Genesis 49:22
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22-26) Joseph.—The blessing of Joseph is, in many particulars, the most remarkable of them all. Jacob throughout it seems struggling with himself, and anxious to bestow more than was in his power. Joseph was his dearest son, the child of his chief and most beloved wife; he was, too, the saviour of Israel’s family, and the actual ruler of Egypt; and his father had even bestowed upon him the portion of the firstborn in giving him two tribes, and to the rest but one. Nevertheless, he cannot bestow upon him the sovereignty. In clear terms he had described Judah as the lion, whose lordly strength should give Israel victory and dominion, and the sceptre must remain his until He whose right it is to rule should come. And thus Jacob magnifies again and again, but in obscure terms, his blessing upon Joseph, which, when analyzed, amounts simply to excessive fruitfulness, with no Messianic or spiritual prerogative. Beginning with this, Jacob next dwells upon Joseph’s trials, and upon the manliness with which he had borne and overcome them; and then magnifies the blessedness of the earthly lot of his race, won for them by the personal worth of Joseph, with a description of which Jacob ends his words.

(22) A fruitful bough.—Literally the words are, “Son of a fruitful tree is Joseph; son of a fruitful tree by a fountain: the daughters spread over the wall.” That is, Joseph is like a fruitful tree planted near a fountain of living water, and of which the branches, or suckers, springing from it overtop the wall built round the spring for its protection. This fruitfulness of Joseph was shown by the vast number of his descendants.

Genesis 49:22. Joseph is a fruitful bough — Shooting forth two luxuriant stems or branches, the two numerous tribes which proceeded from his sons; by a well — Or fountain, or water-course, where plants grow fastest. Thus David compares a godly man to “a tree planted by the rivers of waters:” Whose branches run over the wall — The heat of which furthers their growth no less than the moisture received from the water.49:22-27 The blessing of Joseph is very full. What Jacob says of him, is history as well as prophecy. Jacob reminds him of the difficulties and fiery darts of temptations he had formerly struggled through. His faith did not fail, but through his trials he bore all his burdens with firmness, and did not do anything unbecoming. All our strength for resisting temptations, and bearing afflictions, comes from God; his grace is sufficient. Joseph became the shepherd of Israel, to take care of his father and family; also the stone of Israel, their foundation and strong support. In this, as in many other things, Joseph was a remarkable type of the Good Shepherd, and tried Corner Stone of the whole church of God. Blessings are promised to Joseph's posterity, typical of the vast and everlasting blessings which come upon the spiritual seed of Christ. Jacob blessed all his sons, but especially Joseph, who was separated from his brethren. Not only separated in Egypt, but, possessing eminent dignity, and more devoted to God. Of Benjamin it is said, He shall ravin as a wolf. Jacob was guided in what he said by the Spirit of prophecy, and not by natural affection; else he would have spoken with more tenderness of his beloved son Benjamin. Concerning him he only foresees and foretells, that his posterity should be a warlike tribe, strong and daring, and that they should enrich themselves with the spoils of their enemies; that they should be active. Blessed Paul was of this tribe, Ro 11:1; Php 3:5; he, in the morning of his day, devoured the prey as a persecutor, but in the evening divided the spoils as a preacher; he shared the blessings of Judah's Lion, and assisted in his victories.Jacob had doubtless been made acquainted with the history of his beloved son Joseph from the time of his disappearance until he met him on the borders of Egypt. It had been the meditation and the wonder of his last seventeen years. When he comes to Joseph, therefore, the mingled emotions of affection and gratitude burst forth from his heart in language that cannot be restrained by the ordinary rules of speech. The first thing connected with Joseph in the patriarch's mind is fruitfulness. The image is vivid and striking. "Son of a fruitful tree." A branch or rather a shoot transplanted from the parent stem. "By a well;" from which it may draw the water of life. "Whose daughters" - luxuriant branches. Run over a wall - transcend all the usual boundaries of a well-enclosed garden. This fruitfulness attaches to Joseph in two respects. First, he is the prudent gatherer and the inexhaustible dispenser of the produce of Egypt, by which the lives of his father and brethren were preserved. And then he is in prospect the twofold tribe, that bursts the bounds assigned to a twelfth of the chosen people, and overspreads the area of two tribes.Ge 49:22-26. Joseph—

22. a fruitful bough, &c.—denotes the extraordinary increase of that tribe (compare Nu 1:33-35; Jos 17:17; De 33:17). The patriarch describes him as attacked by envy, revenge, temptation, ingratitude; yet still, by the grace of God, he triumphed over all opposition, so that he became the sustainer of Israel; and then he proceeds to shower blessings of every kind upon the head of this favorite son. The history of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh shows how fully these blessings were realized.

