a descendant of Judah. We are not therefore to suppose that any of these utterances of Jacob are mere geographical predictions, or that they depict characteristics which might appear in civil life, but not in religion and the Church, or that they would die out with the first generation.

In these blessings, therefore, we have the history of the Church in its most interesting form. In these sons gathered round him, the patriarch sees his own nature reflected piece by piece, and he sees also the general outline of all that must be produced by such natures as these men have. The whole destiny of Israel is here in germ, and the spirit of prophecy in Jacob sees and declares it. It has often been remarked that as a man draws near to death, he seems to see many things in a much clearer light, and especially gets glimpses into the future, which are hidden from others.

"The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed,

Lets in new light through chinks that time hath made."

Being nearer to eternity, he instinctively measures things by its standard, and thus comes nearer a just valuation of all things before his mind, and can better distinguish reality from appearance. Jacob has studied these sons of his for fifty years, and has had his acute perception of character painfully enough called to exercise itself on them. He has all his life long had a liking for analysing men s rune life, knowing that, when he understands that, he can better use them for his own ends; and these sons of his own have cost him thought over and above that sometimes penetrating interest which a father win take in the growth of a son’s character; and now he knows them thoroughly, understands their temptations, their weaknesses, their capabilities, and, as a wise head of a house, can, with delicate and unnoticed skill, balance the one against the other, ward off awkward collisions, and prevent the evil from destroying the good. This knowledge of Jacob prepares him for being the intelligent agent by whom God predicts in outline the future of His Church.

One cannot but admire, too, the faith which enables Jacob to apportion to his sons the blessings of a land which had not been much of a resting-place to himself, and regarding the occupation of which his sons might have put to him some very difficult questions. And we admire this dignified faith the more on reflecting that it has often been very grievously lacking in our own case-that we have felt almost ashamed of having so little of a present tangible kind to offer, and of being obliged to speak only of invisible and future blessings; to set a spiritual consolation over against a worldly grief; to point a man whose fortunes are ruined to an eternal inheritance; or to speak to one who knows himself quite in the power of sin of a remedy which has often seemed illusory to ourselves. Some of us have got so little comfort or strength from religion ourselves, that we have no heart to offer it to others; and most of us have a feeling that we should seem to trifle were we to offer invisible aid against very visible calamity. At least we feel that we are doing a daring thing in making such an offer, and can scarce get over the desire that we had something to speak of which sight could appreciate, and which did not require the exercise of faith. Again and again the wish rises within us that to the sick man we could bring health as well as the promise of forgiveness, and that to the poor we could grant an earthly, while we make known a heavenly, inheritance. One who has experienced these scruples, and known how hard it is to get rid of them, will know also how to honour the faith of Jacob, by which he assumes the right to bless Pharaoh-though he is himself a mere sojourner by sufferance in Pharaoh’s land, and living on his bounty-and by which he gathers his children round him and portions out to them a land which seemed to have been most barren to himself, and which now seemed quite beyond his reach. The enjoyments of it, which he himself had not very deeply tasted, he yet knew were real; and if there were a look of scepticism, or of scorn, on the face of any one of his sons; if the unbelief of any received the prophetic utterances as the ravings of delirium, or the fancies of an imbecile and worn-out mind going back to the scenes of its youth, in Jacob himself there was so simple and unsuspecting a faith in God’s promise, that he dealt with the land as if it were the only portion worth bequeathing to his sons, as if every Canaanite were already cast out of it, and as if he knew his sons could never be tempted by the wealth of Egypt to turn with contempt from the land of promise. And if we would attain to this boldness of his, and be able to speak of spiritual and future blessings as very substantial and valuable, we must ourselves learn to make much of God’s promise, and leave no taint of unbelief in our reception of it.

And often we are rebuked by finding that when we do offer things spiritual, even those who are wrapped in earthly comforts appreciate and accept the better gifts. So it was in Joseph’s case. No doubt the highest posts in Egypt were open to his sons; they might have been naturalised, as he himself had been, and, throwing in their lot with the land of their adoption, might have turned to their advantage the rank their father held, and the reputation he had earned. But Joseph turns from this attractive prospect, brings them to his father, and hands them over to the despised shepherd-life of Israel. One need scarcely point out how great a sacrifice this was on Joseph’s part. So universally acknowledged and legitimate a desire is it to pass to one’s children the honour achieved by a life of exertion, that states have no higher rewards to confer on their most useful servants than a title which their descendants may wear. But Joseph would not suffer his children to risk the loss of their share in God’s peculiar blessing, not for the most promising openings in life, or the highest civil honours. If the thoroughly open identification of them with the shepherds, and their profession of a belief in a distant inheritance, which must have made them appear madmen in the eyes of the Egyptians, if this was to cut them off from worldly advancement, Joseph was not careful of this, for resolved he was that, at any cost, they should be among God’s people. And his faith received its reward; the two tribes that sprang from him received about as large a portion of the promised land as fell to the lot of all the other tribes put together.

You will observe that Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted as sons of Jacob. Jacob tells Joseph, "They shall be mine," not my grandsons, but as Reuben and Simeon. No other sons whom Joseph might have were to be received into this honour, but these two were to take their place on a level with their uncle, as heads of tribes, so that Joseph is represented through the whole history by the two populous and powerful tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. No greater honour could have been put on Joseph, nor any more distinct and lasting recognition made of the indebtedness of his family to him, and of how he had been as a father bringing new life to his brethren, than this, that his sons should be raised to the rank of heads of tribes, on a level with the immediate sons of Jacob. And no higher honour could have been put on the two lads themselves than that they should thus be treated as if they were their father Joseph-as if they had his worth and his rank. He is merged in them, and all that he has earned is, throughout the history, to be found, not in his own name, but in theirs. It all proceeds from him; but his enjoyment is found in their enjoyment, his worth acknowledged in their fruitfulness. Thus did God familiarise the Jewish mind through its whole history with the idea, if they chose to think and have ideas, of adoption, and of an adoption of a peculiar kind, of an adoption where already there was an heir who, by this adoption, has his name and worth merged in the persons now received into his place. Ephraim and Manasseh were not received alongside. of Joseph, but each received what Joseph himself might have had, and Joseph’s name as a tribe was henceforth only to be found in these two. This idea was fixed in such a way, that for centuries it was steeping into the minds of men, so that they might not be astonished if God should in some other case, say the case of His own Son, adopt men into the rank He held, and let His estimate of the worth of His Son, and the honour He puts upon Him, be seen in the adopted. This being so, we need not be alarmed if men tell us that imputation is a mere legal fiction, or human invention; a legal fiction it may be, but in the case before us it was the never-disputed foundation of very substantial blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh; and we plead for nothing more than that God would act with us as here He did act with these two, that He would make us His direct heirs, make us His own sons, and give us what He who presents us to Him to receive His blessing did earn, and merits at the Father’s hand.

We meet with these crossed hands of blessing frequently in Scripture; the younger son blessed above the elder-as was needful, lest grace should become confounded with nature, and the belief gradually grow up in men’s minds that natural effects could never be overcome by grace, and that in every respect grace waited upon nature. And these crossed hands we meet still; for how often does God quite reverse our order, and bless most that about which we had less concern, and seem to put a slight on that which has engrossed our best affection. It is so, often in precisely the way in which Joseph found it so; the son whose youth is most anxiously cared for, to whom the interests of the younger members of the family are sacrificed, and who is commended to God continually to receive His right-hand blessing, this son seems neither to receive nor to dispense much blessing; but the younger, less thought of, left to work his own way, is favoured by God, and becomes the comfort and support of his parents when the elder has failed of his duty. And in the case of much that we hold dear, the same rule is seen; a pursuit we wish to be successful in we can make little of, and are thrown back from continually, while something else into which we have thrown ourselves almost accidentally prospers in our hand and blesses us. Again and again, for years together, we put forward some cherished desire to God’s right hand, and are displeased, like Joseph, that still the hand of greater blessing should pass to some other thing. Does God not know what is oldest with us, what has been longest at our hearts, and is dearest to us? Certainly He does: "I know it, My son, I know it," He answers to all our expostulations. It is not because He does not understand or regard your predilections, your natural and excusable preferences, that He sometimes refuses to gratify your whole desire, and pours upon you blessings of a kind somewhat different from those you most. earnestly covet. He will give you the whole that Christ hath merited; but for the application and distribution of that grace and blessing you must be content to trust Him.

You may be at a loss to know why He does no more to deliver you from some sin, or why He does not make you more successful in your efforts to aid others, or why, while He so liberally prospers you in one part of your condition, you get so much less in another that is far nearer your heart; but God does what He will with His own, and if you do not find in one point the whole blessing and prosperity you think should flow from such a Mediator as you have, you may only conclude that what is lacking there will elsewhere be found more wisely bestowed. And is it not a perpetual encouragement to us that God does not merely crown what nature has successfully begun, that it is not the likely and the naturally good that are most blessed, but that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are? In Reuben, the firstborn, conscience must have been sadly at war with hope as he looked at the blind, but expressive, face of his father. He may have hoped that his sin had not been severely thought of by his father, or that the father’s pride in his first-born would prompt him to hide, though it could not make him forget it. Probably the gross offence had not been made known to the family. At least, the words "he went up" may be understood as addressed in explanation to the brethren. It may indeed have been that the blind old man, forcibly recalling the long-past transgression, is here uttering a mournful, regretful soliloquy, rather than addressing any one. It may be that these words were uttered to himself as he went back upon the one deed that had disclosed to him his son’s real character, and rudely hurled to the ground all the hopes he had built up for his first-born. Yet there is no reason to suppose, on the other hand, that the sin had been previously known or alluded to in the family. Reuben’s hasty, passionate nature could not understand that if Jacob had felt that sin of his deeply, he should not have shown his resentment; he had stunned his father with the heavy blow, and because he did not cry out and strike him in return, he thought him little hurt. So do shallow natures tremble for a night after their sin, and when they find that the sun rises and men greet them as cordially as before, and that no hand lays hold on them from the past, they think little more of their sin-do not understand that fatal calm that precedes the storm. Had the memory of Reuben’s sin survived in Jacob’s mind all the sad events that had since happened, and all the stirring incidents of the emigration and the new life in Egypt? Could his father at the last hour, and after so many thronged years, and before his brethren, recall the old sin? He is relieved and confirmed in his confidence by the first words of Jacob, words ascribing to him his natural position, a certain conspicuous dignity too, and power such as one may often see produced in men by occupying positions of authority, though in their own character there be weakness. But all the excellence that Jacob ascribes to Reuben serves only to embitter the doom pronounced upon him. Men seem often to expect that a future can be given to them irrespective of what they themselves are, that a series of blessings and events might be prepared for them and made over to them; whereas every man’s future must be made by himself, and Is already in great part formed by the past. It was a vain expectation of Reuben to expect that he, the impetuous, unstable, superficial son, could have the future of a deep, and earnest, and dutiful nature, or that his children should derive no taint from their parent, but be as the children of Joseph. No man’s future need be altogether a doom to him, for God may bless to him the evil fruit his life has borne; but certainly no man need look for a future which has no relation to, his own character. His future will always be made up of his deeds, his feelings, and the circumstances which his desires have brought him into.

