8 Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”
9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”
And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.”
10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.
11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
Now if you didn’t catch it, the above passage tells us something apparently contradictory:
At the end of his arduous journey through life, blind Jacob saw.
Ironically, this is one passage of Scripture I’ve yet to see discussed by individuals who would claim to see tons of contradictions within the Word of God. One would assume this would be an easy target and yet it often gets passed right over by both believers and unbelievers. Why? Why did I never observe this and ask:
How did/could blind Jacob see?
Being familiar with the story, I noticed that I tend to skim over the text at times in search of those truths that have been preached upon countless times. Well, this time it was different: I had to stop and look at different translations, and a few commentary notes here and there in order to try to make sense of what was going on here.
Not surprisingly, all of the resources I checked out interpreted Jacob’s inability to see as being only partial (i.e. he was nearly blind, not fully blind). I felt, and still feel, that this is a plausible solution to the apparent contradiction, although I think we may be missing the bigger picture the Holy Spirit is painting for us in this chapter.
Well you see, the word used here for “see” (ראה) is first used in the opening of the Jacob’s speech to Joseph in vv. 3-4:
3 Then Jacob said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’
Jacob’s sight is, in the above passage, spiritual and literal. Could it be that blind Jacob’s sight, his ability to see Joseph’s sons, was not literal but spiritual (or possibly both – i.e. partial blindness and full spiritual sight)? Could it be that Jacob’s literal blindness wasn’t paralleling his father’s literal/figurative blindness in Gen. 27?
I believe we wouldn’t be in strange territory if we took it to mean precisely that blind Jacob’s sight was (figurative) spiritual, not literal. Especially since it isn’t until Jacob blesses Ephraim (the younger) with a greater blessing than Manessah (the firstborn) that we read:
17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
Up until this point, the only seeing that was being done was being done by Jacob. This is significant because it seems to validate interpreting Jacob’s ability to see as being not only literal (i.e. in his extremely bad eyesight) but also spiritual. Jacob could see that it was Ephraim who was going to be more highly blessed by God, not Manessah.
Joseph’s literal ability to see doesn’t help him see what Jacob sees in Ephraim’s future, so he tries to correct his father’s behavior and is corrected by his blind father!
So now can you see where I’m coming from?
We often fail to see God’s perfect plan, although we are looking right at it. We sometimes depend more on our natural abilities than we do in His Word/promises (remember, this is all begins with Jacob’s reference to God’s promise).
Not only that, and here’s where it gets even more convicting, but we often criticize the spirituality of others on the basis of how their natural abilities compare to ours.
May the Lord open our eyes to see His truth.