My last post elicited this comment:
Ed, I have wondered but never understood the issues of Joseph’s sons being elevated to the status of their uncles–and the younger one of them getting the birthright! Sheer grace–and that’s our calling with God. Thanks for reminding us of this. Martin.
This is a fascinating subject. The question of why the firstborn almost never (more about that later) actually received the birthright is explained by a little-known principle enunciated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:46:
The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
Note that Paul is contrasting ‘natural’ with ‘spiritual.’ And the Bible narratives continually confirm this. Consider:
Cain was firstborn, but Abel was the spiritual one.
Aaron was firstborn, but Moses was the spiritual one.
Saul was the first king– the ‘natural’ king, he was ‘head and shoulders taller, remember– but David was the spiritual one.
Even within David’s line, David was not allowed to build the Temple, because he was a ‘man of blood.’ Solomon –the second in line, not the first–was the spiritual king, who did build the Temple.
Solomon is an interesting case. He was not David’s firstborn; nor was he even the first child of David and Bathsheba. That child died in infancy. So, once again, the second child was the spiritual one.
It even works with the Temple itself. The first Temple was a natural wonder, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, but the second Temple was the spiritual one, the more glorious because Jesus blessed it with his presence.
So this principle manifests itself repeatedly in Scripture. Keep an eye out for it, and you might be surprised how, and how often, it shows up.