Just as his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac lived to the old ages of 175 years (Genesis 25:7) and 180 years (35:28), respectively, Israel lived to an old age of 147 years (47:28). As the day of his death approached, Israel instructed Joseph not to allow his bones to remain in Egypt when they returned to Canaan, but to take them back to Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac’s tomb was and still is located (47:29-30). Israel made his son Joseph make a promise on his father’s life and descendants (47:29) in the same way that his grandfather Abraham made his servant promise (24:2). Added to this, Israel made his son Joseph swear (47:31), which has the implication of being an oath in Yehovah’s name (24:2-3). Such promises should not be made often or lightly as they seem to be unforgivable if broken (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11).
Joseph took his sons Ephraim and Manasseh to his father Israel so that Israel could see them before he died (48:1-2). Israel recounted his experience with God, how God made a covenant with him, stating that his children will be numerous, and that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan. Israel claimed Ephraim and Manasseh as his own children, which granted them greater inheritance with Israel’s sons (48:5-6). This is perhaps in part due to the firstborn son Reuben committing adultery and incest with Israel’s concubine Bilhah while his father was away (35:22). In order for Joseph’s son’s to be receive a part of the inheritance, Joseph had to receive the double portion typically reserved for the firstborn son.
After Israel gave his grandchildren Ephraim and Manasseh portions in his inheritance, he sat them on his knees, then stood them up and place his hands on them Joseph directed his father’s right hand toward the older brother Manasseh, thinking that in Israel’s old age, he could not see on which son he was laying hands. But Israel maintain his choice, putting his right hand on the younger brother Ephraim and his left hand on the older brother Manasseh (48:10-14).