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Why does Yakov ask the malach (angel) (actually it sounds more like a statement of fact - "he will...") who protected him from evil to bless Ephraim and Menashe? Also, do we find that this actually happened — i.e., did that malach in fact bless them?

הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל-רָע, יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-הַנְּעָרִים - Genesis 48:16

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@mah-nishtana, the "he will" composition of the sentence is not a statement of fact; it is a prayer. Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew are different, and, even though this is true, even in Modern Hebrew the correct way to say "may he do such and such" is to write it in the future tense (ie., "he will do such and such"). I'm keeping it simple here, but that's basically it in a nutshell. Also, I edited it out of the question, because it's irrelevant. May I suggest asking it as a separate question (although it may be off-topic here)? –  Seth J May 17 '12 at 16:07
    
@msh210 ok that is superlong, can you tell me the related part? –  mah-nishtana May 17 '12 at 16:07
    
@SethJ I disagree, if it was a request why would he not add the word 'na' (please) as he does with his request to Yosef? I think it is relevant to the question because Yakov has a pattern of ordering angels to give blessings ;) –  mah-nishtana May 17 '12 at 16:10
    
@mah-nishtana, Everything you're saying is true, and maybe that will make it on-topic (ie., maybe there's a commentator who picks up on it) if you ask it as a separate question. But on the plain reading it is consistent with standard Hebrew to read it as a prayer. Regardless, I still think it is irrelevant to the current question. Otherwise, I still give it a +1. –  Seth J May 17 '12 at 16:16
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The באר יעקב explains that in an earlier posuk Yaakov had said that Ephraim and Menashe were to be like Reuven and Shimon, but he did not wish them to be completely like them, because concerning Reuven and Shimon he had prayed that his name should not be associated with them when mentioning their offspring who committed evil deeds. That is, when the Torah mentions the genealogy of Zimri, it says "Zimri the son of Salu, a prince of a father's house of the Shimonites", but does not mention that he is descended from Yaakov, and with Reuven it says "Dasan and Aviram the sons of Eliav, and On the son of Peles the sons of Reuven" but does not mention that he is the son of Yaakov.

Therefore, he prayed for them and blessed them that the Malach who had saved him from evil should do similar for them and protect their offspring from doing evil, so that that when the Torah mentions them and their genealogy "may they be called by my name" - may their genealogy be traced back to me.

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See here for a rundown of the basic opinions.

1) Rashi, the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban all speak about it being an angel that Hashem sends as His messenger to do things like provide blessings, redemption, etc. The Ibn Ezra (in Shemos 23) specifically identifies the angel as Michoel.

2) The kabbalistic understanding (brought in the Or Hachaim on the passuk) is that it refers to Hashem's presence, not an angel as a separate being. So it is saying that the Shechina should bless.

3) The Malbim that says that this refers to protection in exile, where he was speaking in exile in Egypt where Hashem's presence would not be felt in a revealed way, he is asking that the blessing through more natural, hidden means should accompany them in exile.

Additionally, the Kehot Chumash interpolated translation brings an interesting reading, that I have never seen explicitly (and their own footnotes don't source it), but it reads this verse with the preceding one as one unit, like this:

15 He blessed Joseph and said, "May God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd from my earliest days until this day,

16 and has always sent me the angel who delivers me from all harm, bless the lads.

The bold is the translation of the actual words, the not bold is the interpolation. According to that reading (which fits very nicely with the Or Hachaim in the sense that the Or Hachaim wouldn't add the interpolated words, but would see the "Malach" as a continuation of the previous two mentions of "Elokim" in the previous verse all referring to some aspect of G-d), and certainly doesn't contradict Rashi or the Ibn Ezra (I don't remember the Ramban)), the angel isn't asked to bless at all, the Sender of the angel is.

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