Monday, December 26, 2011

Jacob Sets Up The Blessing - Genesis 48:13-14


And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him.  But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid 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 first-born.

Let’s try to picture this.  Joseph takes the right hand of his younger son, Ephraim and puts it directly across towards Israel’s left hand.  He does the opposite with Manasseh, his older boy.  As he is doing this, Israel crosses his right hand over his left and moves it towards the head of Ephraim (the younger one), and takes his left hand, across his body to place it on the head of Manasseh (the older boy).  The significance of these brief two verses is all in the last phrase, “even though Manasseh was the first-born.”

The idea was for the oldest to get the first blessing; one we assume was usually delivered using the right hand of the one making the blessing.  David Guzik, in his study guide for Genesis 48, suggests, “The right hand in the Bible always has the idea of the favored position because generally speaking, the right hand is the hand of strength and skill.”  I am sure that our modern-day left-handers would disagree, but the fact remains the majority of the world is right-handed.  So, we’ll accept Guzik’s reasoning.

What is interesting here, though, is whether or not Jacob does this intentionally, and if so, why?  And also, how will both Joseph and Manasseh react?  We’ll find out soon enough as we study the verses that follow.  In the meantime, what are we to take from this short passage of scripture?  Let me suggest that it is simply this: As elders we need to be conscious of the need to bestow a blessing on our grandchildren.  As adults we need to value the blessings our parents bestow on our children.  As children we need to seek the blessing of our elders.  I think it is those blessings that somehow bind us together in a very unique and special way throughout the generations.   Have we blessed our children or grandchildren?  If not, perhaps we should do so before it’s too late.  It does not have to be done verbally.  It can be done in writing and as such, it can be something that will be treasured, remembered, and referred to for one’s entire life, and then passed on.  On this day after Christmas 2011, I have decided to make this very deed a New Year’s resolution for myself.  I will work hard in 2012 to write a blessing for my three children and currently my five grandchildren.  Will you join me in doing likewise for yours?




 
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