Jacob lived to be 147 years old. 

When the end of his life drew near, he called his son Joseph and made him swear not to bury him in Egypt.  “I swear,” said Joseph.

After that, Joseph took his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim in to their grandfather for a blessing.  “They are mine,” says Jacob. Joseph brought them close to Jacob and they bowed low to the ground.  Jacob kissed and hugged them.

Now here something strange occurred.  Joseph put Ephraim to his right (Jacob’s left) and he put Menashe to Jacob’s right.  But Jacob stretched out his right hand and put it on the head of Ephraim, the younger of the two.  He put his left hand on the head of Menasha, as though Ephraim were the oldest.  He actually crossed his arms to do this.

Joseph objected.  But Jacob said “Menashe will be great, but Ephraim’s descendants will be greater. And sure enough, Kind David was a descendant of Ephraim!

The Torah actually ends with Moses blessing “the great numbers of Ephraim and the thousands of Menashe.”

Food for Thought

After having been the youngest son who received the oldest son’s blessing, why do you think Jacob repeated the crossed blessing?

Jacob blesses Joseph's sons
Jacob blesses Ephraim. Note Jacob’s crossed arms