In Genesis 48 we see that the aged Jacob is sick, so Joseph brings his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim to Jacob so that he may bless his grandchildren before he dies. Joseph knows the significance of a patriarchal blessing as he has seen the effects of the blessings in the life of his father Jacob, who had deceitfully snatched away the blessings of a firstborn from his elder brother Esau. Jacob actually blesses Joseph (Gen. 48:15a) even though his hands are laid on the heads of his children. So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” (Gen. 48:20a).
In their book ‘The Blessing’, Gary Smalley and John Trent writes that the above blessing (Gen. 48:20a) is still used by Rabbis to bless Jewish children during Sabbath services and is a favorite of Jewish parents to bless their children. Even today, a family blessing is considered as an important vehicle to communicate a sense of identity, love and acceptance in the Jewish community. In many Jewish homes, a weekly blessing is given by the father to each of his children. This action models how Christian parents should appreciate their children today and communicate their high value and special strength that God has bestowed on them. We know from the Gospels that Jesus laid his hands on little children and blessed them (Matt. 19:13-15). As Joseph mentioned in Gen. 48:9, God is the one who gives us children, which is also found in Psalms 127:3: "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward". As parents, can we also extend His blessings to our children so that they grow up convinced of God’s amazing love?