Jacob blesses his Twelve sons before he dies
Israel Prepares to die after living 17 years in Egypt (from age 130 to age 147),
and meets sons 13 and 14.
- Genesis 47:29 - He made Joseph promise that he would bury him in Canaan.
This is parallel to Jesus' promise that he would take us to the Promised Land.
- Genesis 48:1 - Manasseh and Ephraim (Joseph's two sons, born in Egypt)
come to Jacob for his blessing.
- Genesis 48:5 - Jacob declared that Joseph's two sons would be "reckoned as mine",
receiving equal shares of the inheritance with Jacob's other sons. Twelve tribes are always
listed. But some are left out (different ones at different times) with fourteen to choose from.
- Genesis 48:10 - Jacob (Israel) rejoiced and thanked God, saying to Joseph,
"I never expected to see your face again, [believing he had been killed by wild beasts]
and now God has allowed me to see your children too.
- Genesis 48:17 - The episode of the crossed hands. Joseph had positioned his sons in
front of Jacob so that Manasseh (the firstborn) was on Jacob's right hand, and Ephraim on his
left. But Jacob crossed his arms, laying his right hand on Ephraim's head and his left on
Manasseh's. Joseph protested, but Jacob said, in effect, "I know what I'm doing".
- Genesis 48:20 - Jacob continues with the blessing of the two boys.
The blessing was such that a common saying came to be: "May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh"
-- meaning, greatly blessed. And notice that Ephraim is named first, as primary.
- Genesis 48:22 - "...and you, who are over your brothers" Jacob said to Joseph.
The the rights and privileges of the firstborn bypassed all the older brothers, and fell to
Joseph. This meant that:
So, Ephraim and Manasseh (splitting Joseph's double share) each had an equal share in the estate
with the rest of Joseph's brothers.
- He became the patriarch of the family
- He begame the priest of the family
- He received a double portion of the estate.
- Genesis 49:1 - Jacob's "blessing" was more like a prophecy.
- Genesis 49:3 - Sons were considered proof of a father's virility.
Jacob's deathbed wishes:
- Reuben, Genesis 49:4 - Turbulent (unstable) as waters: (undependable:
sometimes it runs, sometimes it's like a dry wadi in Summer). "You will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it."
- Simeon, Genesis 49:5 - Simeon and Levi are tied together in this pronouncement
where Jacob skips over them because they had slaughtered the men of Shechem while they were
defenseless. (Also, early Hebrew tradition holds Simeon responsible as the ringleader for
selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites). Later, when Joshua handed out the land, the tribe of Simeon
didn't get their own parcel in Canaan. And as Moses is blessing the tribes before they go into
the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 33), Simeon is not even mentioned.
- Levi. Moses and his brother Aaron, three years older than Moses (Exodus 7:7),
were from the tribe of Levi. Aaron was chosen by God in Exodus 28:1 to be the priest, along
with sons Eleazar and Ithamar. In the Priestly line that followed:
- The Priests who administered sacrifices were from Aaron's line only.
- The Levites who fulfilled all the support roles for the tabernacle and later for the Temple,
were also of the tribe of Levi but not direct descendants of Aaron.
- Judah, Genesis 49:8-12 - Inherited the ultimate leadership of the family, (but
not the rights of the firstborn). David, Solomon, and Jesus were in Judah's lineage. Under the
kings in Judan's line, Israel blossomed. Some kings were not from the line of Judah.
Under those reigns, things messed up.
- "You are strong (a lion's cub)" (v.9)-- So the Tribe of Judah has been symbolized by the lion.
Jesus is called the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah".
- "The scepter will not pass from Judah ... until he comes to whom it belongs."
This prophecy seems to mean that Judah's line will remain on the throne until Messiah comes, which
is indeed what happened. The line was removed right after the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah.
- The king James says "until Shiloh comes". Hebrew Shiyloh means "tranquil",
a buzzword usually associated with "Messiah" -- not by dictionary meaning, but by association.
- Shiloh is also a town -- (named for its tranquility, perhaps).
- Young's literal translation: "...til his Seed come, and his is the obedience
of the people." Compare the Genesis 3:15 reference: "The seed of the woman..."
