After repeating to Joseph the promise of the land of Canaan which had been given to Abraham and renewed to Isaac and Jacob, the old patriarch said,
Thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, . . . are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. When Jacob saw the boys, he said:
Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Genesis 48:1-9
Joseph placed the first-born at Jacob's right hand and the youngest at his left; but the aged patriarch laid his right hand on the head of the younger, and his left hand upon the head of the eldest as he blessed them. When Joseph saw it, he attempted to place Jacob's right hand on the head of Manasseh, the eldest, saying,
Not so, my father: for this is the first-born. But his father refused, saying,
I know it, my son, I know it: . . . he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he. Genesis 48:15-20
Like his great Uncle Esau, Manasseh, although the first-born, received the second place in the blessing; but the circumstances were entirely different. Manasseh did nothing to forfeit his privileges in the family blessing. While he did not have the war-like propensities of Ephraim, which enabled him to build up the kingdom of Israel, yet Manasseh's name will outlive that of Ephraim. There was one portion of the patriarch's blessing which seemed to be shared more largely by Manasseh than by his more prosperous brother.
The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads. Genesis 48:16
The blessing of the Lord was prized by Manasseh and his descendants. Although they lived at a distance from the centre of the nation, and from the temple, and though they had become a part of the northern kingdom, yet they took an interest in all the reforms instituted by the good kings of Judah. When King Asa broke down the idols and renewed the worship of the Lord, they came to him
in abundance from Manasseh,
when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 2 Chronicles 15:8,9 When Hezekiah held his great Passover feast, representatives from Manasseh humbled their hearts and came and partook of the Passover. 2 Chronicles 30:1,10,11,18 They also joined in the work of breaking down the images in their own territory. 2 Chronicles 31:1
The work of reform in the days of Josiah was also carried to the land of Manasseh. 2 Chronicles 34:1-6 They did not lose their interest in the temple at Jerusalem, but gave of their means to restore it after its defilement during the reigns of Manasseh and Amon. 2 Chronicles 34:9 It is supposed that the eightieth Psalm was written by some inspired penman of the house of Joseph during one of these seasons of reform.
Little is recorded of the tribe of Manasseh after the settlement in Canaan, but it is gratifying, that faint and scattered as the passages are that refer to that tribe, they all indicate a desire on the part of many to serve the Lord.
The blessing of the Angel rested upon Manasseh, and while Ephraim and Manasseh were the names of the two portions given to Joseph in the earthly possession, the names given to the two divisions of the one hundred and forty-four thousand in the kingdom of God will be Manasseh (Greek, Manases) and Joseph. Revelation 7:6,8 The name of Manasseh is thus immortalised, while that of Ephraim sinks into oblivion.
Gideon, the greatest of the judges, was of the tribe of Manasseh. He seems to have been the only great warrior in the western half of the tribe; the eastern portion were more warlike.
When David went out with the Philistines to battle against Saul, warriors from Manasseh joined. themselves to David; but when the lords of the Philistines would not allow David to go with them to the battle, seven mighty warriors,
captains of the thousands of Manasseh, joined David at Ziklag.
They helped David against the band of the rovers who had carried captive David's family;
for they were all mighty men of valour. 1 Chronicles 12:19-22
After the death of Saul, eighteen thousand of the half tribe of Manasseh
were expressed by name, to come and make David king at Hebron. 1 Chronicles 12:31
The five daughters of Zelophehad, of the tribe of Manasseh, are the first women mentioned in the Bible as holding an inheritance in their own name and right. Numbers 27:1-8
If Reuben had never lost his birthright through sin, or if Dan had not formed a character so near akin to Satan that his name was omitted from the list of the twelve tribes, Manasseh's name might never have been given to one of the divisions of the one hundred and forty-four thousand. In all this experience are lessons for every child of God.
When God says,
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown, Revelation 3:11 it is well that we heed the admonition. If we do not, we may find, when too late, that we have allowed the world to rob us of our love for the Master; and that our judgement has become so darkened by sin and unbelief that, like Reuben, we fall far short of doing the work the Lord designed we should accomplish. Some one who, like Joseph, has been separated from those of the same faith, without the opportunities we have enjoyed, will by simple faith and trust in God, do the work we have failed to do, and receive the reward we might have obtained.
The pathway of time is strewn with the wrecks of character, - men who were once true and faithful members of the Israel of God, Romans 2:28,29 and who were
written to life in Jerusalem; Isaiah 4:3, margin but who allowed Satan to fill their hearts with envy, jealousy, and criticism, until, like Dan, they have lost their hold on heavenly things, and are no longer numbered with the Israel of God.
Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
The only son of Manasseh mentioned is Machir, whose mother was a concubine; from him sprang the tribe of Manasseh. 1 Chronicles 7:14.
When Israel entered Canaan the tribe of Manasseh numbered 52,700. Numbers 26:34.
Gideon, the greatest of the judges, was of the tribe of Manasseh.
The first women mentioned as holding property in their own names, were of the tribe of Manasseh. Numbers 27:1-8.