Bible Studies,  The Tribes Of Israel

The Tribe Of Joseph

Two sons were born to Rachel, one in joy, and the other in sorrow. Joseph had both Mother and Dad. His brother Benjamin did not. When giving birth to her second son, Rachel died in childbirth. I wonder if that went through Joseph’s mind when his wife announced the pregnancy of their second son?

When we knew that Nicholas was coming, as the son of someone who experienced three miscarriages, had Nicholas’ Birth Mother passed, we didn’t know how the adoption would have been affected. I battled my fear with faith, until he was born.

His Mother’s death had to be in Joseph’s mind until he heard his second boy cry, and saw his wife smile. It is imperative to recognize, Joseph dearly loved his brother. There may have been problems with some of his brothers, but not Benjamin.

Just as Joseph and Benjamin, there’s no evidence in Scripture that Manasseh felt any mistreatment, or jealousy of Ephraim. There is evidence Joseph worked to prevent this. When Jacob preferred Ephraim over Manasseh, Joseph tried to correct Jacob.

Joseph took steps not to favor his youngest over the oldest. Manasseh, like Joseph, was the firstborn son of his Mother. Like Ephraim, his Grandfather Jacob was the second born of his Father.

While we know that Joseph was the favorite of his Dad, we forget that, Jacob did try to balance things before his sons. After Joseph told the dream of the sun, moon, and stars bowing to him, Jacob rebuked him. He took note of the dream, but adjusted the conversation in front of his sons.

Perhaps that was in Joseph’s mind as he raised his boys. ‘Don’t show favoritism.’ ‘Don’t do something for lack of thinking that your boys will never forget.’ The interaction of brothers had to be on the mind of the man who was betrayed by his own siblings. That is the way that I believe, Joseph raised his children.

This is partially because of the way Joseph felt about his brother Benjamin. Even after all the years apart, he had been moved to tears at the sight of his little brother. The story of Joseph, has always been, and will always be, about brothers.

Whether you consider solely the events of his journey into Egypt, or the fact that he was a type and shadow of Christ, there’s no denying that fact. Brothers are not only a special bond, but an example in themselves. Even The Lord is referred to as our Elder Brother in The New Testament.

Even The One Joseph’s life pointed to, The Lord Jesus, chose to be part of a family. One that would include the sons of Joseph and Mary, His stepbrothers. We know that The Lord Jesus was born of a virgin. Son of God, and Son of Man. The Image of The Invisible God, and Mary’s son.

He could have decided to be an only child, but He didn’t. After The Messiah, The Bible says Mary and Joseph had children, sons and daughters according to Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3. The Lord Jesus had siblings, because He wanted to communicate fellowship, unity, and brotherly love,

As a side note, there is no reference to who the Bride was at the marriage of Cana, but I’ve often wondered if it was Jesus’ stepsister. Consider this, Mary, Jesus, and His disciples were called. Mary knew of them being out of wine, and was in a position to command the servants.

Two of Christ’s brothers would go onto write Epistles, Jude and James. It would take the Resurrection to open their eyes, but once they were, they were firmly on The Lord Jesus. The bond of brotherhood isn’t only about love, but making a connection.

A connection is more than being raised in the same house. It’s about trust, faithfulness, loyalty, and love. When I began on the family of Joseph, I intended to write two chapters, one on Ephraim, and one on Manasseh. As you can see, I couldn’t get away from one chapter about brothers.

There is a reason why it’s referred to always as the twelve tribes of Israel. Whether you point to the fact that Levi was granted a different inheritance. Or you refer to the families of Joseph’s sons as the two half tribes, it’s continually referred to as the twelve tribes of Israel. Numbers in Scripture are very important.

Among references to the number twelve in Scripture, are the tribes, the Apostles, the gates of old Jerusalem, and the gates of the New Jerusalem. I believe everything in The Old Testament is a type and shadow of The New Testament.

Compare the twelve sons of Genesis, with the twelve generals of The Lamb. In one shadow, you have the Patriarch Israel, the father of twelve sons. While in New Testament, The Prince Of Peace choosing the twelve leaders of the Church. later Paul replacing Judas.

In The Old Testament, twelve gates, some with imperfections, like the dung and valley gate. In Revelation, the gates of the new city, are named after the twelve names of the tribes, which have been redeemed by God. The names of the twelve Apostles, are resent, but not on the gates, they’re on the foundation.

We all, now being grafted into the family of Israel have entered in, through the foundation of Christ laid through His Apostles and Prophets. While the gates of the old city, the men who the tribes were named after, and the Apostles had flaws. In Christ those flaws are cleansed, and we are made new.

