What does Genesis 48:14 mean?
ESV: And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn).
NIV: But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
NASB: But Israel reached out his right hand and placed it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn.
CSB: But Israel stretched out his right hand and put it on the head of Ephraim, the younger, and crossing his hands, put his left on Manasseh's head, although Manasseh was the firstborn.
NLT: But Jacob crossed his arms as he reached out to lay his hands on the boys’ heads. He put his right hand on the head of Ephraim, though he was the younger boy, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, though he was the firstborn.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
Verse Commentary:
God met with Jacob and renamed Him Israel (Genesis 35:9–11). Years later, Jacob is about to pronounce his official blessing on two of his grandsons (Genesis 48:1–12). Genesis seems to describe Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh as being lined up three across, bowed before Jacob's lap (Genesis 48:13). The previous verse described the care with which Joseph placed Ephraim, the younger son, on his own right side so that Jacob's left hand would be on Ephraim's head. Joseph placed Manasseh on his left side facing Jacob so that Jacob's right hand would be on the older son's head, indicating that he was receiving the best of the blessing.

In doing so, Joseph would have been helping his blind father Jacob to get the blessing right, according to custom and legal standards world of their era. However, Jacob crosses his hands. He puts his right hand on the younger son's head, and he puts his left hand on the older one. From his perspective, Joseph will see this as a serious misstep (Genesis 48:17). After all, this blessing will carry the weight of the blessing of God, in addition to conferring legal ramifications for the inheritance. In addition, the blessing, once given, will be irrevocable. After the blessing is given, Joseph will object (Genesis 48:17). Jacob will reveal it was no mistake; he knew what he was doing and did it intentionally.
Verse Context:
Genesis 48:1–22 describes the blessing Jacob pronounces over Joseph's oldest two sons. Significantly, Jacob claims Joseph's two oldest sons as his own, ensuring that each will receive a full portion of his inheritance. This means Joseph's family will receive a double portion. Jacob blesses the pair with a prayer for God's blessing in their lives as he himself has experienced it.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 48 describes Jacob's deathbed blessing of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. In a surprising move, Jacob claims Joseph's two oldest boys as his own. This makes each a full heir. The result is that Joseph's family will receive a double portion of the inheritance. Jacob prays for them to receive many of the blessings God has given to him during his long life. In another twist, Jacob gives greater blessing to the younger of his two grandsons.
Chapter Context:
Despite a long, difficult life, Jacob survives another 17 years after moving to Egypt. The suffering of his son, Joseph, resulted in the salvation of his family line. Now truly at the end of his days, Jacob claims Joseph's oldest two sons as his own—giving them full rights to a portion of his inheritance. The following chapters will include Jacob's remaining blessings for his sons, and a description of the death and burials of both Jacob and Joseph.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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