22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. 23 The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, 24 yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26 The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.” (Genesis 49:22-26)
It should not be a surprise that Jacob’s oracle concerning his son Joseph, and his posterity, should contain an abundance of blessings. The fact is, this oracle is filled with God’s prophetic blessings upon Joseph.
To begin with, Jacob compared Joseph to a fruitful bough by a spring. In the Hebrew language, a bough referred to a young animal, a son or a grandson. It was a reference to one’s descendants (Lev. 6:11; 19:18).
The word fruitful means flourishing and to produce an offspring or harvest of the same kind in a successive generation. Jacob proclaimed that Joseph, and his sons, were fruitful vines, or boughs producing fruit (Gen. 49:22).
The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament explains, “A bough means to flourish, i.e., produce an offspring or harvest of the same kind in a successive generation, implying an abundance (Gen. 1:22; 17:6, 20; 28:3; 41:52; 48:4; Lev 26:9; Ps 105:24+). It may also refer to a fruitful vine, formally, son of a fruit-bearer, or a very productive vine or bough producing fruit (Ge 49:22).”
Notice the emphatic use of the phrase fruitful bough. Jacob used it twice to place great emphasis on Joseph’s legacy.
A spring may refer to a spring of water, i.e., a water source which comes up from a ground water source and is a valuable spot in arid land (Ex 15:27). However, the word is metaphorically used in today’s text to mean understanding or to have mental perception (Gen. 3:5). It is the capacity to see and understand (Lev 26:16). Jacob prophesied that Joseph and his progeny would possess discernment and understanding in their abundance. Not a bad combination to have.
Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “Appropriately enough, given that he has been the most righteous of Jacob’s twelve sons, Joseph receives a blessing that is paralleled only by the one Jacob gave to Judah (Gen. 49:8–12). Today’s passage is one more indication that Joseph’s years of faithful service to God and men have not been in vain, for he is rewarded for his devotion.”
May all believers have the same perspective in their service unto the Lord. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!