Joseph’s Egyptian wife Asenath bore him two sons in Egypt. He called the first-born son Manasseh מְנַשֶּׁה  (menasheh). Joseph said: “God has made me forget (כִּי־נַשַּׁנִי אֱלֹהִים) completely my hardship and my parental home”. The name Manasseh is connected to the verbal stem נשך (nashach) which refers to forgetting and letting go. A very common usage of נשך (nashach) describes someone being, “relieved from debt.” This positive meaning is a better parallel to the second sons’ name, Ephraim (אֶפְרָיִם), which means, “made me fruitful”.

When naming Ephraim, Joseph said: “God has made me fertile (כִּי־הִפְרַנִי אֱלֹהִים) in the land of my affliction” (Gen.41:51-52). As seven fruitful harvest years came to an end, it became obvious that Joseph was not a lunatic and that Pharaoh had been wise in appointing him to the task of setting aside massive quantities of food. When the people of Egypt thought of Joseph, they naturally thought of wealth and prosperity.

The meaning of these names has everything to do with Joseph’s awareness that it was God who set him free and made him fruitful. In Hebrew, Egypt (מִצְרַיִם) is a place of “confinement” and “limitation”, where one cannot prosper. God’s faithfulness to Jacob’s children is best seen in Joseph’s ability to survive and thrive against all odds in that land of “confinement” and “limitation”. Centuries later, Israelites who came out of Egypt heard these stories and were strengthened by knowing that the same God who took take care of Joseph would take care of them as well.

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138 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this insight, Dr. Eli. In the sentence “God has made me forget (כִּי־נַשַּׁנִי אֱלֹהִים) completely my hardship and my parental home”, is the Hebrew word "made" an action verb that denotes G-d actively and forcefully causing Joseph to forget his affliction or can the word be translated in English as "caused". G-d has caused (is the reason for) Joseph forgetting his affliction to denote Joseph had a choice as to whether he would yield to the will of G-d in the healing process of forgiving his brothers and those who had wronged him.
    • Your question shows good insight....food for thought...I hope someone who knows Hebrew can clarify this for us. Thank you Deobroah!
    • i believe that the Word is spirit..in this case,it has the essence to permiate the wounds and the hurting heart to heal supernaturally. We are to virtually totally surrender to the cleasing, purifying fire of HIS Word. ..His name shall be called Wonderful,Counsellor,Everllasting Father the Prince of Peace...Merry Chrismas.

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    • In Hebrew "menasheh" is a noun which comes from the verb "nasha", to forget in the regular stem (Qal). But the Hiphil variant of the regular Qal stem is causitive and start with the mem, M.
    • Ward, shalom. Not currently, but we are shopping around for someone to develop it for us. We wanted to wait for a while so that we know exactly what should go into its functionality. Our site is adjustable to all mobile devices, however, which is the next best thing to an excellent app.

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  2. It's interesting also that like the name Yaakov (Jacob), Ephraim sometimes refers to the entire nation of Israel in the Hebrew Bible-- fruitful in so many ways.
    • Johanna, I know I am being lazy, but do you mind supplying an example or two? If this is so it may be significant.

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    • Dr. Eli, there’s quite a few references in numerous places, but “Israel” being synonymous with Ephraim is usually in reference to the Northern Kingdom. The best example is from Ezek 37:16 “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, ' For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.'” Currently writing my masters thesis on this topic. It is very significant.
  3. I signed up a Hebrew course 2 weeks. I still don't have time to take the first lesson. It is a pity due to my busy study in theology degree. I like your short essay very much. Dr. Eli, God bless your teaching and sharing.
    • We are blessed to have you Wai Chiu as a member of our student body :-). I once did a theology degree (actually I did 3) and boy do I know the value of supplementing the formal seminary/college program with Jewish contextual material like you find here at Israel Bible Center. Where are you studying and for what degree?
  4. The principles in these names are so beautiful. How often I have been told that my circumstances (unchurched, Old Testament) were outside of God’s healing wings. #NotReplacedRestored
  5. Really good stuff today, as always. YHWH does indeed heal us completely, and causes us to forget all the pain in which sin bound us. We are heretofore, spiritually and emotionally free in Y’shua, And also loosed into fruitfulness (In making others free!) on His behalf.
  6. Thank you Dr Eli for the daily short insights ! I love to read them and enjoy them . I'm deaf that is why I appreciate them so much to get a glimpse of the meaning of the Live and events in our Bible! Be blessed. Donata
  7. Thank you so very much for these posts; I truly appreciate them. At this particular time I cannot join your classes, but I do read all the posts, and just purchased your book "Jewish Insights". I have several other books about Jewish customs and history and enjoy them all. Again, thank you!!!
    • Thank you for your kind words. I am sure the right time will come for you to take your commitment to the next level. Once it does, we will be here to help you! Blessings and much peace!
  8. Your insights help me to preach the Bible more accurately and effectively. Thank you. I have found that learning from Jewish people, even those who are not followers of Christ help me to understand the background and character of the Bible. Please continue to share all that you do. Again, thank you.
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