Who was Manasseh in the Bible?There are two men in the Bible named Manasseh. One was a son of Joseph and a head of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the other was King Manasseh of Judah, the son of King Hezekiah. This article will cover Manasseh Joseph's son.
Jacob, also called Israel, had twelve sons of whom the most beloved was Joseph. Out of spite, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery whereby he ended up in Egypt (Genesis 37). By God's providence, Joseph rose from slavery to second in command (Genesis 39—41). Upon reaching this position of power and prestige, Joseph married the daughter of an Egyptian priest (Genesis 41:45). During a time of abundance over the next seven years, she bore Joseph two sons (Genesis 41:50).
The first son Joseph named Manasseh, which means "cause to forget" because, he explained, "God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house" (Genesis 41:51). The birth of Manasseh was a joyful event that made the difficulties Joseph had faced pale in comparison to the happiness of welcoming this firstborn son. Joseph saw the birth of his sons as a blessing from God. Years later, when he presented those sons to his father Jacob, Joseph said, "They are my sons, whom God has given me here" (Genesis 48:9). Thus, Manasseh was Joseph's oldest son who brought him joy and was a sign of God's goodness and blessing in Joseph's life.
When Jacob's life neared its end and it was time to pronounce a final blessing over his twelve sons, Jacob chose to count his grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim as his own thereby giving their father Joseph a double inheritance. Jacob said, "And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are" (Genesis 48:5). In this way, Manasseh and Ephraim each became head of a tribe of Israel. Technically, both tribes are considered half-tribes because together they replace their father's position (there is no tribe of Joseph). The Bible also talks about the half-tribe of Manasseh since half of the tribe settled east of the Jordan and the other half settled across the Jordan (Joshua 13:7–8).
During Jacob's final blessing, he gave the blessing of the firstborn to Ephraim even though Manasseh was the oldest. When Joseph protested, Jacob assured him, "I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations" (Genesis 48:19). Jacob pronounced that those two sons would be so blessed that others would think of them as an ideal and use the saying "God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh" (Genesis 48:20). So despite these boys being born in a foreign land to an Egyptian mother, they were counted as fully part of the family of Israel and were expected to become the two most blessed tribes of the nation.
No other information about Manasseh, the individual, is given in the Bible, but his descendants did become a tribe who came out of Egypt and into the Promised Land with the rest of the people of Israel about four hundred years later. Thus, Manasseh can be remembered as a son of Joseph who was a blessing to his father and a legacy for his grandfather, all of which point to the goodness and faithfulness of God.
What is the biblical account of Joseph?
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Who was King Manasseh in the Bible?
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