Abraham to Jacob
In Genesis 11 we are introduced to Abram (literally: father exalted") who would later have his name changed to Abraham ("father of many").
Abraham we are informed was a "friend of God" (James 2:23). This implies relationship. In the relationship Abraham obeyed/believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
God's relationship with Abram/Abraham benefited Abraham but it was more than this. There was a purpose behind the relationship that transcended 'do this and you will receive this'.
Through the development of the relationship - promise; renewed promise; covenant; covenant renewed as an everlasting covenant and covenantal oath we have the plan of God for the future.
Looking at what God would do for Abraham we find:
Ge 12:2 ... I will make of thee a great nation...
An individual does not make a nation. God's blessing reaches far beyond one individual and one time.
Ge 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Ge 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee...
The nations will be blessed but the blessing depends on their relationship with Abraham's nation.
Gen 18:8 Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation
Ge 22:17 ... I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore;
Ge 17:6 and kings shall come out of thee.
This "great and mighty nation" would be a kingdom.
Ge 15:18 ... Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Ge 15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
Ge 15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
Ge 15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Ge 22:17 ... and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
The land of this great nation is defined. Not only was Abraham's nation to be victorious in battle, the implication, as later became reality, was that the Kingdom would also be an Empire.
Ge 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
"... the concept of a covenant inexorably demands the attendant concept of a community" (Kim Huat Tan, "Community, Kingdom and Cross: Jesus' View of Covenant", Jamie A. Grant & Alistair I. Wilson, Editors, The God of Covenant, p.124).
Here we see what God is up to. God created human-beings to have a relationship with them. But not just any relationship. This relationship was to be a 'covenental' relationship. God created Adam to have an 'intimate' relationship with, but not only Adam but all of Adam's descendants. Adam and Eve sinned and the relationship did not progress to the 'intimate' level that God was seeking.
After Adam sinned God immediately implemented a plan to restore the relationship and to develop a relationship with mankind with its attendant blessings.
Ge 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Ro 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
The 'seed' of Genesis 3:15 is both a group and the person who represents that group.
"Eve had been promised both a "seed" and a male individual - apparently from that "seed". Now the progress of revelation with greater specification elaborated on both the corporate and representative aspects of this promised "seed"... "seed was always a collective singular noun; never did it appear as a plural noun (e.g., as in "sons"). Thereby the "seed" was marked as a unit, yet with a flexibility of reference: now to the one person, now to the many descendants of that family..." (Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Towards an Old Testament Theology, p.88).
"[Genesis 3] Verse 15 still contains a puzzling yet important ambiguity: Who is the "seed" of the woman? It seems obvious that the purpose of this verse has not been to answer that question but rather raise it. The remainder of the book is the author's answer" (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2, p.56).
That 'collective' seed, from whom the individual Seed comes, was to be the instrument to restore God's relationship with human-beings, and develop it till it becomes an 'intimate' relationship. Abram/Abraham is the 'new' Adam by which God's plan would be accomplished.
"The "covenant" ... was God's legal instrument for the redemption of his people. Through it he graciously bequeathed an inheritance of reconciliation with himself to those who were qualified heirs, those who met its condition of sincere faith in his promise (Gen 15:6; Heb 11:6). Though the instrument of redemption was first revealed in Eden to fallen Adam (Gen 3:15), it was confirmed to Noah (9:9) and to Abraham (1 Chron 16:16) and his chosen seed (Gen 17:7; Exod 19:5-6; Gal 3:29) for a "thousand generations." Its ultimate accomplishment depended on the death of Jesus Christ, the divine testator (Heb 9:15-17), an event symbolized under the anticipatory older testament by the shedding of sacrificial blood (Exod 24:6-8; Heb 9:18-22..." (J. Barton Payne, 1,2 Chronicles, EBC, Vol.4, p.391, Note on 1 Chron 16:14-17).
