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; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine [that is, adopted as my heirs and sons as surely], as Reuben and Simeon are my sons.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 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: 5, 21-22 (AMP)
Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons as his own sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Adoption means that one takes the child as his own child and that child stands to inherit from the person who adopted him. This would mean that Joseph would get his inheritance from his father and his sons also. In essence the sons of Joseph were now part of the house of Israel. It is interesting to note that throughout the bible there is no reference to the tribe of Joseph among the twelve tribes of Israel, however his sons Ephraim and Manasseh consist of the twelve tribes of Israel.
As we take an over view look at the life of Joseph, it is no secret that he suffered so much from betrayal by his own, to slavery and then to imprisonment without a cause. Later on he is promoted to be the most powerful man after Pharaoh and we now see that God rewarded him greatly for all the years of misery. Infact the reward of the double portion blessing from his father and his sons forming part of the tribes of the great and powerful nation of Israel far outweighs the years of his suffering. Indeed, our God is El Shaddai, the God of more than enough blessing. It reminds me of the promise of Isaiah 61:7
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7
Though Reuben was the firstborn from his father Jacob, Joseph got the firstborn blessing. Remember, that Joseph lived before the time when God gave Moses the law, they all live under the covenant of Abraham which is a grace covenant like us, who live under the grace covenant. The reason I am bringing up the covenant governing their lives then is because under the law, Joseph should have never inherited the double blessing it was only reserved for the firstborn.
“If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have born him sons, and the firstborn son belongs to the unloved wife, then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he cannot treat the son of his loved wife as firstborn in place of the son of the unloved wife—the [actual] firstborn. nstead he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved as the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he was the beginning of his strength (generative power); to him belongs the right of the firstborn. Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (AMP)
It is no secret Jacob had two wives, Leah (the unloved wife) and Rachel (the loved wife). Leah’s firstborn was Jacob’s first child, Reuben who according to the law, it was his birth right to get the double portion of inheritance. However, Rachel’s firstborn, Joseph was Jacob’s most beloved son and instead of Reuben, he inherited the double portion.
Jacob more than anyone else understood the first-born blessing because he not only bought it from his elder twin Esau with a bowl of soup but he also had to trick his father to get it. Jacob though he was passionate about God and possessing all of God’s promises the manner in which he obtained it was contrary to the very nature of God. Hence his name Jacob.
The first-born blessing was ordinary reserved for the firstborn, in most cases in the bible it was a son. Compared to the blessing that the other siblings would receive, the first born blessing was a double portion, it was the best blessing a father could give his son. Ordinary, it was the father who blessed the son. This is a picture of our Heavenly Father blessing His begotten Son Jesus Christ. We who believe in Jesus Christ’s finished work are in Christ (Colossians 3:3) so in essence our Heavenly Father when blessing Christ, He is blessing us with the firstborn blessing that’s why we are co- heirs with Christ.
Jacob, Joseph and Ephraim all received the first born blessing from their father. What is interesting about this is that all of them were not firstborn!! I love it. We can learn something about the nature and character of God from this. We learn that God is gracious and loving and He does not conform to any tradition. He only does His will and it be of great concern to us that we seek God and seek His will be done in our lives because all His plans are good. All this occurred under the covenant of grace and not the law. That why its important to seek the Lord’s will and follow religion blindly.
Remember that God’s is Holy and all He does is Holy so no one can influence His will. He is no respecter of person. God’s Sovereign Choice is expressed eloquently in Romans 9:11-16 (AMP)
…though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything either good or bad, so that God’s purpose [His choice, His election] would stand, not because of works [done by either child], but because of [the plan of] Him who calls them, it was said to her (Rebekah), “The older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob).” As it is written and forever remains written, “Jacob I loved (chose, protected, blessed), but Esau I hated (held in disregard compared to Jacob).”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I have compassion.” So then God’s choice is not dependent on human will, nor on human effort [the totality of human striving], but on God who shows mercy [to whomever He chooses—it is His sovereign gift]. Romans 9:11-16 (AMP).
In contrast to the sovereign will of God is man made tradition or in other term, religion. Tradition such as religion is culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation. It is often created by an individual and the rest of the generations preserve it without questioning its origin or intention of existence. The human nature is accustomed to honouring itself and exalting its ideal and opinion above God’s word. This results in masses blindly following customs and religious traditions instead of seeking the will of God.
It is no wonder Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The perfect will of God does not conform to our customs that’s why we should be dependent on Him like a sheep to its shepherd. We should be teachable like a child , obeying all He tells us only.