Genesis 48:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 48:19, NIV: But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.'

Genesis 48:19, ESV: But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

Genesis 48:19, KJV: 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 48:19, NASB: But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.'

Genesis 48:19, NLT: But his father refused. 'I know, my son; I know,' he replied. 'Manasseh will also become a great people, but his younger brother will become even greater. And his descendants will become a multitude of nations.'

Genesis 48:19, CSB: But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know! He too will become a tribe, and he too will be great; nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his offspring will become a populous nation."

What does Genesis 48:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob is on his deathbed, giving the primary family blessing not to his oldest son Reuben, but to the two oldest sons of his eleventh son Joseph. In what may have been a surprising move, Jacob has in fact declared that Joseph's oldest two sons are his, each with a full share of his inheritance (Genesis 48:1–13). Though Joseph would have been happy with this, he is greatly displeased with his father for a moment. Before the prayer of blessing, Jacob switched his hands and put his right hand on the younger son's head and his left hand on that of the firstborn son (Genesis 48:14–17). Joseph's anger might have been because he thought his father made a mistake.

Joseph has tried to correct his father, grabbing Jacob's right hand to move it to Manasseh's head. Jacob insists it was not an error. He did exactly as he intended. In fact, Jacob tells Joseph there will be a difference in the amount of blessing each of the boys will receive. Joseph's firstborn son will, in fact, be blessed with many offspring. Manasseh will become "a people" and a great man. Ephraim, however, will become greater than Manasseh. His offspring will become a "multitude of nations."

Years later, the tribe of Ephraim will, in fact, become greater than the tribe of Manasseh. Moses, in his blessing on the tribes of Israel before his death, will put it this way in his description of the two tribes of Joseph's sons: "… they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh" (Deuteronomy 33:17).

Jacob does not explain why he chooses to bless the younger son above the firstborn. In doing so, however, he follows the pattern of his own life. Jacob himself was the second born of twins. And while it's true that he schemed his way into receiving the greater blessing from his father Isaac (Genesis 27), it is also true that God intended for that blessing to go to the younger brother from the very beginning (Genesis 25:23).

In Romans 9:6–13, Paul will point to God's choice to place the younger over the older in the case of Jacob and Esau as evidence of God's sovereignty in all things.