"The general purpose for a covenant is to provide a binding sense to an interpersonal relationship... Those who enter into covenant obligate themselves to that relationship and provide it with a strong sense of security. This is vividly illustrated in the marriage covenant which was instituted by God to be a model of His covenants. God hates divorce because it disannuls a covenant, destroys its very purpose and does not accurately reflect the irrevocability of the covenants by which man is redeemed (Malachi 2:14-16)" (Kevin J. Conner & Ken Malmin, The Covenants, p.3).
To arrive at the 'intimate' level of a marriage it proceeds through various stages.
Using the modern process of marriage we have (1) marriage proposal; (2) marriage vows; (3) exchange of rings and a kiss to confirm the marriage; (4) wedding supper; and (5) the consummation of that marriage when husband and wife begin living intimately together.
This, more or less, is the pattern of covenantal relationship with God.
God's relationship with mankind is a 'marriage' covenant. So that God's covenant with a "kingdom", through which all nations share, does not begin until God is living with his people.
Ex 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
Ex 6:4 And I have also established my covenant with them [Abram/Abraham's descendants]...
The implication is that in covenant God will be "known" as Jehovah, which implies knowing God on an a deeper level.
"The special name ... "Yahweh" is defined, in its only explanation in the entire OT, as an assertion of the reality of the active existence of Israel's God (3:3-14)... [I am Yahweh] is above all a confession of authority, the authority of the real and effective Presence of Yahweh who rescues, sustains, calls, and, on the basis of all that, expects a positive response from humankind" (John I. Durham, Exodus, WBC, p.76).
"... the most characteristic of all covenant formulas - "I will be your God, and you will be my people" - is taken from "the sphere of marriage/adoption legal terminology like its Davidic counterpart in II Sam. VII, 14" (Weinfeld, "The Covenant of Grant," p.200)" (Ronald F. Youngblood, 1, 2 Samuel, EBC, Vol. 3, p.892).
God also pictures His relationship with his people as a Father-Son relationship.
Ge 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
The blessing would be transmitted through Abraham's and Sarah's son Isaac, not through Abraham's and Hagar's son Ishmael, Abraham's firstborn, or through any of Abraham's and Keturah's six sons.
Ge 28:3 And God Almighty bless thee [Jacob], and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
Ge 28:4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
"[Isaac] describes this blessing as the blessing of Abraham. And largely echoes the promises made to Abraham for nearly every phrase is found in the Abrahamic promises... this is the first time that Jacob has been designated heir of the Abrahamic promises..." (Gordon Wenham, Genesis 16-50, WBC, p.214).
It was in Isaac's seed Jacob that the promise of the 'great' nation would sprout.
Jacob, similar to Abram/Abraham before him, came to be called another name - Israel (Gen 35:10). But the name Israel and Jacob would be used interchangeably for Isaac's son.
The name Israel and Jacob would also be used interchangeably for the 'great' nation.
Jacob had twelve sons whose descendants would become a "great" nation made up of twelve tribes.
Jacob fathered his twelve sons from four women - his two wives and their handmaids.
Ge 29:30 Jacob ... loved Rachel more than Leah... [and] Leah was not loved (NIV).
Ge 29:31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
Ge 30:1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister.
The two wives were two sisters. Jacob favoured the younger one over the older one. This ungodly favouritism by Jacob, which brought a response from God, would cause tension in the family and "great" nation. Rachel's jealousy would be her unintended legacy to the nation.
Jacob had six sons by Leah and eventually two sons by Rachel. Leah's fourth oldest son Judah, and Rachel's eldest son Joseph play leading roles in the developing and realisation of the "great" nation.
1 Ch 5:2 Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's.
It is suggested here that the blessing of birthright and rulership went hand in hand - Jesus Christ is both God's firstborn and anointed King. The birthright and rulership came to Joseph, perhaps as a result of the sin of Judah's older full-brother so that this is the exception to the rule that the firstborn son, if the son of an unloved wife, is born before the son of a loved wife, receives the birthright (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). But because the descendants of Joseph failed to live up to their side of the covenant, by failing to follow in the faithful example of their 'father' Joseph, they lost the right of leadership, but still retained the birthright. The right of rulership then descended on the descendants of Benjamin, Joseph's younger and only full-brother. With the failure of Benjamin the 'sceptre' was handed back to the descendants of Leah. Because of the 'sin' of the first three sons of Leah the scepter passed to Judah. David from the tribe of Judah, followed in the faithful footsteps of Abraham and secured the sceptre permanently for Judah and prevailed over his brethren.