The future of Reuben was of a negative, blank kind-"Thou shalt not excel"; his unstable character must empty it of all great success. And to many a heart since have these words struck a chill, for to many they are as a mirror suddenly held up before them. They see themselves when they look on the tossing sea, rising and pointing to the heavens with much noise, but only to sink back again to the same everlasting level. Men of brilliant parts and great capacity are continually seen to be lost to society by instability of purpose. Would they only pursue one direction, and concentrate their energies on one subject, they might become true heirs of promise, blessed and blessing; but they seem to lose relish for every pursuit on the first taste of success-all their energy seems to have boiled over and evaporated in the first glow, and sinks as the water that has just been noisily boiling when the fire is withdrawn from under it. No impression made upon them is permanent: like water, they are plastic, easily impressible, but utterly incapable of retaining an impression; and therefore, like water, they have a downward tendency, or at the best are but retained in their place by pressure from without, and have no eternal power of growth. And the misery of this character is often increased by the desire to excel which commonly accompanies instability. It is generally this very desire which prompts a man to hurry from one aim to another, to give up one path to excellence when he sees that other men are making way upon another: having no internal convictions of his own, he is guided mostly by the successes of other men, the most dangerous of all guides. So that such a man has all the bitterness of an eager desire doomed never to be satisfied. Conscious to himself of capacity for something, feeling in him the excellency of power, and having that "excellency of dignity," or graceful and princely refinement, which the knowledge of many things, and intercourse with many kinds of people, have imparted to him, he feels all the more that pervading weakness, that greedy, lustful craving for all kinds of priority, and for enjoying all the various advantages which other men severally enjoy, which will not let him finally choose and adhere to his own line of things, but distracts him by a thousand purposes which ever defeat one another.

The sin of the next oldest sons was also remembered against them, and remembered apparently for the same reason-because the character was expressed in it. The massacre of the Shechemites was not an accidental outrage that any other of the sons of Jacob might equally have perpetrated, but the most glaring of a number of expressions of a fierce and cruel disposition in these two men. In Jacob’s prediction of their future, he seems to shrink with horror from his own progeny-like her who dreamt she would give birth to a firebrand. He sees the possibility of the direst results flowing from such a temper, and, under God, provides against these by scattering the tribes, and thus weakening their power for evil. They had been banded together so as the ‘more easily and securely to accomplish their murderous purposes. "Simeon and Levi are brethren"-showing a close affinity, and seeking one another’s society and aid, but it is for bad purposes; and therefore they must be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel. This was accomplished by the tribe of Levi being distributed over all the other tribes as the ministers of religion. The fiery zeal, the bold independence, and the pride of being a distinct people, which had been displayed in the slaughter of the Shechemites, might be toned down and turned to good account when the sword was taken out of their hand. Qualities such as these, which produce the most disastrous results when fit instruments can be found, and when men of like disposition are suffered to band themselves together, may, when found in the individual and kept in check by circumstances and dissimilar dispositions, be highly beneficial.

In the sin, Levi seems to have been the moving spirit, Simeon the abetting tool, and in the punishment, it is the more dangerous tribe that s scattered, so that the other is left companionless. In the blessings of Moses, the tribe of Simeon is passed over in silence; and that the tribe of Levi should have been so used for God’s immediate service stands as evidence that punishments, however severe and desolating, even threatening something bordering on extinction, may yet become blessings to God’s people. The sword of murder was displaced in Levi’s hand by the knife of sacrifice; their fierce revenge against sinners was converted into hostility against sin; their apparent zeal for the forms of their religion was consecrated to the service of the tabernacle and temple; their fanatical pride, which prompted them to treat all other people as the offscouring of the earth, was informed by a better spirit, and used for the upbuilding and instruction of the people of Israel. In order to understand why this tribe, of all others, should have been chosen for the service of the sanctuary and for the instruction of the people, we must not only recognise how their being scattered in punishment of their sin over all the land fitted them to be the educators of the nation and the representatives of all the tribes, but also we must consider that the sin itself which Levi had committed broke the one command which men had up till this time received from the mouth of God; no law had as yet been published but that which had been given to Noah and his sons regarding bloodshed, and which was given in circumstances so appalling, and with sanctions so emphatic, that it might ever have rung in men’s ears, and stayed the hand of the murderer. In saying, "At the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man," God had shown that human life was to be counted sacred. He Himself had swept the race from the face of the earth, but adding this command immediately after, He, showed all the more forcibly that punishment was His own prerogative, and that none but those appointed by Him might shed-blood-"Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord." To take private revenge, as Levi did, was to take the sword out of God’s hand, and to say that Gods was not careful enough of justice, and but a poor guardian of right and wrong in the world; and to destroy human life in the wanton and cruel manner in which Levi had destroyed the Shechemites, and to do it under colour and by the aid of religious zeal, was to God the most hateful of sins. But none can know the hatefulness of a sin so distinctly as he who has fallen into it, and is enduring the punishment of it penitently and graciously, and therefore Levi was of all others the best fitted to be entrusted with those sacrificial symbols which set forth the value of all human life, and especially of the life of God’s own Son. Very humbling must it have been for the Levite who remembered the history of his tribe to be used by God as the hand of His justice on the victims that were brought in substitution for that which was so precious in the sight of God.

The blessing of Judah is at once the most important and the most difficult to interpret in the series. There is enough in the history of Judah himself, and there is enough in the subsequent history of the tribe, to justify the ascription to him of all lion-like qualities-a kingly, fearlessness, confidence, power, and success; in action a rapidity of movement and might that make him irresistible, and in repose a majestic dignity of bearing. As the serpent is the cognisance of Dan, the wolf of Benjamin, the hind of Naphtali, so is the lion of the tribe of Judah. He scorns to gain his end by a serpentine craft, and is himself easily taken in; he does not ravin like a wolf, merely plundering for the sake of booty, but gives freely and generously, even to the sacrifice of his own person: nor has he the mere graceful and ineffective swiftness of the hind, but the rushing onset of the lion-a character which, more than any other, men reverence and admire-"Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise"-and a character which, more than any other, fits a man to take the lead and rule. If there were to be kings in Israel, there could be little doubt from which tribe they could best be chosen; a wolf of the tribe of Benjamin, like Saul, not only hung on the rear of retreating Philistines and spoiled them, but made a prey of his own people, and it is in David we find the true king, the man who more than. any other satisfies men’s ideal of the prince to whom they will pay homage; -falling indeed into grievous error- and sin, like his forefather, but, like him also, right at heart, so generous and self-sacrificing that men served him with the most devoted loyalty, and were willing rather to dwell in caves with him than in palaces with any other.

The kingly supremacy of Judah was here spoken of in Words which have been the subject of as prolonged and violent contention as any others in the Word of God. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come." These words are very generally understood to mean that Judah’s supremacy would continue until it culminated or flowered into the personal reign of Shiloh; in other words, that Judah’s sovereignty was to be perpetuated in the person of Jesus Christ. So that this prediction is but the first whisper of that which was afterwards so distinctly declared, that David’s seed should sit on the throne for ever and ever. It was not accomplished in the letter, any more than the promise to David was; the tribe of Judah cannot in any intelligible sense be said to have had rulers of her own up to the coming of Christ, or for some centuries previous to that date. For those who would quickly judge God and His promise by what they could see in their own day, there was enough to provoke them to challenge God for forgetting His promise. But in due time the King of men, He to whom all nations have gathered, did spring from this tribe; and need it be said that the very fact of His appearance proved that the supremacy had not departed from Judah? This prediction, then, partook of the character of very many of the Old Testament prophecies; there was sufficient fulfilment in the letter to seal, as it were, the promise, and give men a token that it was being accomplished, and yet so mysterious a falling short, as to cause men to look beyond the literal fulfilment, on which alone their hopes had at first rested, to some far higher and more perfect spiritual fulfilment.

But not only has it been objected that the sceptre departed from Judah long before Christ came, and that therefore the word Shiloh cannot refer to Him, but also it has been truly said that wherever else the word occurs it is the name of a town-that town, viz., where the ark for a long time was stationed, and from which the allotment of territory was made to the various tribes; and the prediction has been supposed to mean that Judah should be the leading tribe till the land was entered. Many objections to this naturally occur, and need not be stated. But it comes to be an inquiry of some interest, How much information regarding a personal Messiah did the brethren receive from this prophecy? A question very difficult indeed to answer. The word Shiloh means "peace-making," and if they understood this as a proper name, they must have thought of a person such as Isaiah designates as the Prince of Peace-a name it was similar to that wherewith David called his son Solomon, in the expectation that the results of his own lifetime of disorder and battle would be reaped by his successor in a peaceful and prosperous reign. It can scarcely be thought likely, indeed, that this single term "Shiloh," which might be applied to many things besides a person, should give to the sons of Jacob any distinct idea of a personal Deliverer; but it might be sufficient to keep before their eyes, and specially before the tribe of Judah, that the aim and consummation of all lawgiving and ruling was peace. And there was certainly contained in this blessing an assurance that the purpose of Judah would not be accomplished, and therefore that the existence of Judah as a tribe would not terminate, until peace had been through its means brought into the world: thus was the assurance given, that the productive power of Judah should not fail until out of that tribe there had sprung that which should give peace.

But to us who have seen the prediction accomplished it plainly enough points to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who in His own person combined all kingly qualities. In Him we are taught by this prediction to discover once more the single Person who stands out on the page of this world’s history as satisfying men’s ideal of what their King should be, and of how the race should be represented; -the One who without any rival stands in the mind’s eye as that for which the best hopes of men were waiting, still feeling that the race could do more than it had done, and never satisfied but in Him.

