The Life of Joseph - Lesson 45, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 30:12,13, And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
Asher, meaning happy, was born in Padanaram.
Leah had ceased bearing children while Rachel’s maid had borne two; Dan and Naphtali.
The birth of Asher had put her back in the race, back in contention for Jacob’s affection and attention.
Therefore she was happy and therefore named her son by Zilpah, Happy.
Happy or Asher is now standing before Jacob his father, probably at this time well into his sixties.
Not a young man by any means. as also his brother
Genesis 49:20, Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
Jacob blesses Asher (or Happy) with a prophesy concerning the product of the land that he is to inherit.
It shall be a land that will be fertile and productive, so much so that the tribe of Asher would provide delicacies to royalty.
Asher’s food is to be abundant and of first class quality, delicacies that kings would afford.
The area of Israel that Asher inherited was from Mt. Carmel to the land of Tyre, the area that was richest in corn and oil.
Asher enjoyed prime property fronting on 45 miles of the Mediterranean Sea.
Isn’t an area that produces much good food an enjoys nearness to a great sea an area where the people have great opportunity to be happy?
So the tribe of Asher would live out his name of happy.
But happy does not necessarily indicate that all is right with this tribe.
For this happiness due to a prosperity seems to have made this people slack and of a nature which desired the comforts of the good life.
In Deborah’s song of the book of Judges she sings of Asher’s lack of support to those who were fighting Israel’s enemies.
Judges 5:17, Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches. (or haven).
Asher was happy along the seashore and saw no good reason to leave such happy places.
Asher’ happiness would be a hindrance to service for God and Jacob sees this befall his tribe in the latter days.
Genesis 30:7, And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali
And Jacob in now speaks of Naphtali in Genesis 49:21, Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words..
Naphtali means my wrestling.
We are given a glimpse of the competition between Rachel and Leah.
With great wrestling have I wrestled with my sister.
I have won and my trophy is another son and his name is wrestling, or Naphtali.
Jacob in his last words refers to Naphtali as a hind let loose.
A hind is a female dear, swift and graceful.
Naphtali was apparently a man who had natural desires for unrestrained freedom.
Probably in his early days he was ungovernable, hard to tame.
His evil doings along with the evil doings of the other sons of the handmaids was reported to Jacob by Joseph.
But Jacob sees in this love of freedom, a development toward wisdom, toward goodly words.
Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
Apparently Naphtali’s energy was now being focused toward right things.
There was something in his love of life that would be used for God.
Naphtali was eloquent, a man of words and God’s kingdom can use a man who can speak with goodly words.
Barak was from the tribe of Naphtali and his song of victory along with Deborah in Judges 5 verify the goodly words that Jacob refers to.
This was to be a tribal trait in the tribe of Naphtali, this was to be their heritage.
Having concluded with the sons by the handmaids he now turns to Joseph.
Genesis 49:22-26, Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 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: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
I get the sense that Jacob was looking forward to his blessing of his beloved son, Joseph.
His heart overflows with blessing for Joseph, the son whose middle years were spent apart from him, years spent by Jacob in grief because he thought he was dead.
But during these last 17 years in Egypt, Jacob knew Joseph, he saw Joseph’s testimony as he exercised his powerful position in Pharaoh's court.
Jacob remembers his fruitfulness, like that of a fruit tree planted by the rivers of water.
And he projects this fruitfulness into what is to take place in the latter days.
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
There was no shortage of life giving water in Joseph’s life.
This is the secret of fruitfulness to the branches of the vine, constant supply of the water of life.
If you lack fruitfulness it is because you lack the water of life.
Joseph is a great type or forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ who was the beautiful and glorious branch, the most fruitful of all boughs whose fruit will someday fill the whole earth
Isaiah 4:2, In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
Jacob had added Joseph’s sons to his sons and he now expounds on how fruitful that addition will be.
We see later in scripture that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh taken together were the most populous tribes in Israel.
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
Even this little phrase "whose branches run over the wall:" indicate that Joseph’s fruitfulness shall bless those outside of Israel.
This of course pertains to Joseph’s blessing upon the Egyptians by his careful and disciplined administration of the economy while at the same time blessing and saving his family from famine.
His branches blessed his own but his branches also ran over the wall to bless others.
This is another striking indicator that Joseph was a forerunner or type of our Lord Jesus Christ for this is no doubt prophetic of our Lord.
He bore fruit within the vineyard of Israel, but He also came over the wall to us, who were Gentiles, without Christ, having no hope and without God in the world.
John 10:16 tells us this. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
God the father did not contain the vine in Israel alone but because he is infinitely fruitful he sent the vine over the wall to us that we may share in the fruit.
And secondly Jacob pictures Joseph as attacked by archers but Joseph’s bow abides in strength and he defeats those who attack him.
The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
Joseph may be seen as being wounded but one who is mightier than he, comes to his aid.
His arms are made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.
So Joseph’s life of torment and suffering is described by his father using terms of warfare.
And Jacob recognizes that Joseph’s spiritual strength and victories were of the Lord.
And he describes the Lord with three names, the mighty God of Jacob; the shepherd, the stone of Israel, and the Almighty.
These names are certainly references to the Messiah for this is the first mention of God in the Bible as the shepherd and as the stone.
Here the strength of Joseph’s bow is the shepherd, and the stone.
The Almighty is El Shadai which is the name of God as the abundant supplier of all we need.
This is amplified by Jacob as he describes El Shaddai as the one who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
And Jacob concludes the blessing of Joseph by glorying in the multitude of blessings that he has received from this El Shaddai.
The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
He says here that the blessings of thy father (meaning Jacob) are greater than the blessings of those that brought him forth, even to the topmost peak of the eternal hills.
Jacob was saying that he had been blessed far more than that of Abraham or Issac.
He was expressing his appreciation for the vast mercy of God that had been poured out upon him.
He recognized what a great sinner he was and yet that understanding gave him a clarity of God’s grace that those who know not their sin never see.
He was expressing from experience the same parable that our Lord Jesus Christ told of the two debtors.
The one who had been forgiven the most, loved the most.
they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
He passes on to his beloved son Joseph these blessings to enjoy.
These are blessing to enjoy for all who share the faith of Jacob, the faith of Joseph.
David sang in Psalm 80:1, Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadeth Joseph like a flock.
Zachariah 10: 6, And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.