Who Told Joseph that His Father Was Sick?The Torah writes (Genesis 48:1):
Some time afterward, Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.Daas Zekeinim from Midrash Tanchuma (ibid) writes:
ויאמר ליוסף, “he said to Joseph;” according to our sages, the subject in this verse was Ephrayim, who informed his father of Yaakov’s illness; (Tanchuma section 6 on this portion) Rabbi Moshe adds that there is an oblique hint of this in the text, seeing that the letters in the word ויאמר and the word אפרים when reading the alphabet backwards, starting with the letter ת, are in the relative same position as when read from the right to left, i.e. the letter ו in the word ויאמר is the sixth letter in the alphabet when read from right to left, whereas the letter פ is in the sixth place when the alphabet is read from left to right commencing with the latter ת. (the other letters are identical)
It is reasonable to assume that it was one of the brothers who traveled to the capital to inform Joseph that his father had taken ill.Midrash Pesikta Rabbasi (3:1) cites several other opinions:
Who told him that his father was sick? Some say that he saw it through the Divine Spirit; and others say it was Bilhah that told him for she ministered Jacob and when he got sick, she went and told Joseph; and some say it was Benjamin that told him; and some say that Joseph left his agents there and when they saw that Jacob was sick, they went and told Joseph;
And who told him that his father was sick? Osnath, his wife, for since the time Jacob descended to Egypt she ministered to him, and when she saw that he was sick, she went and told Joseph
And who told him? It was Menashe for he served Jacob, our forefatherSefer leMakesei Atik (ibid) cites another opinion that it was the doctors that treated Jacob
(There are also other opinions that this was Serach)
What and Why Did Joseph Get Schechem?The Torah writes (Genesis 48:22):
And now, I assign to you one portion more than to your brothers, which I wrested from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”Targum Jonathan (ibid) explains:
And I behold have given to you the city of SchechemRashi (ibid) explains:
Because you will take the trouble to engage in my burial “I” give you an inheritance in which you will be buried. And which was this? Shechem, as it is said, (Joshua 24:32) “And the bones of Joseph which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem”.
Seeing that he, Yaakov, had personally conquered the city of Shechem, in spite of this city being part of the land of Canaan, seeing that he had taken it from the “Emorite,” i.e. someone whose deeds were as evil as those of the Emorite, (although the inhabitants had been Hittites), what he was allocating to Joseph now was an actual, a gift bestowed by him now, and had no bearing on any distribution of land conquered by Joshua in the future.
And I am giving you the city of Schechem as an extra portion because of Osnath, your wife for she is the daughter of Dinah that was left under the bush like our Rabbis tell us. And Schechem was given to Dinah in her marriage contract ... and it went to your wife according to Torah law, therefore I am giving it to you extra above your brothersDaas Zekeinim (ibid) cites an opinion that this was only referring to the plot of land where Joseph's grave was but not the entire city:
Some commentators explain the words: שכם אחד, in our verse, the extra portion of ancestral parts of the land of Israel, allocated by Yaakov to Joseph, as referring to the grave in that city in which the remains of Joseph would be interred after the Israelites taking over that country. (Compare Joshua 24:32)(Another possible answer is that Jacob gave to Joseph the field that he bought from Chamor, the father of Shechem which stood in front of the city, but not the city itself)