Zebulun, the sixth and last of Leah’s sons, was so called because said Leah, "Now will my husband dwell with me" (such being the meaning of the name), "for I have borne him six sons." All that is predicted regarding this tribe is that his dwelling should be by the sea, and near the Phoenician city Zidon. This is not to be taken as a strict geographical definition of the tract of country occupied by Zebulun, as we see when we compare it with the lot assigned to it and marked out in the Book of Joshua; but though the border of the tribe did not reach to Zidon, and though it can only have been a mere tongue of land belonging to it that ran down to the Mediterranean shore, yet the situation ascribed to it is true to its character as a tribe that had commercial relations with the Phoenicians, and was of a decidedly mercantile turn. We find this same feature indicated in the blessing of Moses: "Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out, and Issachar in thy tents"-Zebulun having the enterprise of a seafaring community, and Issachar the quiet bucolic contentment of an agricultural or pastoral population: Zebulun always restlessly eager for emigration or commerce, for going out of one kind or other; Issachar satisfied to live and die in his own tents. It is still, therefore, character rather than geographical position that is here spoken of-though it is a trait of character that is peculiarly dependent on geographical position: we, for example, because islanders, having become the maritime power and the merchants of the world; not being shut off from other nations by the encompassing sea. but finding paths by it equally in all directions ready provided for every kind of traffic.

Zebulun, then, was to represent the commerce of Israel, its outgoing tendency; was to supply a means of communication and bond of connection with the world outside, so that through it might be conveyed to the nations what was saving in Israel, and that what Israel needed from other lands might also find entrance. In the Church also, this is a needful quality: for our well-being there must ever exist among us those who are not afraid to launch on the wide and pathless sea of opinion, those in whose ears its waves have from their childhood sounded with a fascinating invitation, and who at last, as if possessed by some spirit of unrest, loose from the firm earth, and go in quest of lands not yet discovered, or are impelled to see for themselves what till now they have believed on the testimony of others. It is not for all men to quit the shore, and risk themselves in the miseries and disasters of so comfortless and hazardous a life; but happy the people which possesses, from one generation to another, men who must see with their own eyes, and to whose restless nature the discomforts and dangers of an unsettled life have a charm: It is not the instability of Reuben that we have in these men, but the irrepressible longing of the born seaman, who must lift the misty veil of the horizon and penetrate its mystery. And we are not to condemn, even when we know we should not imitate, men who cannot rest satisfied with the ground on which we stand, but venture into regions of speculation, of religious thought which we have never trodden, and may deem hazardous. The nourishment we receive is not all native-grown; there are views of truth which may very profitably be imported from strange and distant lands: and there is no land, no province of thought, from which we may not derive what may advantageously be mixed with our own ideas; no direction in which a speculative mind can go in which it may not find something which may give a fresh zest to what we already use, or be a real addition to our knowledge. No doubt men who refuse to confine themselves to one way of viewing truth-men who venture to go close to persons of very different opinions from their own, who determine for themselves to prove all things, who have no very special love for what they were native to and originally taught, who show rather a taste for strange and new opinions-these persons live a life of great hazard, and in the end are generally, like men who have been much at sea, unsettled; they have not fixed opinions, and are in themselves, as individual men, unsatisfactory and unsatisfied; but still they have done good to the community, by bringing to us ideas and knowledge which otherwise we could not have obtained. Such men God gives us to widen our views; to prevent us from thinking that we have the best of everything; to bring us to acknowledge that others, who perhaps in the main are not so favoured as ourselves, are yet possessed of some things we ourselves would be the better of. And though these men must themselves necessarily hang loosely, scarcely attached very firmly to any part of the Church, like a seafaring, population, and often even with a border running very close to heathenism, yet let us own that the Church has need of such-that without them the different sections of the Church would know too little of one another, and too little of the facts of this world’s life. And as the seafaring population of a country might be expected to show less interest in the soil of their native land than others, and yet we know that in point of fact we are dependent on no class of our population so much for leal patriotism, and for the defence of our country, so one has observed that the Church also must make similar use of her Zebuluns-of men who, by their very habit of restlessly considering all views of truth which are alien to our own ways of thinking, have become familiar with, and better able to defend us against the error that mingles with these views.

Issachar receives from his father a character which few would be proud of or would envy, but which many are very content to bear. As the strong ass that has its stall and its provender provided can afford to let the free beasts of the forest vaunt their liberty, so there is a very numerous class of men who have no care to assert their dignity as human beings, or to agitate regarding their rights as citizens, so long as their obscurity and servitude provide them with physical comforts, and leave them free of heavy responsibilities. They prefer a life of ease and plenty to a life of hardship and glory. They are not lazy nor idle, but are quite willing to use their strength so long as they are not overdriven out of their sleekness. They have neither ambition nor enterprise, and willingly bow their shoulders to bear, and become the servants of those who will free them from the anxiety of planning and managing, and give them a fair and regular remuneration for their labour. This is not a noble nature, but in a world in which ambition so frequently runs through a thorny and difficult path to a disappointing and shameful end, this disposition has much to say in its own defence. It will often accredit itself with un-challengeable common sense, and will maintain that it alone enjoys life and gets the good of it. They will tell you they are the only true utilitarians, that to be one’s own master only brings cares, and that the degradation of servitude is only an idea; that really servants are quite as well off as masters. Look at them: the one is as a strong, powerful, well-cared-for animal, his work but a pleasant exercise to him, and when it is over never, following him into his rest; he eats the good of the land, and has what all seem to be in vain striving for, rest and contentment: the other, the master, has indeed his position, but that only multiplies his duties; he has wealth, but that proverbially only increases his cares and the mouths that are to consume it; it is he who has the air of a bondsman, and never, meet him when you may, seems wholly at ease and free from care.

Yet, after all that can be said in favour of the bargain an Issachar makes, and however he may be satisfied to rest, and in a quiet, peaceful way enjoy life, men feel that at the best there is something despicable about such a character. He gives his labour and is fed, he pays his tribute and is protected; but men feel that they ought to meet the dangers, responsibilities, and difficulties of life in their own persons, and at first hand, and not buy themselves off so from the burden of individual self-control and responsibility. The animal enjoyment of this life and its physical comforts may be a very good ingredient in a national character: it might be well for Israel to have this patient, docile mass of strength in its midst: it may be well for our country that there are among us not only men eager for the highest honours and posts, but a great multitude of men perhaps equally serviceable and capable, but whose desires never rise beyond the ordinary social comforts; the contentedness of such, even though reprehensible, tempers or balances the ambition of the others, and when it comes into personal contact rebukes its feverishness. They, as well as the other parts of society, have amidst their error a truth-the truth that the ideal world in which ambition, and hope, and imagination live is not everything; that the material has also a reality, and that though hope does bless mankind, yet attainment is also something, even though it be a little. Yet this truth is not the whole truth, and is only useful as an ingredient, as a part, not as the whole; and when we fall from any high ideal of human life which we have formed, and begin to find comfort and rest in the mere physical good things of this world, we may well despise ourselves. There is a pleasantness still in the land that appeals to us all; a luxury in observing the risks and struggles of others while ourselves secure and at rest; a desire to make life easy, and to shirk the responsibility and toil that public-spiritedness entails. Yet of what tribe has the Church more cause to complain than of those persons who seem to imagine that they have done enough when they have joined the Church and received their own inheritance to enjoy; who are alive to no emergency, nor awake to the need of others; who have no idea at all of their being a part of the community, for which, as well as for themselves, there are duties to discharge; who couch, like the ass of Issachar, in their comfort without one generous impulse to make common cause against the common evils and foes of the Church, and are unvisited by a single compunction that while they lie there, submitting to whatever fate sends, there are kindred tribes of their own being oppressed and spoiled?

There seems to have been an improvement in this tribe, an infusion of some new life into it. In the time of Deborah, indeed, it is with a note of surprise that, while celebrating the victory of Israel, she names even Issachar as having been roused to action, and as having helped in the common cause -" the princes of Issachar were with Deborah, even Issachar"; but we find them again in the days of David wiping out their reproach, and standing by him manfully.. And there an apparently new character is given to them-"the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." This quite accords, however, with the kind of practical philosophy which we have seen to be imbedded in Issachar’s character. Men they were not distracted by high thoughts and ambitions, but who judged things according to their substantial value to themselves; and who were, therefore, in a position to give much good advice on practical matters-advice which would always have a tendency to trend too much towards mere utilitarianism and worldliness, and to partake rather of crafty politic diplomacy than of far-seeing statesmanship, yet trustworthy for a certain class of subjects. And here, too, they represent the same class in the Church, already alluded to; for one often finds that men who will not interrupt their own comfort, and who have a kind of stolid indifference as to what comes of the good of the Church, have yet also much shrewd practical wisdom; and were these men, instead of spending their sagacity in cynical denunciation of what the Church does, to throw themselves into the cause of the Church, and heartily advise her what she ought to do, and help in the doing of it, their observation of human affairs, and political understanding of the times, would be turned to good account, instead of being a reproach.

Next came the eldest son of Rachel’s handmaid, and the eldest son of Leah’s handmaid. Dan and Gad. Dan’s name, meaning "judge," is the starting point of the prediction-"Dan shall judge his people." This word "judge" we are perhaps somewhat apt to misapprehend; it means rather to defend than to sit in judgment on; it refers to a judgment passed between one’s own people and their foes, and an execution of such judgment in the deliverance of the people and the destruction of the foe. We are familiar with this meaning of the word by the constant reference in the Old Testament to God’s judging His people; this being always a cause of joy as their sure deliverance from their enemies. So also it is used of those men who, when Israel had no king, arose from time to time as the champions of the people, to lead them against the foe, and who are therefore familiarly called "The Judges." From the tribe of Dan the most conspicuous of these arose, Samson, namely, and it is probably mainly with reference to this fact that Jacob so emphatically predicts of this tribe, "Dan shall judge his people." And notice the appended clause (as reflecting shame on the sluggish Issachar), "as one of the tribes of Israel," recognising always that his strength was not for himself alone, but for his country; that he was not an isolated people who had to concern himself only with his own affairs, but one of the tribes of Israel. The manner, too, in which Dan was to do this was singularly descriptive of the facts subsequently evolved. Dan was a very small and insignificant tribe, whose lot originally lay close to the Philistines on the southern border of the land. It might seem to be no obstacle whatever to the invading Philistines as they passed to the richer portion of Judah, but this little tribe, through Samson, smote these terrors of the Israelites with so sore and alarming a destruction as to cripple them for years and make them harmless. We see, therefore, how aptly Jacob compares them to the venomous snake that lurks in the road and bites the horses’ heels: the dust-coloured adder that a man treads on before he is aware, and whose poisonous stroke is more deadly than the foe he looking for in front. And especially significant did the imagery appear to the Jews, with whom this poisonous adder was indigenous, but to whom the horse was the symbol of foreign armament and invasion. The whole tribe of Dan, too, seems to have partaken of that "grim humour" with which Samson saw his foes walk time after time into the traps he set for them, and give themselves an easy prey to him-a humour which comes out with singular piquancy in the narrative given in the Book of Judges of one of the forays of this tribe, in which they carried off Micah’s priest and even his gods.

