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JOSEPH'S INTERVIEW WITH HIS DYING FATHER, WITH THE
BLESSING OF HIS SONS,
Ver. 1. Jacos did not die immediately after having sent for his son Joseph; but he seems at that time to have been confined to his " bed,” and probably it was by the same affliction which issued in his death. Joseph, as soon as he was told of his father's being sick, without waiting to be sent for another time, proceeded to the place, and took his two sons to obtain his dying benediction.
Ver. 2. On entering the house, his name is announced; the mention of which gives the venerable patriarch a portion of new life. He strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. And now we may expect to hear something worthy of attention. The words of dying men to their children are or should be interesting ; es. pecially of good men, and still more of men inspired of God.
Ver. 3. The man of God has neither time nor strength to lose in ceremony : he comes therefore immediately to the point. God Almighty, said he,, appeared unto me at Luz, in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee; and I will make of thee a multitude of people, and will give this land to thy seed after thee, for an everlasting possession. Observe, (1.) The appearance at Luz, or Bethel. (Chap. xxviii.) If it were not the first time in which God had made himself known to Jacob, it was certainly the most remarkable epoch in his life ; and almost all that had gone before it was nothing, or worse than pothing. (2.) Though the menVol. V. '
tion of Luz, or Bethel, must ever be sweet to Jacob, and though he could have told what a support the promise there made had been to him through the pilgrimage of life ; yet he contines himself at present to the aspect which it bore to his posterity, whom he was now about to bless. The promise made to Abraham's seed involves all the goodness intended for the world in after ages ; and this occupies the chief attention of Jacob. The dying words of David dwell upon the same thing : the everlasting covenant, which contained all his salvation, and all his desire, was that in which God had promised of his seed to raise up the Messiah, whose kingdom should endure to all generations. To see the good of bis chosen, to rejoice in the gladness of his nation, and to glory with his inheritance, is enough for a servant of God : and for an aged parent, after seeing much evil in his family, to be able to take leave of them in the full expectation of the divine blessing attending them, is a death which better characters than Balaam might wish to die. (3.) The mention of Canaan to Joseph was designed to draw off his attention from a permanent settlement in Egypt, and to fix his faith upon the promise ; that like his fathers before him, he might pass his life as a pilgrim till it should be accomplished.
Ver. 4-7. And now, having given this general intimation to Joseph, he solemnly adopts his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own, constituting them two tribes in Israel. Thus Joseph bad a double portion, the first birth-right being taken from Reuben, and given unto him.* And thus bis sons, as well as himself, were taught to fix their faith and hope, not in Egypt, whatever might be their expectations as the descendants of Joseph by, an Egyptian princess, but in Canaan, or rather in the promise of the God of Israel. The mention of the death and burial of Rachel might be partly to add another motive of attachment to Canaan, to Joseph; and partly to account for this double portion couferred upon him ; she being in the most proper sense bis wife, and be in a sense his first-born son.
* i Chron. V. 1, ?.
Ver. 8—11. Jacob had made mention of Ephraim and Manasseh before, but he had not seen them. Lifting up his eyes, he perceives two young men standing by the side of his beloved Joseph, and inquires who they are. They are my sons, said Joseph, whom God hath given me in this place. On this he requests them to be brought unto him, that he might bless them. He could scarcely see them, for his eyes were dim of age ; but his heart was full of tenderness towards them, for their father's sake, and for the sake of the hope of which they were heirs : therefore he kissed and embraced them. And being full of holy affection, he looks back upon his past sorrows, and admires the grace of God towards him and his. I had not thought, said he to Joseph, to see thy face ; and lo, God hath showed me also thy seed. How much better is God to' us than our fears! Only let us wait with faith and patience, and our desponding thoughts will be turned into songs of praise.
