Deuteronomy 33:17

Deuteronomy 33:17

His glory [is like] the firstling of his bullock
Such as were in Bashan, a country possessed by the posterity of Joseph, see ( Psalms 22:12 ) ( Amos 4:1 ) ; and so might be called "his" bullock, or a young bull, was reckoned both comely and majestic; so Menis or Mnevis, king of Egypt, preferred a bull above all animals to be worshipped, because the most beautiful of all, as Aelianus F23 relates; and Astarte, according to Sanchoniatho F24, put a bull's head upon her own, as a sign of royalty or kingly power. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem refer this to the birthright which belonged to Reuben, and was taken from him, and given to Joseph, see ( 1 Chronicles 5:2 ) . Some will have Joshua intended by the firstling of his bullock, so Jarchi; who was of the tribe of Ephraim, and so famous for his strength and courage, his warlike exploits and victories, and the glory, honour, and renown he obtained; and who was a type of Christ, the first and only begotten Son of God, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; this is applied to the Messiah in some ancient Jewish writings F25:

and his horns [are like] the horns of unicorns;
of the monoceros or rhinoceros; and as the strength of these creatures, as of others, lies in their horns, these are figures of the power and strength of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph; see ( Numbers 23:22 ) ;

with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth;
not to the ends of the world, as if the posterity of Joseph should carry their conquests and spread their dominion over all people to the ends of the world, as the Targum of Jonathan suggests; but to the ends of the land of Canaan, which was done by Joshua, when he smote the thirty one kings of that country. The word "push" is used in allusion to the horns of creatures, with which they push, drive away from them, or hurt and destroy those that annoy them:

and they [are] the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they [are] the
thousands of Manasseh;
though Manasseh was the eldest son of Joseph, fewer are ascribed to him than to Ephraim the younger, according to Jacob's prediction, ( Genesis 48:19 ) . This has been in a spiritual sense verified in Christ, the antitype of Joseph, the horn of salvation, who by his great strength has vanquished all his, and the enemies of his people, and even spoiled principalities and powers.


F23 Hist. Animal. l. 11. c. 10.
F24 Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 1. p. 38.
F25 Zohar in Numb. fol. 103. 4. & in Deut. fol. 117. 3. & 118. 3. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 66. 2.