The Blessings Rest On The Head Of Joseph!
“Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey,
the foal of a wild donkey at a spring—
one of the wild donkeys on the ridge.
Archers attacked him savagely;
they shot at him and harassed him.
But his bow remained taut,
and his arms were strengthened
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
May the God of your father help you;
may the Almighty bless you
with the blessings of the heavens above,
and blessings of the watery depths below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.
May my fatherly blessings on you
surpass the blessings of my ancestors,
reaching to the heights of the eternal hills.
May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph,
who is a prince among his brothers.
Genesis 49:22-26 (NLT)
One can only imagine Jacob’s anticipation of getting around to the official blessing of his most favored son. One can also only imagine his eleven brothers bracing themselves for what they knew was coming: praise heaped upon praise…. blessing heaped upon blessing; the double-portion going to Joseph seeming to them to be double of theirs, AT THE LEAST!!
But, let us remember a very important factor in this blessing of Joseph: while it would happen in the NAME of Joseph, it would come about under the tribal authority of Ephraim and, to a lesser degree, Manasseh.
For all practical purposes, once Joseph’s two sons reached maturity, married, and had children of their own, there would be no more named tribe of Joseph: just Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph would just be a memory.
And, as we can recall from Genesis 48, it was Ephraim to whom all the rights and honors of Joseph would accumulate because Jacob also gave Ephraim the firstborn blessing, even though Manasseh would also prosper of its own right.
Now, let me say that again: remember, when Jacob gave Joseph the firstborn blessing, he did it in the form of naming Ephraim and Manasseh to supersede Joseph, and further, he pronounced that Ephraim was to be considered the firstborn.
Joseph did not get the honor that a father typically gets to pronounce the firstborn blessing upon his own children; because, at the moment of that cross-handed blessing, Jacob became those two boys father… instead of Joseph.
Perhaps the overriding theme of this blessing upon Joseph, which is to be carried forward primarily under the banner of Ephraim, is FRUITFULNESS. This fruitfulness is not only told of Joseph’s personal life, it tells of his descendants’ destiny.
Yet, this fruitfulness came with a high cost; Joseph endured much in his life. His fruitfulness was not a result of cleverness, or good fortune, or having things just handed over to him. His fruitfulness was a result of his faithfulness, and, His faithfulness a result of His absolute, unwavering trust in God.
I wonder how many of us could have endured all those years in prison under false charges, let alone being rejected by our family the way Joseph was, and then forgiving all. Not only forgiving but also then blessing those who had done to him such incredibly pitiless, merciless, wrongs.
And, beyond even that, having such a sustaining faith that he refused all bitterness, because he knew without doubt, that this was all part of God’s divine plan for his life… even if as it happened it made absolutely no sense, and was so painful.
Maybe to those who run the good race in their lives, clinging to the faith no matter the circumstances, these words of Jacob reveal Gods heart towards them… towards us: blessing upon blessing upon more blessing.
Historically speaking, the fruitfulness of Ephraim and Manasseh was most apparent. Manasseh received the largest of the territorial allotments, spanning both the east and west banks of the Jordon River.
In the first chapter of Numbers, we see that together, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (that is, the WHOLE tribe of Joseph) was the largest at 75,900 men. Not surprisingly, the tribe who received the other half of the split firstborn blessing, Judah, was second largest at 74,600.
Yet, by the time of the census of Numbers 26, sometime around 40 or so years later, Judah’s population only grew marginally to 76,500, while the combined population of Ephraim and Manasseh jumped to 85,200. Fruitfulness was promised to Joseph, and fruitfulness is what he got.
And, as we are only now, within the last decade, beginning to understand, Ephraim’s fruitfulness may have grown to proportions that are staggering. Remember, it was Ephraim that eventually dominated and absorbed every tribe of Israel except for Judah and Benjamin.
Further, when that one huge super-tribe named Ephraim that was made up from 10 tribes, was overcome by the Assyrians and scattered throughout the known world…. the known GENTILE world…most of Ephraim joined their genes with the genes of the gentiles.
And, as we have recently discovered, the tribes of Ephraim who retained their identity throughout the centuries…but live in isolated areas of the world…also number in the millions.
Who among us in this world has the genes of the tribes forming Ephraim in them, we don’t know. But, one could guess that it’s in the hundreds of millions.
And, that in itself is yet another fulfillment of Genesis 48, verse 19: “…his (Ephraim’s) descendants will become the fullness of the gentile nations”. This has literally happened.
The one thing that is still not completely clear, though its getting clearer, is the precise way this matter of the split blessing going to Ephraim is going to fully manifest itself.
Will this be a strictly physical matter… genealogical…. that those gentiles who biologically, but unknowingly, possess Ephraim’s genes in their bodies are in for a significant blessing?
Or, will it be a strictly spiritual matter, that God’s blessing upon the gentile world was predicated upon those who have benefited from identifying with Ephraim-Israel?
That is, that we gentile believers identify, spiritually, with Israel, as Paul instructs us in Romans 11.
Or, could it possibly be some combination of both the physical and the spiritual?
What we need to take away from this is that ALL Believers in Yeshua are destined to identify with Israel. And, Ephraim sits smack in the middle of making this identity real, and not merely philosophical or a wonderful ideal. Ephraim is like a magnificent bridge that organically and spiritually connects the world of the Jews, with the world of the gentiles.
In my next blog, we’ll look at the last tribe of the blessing of Genesis 49, Benjamin.