Jacob’s life was given prominence in the book of Genesis. He was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. Though Jacob cheated his father to get the firstborn blessing, the Bible records his life as one filled with faith.
At River Jabbok, God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” meaning “prince of God.” One would think of this event as the crowning achievement of Jacob’s life. Instead of being known as “Jacob” (meaning “supplanter” or “grabber”), he became a “prince of God,” and this change of name marked his life. However, this change of name is not what the Bible records as his greatest achievement.
In Hebrews 11, which is the chapter known as the “hall of faith,” we read this about Jacob:
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.”
— Hebrews 11:20–21 NKJV
“By faith Jacob . . . blessed each of the sons of Joseph” — The account of his faith recorded in Hebrews 11 is the act of pronouncing the blessing over his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh. When Joseph brought his sons Ephraim and Manasseh before his father Jacob to impart the generational blessing of Abraham, Jacob crossed his hands when blessing them. Joseph had positioned his firstborn Manasseh on the right side so that Jacob’s right hand of blessing (the firstborn blessing) would go to him. But Jacob, under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, crossed his hands and gave the firstborn blessing to Ephraim instead. This is to show us that the undeserving will receive God’s blessings.
God loves to bless your children. This act of blessing children is singled out in Hebrews 11 when it records Isaac blessing his children and Jacob blessing his grandchildren.