What does Genesis 48:19 mean?
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.”
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.'
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.'
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."
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.'
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.
Verse Commentary:
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.
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.
Accessed 4/16/2024 12:16:43 PM
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