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One time Jacob was sick, and this was told to Joseph. He went to his father, bringing his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. When Jacob saw them he sat straight up in bed and declared to Joseph that he was adopting his two sons as his own. They would both share the same inheritance as each one of Joseph's brothers, and any sons that he had afterward would be counted in their tribes. Thus Joseph had received the Birthright, the double inheritance that Jacob and bought from Esau long ago. But Judah would receiving the actual Blessing.

Now Jacob was as blind as Isaac had been at this age, but he was still the same old Jacob, and still up to his old tricks. Joseph brought his sons near for a blessing, and steered Manasseh the older toward Joseph's right hand, and Ephraim toward his left. But somehow Jacob knew what he had done, and crossed his hands, such that his right hand landed on Ephraim's head, even though he was the younger, and his left hand to Manasseh's head. Thus he relived the scene from his younger days when he stole the Blessing from Esau, even though he was the younger boy.

All through the book of Genesis we have seen the younger son preferred to the older.

Joseph saw this and was horrified, and tried to actually move his father's hands, but Jacob was stubborn. He said both of them would become a great people, but the younger one would be greater, a multitude of nations. And indeed later in Ezekiel, all the northern tribes were referred to as "Ephraim", while the southern kingdom was referred to as "Jacob", when it was prophesied that Ephraim and Jacob would be one again.

As for Joseph himself, Jacob awards his son with the city of Shechem, and he does a little bit of revisionist history by claiming to have won the city himself by force of arms. If you recall, Jacob had no role in the sacking of that city, and was quite horrified by the cruelty of Simeon and Levi. Simeon was to have a little territory at Beersheba, completely surrounded by Judah (to keep him out of trouble) while Levi got no parcel of land at all, only a scattered collection of towns in the territory of each tribe. Shechem was eventually absorbed into the territory that went to Manesseh, while Ephraim got the land surrounding Beth El.

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Strangers In Paradise