Manasseh and Ephram
Genesis 48:13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. (The blessing Israel prayed is in verses 15-16) …
17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
Interesting story we read here about Joseph’s two sons receiving the “blessing” prayer from Israel (Joseph’s father and previously known as Jacob). From this passage it is clear that Israel, in a crucial moment of handing out the prayer of blessing, switches things up a little and favors the youngest son. But that’s not the point that I want to look at today. The verse that stood out is this …17 “When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased”.
Joseph was displeased with his own father showing a little bit of favor to the youngest son. Joseph even went as far as to correct his father in the obvious mistake. So let’s stop right here. Wasn’t this the same Joseph that was pampered by his own father? Wasn’t this the same Joseph that bragged over dreams to his older brothers? Wasn’t this the same Joseph with the special coat? And wasn’t this the same Joseph that his favor landed him In the king’s palace? Joseph, the youngest of his brothers? So what exactly was Joseph thinking?
Maybe he realized favoring the youngest wasn’t always such a good idea, and came with its own disadvantages. Maybe he realized from his own life that his older brothers were in some ways more deserving of their father’s favor and good will than he had been as a young boy. Maybe he realized all the hard work that his brothers had done to please their father and take care of the family business while he was still too young to make much of a contribution. Maybe he remembered the heat of the pit and the stench of the prison. Maybe he wanted a chance to correct the path for his own sons by saving them from reliving some of his hard lessons in life. Maybe he was trying to spare Ephraim from pain and heartache and Manessah from the sting of jealousy.
The bible doesn’t really say, so I’m speculating given Joseph’s history. However, it appears that over time and through experience, Joseph now has the notion that maybe the oldest needs to be the recipient of the greater blessing. We don’t know exactly what Joseph was thinking at that moment, but clearly he viewed life from a much different light than the young and favored boy he used to be. It appears that Joseph may just have a more clearer perspective on the reality and responsibility that comes from being a recipient of a blessing. Maybe the real blessing was knowing that “God intended it for good”. Genesis 50:20. God’s intentions are for good.