20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. 

21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.

22 Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

Ephraim and Manasseh will not only be full-fledged tribes in Israel, but also the envy of all the others. Of course, these prophecies will take time to be fulfilled, at this point the sons of Jacob have their own households, but they are hardly full-blown tribes. We won’t hear of them in that capacity until the book Exodus, at which point they are slaves to the Egyptians, longing for the return to their promised land.

Which, Israel assures Joseph in verse 21, will certainly occur. He entrusts his son to the care of the same God that has kept and preserved him, and passes on the promise that he received of God: that the Israelites would be returned to their homeland once again.

This moment is a beautiful callback to when Jacob was a much younger man, leaving his father’s home to escape the wrath of his brother Esau. Then, in a strange land, he had committed to pay a tithe in return for the promise that he would one day be returned back to his father’s abode. Now he is in a strange land once again, but trusts that though he will die here, his people will return back home just as he did all those years before. No doubt he is able to have faith in that unknown, by having experienced the fulfillment already in the past.

In fact, Jacob’s earlier journeys in a strange land foreshadow the Israelites detour in Egypt in many ways. Just as he was under unfair servitude to his uncle Laban, they will be under unfair servitude to the Egyptians. And just as he was eventually delivered by the blessing of the Lord, so too, will they. Jacob’s entire life was being used as a template to let his own people, the Israelites, what to expect. Rightly, then, did the Lord name him Israel.

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