Twelve Tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh 2018-06-02T11:06:55+00:00

Written by Carl & Julie Parker of
Friday, 21 December 2007
Genesis 47:28 to 50:26
1 Kings 2:1-12

Genesis 47:28 to 48:2
Because of Joseph’s obedience to YHVH and the prominent position he held in the land of Egypt, Jacob and his family were protected and taken care of while living in Goshen. Jacob/Israel had been in the land of Egypt for a total of seventeen years when, knowing how close he was to death, Jacob made burial arrangements with Joseph, his firstborn son. His last request was “to be buried in the land of his anointing.”

Why was it important for Jacob to return home and not be buried outside the promised land? Jacob represented all twelve tribes of Israel. Going home and being buried in the land was prophetic of all Twelve Tribes coming out of the world–the Nations, and the world system (represented by Egypt)–and returning to YHVH and the inheritance He has for us, both physically and spiritually. By an oath, Joseph promised to carry his father’s body back to the land for burial.

Awhile later, when Jacob/Israel was ill, Joseph was summoned to his bedside. He took his two Egyptian-born sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him to see his father, for he understood that the time had come for the promise to be passed on.

When Jacob saw Joseph he said, “El-Shaddai appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you’ ” (Genesis 48:3-4). The same promise and everlasting Covenant given to Abraham in Genesis 13, that was passed on to his son Isaac, the son of promise, then on to his grandson Jacob, was now being passed on to Joseph and his family, the next carriers of the Covenant.

Genesis 48:5-6
After confirming the Covenant to Joseph, Jacob/Israel talked to him about the two sons born to Joseph in Egypt before Jacob’s arrival by making the following unusual statement: “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

[mine]” (Genesis 48:5).

Jacob was saying that Ephraim and Manasseh were to be his full sons–that they were to be as his full BLOOD sons. Even though their mother Asenath was an Egyptian, they were to be considered full sons, as it was the father’s bloodline, not the mother’s, that was important. In this, Jacob was also pronouncing something prophetic for the future of Joseph’s family of coming home to the land and taking up their full inheritance in the Messianic era. This is important information for the returning House of Israel today as they are considered full BLOOD sons, not just adopted or orphaned sons of Jacob’s family, or a gentile with pagan origins. The returning remnant is to be considered full, one hundred percent part of Israel by blood.

To make sure they understood this statement, Jacob added the clause: “as Reuben and Simeon are.” Reuben and Simeon were full blood sons by his wife Leah and not through a maidservant. These two sons were the first and second born of the twelve sons of Jacob. With the above statement, Jacob effectively elevated Ephraim and Manasseh, his grandsons, to first and second born positions, and conferred the Covenant name Israel upon Ephraim along with the firstborn status (Jeremiah 31:9).

All Jacob’s sons were equal in YHVH’s sight but this statement was made as an important announcement to the brothers of Joseph, for their jealousy in the past had led them to hate Joseph and plan his murder. Jacob bypassed sibling rivalry and protected Joseph’s children and their future inheritance from that day on. There would be no robbery of Joseph and his sons’ inheritance. Their position as full sons of Jacob was protected and prophetically guaranteed, setting the stage for the future return of all Twelve Tribes back to the land. Not one tribe would be left out or missing. This was what the story of Joseph was really about, the preservation of the whole House of Jacob.

Jacob gave the birthright to his beloved Rachel’s firstborn son. He gave it to Joseph and to Joseph’s sons. In ancient Israel the birthright consisted of a double portion, as well as family preeminence (the right to act as the next family ruler). The Almighty commanded that the father must “acknowledge the firstborn…by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn” (Deuteronomy 21:17).

The firstborn was given a double portion, that he might be equipped to act as a kinsman-redeemer for his brethren. This right of the firstborn speaks of preeminence, primogeniture, the right to act as family ruler, to dispense justice, and to be the family redeemer.

He received the right to inherit family leadership (Genesis 43:33). Preferential status: sanctity, authority, sovereignty, responsibility, and right of succession accrued to (him)…he became the next head of the family…and embodied the soul and character of the social group, becoming responsible for its continuance and welfare.

