Saturday, April 23, 2011

Genesis 48:5-7 Jacob Adopts Joseph's Sons

"Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.  Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.  As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath.  So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath" (that is, Bethlehem)." (Genesis 48:5-7 NIV)


As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, Jacob announces that he will adopt Joseph's two sons as his own.  Then he goes on to speak about Rachel's death and burial.  Although this may seem like just the ramblings of an old man as he thinks back over his life, the two items are connected:

Jacob's beloved wife Rachel had died after producing only two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.  Jacob no doubt believed that had Rachel lived, she would have had the opportunity to give him more sons.  His adoption of Joseph's two sons would somewhat alleviate that loss, particularly since Joseph was Rachel's son.  Joseph's two sons would have equal status with Jacob's sons, Reuben and Simeon.

[Spoiler note:  Actually, because Reuben is disqualified for the right of the firstborn because of his sin of sleeping with his father's wife, Bilhah, Joseph (and thus eventually his sons Ephraim and Manasseh after him) would take that place and therefore even supercede Reuben and Simeon.  Simeon and Levi, the next two sons in line, had been disqualified because of their deception and violence in dealing with the men of Shechem.  More on this later, in chapter 49, when Jacob gives his final words to his sons.]

We will continue to discuss this adoption process in the next post.  Remember how, long ago, Jacob stole his own brother Esau's blessing?  Now there is going to be another firstborn's status upset, but this time the event seems to be according to God's directing of Jacob's actions.

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