Though Jacob had twelve sons, only ten would become the heads of the tribes. Levi’s offspring would serve as priests over the people while Joseph’s two sons took the place of himself and Levi. 

 

When Jacob was dying, Joseph brought his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to be blessed by his father. Because Manasseh was the older, Jacob’s right hand was to rest upon his head with the left hand upon Ephraim. But Jacob, this man who had conned his older brother out of a blessing by their father Isaac and who had preferred marriage to the younger sister Rachel over the older Leah, switched his hands, giving the greater blessing to the younger son.

 

Why? It was God-ordained. Jacob, no longer the young con artist, was guided by the Spirit of God in all he did as he blessed his sons and grandsons.

 

Who Were They: Joseph and Moses

 

What Did They Do: The stories of Joseph and Moses read like a great soap opera. In fact, epic movies have been made about them.

 

Joseph, despised by his brothers and sold into slavery, became the governor of Egypt after a long period of imprisonment due to a false testimony against him. Because of his faithfulness to God, when the Hebrews were in the midst of a famine and near starvation, they were received by the prosperous Joseph. In spite of the fact that his nation of people now lived on foreign soil, Joseph believed with his dying breath that they would return to the land God had promised them and that his very bones would be buried in his homeland.

 

Four hundred years later, with the man named Moses, this came to be.

 

Not only was Moses a man of faith, his parents were people of faith. They believed that he was no ordinary child and when the king declared that all the male Hebrew babies were to be slaughtered, they hid him. Though he grew up in the home of Pharaoh’s daughter and could rightfully be heralded as a prince, he protected his own people, who were now slaves, to the point of murder. He fled into the land of Midian where, forty years later, he heard the voice of God directing him back to Egypt to set the Hebrew prisoners free. By faith he returned and—if you haven’t ever seen The Ten Commandments and just don’t know the story—he displayed the power of God, trusted God in the first Passover, and led the people out of Israel, even across the waters of the Red Sea.

 

Who Were They: The Army of Israel and Rahab

 

What Did They Do: Once the Hebrews had crossed into the Promised Land, God instructed their new leader, Joshua, to take it by force. They came upon the city of Jericho, a fortified city. The walls that surrounded it could have very possibly been double-walled. It was at the heart of the land and may have been the center of worship for the “moon god.” How is it that a ragtag bunch of nomads who have wandered the desert for forty years are to come in and conquer this, their very first enemy?

 

By faith. In the story that children’s hymns are made of, the walls literally crumbled to the earth after the army marched around the city walls once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. Ludicrous? Yes! But, by faith they believed God and by faith they obeyed!

 

Everyone within the city died with the exception of one: a prostitute named Rahab who had given the Hebrew spies shelter and peace, something she could have easily been killed for. In time she adapted the Hebrew culture, then married and gave birth to a son named Boaz, who grew to be a man, the husband of Ruth…and the grandfather of a king named David.