May 14 (Year One)
Some time later Joseph learned that his father was very sick. So he took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and went to his father. When Joseph arrived, someone told Israel, “Your son Joseph has come to see you.” Israel was very weak, but he tried hard and sat up in his bed.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “God All-Powerful appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan. God blessed me there. He said to me, ‘I will make you a great family. I will give you many children and you will be a great people. Your family will own this land forever.’ Now you have two sons. These two sons were born here in the country of Egypt before I came. Your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, will be like my own sons. They will be like Reuben and Simeon to me. So these two boys will be my sons. They will share in everything I own. But if you have other sons, they will be your sons. But they will also be like sons to Ephraim and Manasseh—that is, in the future, they will share in everything that Ephraim and Manasseh own. On the trip from Paddan Aram, Rachel died in the land of Canaan. This made me very sad. We were still traveling toward Ephrath. I buried her there on the road to Ephrath.” (Ephrath is Bethlehem.)
Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons. Israel said, “Who are these boys?”
Joseph said to his father, “These are my sons. These are the boys God gave me.”
Israel said, “Bring your sons to me. I will bless them.”
Israel was old and his eyes were not good. So Joseph brought the boys close to his father. Israel kissed and hugged the boys. Then Israel said to Joseph, “I never thought I would see your face again. But look! God has let me see you and your children.”
Then Joseph took the boys off Israel’s lap, and they bowed down in front of his father. Joseph put Ephraim on his right side and Manasseh on his left side. (So Ephraim was on Israel’s left side, and Manasseh was on Israel’s right side.) But Israel crossed his hands and put his right hand on the head of the younger boy Ephraim. Then he put his left hand on Manasseh, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. And Israel blessed Joseph and said,
“My ancestors, Abraham and Isaac, worshiped our God,
and that God has led me all my life.
He was the Angel who saved me from all my troubles.
And I pray that he will bless these boys.
Now they will have my name
and the name of our ancestors, Abraham and Isaac.
I pray that they will grow to become great families and nations
Joseph saw that his father put his right hand on Ephraim’s head. This didn’t make Joseph happy. Joseph took his father’s hand because he wanted to move it from Ephraim’s head and put it on Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “You have your right hand on the wrong boy. Manasseh is the firstborn. Put your right hand on him.”
But his father refused and said, “I know, son. I know. Manasseh is the firstborn. He will be great and will be the father of many people. But his younger brother will be greater than he is. And the younger brother’s family will be much larger.”
So Israel blessed them that day. He said,
“The Israelites will use your names
whenever they bless someone.
They will say, ‘May God make you
like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
In this way Israel made Ephraim greater than Manasseh.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “Look, my time to die is almost here, but God will still be with you. He will lead you back to the land of your ancestors. I have given you one portion more than I gave to your brothers. I gave you the land that I won from the Amorites. I used my sword and bow to take that land.”