Genesis 48:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 48:18, NIV: Joseph said to him, 'No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.'

Genesis 48:18, ESV: And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.”

Genesis 48:18, KJV: And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.

Genesis 48:18, NASB: And Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.'

Genesis 48:18, NLT: 'No, my father,' he said. 'This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.'

Genesis 48:18, CSB: Joseph said to his father, "Not that way, my father! This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head."

What does Genesis 48:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In what should be a happy moment, Joseph is apparently angry. His dying father Jacob seems to have made a very significant mistake while blessing Joseph's two oldest boys in prayer. Jacob has placed his left hand on the oldest boy's head and his right on that of the younger one. Throughout the Bible and the world of this time, the right hand or right side was that of the greatest honor. Custom demanded that the greatest honor be given to the oldest male heir (Genesis 48:1–16).

In the previous verse, Joseph grabbed Jacob's right hand to move it over to his oldest son's head. Now he tells Jacob "not this way." He instructs his father to put his right hand on the firstborn's head (Genesis 48:17). Unfortunately, most of the blessing had already happened, and the giving of the family blessing seems to be irreversible in Genesis, no matter the circumstances (Genesis 27:34–36).

The other problem is that Jacob had known exactly what he was doing in placing his right hand on the head of the younger son. He did it intentionally, as the following verses will reveal (Genesis 48:19).