Note: Ephraim and Manasseh were not adopted. The word adopted described one who generally had no blood ties to the family adopting them. Ephraim and Manasseh had Joseph’s (and Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham’s) blood in them. The Hebraic interpretation of adoption is absolute. The Greek interpretation of adoption leaves room for debate, implying the thought of second-class citizens. Adoption is another word introduced by the King James Version of the Brit Chadasha/New Testament. It is this interpretation that leads to the phrase and mindset of being spiritual Israelites. Many people today think they are solely spiritual Israel because the word adoption is used. The correct rendering of adoption in Scripture should be sonship. We who believe in the Messiah are full blood sons of Israel and heirs according to the eternal, everlasting promises given Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham… If you belong to Yeshua, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:7, 29).

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death… For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants (Hebrews 2:14, 16).

Note: This is neither British Israelism nor replacement theology. Do not let anyone lord anything over you, bully, or rob you of your rightful position and inheritance as part of Israel. Those who do are speaking from ignorance, or from what they have learned through man’s teaching that is not scriptural. The whole House of Israel–all twelve tribes are being recognized individually and as a whole, and are coming home. Scripture is very clear, those who believe are Abraham’s seed. Seed in the Greek is sperma (Strong’s #4690), meaning PHYSICAL SEED. Jacob did not have spiritual sons; Abraham’s seed is not merely spiritual or spiritual Israel but physical and physical Israel!

Romans 4:9-17 The Covenant Given To Abraham
Now is this blessing for the circumcised only? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say that Abraham’s trust was credited to his account as righteousness; but what state was he in when it was so credited, circumcision or uncircumcision? Not in circumcision but in uncircumsion! In fact, he received circumcision as a sign, as a seal of the righteousness he had been credited with on the ground of the trust he had while he was still uncircumcised. This happened so that he could be the father of every uncircumcised person who trusts and thus has righteousness credited to him. AND AT THE SAME TIME be the father of every circumcised person who not only has had circumcision, but also follows in the footsteps of the trust which Abraham our father had when he was still uncircumcised [He is the Father of both].

For the promise to Abraham and his seed that he would inherit the world did not come through legalism but through the righteousness that trust produces. For if the heirs are produced by legalism, then trust is pointless and the promise worthless. For law brings punishment. But where there is no law, there is also no violation.

The reason the promise is based on trusting is so that it may come as YHVH’s free gift, a promise that can be relied on by ALL the seed, not only those who live within the framework of the Torah, but also those with the kind of trust Abraham had – He is the father of us ALL (Ephraim and Judah). This accords with the Tanakh, where it says, “I have made you a father of many nations” (CJB, ref. Genesis 17:5; Romans 3:30).

The problem with the body of believers in Messiah today is that many do not know who they are. They have no identity. If a people do not know who they are, they do not develop a respect for their heritage. If we are part of Israel coming home, we have a place, a people and a blessing in our Hebraic heritage according to an eternal covenant. Today, many have lost that identity and are walking as lost sheep without a shepherd. When we lose our identity a veil covers our heart due to our lack of understanding. Not knowing we are full, physical sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (meaning full blood relatives) causes us to miss our inheritance and be able to see only partially.

On the other hand, many today from the House of Judah tend to focus heavily on the “law” (contained in the Mosaic Covenant) or the legal end of the Torah, without the fullness of Torah, or the Spirit of Torah, Yeshua. In doing so they miss the LIFE in Torah. The Mosaic Covenant can, in fact, also be understood as the teachings of Yeshua to Moses (John 5:46-47) and is the foundation of our Covenant with our Savior. But to separate law from the Spirit or Life of Torah (Yeshua) produces death. You cannot have one without the other. It is like having an engine without a car, or a motor without gas. Spirit (Yeshua) and Truth (Torah) must come together, as we cannot produce this life on our own. To walk in Torah and Yeshua is a gift from YHVH.

As carriers of the scepter (Torah), many in Judah have not recognized–or are unwilling to recognize–their brother Joseph and have missed the understanding and fullness of his return and heritage. Yes, Ephraim/Israel may still look Egyptian, but he is their full blood relative. Joseph’s brothers are still quarrelling and jealous. This is preventing them from coming home. Joseph is waking up to his heritage and coming to walk in his full sonship in the Covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that is renewed and fulfilled in the Messiah. Ephraim is learning to walk in YHVH’s promises stated in His teaching and instruction (Torah), is learning to keep the Sabbaths, Feasts and New Moon festivals and learning the difference between clean and unclean, holy and unholy. In this, Joseph will declare the truth (Torah) by the Spirit (Yeshua) and share the fullness of the “gospel,” originally given us at Mount Sinai, with his brothers. This is how all the Nations will be blessed (Exodus 19:5-6; Ezekiel 44:23-24).

