- In this chapter Jacob's dying words are recorded, because he speaks by a spirit of prophecy; Abraham's and Isaac's are not. God's gifts and graces shine forth much more in some than in others upon their death-beds. Here is, 1. Joseph hearing of his father's sickness goes to visit him, and takes his two sons with him, verse 1-2.
- II. Jacob solemnly adopts his two sons, and takes them for his own, verse 3-7.
- III. He blesseth them, verse 8-16.
- IV. He explains and justifies the crossing of his hands in blessing them, verse 17-20.
- V. He leaves a particular legacy to Joseph, verse 21-22.
God blessed me - And let that blessing be entailed upon them. God had promised him two things, a numerous issue, and Canaan for an inheritance. And Joseph's sons, pursuant hereunto, should each of them multiply into a tribe, and each of them have a distinct lot in Canaan, equal with Jacob's own sons. See how he blessed them by faith in that which God had said to him Hebrews 11:21.
Mention is made of the death and burial of Rachel, Joseph's mother, and Jacob's best beloved wife. The removal of dear relations from us is an affliction, the remembrance of which cannot but abide with us a great while. Strong affections in the enjoyment cause long afflictions in the loss.
I had not thought to see thy face, (having many years given him up for lost) and lo God hath shewed me also thy seed? - See here, How these two good men own God in their comforts. Joseph saith, 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 saith here, God hath shewed me thy seed - Our comforts are then doubly sweet to us, when we see them coming from God's hand.
The God who fed me all my life long unto this day - 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 we have never wanted food convenient. He that has fed us all our life long will not fail us at last.
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.
Ephraim shall he 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, Psalms 80:2. Joshua was of that tribe. 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. 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. And he often gives most to those that are least likely: he chuseth the weak things of the world, raiseth the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor doth God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred but as it pleaseth him.
I die, but God shall be with you, and bring you again - 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: 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. He will bring us to the land of our fathers, the heavenly Canaan, whither our godly fathers are gone before us. If God be with us while we stay behind in this world, and will receive us shortly to be with them that are gone before to a better world, we ought not to sorrow as those that have no hope.
He bestowed one portion upon him above his brethren. 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. 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.