Bible Question:

Please explain Gen. 48:12-14. Why did Israel (or Jacob) give the blessing to Ephraim?

Bible Answer:

Genesis 48:12-14 reads as follows:

Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. Genesis 48:12-14 (NASB)

Manasseh was Joseph’s first born son and Ephraim was the second son. Here we are told that Joseph held Manasseh in one hand and Ephraim in his other hand. Manasseh was held near Jacob’s or Israel’s right hand and Ephraim was held near Jacob’s left hand. It was typical that the grandfather would bless the first grandson with his right hand. The highest blessing was granted with the right hand. That is the meaning Genesis 48:12-13.

But Genesis 48:14 says that Jacob switched his hands and gave the highest blessing to the second born grandson, Ephraim. Verses 17-22 reveal that Jacob was not just old and forgetful. This was intentional. Apparently, God had revealed to Jacob that Ephraim would have the more significant descendants.


Sometimes what appears to an error or a mistake is actually God’s plan to accomplish a greater good. God does not make mistakes. Later a town was named after him (2 Samuel 13:23), a gate of Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:13) and a forest (2 Samuel 18:6). It is possible that the city named in John 11:54 is different than the one mentioned in 2 Samuel 13:23. His blessing one of fruitfulness.

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