Joseph thought the sons born to him in Egypt would help him forget the family that had betrayed him into slavery. He was wrong.
Manasseh was the firstborn son of Joseph and his Egyptian wife. By this time, Joseph had experienced a series of ups and downs in Egypt:
– He had enjoyed success as the manager of Potiphar’s household… only to be thrown in jail, falsely accused of the attempted rape of Potiphar’s wife.
– After being in prison for at least 2yrs, Joseph was called before the Pharaoh to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams.
– Joseph accurately predicted 7yrs of abundance followed by 7yrs of famine – and rose to prominence, second only to the Pharaoh himself.
It was during the 7yrs of abundance that Joseph married and began a family. The hope that his new family would replace the one he’d lost years before was reflected in the meaning of Manasseh’s name, “making to forget”.
But, Joseph would not be able to forget his family for long – and this would forever change the course of Manasseh’s legacy.
Sometime after being reunited with his brothers and his aging father, Jacob, Joseph presented his 2 sons to their grandfather for the family blessing. Jacob, now going by the name Israel, took Manasseh & Ephraim on his lap and announced they would be counted among his own sons. This act secured Manasseh’s place alongside Judah, Levi, Benjamin and Jacob’s other sons as a forefather of 1 of Israel’s 12 tribes.
Manasseh’s descendants came to be known for their valor. They were among the first to capture their territory in the Promised Land, and commanders from the tribe of Manasseh once helped the prophetess Deborah in driving out the Midianites.
Manasseh’s mother was the daughter of Potiphera. Potiphera was a priest at On, a city devoted to the Egyptian sun god, Ra.
So, she came from an idolatrous home. We are never told whether she left her father’s god and converted to her husband’s God. But, Joseph’s choice of a wife was certainly – at least – a brush with idolatry.
Ironically, Manasseh’s tribe would be plagued by idolatry for centuries to follow.
Sadly, the bad choices we make are the bad choices:
1) our children learn from,
2) our children are more apt to make, and
3) our children will have to pay the penalty for.
* Make good choices… for your sake and for your children’s sake.
You can read Manasseh’s story in Genesis 41; 48.