But why, in the full flow of his eloquent description of the varied virtues of his sons, does the patriarch suddenly check himself, lie back on his pillows, and quietly say, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O God?" Does he feel his strength leave him so that he cannot go on to bless the rest of his sons, and has but time to yield his own spirit to God? Are we here to interpolate one of those scenes we are all fated to witness when some eagerly watched breath seems altogether to fail before the last words have been uttered, when those who have been standing apart, through sorrow and reverence, quickly gather round the bed to catch the last look, and when the dying man again collects himself and finishes his work? Probably Jacob, having, as it were, projected himself forward into those stirring and warlike times he has been speaking of, so realises the danger of his people, and the futility even of such help as Dan’s when God does not help, that, as if from the midst of doubtful war, he cries, as with a battle cry, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O God." His longing for victory and blessing to his sons far overshot the deliverance from Philistines accomplished by Samson. That deliverance he thankfully accepts and joyfully predicts, but in the spirit of an Israelite indeed, and a genuine child of the promise, he remains unsatisfied, and sees in all such deliverance only the pledge of God’s coming nearer and nearer to His people bringing with Him His eternal salvation. In Dan, therefore, we have not the catholic spirit of Zebulun, nor the practical, though sluggish, temper of Issachar; but we are guided rather to the disposition which ought to be maintained through all Christian life, and which, with special care, needs to be cherished in Church-life-a disposition to accept with gratitude all success and triumph, but still to aim through all at that highest victory which God alone can accomplish for His people. It is to be the battle-cry with which every Christian and every Church is to preserve itself, not merely against external foes, but against the far more disastrous influence of self-confidence, pride, and glorying in man-"For Thy salvation, O God, do we wait."

Gad also is a tribe whose history is to be warlike, his very name signifying a marauding, guerilla troop; and his history was to illustrate the victories which God’s people gain by tenacious, watchful, ever-renewed warfare. The Church has often prospered by her Dan-like insignificance; the world not troubling itself to make war upon her. But oftener Gad is a better representative of the mode in which her successes are gained. We find that the men of Gad were among the most valuable of David’s warriors, when his necessity evoked all the various skill and energy of Israel. "Of the Gadites," we read, "there separated themselves unto David into the hold of the wilderness men of might. and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like. the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains: one of the least of them was better than a hundred, and the greatest mightier than a thousand." And there is something particularly inspiriting to the individual Christian in finding this pronounced as part of the blessing of God’s people-"a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last." It is this that enables us to persevere-that we have God’s assurance that present discomfiture does not doom us to final defeat. If you be among the children of promise, among those that gather round God to catch His blessing, you shall overcome at the last. You may now feel as if assaulted by treacherous, murderous foes, irregular troops, that betake themselves to every cruel deceit, and are ruthless in spoiling you; you may be assailed by so many and strange temptations that you are bewildered and cannot lift a hand to resist, scarce seeing where your danger comes from; you may be buffeted by messengers of Satan, distracted by a sudden and tumultuous incursion of a crowd of cares so that you are moved away from the old habits of your life amid which you seem to stand safely; your heart may seem to be the rendezvous of all ungodly and wicked thoughts, you may feel trodden under foot and overrun by sin, but, with the blessing of God, you shall overcome at the last. Only cultivate that dogged pertinacity of Gad, which has no thought of ultimate defeat, but rallies cheerfully and resolutely after every discomfiture.

PREFACE.

Much is now denied or doubted, within the Church itself, concerning the Book of Exodus, which was formerly accepted with confidence by all Christians.

But one thing can neither be doubted nor denied. Jesus Christ did certainly treat this book, taking it as He found it, as possessed of spiritual authority, a sacred scripture. He taught His disciples to regard it thus, and they did so.

Therefore, however widely His followers may differ about its date and origin, they must admit the right of a Christian teacher to treat this book, taking it as he finds it, as a sacred scripture and invested with spiritual authority. It is the legitimate subject of exposition in the Church.

Such work this volume strives, however imperfectly, to perform. Its object is to edify in the first place, and also, but in the second place, to inform. Nor has the author consciously shrunk from saying what seemed to him proper to be said because the utterance would be unwelcome, either to the latest critical theory, or to the last sensational gospel of an hour.

But since controversy has not been sought, although exposition has not been suppressed when it carried weapons, by far the greater part of the volume appeals to all who accept their Bible as, in any true sense, a gift from God.

No task is more difficult than to exhibit the Old Testament in the light of the New, discovering the permanent in the evanescent, and the spiritual in the form and type which it inhabited and illuminated. This book is at least the result of a firm belief that such a connection between the two Testaments does exist, and of a patient endeavour to receive the edification offered by each Scripture, rather than to force into it, and then extort from it, what the expositor desires to find. Nor has it been supposed that by allowing the imagination to assume, in sacred things, that rank as a guide which reason holds in all other practical affairs, any honour would be done to Him Who is called the Spirit of knowledge and wisdom, but not of fancy and quaint conceits.

If such an attempt does, in any degree, prove successful and bear fruit, this fact will be of the nature of a scientific demonstration.

If this ancient Book of Exodus yields solid results to a sober devotional exposition in the nineteenth Christian century, if it is not an idle fancy that its teaching harmonises with the principles and theology of the New Testament, and even demands the New Testament as the true commentary upon the Old, what follows? How comes it that the oak is potentially in the acorn, and the living creature in the egg? No germ is a manufactured article: it is a part of the system of the universe.

ANALYSIS OF CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

THE PROLOGUE, Exodus 1:1-6.

Books linked by conjunction "And:" Scripture history a connected whole.

So is secular history organic: "Philosophy of history." The Pentateuch being a still closer unity, Exodus rehearses the descent into Egypt.

Heredity: the family of Jacob.

Death of Joseph. Influence of Egypt on the shepherd race.

A healthy stock: good breeding. Goethe's aphorism.

Ourselves and our descendants.

GOD IN HISTORY, Exodus 1:7.

In Exodus, national history replaces biography.

Contrasted narratives of Jacob and Moses. Spiritual progress from Genesis to Exodus.

St. Paul's view: Law prepares for Gospel, especially by our failures.

This explains other phenomena: failures in various circumstances, of innocence in Eden; of an elect family; now of a race, a nation.

Israel, failing with all advantages, needs a Messiah. Faith justifies, in Old Testament as in New.

Scripture history reveals God in this life, in all things.

True spirituality owns God in the secular: this is a gospel for our days.

THE OPPRESSION, Exodus 1:7-22.

Early prosperity: its dangers: political supports vain.

Joseph forgotten. National responsibilities: despotism.

Nations and their chiefs. Our subject races.

The Church and her King: imputation. Pharaoh precipitates what he fears.

Egypt and her aliens: modern parallels.

Tyranny is tyrannous even when cultured.

Our undue estrangement from the fallen: Jesus a brother. Toil crushes the spirit

Israel idolatrous. Religious dependence.

Direct interposition required. Bitter oppression.

Pharaoh drops the mask. Defeated by the human heart. The midwives.

Their falsehood. Morality is progressive.

Culture and humanity.

Religion and the child.

CHAPTER II.

THE RESCUE OF MOSES, Exodus 2:1-10.

Importance of the individual.

A man versus "the Time-spirit."

The parents of Moses.

Their family: their goodly child.

Emotion helps faith, 30.

The ark in the bulrushes.

Pharaoh's daughter and Miriam.

Guidance for good emotions: the Church for humanity.

THE CHOICE OF MOSES, Exodus 2:11-15.

God employs means.

Value of endowment. Moses and his family. "The reproach of Christ."

An impulsive act.

Impulses not accidents. The hopes of Moses.

Moses and his brethren. His flight.

MOSES IN MIDIAN, Exodus 2:16-22.

Energy in disaster.

Disinterested bravery. Parallels with a variation.

The Unseen a refuge. Duty of resisting small wrongs. His wife.

A lonely heart.

CHAPTER III.

THE BURNING BUSH, Exodus 2:23-25.

Death of Raamses. Misery continues.

The cry of the oppressed.

Discipline of Moses.

How a crisis comes.

God hitherto unmentioned. The Angel of the Lord.

An unconsuming fire.

Inquiry: reverence. God finds, not man.

"Take off thy shoe." "The God of thy father."

Immortality. "My people," not saints only.

The good land. The commission.

God with him. A strange token, 53.

A NEW NAME, Exodus 3:14; Exodus 6:2-3.

Why Moses asked the name of God: idolatry: pantheism.

A progressive revelation.

Jehovah. The sound corrupted. Similar superstitions yet.

What it told the Jews. Reality of being.

Jews not saved by ideas. Streams of tendency. The Self-contained. We live in our past.

And in our future.

Yet Jehovah not the impassive God of Lucretius.

The Immutable is Love. This is our help.

Human will is not paralysed.

The teaching of St. Paul. All this is practical.

This gives stability to all other revelations. Our own needs.

THE COMMISSION, Exodus 3:10, Exodus 3:16-22.

God comes where He sends.

The Providential man. Prudence.

Sincerity of demand for a brief respite.

God has already visited them. By trouble He transplants.

The "borrowing" of jewels.

CHAPTER IV.

MOSES HESITATES, Exodus 4:1-17.

Scripture is impartial: Josephus.

Hindrance from his own people. The rod.

The serpent: the leprosy.

"I am not eloquent."

God with us. Aaron the Levite.

Responsibility of not working. The errors of Moses.

Power of fellowship. Vague fears.

With his brother, Moses will go. The Church.

This craving met by Christ.

Family affection. Examples.

MOSES OBEYS, Exodus 4:18-31.

Fidelity to his employer. Reticence.

Resemblance to story of Jesus. He is the Antitype of all experiences.

Counterpoint in history. "Israel is My son."

A neglected duty Zipporah. Was she a helpmeet?

Domestic unhappiness. History v. myth.

The failures of the good.

Men of destiny are not irresponsible.

His first followers: a joyful reception.

Spiritual joy and reaction.

CHAPTER V.

PHARAOH REFUSES, Exodus 5:1-23.

Moses at court again. Formidable.

Power of convictions but also of tyranny and pride. Menephtah: his story.

Was the Pharaoh drowned? The demand of Jehovah.

The refusal.

Is religion idleness? Hebrews were taskmasters.

Demoralised by slavery. They are beaten.

Murmurs against Moses. He returns to God. His remonstrance.

His disappointment. Not really irreverent.

Use of this abortive attempt.

CHAPTER VI.

THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF MOSES, Exodus 6:1-30.

The word Jehovah known before: its consolations now.

The new truth is often implicit in the old.

