Israel was getting old, so he called for Joseph. Placing his son’s hand underneath his own thigh, he said, “Testify now, that you’ll not bury me here in Egypt. Lie me down with my ancestors. You know the place.”
Joseph vowed to carry out his father’s desire. Realizing time was short, Joseph left Goshen and returned with his two sons. He wanted them to meet the man of God before he passed from the earth.
“Joseph has returned,” a servant told Israel, leading Joseph and his sons into the tent. “He has brought his sons with him.”
Israel summoned energy enough to sit up at the side of his bed. He squinted his eyes and remembered long ago when his own father was almost blind and couldn’t discern who stood before him.
“God showed Himself to me at Luz in Canaan,” Israel intonated, his voice weak and trembling. “God blessed me and said, ‘I’m making nations from you, and they will inherit this land forever.’ For this reason, and because my beloved Rachel died in childbirth, your sons will be my sons, just as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. Their children will be yours, but as far as the inheritance of Ephraim and Manasseh, they will be equal to Reuben and Simeon.”
Israel rubbed his eyes and blinked a few times. “Come closer. Bring your sons near to me so I may bless them.”
Joseph led his sons to his father’s bedside, and Israel gathered them up, one on each knee. He embraced them affectionately and kissed them.
“I didn’t expect to see you ever again,” he said to his son, “and yet God has allowed me to see your sons as well.”
Joseph knelt low and bowed his head to the earth, then removed his sons from their grandfather’s lap. He positioned Ephraim to stand at Israel’s left side and Manasseh to stand at his right.
Israel lifted his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, the younger brother. Then, crossing his arms, he placed his left hand upon Manasseh, the firstborn. Closing his eyes, he said, “God, You walked with Abraham and Isaac, You’ve been–”
Joseph interrupted. “This one is my firstborn,” he said, taking his father’s hand from Ephraim and placing it onto Manasseh’s head.
Israel put his right hand back onto Ephraim’s head. “I know, son. Manasseh will also become a great nation. But Ephraim will be greater still. His family tree will become nations upon nations.” Then he added, “Your people will invoke blessings by saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
Joseph stepped back and let his father continue.
Isaac closed his eyes again. “God of Abraham and Isaac, You have been my shepherd all the days of my life, and Your angels have guarded me against injury. Bless these young men. Preserve my name and my family’s name through them, and let them grow into a mighty family on earth.”
The boys returned to their father’s side, and Joseph bowed once again.
“I’m dying,” Israel said, “but God is with you, and he’ll return you to the land of your fathers. I now grant you an extra portion beyond your inheritance, the spoils of my earthly conquests.”
Inspiration: Genesis 48