Genesis Chapter 49
Jacob Blesses His Sons
Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in the days to come. Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father." (vs. 1-2)
(1) Reuben: firstborn, Jacob's might, firstfruit of his strength, preeminent in dignity and power. Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you defiled your father's bed (vs. 3-4)
(2) Simeon & (3) Levi: weapons of violence are their swords. "Let my soul not come into their council. O my glory, be not joined to their company." (vs. 6) In anger they killed men, and in their willingness hamstrung oxen. "Chursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. (vs. 5-7)
(4) Judah: "Your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk." (vs. 8-12)
(5) Zebulun: He'll dwell at the shore of the sea, and become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon. (vs. 13-14)
(6) Issachar: He's strong like a donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor. (vs. 14-15)
(7) Dan: He'll judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. He'll be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider falls backward. "I wait for your salvation, O LORD." (vs. 16-18)
(8) Gad: Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels. (vs. 19)
(9) Asher: His food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies. (vs. 20)
(10) Naphtali: He is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns. (vs. 21)
(11) Joseph: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers." (vs. 22-26)
(12) Benjamin: He's a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil. (vs. 27)These are the 12 tribes of Israel, and these are the blessings Jacob spoke that were suitable each. Then he commanded them and said:
"I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah - the field and the cave that is in it were bought from the Hittites." (vs. 29-32)When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
Reflections on Genesis 49
In this chapter we see some of the nature of God's covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob is functioning as God's prophet in this chapter. His family is still the the vehicle that God will use to bring about His Messiah, Jesus Christ. The question that we have asked again and again in Genesis is whether or not the next of kin is God's Messiah-King that was promised to in Genesis 3:15. This is a question that we should ask all throughout the Old Testament, because it should have been what Israel was constantly on the look out for. The entire Old Testament is pointing at Jesus Christ. Jacob, and his sons, is the line through which God will bring His Messiah, and we see the promise in the blessing of Judah. (vs. 8-12) We see God's promise through Jacob's prophecy that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. This blessing will be more clearly seen in the fulfillment God's covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7 that there will be a king from his line on the throne eternally. That king is Jesus Christ!
At the end of the chapter Jacob dies. The covenant promises pass to the next generation, and Jacob's twelve sons become the outline of the structure of what will become the nation of Israel. The stage is set for God to display how His Messiah will come, and how Yahweh will display His glory by accomplishing the salvation of His people through judgment.