“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him…But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.” Genesis 49:22-24
Remember poor Joseph? The favorite son of Jacob, the arrogant young man who boasted to his eleven brothers about dreams in which they bowed to him? Those same brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, where Joseph was further wronged by Potiphar’s wife, who falsely accused him of seducing her.
Scripture often uses the imagery of archers to signify deception. Jacob, during his death-bed blessing of his twelve sons, eluded to the unjust deceptions that plagued Joseph’s life—and to the steadfastness that made Joseph great.
I’ve often wondered how Joseph persevered. How did he overcome his brothers’ betrayal and serve in Potiphar’s house with excellence? How did he remain faithful to Elohim—denying the advances of a wealthy and powerful woman—when he was alone and afraid in a foreign land? And my biggest question: When he’d proven faithful, again and again—but was still thrown into prison and forgotten there—how did he maintain his faith in his God?
I believe Jacob’s blessing holds the answer to these questions. Simple yet profound…like Joseph’s faith:
- Joseph remained fruitful because he stayed near the Eternal Spring.
- Joseph grew “over a wall”—beyond his comfort zone, beyond his familiar environment.
- When the attacks came (and attacks always come), Joseph remained steady and limber, meaning he didn’t tense up, go rigid, throw up walls. He remained steady in his faith but teachable in his environment.
- His ability to do these things came directly from the Mighty one of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. Joseph relied on God’s strength, wisdom, ability to endure—not his own.
Why are we talking about Joseph, when the March release is called, In the Shadow of Jezebel? Because Jezebel and her daughter Athaliah were schemers, connivers, and the image of archers fits them well, sending piercing arrows of hate and deception into both nations of Israel and Judah—and into everyone they should love.
Unfortunately, our hero and heroine aren’t as steadfast as Joseph, but they learn many lessons along the way. Lessons I learned while writing and researching the story. Lessons I hope others will learn while reading it.
Will you join me in prayer for those who read this story—and for each other as we face the onslaught of daily life? May we remain steadfast, arms limber to adjust to the enemy’s attacks. May we remain close to the Eternal Spring and be willing to bear fruit, growing over the wall of our familiarity, extending God’s love and wisdom to a culture or person that intimidates us.
What insights are especially poignant to you from the story of Joseph or from Genesis 49:22-24?