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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95 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.

      • Check out “gibbor”. “Hero/Warrior”, not “everlasting Father”. David was God’s “beloved son”, anointed king, ma’seYah, shepherd, wonderful counselor, gibbor, and soon returning king.

    • 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.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with Exodus and The New Testament or Jewish Insights Into Scriptures I. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  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.

    • 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!!!

  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.

  9. When we pray for our male children we ask our Most High to Bless them and keep them like Manasseh and Ephraim. Joseph was given a very unique Egyption name by Pharaoh, as Pharaoh acknowledged the GOD of Joseph as their saviour. Be Blessed

  10. Thank you for these short studies, anything that helps me understand at a deeper level, as your studies do, is a real blessing and encouragement. Bless you.

  11. It’s so good to hear the Hebrew understanding of scripture instead of the western(Greek mindset) view.To the Jew first,then the others (Greeks)

    • Hi Larry, Understanding the Jewish worldview of the Biblical authors is so important! Thanks for being a part of our community.

  12. I always said to learn from Jews is a blessing. Thanks to all who is obedient to the call of our LORD and SAVIOR JEWISH JESUS CHRIST

  13. Thank you so much,as a Christian I am enjoying the illumination of your studies into important aspects in the Bible. Much is explained there.

  14. Joanna’s comment that sometimes Ephraim refers to the entire nation of Israel is misunderstood. Sometimes Ephraim refers to Israel as meaning the 10 tribes of Israel. When what we call the whole of Israel was divided into Judah (the 2 tribes of Judah and Benjamin) and the Israel (the remaining 10 tribes.) It is confusing because of what we understand today as Israel as the whole.

  15. PLEASE, would you explain why “someone relieved from debt’ is a better parallel to Joseph’s ‘made me fruitful,’ than is ‘forgetting and letting go’ ? — To me, and to my wife,’ the former seems to be the better of the two. Greatly puzzled.

  16. To God be the Glory. Study to show thyself approved unto God… Thank you Dr. Eli for helping us see the truth from the word of God… Amen

  17. I’m enjoying the short articles and comments very much. I’m hoping to be able to do more studies as my life situation changes.
    Born to an untaught Jewish father and Christian mother I’ve had a life long drawing to God. I’m a lady pastor. Not too rare anymore but still a novelty to some. I earned my degrees in Biblical studies and Biblical ethics .. If that seems like a misnomer it should. Ethics is straight from God. Human nature is drawn in a different direction.
    I love the study of Joseph and the course of Gods unusual plan for his life. I love reading of his love for family and forgiveness of that family. God’s spectacular provision for a region about to go into hardship. The gift of two sons to comfort a hurting mans heart. What a wonderful God we serve. Right time. Right place. God’s plan!
    Last week my husband sat down for a moment in the middle of hanging newly painted cabinet doors. I stepped out to tell a driver” bring the boxes in here”. I turned back and he wasn’t breathing. I couldn’t find a pulse. I prayed out loud as I started CPR and quickly he responded. Today he’s recuperating from the insertion of a new pacemaker lead into his heart. One had broken.
    He turned 80 last month and his daughter is coming this week to see him. He has Dimentia and its only slightly more pronounced. For that and his life I praise God. He tells me many times each day how blessed he is to be with me and how much he loves me. I council women who would give anything to hear those words. So I’m blessed by his presence in my life. But I’m most blessed by a God who loves me and even in the midst of hard situations I know he is there and ultimately his will, will be done and it’s okay.

  18. I would love to take these courses…have thought of going back to college but they dont teach what I desire and long to know…..Biblical Hebrew Understanding….I have been studying commentaries for about 10 yrs feeding upon on the knowledge and understanding…alot dif views but I enjoy all the opinions….
    Now, how hard is this to get the classes…I have a desktop computer and email…are the classes in the emails? explain to me more specific and maybe I sign up….don’t want waste anyone’s time or money…all permissible but not all profitable…..Shalom

  19. I find your insights helpful and thought provoking. I graduated in ’81 with a degree in Theology with a graduate level minor in Biblical Languages. I really enjoy the work you are getting out and find blessings in them. Thank you.

