● Gen 48:8b-10a . . saw the sons of Joseph, he asked: Who are these? They are the sons God has given me here; Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said: Bring them to me so I may bless them. Now Israel's eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see.
The leading cause of eyesight problems in older people is a condition known as Macular Degeneration. The cone cells within the human eye work hard all our lives, and when their waste products build up faster than the body can clear them, tiny yellow spots can form around the fovea. As a person ages, those plaques, along with leaky blood vessels, tend to interrupt normal rod and cone functioning.
When you add MD into the mix with cataracts, glaucoma, and stiffening of the lens, then the victim is really in a bad state of affairs; and in Jacob's day, there was absolutely nothing people could do about it.
I've heard young people say that old people are cute; and that's probably because of the grandpa/grandma charisma connected with senior citizens. Well; let me tell those youngsters something: getting old is neither fun nor cute; no, not at all. The aging process is a living death: it's cruel, it's disagreeable, and it's destructive.
It disfigures our faces, puts bags under our eyes, diminishes our libido, thins our hair, dulls our hearing, misshapes our figures, makes us smell, sags our flesh, adds pounds where we don't want them, shrinks our muscles, stiffens our joints, weakens our stomach, recedes our gums, robs of us vitality and stamina, makes us look haggard, turns down the corners of our mouths giving us permanent frowns, and seriously diminishes our quality of life as we slowly disintegrate like crumbling infrastructure.
The comedienne Joan Rivers once remarked that her best birth control in old age is just to leave the lights on. Another effective birth control for senior citizens is nudity.
It would be difficult to believe that Jacob didn't recognize his own grandsons; but with failing eyesight, it's to be expected that he would require verbal authentication of their identities before proceeding with the sacred business at hand.
● Gen 48:10b-12 . . So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph: I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well. Joseph then removed them from his knees, and bowed low with his face to the ground.
I seriously doubt the boys were sitting on Jacob's knees since they were grown men; but the wording suggests they had each taken a turn kneeling between Jacob's knees so he could embrace them and then got up and stepped back to let the other in. In the next sequence, the brothers likely knelt again, only this time one on either side, so Jacob could reach the tops of both their heads from a sitting position.
I'm guessing Joseph's bow was either a gesture of whole-hearted approval and/or submission to Jacob's position as the supreme, God-appointed patriarch over Moses' people at that time so that whatever Jacob says, goes, regardless of how anybody else in the family, including Joseph, might feel about it.
Would to God the elderly were treated with such respect nowadays. One of my favorite movie lines is from "Moonstruck" starring Cher and Nicolas Cage wherein the grandpa makes this statement at the breakfast table one morning prior to offering his son a father's advice. "I am old; and the old are not wanted. And if they say it, they have no weight."
In other words: the typical young person really doesn't care too much for an elderly person's opinions; nor even for their feelings. There was a time when my grown son would force me to give him room in a narrow hallway so he wouldn't have to shoulder me aside as we passed. He not only wouldn't yield to a senior citizen, but he wouldn't even yield to his own biological father; and to this day-- in his thirties and no less inconsiderate, no less arrogant, and no less aggressive than when he was in college --actually has the chutzpah to regard himself a Christian man.
● Gen 48:13-14 . . And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel's left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel's right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
Jacob's inspired intuition guided his hands to the boy God wanted to have the higher rank in spite of the natural dictates of primogeniture.
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