And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”” (Genesis 48:15–16, ESV)

Jacob start’s out his blessing referencing God and in so doing gives us a lot of insight into God’s character.  Notice that Jacob is being overly-specific about who God is.  This passage would have made complete sense if Jacob had simply said: “God bless the boys…”  He didn’t say it this way, so there is important information we can learn from Jacob about God.

  1. The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked. The God that Jacob served is the same God that his father, Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham served.  We learn a lot from this.
    • The ancestors die out, but God continues on.  He is eternal.
    • Jacob is a God-worshiper just as his father and grandfather were.  He holds the same faith as his ancestors
    • Jacob wants to pass this same faith on, not only to Joseph, who also walked with God, but to his sons. Five generations of God-worshipers are connected here.
  2. The God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day. A shepherd was responsible for the life of all of his sheep.  He cared for them, he protected them, he was concerned for their welfare and well-being.  Here Jacob acknowledges that God played this role in his life “all my life long to this day.”  It is a beautiful statement of dependence on Jacob’s part, and of loving provision on the part of God.
  3. The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys. So much just in this little statement!  Who is “the angel?”  Faithlife Study Bible comments:

    “The Hebrew phrase used here, ha mal’akh, likely refers to the Angel of God    (or Angel of Yahweh), whose identity is often blurred with Yahweh himself (see note on 21:17). This blurring of these identities is fitting with the parallel usage of ha ‘elohim in Hebrew (which may be literally rendered as “the God”) in v. 11 and 48:15.”

    The word “redeemed” implies: “Theologically, this word is used to convey God’s redemption of individuals from spiritual death and His redemption of the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage and also from exile.” [Zodhiates Complete Word Study Bible]

    Faithlife Study Bible also points out that the word “bless” is singular, not plural.  Jacob is not talking about two individuals, God and the angel, he uses the singular to blur the distinction between the two.

We might sum up the truths here and say that the eternal God who has been and will continue to be in relationship with Jacob, his forbears and his descendants, who has lovingly cared for Jacob all of his life and who has redeemed Jacob, this God will surely bless Jacob’s grandsons.