Blesses Joseph Genesis 49:22-26
Dr. Jerry A. Collins
“Joseph is a (1) fruitful bough, (2) a
fruitful bough by a spring; (3) Its branches run over a wall. (4) The
archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; (5) But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, (6) afrom the hands of the Mighty One of
Jacob b(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of
Israel), cfrom the God of your father who helps you, and dby the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb. (7) The
blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting
hills; (8) May they be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of the one
distinguished among his brothers (Genesis
Verse 22—Joseph is a (1) fruitful
bough, (2) a
fruitful bough by a spring. (3) Its branches run over a wall—The Word bough was
chosen over ‘son’ because Joseph is pictured here as a vine extending over a
wall—an image of prosperity. The
theme of fruitfulness has appeared before in the line of Rachel. God at first
withheld fruit from her womb (30:2), but later made her fruitful (v. 22). Then
Joseph himself was made fruitful with the birth of Ephraim (41:52). In spite of
the obstacles placed in his path (brother’s jealousy, sold into slavery,
unjustly accused, unjustly imprisoned, unjustly forgotten, unjustly treated), Joseph
was faithful and fruitful in overcoming each one. The picture is made complete
with the explanation that he is by a well and extending over a wall. Joseph, then, would be healthy and fruitful.
Verse 23— (4) The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him—But
Joseph’s prosperity spurs attacks from his enemies. His enemies showed
bitterness toward him, shot their arrows at
him, and hated him. It is clear that people tried to destroy Joseph’s
prosperity. The pressure began in Joseph’s life with his brothers, of course.
The oracle of Jacob extends that envy into the future as a prediction. Joseph
in his prosperity would be attacked by his enemies. He would be shot at and harassed by them. The attacks would be bitter and painful—strategic
and evil. Joseph even said so in Genesis 50:20 as for you, you meant evil against me, but God
meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many
Verse 24— (5) But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile—Joseph was aimed and shot at,
as it were, by the bitter and reviling words of his brothers, and still more deeply wounded
by their cruel treatment. He was sold into Egypt through
envy, and imprisoned by a lie. His virtue was violently assaulted by his
mistress, his innocence wronged by his master, yet Joseph’s bow remained firm, and his arms were agile. In spite of
his suffering at the hands of his brothers, his trust in God was unswerving. He
stayed ready and available to God.
aFrom the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob b(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of
Israel)—The image of the hands of the Lord is frequent in passages of
judgment and deliverance. Here it is strengthened by the term Mighty One. The title speaks of how
powerful is God. Joseph himself acknowledged that his power came from God. God sent me before you to preserve for you a
remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance
(Genesis 45:7). The God who defended Joseph is a Shepherd, one who is able to
lead and defend His people. He is also the Stone of Israel, that is, one who is
stable and unchanging.
PT—Here begins four
descriptions of God the Father. First,
is Gods might or strength being tied to his hands. A metaphor for protection or
stability. Second, God is the
Shepherd. A caregiver and protector. Third,
the stone or rock of Israel. Again God is the strength and stability of Israel.
Verse 25—cfrom the God of your father who helps you—He is the God of your
father, a description that reminds the reader of the ancestral calling and
· dAnd by
the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above—The
God of the father would save him, and the Almighty would bless him. Without the
help and blessing of God, Joseph could not have made it as far as he had, and
his descendants would not make it further.
we have two more descriptions of the Lord. Fourth,
God… who helps you. The idea here is to surround with support or aid. Fifth, the Almighty literally the
Sovereign Lord favors Joseph. These descriptions of God is how He would work on
Josephs behalf—with might, strength, stability, protector, caregiving, favor
and aid. Of course, the story of Joseph would bear this all out.
serve a God who cares for us. Each of us individually. He is invested in each
one of our lives. Peter puts it this way casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1
Peter 5:7). The fact is God wants to supply his strength, show His favor, be
your protector, supply his caregiving, and bring you aid.
of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb—Jacob
envisions God imparting both agricultural (blessings from the sky above, blessings from
the deep that lies below) and human fertility (blessings of the breasts and
womb) to Joseph and his family. The word blessing is used to describe the lavish
treatment of Joseph. To bless someone, means to give success to someone, and
especially success in fertility. Jacob declared that God would bestow His power
on Joseph so that the latter could continue to be successful and fruitful.
Verse 26— (7) The blessings of your father Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting
hills—This blessing of Joseph would
exceed anything given to any of the progenitors. The surpassing blessing would
include the hills, select places of choice agricultural lands. In short, the
blessing on Joseph would be so great that it would exceed anything that anyone
could imagine from a very fertile land.
