48:17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. 1 So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 48:18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”
48:19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude 2 of nations.” 48:20 So he blessed them that day, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
So he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 5
1 tn Heb “it was bad in his eyes.”
2 tn Heb “fullness.”
3 tn The pronoun is singular in the Hebrew text, apparently elevating Ephraim as the more prominent of the two. Note, however, that both are named in the blessing formula that follows.
4 tn Or “pronounce a blessing.”
5 sn On the elevation of Ephraim over Manasseh see E. C. Kingsbury, “He Set Ephraim Before Manasseh,” HUCA 38 (1967): 129-36; H. Mowvley, “The Concept and Content of ‘Blessing’ in the Old Testament,” BT 16 (1965): 74-80; and I. Mendelsohn, “On the Preferential Status of the Eldest Son,” BASOR 156 (1959): 38-40.