THE BLESSING OF MANASSEH AND EPHRAIM, AND THE RECOGNITION OF THEM BY JACOB AS HEADS OF TRIBES.
(1) His two sons.—We have already seen that the purpose of the genealogy given in Genesis 46 was not the enumeration of Jacob’s children and grandchildren, but the recognition of those of his descendants who were to hold the high position of heads of “families.” In this chapter a still more important matter is settled; for Jacob, exercising to the full his rights as the father and head of the Israelite race, and moved thereto both by his love for Rachel, the high rank of Joseph, and also by the spirit of prophecy, bestows upon Joseph two tribes. No authority less than that of Jacob would have sufficed for this, and therefore the grant is carefully recorded, and holds its right place immediately before the solemn blessing given by the dying patriarch to his sons. The occasion of Joseph’s visit was the sickness of his father, who not merely felt generally that his death was near, as in Genesis 47:29, but was now suffering from some malady; and Joseph naturally took with him his two sons, that they might see and be blessed by their grandfather before his death.
Sat upon the bed.—We learn that he left his bed, and placed himself upon it in a sitting posture, from what is recorded in Genesis 48:12.
Luz.—This use of the old name shows how very slowly the new titles of places, derived from incidents in the history of a small tribe, took the place of their native and original appellations. In a similar manner in the recent exploration of Palestine, it has been found that the high-sounding titles given by the Seleucidæ and Romans to towns there have never been adopted by the peasantry, who still call them by their old names.
The same is Beth-lehem.—A note added subsequently, when the place was famous as the birthplace of David. It would not be called Beth-lehem until corn was cultivated there.
The word “goël” is here used for the first time. It subsequently became the term for the nearest blood relative, whose duty it was to avenge a murder; but it is here used in its wider sense of a Saviour and a Deliverer. (Comp. Exodus 6:6; Isaiah 59:20, &c.) The angel who wrestled with Jacob cannot accurately be described as having appeared to him in the character of a deliverer (Genesis 32:24-30). He appeared as an adversary; and Jacob learned in the struggle, by overcoming him, that he had power with God and man, and would prevail over all the difficulties and foes that still stood in his way. Moreover, the verb is present, “the angel that redeemeth me from all evil.” Jacob recognised a Divine Presence which constantly guarded him, and which was ever his Redeemer and Saviour.