Thursday, April 21, 2011

Genesis 48:1-7 Jacob's Private Talk with Joseph

Genesis chapters 48 and 49 give an account of Jacob's final words and instructions to his sons.   First, he apparently had a private talk with Joseph, for in chapter 48, Jacob is speaking with Joseph and his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, while the beginning of chapter 49 states that Jacob called all his sons together for his final words to them.

"Some time later Joseph was told, 'Your father is ill.'  So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.  When Jacob was told, 'Your son Joseph has come to you,' Jacob rallied his strength and sat up on the bed."  (Genesis 48:1-2 NIV)

When Joseph was told that his father was ill, he must have figured that Jacob's last days were near, for he brings his two sons with him as he visits his father.  Jacob must have been very weak at this point, for it seems to take quite an effort for him to gather the strength to sit up on his bed.

Jacob begins to recount some of the main highlights of his life and dealings with God:

"Jacob said to Joseph, 'God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, "I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers.  I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you."  (Genesis 48:3-4 NIV)

Jacob is in the process of passing the information about the covenant which God had made with his grandfather Abraham, which then passed to Abraham's son Isaac, and on to Isaac's son, which is Jacob himself.  No doubt he had spoken with Joseph and his brothers before about this covenant, and about God's various dealings with their ancestors.  However, now that Jacob's death is near, he outlines this information once again.  In his words there is the concept of blessing, of fruitfulness and increase, even to the point of becoming a community of peoples.  The promise of the land as an everlasting possession is also repeated here. Later, when Jacob is blessing Joseph (Gen. 48:15-16), he will also include the concept of relationship, for God has also promised to be with Jacob.

Next, Jacob adopts Joseph's two sons as his own, and blesses the boys and Joseph himself.  This is a longer section (v.5-22), which may require several posts to cover, for there are many interesting things going on here.

Note:  When Jacob speaks about "Luz", he is talking about Bethel, where God appeared to him.  Luz is the older name for this place. (Genesis 28:19)  "Bethel" means "house of God" and an awestruck Jacob called it this when he awoke from his dream and realized that God had been speaking with him.

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