Now [in the course of time] there was no food in all the land, for the famine was distressingly severe, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan languished [in destitution and starvation] because of the famine. Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan [in payment] for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when the money was exhausted in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Why should we die before your very eyes? For our money is gone.” Joseph said, “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, since the money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord [the fact] that our money is spent; my lord also has our herds of livestock; there is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we and our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed [to plant], that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”
Result of the Famine
So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every Egyptian sold his field because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he relocated them [temporarily] to cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other. Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived on the amount which Pharaoh gave them, so they did not sell their land. Then Joseph said to the people, “Look, today I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you shall plant the land. At harvest time [when you reap the increase] you shall give one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and four-fifths will be your own to use for seed for the field and as food for you and those of your households and for your little ones.” And they said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt—valid to this [a]day—that Pharaoh should have the fifth part [of the crops]; only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.
Now [the people of] Israel lived in the country of Egypt, in [the land of] Goshen, and they gained possessions and acquired property there and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the [b]length of Jacob’s life was a hundred and forty-seven years.
And when the time drew near for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, [c]please put your hand under my thigh and [promise to] deal loyally and faithfully with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers [in death], you will carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place [at Hebron in the cave of Machpelah].” And Joseph said, “I will do as you have directed.” Then he said, “Swear to me [that you will do it].” So he swore to him. Then Israel (Jacob) bowed in worship at the head of the bed.
- Genesis 47:26 I.e. the time of Moses.
- Genesis 47:28 Lit the days of Jacob, the years of his.
- Genesis 47:29 I.e. this was a customary manner of taking a solemn oath.
Israel’s Last Days
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]. And when Jacob (Israel) was told, “Look now, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, “[a]God Almighty appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 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.’ 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; [b]Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine [that is, adopted as my heirs and sons as surely], as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. 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. 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).”
When Israel [who was almost blind] saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here [in Egypt].” So he said, “Please bring them to me, so that I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were so dim from age that he could not see [clearly]. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, but see, God has shown me your children as well.” Then Joseph took the boys [from his father’s embrace], and he bowed [before him] with his face to the ground. Then Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, [c]crossing his hands [intentionally], even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Then Jacob (Israel) blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked [in faithful obedience],
The God who has been my Shepherd [leading and caring for me] all my life to this day,
The [d]Angel [that is, the Lord Himself] who has redeemed me [continually] from all evil,
Bless the boys;
And may my name live on in them [may they be worthy of having their names linked with mine],
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a [great] multitude in the midst of the earth.”
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him [because he was not the firstborn]; and he grasped his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn; place your right hand on Manasseh’s head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; Manasseh also will become a people and he will be great; but his younger brother shall be [e]greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” Then Jacob blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce a blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
And he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to [Canaan] the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given you [the [f]birthright,] one portion [Shechem, one mountain ridge] more than any of your brothers, which I took [reclaiming it] from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
- Genesis 48:3 Heb El Shaddai.
- Genesis 48:5 This act of adoption effectively gave Joseph the birthright and a double allotment of the territory of the promised land when it was apportioned by Joshua (Josh 16; 17). The second son, Ephraim, was named before his older brother because Jacob planned to give him the primary blessing.
- Genesis 48:14 God acts independently of priority based on birth order when He chooses men. He too “crossed His hands” in the case of Seth whom He chose over Cain; of Shem over Japheth; of Isaac over Ishmael; of Jacob over Esau; of Judah and Joseph over Reuben; of Moses over Aaron; and of David over all his brothers.
- Genesis 48:16 See note 16:7.
- Genesis 48:19 This prophecy begins to be fulfilled during the time of the judges, as the tribe of Ephraim increased in prominence and became the head of the northern ten tribes. Joshua, whom Israel regarded as their ruler, was an Ephraimite. The ark of the covenant was placed in Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim, which also increased the tribe’s prestige. By its fulfillment, Jacob’s prophecy proved to be divinely inspired.
- Genesis 48:22 See note 49:3.