  20. Woooow Dr. Eli! That insight really got to me! That’s my (new) favorite one of yours. In addition to your main point, it spoke to me of being healed of PTSD or just a lousy past. Thank you Lord!

  21. Your program is so educating but it seems to be hard on me since I don’t have any one close who can guide me on Hebrew alphabet and pronunciation.

  22. As you wrote in The Jewish Gospel of John, the village of Ephraim was the last place Jesus stayed with his disciples before going to Jerusalem. It is now called Taybeh. What you didn’t mention is that it is the last Christian village in the West Bank, has three churches of different traditions, and has a fine brewery.

  23. I think there is a Hebrew saying parallel to Islam’s ‘Insh’Allah’ or Christianity’s ‘Deo volunta’. I thought the name Ephraim was part of it but I may have misremembered. I would love to be reminded.

  24. This is beautiful about the deeper meanings of the Joseph’s sons.

    Do you have a study from a Jewish perspective on the Triune God? I am being told I can not believe the teaching of “trinity” as it means I am not saved.

  25. There is every likelihood that in his position, Joseph manipulated both the abundant years and the years of famine. In his long plan he then was able to invite his Hebrew family & friends to live in Egypt. God of Love does not and would not act in that way.

  26. Efraim was my grand father.. am proud to b beni yuosafzai.. the word Afraim changed tody by irani and Indians to the name of Afghan .. thanks doctr Eli..sir . We proud to b bani isreal..

  27. Thank you Dr Eli for your daily write-ups. I think a short write-up on the purpose and value of naming would be much appreciated. To me especially. From your explanation on names it seems their is a purpose and value of naming beyond identity and status?

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including Jewish Insights Into Scriptures I and The Jewish Apostle Paul I: His World. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  28. The names showed deep understanding of the workings of G-d. First, to forget and removed all the old ‘baggages’. Second, the fruitfulness, the blessings flow because there is no more ‘baggages’ to obstruct the blessings. Very applicable, to forget the hurt then receive His blessings.

  29. These expositions are quite enlightening for me. It really brings new meaning to the bible. I pray that God will help forget the things in my past and make me fruitful.

  30. Thanks, Dr. Eli for wonderful insight, through this lesson soon I will be fruitful in the canal and spiritual ream, may God bless you

  31. I find it amazing… When naming Ephraim, Joseph said: “God has made me fertile (כִּי־הִפְרַנִי אֱלֹהִים) in the land of my affliction” (Gen.41:51-52 But God is a title, and HIS name was removed from the Holy scriptures.. I would love it if He was addressed by His name!

  32. Hi Dr. Eli , Just want to reconfirm, so this is the reason why Jacob blessed Ephraim first over Manasseh ?

  33. May God bless you Dr Eli and the work you are doing at IBC. It is inspiring and encouraging and has provideda restart of a journey I embarked on as an 8 year old 3rd grader in 1965

    I am half way trhough the Hidden story of Jacob and I am certainly going to read quite a number of your other publications.

  34. am muslim my grandson has been named Ephraim. .
    In our 5 daily prayers we pray &sendblessings to Mohammad and his family and archfather Abraham (Ephraim) and his family
    The jews Christians are decendants of Isac, Moslems are from Ishmael.
    We r brothers of Jews and Christians. Quran adresses jews and Christians as ahli kitab-people of the holy books.

  35. … well, sibling rivalry at it most extreme & frightening, yet how YHWH upheld the situation in His unbounded Grace & transforming compassionate Glory in a process & outcome that outshines all … hardly a more moving story in the Bible than that of Joseph … through Joseph his entire family was saved, & prosperity reigned in Egypt in spite of nature’s folly in famine conditions … a judicious example of Pantry 101 … the importance of food wealth & insurance against hardship …

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