Joseph receives the double portion—Genesis 48:22

As noted earlier, Jacob gives Joseph the double portion allotted to the firstborn son. Because the double portion meant that the first son received twice the share allotted to any other son, Jacob promises Joseph one piece of land more than his brothers (48:22).

Jacob declares that he had taken this land by his sword and bow. This description does not apply to most of Jacob’s sojourn in Canaan, most of which was peaceful. Unless he prophesies the future conquest (cf. 15:16), it apparently applies only to his sons’ unruly conquest of the town of Shechem (34:25-29). Families were viewed as a unit, and this was an action by the family of which Jacob was head and progenitor.

Although Jacob actually disapproved of his sons’ sack of Shechem and initially hurried from that region (34:30; 35:1-5; 49:5-7), this conquered town was in fact part of the future promised land. Jacob had legally bought land there (33:19) and dedicated it to God (33:20); moreover, he eventually came to view the area as safe even for his sons (37:12-14). Even when Joseph disappears after being sent there, his disappearance is (wrongly) attributed to a beast rather than to a vengeful neighbor (37:20, 33). The term sometimes translated “portion,” “ridge,” and so forth in 48:22 can also be translated “Shechem.”

That Shechem ultimately lies in the territory of Ephraim (Josh 20:7; 21:21; 1 Kgs 12:25; 1 Chron 6:67; cf. nearby Manasseh in Josh 17:7), one of Joseph’s sons (Josh 17:7), confirms the likelihood of that meaning or at least that wordplay here. Shechem went not to descendants of the sons who pillaged it (especially Simeon and Levi) but instead to descendants of Joseph, who was likely too young to have participated in that action (Gen 30:21-25; 31:41; 37:2; cf. 29:20, 27).