And he blessed them that day, saying, In you shall Israel bless, saying, God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
Read Chapter 48
Ambrose of Milan
Indeed, the old man Jacob stated that this mystery referred in a spiritual sense to the peoples. For since his son Joseph thought that he had made a mistake from a defect in his vision, which was a bit dim, he wanted to change the position of his hands, saying, “ ‘Not so, father, for this is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.’ But he refused and said, ‘I know, son, I know. He too shall become a people, he too shall be exalted, but his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed will be a multitude of nations.’ ” Yes, by the order also in which he gave his blessing, Jacob prophesied that Ephraim was to be preferred to the elder brother, for he said, “In you Israel will be blessed, and it will be said, ‘May God do to you as to Ephraim and Manasseh.’ ” And so, although they were grandsons, they were adopted into the place of sons, so that they would not be deprived of their grandfather’s blessing.
Do you see how God’s grace foretold this to him and how, moved by a prophetic spirit, he blessed Joseph’s sons in this way, foreseeing as already present and visible to the brothers what would happen so long afterward? This is what prophecy is like, after all. Just as the eyes of the body can form an image of nothing beyond visible things, so the eyes of faith do not see visible things but form an image of things that are due to happen many generations later. You will gain a more precise notion of this from the blessings he bestows on his own sons.