Apr 13, 2014 |Genesis

The End of an Era

04.13.14 | Genesis

The End of an Era

Noel Heikkinen

The last three chapters of Genesis show us that the life of Joseph (just like the rest of Genesis and the Bible, for that matter) is all about Jesus.

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Genesis 48-50 (Use this link to take notes in your Faithlife Study Bible)

Last fall, we began our journey through the book of Genesis with the very first words in the Bible:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

As we cover the final 3 chapters of Genesis, we’re going to see a lot of the recurring themes one more time.

After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ (Genesis 48:1–4)

Remember these two stories of blessing?

Jacob’s Ladder (Genesis 28)

Jacob being renamed “Israel” (Genesis 35)

And now your two sons, 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, as Reuben and Simeon are. And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. (Genesis 48:5–6)

Jacob is not stealing his grandsons; he is blessing Joseph through his grandsons.

And he blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,

the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;

and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;

and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (Genesis 48:15–16)

Notice who the blessing was for: Joseph.

When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying,

‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’ ”

Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:17–20)

This has been a consistent theme in Scripture – the inheritance of the firstborn is given to another:

  1. Ishmael and Isaac
  2. Jacob and Esau
  3. Joseph and Reuben
  4. Ephraim and Manasseh

Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.

“Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father.” (Genesis 48:21–49:2)


“Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch! (Genesis 49:3–4)

Simeon and Levi

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel. (Genesis 49:5–7)


“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:8–12)


“Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;

he shall become a haven for ships,

and his border shall be at Sidon. (Genesis 49:13)


“Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor. (Genesis 49:14–15)


“Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

I wait for your salvation, O Lord. (Genesis 49:16–18)


“Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels. (Genesis 49:19)


“Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies. (Genesis 49:20)


“Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns. (Genesis 49:21)


“Joseph is a fruitful bough,

a fruitful bough by a spring;

his branches run over the wall.

The archers bitterly attacked him,

shot at him, and harassed him severely,

yet his bow remained unmoved;

his arms were made agile

by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob

(from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),

by the God of your father who will help you,

by the Almighty who will bless you

with blessings of heaven above,

blessings of the deep that crouches beneath,

blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

The blessings of your father

are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents,

up to the bounties of the everlasting hills.

May they be on the head of Joseph,

and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers. (Genesis 49:22–26)


“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.” (Genesis 49:27)

Many (if not all) of these prophecies came to bear in the life of these guys.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15–21)

How Joseph handled this is a beautiful picture to end this series with:

  1. He told them he was not in the place of God

  2. Reminded them of God’s character and gave him the glory

  3. Loved his enemies

The last three chapters of Genesis show us that the life of Joseph (just like the rest of Genesis and the Bible, for that matter) is all about Jesus.