· (8) May
they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one
distinguished among his brothers—Just
as Joseph had overcome hatred and opposition to become successful in Egypt by
the power of God, so too would his tribe continue to have the greatest of blessings.
All of the sons of Jacob were blessed to carry the Abrahamic Covenant forward,
for they all became founders of tribes that went up to Egypt as the seed of
Abraham. Joseph and Judah came to the fore, as indeed they had in the story of
Joseph. Joseph received the double portion so that Ephraim and Manasseh would
have equal shares with the other sons. Kingship was reserved for Judah.
PT—The various promises made to Abraham
were channeled to the tribes, all sharing in some way in accord with their lives
and traits. Jacob’s blessing clearly anticipated favor and responsibility to
the tribes of Israel. Joseph especially could expect a significant role.
A Review of the History of the
Tribe of Joseph
Jacob’s blessing of the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s
tribe becomes known as the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph’s name
diminished as the history of the 12 tribes of Israel unfolded.
could be described as the ‘bully’ tribe, always trying to shove their weight around.
Conflict ensued between Ephraim and the Gileadite (Gad) tribes.
A Review of Judges 12
the men of Ephraim were summoned, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to
Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the sons
of Ammon without calling us to go with
you? We will burn your house down on you”—Ephraim’s
superiority complex is found in this story of the champion, Jephthah who was a
Gileadite of the tribe of Manasseh. His victory over the Ammonites brought this
obstinate reaction from the tribe of Ephraim. The Ammonites had overcome the
Israelites in Transjordan, and the invaders were poised for an attack west of
the Jordan Valley. They afflicted and crushed the sons of Israel
that year; for eighteen years they afflicted all the sons of Israel who were beyond the
Jordan in Gilead in the land of the Amorites. The sons of Ammon crossed the Jordan to fight
also against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was
greatly distressed (Judges 10:8-9).
A spiritual revival in Israel led to military
action and the mobilization of the opposing parties. Then the sons of Ammon were summoned and they camped in Gilead. And the
sons of Israel gathered together and camped in Mizpah. The people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one
another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He
shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead” (Judges 10:17-18).
Jephthah, an outcast from his own family in
Gilead, was called back from the land of Tob to lead the Israelite forces
(Judges 11:1-3). He first attempted to negotiate with the Ammonites on the
basis of Israel’s prior claim to the disputed region. In defense of Israel’s
claim a lengthy historical review is presented (Judges 11:12-28). While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages,
and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of
the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?
I therefore have not sinned against you,
but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the Lord, the Judge, judge today between the
sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon (Judges 11:27-28).
Naturally the Ammonites rejected Jephthah’s
reasoning. Negotiations broke down and armed conflict ensued, so Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon
to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand (v. 32). This battle and
victory brought about Ephraim’s bullied reaction.
Verse 2—Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife
with the sons of Ammon; when I called you, you did not deliver me from their
hand”—Jephthah’s answer was anything but diplomatic. He claimed,
and rightly so, that Ephraim was a type of ‘big-mouth-but-do-nothing.’ Ephraim
had sat back, enjoying the security afforded by the surrounding hill country
west of the Jordan, and had neglected her responsibility in Gilead, east of the
Jordan. Ephraim had no excuse, and Jephthah had no other choice than to carry
out the rescue operation. This interchange between Ephraim and Jephthah led to
armed conflict between the tribes.
4—Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim; and
the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of
Ephraim, O Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and in
the midst of Manasseh”—Unfortunately, name calling was the next step
in this family feud where damaging one’s honor is as effective as physical
blows. These remarks from the Ephraimites led to physical confrontation in
which they were the losers. The immediate issue was Jephthah’s unilateral
action in Transjordan. However, a much more serious issue is apparent—a
developing independence among the tribes east of the Jordan. The conflict
between the Ephraimites and the Gileadites is a sad commentary on the lack of
Israelite unity in this period.
5-6—The Gileadites captured the
fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let
me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If
he said, “No,”
then they would say to him, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said, “Sibboleth,”
for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew
him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim. —Following the encounter in Gilead, a slight variation in the
usage of two similar Hebrew consonants (Shibboleth
and Sibboleth) became a matter of
life or death for the escaping Ephramites. This incident illustrates that
regional differences (east and west of the Jordan river) had developed on
either side of the Jordan. Those differences would eventually produce separate
and independent movements on either side of the Jordan.
