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22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,[a]
a fruitful bough near a spring
whose branches[b] climb over the wall.
23 The archers will attack him,[c]
they will shoot at him and oppose him.
24 But his bow will remain steady,
and his hands[d] will be skillful;
because of the hands of the Powerful One[e] of Jacob,
because of[f] the Shepherd, the Rock[g] of Israel,
25 because of the God of your father,
who will help you,[h]
because of the Sovereign God,[i]
who will bless you[j]
with blessings from the sky above,
blessings from the deep that lies below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.[k]
26 The blessings of your father are greater
than[l] the blessings of the eternal mountains[m]
or the desirable things of the age-old hills.
They will be on the head of Joseph
and on the brow of the prince of his brothers.[n]

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  1. Genesis 49:22 tn The Hebrew text appears to mean “[is] a son of fruitfulness.” The second word is an active participle, feminine singular, from the verb פָּרָה (parah, “to be fruitful”). The translation “bough” is employed for בֵּן (ben, elsewhere typically “son”) because Joseph is pictured as a healthy and fruitful vine growing by the wall. But there are difficulties with this interpretation. The word “son” nowhere else refers to a plant and the noun translated “branches” (Heb “daughters”) in the third line is a plural form whereas its verb is singular. In the other oracles of Gen 49 an animal is used for comparison and not a plant, leading some to translate the opening phrase בֵּן פָּרָה (ben parah, “fruitful bough”) as “wild donkey” (JPS, NAB). Various other interpretations involving more radical emendation of the text have also been offered.
  2. Genesis 49:22 tn Heb “daughters.”
  3. Genesis 49:23 tn The verb forms in vv. 23-24 are used in a rhetorical manner, describing future events as if they had already taken place.
  4. Genesis 49:24 tn Heb “the arms of his hands.”
  5. Genesis 49:24 tn Or “Mighty One.”
  6. Genesis 49:24 tn Heb “from there,” but the phrase should be revocalized and read “from [i.e., because of] the name of.”
  7. Genesis 49:24 tn Or “Stone.”
  8. Genesis 49:25 tn Heb “and he will help you.”
  9. Genesis 49:25 tn Heb “Shaddai.” See the note on the title “Sovereign God” in Gen 17:1. The preposition אֵת (ʾet) in the Hebrew text should probably be emended to אֵל (ʾel, “God”).
  10. Genesis 49:25 tn Heb “and he will bless you.”
  11. Genesis 49:25 sn Jacob envisions God imparting both agricultural (blessings from the sky above, blessings from the deep that lies below) and human fertility (blessings of the breasts and womb) to Joseph and his family.
  12. Genesis 49:26 tn Heb “have prevailed over.”
  13. Genesis 49:26 tn One could interpret the phrase הוֹרַי (horay) to mean “my progenitors” (literally, “the ones who conceived me”), but the masculine form argues against this. It is better to emend the text to הַרֲרֵי (harare, “mountains of”) because it forms a better parallel with the next clause. In this case the final yod (י) on the form is a construct plural marker, not a pronominal suffix.
  14. Genesis 49:26 tn For further discussion of this passage, see I. Sonne, “Genesis 49:24-26, ” JBL 65 (1946): 303-6.