The same blessing and promise that was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was also passed unto Jacob’s sons, and in particular to Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Chapters thirty-seven through fifty in the book of Genesis tell the testimony of Joseph who at an early age was despised by his brethren and sold into Egypt as a slave. However, because of Joseph’s unwavering faith in God, what seemed like a misfortune was turned unto the salvation of his people, as well as Egypt. In response to Joseph’s faithfulness the Lord bestowed upon him a blessing above that of his progenitors, saying, “Joseph is a fruitful bough… His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns [wild bull or animal]; with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth; and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.” [Genesis 49:22 and Deuteronomy 33:17].
Jacob also gave Joseph a great blessing, saying, “And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.” [Genesis 48:5-6]. In other words, Ephraim and Manasseh would be numbered among the twelve tribes, taking the place of their father Joseph as well as Levi, whose seed would not receive an inheritance but instead would minister unto the people in the priest’s office [Joshua 14:3-4, Number 18:20-24]. Moreover, Jacob laid his hands upon Ephraim and Manasseh, granting unto them a great blessing, saying that they both would become a multitude of nations in the midst of earth. Nevertheless, the younger son, Ephraim, would be greater that the first, Manasseh.
Although Ephraim was given the greater blessing, it is again imperative to distinguish that both Ephraim and Manasseh were blessed and thus they were both called to be a light to the people of God, to deliver them from bondage, and to bring salvation to them through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Together, Joseph’s sons were to further the witness of the glory of God by bearing record of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and by showing unto the children of men that God chooses the small and weak things of the world to reveal His great power and mighty purposes. For the Lord promised that the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh would push the people together to the ends of the earth.
Scriptures to Consider
Genesis 48:3-6 (KJV)
48:3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, 48:4 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. 48:5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. 48:6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
Genesis 48:14-19 (KJV)
48:14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 48:15 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, 48:16 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.
48:17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 48:18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 48:19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
Genesis 49:22-26 (KJV)
49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 49:23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 49:24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 49:25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 49:26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Deuteronomy 33:13-17 (KJV)
33:13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, 33:14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, 33:15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, 33:16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. 33:17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.