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SBL e-journal

Zev Farber

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2014

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Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

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https://thetorah.com/article/jacobs-multiple-death-scenes

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Zev Farber

,

,

,

"

Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

"

TheTorah.com

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2014

)

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https://thetorah.com/article/jacobs-multiple-death-scenes

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Symposium

Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

Bringing Parashat Vayechi to Life

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Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

Jacob blesses his sons, Jan Luyken, 1708, Rijksmuseum.nl

Introduction: The Anti-Climatic Ending of the Joseph Narrative

The Joseph story stands out as one of the more riveting and fast paced narratives in the Bible. The selling of Joseph by his brothers, the temptation of his master’s wife, his rise from prisoner to second in command of Egypt, and the tension with his brothers whom he recognizes but who do not recognize him—all of these scenes capture the readers’ attention and keep them waiting for more. Not so the narrative in Parashat Vayechi. From the moment that Joseph and his father reconnect, the story becomes anti-climactic. The scenes with Jacob and his sons seem wordy and drawn out, and the timeline is hard to follow.

In this piece, I wish to focus particularly on Jacob’s death scenes (there are more than one) and try to make sense of the narrative.

Part 1

Four Narrative Problems in Parshat Vayechi

There are four main problems with the Jacob’s death narrative.

1. Multiple Deathbed Scenes

A deathbed scene is a powerful and useful way to have a character say goodbye in a story. The significance of such a scene is doubled when the character dying is Jacob/Israel, the founding father of the Children of Israel, after whom the people Israel are named. However, the Torah provides two, or perhaps even three, deathbed scenes.

  • In 47:29, we are told that “the time approached for Israel to die,” so he summons Joseph to ask him to promise not to bury him in Egypt.
  • Some time later, according to 48:1, Joseph is told that his father is ill, so he takes his sons to visit his father to receive a blessing.
  • Then, in ch. 49, Jacob calls all of his sons to his bed and blesses them. He then tells them that he is dying and makes them promise to bury him with his parents.

2. Two Burial Instructions

Jacob twice expresses his desire not to be buried in Egypt but to be buried in his homeland. In 47:29-31 he extracts this promise from Joseph, and then again in 49:29-33, he instructs all his sons to bury him the cave of Machpelah. What are we to make of these two separate burial instruction from Jacob?

3. The Disjointed Blessings of Ephraim and Manasseh

The account of Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh takes up virtually all of chapter 48. Not only is the length surprising, but the account itself is choppy.[1]

  • Jacob first agrees to adopt Ephraim and Manasseh as his own, mentioning them by name (v. 5), but then asks who they are (v. 8).
  • The blessing takes place 17 years after Jacob moves to Egypt (47:28), yet he speaks as if he doesn’t know who Ephraim and Manasseh are (v. 8) and is amazed to see Joseph’s sons (v. 11).
  • Ephraim and Manasseh, born before the years of famine (41:50), are at least 19 years old, yet they seem to be sitting on or behind Joseph’s knees (v. 12).
  • Jacob blesses the boys twice (vv. 15-17 and v. 20).
  • Joseph notices that Jacob switches his arms to put his right hand on Ephraim (vv. 17-18), yet he only tries to stop Jacob from doing this after Jacob gives the (first) blessing.

4. The Brothers’ Belated Panic

In chapter 50, the Torah states that “the brothers’ saw that their father was dead,” and they panicked, worried that Joseph would now avenge himself against them. This reaction is strange for a number of reasons.

  • Their father died at the end of chapter 49. The account of his burial says that the embalming takes 40 days; the mourning in Egypt takes 70 days, followed by the trip to Canaan and back for the burial, including a 7-day mourning ritual. In other words, by the time of this verse, it has been at least half a year since Jacob’s death. It seems odd to introduce a story that takes place half a year or more after his death with the words “the brothers’ saw that their father was dead” as opposed to the more general “after (אחרי) the death of their father.”
  • Joseph and his brothers already talked this issue out when Joseph introduced himself in 45:4-8. Although it is possible that the brothers just didn’t believe him then, it does seem odd to be playing out the same panic and the same discussion more than 17 years later.
Part 2

Traditional Piecemeal Approach: Peshat and Midrash  

The traditional meforshim notice many of these problems, and offer piecemeal solutions.

1. Multiple Deathbed Scenes

Ramban (1194-1270) noticed the problem of the multiple deathbed scenes (47:29-31 and ch. 48) and tries to explain:

And when the time approached for Israel to die – the meaning of this is that when the time for Israel to die came near he called his son Joseph, this was during the final year of his life. The point is that he felt his strength fading and was becoming weaker, not that he was ill but he knew that he would not live much longer, therefore he called for his son, Joseph. But after Joseph returned to Egypt [from visiting his father in Goshen] he [Jacob] became ill, and it was told to Joseph, and he came before him [a second time] with his two sons so that he [Jacob] would bless them (47:29).[2]

2. Two Burial Instructions

Ramban also noticed the problem of Jacob’s double burial instructions and offers the following solution:

Rabbi Abraham [ibn Ezra] says that what Jacob means by telling [the brothers] “bury me with my fathers” is that the brothers should go with Joseph [who had already promised to go bury Jacob with his fathers.] Jacob didn’t really need to say this, but he commanded all of them now to bury him in the cave [of Machpelah] as Joseph already promised to do, since he was afraid that Pharaoh might not give Joseph permission to leave the country, lest he tarry in his homeland (49:29).[3]

3. The Disjointed Blessings of Ephraim and Manasseh
The disjointed nature of the blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh was noticed by the rabbis.  Regarding the question of why Jacob asked who they were, the traditional commentators offer a number of suggestions:

