“…He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you into an assembly of nations.‘”
Rashi comments that Jacob is recalling the blessing G-d bestowed upon him in Genesis 35:11, and I agree. This blessing, however, is not quoted word for word by Jacob. At that time, the Torah states, “G-d said to him [Jacob], “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and increase. A nation and a community of nations will come from you and kings will come out of your loins.”
In Genesis 35, Jacob is returning home after a 20-year exile in the land of his father-in-law, Lavan’s home in Padan Aram. He has one daughter, eleven sons, and four wives – one of whom is very pregnant. In the midst of this travel three things happen:
- 1. Devorah, his mother’s maidservant who was with Jacob, dies. Jacob buried her under the oak tree north of Bethel.
- 2. Hashem blesses him. He reassures him that Abraham and Isaac’s promises belong to Jacob and his children. This occurs in Genesis 35:9-12.
- 3. Jacob’s twelfth son, Benjamin, is born and Rachel is favored wife dies from complications in childbirth. Jacob buries her in Bethlehem, which is on the way toward Efrat.
Since the blessing from G-d occurs before the birth of Benjamin, Rashi and the sages argue that “nation” refers to Benjamin. What are we to do, then, with the “community of nations?” In Genesis 48:5, Jacob elevates the two grandchildren he received from Joseph to that status of sons. This performs a twofold function. He fulfills the “community of nations” through the gain of two additional sons. He also effectively establishes the Blessing of the Firstborn to Joseph by providing him the double portion.
I dare not belittle these men’s comments, so I suggest another interpretation:
The Hashem blessed Abraham, he said, “All the families of the earth shall bless themselves through you.” Since blessings only come from Hashem, We can understand G-d’s comment to Abraham as relating to the families of the earth coming into the presence of Hashem where they receive the blessing of G-d. This is related to several passages of the Tanach that call the Temple in Jerusalem as the House of prayer for all people.
 Genesis 48:4
 Heb: G-d Almighty
 Genesis 35:11
 Heb: alon
 Heb: Beit El, which is about 15 miles north of Jerusalem
 Heb: Binyamin
 Heb. Beit Lechem
 Efrat is about six miles SSW of Bethlehem
 The “plural” of community of nations is fulfilled with the two brothers [Ephraim and Manasheh]
 Heb: behor
 See b.Horayot 5b-6a
 Genesis 12:3
 The website http://www.mechon-mamre.org/jewfaq/prayer.htm states the following: The Hebrew word baruch is not a verb describing what we do to G-d; it is an adjective describing G-d as the source of all blessings. When we recite a brakhah, we are not blessing G-d; we are expressing wonder at how blessed G-d is.
 1 Kings 8:41, Isaiah 2:2-3, 56:7, Jeremiah 3:17, Micah 4:1-3, Zechariah 2:11, Malachi 1:11