16th January

Genesis 48-50; Psalm 16

Bible in a Year
5 Minutes

Genesis 48-50

We mentioned in day 9 that God subverts the expected things to make it clear that he is in control. He chose Jacob over his older brother Esau and in this chapter we see him choose Ephraim over his older brother Manasseh and Judah over his older brother Reuben.

Jacob is dying, and first of all he calls Joseph and his sons in. He wants to adopt Joseph’s sons as his own so that they may share equal blessing the with the rest of his sons. Eventually they would become tribes in the future nation of Israel.

This was a fairly common practice at this time. So he begins to bless them but gives Ephraim a greater blessing than Manasseh, despite him being younger. This annoys Joseph, who tries to stop him, but Jacob explains this is how it’s meant to be.

When we fast forward to the time of the 12 tribes, we do see Ephraim is much more prosperous, and when the nation splits in two the northern kingdom often takes on the name of Ephraim (this northern kingdom is also called Israel, or Joseph).

Then Jacob moves on to his own sons. I’d love to unpack them all, but for now let’s just unpack a few. First of all, we get Reuben, his oldest. But if you remember way back in Genesis 35:22 Reuben thought it would be a good idea to sleep with one of his father’s wives. Jacob didn’t do anything at the time but he still remembers. He decides to strip Reuben of his blessing as the oldest. He won’t be the leader over his brothers. He’s going to give that role to someone else.

Then there’s Simeon and Levi. If you remember in Genesis 34 they tricked a whole town into getting circumcised and then slaughtered all of them while they were still reeling in pain. Jacob strips these guys of their rights to land.

Interestingly, down the line the tribe of Simeon does get a plot of land, but it completely surrounded by the tribe of Judah. As we progress through Israel’s history we see the tribe of Simeon mentioned less and less, so it seems likely that eventually it just got absorbed into the tribe of Judah.

The tribe of Levi is interesting. Though this seems like a curse, God uses it for good. He claims this tribe for himself, and they become his priest and temple servants. So when they get spread across Israel, they become God’s servants to the entire nation.

Next up is Judah. He is given Reuben’s blessing to be the most significant tribe leader over all the rest. Later on when the tribes are wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt, we will see that Judah’s tribe is the biggest.

It is from Judah’s tribe that king David was born, and all the kings that followed him. When the nation split in two, the southern kingdom became exclusively known as Judah. When the people were taken into exile and then allowed to come back, they became known as Jews, which comes from Judah’s name (this is the difference between Jews as Israelites). And then Jesus himself came from Judah.

The last brother I want to look at is Dan. Jacob says that he ‘shall judge his people as on of the tribes of Israel’. In other words, Dan will definitely be a tribe along with all the other tribes. But Jacob also says that Dan will be like a serpent. As we read on through the Bible, we will see the tribe of Dan struggle to claim land for themselves, and a few times cause problems for the rest of Israel.

Then Jacob dies and Joseph’s brothers become scared that he might punish them now their father is dead. Instead we get this important line, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). This line is the heart of the book of Genesis.

Right at the beginning of the book we had Adam and Eve choose to eat the fruit of the knowledge of GOOD and EVIL. Then all through Genesis we see people take what God made GOOD and use it for EVIL.

But the author wants you to know that despite all that, it is the heart of God to take what humans intend for EVIL and make it GOOD. If there is any EVIL in your life, maybe someone is treating you poorly.

Maybe you’re suffering from an illness or something. In that case seek God, pray to him, trust in him, because it is his desire to take that EVIL and ultimately, somehow, turn it into GOOD!

Psalm 16

This psalm is attributed to King David and fits into the category of trust psalm (see also Psalm 11; 23; 62; 63; 91). These psalms sing of confidence in who God is.

Psalm 16:1-2 - The Lord my refuge

Psalm 16:3-4 - Contrast between those who are committed to the Lord and those who worship other gods

Psalm 16:5-6 - The Lord my portion

Psalm 16:7-8 - The Lord my comfort

Psalm 16:9-11 - The Lord my joy

 The psalm opens up with the psalmist laying out their stall, so to speak. God is the one that they trust in. As far as they are concerned, there is nothing good that can be found outside God.

Those that are equally faithful to God are an encouragement to the psalmist. But those that choose to worship other gods, choose a way of sorrow. The psalmist will never make offerings to other gods, or speak their names. He wants nothing to do with them. 

And so he sets his eyes back on the Lord. The Lord is our portion and inheritance. For an Israelite, being a follower of God was part of their inheritance. Just like someone enjoys wealth or property being handed down to them, the Israelites see their faith as a blessing they inherit. This is also true for us as Christians. This access to God is something we inherit as adopted children of God.

The Lord is our comfort. When we are unsure or struggling, it is the Lord who comforts and advises us. He goes before us, protecting us and holding us stable, even when it feels like we’re unstable. This promise (Psalm 16:10) is picked up in the New Testament when they talk about Jesus’ resurrection. God did not abandon Jesus to death but restored him to life (Acts 2:25-28; 13:35).

Because of all this, the Lord is our joy. We have a security, that God won’t abandon us. He offers us life. His very presence is a source of joy.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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  • Messiah


    In today's passage we see Judah given the promise that one of his descendants will be king. This promise builds on the biblical idea of the Messiah.

  • Further Study

    Overview: Genesis Ch. 12-50


    Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.

    The Book of Genesis - Part 2


    BibleProject have done an animated recap of Genesis 12-50 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Genesis.

    The Bible Explained: Genesis


    Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Genesis and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.

    GOD INTENDS GOOD | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Genesis 46-50


    Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. They intended to do him wrong, but God has planned this for the good of the nations.Genesis shows us that while humans may inends evil, God intends good.

© Bryn Joslin