  • A Simple Vision Problem
    Noticing that verse 10 references Jacob’s poor eyesight, ibn Ezra, Radak and Chizkuni all suggest that verse 8 doesn’t mean to imply that Jacob doesn’t know who Ephraim and Manasseh are, only that he doesn’t realize that the people standing before him are Ephraim and Manasseh because he can’t see them well.[4]
  • Who is the Children’s Mother?
    Taking a more midrashic approach, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan takes a different approach, and has Jacob ask the question “who gave birth to these,” in other words, he is asking about whom Joseph married. The question would stem from a fear of intermarriage which is why, in Pseudo-Jonathan’s translation, Joseph answers by saying that his wife, Asenath, is the daughter of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter (Joseph’s half-sister), thereby quelling his father’s fear of intermarriage and illegitimate progeny.
  • What kind of Children are they? 
    Another midrash, appearing in a number of collections and quoted by Rashi, offers a creative retelling of the story. Jacob saw the boys and knew who they were, but as he was about to bless them the shechinah (divine presence) disappeared because of the wicked progeny of each—Jeroboam and Ahab from Ephraim and Jehu from Manasseh. However, Jacob worries that the meaning of the shekhinah’s abandonment of him is that these boys themselves were wicked or unworthy. What Jacob asks Joseph is, “How could such children come from you?!”In this reading, Joseph responds by saying that his sons are good boys (Pesiqta Zutrata). Furthermore, they are legitimate children, since the marriage was legal and halakhic. Joseph even has Asenath bring her shetar erusin (marriage document) and her ketubah (Rashi,Midrash Aggada [Buber ed.], Riva) to prove they are legitimate. In Rashi’s version of this midrash, Joseph ends by praying for mercy for his sons, and the shechinah returns to Jacob, enabling the blessing.

4. The Brothers’ Belated Panic
Noting that the sentence “the brothers’ saw that their father had died” makes little sense in this context, the traditional commentators ask, “what did they see exactly?” The meforshim suggest two main solutions:

  1. One group[5] suggests that before Jacob’s death, Joseph used to have dinner with his brothers on a regular basis, and they noticed that now that their father was dead and they returned from the funeral, Joseph no longer dined with them.
  1. Another group[6] suggests that on the trip to Canaan, Joseph stopped off in Dothan and found the pit into which he was thrown, and offered a prayer of thanks to God. The brothers took this as a sign that what they did to him was still fresh in his mind and they panicked.

These colorful but fanciful explanations for the brothers’ fear highlight the surprising nature of their reaction at this stage in the narrative.

Part 3

A Source Critical Approach 

A source critical approach suggests that the multiple problems in Jacob’s long death sequence comes from multiple versions of the story, which are reproduced below:[7]

1 & 2.  Multiple Deathbed Scenes and Two Burial Promises

Three main speeches narrate Jacob/Israel saying that he is dying or speaking out of certainty that he is dying. Each of these speeches comes from a different source. [Note: // represents where the seams are.]

J
Burial in Canaan: Asking Joseph
E
Returning to Canaan
P
Burial in Canaan:
Asking the Brothers
47:29 And when the time approached for Israel to die, he summoned his son Joseph and said to him, “Do me this favor, place your hand under my thigh as a pledge of your steadfast loyalty: please do not bury me in Egypt. 47:30 When I lie down with my fathers, take me up from Egypt and bury me in their burial-place.” He replied, “I will do as you have spoken.”47:31 And he said, “Swear to me.” And he swore to him. Then Israel bowed at the head of the bed. 48:21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die; but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 48:22 And now, I assign to you one Shechem (portion?) more than to your brothers, which I wrested from the Amorites with my sword and bow.” 49:1 And Jacob called his sons[8] // 49:29 and he instructed them, saying to them, “I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 49:30 the cave which is in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site—49:31 there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah—49:32 the field and the cave in it, bought from the Hittites.” 49:33 When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his people.
מז:כט וַיִּקְרְב֣וּ יְמֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ לָמוּת֒ וַיִּקְרָ֣א׀ לִבְנ֣וֹ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ שִֽׂים־נָ֥א יָדְךָ֖ תַּ֣חַת יְרֵכִ֑י וְעָשִׂ֤יתָ עִמָּדִי֙ חֶ֣סֶד וֶאֱמֶ֔ת אַל־נָ֥א תִקְבְּרֵ֖נִי בְּמִצְרָֽיִם: מז:ל וְשָֽׁכַבְתִּי֙ עִם־אֲבֹתַ֔י וּנְשָׂאתַ֙נִי֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וּקְבַרְתַּ֖נִי בִּקְבֻרָתָ֑ם וַיֹּאמַ֕ר אָנֹכִ֖י אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה כִדְבָרֶֽךָ: מז:לאוַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִשָּֽׁבְעָה֙ לִ֔י וַיִּשָּׁבַ֖ע ל֑וֹ וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ הַמִּטָּֽה:
מח:כא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף הִנֵּ֥ה אָנֹכִ֖י מֵ֑ת וְהָיָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם וְהֵשִׁ֣יב אֶתְכֶ֔ם אֶל־אֶ֖רֶץ אֲבֹתֵיכֶֽם:מח:כב וַאֲנִ֞י נָתַ֧תִּֽי לְךָ֛ שְׁכֶ֥ם אַחַ֖ד עַל־אַחֶ֑יךָ אֲשֶׁ֤ר לָקַ֙חְתִּי֙ מִיַּ֣ד הָֽאֱמֹרִ֔י בְּחַרְבִּ֖י וּבְקַשְׁתִּֽי:
מט:א וַיִּקְרָ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב אֶל־בָּנָ֑יו // מט:כט וַיְצַ֣ו אוֹתָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אֲנִי֙ נֶאֱסָ֣ף אֶל־עַמִּ֔י קִבְר֥וּ אֹתִ֖י אֶל־אֲבֹתָ֑י אֶל־הַ֨מְּעָרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּשְׂדֵ֖ה עֶפְר֥וֹן הַֽחִתִּֽי: מט:ל בַּמְּעָרָ֞ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר בִּשְׂדֵ֧ה הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֛ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־פְּנֵי־מַמְרֵ֖א בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן אֲשֶׁר֩ קָנָ֨ה אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֶת־ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה מֵאֵ֛ת עֶפְרֹ֥ן הַחִתִּ֖י לַאֲחֻזַּת־קָֽבֶר: מט:לא שָׁ֣מָּה קָֽבְר֞וּ אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֗ם וְאֵת֙ שָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ שָׁ֚מָּה קָבְר֣וּ אֶת־יִצְחָ֔ק וְאֵ֖ת רִבְקָ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֑וֹ וְשָׁ֥מָּה קָבַ֖רְתִּי אֶת־לֵאָֽה: מט:לב מִקְנֵ֧ה הַשָּׂדֶ֛ה וְהַמְּעָרָ֥ה אֲשֶׁר־בּ֖וֹ מֵאֵ֥ת בְּנֵי־חֵֽת: מט:לג וַיְכַ֤ל יַעֲקֹב֙ לְצַוֹּ֣ת אֶת־בָּנָ֔יו וַיֶּאֱסֹ֥ף רַגְלָ֖יו אֶל־הַמִּטָּ֑ה וַיִּגְוַ֖ע וַיֵּאָ֥סֶף אֶל־עַמָּֽיו:

This source division also solves the problem of why Jacob asks Joseph to swear to bury him in his homeland and then make all of his sons (including Joseph) promise the same thing. The source critical answer is that in J he makes the request of Joseph and in P of all his sons. (E has no reference to where Jacob wishes to be buried.)

3. The Disjointed Blessings of Ephraim and Manasseh

The blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh appears overly long and disjointed because it combines two scenes, one for E and one from P. In the P scene, Jacob has already been in Egypt for 17 years, and he knows his grandchildren who are adults. In the E scene, Jacob has just arrived in Egypt, and has never met his grandsons, who are still children.

E
Blessing Joseph’s Sons Upon Arrival
P 
Blessing Joseph’s Sons 17 Years Later
48:8 Noticing Joseph’s sons, Israel asked, “Who are these?” 48:9a And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” // 48:11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well.” 48:12 Joseph then removed them from his knees, and bowed low with his face to the ground. 48:13 Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand—to Israel’s left—and Manasseh with his left hand—to Israel’s right—and brought them close to him.48:14 But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head—thus crossing his hands—although Manasseh was the first-born. // 48:17 When Joseph saw that his father was placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he thought it wrong; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s. 48:18“Not so, Father,” Joseph said to his father, “for the other is the first-born; place your right hand on his head.” 48:19 But his father objected, saying, “I know, my son, I know. He too shall become a people, and he too shall be great. Yet his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall be plentiful enough for nations.” 48:20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you shall Israel invoke blessings, saying: God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.  47:28 Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt, so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one hundred and forty-seven years. // 48:3 And Jacob said to Joseph, “El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and He blessed me, 48:4 and said to me, ‘I will make you fertile and numerous, making of you a community of peoples; and I will assign this land to your offspring to come for an everlasting possession.’ 48:5 Now, your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine no less than Reuben and Simeon. 48:6 But progeny born to you after them shall be yours; they shall be recorded instead of their brothers in their inheritance. // 48:15 And he blessed Joseph, 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—48:16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—Bless the lads. In them may my name be recalled, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, And may they be teeming multitudes upon the earth.”
מח:ח וַיַּ֥רְא יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיֹּ֖אמֶר מִי־אֵֽלֶּה:מח:טa וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יוֹסֵף֙ אֶל־אָבִ֔יו בָּנַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־נָֽתַן־לִ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּזֶ֑ה // מח:יא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף רְ֥אֹה פָנֶ֖יךָ לֹ֣א פִלָּ֑לְתִּי וְהִנֵּ֨ה הֶרְאָ֥ה אֹתִ֛י אֱלֹהִ֖ים גַּ֥ם אֶת־זַרְעֶֽךָ: מח:יב וַיּוֹצֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֹתָ֖ם מֵעִ֣ם בִּרְכָּ֑יו וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ לְאַפָּ֖יו אָֽרְצָה: מח:יג וַיִּקַּ֣ח יוֹסֵף֘ אֶת־שְׁנֵיהֶם֒ אֶת־אֶפְרַ֤יִם בִּֽימִינוֹ֙ מִשְּׂמֹ֣אל יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֶת־מְנַשֶּׁ֥ה בִשְׂמֹאל֖וֹ מִימִ֣ין יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיַּגֵּ֖שׁ אֵלָֽיו: מח:יד וַיִּשְׁלַח֩ יִשְׂרָאֵ֨ל אֶת־יְמִינ֜וֹ וַיָּ֨שֶׁת עַל־רֹ֤אשׁ אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ וְה֣וּא הַצָּעִ֔יר וְאֶת־שְׂמֹאל֖וֹ עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה שִׂכֵּל֙ אֶת־יָדָ֔יו כִּ֥י מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה הַבְּכֽוֹר: // מח:יז וַיַּ֣רְא יוֹסֵ֗ף כִּי־יָשִׁ֨ית אָבִ֧יו יַד־יְמִינ֛וֹ עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ אֶפְרַ֖יִם וַיֵּ֣רַע בְּעֵינָ֑יו וַיִּתְמֹ֣ךְ יַד־אָבִ֗יו לְהָסִ֥יר אֹתָ֛הּ מֵעַ֥ל רֹאשׁ־אֶפְרַ֖יִם עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ מְנַשֶּֽׁה: מח:יח וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶל־אָבִ֖יו לֹא־כֵ֣ן אָבִ֑י כִּי־זֶ֣ה הַבְּכֹ֔ר שִׂ֥ים יְמִינְךָ֖ עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ:מח:יט וַיְמָאֵ֣ן אָבִ֗יו וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יָדַ֤עְתִּֽי בְנִי֙ יָדַ֔עְתִּי גַּם־ה֥וּא יִֽהְיֶה־לְּעָ֖ם וְגַם־ה֣וּא יִגְדָּ֑ל וְאוּלָ֗ם אָחִ֤יו הַקָּטֹן֙ יִגְדַּ֣ל מִמֶּ֔נּוּ וְזַרְע֖וֹ יִהְיֶ֥ה מְלֹֽא־הַגּוֹיִֽם: מח:כ וַיְבָ֨רֲכֵ֜ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הַהוּא֘ לֵאמוֹר֒ בְּךָ֗ יְבָרֵ֤ךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר יְשִֽׂמְךָ֣ אֱלֹהִ֔ים כְּאֶפְרַ֖יִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֶת־אֶפְרַ֖יִם לִפְנֵ֥י מְנַשֶּֽׁה:
 מז:כח וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה: //מח:ג וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יַעֲקֹב֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף אֵ֥ל שַׁדַּ֛י נִרְאָֽה־אֵלַ֥י בְּל֖וּז בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיְבָ֖רֶךְ אֹתִֽי: מח:ד וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלַ֗י הִנְנִ֤י מַפְרְךָ֙ וְהִרְבִּיתִ֔ךָ וּנְתַתִּ֖יךָ לִקְהַ֣ל עַמִּ֑ים וְנָ֨תַתִּ֜י אֶת־הָאָ֧רֶץ הַזֹּ֛את לְזַרְעֲךָ֥ אַחֲרֶ֖יךָ אֲחֻזַּ֥ת עוֹלָֽם: מח:ה וְעַתָּ֡ה שְׁנֵֽי־בָנֶיךָ֩ הַנּוֹלָדִ֨ים לְךָ֜ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֗יִם עַד־בֹּאִ֥י אֵלֶ֛יךָ מִצְרַ֖יְמָה לִי־הֵ֑ם אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ וּמְנַשֶּׁ֔ה כִּרְאוּבֵ֥ן וְשִׁמְע֖וֹן יִֽהְיוּ־לִֽי: מח:ווּמוֹלַדְתְּךָ֛ אֲשֶׁר־הוֹלַ֥דְתָּ אַחֲרֵיהֶ֖ם לְךָ֣ יִהְי֑וּ עַ֣ל שֵׁ֧ם אֲחֵיהֶ֛ם יִקָּרְא֖וּ בְּנַחֲלָתָֽם:// מח:טו וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֶת־יוֹסֵ֖ף וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הָֽאֱלֹהִ֡ים אֲשֶׁר֩ הִתְהַלְּכ֨וּ אֲבֹתַ֤י לְפָנָיו֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֔ק הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ הָרֹעֶ֣ה אֹתִ֔י מֵעוֹדִ֖י עַד־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה: מח:טז הַמַּלְאָךְ֩ הַגֹּאֵ֨ל אֹתִ֜י מִכָּל־רָ֗ע יְבָרֵךְ֘ אֶת־הַנְּעָרִים֒ וְיִקָּרֵ֤א בָהֶם֙ שְׁמִ֔י וְשֵׁ֥ם אֲבֹתַ֖י אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֑ק וְיִדְגּ֥וּ לָרֹ֖ב בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָאָֽרֶץ:

