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,
Joseph hearing of his father's sickness goes to visit him, and takes
his two sons with him, ver. 1 - 2.
Jacob solemnly adopts his two sons, and takes them for his own,
ver. 3 - 7.
He blesseth them, ver. 8 - 16.
He explains and justifies the crossing of his hands in blessing
them, ver. 17 - 20.
He leaves a particular legacy to Joseph, ver. 21 - 22.
3: 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 (Heb 11:21).
7: 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
11: 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.
15: 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.
16: 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, (Ge 48:12,13), but
Jacob would put it on the head of Ephraim the youngest,(Ge 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, (Ge 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.
19: 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, (Nu 1:32,33,35-53,2:1-18,20), and is named first,(Ps 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
21: 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.
22: 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, (Jos 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,(Joh 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.