Rembrandt – “Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph” – 1656
Oil on canvas, 173 x 209 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel
The final portion of the Book of Genesis contains the passing of the blessing from Jacob to the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. As in the case of Esau and Jacob, the younger is preferred to the older. Joseph objects with strong feelings as his father switches his hands placed on the heads of these two boys.
The names of the two sons will help to understand 48:20, a blessing whose importance is seen as a part of Aaron’s blessing (Numbers 6:22) and the opening of the Lord’s Prayer. The key lies in the meaning of the names of the sons: Ephraim, “Fruitful,” and Manasseh, “One who causes forgetfulness.” It is indeed a blessing from God to forget one’s painful, sinful past, and that one’s future be fruitful. Make this your prayer as you bless your loved ones.
You, Lord, my inheritance 48:6
Rachael buried: Bethlehem 48:7
You my shepherd all my life 48:15
You, my God, ever with me 48:21
Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.
The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12, so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions near the International Date Line.