Ge 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age...
Ge 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
Ge 37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream...
Ge 37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
Ge 37:7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
Ge 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
The brethren here may not include Joseph's younger full-brother Benjamin, for he too was a son of Jacob's old age. Typology also suggest this. See below.
Ge 37:17 ... Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
Ge 37:18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
"Jacob's preferential treatment of Joseph ... angered Joseph's brother and turned them against him" (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2 p.227) - to the point they wanted to kill him. Jacob's aggravates the legacy of jealousy of his 'loved' wife Rachael. Jealousy and favourtism are a continuing theme in the history of the twelve tribe-nation.
Ge 37:26 Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother...
Ge 37:27 Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed.
Judah played an important part in 'saving' Joseph. This was an anticipation and foreshadowing of a greater saving role in Judah's descendants. Judah would also later play a role of intercessor in the life of Joseph's brother Benjamin, offering to be a slave instead of Benjamin (Gen 44). As in God's test of Abraham, in which Isaac's life was not required, Joseph did not require it of Judah.
Ge 37:36 ... the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.
"What happens to Joseph foreshadows all that will happen to the sons of Jacob. They will be carried down into Egypt and will be put into slavery" (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2, p.229).
Ge 39:3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Ge 39:5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
"Joseph's sojourn in Egypt ... has resulted in an initial fulfilment of the Abrahamic promise that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (12:3). Thus we are told that "the LORD blessed the house of the Egyptian because of Joseph" (v.5). Such a thematic introduction alerts the reader to the underlying lessons intended throughout the narrative. This is not the story of the success of Joseph; rather it is a story of God's faithfulness to his promises..." (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2, pp.234).
Later God, through Joseph, would interpret the dreams of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Joseph revealed that the land of Egypt would experience seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. Joseph also put forward a plan to "provide for the famine years" (Joyce G. Baldwin, The Message of Genesis 12-50, BST, p.175).
Ge 41:33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
Ge 41:34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
Ge 41:35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
Ge 41:36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.
"... this story describes God's control of human affairs" (Gordon Wenham, Genesis 16-50, WBC, p.399).
Joseph's wisdom and administrative skills are on display here and throughout the course of the famine. Joseph's mother left a legacy of 'jealous' to the nation but her son Joseph's legacy to his descendants, as they especially walk with God, is his wisdom and administrative skills which are a major source of blessing to the future 'great' nation.
Ge 41:39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Ge 41:40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
Ge 41:43 ... and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
1Co 15:27 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.
Joseph is second only to the king. Joseph's administers to the nation under the 'king'. Joseph, the saviour of the nations, is also a type of Christ (1 Cor 15:27).
Ge 41:57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.
Ge 47:25 And they said [to Joseph], Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.
This is another example of Abraham/Israel being a blessing to the nations.
"Joseph's wisdom is seen as the source of life for everyone in the land" (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2, p.266).
"... during the years of famine, Joseph proved himself to both king and people of Egypt to be true support of the land, so that in him Israel became a saviour of the Gentiles..." (C.F. Keil, The Pentateuch, KD, p.245).
Abraham's Israel was to be a blessing, and a main conduit of that blessing would be Joseph. But for Israel to achieve her full potential the descendants of Joseph and the descendant of Judah would have to work together. See below the example of the forefathers working together that sets the precedent for their descendants.
Ge 42:1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons...
Ge 42:2 ... Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
Ge 42:3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
Ge 42:4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
Here we have a grouping of ten brothers that did not include Benjamin. Another type for the future.
Ge 37:10 ..."What is this dream you had? Will ... your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?"
Ge 44:4 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
Ge 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
In Egypt in the trial of 'repentance' (Genesis 42-44) that Joseph put his brothers through, Joseph's dream was fulfilled. The brothers bowing down to him had the potential to set the precedent for the leadership role for the descendants of Joseph in the future "great" nation. It is also significant that Judah is the leader among ten brothers.
