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
Probably the easiest peoples to identify are those descended from the tribe of Joseph, that is, the peoples of Ephraim and Manasseh. The reason is their wealth. Remember, God chose Ephraim and Manasseh to be the recipients of the birthright blessing, as recorded in Genesis 48. As the "birthright" tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh eventually received the great physical blessings God mentions through Jacob in Genesis 49:22-26 and through Moses in Deuteronomy 33:13-17.
Ephraim, basically the Angles and Saxons, roamed around in Northern Europe, eventually invading England in AD 449. In the course of time, some Ephraimites migrated to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and other nations of the now-defunct British Empire. Ephraim grew to become that "company of nations" God promised would descend from Jacob (Genesis 35:11); more particularly, the British peoples became that "multitude of nations" Jacob prophesied would descend from Ephraim (Genesis 48:19). The peoples of the British Empire (and, later, the Commonwealth) are the "ten thousands of Ephraim" who Moses, speaking of Ephraim and Manasseh together, said would "push the peoples to the ends of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17).
Britain grew slowly, protected by her geography and by the hand of God, who, more than once miraculously saved her from destruction. Her power grew slowly, as if by fits and starts. All that changed, however, in the early 1800s, when the 2,520-year punishment had reached its term. God was now prepared to bestow the birthright blessings on Ephraim. After defeating the French dictator Napoleon at Waterloo in AD 1815, Britain virtually redrew the boundaries of Europe. Never before had a European nation wielded such unquestioned control over the Continent as a whole—and got away with it for so long.
Moses prophesied that Joseph would "push the peoples to the ends of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17). Push is exactly what England did, for the birthright blessings included far more than domination over Europe. They included economic (and in some cases, political and military) dominance over much of the world. Answering the call of the "white man's burden," the British, through its maritime supremacy, created a worldwide Empire an order of magnitude larger than that of Rome. Her folk pushed to India, Africa, North (and, to a lesser degree, South) America, China, Australia, New Zealand, and various islands around the globe.
Britain's Empire came to include a number of African nations, some South American ones, many Caribbean islands, as well as many of the islands of Oceania—and, of course, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and India! Moreover, Britain maintained a heavy economic influence over China for years. It was a fact—the sun never set on the British Empire.
As time went by, Britain assumed control of a large number of "gates" located in or near her enemies' territories, this in fulfillment of Genesis 22:17 and 24:60. These strategic positions placed her, geopolitically, on the "top of the world," ensuring her of military and commercial hegemony. Here is a partial list of these valuable gates:
» The Suez Canal
» The Straits of Hormuz (below Iran)
» The Straits of Gibraltar
» The Straits of Malacca and the Singapore Strait (off the Malay Peninsula)
» The Falkland Islands (off Argentina)
» The Cape of Good Hope (at the southern tip of Africa)
» The Kabul Pass (a land gate in Afghanistan)
» The island nation of Malta (in the Mediterranean Sea)
Finally, Britain is ruled by a descendant of the Davidic monarchy. The throne of David, according to the prophet Jeremiah, would rule over the "house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17), not over some Gentile peoples. David's throne—overthrown (Ezekiel 21:27) from Jerusalem to Ireland and later to Scotland—now resides in England. Since God states that "the scepter shall not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10), sitting on that throne is a monarch who is of the lineage of David. That monarch rules over Israelites, not Gentiles.
Searching for Israel (Part Ten): Clues and Answers
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Deuteronomy 33:17:
2 Samuel 7:11-16