A fruitful bough, in regard of those two numerous tribes which proceeded from his two sons.

By a well, or fountain, or water-course, which situation doth much further the growth of trees. See Psalm 1:3 Ezekiel 19:10.

Whose branches run over the wall, i. e: which is planted by a wall, whose heat furthers its growth no less than the moisture of the water doth. Joseph is a fruitful bough,.... Or as one, like the bough or branch of a tree laden with fruit, as he was with children; one of which he called Ephraim from his fruitfulness, and both his sons became numerous, and the heads of two tribes in Israel; and with other temporal fruits and blessings, as riches, honour, &c. and especially with the fruits of grace and righteousness:

even a fruitful bough by a well; those are the most fruitful that are near a well or fountain of water, as such trees are which are planted by rivers of water, see Psalm 1:3 this being repeated may have respect to the two boughs or branches of Joseph's family, or the two fruitful and numerous tribes that sprung from him:

whose branches run over the wall; as such trees that are set against one, and by the reflected heat of the sun grow the more, and become more fruitful. The word for "branches" is "daughters", which some refer to the daughters of Manasseh and Zelophehad, who received their inheritance on both sides of Jordan; and others interpret it of the cities of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, as cities are sometimes called.

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. Joseph] The blessing of Joseph extends over Genesis 49:22-26. Its subject matter falls into four divisions: (1) Joseph’s prosperity under the simile of a vine (Genesis 49:22); (2) his contest with bitter foes (Genesis 49:23); (3) the invocation for aid from the God of Jacob (Genesis 49:24-25 a); (4) the blessing from heaven, sea, and earth, pronounced upon Joseph (25b, 26).

The elaborate eulogy pronounced on Joseph reflects the predominance of Ephraim and Manasseh among the tribes of Israel, in virtue both of their central position in Canaan and of their power and wealth. The impression we derive from this description of Joseph is that of 1 Chronicles 5:1-2, “his (Reuben’s) birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph … Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the prince; but the birthright was Joseph’s.”

The text in the following verses has in several places suffered from corruption. The meaning is often very obscure, and no certainty of translation is to be looked for.

A fruitful bough] Heb. the son of a fruitful tree. The word “fruitful” in the original contains a play upon the name “Ephraim”; see note on Genesis 41:52; cf. Joshua 17:14 ff. “Bough” is probably that of a vine. Cf. Psalm 128:3; Isaiah 32:12, “the fruitful vine.” The simile is that of a young fruitful tree, planted near a spring, whose tendrils trail down over the wall.

by a fountain] i.e. in a fertile spot. In Canaan, wherever there was moisture, there was fertility.

The versions give an entirely different rendering.

