Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Sick. Worse than when he was with him before. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Strengthened; with the thought of seeing this beloved son, and also with the prophetic spirit (Menochius) of God, which filled him with joy, &c, Galatians v. 22. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Possession. He makes mention of this first vision of God to him, to shew that he had a right to Chanaan, and to adopt the two children of Joseph, who were each to have as much as his own children. (Haydock) — Jacob’s posterity enjoyed that land till the Messias came, with some few interruptions. But his spiritual children inherit a much better country, (of which this was a figure) an eternal kingdom in heaven.
Ver. 5. Mine, by adoption; and shall be heads of their respective tribes. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Thine. They shall not claim the same prerogative: they shall live among their brethren, Ephraim and Manasses. We read not that Joseph had any other children besides these two. (Calmet) — The double portion, or birth-right, was thus transferred from Ruben to Joseph. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 7. For when, &c. Hebrew, “as for me.” Do not wonder that I should so earnestly desire to be laid in the tomb of Mambre, whereas your mother was buried at Ephrata. I was in a manner forced to bury her there, by the heat of the weather, (Menochius) and the confusion to which my family was then exposed, on account of the slaughter of the Sichemites. (Haydock) — That place was, moreover, to be honoured with the birth of the Messias. (St. Augustine, q. 165.)
Ver. 11. Deprived. Hebrew, “I did not expect; or, I durst not pray” to God for a thing which I thought impossible; I mean, the happiness of seeing thee; and lo, God, &c.
Ver. 12. Lap, (gremio, breast,) after Jacob had embraced them; or from between his knees, where they knelt to receive his blessing. — Bowed down, out of reverence to his father, and to beg of God that he would put words of comfort into the mouth of his father, on this solemn and important occasion. Then, in order that his children might not lean upon, or incommode Jacob, he placed them, the elder at his right-hand, the other at his left. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Changing. Hebrew, “making his hands intelligent;” or giving to understand, by forming a cross with his extended hands, that he had some particular reason for so doing. (Haydock) — By the preference given to Ephraim, he foreshewed his royal dignity, in giving kings to the ten tribes, (Eusebius) and that his tribe would surpass that of his brother in glory and numbers; (ver. 19,) and lastly, give birth to that great leader, Josue; who, as a figure of Christ, should introduce the Israelites into the promised land. (Menochius) — The custom of imposing hands on a person, is of high antiquity, and is still practised in the Christian church in the ordination of her ministers. (Numbers viii. 10; Acts vi. 6.) See Matthew xix. 13; Numbers xxvii. 23. (Calmet) — The cross of Christ is the source of all our exaltation. A preference for the younger children is generally observable in Scripture; being intended to shew that the Church, though chosen later out of all nations, should obtain the preference over the synagogue. (Theodoret.) (Tirinus)
Ver. 16. The angel guardian, who, by God’s ordinance, has ever protected me, continue his kind attention towards these my grand-children. It is not probable that he, who was called God before, should now be styled an angel, as some Protestants would have us believe. (Haydock) — St. Basil (contra Eunom. iii.) and St. Chrysostom, with many others, allege this text, to prove that an angel is given to man for the direction of his life, and to protect him against the assaults of the rebel angels, as Calvin himself dares not deny. — Let my, &c. Let them partake of the blessings (promised by name to me, to Abraham, and to Isaac) among the other tribes; or, may God bless them, in consideration of his servants. Moses obtained pardon for the Hebrews, by reminding God of these his chosen friends, Exodus xxxii. (Worthington)
Ver. 17. Displeased; (graviter accepit,) was grieved to see the elder son neglected; and thinking it might possibly proceed from a mistake, as his father’s eyes were so dim that he did not know them, (ver. 8,) he ventured to suggest his sentiments to his father; but acquiesced in his decision. (Haydock) — The greatest prophets are not always under actual inspiration. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. A people, (in populos). He shall be father of many peoples. The tribe of Manasses was divided, and had a large territory on either side of the Jordan, immediately north of that which fell to the lots of Ephraim and of Gad. (Haydock) — Grow. Hebrew, “shall be the fulness of nations;” or shall possess every thing that can make a nation great and enviable. The event justified this prediction. Ephraim was at the head of the ten tribes, most valiant and powerful, 3 Kings xi. 26. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. In thee, Joseph. Septuagint, “in you,” Ephraim and Manasses. The Israelites shall wish the same happiness to their greatest friends, as that which you have enjoyed. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. Thee. In thy posterity; and particularly in Ephraim, to whose lot it shall fall, a portion. Hebrew shecem; which the Septuagint explain of the city, or field near it, which Jacob had formerly purchased; and which, being wrested from him after he had left that country, by the Amorrhites, he recovered by the sword. (Masius.) — The particulars of this transaction are not given in Scripture. (Menochius) — The children of Joseph buried their father in this field, Josue xxiv. 32. There also was Jacob’s well, John iv. 5. We have already observed, that Jacob restored whatever his sons had taken unjustly from the unhappy Sichemites, chap. xxxiv. 30. — Sword and bow, is understood by St. Jerome and Onkelos in a spiritual sense, to denote his justice and earnest prayer, by which he merited the divine protection; (Calmet) or it may mean the money, which he had procured with hard labour. (St. Jerome, q. Heb.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Joseph visiteth his father in his sickness, who adopteth his two sons Manasses and Ephraim, and blesseth them, preferring the younger before the elder.
