Jacob's Blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh

Published: 22nd January 2008
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Copyright (c) 2008 Jon Straumfjord

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21, Genesis 48:1-22, NKJV)

When Jacob was old, sick and dying, his son Joseph came with his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, so that Jacob might bless them. Jacob had conspired with his mother to deceive his father, Isaac, into giving him the greater blessing which was reserved for the eldest male child, Esau. Now, Jacob purposely gave the greater blessing to the younger of Joseph's two sons, Ephraim. While Isaac had planned to bless Esau in preference to Jacob, Jacob had learned to follow the Lord's leading, in spite of Joseph's objections:

... your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine....

Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, ... And he blessed Joseph...

Now when Joseph saw that his father {Jacob} laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head."

But [Jacob] refused and said,"I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations."

So he blessed them that day, saying,"By you Israel will bless, saying, 'May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!'" And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:5,14-15, 17-22, NKJV)

Jacob, after a life of thievery and conniving, had finally learned to obey the Lord. He was finally content to allow the Lord to accomplish His will, in His own way, without any interference from Jacob himself.

Jacob purposely gave the greater blessing to Ephraim. In fact, when the nation of Israel originally left Egypt, the tribe of Ephraim was larger than that of Manasseh (Numbers 1:32-35), and after the kingdom was divided, the prophetic name for wayward Israel was Ephraim (cf: Psalms 78:67-68, Isaiah 11:12-13, 17:3, 28:1-4, Jeremiah 4:15, 7:15, 31:9), even though the capital city of Samaria was actually in Western Manasseh.

As a result of Jacob's obedience in his prophetic blessings of Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob was enabled, by the Holy Spirit, to pronounce prophetic blessings over all twelve of his own sons (Genesis 49:1-28). Some of the prophecies contained in those blessings are still being filled today (Oil was recently found in what once was the territory of Asher - Genesis 49:20, Deuteronomy 33:24).

So what can we learn about faith from Jacob? First, it is always better to act, in obedience to the Lord, than to be forced to comply (remember Isaac). Second, faith produces and empowers more faith. In other words, the more we act in faith, the more faith we will receive with ever increasing power. Third, the more we allow faith to empower the spiritual gifts the Lord has given us, the greater the effectiveness of those gifts (Since Jacob prophesied over Ephraim and Manasseh according to the Lord's leading, he was given even more prophecies about his own children.). Fourth, the more effectively we use the gifts the Lord has given us, the more of a blessing will be to others, especially our own children.

Lord, cause us to continually grow in faith, so that we may continually grow more effective and powerful in the use of the gifts You have given us, thus becoming an ever increasing blessing to others!


Jon Straumfjord is the author of numerous articles about the Seven Spirits of God and the God of the Bible. He is also the creator of the website http://www.7-spirits.com , and is the author of the book "The Seven Spirits of God."

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