Jacob's Last Days
||A short time after this, Joseph was told that his father was sick. [Joseph went to his father,] taking his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, along with him.
||When Jacob was told that Joseph was coming to him, Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.
||Jacob said to Joseph, 'God Almighty once appeared to me in Luz, in the land of Canaan. He blessed me,
||and said to me, 'I will make you fruitful and numerous, and have you give rise to an assembly of nations. I will give this land to you and your descendants as their property forever.'
||'Now, the two sons who were born to you in Egypt before I came here shall be considered as mine. Ephraim and Manasseh shall be just like Reuben and Simeon to me.
||Any children that you have after them, however, shall be considered yours. They shall inherit only through their [older] brothers.
||'When I was coming from Padan, [your mother] Rachel died on me. It was in Canaan, a short distance before we came to Ephrath. I buried her there along the road to Ephrath (Bethlehem).'
||Israel saw Joseph's sons. 'Who are these?' he asked.
||'They are the sons that God gave me here,' replied Joseph to his father.
'If you would, bring them to me,' said [Jacob]. 'I will give them a blessing.'
||Israel's eyes were heavy with age, and he could not see. When [Joseph] brought [his sons] near him, [Israel] kissed them and hugged them.
||'I never even hoped to see your face,' said Israel to Joseph. 'But now God has even let me see your children.'
||Joseph took [the boys] from near his [father's] lap, and he bowed down to the ground.
||Joseph then took the two boys. He placed Ephraim to his right (to Israel's left), and Manasseh to his left (to Israel's right). He then came close to [his father].
||Israel reached out with his right hand and placed it on Ephraim's head [even though] he was the younger son. He [placed] his left hand on Manasseh's head. He deliberately crossed his hands, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
||[Jacob] gave Joseph a blessing. He said, 'The God before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, walked, is the God who has been my Shepherd from as far back as I can remember until this day,
||[sending] an angel to deliver me from all evil. May He bless the lads, and let them carry my name, along with the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac. May they increase in the land like fish.'
||When Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim's head, he was displeased. He tried to lift his father's hand from Ephraim's head and place it on Manasseh's.
||'That's not the way it should be done, Father,' said Joseph. 'The other one is the first-born. Place your right hand on his head.'
||His father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. [The older one] will also become a nation. He too will attain greatness. But his younger brother will become even greater, and his descendants will become full-fledged nations.'
||On that day [Jacob] blessed them. He said, '[In time to come] Israel will use you as a blessing. They will say, 'May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.' ' He [deliberately] put Ephraim before Manasseh.
||Israel said to Joseph, 'I am dying. God will be with you, and He will bring you back to your ancestral land.
||In addition to what your brothers shall share, I am giving you Shechem, which I took from the Amorite with my sword and bow.'
|I will make you...|
Genesis 35:11,12. Also see Genesis 28:13.
See Genesis 35:16-19.
|his father's lap|
(Sekhel Tov; Sforno). Or, 'from between his [own] knees' (Radak; Hirsch. Cf. Lekach Tov; Sh'muel ben Chofni Gaon).
|sending an angel|
(Saadia Gaon; Shmuel ben Chofni Gaon). Or, 'The angel who delivered me...' (Rashi; Abarbanel). Some say that the 'Angel' denotes God's providence (Shmuel ben Chofni Gaon; Ralbag; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).
(Saadia). Or, 'famous nations;' 'many nations' (Targum Yonathan; Ibn Ezra); 'world-filling nations' (Rashi; Radak); 'rulers of nations' (Onkelos); 'destroyers of nations' (Lekach Tov); or 'famous among nations.'
|May God make you...|
This blessing is still used today.
See Genesis 12:6, 33:18. (Targum Yonathan; Rashi; Ibn Ezra). See Joshua 24:32. Others translate the word shechem here as 'a portion' (Onkelos; Rashi). The word literally means a 'shoulder,' and some interpret it to mean a hill.
See Genesis 10:16, 14:7, 15:16, 15:21. Some take 'Amorite' as a generic term for all the tribes of Canaan (Ibn Ezra).
|sword and bow|
This may allude to the wars that Jacob's sons fought against the Amorites after the Shechem massacre (Targum Yonathan; Bereshith Rabbah 97. Cf. Yov'loth 34; Tzavaath Yehudah 3; Sefer HaYashar, p. 98ff; Midrash VaYisu; MeAm Lo'ez/The Torah Anthology 3:219ff.). According to others, it may allude to the Shechem massacre itself (Sh'muel ben Chofni Gaon; Ibn Ezra). Others render the Hebrew as 'with my prayer and supplication' (Onkelos; Mekhilta, BeShalach 2; Rashi).