Bible Readings for February 15th
In Genesis 48:5–7, Jacob formally adopts Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. There is a solid, practical reason for Jacob to do so: by adopting Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob gives those sons direct portions of his own inheritance.
So, rather than giving Joseph’s family only one portion of Jacob’s inheritance (which would then be split in two for Ephraim and Manasseh), now both Ephraim and Manasseh command an equal share of the inheritance along with all the other brothers of Joseph. From this point forward, Ephraim and Manasseh are considered tribal heads in Israel along with Jacob’s immediate sons like Judah, Levi, and the others.
Additionally, Jacob insists upon blessing the children of Joseph—his own, adopted children—before he dies. But strangely, Jacob crosses his arms to lay his right hand on Ephraim rather than on Manasseh, the firstborn (Gen. 48:13–14). When Joseph realizes what is happening, he tries to stop his father, but Jacob replies, “I know, my son, I know. He [Manasseh] also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen. 48:19). And indeed, when the census is taken in the beginning of the book of Numbers, Ephraim commands over 25 percent more people than Manasseh, 40,500 to 32,200 (Num. 1:32–35).
In the Scriptures, God nearly always chooses for his purposes the people who are most undervalued for whatever reason, whether they are weak, foolish, poor, or barren. For example, God often favors the younger son over the older son, just as he does here in Genesis 48. In addition to choosing Ephraim over Manasseh, Isaac was chosen over Ishmael (Gen. 17:18–21), Jacob was chosen over Esau (Gen. 25:23), and Joseph was favored over the rest of his brothers(Gen. 37:3). Eventually, God will even choose David as his anointed king instead of David’s seven older brothers (1 Sam. 16:6–13), and it is from the line of David that God would later raise up Jesus to reign forever as King.
In choosing the weak instead of the strong, God magnifies his own power, so that the strong cannot boast in their own strength. As Paul reminds the church at Corinth (a group of people who were obsessed with displays of their own strength and power), “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:27, 29).
And why would God do that? So that we recognize that God “is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:30–31).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.