Discernment more needed than revelation. "Judgments."

My people: your God.

The tie is of God's binding.

Fatherhood and sonship.

Faith becomes knowledge. The body hinders the soul.

We are responsible for bodies. Israel weighs Moses down.

We may hold back the saints.

The pedigree.

Indications of genuine history.

"As a god to Pharaoh."

We also.

CHAPTER VII.

THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH'S HEART, Exodus 7:3-13.

The assertion offends many.

Was he a free agent? When hardened. A.V. incorrect.

He resists five plagues spontaneously. The last five are penal.

Not "hardened" in wickedness, but in nerve. A.V. confuses three words: His heart is

(a) "hardened,"

(b) it is made "strong"

(c) "heavy."

Other examples of these words.

The warning implied.

Moses returns with the signs.

The functions of miracle.

THE PLAGUES, Exodus 7:14.

Their vast range.

Their relation to Pantheism, Idolatry, Philosophy.

And to the gods of Egypt. Their retributive fitness.

Their arrangement.

Like our Lord's, not creative.

God in common things.

Some we inflict upon ourselves. Yet rationalistic analogies fail.

Duration of the conflict.

THE FIRST PLAGUE, Exodus 7:14-25.

The probable scene.

Extent of the plague. The magicians. Its duration.

Was Israel exempt? Contrast with first miracle of Jesus.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE SECOND PLAGUE, Exodus 8:1-15.

Submission demanded. Severity of plague.

Pharaoh humbles himself.

"Glory over me." Pharaoh breaks faith.

THE THIRD PLAGUE, Exodus 8:16-19.

Various theories. A surprise. Magicians baffled.

What they confess.

THE FOURTH PLAGUE, Exodus 8:20-32.

"Rising up early."

Bodily pain. Beetles or flies? "A mixture."

Goshen exempt. Pharaoh suffers. He surrenders.

Respite and treachery. Would Moses have returned?

CHAPTER IX.

THE FIFTH PLAGUE, Exodus 9:1-7.

First attack on life. Animals share our fortunes.

The new summons. Murrain.

Pharaoh's curiosity.

THE SIXTH PLAGUE, Exodus 9:8-12.

No warning, yet Author manifest. Ashes of the furnace.

Suffering in the flesh. The magicians again. Pharaoh's heart "made strong."

Dares not retaliate.

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE, Exodus 9:13-35.

Expostulation not mockery.

God is wronged by slavery.

Civil liberty is indebted to religion. "Plagues upon thine heart."

A mis-rendering: why he was not crushed.

An opportunity of escape. The storm.

Ruskin upon terrors of thunderstorm.

Pharaoh confesses sin.

Moses intercedes. The weather in history. Job's assertion

CHAPTER X.

THE EIGHTH PLAGUE, Exodus 10:1-20.

Moses encouraged.

Deliverances should be remembered. A sterner rebuke. Locusts in Egypt.

Their effect. The court interferes. Yet "their hearts hardened" also.

Infatuation of Pharaoh. Parallel of Napoleon.

Women and little ones did share in festivals.

A gentle wind. Locusts. Another surrender.

Relief. Our broken vows.

THE NINTH PLAGUE, Exodus 10:21-29.

Menephtah's sun-worship.

Suddenness of the plague. Concentrated narrative.

Darkness represents death.

The Book of Wisdom upon this plague.

Isaiah's allusions. The Pharaoh's character.

Altercation with Moses.

CHAPTER XI.

THE LAST PLAGUE ANNOUNCED, Exodus 11:1-10.

This chapter supplements the last. The blow is known to be impending. Uses of its delay.

Israel shall claim wages. The menace.

Parallel with St. John.

CHAPTER XII.

THE PASSOVER, Exodus 12:1-28.

Birthday of a nation. The calendar.

"The congregation." The feast is social.

The nation is based upon the family. No Egyptian house escapes.

National interdependence. The Passover a sacrifice.

What does the blood mean? Rationalistic theories. Harvest festivals.

The unbelieving point of view: what theories of sacrifice were then current? "A sacrifice was a meal."

Human sacrifices. The Passover "unhistorical." Kuenen rejects this view.

Phenomena irreconcilable with it.

What is really expressed? Danger even to Jews.

Salvation by grace. Not unbought.

The lamb a ransom. All firstborn are forfeited. Tribe of Levi.

Cash payment. Effect on Hebrew literature.

Its prophetic import.

The Jew must co-operate with God: must also become His guest.

Sacred festivals. Lamb or kid. Four days reserved.

Men are sheep. Heads of houses originally sacrifice. Transition to Levites in progress under Hezekiah, complete under Josiah.

Unleavened bread. The lamb. Roast, not sodden.

Complete consumption. Judgment upon gods of Egypt.

The blood a token unto themselves. On their lintels.

The word "pass-over."

Domestic teaching.

Many who ate the feast perished. Aliens might share.

THE TENTH PLAGUE, Exodus 12:29-36.

The blow falls. Pharaoh was not "firstborn": his son "sat upon his throne."

The scene.

The demands of Israel. St. Augustine's inference.

THE EXODUS, Exodus 12:37-42.

The route.

Their cattle, a suggested explanation.

"Four hundred and thirty years."

CHAPTER XIII.

THE LAW OF THE FIRSTBORN, Exodus 13:1.

The consecration of the firstborn.

The Levite. "They are Mine."

Joy is hopeful. Tradition?

Phylacteries. The ass.

The Philistines. No spiritual miracle.

Education.

THE BONES OF JOSEPH, Exodus 13:19.

Joseph influenced Moses.

His faith.

Circumstances overcome by soul. God in the cloud.

Hebrew poetry and modern.

CHAPTER XIV.

THE RED SEA, Exodus 14:1-31.

Stopped on the march.

Pharaoh presumes.

The panic.

Moses. Prayer and action. "Self-assertion"?

The midnight march.

The lost army.

ON THE SHORE, Exodus 14:30-31.

Impressions deepened. "They believed in Jehovah." So the faith of the apostles grew.

CHAPTER XV.

THE SONG OF MOSES, Exodus 15:1-22.

A song remembered in heaven. Its structure.

The women join. Instruments. Dances.

God the Deliverer, not Moses. "My salvation."

Gratitude. Anthropomorphism. "Ye are gods." "Jehovah is a Man--of war."

The overthrow.

First mention of Divine holiness.

An inverted holiness.

"Thou shalt bring them in."

SHUR, Exodus 15:22-27.

Disillusion. Marah.

A universal danger.

Prayer, and the use of means.

"A statute and an ordinance." Such compacts often repeated. The offered privilege.

It is still enjoyed.

"The Lord for the body." Elim.

CHAPTER XVI.

MURMURING FOR FOOD, Exodus 16:1-14.

We too fear, although Divinely guarded.

They would fain die satiated.

Relief tries them as want does.

The Sabbath. A rebuke.

Moses is zealous. His "meekness."

The glory appears.

Quails and manna.

MANNA, Exodus 16:15-36.

Their course of life is changed.

A drug resembles manna.

The supernatural follows nature.

They must gather, prepare, be moderate.

Nothing over and no lack. Socialistic perversion.

Socialism. Christ in politics.

SPIRITUAL MEAT, Exodus 16:15-36.

Manna is a type. When given.

An unearthly sustenance.

What is spirituality? Christ the true Manna.

Universal, daily, abundant.

The Sabbath. The pot of manna.

CHAPTER XVII.

MERIBAH, Exodus 17:1-7.

A greater strain. What if Israel had stood it?

They murmured against Moses. The position of Aaron. An exaggerated outcry.

Witnesses to the miracle. The rock in Horeb.

The rod. Privilege is not acceptance.

AMALEK, Exodus 17:8-16.

A water-raid.

God's sheep must become His warriors. War.

Joshua. The rod of God.

A silent prayer. Aaron and Hur must join in it.

So now. But the army must fight.

"The Lord my banner." Unlike a myth.

CHAPTER XVIII.

JETHRO, Exodus 18:1-27.

Gentiles in new aspect. Church may learn from secular wisdom.

Little is said of Zipporah: Jethro's pleasure.

A Gentile priest recognised. Religious festivity.

Jethro's advice: its importance.

Divine help does not supersede human gift.

THE TYPICAL BEARINGS OF THE HISTORY.

Narrative is also allegory. Danger of arbitrary fancies. Example from Bunyan. Scriptural teaching.

Some resemblances are planned: others are reappearances of same principle.

So that these are evidential analogies, like Butler's.

Others appear forced. "I called My Son out of Egypt" refers to Israel.

But the condescending phrase promised more, and the subsequent coincidence is significant.

Truths cannot all be proved like Euclid's.

CHAPTER XIX.

AT SINAI, Exodus 19:1-25.

Sinai and Pentecost. The place. Ras Sufsâfeh. God speaks in nature.

Moses is stopped; the people must pledge themselves. Dedication services.

An appeal to gratitude, and a promise.

"A peculiar treasure." "A kingdom and priests."

The individual, and Church order. "On eagles' wings."

Israel consents. The Lord in the cloud. Manifestations are transient.

Precautions. The trumpet.

"The priests." A plébiscite. Contrast between Law and Gospel: Methodius.

Theophanies.

None like this.

CHAPTER XX.

THE LAW, Exodus 20:1-17.

What the law did. It could not justify. It reveals obligation.

It convicts, not enables. It is an organic whole. And a challenge.

The Spirit enables: love is fulfilment of law. Luther's paradox.

Law and Gospel contrasted. Its spiritual beauty: two noble failures.

The Jewish arrangement of the Commandments. St. Augustine's. The Anglican. An equal division.

THE PROLOGUE, Exodus 20:2.

Their experience of God.

God and the first table. The true object of adoration: men must adore. Agnosticism.

God and the second table.

Law appeals to noble motives.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:3.

Monotheism and a real God.

False creeds attractive. Spiritualism. Science indebted to Monotheism.

Unity of nature a religious truth. Strength of our experimental argument.

Informal apostacy. Luther's position. Scripture. The Chaldeans.

Animal pleasure.

The remedy: "Thou shalt have ... Me."

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:4-6.

Imagery not all idolatry. The subtler paganisms.

Spiritual worship, like a Gothic building, aspires: images lack expansiveness.

God is jealous.

The shadow of love.

Visiting sins on children.

Part of vast beneficent law.

Gospel in law.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:7.

Meaning of "in vain."

Jewish superstition. Where swearing is wholly forbidden.

Fruitful and free use of God's name.

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:8-11.

Law of Sabbath unique. Confession of Augsburg. Of Westminster.

Anglican position. St. Paul.

The first positive precept. Love not the abolition of the law.

Property of our friends. The word "remember." The story of creation.