Only The Lord Jesus is self sufficient. All of us began with imperfections, lacking in areas. Even the two sons of Joseph. Ephraim and Manasseh, had to feel out of place in the greater family of Israel. Two brothers, born in Egypt, to my knowledge had never seen Canaan. Yet their families left Egypt on equal standing with the rest of the family of Israel.

It didn’t matter where they grew up, or that the founders of their tribes had a pagan priest’s daughter for a Mother. It didn’t matter that their first language was possibly Egyptian. Or that they were probably more comfortable around Pharaoh, than the Grandfather they met years after they were born.

In fact, the king of Egypt was not the one who would bless them. Their father had been blessed by him, and they had benefited. Their blessing would not come from the king of Egypt, but the Patriarch of Israel.

The difference. Pharaoh liked Joseph for his work, Jacob loved him, and his children, for who they were. Pharaoh loved him when he reaped his wisdom. Jacob loved him before he heard his heartbeat. Joseph took them with him to Jacob, and they received the promise of a blessing, while in the presence of their father.

Pharaoh made their Father Prime Minister, Jacob had given him life. Now Jacob was elevating them, as he said, to the level of Reuben and Simeon through adoption. If this sounds familiar, I would remind you of two verses in The New Testament.

Galatians 4:4-5

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

One day, the families of Ephraim and Manasseh would trade the law of Egypt, for the commandments on Sinai. As they huddled under Joseph’s legs at Jacob’s bedside, they couldn’t have understood everything that was happening. What they did know, they trusted their Father, and loved each other.

How many times have we found ourselves in situations where we had no idea what was going on, much less what to do? All we could do, was hold on to God, and trust that He knew what was happening. That is the only place of safety I know of.

The boys received Jacob’s blessing as children, but grew up under the hand of Joseph. The Bible says Joseph lived to impact both sets of grandchildren. It even uses a Hebrew word connected with adoption when speaking of Joseph Joseph and his grandchildren.

One of these grandsons was Machir, the son of Manasseh. Look up Machir, and you’ll find two definitions of his name. One place says sold, another bought. Isn’t it ironic, this was the name of the grandson of the man who had been both bought and sold? Christ was sold for thirty pieces of silver, but bought our freedom from sin.

Unlike Manasseh’s son Machir, in Genesis, Moses didn’t refer to Ephraim’s children by name. He did select an Ephraimite to follow his footsteps, named Joshua. It was the son of Nun famous for the verse, “Choose you this day Who you will serve.” God picked someone from the tribe whose name refers to double fruitfulness, to lead them into a land of milk and honey.

It was Joshua who lead the tribes into battle, and cast lots for the rest of the inheritance. In the book of Joshua, he references a landmark that rested between the adjoining territory of part of Manasseh and Ephraim. Between the territory of the tribes of the two families, was a brook called Kanah.

Joshua 16:8

From Tappuah the boundary goes westward to the brook Kanah and ends at the sea. Such is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Ephraim by their clans,

Kanah means brook of reeds. As a fan of words, I think it’s interesting that in Canaan, there was a brook called Kanah. The blessings of God flow deeply inside the Will Of God.

The root word here is qâneh, which has many meanings, among them, are the branches of a candlestick. What better body of water to be between the sons of Joseph than one tied to this root word? Are they not stems of Joseph, extensions of his life and work?

Joseph a type of Christ, was completely an example of He who was to come. This means his children had to be as well. Was it not Joseph’s hope not that they would continually serve as carriers of The Light God showed through his life? While this was not always the case, it was his dream that they continue along the right path, or if you’ll remember the old song, along the water way.

It was the mission of a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim, Joshua, to lead all of Israel into the promised land. He had been faithful, and God had plans to reward him for it. When you serve God, with a willing heart, serving the needs of others, you’ll find that your own needs are more than met, they’re exceeded.

Joshua 19:49-51 (KJV Strong’s)

49 When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them:

50 According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnathserah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.

51 These are the inheritances, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, divided for an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. So they made an end of dividing the country.

God told Israel to give Joshua and land he chose. Timnathserah, the city he chose, means abundant portion, or portion of the sun. It was in Mount Ephraim. The man who prayed for God to cause the sun to stand still, now had his portion of God’s blessings.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

If you are weary, and you wonder if your labors for God have been in vain. I would like to encourage you, first it’s natural to face discouragement at times. Yet, God has never let one of His soldiers down. Our game plan may not be the way things turn out, but He will always bless us beyond our greatest plans. Joshua was able to spend time in his own city. One that reflected the blessings of God on his life.

Judges 2:8-9 (KJV Strong’s)

8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.

As Moses before him, the time came for the man of Ephraim, Joshua the son of Nun to die. The KJV uses a phrase here, “they buried him in the border of his inheritance.” When a child of God passes, our inheritance is only beginning.

