Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:17 - 33:17

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:17 - 33:17

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“The first-born of his ox, majesty is to him, and buffalo-horns his horns: with them he thrusts down nations, all at once the ends of the earth. These are the myriads of Ephraim, and these the thousands of Manasseh.” The “first-born of his (Joseph's) oxen” (shor, a collective noun, as in Deu 15:19) is not Joshua (Rabb., Schultz); still less is it Joseph (Bleek, Diestel), in which case the pronoun his ox would be quite out of place; nor is it King Jeroboam II, as Graf supposes. It is rather Ephraim, whom the patriarch Jacob raised into the position of the first-born of Joseph (Gen 48:4.). All the sons of Joseph resembled oxen, but Ephraim was the most powerful of them all. He was endowed with majesty; his horns, the strong weapon of oxen, in which all their strength is concentrated, were not the horns of common oxen, but horns of the wild buffalo (reem, Num 23:22), that strong indomitable beast (cf. Job 39:9.; Psa 22:22). With them he would thrust down nations, the ends of the earth, i.e., the most distant nations (vid., Psa 2:8; Psa 7:9; Psa 22:28). “Together,” i.e., all at once, belongs rhythmically to “the ends of the earth.” Such are the myriads of Ephraim, i.e., in such might will the myriads of Ephraim arise. To the tribe of Ephraim, as the more numerous, the ten thousands are assigned; to the tribe of Manasseh, the thousands.