The manna. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.

Christ's freedom was that of a Jew. "Sabbath for man."

Our help, not our fetter. "My Father worketh."

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:12.

Bridge between duty to God and to neighbour.

Father and child.

"Whosoever hateth not." Christ and His mother. Its sanction.

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:13.

Who is neighbour? Ethics and religion.

Science and morals.

A Divine creature. Capital punishment.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:14.

Justice forbids act: Christ forbids desire. Sacredness of body.

Human body connects material and spiritual worlds. Modifies, while serves.

Marriage a type.

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:15.

Assailed by communism, by Rome. Various specious pleas.

Laws of community binding.

None may judge his own case, St. Paul enlarges the precept.

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:16.

Importance of words. Various transgressions.

Slander against nations, against the race. Love.

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT, Exodus 20:17.

The list of properties.

The heart. The law searches.

THE LESSER LAW, Exodus 20:18 - Exodus 23:33.

A remarkable code. The circumstances.

Moses fears: yet bids them fear not.

Presumption v. awe. He receives an expanded decalogue, an abridged code.

Laws should educate a people; should not outrun their capabilities.

Five subdivisions.

I. THE LAW OF WORSHIP, Exodus 20:22-26.

Images again forbidden.

Splendour and simplicity. An objection.

Modesty.

CHAPTER XXI.

THE LESSER LAW (continued).

II. RIGHTS OF THE PERSON, Exodus 21:1-32.

The Hebrew slave. The seventh year. Year of jubilee. His family.

The ear pierced. St. Paul's "marks of the Lord." Assaults.

The Gentile slave.

The female slave.

Murder and blood-fiends.

Parents. Kidnappers.

Eye for eye. Mitigations of lex talionis.

Vicious cattle.

III. RIGHTS OF PROPERTY, Exodus 21:33 - Exodus 22:15.

Negligence: indirect responsibility: various examples.

Theft.

CHAPTER XXII.

THE LESSER LAW (continued).

IV. VARIOUS ENACTMENTS, Exodus 22:16 - Exodus 23:19.

Disconnected precepts. No trace of systematic revision. Certain capital crimes.

SORCERY, Exodus 22:18.

Abuses have recoiled against religion.

Sorcerers are impostors, but they existed, and do still.

Moses could not leave them to enlightened opinion. Propagated apostacy.

Traitors in a theocracy.

When shall witchcraft die?

THE STRANGER, Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9.

"Ye were strangers."

A fruitful principle. Morality not expediency.

Cruelty often ignorance: Moses educates.

The widow. The borrower.

Other precepts.

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE LESSER LAW (continued).

An enemy's cattle. A false report.

Influence of multitude: the world and the Church.

Favour not the poor.

Other precepts. "A kid in his mother's milk."

V. ITS SANCTIONS Exodus 23:20-33.

A bold transition: the Angel in Whom is "My Name."

Not a mere messenger.

Nor the substitute of Exodus 33:2-3.

Parallel verses.

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE COVENANT RATIFIED. THE VISION OF GOD, Exodus 24:1-18

The code is accepted, written, ratified with blood.

Exclusion and admittance. The elders see God: Moses goes farther. Theophanies of other creeds.

How could they see God?

Moses feels not satisfaction, but desire.

His progress is from vision to shadow and a Voice.

We see not each other.

St. Augustine.

The vision suits the period: not post-Exilian.

Contrast with revelation in Christ.

CHAPTER XXV.

THE SHRINE AND ITS FURNITURE, Exodus 25:1-40.

The God of Sinai will inhabit a tent. His other tabernacles.

The furniture is typical. Altar of incense postponed.

The ark enshrines His law and its sanctions.

The mercy-seat covers it.

Man's homage. The table of shewbread.

The golden candlestick (lamp-stand).

THE PATTERN IN THE MOUNT, Exodus 25:9-40.

Use in Hebrews. Plato.

Not a model, but an idea. Art.

Provisional institutions.

The ideal in creation, 388.--In life.

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE TABERNACLE.

"Temple" an ambiguous word.

"Curtains of the Tabernacle."

Other coverings.

The boards and sockets.

The bars. The tent.

Position of veil and of the front.

CHAPTER XXVII.

THE OUTER COURT.

The altar.

The quadrangle.

General effect.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE HOLY GARMENTS.

Their import.

The drawers. "Coat." Head-tires. Robe of the ephod. Ephod. Jewels.

Breastplate. Urim and Thummim. Mitre. Symbolism.

THE PRIESTHOOD.

Universal desire and dread of God.

Delegates.

Scripture. First Moses.

His family passed over. The double consciousness expressed.

Messianic priesthood.

CHAPTER XXIX.

CONSECRATION SERVICES.

Why consecrate at all?

Moses officiates. The offerings.

Ablution, robing, anointing.

The sin-offering.

"Without the camp."

The burnt-offering.

The peace-offering ("ram of consecration").

The wave-offerings.

The result.

CHAPTER XXX.

INCENSE, Exodus 30:1-10.

The impalpable in nature.

"The golden altar."

Represents prayer. Needs cleansing.

A CENSUS, Exodus 30:2-16.

A census not sinful. David's transgression. The half-shekel. Equality of man.

Christ paid it.

Its employment.

THE LAVER, Exodus 30:17-21.

Behind the altar. Purity of priests.

Made of the mirrors.

ANOINTING OIL AND INCENSE, Exodus 30:22-38.

Their ingredients. All the vessels anointed.

Forbidden to secular uses.

Modern analogies.

CHAPTER XXXI.

BEZALEEL AND AHOLIAB, Exodus 31:1-18.

Secular gifts are sacred.

The Sabbath. The tables and "the finger of God."

CHAPTER XXXII.

THE GOLDEN CALF.

Sin of the people; of Aaron. God rejects them.

Intercession. The Christian antitype.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

PREVAILING INTERCESSION.

The first concession. The angel.

"The Tent of the Meeting."

CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE VISION OF GOD.

To know is to desire to know. A fit season. The greater Name.

The covenant renewed. The tables. The skin of his face shone.

Lessons.

CHAPTER XXXV.

CONCLUSION, Exodus 35:1-35 - Exodus 40:1-38.

The people obey.

The forming of the nation: review.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/genesis-48.html.

The Pulpit Commentaries

EXPOSITION

Genesis 48:1

And it came to pass after these things (i.e. the events recorded in the preceding chapter, and in particular after the arrangements which had been made for Jacob's funeral), that one told Joseph,—the verb וַיֹּאמֶר is here used impersonally, or passively, for "one told," or "it was told," to Joseph (LXX; ἀπεγγέλη; Vulgate, munciatum est; Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, et alii); or probably emphatically, by way of calling attention to the circumstance—denoting perhaps a special messenger (Tayler Lewis). Behold, thy father is sick. The word in the original conveys the idea of being worn down or becoming infirm through age or disease, and may suggest the notion that Jacob was now regarded as rapidly approaching dissolution. And he took with him his two sons, Manasseh end Ephraim—who at this time must have been about eighteen or twenty years of age (Keil), and who appear to have accompanied their father from respectful affection to their aged relative (Murphy), or to have been taken in the hope that "the words of their blessed grand father would make an indelible impression on their hearts (Lawson), rather than in order to obtain from Jacob "a pledge of their unqualified admission as members of his house," of their exclusion from which Joseph was not altogether groundlessly apprehensive, in consequence of their being the children of an Egyptian mother (Kalisch).

Genesis 48:2

And one told Jacob ( וַיַּגֵּד, also used impersonally, like וַיֹּאמֶר in Genesis 48:1), and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel—the significance of this change of name it is impossible to overlook (cf. Genesis 45:27, Genesis 45:28)—strengthened himself (for the work which, as head of the theocratic family, he now felt himself inwardly moved to perform), and sat upon the bedi.e. he raised himself up to a sitting posture.

Genesis 48:3, Genesis 48:4

And Jacob said unto Joseph,—recalling the experiences of early days—God Almighty—El Shaddai (vide Genesis 17:1)—appeared unto me at Luzi.e. Bethel (vide Genesis 28:17, Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:6, Genesis 35:15)—in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. It is obvious that Jacob principally has in his mind the theophany at Bethel on his return from Padan-aram.

Genesis 48:5, Genesis 48:6

And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt (vide Genesis 41:50-52) before I came unto thee into Egypt,—this would almost seem to imply that Jacob knew of Joseph's having had sons born to him since his (Jacob's) arrival at Goshen—are mine (i.e. I shall reckon them as my own sons, giving them an equal place with the other members of my family); as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine—literally, Ephraim and Manasseh, as Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine. The double portion thus conferred upon Joseph in the persons of his son? was a practical investiture of him with the birthright of which Reuben had been deprived (1 Chronicles 5:1), in respect at least of the inheritance; in respect of the honor of being the next connecting link in the chain of redemption, leading on and down to the coming of the Savior, the birthright appears to have been transferred to Judah (Genesis 49:8-10). And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine (i.e. shall be reckoned in thine own family), and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. They should not form heads of separate tribes, but be ranked under the banners of Ephraim and Manasseh. It is uncertain whether Joseph had more sons than two (vide supra); if he had, they were included in the families of their brethren, as here directed (cf. Numbers 26:28-37; 1 Chronicles 7:14-29).

Genesis 48:7

And as for me (literally, and I, the pronoun being emphatic), when I came from Padan,—literally, in my coming, i.e. while on my journey, from Padam, or Padan-aram. This is the only place where the shorter designation is employed (cf. Genesis 25:20)—Rachel—the mention to Joseph of his beloved mother could not fail to kindle emotion in his breast, as obviously it had revived a pang of sorrow in that of the old man—" the remembrance of the never-to-be-forgotten one' causing a sudden spasm of feeling" (Delitzsch)—died by me—not for me in the sense of sharing with me my toils and perils, and so bringing on herself the deadly travail which cut her off (Lunge), which is too subtle and metaphysical in its refinement; but either upon me, i.e. as an heavy affliction falling on me (Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Murphy, et alii); or at my side, i.e. near me (Keil, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'); or perhaps to me, meaning, This happened to me, or, I saw Rachel die (Kalisch); or possibly with a touch of tender emotion, Rachel to me, i.e. my Rachel died (Tayler Lewis)—in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way—literally, a length of ground; the LXX. add ἱππόδρομος, meaning probably such a distance as a horse can go without being over-worked (vide Genesis 35:16)—to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.

Genesis 48:8

And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these? The failing sight of the patriarch (Genesis 48:10) probably was the reason why he did not sooner recognize his grandchildren, and the fact that he did not at first discern their presence shows that his adoption of them into the number of the theocratic family was prompted not by the accidental impulse of a natural affection excited through beholding the youths, but by the inward promptings of the Spirit of God.

