Scripture Reading: Genesis 41:50-52
“Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.’ The name of the second he called Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.'” (Genesis 41:51,52)
This passage is a parenthesis toward the end of the chapter. It deals with the birth of Joseph’s two sons and it gives us further insight into the character of Joseph. Pharaoh had given Joseph an Egyptian wife whose name was Asenath. Before the famine came, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife. What is interesting and very important to note is the names Joseph gave his sons. We must remember how important names were in the Old Testament. Names were carefully chosen and they expressed a clear message about an individual and a family.
Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, which means “forgetting.” Joseph tells us why he gave this name to him — “For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” Joseph did not mean that he literally had forgotten that he had a father and eleven brothers. In the next chapter we will see how he missed them and longed to see them again. Joseph meant that now God had given a new outlook. He was able to view things from his own home in Egypt rather than from that of his father’s in Israel. Joseph had a new life. He had his own wife and children. He had a new perspective, a new outlook.
Joseph also meant that he had been healed from his past hardships, the wounds he had experienced. He meant that God had healed his wounds which came as a result of past abuses and disappointments — the terrible way his brothers treated him and the unjust way he was treated by Potiphar after he arrived in Egypt. Being able to let go of the past is a great gift from God (Philippians 3:13,14). Some people can never move forward because they get so hung up in their past hurts and disappointments.
Joseph named his second son Ephraim, which means “doubly fruitful.” There must have been several times in Joseph’s life when he though he would never be fruitful. He had been a slave and a prisoner. However, Joseph became very fruitful and he always gave credit to God for making him fruitful. Years later Jacob, Joseph’s father, reflected on his son’s remarkable life and it was Joseph’s fruitfulness that stood out in his mind (Genesis 49:22-26).
Jesus calls us to bear much fruit. He said — “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We are to bear the fruit of godly character. As we abide in Christ, he provides the nourishment we need to make us fruitful. The key is to remain in a deep and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, You are the vine and I am one of the branches that abides in you. I pray that You nourish me and enable me to bear much fruit. I know that I can do nothing apart from you.