Genesis 48:5-7: Adoption.
5 ‘Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. 7 As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem).NIV
Jacob stated his intention to ‘adopt’ Joseph’s two sons as his own. It’s suggested that he may have had two things on his mind in doing this:
- He was possibly thinking of the children he might have had with Rachel, had she not died in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-19; 7);
- More importantly, he was in effect giving Joseph the double portion of the inheritance, to which the oldest child was traditionally entitled. Jacob was deliberately giving Joseph the ‘’firstborn’’ status among his brothers (see 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2).This would probably explain why Joseph is later referred to as being ‘’over’’ his brothers (22).
Tom Hale explains:
‘Manasseh and Ephraim would be just like Reuben and Simeon (verse 5), Jacob’s two oldest sons. Indeed, because of their sins, Reuben and Simeon had lost their positions as ‘’oldest sons.’’ Now Manasseh and Ephraim – through Joseph – would have the privilege of being ‘’oldest.’’ Generations later, the descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim would become two of Israel’s most important tribes.’ ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.199.
See how a godly man’s prayers of blessings can continue to influence over a long period of time!