Genesis 48:9

And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons (of whom you have just spoken), whom God hath given me in this place. It speaks highly in Joseph's favor that, after listening to Jacob's promise regarding Ephraim and Manasseh, he did not seek to draw his aged father's attention to the young men before him, but quietly waited for Jacob to take the initiative in any further communications of a personal nature that he might wish to address to them. And he (i.e. Jacob) said Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.

Genesis 48:10

Now (literally, and) the eyes of Israel were dim (literally, heavy) for age, so that he could not see. This explains why he did not earlier recognize his grandchildren, and why he asked them to be set close by his bed. And he (their father) brought them near unto him; and he (their old grandfather) kissed them, and embraced them (cf. Isaac's blessing of Jacob, Genesis 27:26, Genesis 27:27).

Genesis 48:11

And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God (Elohim) hath showed me also thy seed. The first half of Israel's utterance is rendered by the LXX. "Ιδοὺ τοῦ προσώπου σου οὐκ ἐστερήθην"

Genesis 48:12

And Joseph brought them out from between his knees (literally, from near his knees, i.e. the knees of his father, who while in the act of embracing had drawn them into that position), and he (viz. Joseph) bowed himself with his face to the earth. The reading "and they bowed themselves," i.e. Ephraim and Manasseh (Samaritan, Michaelis), and the rendering καὶ προσκύνησαν αὐτῴ (LXX.), are incorrect.

Genesis 48:13

And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. Joseph naturally expected that Jacob's right hand would fall upon the head of Manasseh, as the firstborn, although with regard to even this a doubt might have been suggested if he had remembered how Isaac had been preferred to Ishmael, and Jacob to Esau.

Genesis 48:14

And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head,—the first instance of the imposition of hands being used as a symbol of blessing. Though not necessarily connected with the form of benediction, it is not without a natural fitness to suggest the transmission of spiritual benefit. Accordingly it afterwards became the recognized mode of conveying to another some supernatural power or gift, and was employed in the Old Testament Church in the dedication of priests (Numbers 27:18, Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9), and in the New in the ordination of Christian office-bearers (Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6), as well as by the Savior and his apostles in the performance of many of their miracles—who was the younger (literally, and he the little one, i.e. the younger), and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly;—literally, he placed his hands, prudently, i.e. of set purpose, the piel of שָׂכַל, to look at, conveying the intensive signification of acting with prudence and deliberation (Gesenius, Furst); intelligere fecit manus suas hoc est, docte, scite, et petite imposuit eis manus; a rendering of the words which has been adopted by the best scholars (Calvin, Dathe, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, Taylor Lewis, and others), though the translation, "he crossed his hands," which regards שִׂכֵּל as the pile of an unused root signifying to intertwine, ἐναλλὰξ τὰς χεῖρας (LXX.), commutans marius (Vulgate), is not entirely destitute of learned supporters (Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, Pererius, Knobel, Delitzsch, Gerlach, and others)—for Manasseh was the firstborn.

Genesis 48:15,Genesis 48:16

And he blessed Joseph (i.e. in his sons), and said, God,—literally, the Elohim. The use of Elohim in a passage (Genesis 48:15-19) which is undoubtedly Jehovistic in its import, and is by advanced critics (Davidson, Colenso) assigned to that writer, has been explained (Hengstenberg) as an indication that "the great spiritual Sun, Jehovah, was at that time," viz; at the entrance of the captivity, "concealed behind a cloud from the chosen race;" but, without resorting to any such doubtful hypothesis, it is sufficient to observe that Jacob practically identities the Elohim spoken of with Jehovah, while by using the former expression he conveys the thought that the blessing about to be pronounced proceeded forth, not from Deity in general, but from the particular Elohim who had graciously manifested himself in the manner after described—before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk,—(cf. Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40) the God here referred to was one who had "a face," or manifested presence; in other words, was Jehovah—the God which fed me—literally, the Elohim shepherding me (cf. Psalms 23:1; Psalms 28:9)—all my life long—literally, from as yet (sc. I was), i.e. from the beginning of my existence, ἐξ νεότητος (LXX.)—unto this day, the Angel—the Maleach here spoken of cannot possibly be a creature, since he is explicitly identified with Elohim, but must have been the Jehovah Angel with whom Jacob wrestled at the ford of Jabbok (Genesis 2:23). The reading of the Samaritan codex, הַמֶּלֶךְ, the king, is open to suspicion—which redeemed me from all evil,—literally, the (sc. angel) redeeming me; the first use of the term goel, from גָּאַל, to buy back or redeem (Gesenius), to separate or untie (Furst), or to stain as with blood, hence to be stained or polluted, as one who suffers a kinsman's blood to go unavenged, hence to remove the stain of blood by taking vengeance on the murderer (Taylor Lewis). Applied under the law to the next of kin (Le Genesis 25:25; Genesis 27:13, Genesis 27:15, Genesis 27:19, &c; &c.), it is also used of God redeeming men, and especially Israel, from captivity (Exodus 6:6; Isaiah 43:1). In this sense it was employed by Jacob (cf. Genesis 48:16 with Genesis 49:18) and by Job (Job 19:21) to describe the Divine Rescuer who had delivered them from ill both temporal and spiritual, and who was to complete his emancipating work by ultimately ransoming them from the power of the grave. The Goel to whom both Jacob and Job looked forward, and of whom both Moses and the prophets testified, was Christ (Galatians 3:11; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18)—bless the lads. The singular verb suggests to Luther the reflection that the writer "conjungit in uno opere benedicendi tres personas, Deum Patrem, Deum Pastorem, et Angelum," from which he draws the obvious conclusion, "aunt igitur hi tres unus Deus et unus benedictor." And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;—literally, and my name and the name of my fathers shall be named in them, i.e. they shall be counted my sons and the children of my ancestors, though born of thee (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Lawson, Murphy, Wordsworth, and others); or, May this name be preserved by them, and the race of Abraham propagated by them? may the fathers and I live in them! (Gerlach, Kalisch); or, what seems more appropriate than either, May the grace and salvation enjoyed by my fathers and myself be renewed in them! (Keil, Lange)—and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. The original conveys the sense of swarming like the fishes of the sea, the ἀπαξ λεγόμενον, דָּגָה (from which comes the term דָּג, a fish, from being so wonderfully prolific), signifying to cover over with a multitude (vide Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce).

Genesis 48:17

And when (literally, and) Joseph saw that his father laid (or was laying) his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him:—literally, and it was evil in his eyes (cf. Genesis 28:8)—and (supposing his father had made a mistake) he held up (or took hold of) his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.

Genesis 48:18

And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. "From Joseph's behavior we cannot certainly infer that, like Isaac, he loved the firstborn better than the youngest; but he was sorry that an honor was not given to the eldest which he would naturally expect, and bestowed on the youngest, who did not expect it, and who would not have been hurt by the want of it" (Lawson).

Genesis 48:19

And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly (literally, and over against that; אוּלָם, the strongly adversative particle, signifying that which stands in front of, or opposite to, another thing) his younger brother shall be greater than he (cf. Numbers 1:33 with Numbers 1:35; Numbers 2:19 with Numbers 2:21), and his seed shall become a multitude of nations—literally, shall be a fullness of nations. In the time of Moses this prediction began to realize itself. In the first census which took place in the wilderness the tribe of Ephraim had 40,500 men, while that of Manasseh could only reckon 32,200; in the second the numbers received a temporary alteration, Ephraim counting only 32,500, and Manasseh 52,700; but after the conquest the ascendancy of Ephraim wag restored, so that she easily assumed the lead among the ten northern tribes, and acquired a name and an influence only second to that of Judah (cf. 4:5; 5:14; 8:1-35.; 12.).

Genesis 48:20

And he (i.e. Jacob) blessed them that day, saying, In thee (i.e. in Joseph, who is still identified with his sons) shall Israel (the nation) bless, saying, God (Elohim, the supreme source of all blessing) make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim Before Manasseh—"in the position of his hands, and the terms of the blessing" (Keil).

Genesis 48:21

And Israel (Jacob) said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God (Elohim) shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. "For Joseph and his children a great promise and dispensation" (Lange).

Genesis 48:22

Moreover (literally, and) I have given—or, I give (Keil), I will give (Kalisch), the preterit being used prophetically as a future, or even as a present, the event being regarded, from its certainty, as already accomplished. It is thus not absolutely clear that Jacob here alludes to any past transaction in his own personal history—to thee one portion—literally, one shoulder, or ridge, or elevated tract of land, שְׁכֶם; unam pattern (Vulgate), with which agree several of the ancient versions (Onkelos, Syriac)—above thy brethren, which I took—or take (Keil), or shall take (Kalisch)—out of the hand of the Amorite—a general name for the inhabitants of Canaan (vide Genesis 15:16)—with my sword and with my bow. As Scripture has preserved no account of any military exploit in the history of Jacob such as is here described, the patriarch's language has been understood as referring to the plot of ground at Shoe. hem which Jacob purchased of Hamor the father of Shechem (Genesis 33:19), and as signifying either that he had captured it by sword and bow, in the sense that his sons at the head of his armed retainers had put the inhabitants of the town to the sword, and so taken possession of the entire district (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Murphy); or that, though he had peacefully paid for it, he yet required at a subsequent period to recover it by force of arms from the Canaanites (Lawson, Bush, Wordsworth); or that after the terrible tragedy at Shechem, when God put a fear upon the surrounding cities, Jacob and his sons stood in the gate of Shechem in the armed expectation of a hostile attack, and so may be said to have taken it by sword and bow (Rabbi Solomon, Lyra, Willet). It seems, however, better to regard the words as a prophetic utterance pointing forward to the conquest of Canaan, which Jacob here represents himself, in the persons of his descendants, as taking from the Amorites by means of sword and bow, and as intimating that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh would receive a double portion of the inheritance, the word שְׁכֶם being probably designed to convey a hint that the tract to be in future assigned to Joseph's descendants would be the region round about the ancient city Shechem (Ainsworth, Keil, Kalisch, Lunge, &c.).

HOMILETICS

Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob's dying utterances.

I. AN OLD MAN'S SICK-BED. "It came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick." In this the venerable patriarch—

1. Suffered an experience that is common to all. For nearly three half-centuries had this weather-beaten pilgrim been able to maintain himself erect amid the numberless vicissitudes of life. Strong, healthy, vigorous, and active too, he appears to have been until now, notwithstanding the peculiarly trying and checkered career through which he had passed. But all the while, the rolling years, as they glided softly by, had been touching him with their invisible fingers, and leaving on him their ineffaceable impressions, imperceptibly but surely relaxing his corded muscles, whitening and diminishing his manly locks, loosening his joints, making his step less lithe and firm, and generally draining away his strength. And now, at length, he had arrived where all men must, sooner or later, come, if they have a death-bed at all, no matter how bright may be their eye, or how ruddy their countenance, or how stalwart their frame, or how Herculean their strength, to that period of infirmity and sickness that precedes dissolution.

