What does Genesis 48:2 mean?
ESV: And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.
NIV: When Jacob was told, 'Your son Joseph has come to you,' Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.
NASB: When it was told to Jacob, 'Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,' Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed.
CSB: When Jacob was told, "Your son Joseph has come to you," Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.
NLT: When Joseph arrived, Jacob was told, 'Your son Joseph has come to see you.' So Jacob gathered his strength and sat up in his bed.
KJV: And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.
Verse Commentary:
Jacob is ill and approaching the end of his life. Though he has expected to die for some time (Genesis 47:9) and made preparations (Genesis 47:29–31), this truly marks the last moments of his life. Joseph has arrived with his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 41:50–52), so Jacob can bless them, as was the custom.

This verse notes that Jacob is told that Joseph has arrived. This implies several possibilities. One is that it reflects how near to death Jacob is. As one might do in a hospital room, the bedridden person is told who is coming prior to them entering. This allows Jacob to get ready. It also reflects the fact that Jacob is nearly blind (Genesis 48:10). Likewise, the text says that sitting up in bed required significant effort. In any case, Jacob sits up to interact with Joseph and his sons more appropriately.
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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