The future which lays before us, is not limited to this vale of tears. The challenges of today, no matter how great, will pale when we stand before The One who though Calvary worth the price of our redemption. Tomorrow holds the unexpected, but it’s held by The God Who holds all things, and Who fights for us.

After Joshua’s passing, God raised up Judges to lead Israel. The Lord chose people from different tribes, at various times, to guide His people. Among the families of the two brothers were some of these heroes.

One of the most famous people in The Old Testament, was Gideon of Manasseh, the Abiezrite. Partially this was because, he had no plans to be a hero. God had plans for him, but like Moses, he was reluctant.

At times, the most reluctant of us, are the most useful. I suspect it’s because they have no agenda. Once they conquer the initial hurdle of their own hesitation, they seem to not allow ambition to get in the way.

Instead of looking at every event of his life, I would like to focus on one verse. In Judges 8:4, it says that he came to the Jordan, and crossed over with the 300 men that God had given him. They were exhausted, yet pursuing. Great Men Of God have preached under the anointing on this great verse, so I won’t linger long, except to reinforce this.

Whatever you are facing, wherever you must go to face it, no matter how tired, you are, I encourage you to pursue. Victory lay ahead for Joshua, but if he had allowed either Jordan, which means descender, or his exhaustion to stop him, he would never have arrived at the site of final victory. You have faced great obstacles, but don’t stop fighting, you may only be a river bank away from complete victory.

Judges 11:1-3 (ESV)

1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. Gilead was the father of Jephthah.

2 And Gilead’s wife also bore him sons. And when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.”

3 Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob, and worthless fellows collected around Jephthah and went out with him.

Another Judge was Jephthah of Manasseh, the Gileadite. He was the son of an Israelite, but his mother was a prostitute. Because of this, his brothers threw him out. Ironic that descendants of Joseph would reject a brother isn’t.

Don’t allow where you came from, to affect how you view yourself, or where you’re going. Your past is not the deciding factor in where you go from here. Jephthah had to fight, and you may have to as well. God is our Father, and He will cause us to pursue greatness.

When they needed him, his people called him home, regardless of who his Mother was. He fought a great battle, and God gave him a mighty victory. Then, problems began when he returned home.

Through a horrible tragedy, Jephthah lost his daughter. If this heartbreaking event wasn’t enough, civil war followed. There had never been a recorded conflict between the two brothers that founded their tribes, but now Ephraim was angry with Jephthah the Gileadite.

Gill says that the band of men from Ephraim, who falsely complained Jephthah hadn’t asked for their help in the battle, were the refuse of men. When you do well, someone will always complain. They may even falsely accuse you, and even attack you. Do not be dismayed, God will give you the victory, if you look to Him.

Psalms 60:7 (ESV)

7 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.

Paul said in 2 Timothy, The Lord knows those that are His. He will defend and empower you. We are His, and not the property of our critics.

Beyond the days of the Judges, the kings of Israel, and the split kingdom, the ten tribes of Israel were carried away. Perhaps there were some who never expected the nation to be whole again. Yet, Revelation records there will be a remnant of both Joseph, and all of Israel.

It is in the  book of Revelation that, just as Ephraim and Manasseh in relationship, Israel and the Church are united. Joseph, a type of Christ, is now had a united family. Just as Joseph had two sons, two peoples are connected with Christ, the Church, and the nation of Israel.

One day, the family of The Lion Of Judah and His People Israel will be together. There will be no separation of any kind. This will be fulfilled in Revelation, but was promised in the Prophets. Each will accept The Lord Jesus as The Hope Of Judah, and The Strength of Israel.

Zechariah 10:6-8 (ESV)

6 “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.

7 Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior, and their hearts shall be glad as with wine. Their children shall see it and be glad; their hearts shall rejoice in the LORD.

8 “I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them,

and they shall be as many as they were before.

There will be restoration in unity. Israel will be one, under The Son Of David. The Olive Tree will be united, as all the branches are raised in praise to The King Of Kings. Brothers will be united, and everyone will be on the same page.

Among the corner gate, valley gate, and other entrances, in the old city, Nehemiah the restorer of Jerusalem, said there was a gate of Ephraim. God has never closed the door to His people. Even among the burned, scarred remains of the abandoned city, He left a door open to His children, which will welcome them home one day.

Jesus with tears overlooked the old city. He longed to gather Israel as a Mother hen gathers her chicks. Though they initially rejected Him, He will bring Israel home to Calvary.

Ephraim and Manasseh are a reflection of unity, the family of God. Like them, the Church and Israel are connected. One day the brothers will enter the Kingdom of their Heavenly Father in unity.

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