What does Genesis 48:8 mean?
ESV: When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?”
NIV: When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, 'Who are these?'
NASB: When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, 'Who are these?'
CSB: When Israel saw Joseph's sons, he said, "Who are these? "
NLT: Then Jacob looked over at the two boys. 'Are these your sons?' he asked.
KJV: And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these?
NKJV: Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”
Verse Commentary:
Joseph has come to his dying father, Jacob, once again called by his God-given name Israel (Genesis 35:9–11). Joseph brings his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 41:50–52) to receive a blessing. Jacob's response has been significant. Jacob has announced he is claiming Joseph's two oldest sons as his own, replacing Reuben and Simeon as the oldest. The result will be that Joseph and his family will receive the birthright and a double portion of the family inheritance (Genesis 48:1–7).

So near to death, Jacob's eyesight is failing (Genesis 48:10). When he spots Ephraim and Manasseh, he asks who they are. At first, this might seem surprising, since Jacob has just been talking about them. However, it's likely Jacob wants Joseph to formally identify them before he confers the blessing.

There's a deep irony in Jacob's question. He knows full well the blessing is irrevocable—and understands the chance that a blind man could be tricked over it (Genesis 27:30–37). It was Jacob who conspired against his own father, Isaac, using the old man's blindness to steal a blessing meant for his older brother, Esau.

This adds to the parallels between Jacob and his father Isaac. Isaac, too, had been blind, requiring him to ask who had come to him (Genesis 27:18–19). Jacob, in his case, had lied, claiming to be his older brother. Fortunately, Joseph has no plans to deceive.
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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