Deuteronomy 33:17 (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)
The prophet Moses recognized in Joseph this proclivity to overextend. Deuteronomy 33:17 records God's prophecy of Joseph's world leadership.
The "wild ox," rendered unicorn in the King James Version, is an emblem for strength. Moses goes on to tell what Joseph will do with his strength: "push the people, all of them, to the ends of the earth" (The Amplified Bible). Here, the force of the word rendered "together" is inclusiveness: Joseph will push all of the nations. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon defines the verb push as to "thrust, gore, hence, succeed, attain, make progress, figuratively, wage war with." So strong are its overtones of force and violence that the Hebrew word carries the meaning of the verb butt. Here are a few biblical examples of the use of "push":
1. In I Kings 22:11, a false prophet speaks to Ahab, who wants God's blessing in his war against Syria (in which Ahab subsequently dies). "Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made horns of iron for himself; and he said, 'Thus says the LORD: "With these you shall gore [push, KJV] the Syrians until they are destroyed."'" This refers clearly to war-making.
2. Daniel 8:4: "I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no beast could withstand him. . . ." Notice, an animal with horns—as an ox—is doing the pushing.
3. Psalm 44:5: "Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us."
4. Daniel 11:40: "At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack [push at, KJV]" the king of the north.
5. Ezekiel 34:21: In context, the verb push here seems to refer to economic coercion on the part of false ministers.
In summary, the word push connotes the use of force and violence typical of warfare, or the use of economic power to gain one's ends. Fenton's seems the most accurate translation of Deuteronomy 33:17. Joseph is
Like a noble and splendid prince,—
His horns are the horns of a bull:
With them he will conquer nations
And unite the Land into one.
Fenton combines the words "push" and "together" to form the verbs "conquer" and "unite." To unite is to push together!
But when did Joseph ever do that?
» Deuteronomy 33:17 certainly does not refer to the time of Joseph's conquering Palestine. Neither ancient Israel at large, nor Joseph particularly, sought to unite her enemies! Furthermore, ancient Israel's efforts were local; it pushed the nations off the land—and that not fully, but it certainly did not push all the nations of the earth at that time.
» Nor does this passage refer to America's conquering the various Indian nations in the 19th century and before, uniting the continent. This interpretation rings hollow because America's suppression of the North American aborigines was local, never entailing a worldwide pushing.
It is not in past events, but in current ones, where we find fulfillment of Deuteronomy 33:17. God is surely referring to Israel's ambition to build and rule a global village, a world government, pushing all the nations of the world together. Today, America works assiduously to build "permanent alliances"—military (e.g., NATO), economic (e.g., the IMF and the WTO), financial, cultural, educational, scientific, and technological (many through the auspices of the United Nations). Americans today speak of NAFTA rather than of "manifest destiny"; not content to limit their marketplace to the lands God fixed for them, they have jumped the wall, striking complex business and economic deals with Gentile nations, all for financial gain.
America today aspires to lead a global village. She uses her almost inestimable economic clout to that end, and enforces her aspirations through extensive, virtually worldwide, military ventures. Is there any better way to describe America's activities today than by saying she has overclimbed the wall, pushing peoples together around the globe?
Yes, indeed, God planned that 21st century globalism would be "made in America." He knew that America, which properly should serve as an example to the world though the "masterly inactivity" of her "national character," would eventually come to push the nations of the world to adopt her system of government (democracy) and her economic structure (capitalism).
Globalism (Part Four): Israel Pushes the Nations