Parashat Vayehi

On his deathbed, Jacob blesses his sons and asks them to bury him in Canaan.

Print this page Print this page

The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

Jacob Blesses Joseph's Sons

Jacob and all his sons and their families are now settled in Egypt with Joseph, who is the second-most powerful man in the Pharaoh's kingdom.

Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years and he was 147 years old. Jacob (also called Israel) said to Joseph, "If I have found favor in your eyes, then swear to me that you will not bury me in Egypt, but with my fathers in Canaan."

Joseph agreed, then later received word that his father was dying. Joseph took his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, to see Jacob. Jacob sat up in bed, saying, "God, the All-Sufficing, appeared to me in the land of Canaan and blessed me. God said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and will multiply you, and I will let you become a community of nations and will give this land to your seed after you as an everlasting possession."

Then Jacob added, "Now, bring your sons to me so that I may bless them. Your two sons, born before I came to Egypt, shall belong to me just like Reuben and Simeon. But the children whom you beget after them shall remain yours."

Jacob could not see, so Joseph brought his sons close enough so his father could embrace them. Jacob said to Joseph, "I had not thought it possible that I would see your face, and now God has let me see even your seed."

Joseph had his sons kneel before Jacob. Ephraim was to Jacob's left and Manashe to Jacob's right. Jacob then stretched out his right hand and placed it upon Ephraim’s head--though he was the younger--and his left hand was upon Menashe’s head. He guided his hands deliberately, for Menashe was the first-born.

He said, "The God before Whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, conducted themselves, the God Who has been my Shepherd for my existence until this day, the angel who has delivered me from all evil, bless the lads so that my name and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, may be called in them and that they may multiply like fish in the midst of the earth."

Jacob Gives Advice to His Sons

When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand upon Ephraim’s head, he moved it to Menashe’s. He said, "No father. This is the first-born, place your right hand upon his head."

Jacob refused. "I know it, my son. He, too, will become a tribe. He, too, will be great but his younger brother will be greater than he and his seed will complete the nations." He blessed them on that day saying, "May God make you as Ephraim and Menashe." He put Ephraim before Menashe.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.