2. Enjoyed a privilege accorded to few. Immediately that he had fallen sick, a messenger, dispatched from Goshen, carried tidings to the vice-regal palace in the great metropolis, and Joseph, his beloved son, accompanied by his two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh, at once descended to express his sympathy and lend his aid. Not to many is it granted, in this world of separations and bereavements, to have all their family around them when they breathe their last, or to have their Josephs even, to put their hands upon the sinking eyelids, and gently close them in the sleep of death. Venerable pilgrim! Much afflicted in thy riper years, thou wast greatly comforted in thy latter days.

II. AN OLD PILGRIM'S REMINISCENCES. Learning of Joseph's arrival, the aged father musters his rapidly failing strength, and, recognizing within his withered bosom the stirrings of the old prophetic spirit, prepares himself, by sitting upright in his bed, for delivering whatever communication should be put into his trembling lips. Casting his thoughts back upon the past with that fond delight with which the aged recall the story of their younger years, he relates to Joseph—

1. How El Shaddai had appeared to him at Luz, or Bethel, in the land of Canaan, as he returned from Mesopotamia.

2. What God had promised him on that memorable occasion, that he should grow into a multitude of people, who should eventually possess the land, adding by way of parenthesis, at this stage, that in view of that inheritance to come he intended to adopt the sons of Joseph as his own; and—

3. The great affliction that had happened to him almost immediately after in the loss of Rachel, Joseph's mother, to whose premature death and affecting burial "in the way of Ephrath" the old man, even at that long distance of time, cannot refer without emotion. "As for me, Rachel died upon me in the land of Canaan in the way."

III. AN OLD SAINT'S BLESSING. It is probable that, though Jacob had already referred to Joseph's sons, he had not yet been conscious of their presence, for "the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see." At length, however, discerning unfamiliar forms in the chamber, and ascertaining they were Ephraim and Manasseh, he proceeds to give them his patriarchal benediction.

1. The actions of the patriarch.

2. The contents of the blessing.

IV. AN OLD PROPHET'S PREDICTION. Behold, I die; but God shall be with you, and bring you again into the land of your fathers."

1. The time when it was uttered. When Jacob was on the eve of death. It is not at all improbable that the soul's vision of unseen (celestial and future) things becomes clearer as the obscuring veil of this mortal flesh wears thin; but the power of apprehending things to come, which Jacob in this instance displayed, was not due to such intensified spiritual penetration. Neither is it necessary to suppose that he received at this moment any special supernatural communication. Simply, he directed his dying gaze to the sure word of promise.

2. The substance of what it said. It announced nothing more than God already promised, viz; that he would continue with Jacob's descendants in Egypt, and eventually bring them up again to Canaan.

3. The guarantee to which it pointed. This was implicitly contained in the expression, "the land of your fathers." Canaan had been given in covenant to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and hence of necessity it would ultimately be restored to their seed according to the terms of the covenant.

HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY

Genesis 48:1-22

We are admitted into the inner chamber of the patriarch's departing life, and we see there the presence of Jehovah with him. He is—

1. The subject of inspiration.

2. The mediator of the Divine promises. He is under the control of purposes which have been swaying him all his life.

3. A witness to Divine faithfulness. The grandfather blessing the grandchildren. The blessing passes on to the third and fourth generation. Yet the human blessing is only the type of the Divine.

"The angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads." Jacob made a cross with his hands over the heads of the boys. It displeased Joseph, but it pleased God. The imposition of hands is also here. The name of Jacob is named upon them, the symbol of the covenant. Their prosperity is predicted, but it is connected immediately with their covenant standing. The elevated state of mind in the patriarch is a testimony to the sustaining power of religion in fleshly weakness. It points on too to the survival of the soul after the death of the body. The preference of Ephraim reminds us that all is ascribed to the grace of God.—R.

Genesis 48:15, Genesis 48:16

HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY

The threefold blessing.

Though the doctrine of the Trinity is not revealed in the Old Testament with the same clearness as in the New Testament, the light of the gospel reveals many indications of it. In Numbers 6:24, Numbers 6:27, the "name" of God is put upon the children of Israel in a triple formula. A name suggests what we know of the person named. The "name" of God is what he has revealed concerning himself (cf. Exodus 34:5-7; Psalms 20:1). The threefold benediction of Numbers 6:24 (cf. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8) answers to the apostolic benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14. And Jacob's solemn blessing of his grandsons in a threefold name of God, answers to the formula of Christian baptism (Matthew 28:19) into (εἰς) the name of the Trinity; while the word "bless," being in the singular, points to the unity of the Godhead. Whether the distinction of the Persons was known to Jacob matters little to us, if we believe that" these things were written for our learning." His prophetic blessing speaks to us of Fatherhood, Sanctification, Redemption, the blessings which we refer to the three Persons. The order of the two last is different from that which we usually observe; but cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30. "God before whom my fathers did walk." The well-spring of all grace and source of all blessing. Of his own inherent love, caring for us (1 Peter 5:7). His purpose, that we should rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12); having communion with him here (Philippians 4:6, Philippians 4:7), the foretaste of eternal joy. Creation the proof of this good will (Psalms 19:1). The infinity of his power, and minuteness of his care. The application of this to us (Matthew 10:29-31). The Bible and nature agree in declaring God's fatherhood. On this rests the call to walk before him (Genesis 17:1; Malachi 1:6), which can be obeyed only through belief of his fatherhood and love (Romans 8:3). Therefore he gives the spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15), the personal application of the general truth of his love, whereby we realize our position as children by grace (Titus 3:5). "The God which fed me." The Holy Ghost imparts to men the bread of life.

1. Historically. By his agency the eternal Son became incarnate to give his flesh as the living bread.

2. Practically. By his power we are fed. Christ's work is applied to our conscience (John 16:14); we receive the food of our souls. This is the way of sanctification. It cannot be enforced by rules or penalties. However these may constrain outward observance, they cannot bring about the surrender of the will, the desire "Thy will be done," which is the principle of holiness. "The angel which redeemed me from all evil." Reminded of Psalms 91:11, and probably some such idea was in Jacob's mind. But there is a foresight of Christ, the Angel of the covenant (Malachi 3:1), in whom God's name is (Exodus 23:20); of a redemption going far beyond earthly danger; "all evil" From sin and all its fruits of sorrow Christ redeemed us (Romans 6:14; Galatians 3:18). Jacob, from his own experience, knew that "God is faithful." To us, a wider view of deliverance is given. And the pledge of God's faithfulness is Romans 8:32; and the assurance that it gives us 1Jn 6:2.—M.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/genesis-48.html. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
Angel
16:7-13; 28:15; 31:11-13; Exodus 3:2-6; 23:20,21; Judges 2:1-4; 6:21-24; Judges 13:21,22; Psalms 34:7,22; 121:7; Isaiah 47:4; 63:9; Hosea 12:4,5; Malachi 3:1; Acts 7:30-35; 1 Corinthians 10:4,9
redeemed
Psalms 34:2; Matthew 6:13; John 17:15; Romans 8:23; 2 Timothy 4:18; Titus 2:14
my name
5; 32:28; Deuteronomy 28:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 14:9; Amos 9:12; Acts 15:17
grow into
Heb. as fishes do increase.
1:21,22; Numbers 1:46; 26:34,37; Fish are the most prolific of all animals: a tench lays 1,000; eggs, a carp 20,000, and Leuwenhoek counted in a middling sized cod, 9,384,000.
a multitude
49:22; Exodus 1:7; Numbers 26:28-37; Deuteronomy 33:17; Joshua 17:17
Reciprocal: Genesis 16:10 - the angel;  Genesis 24:60 - they;  Genesis 32:24 - man;  Genesis 41:52 - Ephraim;  Genesis 48:15 - blessed;  Exodus 4:13 - send;  Exodus 32:13 - I will multiply;  Numbers 22:22 - and the angel;  Judges 6:11 - an angel;  1 Samuel 26:24 - let him deliver;  2 Samuel 4:9 - who hath;  1 Kings 1:29 - hath;  2 Kings 25:30 - all the days of his life;  1 Chronicles 4:10 - that thou;  1 Chronicles 17:16 - that thou hast;  Psalm 20:1 - God;  Psalm 25:10 - the paths;  Psalm 31:5 - thou;  Psalm 34:6 - saved;  Psalm 54:7 - For he;  Psalm 71:23 - my soul;  Psalm 72:14 - he shall;  Psalm 103:4 - redeemeth;  Proverbs 12:13 - but;  Proverbs 30:8 - feed;  Ecclesiastes 5:6 - before;  Isaiah 29:22 - who redeemed;  Jeremiah 15:21 - deliver;  Lamentations 3:58 - thou hast redeemed;  Hosea 9:11 - their;  Zechariah 3:1 - the angel;  Zechariah 3:6 - the;  Zechariah 12:8 - as the;  Luke 11:4 - but;  John 1:18 - he hath;  Acts 7:10 - delivered;  Acts 12:15 - It is;  Philippians 2:6 - thought;  2 Thessalonians 3:3 - and;  2 Timothy 3:11 - but;  Revelation 8:3 - another

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/genesis-48.html.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

The angel who redeemed me from all evil — A great deal of hardship he had known in his time, but God had graciously kept him from the evil of his troubles. Christ, the angel of the covenant is he that redeems us from all evil. It becomes the servants of God, when they are old and dying, to witness for our God that they have found him gracious. 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 first-born 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.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/genesis-48.html. 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15, 16.He blessed Joseph — “Joseph is here identified with his children, after the true patriarchal conception of the divine covenant. There is herein a threefold benediction:

God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk — The God of the past, the God of the covenant.

The God which fed me all my life long unto this day — The God of providence, as he has revealed himself to me as well as my fathers: (how changed from the self-reliant, self-seeking Jacob of old!)

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil — The redeeming God, the Jehovah-Angel. It is the God who leads, feeds, saves.

Let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers — Let them be the true heirs of the three great patriarchs. And let them multiply as do the fishes, that swarm in the teeming Nile. The very imagery shows that the patriarch has come to Egypt, for now he no more sees his seed symbolized by the stars of the Asiatic firmament, nor by the sands of the Syrian sea-shore, but by the fatness of the all-fertilizing Nile.” — Newhall.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 48:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/genesis-48.html. 1874-1909.