The surprise Jacob expresses upon seeing Joseph’s children in the E source, suggests that this meeting happened very early on in Jacob’s appearance in Egypt.[9] It is likely that E imagined this transpiring immediately upon the first meeting of Jacob and Joseph, specifically after chapter 46:29-30. The E text would then read:

מו:כט וַיֶּאְסֹ֤ר יוֹסֵף֙ מֶרְכַּבְתּ֔וֹ וַיַּ֛עַל לִקְרַֽאת ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל אָבִ֖יו גֹּ֑שְׁנָה וַיֵּרָ֣א אֵלָ֗יו וַיִּפֹּל֙ עַל־צַוָּארָ֔יו וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ עַל־צַוָּארָ֖יו עֽוֹד: מו:לוַ֧יֹּאמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף אָמ֣וּתָה הַפָּ֑עַם אַחֲרֵי֙ רְאוֹתִ֣י אֶת־פָּנֶ֔יךָ כִּ֥י עוֹדְךָ֖ חָֽי: //מח:ח וַיַּ֥רְא יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיֹּ֖אמֶר מִי־אֵֽלֶּה:מח:טa וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יוֹסֵף֙ אֶל־אָבִ֔יו בָּנַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־נָֽתַן־לִ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּזֶ֑ה// מח:יא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף רְ֥אֹה פָנֶ֖יךָ לֹ֣א פִלָּ֑לְתִּי וְהִנֵּ֨ה הֶרְאָ֥ה אֹתִ֛י אֱלֹהִ֖ים גַּ֥ם אֶת־זַרְעֶֽךָ:
46:29 Joseph ordered his chariot and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel; he presented himself to him and, embracing him around the neck, he wept on his neck a good while.46:30 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Now I can die, having seen for myself that you are still alive.” // 48:8 Noticing Joseph’s sons, Israel asked, “Who are these?” 48:9a And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” // 48:11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well.”

Reading 46:30 and 48:11 as part of the same scene adds to the narrative’s poignant drama. Israel hugs his son and says that he can now die, since he has now seen Joseph’s face again. Then he looks down as he hugs Joseph and sees two little boys behind his legs. Israel asks who they are and Joseph tells him that they are his sons. Israel then cries again and says, “I never even expected to see your face again and God has shown me your sons.”