1 Ver. 12-14. After this affectionate embrace, Joseph brought forth the two young men from between his father's knees, and bowed himself with his face to the earth, in token of thankfulness for the kindness conferred upon himself and his sons, and in ex. pectation of a further blessing. And having probably observed the order in which his father had spoken of them, putting Ephraim before Manasseh, (ver. 5.) he wished to correct it as a mistake, and therefore placed the young men according to their age, Ephraim towards Israel's left hand, and Manasseh towards his right band, and in this manner presented them before him. But the conduct of the patriarch was not thus to be corrected. God, from whom the blessing proceeded, directed him in this case to cross hands. Nor is this the only instance in which the order of nature is made to give way to that of grace ; for of this Jacob himself bad been an example.
Ver. 15, 16. In this attitude Jacob proceeds to bless tbe lads. And he blessed Joseph, and said God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads! And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in
the midst of the earth. Observe, (1.) Though Ephraim and Manasseb were each constituted heads of tribes, yet they were blessed in the pereon of their father Joseph: He blessed Joseph, , &c. In this as in many other instances, God would exemplify the great principle on which he designed to act in blessing mankind in the name and for the sake of anotber. (2.) Jacob, though vow among the Egyptians, and kindly treated by them, yet makes no mention of their gods, but holds up to bis posterity the living and true God. In proportion as Egypt was kind to the young people, such would be their danger of being seduced : but let them remember the dying words of their venerable ancestor, and know from whence their blessedness cometh. (3.) The God whose blessing was bestowed upon them was not only the true God, but the God of their fathers ; a God in covenant with the family, who pved them, and was loved and served by them. God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk. How sweet and endearing the character ; and what a recommendation of these holy patterns to the young people! Nor was he merely the God of Abraham and Isaac, but Jacob himself also could speak well of his name ; adding, The God who fed me all my life long unto this day! Sweet and solemn are the recommendations of aged piety. “Speak reproachfully of Christ,” said the persecutors of Polycarp, when leading him to the stake. “ Eighty-six years I have served bim," answered the venerable man, during all which time he never did me any injury : how then can I blaspheme him who is
I my King, and my Saviour ?” Hearken, oh young people, to this affecting language ! It is a principle dictated by common pru. dence, Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not : and how much more forcibly does it apply to the God of your fathers ! (4.) This God is called the Angel who redeemed him from all evil.' Who this was, it is not difficult to decide. It was the Angel, no doubt, with whom Jacob wrestled 'and prevailed, and concerning whom he said, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.* (5.) The blessing of God under all these endearing characters is invoked upon the lads, their forefathers' names put upon them, and abundant increase promised to them. Surely
* Chap. xii. 24-30. Hos. xii. 2.
it is good to be connected with them that fear God : yet those only who are of faith will ultimately be blessed with their faithful predecessors.
Ver. 17-20. Joseph's enjoyment of this sweet and solemn blessing was sadly interrupted by the unpleasant circumstance of his father's crossing his hands, and he could not refrain from respectfully remonstrating. Thus our frail minds are liable to be ruffled by some trivial event, even on the most solemn occasions, and so to lose the advantage of some of the happiest opportunities. Jacob, however, is not to be dissuaded. He had been guided by an unseen hand ; and like Isaac, after having blessed him, he could not repent. I know it, my son, said he, I know it-He shall be great ; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he.
God is as immutable as he is sovereign. It does not become us to contend with him; and it is to the honour of Joseph that as soon as he perceived his father knew what he did, believing him to be directed from above, he acquiesced. Hence the patriarch went on without further interruption, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God made thee as Ephraim, and as Manasseh!
Ver. 21. A word or two more to Joseph, and the present interview is closed. I die, said Israel ; but God shall be with you and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. All that he had said before tended to break off their attachment to Egypt, and to fix their faith in the divine promise : such also was the design of these words. How satisfactory is it to a dying saint to consider that God lives, and will carry on his cause without him as well as with bim! The great JOHN OWEN, two days before he died, (which was in 1883, a time when popery and arbitrary power threatened to overspread the land, thus wrote in a letter to a friend :-"I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm ; but whilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable.”
Ver. 22. One more special token of love is added to Joseph's portion; namely, a parcel of ground which had been originally bought of the sons of Hamor ; but, as it would seem, being seized by some of their descendants, Jacob was necessitated to recover it