- During the time from Jacob to the New Testament, the authority to punish was in the
hands of those who wielded power. Capernicus (5-7 A.D.) -- after the death of Herod -- Stripped
the power of the Sanhedrin to administer capital punishment.
- Josephus, the Jewish historian of secular literature, writes "Woe is us! For the Scepter has
departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!" But he had; that just didn't recognize him,
and rejected him.
- Some Scriptures referencing the symbolism of Judah - "he" - Messiah: Zecharaiah 9:9;
Isaiah 63:1; Matthew 21:2,7; Revelation 19:11.
- Zebulun, Genesis 49:13 - (actually the tenth son of Jacob) means
"going forth". Eleven of Jesus' twelve disciples came from the Tribe of Zebulun. (The only one
who didn't was Judas). Matthew 4:12 fulfills Isaiah 9:1,2: "In the past he humbled the land of
Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the
way of the sea, along the Jordan -- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light ..."
This is where Jesus began His ministry.
- Issachar, Genesis 49:14-15 - (actually the ninth-born) means "donkey".
A donkey is a good thing, but this one is lazy, not carrying the load. And his laziness would
lead to servitude.
- Dan, Genesis 49:16,17 - (actually the fifth-born) is described here as
a serpent by the roadside, striking the heel. This harks back again to Genesis 3, where Satan is
told he will "strike the heel" of the woman's seed. Dan introduced idolatry into the nation
Israel, Judges 18. In subsequent listing of the tribes, in 1 Chronicles 1, Numbers 26, and
Revelation 7, Dan doesn't even exist. In Numbers 10:25, Joshua 19 and 1 Chronicles 27, Dan is
mentioned last. But in Ezekiel's prophecy in Ezekiel 48, Dan survives the Tribulation
and is listed first! Dan's land contains current Tel Aviv.
- Gad, Genesis 49:19 - (actually the seventh-born) means "troop cometh";
"...attacked by a band of raiders..." in verse 19. Gad was in the first wave that went into
captivity, 1 Chronicles 5?26; and Gad will be captured in the end times, according to Jeremiah
- Asher, Genesis 49:20 - (actually son number eight)
means "happy". "Asher's food will be rich; he will
provide delicacies fit for a king."
- Naphtali, Genesis 49:21 - (actually son number six) "Fight, struggle" was the
territory west of the Sea of Galilee, north to Mount Hermon. Naphtali is mentioned along with
Zebulun in the Matthew 4 passage as fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy of Messiah's coming.
- Joseph, Genesis 40:22-26 - Jacob's favorite son, and Jacob has a lot to say. (Notice
that Jacob's present-tense statements are in reference to Joseph, while his future-tense statements
refer to his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.)
- v.22: "A fruitful vine" (i.e. successful); "...whose branches climb over a wall"
prospering even into another country.
- v.23: The archers (his brothers) attacked him,
- v.24: but his bow remained steady,
- v.25: because of God's goodness. It was God who did it. (as Jacob: "I can do it"; as
Israel: "it is God who does it.")
- v.26: Israel was more blessed by his sons than by anything else.
- Benjamin, Genesis 49:27 - Jacob's remaining son -- his favorite while Jacob
thought Joseph was dead. "Ravenous wolf", an agressive fighter, followed true in his
descendants King Saul who pursued David relentlessly, and in another Saul, the Saul of the New
Testament who relentlessly pursued Christians to the death, until Jesus met him on the road
to Damascus and changed his name to Paul, commissioning him the Apostle to the Gentiles,
a calling he pursued with equal zeal.
- He wanted to bless Ephraim and Manasseh to remove all doubt as to their inheritance;
doubt that could be inferred because they were Egyptians, born of an Egyptian mother.
- He wanted his sons to promise that they would take his bones back to Canaan, and bury them
in the Cave of Macpelah near Hebron, that Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite.
So what about the hidden messages in the names of Jacob's sons?
For the original listing, top, what do you think of this rendering?
I have heard your affliction joined with praise. My Troop is coming and judgment will
prevail. You will dwell in happy service with the Son of my Right Hand.
Now, as Jacob blesses his sons, he names them in a different order, possibly with a different
message. Could it be:
The unstable will hear and will unite in praise, dwelling in the service of the Son
of my Right Hand when He comes with His mighty hosts to judge in joyous victory.