Jacob Blesses His Grandsons
Noticing Yosef's sons, Yisrael asked, “Who are these?”
And now, I assign to you one portion more than to your brothers, which I wrested from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”
Having claimed them as equal in status to his own sons, Jacob now notices his two grandsons standing with their father. Confirming their identities, he asks Joseph to bring them close that he may bless them. Jacob is overwhelmed with joy, as he had not thought he would ever see Joseph again, let alone his grandchildren.
Joseph positions his sons within his father’s reach, with the eldest, Manasseh, at Jacob’s right hand. Jacob, however, crosses his arms to place his right hand on Ephraim’s head. Joseph protests, but Jacob insists he knows what he is doing, and someday, Ephraim will outstrip Manasseh in greatness. Jacob blesses his grandsons in his own name and in the names of his fathers, saying one day the nation will bless their children in their names. He also tells Joseph that he is giving him an additional portion (shechem) over his brothers, one that he took with his own sword.
The Israel Bible asks why future generations would bless their children in the names of Ephraim and Manasseh (as is, indeed, the custom in many Jewish homes every Friday night). Ephraim and Manasseh were the first generation to be born Egypt, yet they remained loyal to the traditions of their father despite the temptations of Egypt. Thus, they serve as a template for the survival of the Jewish people and their return to Israel in the future.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think Jacob has to ask who Manasseh and Ephraim are when he sees them?