Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (7 December 2017, 20 Kislev, 5778)
Why did Israel or Jacob cross his arms when blessing Joseph's children? Why did he place his right hand on Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh?
Joseph brought his two sons of Jacob (also known as Israel) to be blessed. Manasseh was the first born and Ephraim the younger.
- Genesis 48:
- 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 UNTO HIM.
- 14 AND ISRAEL STRETCHED OUT HIS RIGHT HAND, AND LAID IT UPON EPHRAIM'S HEAD, WHO WAS THE YOUNGER, AND HIS LEFT HAND UPON MANASSEH'S HEAD, GUIDING HIS HANDS WITTINGLY; FOR MANASSEH WAS THE FIRSTBORN.
The Bible (Genesis 48:8-17) tells us that Joseph brought his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh to receive a blessing from Jacob.
Manasseh was the older and Joseph placed him to his left facing the right-hand side of Jacob.
Ephraim was the younger so Joseph placed him to his right facing the left-hand side of Jacob.
Jacob however crossed his hands over. He placed his righthand on the head of Ephraim and his left on the hand of Manasseh. He placed Ephraim before Manasseh. He did not however change the position of the boys. Manasseh remained on his right and Ephraim on his left. There are Rabbinical explanations that say the crossing over of the hands did not change the relative importance of the two but it did change the time schedule. From now on Ephraim was to receive his blessing BEFORE Manasseh.
The "Bnei Yissachar" (Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov, 1784-1840) writes:
- ## Why did Jacob not command that Manasseh be placed on his left side and Ephraim on his right?
- Why did Jacob have to cross his hands over?
- The truth is that Manasseh is the firstborn!
- This is why it says "GUIDING HIS HAND WITTINGLY" (Genesis 48:14). He did not change Manasseh over to the left side) for in truth Manasseh is the firstborn and the most important but he put Ephraim before Manasseh concerning the chronological precedence ##.
Fishel Mael ("Hashevetim," a Hebrew-language work, p. 490) based on the above and other sources comments:
- ## The order of placing of the sons was important both in regards to their positioning concerning Joseph and in that concerning Jacob. Concerning Joseph .... Ephraim is the one who fulfills his place and most continues his path ... Therefore Joseph set Ephraim on his right-hand side to show that Ephraim is the main principle of his might and the continuer of his path... However concerning Jacob it is just the opposite. Manasseh is closer ... to the path of Jacob... Jacob however guided his hands wittingly to indicate that the greatness of Manasseh would not be revealed so soon ... Jacob agreed only that Manasseh remain at his right-hand side for he is destined to complete the quality ...of Jacob himself in the building of the Third Temple ##.
We identify Ephraim with Britain and its daughters, Manasseh with the USA. Historically the greatness of British preceded that of the USA.