Reading Gen. 49, two passages stand out: Jacob's blessing/prophecy over Judah and his equally long blessing/prophecy over Joseph. It strikes me that the blessing over Joseph is the stronger of the two. First, Judah:
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. 9 “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? 10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 “He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 “His eyes are dull from wine, And his teeth white from milk.
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a spring; Its branches run over a wall. 23 “The archers bitterly attacked him, And shot at him and harassed him; 24 But his bow remained firm, And his arms were agile, From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 From the God of your father who helps you, And by the Almighty who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26 “The blessings of your father Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; May they be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
Although Jacob speaks of the scepter not departing from Judah, his blessing on Joseph seems even more promising. His enemies in war will not prevail, the ancestors have blessed him supremely, he is distinguished among his brothers, and his crown is to be blessed. There is no hint of criticism here of Joseph, as there is for Judah, whose eyes are "dull with wine." Is there an implication that God intended Joseph's tribe to have a brighter future than it eventually did? The question is intensified with reference to the blessing that Jacob gave to Joseph's two sons, who became the predominant northern tribes, in Gen. 48:20:
He blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”
Were these blessings/prophecies on Joseph and his sons fulfilled? Why does it seem the Joseph tribes were prophetically blessed by Jacob more strongly than Judah's tribe?