Picture of Pastors Jim and Marie Watt
Pastors Jim and Marie Watt

Two Are Better Than One


(From “These are the Garments” by A. W. Slemming)

“And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house” (Genesis 41:51).

“The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my father Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:16).

“His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh” (Deuteronomy 33:17).

HIS BIRTH.  This chapter must necessarily be read in connection with the previous chapter because the record of the birth of the two sons of Joseph is given as a joint record, and there is no purpose in reiterating what has already been stated. This one thing might be added in favor of Manasseh, who had lost his position as firstborn to the advantage of his younger brother. It is that no reason whatever appears to be given as to why Jacob reversed the blessing. There is no evidence of sin, slackness, nor unworthiness in this character, as is found in the story concerning Jacob and Esau with the transfer of birthright and blessing. It is the second time that such an act had been performed by Jacob for Joseph, the father of these lads, had received preference in his younger days which had created a hatred amongst his brethren. Now Jacob is doing it again, and although Joseph may protest, his protestation cannot be brought to an issue nor even carry very much weight seeing he had enjoyed these favors even though they may have brought him through some deep waters. The vital point is that, although it was customary to bestow the double portion upon the firstborn, the father had the right to bestow it upon whom he chose. Maybe that Jacob detected something in the character of Ephraim that was more steadfast, or maybe God guided him to bestow it upon the man who in future days would use such powers best. Be assured that the Lord, Who knows our lives and Who knows our end from our beginning, will mete out His blessing according to His Divine Wisdom and Foreknowledge. This means blessing for the receiver, but it does not necessarily mean judgment to the person who has not received that favor.

HIS BLESSING.  Joseph's statement: “And Joseph called the name of his firstborn Manasseh: For God, he said, has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house” - Forgetfulness. There is a forgetfulness which is a vice and should be severely shunned, and there is a forgetfulness which is a virtue and should be wholeheartedly embraced. It is the latter that is considered here. In the natural order of things Joseph named his firstborn “Forgetting”, and his second “Fruitful”. That is the correct order. When we forget the things which are behind, when we forget self and sin, then it is that the Lord makes us to become fruitful and that fruitfulness soon begins to take the first place under His guidance. Paul seeks to emphasize this when he says: “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

This statement of Joseph's does not therefore suggest an intolerance or indifference towards his father and his home, subsequent events proved this. “God has made me forget all my toil.” In the joy of the present he could afford to forget the sorrow of the past, the wrong, the injustice, the bitter way he had been made to walk by the actions of his brethren, and later by the conduct of Potiphar's wife and the forgetfulness of the butler. These were the things God had allowed him to forget. Alas, how many Christians live on their past! They nurse in their bosoms all the wrongs that have ever been done to them. They embalm them in an unforgiving spirit so that they may ever have them for display when it suits them, and then they wonder why it is that the Lord never gives them an “Ephraim” of fruitfulness. Have you any cherished grievances? Away with them, put a millstone around them and let them sink to the bottom of the sea, for they are a poison to your spiritual life. Pray God that you may give birth to a Manasseh for until you have brought forth this firstborn there can never be an Ephraim. It was the joy of a son of his own, the building up of his own family, that caused his father's house (the old life) to take a second place. It is the joy that comes through the Son of God finding a place in our lives that changes all relationships. Joseph, like Paul, was now crucified to the old things and alive to the new. Oh, no! He was not neglectful of his brethren, neither had he forgotten parental care. He maintained the full honor of his manhood; he was not looking back to the old home with the unhappy relationships. He was looking forward to meeting his father and his brethren again -- not backward, forward.

