And Jacob called to his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.…
What a mind was Jacob's, as shown in the various blessings pronounced upon his children l How discriminating those now closing eyes l How they glitter with criticism l How keen — penetrating, even to the finest lines of distinction! Surely what we see in those eyes is a gleam of the very soul. This is no joint salutation or valediction; this is no greeting and fare well mixed up in one confused utterance. This is criticism. This is the beginning of a career of mental development which is the pride of human education and culture. How affectionate too! In nearly every line there is some accent of affection peculiar to itself. And how prophetic! The ages are all revealed to the calm vision and sacred gaze of this man who is more in heaven than upon earth. But this prophecy is no phantasy. We have accustomed ourselves now to a definition of prophecy which enables us in some degree to understand this way of allotment and benediction. Prophecy is based on character. We have already defined prophecy as moral prescience. Retaining the definition, we see in this instance one of its finest and clearest illustrations. This is no fancy painting. It is the power of the soul in its last efforts to see what crops will come out of this seed and of that; it is a man standing upon fields charged with seed, the quality of which he well knows, forecasting the harvest. Moral prophecy is vindicated by moral law. There was no property to divide. There was something better than property to give. What a will is this I It has about it all the force of a man being his own distributer — not only writing a will like a testator, which is of no force until after the testator's death, but already enriching his sons with an in. heritance better than measurable lands. What have you to leave to your children? to your friends? You could leave an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away — bright memories of love, recollections of sacred sympathy. prayers that lifted the life into new hope, forgiveness that abolished the distinction between earth and heaven, and made pardoned souls feel as if they had seen their Father in heaven; great will: eternal substance. How Jacob's conscience burned up in that sacred hour! He remembered the evil of his sons. He reminded Reuben of what he had done; he recalled the deed of shame, never to be spoken aloud by human tongue, wrought by Simeon and Levi in the land of Hamor the Hivite; and because their anger was fierce and their wrath was cruel, he divided them in Jacob and scattered them in Israel. "The evil that men do lives after them." Simeon and Levi had forgotten what they did in their sister's case. Jacob had not. In such a malediction there are great meanings, even so far as Jacob is concerned. Jacob knew the cost of sin. Jacob knew that no man can of himself shake off his sin and become a free man in the universe. The sin follows him with swift fate, opens its mouth like a wolf and shows its cruel teeth. No man can forgive sin, Who but God can wrestle with it? We fly from it, try to forget it; but up it leaps again, a foe that pursues unto the death, unless some Mighty One shall come to deal with it when there is no eye to pity and no arm to help. But presently Jacob will come to a name that will change his tone. How some faces brighten us! How the incoming of some men makes us young again! Jacob we have never seen until he comes to pronounce his blessing upon Joseph.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.