4. The Brothers’ Belated Panic

The strange panic of the brother’s over their father’s death is also a side-effect of combining sources. Characteristically, only the P text records Jacob’s age and the 17-year stay in Egypt (47:28). Similarly, the 40 day embalming and the 70 day mourning ritual are all from P. Finally, the descriptions of the funeral procession to Canaan come from a combination of J and P.[10] Cutting out the J and P material, there is no longer a time delay between Jacob’s death and the brother’s reaction.  E does not describe Jacob’s funeral. Instead, Jacob speaks his last words to Joseph in 48:21-22, telling him that he is dying. The next verse we have from E is 50:15, where the brothers see that their father has died.[11]

The overlap with their initial conversation with Joseph can also be explained by source criticism, which suggests a doublet in the scene where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in chapter 45:[12]

J

45:4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come forward to me.” And when they came forward, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold into Egypt.

מה:ד וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֧ף אֶל־אֶחָ֛יו גְּשׁוּ־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַיִּגָּ֑שׁוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִי֙ יוֹסֵ֣ף אֲחִיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י מִצְרָֽיְמָה:

E

45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still well?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dumfounded were they on account of him. 

מה:ג וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֤ף אֶל־אֶחָיו֙ אֲנִ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף הַע֥וֹד אָבִ֖י חָ֑י וְלֹֽא־יָכְל֤וּ אֶחָיו֙ לַעֲנ֣וֹת אֹת֔וֹ כִּ֥י נִבְהֲל֖וּ מִפָּנָֽיו:

Unlike the E text, the J text continues with Joseph explaining to his brothers how he conceptualizes what they did. Thus, there is some closure in the J scene, which lacks in the E scene.[13]

In E, upon Jacob’s death—which occurs almost immediately upon Jacob’s arrival in Egypt—the brothers are still unsure how Joseph thinks about what occurred. Joseph has not yet reassured them; this is why they panic upon Israel’s death.

Making Sense of Joseph’s Promise to Sustain His Brothers

Evidence that Joseph’ second conversation is out of place can be seen in Joseph reassurance to sustain them and Egypt. Since many years have passed since  the famine is over, what need to the brothers have for Joseph to sustain them? However, reading it in its original source, the brothers have just arrived in Egypt, it is the middle of a famine, and their father has just died. They worry that maybe Joseph is only being kind to them for Jacob’s sake, so they panic and make up a conversation that they supposedly had with Israel on the way to Egypt.

Joseph understands their concern and calms them down, promising to support them through the famine. This is why the parallels between this section of E and the similar section of J are so strong—they both occur soon after the brothers learn the identity of Joseph and during the famine. A comparison of J and E make this clear.

J
Joseph Reassures the Brothers
Upon Revealing his Identity

E
Joseph Reassures the Brothers After the Death of their Father

 45:4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come forward to me.” And when they came forward, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold into Egypt.45:5Now, do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me hither; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you.45:6 It is now two years that there has been famine in the land, and there are still five years to come in which there shall be no yield from tilling. 45:7 God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. 45:8 So, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. 45:9 “Now, hurry back to my father and say to him: Thus says your son Joseph, ‘God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me without delay.45:10 You will dwell in the region of Goshen, where you will be near me—you and your children and your grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all that is yours. 45:11There I will sustain you—for there are yet five years of famine to come—that you and your household and all that is yours may not suffer want.’ 50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong that we did him!” 50:16 So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before his death your father left this instruction: 50:17 So shall you say to Joseph, ‘Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.’ Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him. 50:18 His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him, and said, “We are prepared to be your slaves.” 50:19 But Joseph said to them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? 50:20 Besides,although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result—the survival of many people50:21 And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your children.” Thus he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
 מה:ד וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֧ף אֶל־אֶחָ֛יו גְּשׁוּ־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַיִּגָּ֑שׁוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִי֙ יוֹסֵ֣ף אֲחִיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י מִצְרָֽיְמָה: מה:ה וְעַתָּ֣ה׀ אַל־תֵּעָ֣צְב֗וּ וְאַל־יִ֙חַר֙ בְּעֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם כִּֽי־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י הֵ֑נָּה כִּ֣י לְמִֽחְיָ֔ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֱלֹהִ֖ים לִפְנֵיכֶֽםמה:ו כִּי־זֶ֛ה שְׁנָתַ֥יִם הָרָעָ֖ב בְּקֶ֣רֶב הָאָ֑רֶץ וְעוֹד֙ חָמֵ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵין־חָרִ֖ישׁ וְקָצִֽיר: מה:ז וַיִּשְׁלָחֵ֤נִי אֱלֹהִים֙ לִפְנֵיכֶ֔ם לָשׂ֥וּם לָכֶ֛ם שְׁאֵרִ֖ית בָּאָ֑רֶץ וּלְהַחֲי֣וֹת לָכֶ֔ם לִפְלֵיטָ֖ה גְּדֹלָֽהמה:ח וְעַתָּ֗ה לֹֽא־אַתֶּ֞ם שְׁלַחְתֶּ֤ם אֹתִי֙ הֵ֔נָּה כִּ֖י הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיְשִׂימֵ֨נִֽי לְאָ֜ב לְפַרְעֹ֗ה וּלְאָדוֹן֙ לְכָל־בֵּית֔וֹ וּמֹשֵׁ֖ל בְּכָל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם: מה:ט מַהֲרוּ֘ וַעֲל֣וּ אֶל־אָבִי֒ וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֣ם אֵלָ֗יו כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ בִּנְךָ֣ יוֹסֵ֔ף שָׂמַ֧נִי אֱלֹהִ֛ים לְאָד֖וֹן לְכָל־מִצְרָ֑יִם רְדָ֥ה אֵלַ֖י אַֽל־תַּעֲמֹֽד: מה:י וְיָשַׁבְתָּ֣ בְאֶֽרֶץ־גֹּ֗שֶׁן וְהָיִ֤יתָ קָרוֹב֙ אֵלַ֔י אַתָּ֕ה וּבָנֶ֖יךָ וּבְנֵ֣י בָנֶ֑יךָ וְצֹאנְךָ֥ וּבְקָרְךָ֖ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לָֽךְ: מה:יא וְכִלְכַּלְתִּ֤י אֹֽתְךָ֙שָׁ֔ם כִּי־ע֛וֹד חָמֵ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים רָעָ֑ב פֶּן־תִּוָּרֵ֛שׁ אַתָּ֥ה וּבֵֽיתְךָ֖ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לָֽךְ:
נ:טו וַיִּרְא֤וּ אֲחֵֽי־יוֹסֵף֙ כִּי־מֵ֣ת אֲבִיהֶ֔ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ ל֥וּ יִשְׂטְמֵ֖נוּ יוֹסֵ֑ף וְהָשֵׁ֤ב יָשִׁיב֙ לָ֔נוּ אֵ֚ת כָּל־הָ֣רָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּמַ֖לְנוּ אֹתֽוֹ:נ:טז וַיְצַוּ֕וּ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף לֵאמֹ֑ר אָבִ֣יךָ צִוָּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י מוֹת֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר: נ:יז כֹּֽה־תֹאמְר֣וּ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף אָ֣נָּ֡א שָׂ֣א נָ֠א פֶּ֣שַׁע אַחֶ֤יךָ וְחַטָּאתָם֙ כִּי־רָעָ֣ה גְמָל֔וּךָ וְעַתָּה֙ שָׂ֣א נָ֔א לְפֶ֥שַׁע עַבְדֵ֖י אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִ֑יךָ וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ יוֹסֵ֖ף בְּדַבְּרָ֥ם אֵלָֽיו: נ:יח וַיֵּלְכוּ֙ גַּם־אֶחָ֔יו וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ לְפָנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ הִנֶּ֥נּֽוּ לְךָ֖ לַעֲבָדִֽים: נ:יט וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי: נ:כ וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽבנ:כאוְעַתָּה֙ אַל־תִּירָ֔אוּ אָנֹכִ֛י אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖םוְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם וַיְנַחֵ֣ם אוֹתָ֔ם וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר עַל־לִבָּֽם:

The similarities between Joseph’s two speeches are striking:  In both he says that the he understands the brothers meant to hurt him but God used the opportunity to save them, and in both he promises to sustain them, using the same Hebrew root[14] “כ-ל-כ-ל”. Both speeches are aimed at accomplishing the same thing: calming the brothers’ fear that Joseph will avenge himself, and promising them that he will ensure that they survive the famine.  

Conclusion

The ending of the Joseph story is long, intricate and hard to follow. Although traditional commentaries have tried to solve some of the problems with this text by offering individual answers to each problem, source criticism offers an alternative type of solution. In this model, many of the intricate, contradictory and hard to follow details derive from the doublets that have been combined in the final text. The policy of the Pentateuchal redactors to try and include as much of the original sources as possible offers a single, simple solution that explains both the lack of clarity in the account of Jacob’s death and last words, as well as the otherwise inexplicable length and wordiness of these accounts. 

Appendix

Source Critical Division of Jacob’s Deathbed Scenes

מז:כח וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה: 
47:28 Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt, so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one hundred and forty-seven years.
מז:כט וַיִּקְרְב֣וּ יְמֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ לָמוּת֒ וַיִּקְרָ֣א׀ לִבְנ֣וֹ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ שִֽׂים־נָ֥א יָדְךָ֖ תַּ֣חַת יְרֵכִ֑י וְעָשִׂ֤יתָ עִמָּדִי֙ חֶ֣סֶד וֶאֱמֶ֔ת אַל־נָ֥א תִקְבְּרֵ֖נִי בְּמִצְרָֽיִם: מז:ל וְשָֽׁכַבְתִּי֙ עִם־אֲבֹתַ֔י וּנְשָׂאתַ֙נִי֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וּקְבַרְתַּ֖נִי בִּקְבֻרָתָ֑ם וַיֹּאמַ֕ר אָנֹכִ֖י אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה כִדְבָרֶֽךָ: מז:לאוַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִשָּֽׁבְעָה֙ לִ֔י וַיִּשָּׁבַ֖ע ל֑וֹ וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ הַמִּטָּֽה: 
47:29 And when the time approached for Israel to die, he summoned his son Joseph and said to him, “Do me this favor, place your hand under my thigh as a pledge of your steadfast loyalty: please do not bury me in Egypt. 47:30 When I lie down with my fathers, take me up from Egypt and bury me in their burial-place.” He replied, “I will do as you have spoken.” 47:31 And he said, “Swear to me.” And he swore to him. Then Israel bowed at the head of the bed.
מח:א וַיְהִ֗י אַחֲרֵי֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְיוֹסֵ֔ף הִנֵּ֥ה אָבִ֖יךָ חֹלֶ֑ה וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶת־שְׁנֵ֤י בָנָיו֙ עִמּ֔וֹ אֶת־מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה וְאֶת־אֶפְרָֽיִם: מח:ב וַיַּגֵּ֣ד לְיַעֲקֹ֔ב וַיֹּ֕אמֶר הִנֵּ֛ה בִּנְךָ֥ יוֹסֵ֖ף בָּ֣א אֵלֶ֑יךָ וַיִּתְחַזֵּק֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב עַל־הַמִּטָּֽה: 
48:1 Some time afterward, Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” He took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 48:2 Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to see you.” and Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.[15]
מח:ג וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יַעֲקֹב֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף אֵ֥ל שַׁדַּ֛י נִרְאָֽה־אֵלַ֥י בְּל֖וּז בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיְבָ֖רֶךְ אֹתִֽי: מח:ד וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלַ֗י הִנְנִ֤י מַפְרְךָ֙ וְהִרְבִּיתִ֔ךָ וּנְתַתִּ֖יךָ לִקְהַ֣ל עַמִּ֑ים וְנָ֨תַתִּ֜י אֶת־הָאָ֧רֶץ הַזֹּ֛את לְזַרְעֲךָ֥ אַחֲרֶ֖יךָ אֲחֻזַּ֥ת עוֹלָֽם: מח:הוְעַתָּ֡ה שְׁנֵֽי־בָנֶיךָ֩ הַנּוֹלָדִ֨ים לְךָ֜ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֗יִם עַד־בֹּאִ֥י אֵלֶ֛יךָ מִצְרַ֖יְמָה לִי־הֵ֑ם אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ וּמְנַשֶּׁ֔ה כִּרְאוּבֵ֥ן וְשִׁמְע֖וֹן יִֽהְיוּ־לִֽי: מח:ו וּמוֹלַדְתְּךָ֛ אֲשֶׁר־הוֹלַ֥דְתָּ אַחֲרֵיהֶ֖ם לְךָ֣ יִהְי֑וּ עַ֣ל שֵׁ֧ם אֲחֵיהֶ֛ם יִקָּרְא֖וּ בְּנַחֲלָתָֽם:
48:3 And Jacob said to Joseph, “El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and He blessed me, 48:4 and said to me, ‘I will make you fertile and numerous, making of you a community of peoples; and I will assign this land to your offspring to come for an everlasting possession.’ 48:5 Now, your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine no less than Reuben and Simeon. 48:6 But progeny born to you after them shall be yours; they shall be recorded instead of their brothers in their inheritance.
מח:ז וַאֲנִ֣י׀ בְּבֹאִ֣י מִפַּדָּ֗ן מֵ֩תָה֩ עָלַ֨י רָחֵ֜ל בְּאֶ֤רֶץ כְּנַ֙עַן֙ בַּדֶּ֔רֶךְ בְּע֥וֹד כִּבְרַת־אֶ֖רֶץ לָבֹ֣א אֶפְרָ֑תָה וָאֶקְבְּרֶ֤הָ שָּׁם֙ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ אֶפְרָ֔ת הִ֖וא בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם:
48:7 When I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, while I was journeying in the land of Canaan, when still some distance short of Ephrath; and I buried her there on the road to Ephrath”—now Bethlehem.[16]
מח:ח וַיַּ֥רְא יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיֹּ֖אמֶר מִי־אֵֽלֶּה: מח:טוַיֹּ֤אמֶר יוֹסֵף֙ אֶל־אָבִ֔יו בָּנַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־נָֽתַן־לִ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּזֶ֑ה
 48:8 Noticing Joseph’s sons, Israel asked, “Who are these?” 48:9 And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.”
 וַיֹּאמַ֕ר קָֽחֶם־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַאֲבָרֲכֵֽם: מח:י וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם: 
 “Bring them up to me,” he said, “that I may bless them.” 48:10 Now Israel’s eyes were dim with age; he could not see. [Joseph] brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.[17]
מח:יא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף רְ֥אֹה פָנֶ֖יךָ לֹ֣א פִלָּ֑לְתִּי וְהִנֵּ֨ה הֶרְאָ֥ה אֹתִ֛י אֱלֹהִ֖ים גַּ֥ם אֶת־זַרְעֶֽךָ: מח:יבוַיּוֹצֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֹתָ֖ם מֵעִ֣ם בִּרְכָּ֑יו וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ לְאַפָּ֖יו אָֽרְצָה: מח:יגוַיִּקַּ֣ח יוֹסֵף֘ אֶת־שְׁנֵיהֶם֒ אֶת־אֶפְרַ֤יִם בִּֽימִינוֹ֙ מִשְּׂמֹ֣אל יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֶת־מְנַשֶּׁ֥ה בִשְׂמֹאל֖וֹ מִימִ֣ין יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיַּגֵּ֖שׁ אֵלָֽיו:מח:יד וַיִּשְׁלַח֩ יִשְׂרָאֵ֨ל אֶת־יְמִינ֜וֹ וַיָּ֨שֶׁת עַל־רֹ֤אשׁ אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ וְה֣וּא הַצָּעִ֔יר וְאֶת־שְׂמֹאל֖וֹ עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה שִׂכֵּל֙ אֶת־יָדָ֔יו כִּ֥י מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה הַבְּכֽוֹר: מח:טו וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֶת־יוֹסֵ֖ף וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הָֽאֱלֹהִ֡ים אֲשֶׁר֩ הִתְהַלְּכ֨וּ אֲבֹתַ֤י לְפָנָיו֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֔ק הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ הָרֹעֶ֣ה אֹתִ֔י מֵעוֹדִ֖י עַד־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה: 
48:11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, and here God has let me see your children as well.”48:12 Joseph then removed them from his knees, and bowed low with his face to the ground. 48:13 Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand—to Israel’s left—and Manasseh with his left hand—to Israel’s right—and brought them close to him. 48:14 But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head—thus crossing his hands—although Manasseh was the first-born.48:15 And he blessed Joseph, 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—
מח:טז הַמַּלְאָךְ֩ הַגֹּאֵ֨ל אֹתִ֜י מִכָּל־רָ֗ע יְבָרֵךְ֘ אֶת־הַנְּעָרִים֒ וְיִקָּרֵ֤א בָהֶם֙ שְׁמִ֔י וְשֵׁ֥ם אֲבֹתַ֖י אַבְרָהָ֣ם וְיִצְחָ֑ק וְיִדְגּ֥וּ לָרֹ֖ב בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָאָֽרֶץ:
48:16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—Bless the lads. In them may my name be recalled, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, And may they be teeming multitudes upon the earth.”