JACOB'S STATEMENT. “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.” The Angel, being spelt with a capital A, was the Lord; no doubt the same Angel which wrestled with Jacob at Penuel until the breaking of the day, the Angel that changed Jacob, the supplanter, into Israel, the Prince, and in so doing redeemed that life from the destruction to which it was doomed. That same Angel which did such great things for me, bless the lads! Guard them, too, from the evils of life, redeem them from the perils of the way. No greater request could be made for these his grandchildren - or, rather, his adopted sons.  “… let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” These two men grew into two tribes numbering 72,700, second only to Judah, and they stretched across the center of Palestine which is “in the midst of the earth”. Finally there is

MOSES' STATEMENT. “His (Joseph's) glory is like the firstlings of his bullock and his horns are like the horns of unicorns.” If you will look at a map of Palestine showing the tribes, you will see that Ephraim and half the tribe of Manasseh stretch from the coast to the River Jordan which runs down the center of the land. The other half tribe of Manasseh reaches from the other side of the River Jordan to the border of Syria - thus the two tribes between them stretch right across the land like two great horns.

A great deal of history could be recorded concerning these tribes but this must be left. Perhaps two geographical notes would interest readers to show how they fit in with the blessings of Jacob and Moses concerning Joseph.

MANASSEH - half of which existed each side of Jordan, hence the continual reference to the half tribe of Manasseh. “This division of this tribe may be accounted for on the supposition that the warlike section preferred to settle on the mountainous region of the north east, whilst the more agricultural section preferred to adhere to the western tribes.

“The Manassites of the east of Jordan are described as the descendants of Machir. Under the leadership of Jair they won the northern part of the Trans-Jordanic territory. They were well fitted to inhabit this difficult country and to defend the passes of the north” (F. Marshal, M.A.).

EPHRAIM - including half tribe of Manasseh. “It was emphatically a good land, including the Plain of Sharon, famous for its fertility. The position was central and though rugged in many parts was broken up into wide plains in the heart of the mountains and diversified both in hill and valley by streams of running water and by continuous tracts of verdure and vegetation” (Stanley).

AGATE. Manasseh's name was inscribed on an agate and set into the Breastplate. The agate is a semi-translucent compound mineral which, when cut and polished, produces beautiful and precious variegated stones. The agate is harder than steel and, being rustless, is often used instead of steel in certain scientific instruments. These stones were originally found at Achates in Sicily from whence the name is derived. When found they are rough and unattractive, when split and polished they are a source of delight. Manasseh although second to Ephraim and deprived of the first blessing yet he became a large tribe, a tribe that was split in two so that half dwelt on each side of the River Jordan, being made of service both here and there.

NOTE: The “Inner Healing Movement” of today majors on the need of “Forgetfulness.” Like Joseph we need to forget the sorrows of the past. We need to forgive and forget. Elephant memories don't cut the mustard in the Christian life. When Joseph dandled little Manasseh on his knees - the joy of this little life helped him forget and forgive all the past. It might have been serious if his 10 brothers appeared in Egypt before him before Manasseh had been born!

The Bullock assigned to Joseph found fulfillment in both his sons. Ephraim through Joshua demonstrated this through the successful conquering of Canaan land. Jair of Manasseh East of Jordan demonstrated it through the conquering of the mountainous Northern part of that land.

The temperament of Manasseh was that of a “Luke/Matthew” - a Melancholic/Sanguine. We have noted that those in our churches, who bear the Manasseh temperament, have a wonderful latent gift of “Counseling”. All of course do not discover this, but it is worthwhile to investigate.

Ephraim and Manasseh together represent all the 4 Gospels in their combined Temperaments. Joseph their father is the only son of Jacob that, like Jesus the Son of God, also represents all 4 Gospels - not in perfect balance like Jesus - yet in a remarkable similarity. Many have noted some 30 or more similarities between the life of Joseph as a type of Jesus.

Blessed are those in the Kingdom of God who have this Joseph Temperament. Blessed are those who like Ephraim and Manasseh are able to team up together - and in their teamwork manifest this united Temperament.

And lastly, just as Joseph shared his animal “the bullock” with his two sons, so also he passes down his heritage of “Bridal Love” to them. As they lived in teamship, the beautiful devotion to God that Joseph manifested, can also be seen in them. Joshua especially demonstrated this in his life. This was the outstanding of all the Embryonic Revival Principles that came together in 1948 through God's visitation. It was especially manifested in the leader God chose for that movement.

Jim Watt