An Application—Watch out for a
spirit of superiority in your life. Threats and insults are not the methods
used by a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. Humility fosters dependence upon
God. If you are not careful, pride can undermine your perspective and create
outcomes you will regret.
A Review of Isaiah 11
Lord will return, and when He does, He will put an end to tribal strife,
especially the prideful strife between the two double portion tribes of Ephraim
WHEN CHRIST RULES, ISRAEL WILL BE HEALED AS A
Verses 11-12—Then it will happen on that day
that the Lord will
again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam,
Shinar, Hamath, and
from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth—A remnant will return to the Land in the future. The standard the Lord lifts up for the nations is the
flag of His kingdom. His will be an earthly kingdom. He will gather and assemble
under this banner a remnant of Jews from both the Northern and the Southern
Kingdoms, who will be living all over the earth at that time.
Verses 13-14—Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, and those who harass Judah
will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of
Judah, And Judah will not harass
Ephraim. They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; Together they will plunder the
sons of the east; They will possess Edom and
Moab, And the sons of Ammon will be
subject to them—Internal strife amongst the tribes will cease and together
they will defeat all enemies. That strife will specifically cease between the
tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Judah, the tribes who had received the double
blessing from Jacob. Instead of fighting amongst themselves, the Israelites
will subdue their common enemies and gain the whole Promised Land, the
parameters of which land are in Deuteronomy 1:7 and 11:22-25.
the Lord will
utterly destroy the
tongue of the Sea of Egypt; And
He will wave His hand over the River with His scorching wind; And He will strike it into seven streams and make men walk
over dry-shod. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be
left, just as there was for Israel in the day that they came up out of the land
of Egypt. God’s judgments will allow Jews to return from all over
the world. His judgments on Egypt and Babylon will involve the drying up of
major barriers, the Red Sea and the Euphrates River. This judgment will allow
the Jews to return to the Promised Land from those parts of the world
unhindered. They will be able to leave the territory of Assyria, where God had
said He would send them captive, as easily as their forefathers left Egypt and
crossed the Red Sea in the Exodus. Israel will re-gather in the Promised Land
from all over the world trusting in God.
PT—The lesson is that the tribes of Israel will be
regathered in Christ’s earthly kingdom in the land of Promise. Prideful
conflict between the tribes will vanish as they settle within the territory,
this time to stay in peace with each other and the surrounding nations.
Observations from the Tribe
· It is striking to consider that almost every time Joseph speaks,
he mentions God in some way. His God-filled perspective allowed him to discern
God’s hand in the affairs of his life through the trials and troubles he often
experienced. now do not be grieved or
angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life… God
before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by
a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to
Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus
says your son Joseph, “God has made
me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay”’ (Genesis 45:5, 7-9).
· Joseph waited on God during his trials without seeking revenge or
pursuing advancement. In His timing, God exalted His faithful servant to a
place of honor where he could become a blessing to others.
PT—Joseph is an example of the truth that as we therefore humble yourselves under the mighty
hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time
(1 Peter 5:6). It was a test for Joseph to wait for God’s timing after having
been unjustly sold as a slave, unjustly accused and imprisoned, unjustly
forgotten by one whom he had helped.
Application—Our responsibility is not to be ambitious or
self-seeking. God’s job is to hand out promotions. Our job is to be faithful
with the calling with which we have been called. To possess our position in
life to the glory of God. Joseph faithfully waited in prison before he was
lifted to the throne. Elijah faithfully waited at Cherith before he triumphed
at Carmel. Moses faithfully labored in Midian before he challenged the power of
Egypt. Jesus faithfully carried His cross before He wore the crown.
Joseph’s sons seem to have developed a swagger
that displayed itself in bullying some of the other tribes. Ephraim
particularly pushed their position to get an advantage. They had the protection
of the hill country in the east that encouraged their arrogance due to their lack
of vulnerability. The Gileadite tribes had no such luxury, surrounded as they
were by enemies on their eastern borders. Ephraim sort of sat back and watched
things unfold until they could enter into the fray and position themselves as
the victors. Jephthah had said when I saw
that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over
against the sons of Ammon, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have
you come up to me this day to fight against me?" (Judges 12:3).
An Application— We have what we have from
God not so that we can use it to our advantage to avoid responsibility we have
before God. The point is not that we become boastful or proud due to the favor
of God. Like Jephthah we receive from God what he supplies and then put it to
use to bring Him glory. It is for God and not us that He supplies.
is adequate for you just because of who He is
reliance upon Gods character will serve you well throughout your fleeting life
serve yourself with what God supplies you. Serve God.