Manasseh, Son of Joseph
Categories: Joseph, Men in the Old Testament
- Manasseh is the eldest son of Joseph and Asenath.
- Manasseh is named by Joseph.
- He says he named his son Manasseh “… because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” So his name, means “forgetful.”
- Shortly after his birth, the seven years of abundance end, and the seven years of famine begin.
- Sometime later Joseph finds out that his father, Jacob, is ill.
- He takes his two sons to see his father.
- Jacob adopts Joseph’s son, Manasseh, as well as his second son.
- Jacob says that any sons born to Joseph hereafter will be his own.
- Jacob, then, asks to bless his grandsons.
- He says, “May these boys be called by my name and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.”
- Joseph asks him to put his right hand on Manasseh’s head, but Jacob refuses.
- He says, “I know, my son. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”
- In that way, Ephraim is put ahead of Manasseh.
- Manasseh will have an equal share with Jacob’s other sons.
- According to Genesis, Manasseh has a son, Makir. That son is placed on Joseph’s knee at birth. I Chronicles states Makir’s mother is an Aramean concubine. His brother is Asriel.
- Manasseh is the progenitor of the Tribe of Manasseh.
- In the first census in Numbers, there were 32,200 men of Manasseh who were over 20 years old.
- At that time, Gamaliel, son of Pedahzur, is head of the Tribe of Manasseh.
- After Moses finishes setting up the Tabernacle, all the tribes bring offerings. Gamaliel brings the offering from the Tribe of Manasseh on the eighth day.
- When Moses sends a member of each tribe out to explore the land of Canaan, Gaddi, son of Susi, is chosen. He is among those who complain about the “giants in the land.”
- The daughters of Zelophehad, grandson of Gilead, are also descendants of Manasseh. Their father has no sons, so they go to Moses asking for their father’s inheritance. Moses grants their request.
- Later on, in order to keep the land within the tribe, they are told to marry within the tribe. They do.
- In the second census, counted through Makir, the father of Gilead, the men number 52,700 - an increase of more than 20 thousand men.
- Around 1200 BCE, Joshua allocates land among the tribes.
- Manasseh occupies land on both sides of the Jordan River.
- The two sides are almost completely disconnected.
- It is unknown whether they share the same leader; some scholars think they each have their own.
- The Tribe of Manasseh is not mentioned when the tribes of Reuben and Gad ask for permission to settle on the east side of the Jordan. They promise to help others with the conquest of the land.
- After the conquest, the eastern tribes build an altar by the Jordan River. The western tribes prepare for war - thinking they made God angry by building an altar on land that is unclean.
- A delegation goes to talk with them.
- The tribes reassure the delegation that this is not an altar for sacrifices, but is meant to be a “witness between us and you.” The Transjordanian tribes are worried that one day the western tribes will say, “You have no share in the Lord.”
- The western tribes accept this statement.
- The western half of Manasseh is immediately north of Ephraim, centrally located in Canaan.
- The eastern portion of Manasseh is where the northernmost tribe lives, on the east side of the Jordan.
- Both territories have abundant water supplies, which makes them very valuable to the northern kingdom.
- Their locations also allow them to defend two major mountain passes.
- In 732 BCE, the eastern territory is taken captive by the Assyrians.
- The western territory is annexed in 723 BCE.
- All the inhabitants are conquered and resettled in Assyria.
- Some believe that the Samaritans are descendants from this tribe.