Prepare your mind and heart to be taught by the Holy Ghost. Be sure to eliminate any distractions that may interrupt your learning experience.
Begin your study with prayer.
How could knowing about some of the important events in your future affect your attitude toward making good choices now?
Listen to Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society General President, explain how her patriarchal blessing guided her when she was making an important decision.
1. Please answer the following questions:
What is one goal you would like to accomplish in each of the following categories? Please choose at least one goal related to education or training, occupation, family, church, and other areas of achievement (such as music or sports).
In what ways might your plan for your life and your Heavenly Father’s plan for your life be different?
From what you have learned about Joseph’s life, in what ways do you think it may have been different from what he planned?
Genesis 47 explains that Pharaoh invited Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his family to dwell in Egypt in the land of Goshen. When Joseph introduced his father to Pharaoh, Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Joseph wisely directed the affairs of Egypt during the famine, saving the lives of the people and gathering great wealth for Pharaoh.
When Jacob was old, Joseph brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to visit him. In Genesis 48:8–9 we read that Jacob wanted to bless Manasseh and Ephraim. The blessings Jacob desired to give Manasseh and Ephraim were similar to patriarchal blessings because they described Manasseh’s and Ephraim’s future possibilities.
Jacob was the patriarch of his family, which means he was the father or head of his family. As the prophet and presiding priesthood authority, Jacob was authorized to bestow blessings that were similar to what we know today as patriarchal blessings.
A patriarchal blessing may be given to any worthy member of the Church by a patriarch who has been called and ordained under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Your patriarchal blessing will include your lineage in the house of Israel. Knowing your lineage is important because each of the tribes of Israel has been given particular blessings and responsibilities. Your patriarchal blessing will also provide guidance to help direct your life according to Heavenly Father’s will. If you have not received a patriarchal blessing, prepare yourself by being worthy, and have an interview with your bishop or branch president to receive a recommend for your patriarchal blessing. (See True to the Faith , 111–13.)
Read Genesis 48:13–14, and identify what happened when Jacob laid his hands on Joseph’s sons.
In Jacob’s day, a patriarch’s right hand was usually placed on the firstborn son’s head during a blessing, symbolizing that the birthright blessing belonged to him.
Jacob placed his right hand on Joseph’s younger son, Ephraim, rather than on his firstborn son, Manasseh. Joseph believed that his father was mistakenly giving the birthright blessing to Ephraim.
Read Genesis 48:17–20, looking for Jacob’s explanation for giving Ephraim the birthright blessing.
What can we learn about patriarchal blessings from Jacob blessing his grandsons?
One truth about patriarchal blessings we can learn from this account is that patriarchal blessings are given through the inspiration of God.
The promises in a patriarchal blessing are conditional on the recipient’s faithfulness. Read the following story as told by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Why is it important to know that patriarchal blessings are given through inspiration?
“Once, long ago, when I was serving as a bishop, a young woman in my ward came for an interview. We somehow got around to her telling me her feelings about her patriarchal blessing. She said that it depressed her rather than helped her. I must have looked surprised, because she explained her feelings by telling me this: She said that her blessing warned her about sexual immorality. And, at least by her report, it did little else. It apparently warned her by describing a situation in which she might find herself, and in which, if she yielded to temptation, she would come to great harm and sorrow. She said something about how that hurt her doubly, not only by being about something so depressing when she needed encouragement, but her social life then was so barren that such a situation could never arise. …
President Eyring continued:
“I remember better the interview I had with her less than a year later. She sobbed for a while, sitting in a chair on the other side of my desk in the bishop’s office. And then she blurted out her tragedy and how it happened, exactly as she had told me the patriarch so long before had described. In her little season of doubt that a patriarch could see with inspiration, she had made choices that led to years of sorrow” (Henry B. Eyring, “‘And Thus We See’: Helping a Student in a Moment of Doubt” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 5, 1993], 1–2).
2. Please answer the question that is applicable to you:
If you have received a patriarchal blessing, how has it blessed your life or helped you make correct decisions? (Please do not share the details of your patriarchal blessing.) What are a few things you could do to ensure that your blessing continues to influence your decisions?
If you have not yet received your patriarchal blessing, what can you do to prepare to receive one?
Note: The Young Women Personal Progress program includes a value experience that encourages young women to learn how to prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing (see Young Women Personal Progress [booklet, 2009], 30).
Genesis 49 recounts the blessings that Jacob gave to each of his 12 sons. Scan this chapter and consider marking the names of Jacob’s sons so you can quickly see where to find each son’s blessing.
In Genesis 49:1–2 we learn that Jacob planned to reveal what would happen to his sons, or their posterity, in the last days. The two most detailed blessings were given to Judah and Joseph.
Read Judah’s blessing, recorded in Genesis 49:8–10. Look for the blessings and prophecies that were given to the tribe of Judah. In this passage, the word whelp means “offspring.” The word sceptre refers to the right or authority to rule.
The reference to “the sceptre” was an indication that kings, such as David and Solomon, would be among Judah’s posterity. In Hebrew, the name Shiloh means “He to whom it belongs” and refers to the Messiah (see Bible Dictionary, “Shiloh”). Joseph Smith affirmed that Shiloh is Jesus Christ, who would be born in the lineage of Judah (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:24 [in the Bible appendix]; Bible Dictionary, “Shiloh”). (See Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 98.)
Genesis 49:22–26 records the blessings and prophecies given to Joseph and his posterity. The word bough in verse 22 refers to a large, strong branch. The prophecy that Joseph’s “branches [will] run over the wall” (verse 22) refers to the scattering of his posterity throughout the earth, especially across the sea to the Americas (see 1 Nephi 15:12). Lehi, a Book of Mormon prophet, would be “a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph” (Alma 10:3).
The following truth was identified in this lesson:
Patriarchal blessings are given through the inspiration of God.
If you have received your patriarchal blessing, consider reading it again. Reflect on the blessings Heavenly Father has promised you.
If you have not received your patriarchal blessing, think about what you need to do to prepare to receive it. Consider setting a date to receive your patriarchal blessing.