● Gen 48:15a . .Then he blessed Joseph
All three men there that day were "Joseph" so the blessing wasn't really directed to Mr. Joseph himself alone but rather to his tribe as a unity.
● Gen 48:15b . . saying: The god in whose ways my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the god who has been my shepherd from my birth to this day--
On the surface it might appear that God was Jacob's shepherd beginning at chapter 28, when he was on the lamb from Esau; but in truth, God was Jacob's shepherd from day one, beginning with Rachel's pregnancy in chapter 25 when God decreed the elder would serve the younger.
That's an interesting note; because it indicates that God foreknew each and every human being who would value spiritual things; and from eternity, he began making sure they survived any and all misfortune in order to take advantage of His salvation. (cf. Eph 1:4-5)
● Gen 48:16a . .The Angel
Referring to God as an angel may be unusual; but certainly not disrespectful. The Old Testament patriarchs never once saw The True God in person, nor heard Him speak; they encountered only representations and apparitions either as voices, fire, wind, smoke, and human forms. Those served as proxies for God, and as such, had to be revered as God.
The "angel of The Lord" appears many, many times in the Old Testament and really means: the messenger of the Lord; which of course we know by now at this point in Genesis was actually the rather curious divine being whose name is his master's.
"No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him." (John 1:18)
The only-begotten hasn't always been known as Jesus. In the dateless past, he was known as The Word.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:1-3)
So right at the gun, from Genesis 1:1 on even till now; the only contact that humanity has ever had with God has been by means of the Angel that Jacob credited with protecting him all along his pilgrim journey just as was promised at Gen 28:12-15.
● Gen 48:16b . . who has redeemed me from all evil--
The word "redemption" is often associated with salvation from the wrath of God; but it primarily means to rescue, spare, and/or provide for and protect. (e.g. Gen 38:6-10, Lev 25:25, Lev 25:47-49, and Ruth 3:1-4:12)
● Gen 48:16c . . may He bless the lads.
Jacob himself was blessed by The Angel in Gen 32:24-29.
Webster's defines "bless" as 1) to speak well of; viz: approve, 2) to confer prosperity or happiness upon, 3) to protect, to preserve, 4) to endow, and 5) to favor.
I suppose there's a middle ground somewhere between blessing and cursing, which could probably be labeled a zone of indifference: but in regards to God, indifference is dangerously close to a curse because where there's indifference, there's no blessing. Some might consider indifference a blessing in itself, but personally I would far rather be blessed than ignored. To be ignored is to be neglected, and in regards to matters of eternal consequence; that can't be a good thing.
● Gen 48:16d . . And may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
Jacob certainly got his wish. The Israelites have survived some pretty extreme genocidal attempts on their existence, but they're still here, and in them, the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have remained famous; and a perpetual reminder of the Bible's God.
What is the purpose of Moses' people anyway? To chafe and annoy the world with their arrogance and their superiority complexes and their famous master-race mentality? No, they hold the distinction of being the one political body on earth who's sacred duty is to prevent the knowledge of God from becoming lost forever; a virtual human depository of divine revelation.
"Moses was in the assembly in the desert, with The Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us." (Acts 7:38)
"the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God." (Rom 3:2)
What Jacob conferred upon Manasseh and Ephraim wasn't just the dubious fortune to be identified with the world's most famous patriarchs, but rather, the solemn duty of perpetuating the patriarchs' religion too. That's a heavy responsibility; one that Esau himself scoffed, and finally traded for a temporary pleasure.
Identification with Israel is not something to brag about; rather, it's something to be frightened about.
"Hear this word, O people of Israel, that Yhvh has spoken concerning you, concerning the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt: You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth-- that is why I will call you to account for all your iniquities." (Amos 3:1-2)
In other words; people called to an association with the Bible's God are held to a higher standard than outsiders.
● Gen 48:16e . . And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
The Hebrew word for "grow" is dagah (daw-gaw'); which means to spawn.
Webster's defines "spawn" as: to produce young; especially in large numbers.
Curiously, this one verse is the only instance in the entire Old Testament where dagah appears.
Increasing by spawning is quite a bit different than increasing by other means like adoption or naturalizing; so the blessing of spawning that Jacob conferred upon the two men is somewhat similar to the blessing of fertility that God conferred upon Adam and his wife at the very beginning. (Gen 1:27-28)
Being fruitful just means being fertile, and doesn't automatically imply generating a multitude, whereas spawning implies both fertility and massive numbers of offspring together. As an example of the proliferation implied by spawning; Coho salmon lay an average of 3,096 eggs per fish in just one run upriver.
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