Genesis 48:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 48:4, NIV: and said to me, 'I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.'

Genesis 48:4, ESV: and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’

Genesis 48:4, KJV: 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.

Genesis 48:4, NASB: and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a multitude of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’

Genesis 48:4, NLT: He said to me, 'I will make you fruitful, and I will multiply your descendants. I will make you a multitude of nations. And I will give this land of Canaan to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.'

Genesis 48:4, CSB: He said to me, 'I will make you fruitful and numerous; I will make many nations come from you, and I will give this land as a permanent possession to your future descendants.'

What does Genesis 48:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob is ill and nearing the end of his life (Genesis 48:1–3). Joseph has brought his two sons to Jacob, presumably so the three of them could receive a blessing from the patriarch before his death. In the previous verse, Jacob began to recall the time God Almighty appeared to him at Bethel, also known as Luz. There, the Lord had blessed him (Genesis 28:12–15). This was when Jacob was returning to Canaan after spending two decades working for his father-in-law in Padan-aram while hiding from the wrath of his brother Esau (Genesis 27:41–43).

Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim listen as Jacob continues to describe one of the central promises given to him by God. This is a key covenant God made with Jacob's grandfather Abraham (Genesis 17:8) and that his own father Isaac passed down to him for an inheritance (Genesis 28:3–4). God would make Jacob "to be fruitful and multiply." This meant that his offspring would be very numerous, starting with his own 12 sons and their sons after them. Next Jacob told Joseph that God said his family would become a company of peoples who would take "everlasting possession" of the land of Canaan.

Despite his habit of being fearful and negative, Jacob appears to have held on to this promise from God throughout his life. Now, on his deathbed, he means for Joseph to understand that the family's future blessing is in Canaan—not in Egypt.