Ge 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
Ge 42:5 And the sons of Israel came to [Egypt to] buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
Ge 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
Ge 46:3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
Ge 46:4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again
Joseph being sold into Egypt was part of God's plan that fulfilled what God foretold to Abraham. Not only that, Jacob is now following in the footsteps of Abraham. Abraham foreshadowed what would happen to Israel and the representative Israelite - Jesus Christ - sojourning in Egypt.
Gen 46:28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen.
"Curiously, in the narrative itself it was Judah, not Joseph, who led the sons of Israel into the land of Goshen. Once again it appears as though the writer has singled out Judah for special attention over against Joseph. Although in the Joseph story as a whole it was Joseph who was responsible for the preservation of the sons in Egypt, here, within the detail of the passage, it was Judah who "pointed the way" (lehorot; NIV, "to get directions," v.28), to the land of Goshen. Such a special focus on Judah is part of an overall strategy of the writer to highlight the crucial role of Judah in God's role to bring about Israel's deliverance. The prominence of Judah is seen most clearly in Jacob's word's of blessing to his twelve sons (49:8-12)..." (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2, p.263).
The narrative is suggesting that Judah, not Joseph is the ideal ruler of Israel. The implication also is that when Joseph and Judah cooperate Israel is blessed. When they don't Israel is weakened leading eventually to the demise of the great nation.
Ge 47:27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
"For the first time the name Israel is used collectively for the family of Jacob, including himself" (Joyce G. Baldwin, The Message of Genesis 12-50, BST, p.197).
Israel was on the way to becoming a great nation.
"Although they are aliens in a strange place, and although they are surrounded by famine, the Israelites are blessed. Neither geography nor natural catastrophe can throttle God's commitment to his own" (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50, NICOT, p.623).
Ge 49:3 Jacob said to Joseph...
Ge 48:5 "Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.
Ge 48:20 He blessed them that day and said, "In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
'May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.'" So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.
"... Jacob elevates Joseph's two children from grandsons to sons. To make it clear and unmistakable to Joseph what Jacob is doing, Jacob picks out his two oldest children for comparison - Reuben and Simeon. Ephraim and Manasseh may now claim Jacob as "father" as legitimately as any of his other sons. In one move Joseph's sons become coinheritors with their uncles!" (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50, NICOT, p.629).
"This act of adoption does not simply make Ephraim and Manasseh Jacob's heirs but makes them the ancestors of tribes on a par with those tracing their origin back to Jacob's own sons, such as Judah and Benjamin" (Gordon Wenham, Genesis 16-50, WBC, p.463).
Later God will adopt the Levites and they will have no inheritance with their brothers - God would be their inheritance.
"... Jacob's prayer echoes the first promise to Abraham that he would be a blessing... Jacob thus clearly predicts that both Joseph's sons will prove to be outstanding examples of divine blessing" (Gordon Wenham, Genesis 16-50, WBC, p.466).
In Jacob's blessing, in verse 19, he stated that Ephraim would be greater than his older brother Manasseh.
"This blessing began to be fulfilled from the time of the Judges, when the tribe of Ephraim so increased in extent and power, it took the lead of the northern tribes and became the head of the ten tribes, and its name acquired equal importance with the name of Israel..." (C.F. Keil, The Pentateuch, KD, p.248).
Ge 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
"Last days" refers basically to the kingdom under the Old Covenant and New Covenant. For example, in the blessing on Simeon and Levi they were to be scattered/dispersed in the great nation. This occurred under the OC Kingdom, and will be the reality till the NC Kingdom, when their position is reversed, being no longer scattered in the nation.
The OT Kingdom is an 'inferior' type of the 'superior' NT Kingdom - the Messianic Age. Simeon and Levi will be in a 'superior' position under the NC than under the OC.
Judah and Joseph, the two 'leading' sons, were given the longest blessings for their descendants, with Joseph receiving the longest.
