Building a nation starts with twelve sons.
God provided four women who would give birth to these men who would father their own tribes. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun are the sons of Leah. Joseph and Benjamin were born of Rachel. Bilhah gave birth to Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah brought Gad and his brother Asher into Israel’s family.
They lived as bedouins. God and consequences moved them through the promise land. Israel’s daughter, Dinah, was violated by a Hivite prince. Simeon and Levi, in their rage, slaughtered the Hivite village forcing the family to flee from their own camp. There was sorrow when Rachel died, and shame when Reuben was seen lying with Bilhah his fathers concubine. Joseph had dreams and his brothers despised him. God had a plan.
Judah made a promise to a deceased son’s wife. He didn’t keep his promise. So, she tricks him into sleeping with her. She conceives and gives birth.
“Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins were in her womb. And so it was, when she was giving birth, that one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, ‘This one came out first.’ Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, ‘How did you break through? This breach be upon you!’ Therefore his name was called Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah.” (Genesis 38:27-30) You will understand why this is important when Jacob blesses his children.
Building a nation takes time.
God caused a famine to move His people to Egypt. The brother despised, but chosen by God, had prepared a place for them. Israel was reunited with his favorite son, Joseph, and discovered two new grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Before he died he separated the birthright, received from Esau, from the rulership God gave him over his brothers.
First, Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons and claims them as his own. “They will be called by the name of their brothers (Israelites) in their inheritance.” (Genesis 48:6) Joseph positioned Manasseh, his oldest, to receive Jacob’s right hand. But Jacob had the youngest, Ephraim, in mind. He placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh’s head and …..
“He blessed Joseph and said ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.'” (Genesis 48:15-16)
Joseph stopped him and tried to get his fathers hands positioned favoring his oldest son. Jacob refused knowing what God had planed. “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 48:19) It maybe important to remember that one tribe, Ephraim, has been blessed to become a “multitude of nations.” God is revealing his plan.
To be continued.