Not Exactly What I Had in Mind


In the previous passage, Jacob, on his deathbed, announced to Joseph that he was claiming Joseph’s two young sons as his own. In regard to the future allotment of land in Canaan, this essentially gave Joseph the double portion customarily bequeathed to the firstborn. Can you imagine Reuben’s reaction upon hearing that his firstborn position had been usurped?

  • How do you react when things don’t go according to your plans?


When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” 12 Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). 15 And he blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,

16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;

and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;

and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “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.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying,
‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’”

Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. In preparation to receive the blessing from Jacob, how did Joseph position his sons (vs. 13)?
  2. How did Jacob’s blessing not go according to Joseph’s plan? (vss. 14-18) What was Jacob’s response to Joseph’s attempt to correct him (vss. 19-20)?
  3. How could Jacob’s “mistake” have been the right thing to do?
  4. When things don’t go according to your plans, what would it look like to respond in faith, trusting God’s ways instead of your own?


Joseph couldn’t believe his eyes as he watched Jacob cross his arms and bless the younger son. Despite his protest, Jacob let him know that this was a divine plan. In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews commended this blessing of Joseph’s sons as a pinnacle moment (Hebrews 11:21). Jacob’s faith had matured over the course of his life, realizing that God’s ways are not man’s.  How much happier and less anxious would we be if we could really grasp the fact that God never needs to read our “How To” manual!

  • Confess the areas of your life where you need to turn over your “how to” manual to God.
  • Ask for a greater appreciation of his righteousness that truly makes his way better than yours.