Ge 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee
Ge 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be
"What Jacob raised derogatorily as a possibility with Joseph (37:10) he now affirms with Judah" (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50, NICOT, p.658).
And ironically, the brothers who bowed down before Joseph, in the future, would bow down to Judah.
"The fourth in [Leah's] line will achieve dominance over his brothers and overcome his enemies. Indeed, he is a lion's cub, fearing no-one, destined to be supreme, just as lions are more than a match for every other creature and dominate the animal kingdom...
"The prophecy looks forward to a ruler who will descend from Judah, and yet be so great that he will receive the obedience of the peoples. While David established Judah as the ruling tribe, and set up an extensive empire, he could hardly be said to have secured the obedience of other nations... This coming ruler, moreover, will bring unprecedented prosperity, binding his foal to the vine... This poem is looking forward to the day when food shortages are no more, harvests are abundant, and wars have ceased because everyone gives allegiance to God's king, and enjoys the sheer bounty of his provision. God's intention for humanity is nothing less than paradise restored" (Joyce G. Baldwin, The Message of Genesis 12-50, BST, p.208).
"It is evident that the coming of Shiloh is not to be regarded as terminating the rule of Judah, from the last clause of the verse, according to which it was only then that it would attain to dominion over the nations: (C.F. Kiel, Pentateuch, KD, p.253).
Human kings from the line of Judah will be ruling over Israel, for the Messiah, during the Messianic Age.
Ge 49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well...
Ge 49:23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
Ge 49:24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob...
Ge 49:25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
Ge 49:26 ... they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
"The head of him that was separate from his brethren ... on the crown of the head of the prince of his brethren. Nazir signifies here not an individual set apart by a religious vow, or separated from others by the severity of his early trails, but a person of rank and honour, distinguished in eminence and dignity" (Robert Jamieson, Genesis-Deuteronomy, JFB, Vol.1, Pt.1, p.271).
"There are obscurities of detail here, but an impressive eloquence.... the thought moves from the present, the summer of Joseph's days, back to the stresses of the past, and behind both to God, whose array of titles forms the rich centrepiece of the oracle. Then this profusion of blessings is called down upon Joseph, carrying the thought on into the future" (Derek Kidner, Genesis, TOTC, p.221).
"Large thriving families and successful farming symbolized blessing which included more besides, in particular, as Jacob goes on to depict, the awareness of having a meaningful part in God's purpose for history... All the wonderful overruling of God seen in the life of Joseph up to this point is part of a total plan for blessing now experienced by his successors. Ephraim and Manasseh inherited the most fertile areas of the land of Canaan and flourished accordingly..." (Joyce G. Baldwin, The Message of Genesis 12-50, BST, p.213).
"... with presumably greater things to follow..." (Derek Kidner, Genesis, Tyndale, p.222).
"The name "Joseph" imports addition, increase" (Robert Jamieson, Genesis-Deuteronomy, JFB, Vol.1, Pt.1, p.270).
The interpreters furnish two translation for verse 24: "But his bow was broken forever ... by the hands of Jacob's Mighty One"; and "But his bow abode in strength ... by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob".
"In either case, the thrust of the verse remains the same. God turned back the assaults of the wicked against Joseph; or God gave to Joseph the strength to fend off his attackers" (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50, NICOT, p.684; also the first translation above).
Joseph's success and failure is determined by his response to God. The 'strong bow' implies success against enemies and that success comes from God. So that a 'broken bow' implies defeat and failure as a result of not walking with God.
The image of a bow is drawn in the failure of Joseph in the future.
The descendants of Joseph, and Judah, enjoying such eminence and blessing, would have to be on guard against pride - crediting their success to their own efforts.
Dt 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
Dt 8:12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
Dt 8:13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
Dt 8:14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
"The Joseph narratives ... give expression to that part of the promise funded in 18:19: "that they may do righteousness and ... so that the LORD may fulfill what he has promised to Abraham" (pers. Tr.). There was a human part to play in the fulfillment of God's plan. When God's people respond as Joseph responded, then their way and God's blessing will prosper" (John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, EBC, Vol.2, p.235).