1 After these things, it was told Joseph* that his father was sick; and he set out to go to him, taking his two sons Manasses and Ephraim.
2 And it was told the old man: Behold I thy son Joseph cometh to thee. And being strengthened, he sat on his bed.
3 And when Joseph was come in to him, he said:* God almighty appeared to me at Luza, which is in the land of Chanaan, and he blessed me,
4 And he said: I will cause thee to increase and multiply, and I will make of thee a multitude of people: and I will give this land to thee, and to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
5 *So thy two sons, who were born to thee in the land of Egypt before I came hither to thee, shall be mine: **Ephraim and Manasses shall be reputed to me as Ruben and Simeon.
6 But the rest whom thou shalt have after them, shall be thine, and shall be called by the name of their brethren in their possessions.
7 For, when I came out of Mesopotamia, *Rachel died from me in the land of Chanaan in the very journey, and it was spring time: and I was going to Ephrata, and I buried her near the way of Ephrata, which by another name is called Bethlehem.
8 Then seeing his sons, he said to him: Who are these?
9 He answered: They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said: Bring them to me, that I may bless them.
10 For Israel’s eyes were dim by reason of his great age, and he could not see clearly. And when they were brought to him, he kissed and embraced them,
11 And said to his son: I am not deprived of seeing thee; moreover God hath shewn me thy seed.
12 And when Joseph had taken them from his father’s lap, he bowed down with his face to the ground.
13 And he set Ephraim on his right-hand, that is, towards the left-hand of Israel; but Manasses on his left-hand, to wit, towards his father’s right-hand, and brought them near to him.
14 But he stretching forth his right-hand, put it upon the head of Ephraim, the younger brother; and the left upon the head of Manasses, who was the elder, changing his hands.
15 *And Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph, and said: God, in whose sight my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, God that feedeth me from my youth until this day:
16 *The angel that delivereth me from all evils, bless these boys: and let my name be called upon them, and the names of my fathers Abraham, and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude upon the earth.
17 And Joseph seeing that his father had put his right-hand upon the head of Ephraim, was much displeased: and taking his father’s hand, he tried to lift it from Ephraim’s head, and to remove it to the head of Manasses.
18 And he said to his father: It should not be so, my father; for this is the first-born, put thy right-hand upon his head.
19 But he refusing, said: I know, my son, I know: and this also shall become a people, and shall be multiplied; but his younger brother shall be greater than he; and his seed shall grow into nations.
20 And he blessed them at that time, saying: In thee shall Israel be blessed, and it shall be said: God do to thee as to Ephraim, and as to Manasses. And he set Ephraim before Manasses.
21 And he said to Joseph, his son: Behold I die, and God will be with you, and will bring you back into the land of your fathers.
22 *I give thee a portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorrhite** with my sword and bow.
1: Year of the World 2315.
3: Genesis xxviii. 13.
5: Genesis xli. 50. — ** Josue xiii. 7. and 29.
7: Genesis xxxv. 19.
15: Hebrews xi. 21.
16: Genesis xxxi. 29. and xxxii. 2.; Matthew xviii. 10.
22: Josue xvi. 1. and xv. 7. — ** Josue xxiv. 8.; Deuteronomy xiii. 16.