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Genesis 41:51-52

Context
41:51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, 1  saying, 2  “Certainly 3  God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” 41:52 He named the second child Ephraim, 4  saying, 5  “Certainly 6  God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

1 sn The name Manasseh (מְנַשֶּׁה, mÿnasheh) describes God’s activity on behalf of Joseph, explaining in general the significance of his change of fortune. The name is a Piel participle, suggesting the meaning “he who brings about forgetfulness.” The Hebrew verb נַשַּׁנִי (nashani) may have been used instead of the normal נִשַּׁנִי (nishani) to provide a closer sound play with the name. The giving of this Hebrew name to his son shows that Joseph retained his heritage and faith; and it shows that a brighter future was in store for him.

2 tn The word “saying” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Or “for.”

4 sn The name Ephraim (אֶפְרַיִם, ’efrayim), a form of the Hebrew verb פָּרָה (parah), means “to bear fruit.” The theme of fruitfulness is connected with this line of the family from Rachel (30:2) on down (see Gen 49:22, Deut 33:13-17, and Hos 13:15). But there is some difficulty with the name “Ephraim” itself. It appears to be a dual, for which F. Delitzsch simply said it meant “double fruitfulness” (New Commentary on Genesis, 2:305). G. J. Spurrell suggested it was a diphthongal pronunciation of a name ending in -an or -am, often thought to be dual suffixes (Notes on the text of the book of Genesis, 334). Many, however, simply connect the name to the territory of Ephraim and interpret it to be “fertile land” (C. Fontinoy, “Les noms de lieux en -ayim dans la Bible,” UF 3 [1971]: 33-40). The dual would then be an old locative ending. There is no doubt that the name became attached to the land in which the tribe settled, and it is possible that is where the dual ending came from, but in this story it refers to Joseph’s God-given fruitfulness.

5 tn The word “saying” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

6 tn Or “for.”



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