מח:יז וַיַּ֣רְא יוֹסֵ֗ף כִּי־יָשִׁ֨ית אָבִ֧יו יַד־יְמִינ֛וֹ עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ אֶפְרַ֖יִם וַיֵּ֣רַע בְּעֵינָ֑יו וַיִּתְמֹ֣ךְ יַד־אָבִ֗יו לְהָסִ֥יר אֹתָ֛הּ מֵעַ֥ל רֹאשׁ־אֶפְרַ֖יִם עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ מְנַשֶּֽׁה: מח:יח וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶל־אָבִ֖יו לֹא־כֵ֣ן אָבִ֑י כִּי־זֶ֣ה הַבְּכֹ֔ר שִׂ֥ים יְמִינְךָ֖ עַל־רֹאשֽׁוֹ:מח:יט וַיְמָאֵ֣ן אָבִ֗יו וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יָדַ֤עְתִּֽי בְנִי֙ יָדַ֔עְתִּי גַּם־ה֥וּא יִֽהְיֶה־לְּעָ֖ם וְגַם־ה֣וּא יִגְדָּ֑ל וְאוּלָ֗ם אָחִ֤יו הַקָּטֹן֙ יִגְדַּ֣ל מִמֶּ֔נּוּ וְזַרְע֖וֹ יִהְיֶ֥ה מְלֹֽא־הַגּוֹיִֽם:מח:כ וַיְבָ֨רֲכֵ֜ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הַהוּא֘ לֵאמוֹר֒ בְּךָ֗ יְבָרֵ֤ךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר יְשִֽׂמְךָ֣ אֱלֹהִ֔ים כְּאֶפְרַ֖יִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֶת־אֶפְרַ֖יִם לִפְנֵ֥י מְנַשֶּֽׁה: מח:כא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף הִנֵּ֥ה אָנֹכִ֖י מֵ֑ת וְהָיָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם וְהֵשִׁ֣יב אֶתְכֶ֔ם אֶל־אֶ֖רֶץ אֲבֹתֵיכֶֽם: מח:כב וַאֲנִ֞י נָתַ֧תִּֽי לְךָ֛ שְׁכֶ֥ם אַחַ֖ד עַל־אַחֶ֑יךָ אֲשֶׁ֤ר לָקַ֙חְתִּי֙ מִיַּ֣ד הָֽאֱמֹרִ֔י בְּחַרְבִּ֖י וּבְקַשְׁתִּֽי:
48:17 When Joseph saw that his father was placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he thought it wrong; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s. 48:18 “Not so, Father,” Joseph said to his father, “for the other is the first-born; place your right hand on his head.” 48:19 But his father objected, saying, “I know, my son, I know. He too shall become a people, and he too shall be great. Yet his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall be plentiful enough for nations.” 48:20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you shall Israel invoke blessings, saying: God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 48:21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die; but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 48:22 And now, I assign to you one Shechem (portion?) more than to your brothers, which I wrested from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”
מט:א וַיִּקְרָ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב אֶל־בָּנָ֑יו //מט:כט וַיְצַ֣ו אוֹתָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אֲנִי֙ נֶאֱסָ֣ף אֶל־עַמִּ֔י קִבְר֥וּ אֹתִ֖י אֶל־אֲבֹתָ֑י אֶל־הַ֨מְּעָרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּשְׂדֵ֖ה עֶפְר֥וֹן הַֽחִתִּֽי: מט:ל בַּמְּעָרָ֞ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר בִּשְׂדֵ֧ה הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֛ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־פְּנֵי־מַמְרֵ֖א בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן אֲשֶׁר֩ קָנָ֨ה אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֶת־ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה מֵאֵ֛ת עֶפְרֹ֥ן הַחִתִּ֖י לַאֲחֻזַּת־קָֽבֶר: מט:לא שָׁ֣מָּה קָֽבְר֞וּ אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֗ם וְאֵת֙ שָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ שָׁ֚מָּה קָבְר֣וּ אֶת־יִצְחָ֔ק וְאֵ֖ת רִבְקָ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֑וֹ וְשָׁ֥מָּה קָבַ֖רְתִּי אֶת־לֵאָֽה: מט:לבמִקְנֵ֧ה הַשָּׂדֶ֛ה וְהַמְּעָרָ֥ה אֲשֶׁר־בּ֖וֹ מֵאֵ֥ת בְּנֵי־חֵֽת:מט:לג וַיְכַ֤ל יַעֲקֹב֙ לְצַוֹּ֣ת אֶת־בָּנָ֔יו וַיֶּאֱסֹ֥ף רַגְלָ֖יו אֶל־הַמִּטָּ֑ה וַיִּגְוַ֖ע וַיֵּאָ֥סֶף אֶל־עַמָּֽיו:
49:1 And Jacob called his sons[18] // 49:29 and he instructed them, saying to them, “I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 49:30 the cave which is in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site—49:31 there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah—49:32 the field and the cave in it, bought from the Hittites.” 49:33 When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his people.

Published

December 31, 2014

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Last Updated

September 19, 2019

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Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber is a fellow at Project TABS and editor of TheTorah.com. He holds a Ph.D. from Emory University in Jewish Religious Cultures (Hebrew Bible focus) and an M.A. from Hebrew University in Jewish History (biblical period focus). In addition to academic training, Zev holds ordination (yoreh yoreh) and advanced ordination (yadin yadin) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Rabbinical School. He is the author of Images of Joshua in the Bible and their Reception (De Gruyter, BZAW 457) and the editor of Halakhic Realities: Collected Essays on Brain Death (Maggid).