Dvar Torah Vayechi: The Reverse

Jacob gives some blessing to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, and crosses his arms so as to effect a modification of the precedence of the firstborn (Genesis 48:13-19) — not altogether surprising, since anyone paying attention for the last few months can plainly see that the firstborn status among the children of Abraham has yet to actually follow the norm — in fact, a reversal of the norm happens to be the norm.

A few verses earlier, Jacob states that Ephraim and Menashe will be counted among the tribes — “like Reuvein and Shimon.” (48:5)  The plain understanding of the verse is that Jacob means to compare Joseph’s sons to his own: just like Reuvein and Shimon are tribe-leaders, so too will Ephraim and Menashe be tribe-leaders, with all the privileges and responsibilities that come along with such a distinction — desert encampment and troop configurations, sacrificial obligations in the Mishkan and eventually even land apportionment.

Read More: @ jwa.org

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