The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come…
I. It will be proper, first, TO CONSIDER THE PROPHECY AND ITS FULFILMENT. Until the period at which it was delivered the nation of Israel was not divided into tribes; but from this period it was always so divided. The prophecy asserts that the sceptre should not depart from the tribe of Judah until a personage here denominated Shiloh should appear.
1. What we are to understand by the term "sceptre," as here employed, is the whole question: whether it relates to regal authority, as some suppose. This appears improbable; for, in the first place, the regal sceptre was not specially placed in the tribe of Judah, and could not be said to depart from that tribe more than another; secondly, Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, not of Judah; neither were the Maccabeans of Judah's tribe. "Sceptre" here denotes a staff of office; each tribe had its rod of power, and the meaning is that the authority of a tribe should remain in Judah until the period specified should arrive. After the three captivities the ten tribes, which had been separated from those of Judah and Benjamin in the reign of Rehoboam, were lost and blended among the nations. But Judah and Benjamin, thenceforward regarded as one tribe, still possessed its rod of authority, and hence the name of Jew, derived from Judah, was used to mark the whole nation. Judah remained as a separate people during the captivity at Babylon.
2. The term "lawgiver" must be limited in its interpretation by the term "sceptre."
3. Concerning the meaning of the term "Shiloh," which occurs only in the text, various opinions have been proposed; the most probable is that it denotes the Peace-maker, Jesus Christ, who came (as the angels celebrated His nativity) to give "peace on earth"; or, as others think, it may mark Him as "sent," and thus be taken as the same word with "Siloam," which the evangelist interprets as "sent"; He continually spoke of Himself as one whom God had "sent."
4. The prophecy proceeds to state that "to Him shall the gathering of the people be"; words which express the dependence of faith, the allegiance of hope, which would centre in the promised Lord of all. Jesus Christ is the bond of a new society on earth!
II. BY WAY OF BRIEF IMPROVEMENT OBSERVE —
1. The force of prophecy as an evidence of inspiration. The sign and test of prophecy is its fulfilment, according to the rule laid down by Moses, "if the word does not take place the Lord has not spoken."
2. The dignity of our Lord. He appears as the chief, the central object of prophecy; the light that illuminates its obscurity.
3. The consolation which believers may derive from the character which our Saviour sustains.
4. Our assembling on this and similar occasions proves the truth of the prediction; it is a comment on the words, "To Him shall the gathering of the people be." Why are we not Gentile idolaters? it is because "Shiloh" has appeared among us.
5. Observe, as the last thing, the vanity of Jewish hope. The people to whom He came are still "looking for another": contradicting all prophecy, all history! But when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, the children of Judah shall yet be visited with the Spirit of grace and supplications; " they shall look on Him whom they have pierced; and shall mourn for Him as one that mourneth for his first-born." Let us pray for their national conversion.
(R. Hall, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.