Jacob continued, “Any children born to you after them (Ephraim and Manasseh) will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers (Ephraim and Manasseh)” (Genesis 48:6). No other children from Joseph would be in the position that Ephraim and Manasseh would hold.

Genesis 48:8-22 Ephraim and Manasseh
After pronouncing this divine announcement, Jacob’s eyes were now open to see Ephraim and Manasseh as if for the first time. He asked Joseph, “Who are these with you?” Joseph responded they were Ephraim and Manasseh, two sons who were prophetic of Joseph becoming doubly fruitful in the “wilderness”. Jacob asked they be brought closer that he might see them, prophetic of the future events of Joseph’s life, family, and his descendents who have remained hidden yet are alive!

The time had come for Jacob to pass on the firstborn blessing to “his” children by the laying on of hands. The younger son Ephraim was in front of Jacob’s left hand and the firstborn Manasseh was before his right hand. The right hand represented the authority of YHVH and is used when blessing and passing on inheritance. Jacob, being led by the Ruach HaChodesh/Holy Spirit, placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head and not on Manasseh’s head. He crossed his hands and pronounced the firstborn blessing upon the younger son, Ephraim, saying, “May YHVH before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, Elohim who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm, may He bless these boys. May they be called by my name (Israel) and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth” (Genesis 48:15-16).

Joseph was shocked when he saw his father’s right hand on Ephraim’s head instead of Manasseh’s head. He questioned his father about this but Jacob confirmed his choice by saying, “He (Manasseh) will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother (Ephraim) will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

The “fullness of the nations” is the House of Israel/Ephraim. The word goyim is Hebrew for Nations and has been incorrectly transliterated as Gentiles in some translations, especially in the Brit Chadasha/New Testament. When this happened, the understanding that the Nations held Jacob’s children was completely missed or lost, because the word gentile had no relationship to the Tribes of Jacob or anything Hebraic in the Bible. People became blind to their heritage and lost to the full understanding of Yeshua in the Brit Chadasha/New Testament. The word gentile means: a confused pagan without God, a group other than one’s own. Gentile does not describe YHVH’s people or those in Yeshua. When Yeshua indwells His people they are no longer confused, pagans or without God!

It is interesting to note that it was Jacob who passed the blessing on to Joseph’s sons and not Joseph himself. It was customary for a father to bless his sons before he passed away, with a special prayer of double blessing to rest on his firstborn son, or the son that would step into the role of firstborn, the leader of the family. In this case, however, we see Jacob bypassed Joseph’s authority and chose to directly pray that foremost blessing over YHVH’s chosen son, Ephraim, whose name means “doubly fruitful” or “I shall be doubly fruitful.” For Jacob, the memory of usurping Esau, his father’s choice for the birthright, may have been on his heart. Knowing Manasseh was Joseph’s first choice, Jacob obeyed the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit and eliminated the chance of a recurrence of the circumstances in which he had received the firstborn status instead of Esau, which caused years of alienation. This also confirmed that Ephraim and Manasseh were to be as Jacob’s true sons, and as their father, he blessed them.

Genesis 48:20 Blessing the Sons of Israel
With the formalities over, now came the final blessing, a blessing that is still pronounced over the sons of the Covenant today: “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May YHVH make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’ So he [Jacob] put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.”

Genesis 48:21-22 Future Return
He then said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but YHVH will be with you [plural] and take you back to the land of your fathers.” This statement was prophetic for all Joseph’s descendants today.

When Jacob was about to die he assigned Joseph and Joseph’s family an allotment in the land. Jacob knew Egypt was only a temporary dwelling and the promises of YHVH were always before him. He spoke of the future to Joseph and gave him a portion of land above, or more than, his brothers. The word portion is in Hebrew the word shechem; shechem is also the word for shoulder, ridge, share, a city in Northern Israel, and the area around the northern city. Shechem is in the area called the West Bank today, a hotly disputed piece of property that has been used in bartering for peace.

Genesis 49:1-28 Jacob Blesses His Sons
All twelve sons receive prophetic blessings as Jacob’s life closes. He called to them, “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” As Jacob blessed each son, we see that Judah was given “the scepter.” Jacob said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a scholar from among his descendants until Shiloh arrives.”