Jacob Comes to Egypt
Open Your Bible
Genesis 46:1-34, Genesis 47:1-31, Genesis 48:1-22, Psalm 31:19
BY Erin Davis
Sometimes the language of Scripture is so tender, I’m tempted to look away. We find such a moment in Genesis 48. When Jacob sent his favorite son on a simple errand to check the family pasture, that son, Joseph, was barely out of boyhood. Scripture tells us he was just seventeen years old (Genesis 37:2). But Joseph never came home. Jacob believed the story his other sons told him, that his favorite boy was dead. He must have mentally buried all of his hopes for Joseph’s future.
In the unbelievable providence of God, Jacob was reunited with his boy. But Joseph wasn’t a teenager anymore. The son Israel lost now had sons of his own, and Israel’s hopes for his boy were suddenly resurrected. You can almost hear the wonder and surprise in his voice when he looked at his grandsons for the first time and asked, “Who are these?” (Genesis 48:8).
Israel wasted no time on icebreakers. Seeing your children taken and returned has a way of cutting through the trivial. “Bring them to me and I will bless them,” he said (v.9). Scripture describes Jacob as a tired old man, with eyes that didn’t work like they used to (v.11), but he had seen enough in his life to know to hold his blessings close. Knowing this, these words in particular from this interaction put a lump in my throat:
“Then Joseph took them from his father’s knees
and bowed with his face to the ground… then [Jacob] blessed Joseph and said…
‘the angel who has redeemed me from all harm—
may he bless these boys’” (vv.12,15–16).
The image of Ephraim and Manassah sitting on their grandfather’s knee pulls every string in my heart. There’s such tenderness in this moment. Such precious, paternal prayer. The words of blessing Jacob spoke over his grandsons weren’t grandiose. Though Jacob wrestled with God to secure his own blessing (Genesis 32:22–32), for the next generation, he sweetly whispered “bless these boys.” It was a prayer God certainly answered—a prayer God is answering still.
You don’t have to strongarm God to get Him to listen. Brute force is not the secret to praying with power. Lift your babies onto your knee. Grab a friend. Pull her close. Simply ask God to bless the ones you love.