run over the wall] The branches and tendrils of the strongly growing vine throw themselves over the wall, which has been built for their protection and training. They hang down in graceful luxuriance, a pretty metaphor from nature.Verses 22-26. - Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall - literally, son of a fruit tree, Joseph; son o/a fruit tree at the well; daughters run (each one of them: vide Gesenius, 'Grammar,' § 146, 4) over the wall. The structure of the clauses, the order of the words, the repetition of the thoughts, supply a glimpse into the fond emotion with which the aged prophet approached the blessing of his beloved son Joseph. Under the image of a fruit tree, probably a vine, as in Psalm 80, planted by a well, whence it draws forth necessary moisture, and, sending forth its young twigs or offshoots over the supporting walls, he pictures the fruitfulness and prosperity which should afterwards attend the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, as the twofold representative of Joseph, with perhaps a backward glance at the service which Joseph had performed in Egypt by gathering up and dispensing the produce of the land for the salvation of his family and people. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him - literally, they provoked him, and shot at, and laid snares for him, masters of arrows, though Kalisch translates וָרֹבוּ, and they assembled in multitudes, which yields a sense sufficiently clear. It is sometimes alleged (Keil, Lange, 'Speaker's Commentary') that the words contain no allusion to the personal history of Joseph, but solely to the later fortunes of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh; but even if they do point to the subsequent hostilities which Joseph's descendants should incur (Joshua 17:16-18; Judges 12:4-6), it is almost morally certain that the image of the shooting archers which he selects to depict their adversaries was suggested to his mind by the early lot of his beloved son (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Gerlach, Murphy, and others). But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. Notwithstanding the multitudinous and fierce assaults which had been made on Joseph, he had risen superior to his adversaries; his bow had continued firm and unbroken (cf. 1 Samuel 2:4; Job 12:19; Job 33:19), and his arms had been rendered active and flexible - neither ἐξελύθη τὰ νεῦρα βραχιόνων χειρὸς αὐτῶν, (LXX.), dissoluta sunt vincula brachiorum et manuum (Vulgate), as if Joseph s enemies were the subjects referred to; nor, "Therefore gold was placed upon his arms (Onkelos, Raehi, and others), referring to the gift of Pharaoh's ring - by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, i.e. God, who had proved himself to be Jacob's Mighty One by the powerful protection vouchsafed to his servant The title here ascribed to God occurs afterwards in Isaiah 1:24. From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel. If the clause is parenthetical, it may signify either that from the time of Joseph's exaltation he became the shepherd (who sustained) and the stone of (i.e. the rock which supported) Israel (Oleaster); or that from God, the Mighty One of Jacob, Joseph received strength to become the shepherd and stone of Israel (Pererius, Ainsworth, Lawson, Patrick, and others), in which capacity he served as a prefiguration of the Good Shepherd who was also to become the Rock or Foundation of his Church (Calvin, Pererius, Candiish, &c.); but if the clause is rather co-ordinate with that which precedes and that which follows, as the introductory particle מִן appears to suggest, then the words "shepherd and stone of Israel" will apply to God, and the sentiment will be that the hands of Joseph were made strong from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, from there (i.e. from there where is, or from him who is) the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, Gerlach, Lange, et alii). Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee (literally, from the (led of thy father, and he shall help thee, i.e. who shall help thee); and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee - literally, and with (sc. the aid of) the Almighty, and he shall bless thee. It is unnecessary to change וְאֵת. into וְאֵל (LXX., Vulgate, Samaritan, Syriac, Ewald), or to insert מִן before אֵת, as thus, מֵאֵת (Knobel, Rosenmüller, Kalisch), since אֵת may be understood here, as in Genesis 4:1; Genesis 5:24, in the sense of helpful communion (Keil) - with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb. "From the God of Jacob, and by the help of the Almighty, should the rain and dew of heaven (Genesis 27:28), and fountains and brooks which spring from the great deep or the abyss of the earth, pour their fertilizing waters over Joseph's land, so that everything that had womb and breast should become pregnant, bring forth and suckle" (Keil). The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. The meaning is, according to this rendering, which some adopt (the Targums, Vulgate, Syriac, Saadias, Rosenmüller, Lange, Murphy, et alii), that the blessings which Jacob pronounced upon Joseph surpassed those which he himself had received from Abraham and Isaac, either as far as the primary mountains towered above the earth (Keil, Murphy), or, while exceeding the benedictions of his ancestors, those now delivered by himself would last while the hills endured (Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'). But the words may be otherwise rendered: "The blessings of thy father prevail over, are mightier than the blessings of the mountains of eternity, the delight, or glory, or loveliness of the hills of eternity (LXX., Dathe, Michaelis, Gesenius, Bohlen, Kalisch, Gerlach, and others); and in favor of this may be adduced the beautiful parallelism between the last two clauses, which the received translation overlooks. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren - literally, of him, the separated (from nazar, to separate) from his brethren (Onkelos, Rashi, Rosenmüller, Keil, and others), though by some different renderings are preferred, as, e.g., the crowned among his brethren (LXX. Syriac, Targum of Jerusalem, Kimchi, Kalisch, Gerlach), taking nazir to signify he who wears the nezer, or royal diadem. "Dan will procure his people justice as one of the tribes of Israel. Let Dan become a serpent by the way, a horned adder in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, so that its rider falls back." Although only the son of a maid-servant, Dan would not be behind the other tribes of Israel, but act according to his name (ידין דּן), and as much as any other of the tribes procure justice to his people (i.e., to the people of Israel; not to his own tribe, as Diestel supposes). There is no allusion in these words to the office of judge which was held by Samson; they merely describe the character of the tribe, although this character came out in the expedition of a portion of the Danites to Laish in the north of Canaan, a description of which is given in Judges 18, as well as in the "romantic chivalry of the brave, gigantic Samson, when the cunning of the serpent he overthrew the mightiest foes" (Del.). שׁפיפן: κεράστης, the very poisonous horned serpent, which is of the colour of the sand, and as it lies upon the ground, merely stretching out its feelers, inflicts a fatal wound upon any who may tread upon it unawares (Diod. Sic. 3, 49; Pliny. 8, 23).
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