Daily Word

Instant adoption | Genesis 48:1-7

1 Now some time after these things happened, Joseph was told, “Your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him [to go to Goshen]. 2 And when Jacob (Israel) was told, “Look now, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. 3 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a great company of people, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ 

5 Now your two sons [Ephraim and Manasseh], who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine [that is, adopted as my heirs and sons as surely], as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. 6 But other sons who were born to you after them shall be your own; they shall be called by the names of their [two] brothers in their inheritance. 7 Now as for me, when I came from Paddan [in Mesopotamia], Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”

Genesis 48:1-7 (AMP)

Joseph visits dad

Israel (Jacob) is about to kick the bucket. Joseph hears about it and takes a trip to visit him in Goshen. He takes along his two sons. Israel is excited to see his two sons and welcomes them. The first thing he does is tell Joseph that God met with him and promised him descendents and land…everlasting. This happened when Jacob was sent by Isaac to Haran to get a wife in his younger years (Genesis 28:13), then again after he returned (Genesis 35:9-15). JFB commentary suggests Jacob brought this up to keep Joseph connected to the family and the promise, and not divert to the Egyptians. 

Instant adoption

Jacob then claims Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh as his own, as if they were Reuben and Simeon. This basically displaced Joseph from the list of sons. Or, you could say it doubled his place. Dr. Constable of planobiblechapel.org has the same thought: “By adopting Joseph’s first two sons as his own, and giving them equal standing with Joseph’s brothers, Jacob was bestowing on Joseph the double portion of the birthright (v. 5; cf. v. 22; 1 Chron. 5:1-2).”

Because Jacob brings up Rachel, it’s thought Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons out of respect for Rachel, the wife he first and most loved. Joseph was one of her two sons. He was the favored one (Genesis 37:1-4) – which caused trouble.


  • Do you know anyone who’s been adopted? Do you know that you’ve been adopted… by God (Romans 8:15)? 
Adoption. Image from nashvilleparent.com *

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