It’s a Wonderful Life – Genesis 48:8-21: Reflection Guide

Reflection Guide

Genesis 4849 | Its a Wonderful Life

Key Terms

Joseph – Joseph was Jacob’s 11th son and the first son of Rachael—Jacob’s favorite wife. As Joseph grows up, Jacob shows him favor and Joseph’s brothers become angry at him, eventually selling him into slavery in Egypt. While in Egypt, Joseph advances to become Pharaoh’s second-in-command. Jacob and his family come to Egypt searching for food during a famine many years later and are re-connected with Joseph.

Judah – Judah was Jacob and Leah’s fourth son and his blessing suggests prominence over his other brothers and that future kings will come specifically from his line. This blessing would ring true as both King David and Jesus would come from the line of Judah.


Jacob and his family have now come to Egypt in search of food and Jacob is nearing the end of his life. When Joseph learns of this, he brings his two sons—Manasseh and Ephraim—to Jacob for a blessing (Gen 48:1-7). Jacob chooses to bless Ephraim—the younger brother—with the greater blessing just as Jacob—the younger brother—had stolen his father Isaac’s greater blessing (vv. 8-14; see Gen 27). Jacob’s blessing calls on the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day to bless the boys (vv. 15-16). Joseph tries to intervene and have Jacob bless Manasseh with the greater blessing, but Jacob persists (vv. 17-22). Jacob then moves from blessing Joseph’s sons to blessing his own sons saying, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in the days to come (Gen 49:1). The first three sons get unfavorable blessings because of things they’ve done. To Ruben—though the oldest son—Jacob says you, shall not have preeminence, because he slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s wife (vv. 3-4, see Gen 35:22). To Simeon and Levi—the next oldest—Jacob says, cursed be their anger…I will divide them, because of their violent actions against Shechem (see Gen 34). But then to Judah—the fourth oldest—Jacob says, your brothers shall praise you…the scepter shall not depart from Judah (vv. 8-12). Although the rest of Jacob’s sons after Ruben, Simeon, and Levi receive favorable blessings, Jacob and Joseph receive the most favorable (vv. 8-27). Judah’s emphasizes his prominence over his brothers and his royal line, while Joseph’s emphasizes a full and plentiful life. These blessings would be indicative of each son’s life particularly with Judah, from whom the great kings of Israel and Jesus himself would descend, and with Joseph, who would use his great wealth to be a blessing to his family. After blessing his sons, Jacob asks them to bury him back home with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah (vv. 28-32). Finally, Jacob drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people (v. 33).

Did You Know?

In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is called The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, which is likely a direct allusion to Jacob’s blessing over Judah when he says, Judah is a lion’s cub (Gen 49:9).

Going Deeper

Read Psalm 36:5, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, and Hebrews 10:23. How is Jacob’s life an example of God’s faithfulness? What do the hard things in Jacob’s life—both those that were his fault and those that weren’t—say about God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult and uncertainty? How have you seen God’s faithfulness to you in your life over a long period of time? How can God’s faithfulness encourage you in your present life circumstances?

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