Genesis 49:1

Genesis 48
Genesis 48. We are admitted into the inner chamber of the patriarch's departing life, and we see there the presence of Jehovah with him. He is -

1. The subject of inspiration.

2. The mediator of the Divine promises. He is under the control of purposes which have been swaying him all his life.

3. A witness to Divine faithfulness. The grandfather blessing the grandchildren. The blessing passes on to the third and fourth generation. Yet the human blessing is only the type of the Divine. The angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads. Jacob made a cross with his hands over the heads of the boys. It displeased Joseph, but it pleased God. The imposition of hands is also here. The name of Jacob is named upon them, the symbol of the covenant. Their prosperity is predicted, but it is connected immediately with their covenant standing. The elevated state of mind in the patriarch is a testimony to the sustaining power of religion in fleshly weakness. It points on too to the survival of the soul after the death of the body. The preference of Ephraim reminds us that all is ascribed to the grace of God. - R.

Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
In this dying speech of Jacob to his sons we have the characteristics of true prophecy.


II. THE NATURE OF THE STYLE EMPLOYED. It is vague and mysterious; there are no accurate and minute details, but all is given in shadowy outline; and this forbids us to suppose that it was written in after-ages in order to fit into history.

III. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF ACCOUNTING FOR THESE DELIVERANCES UPON NATURAL PRINCIPLES. Jacob was now a weak and aged man; the last sickness was upon him. And yet he speaks in this sublime style, the proper vehicle of exalted thought and feeling. Inspiration is the only solution. That which reveals so much of God's thoughts and ways must be from God.

IV. THE STAGE OF PROPHETIC DEVELOPMENT WHICH IT INDICATES, The prophecy of Messiah now becomes clearer. First, it is "the seed," in general terms; then "thy seed," Abraham's. Now, the very tribe out of which the Messiah is to spring is announced. We have here the full bloom of patriarchal prophecy. The language rises to that poetic form which is peculiar to the Messianic predictions. The blessing of Judah is the central point, where the discourse reaches on to the last times, when God would bring His first-begotten into the world, and set up His everlasting kingdom.

V. THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE WHICH IT SUGGESTS. The spirit of these prophecies is the testimony of Jesus. And He came that we may have life. Eternal life is the end of all prophecy.

(T. H. Leale.)

1. The predictions are partly explicable on natural grounds. Jacob's sagacity was sufficient to distinguish the germs of character already shown in his sons, and from thence he could foretell the results. Reuben's instability, for instance, was the result of a sensual character. The nomad, fierce life of the Simeonites and Levites was the natural consequence of a cruel disposition.

2. But there is a part of this remarkable chapter which we cannot so get over — the prediction of Zebulon's future locality by the seaside; of the descent of the Saviour from Judah — events both of which took place after the settlement in Canaan. Here we are plainly out of the region of things cognizable by sagacity, and have got into the sphere of the prophetic faculty.

3. Observe that five of these sons have their fortunes specifically told, and in detail; the rest generally. We divide the chapter, therefore, into these two divisions:


1. The first of the specific prophecies is that respecting Reuben, and is in two divisions:(1) An enumeration of his original circumstantial advantages contrasted(2) with the destiny determined for himself by character. Learn, therefore — First, self-rule is the condition of influence and success. Rule thyself, thou rulest all. To subject appetites is not a very high achievement; but for him who has not attained that first, simplest step in Christian life excellence is impossible.

2. Next, learn how sin adheres to character. Years had passed since Reuben sinned. Probably he had forgotten what he had done. It was but a single act. But the act was not fixed to the spot which witnessed its performance. It went inwards, and made him irresolute, feeble, wretched, unstable. So with every sin, whether one of weakness or of violence, You are the exact result of all your past sins. There they are in your character.

3. The second and third of whom Jacob uttered his predictions were Simeon and Levi. They were charged with immoderate revenge. Observe, not revenge alone. "Cursed be their anger, for it was cruel" (ver. 7). Had they not felt anger, had they not avenged, they had not been men. That responsibility which is now shared between judge, jury, the law, and the executioner, was necessarily in early ages sustained alone by the avenger of blood. That instinct of indignation which is now regularly expressed by law was then of necessity expressed irregularly. I do not think they were to be blamed for doing the avenger's justice. But they slew a whole tribe. Now, the penalty which fell on them was of a very peculiar kind: "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." This has a plain meaning in Simeon's case, for his tribe was weak, his territory divided. But in Levi's case the prediction is not so intelligible as a penalty. For Levi, though scattered in Israel, having no territorial allotment, was a peculiarly privileged tribe; they were chosen to be the tribe of priests. We consider this, therefore, as one of the many, many cases in which a penalty is by grace transmuted into a blessing.

4. Predictions respecting Judah.(1) His brethren should praise him. We should have expected him to be envied rather than praised by them. But there is a spirit which can disarm envy. It is that meekness which hides its own superiority, seems unconscious of it, and even shows that it feels more pain in surpassing than others can feel in being surpassed. Such persons may be superior and still praised — a rare and honourable peculiarity. "The meek shall inherit the earth." Earth's inheritance, its praise and its love, belong to such.(2) Next, Judah is put forward as the type of the Hebrew hero. He is represented under the similitude of a lion. "He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" (ver. 9.) It has been remarked, perhaps not idly, that the simile is a lion couchant, not rampant. Not the strength of the oppressor, but that of one strong in right, the majesty of defence: "who shall rouse him up?"(3) The third thing said respecting Judah brings us to the most difficult passage in Scripture: "The sceptre shall not depart," &c. (ver. 10). Shiloh, the Pacificator, or Prince of Peace. Much has been written to evade the difficulty which arises from the fact that there was no king in Israel when He came. But surely it is not needed. Ten tribes disappeared. Of the remaining two, both merged themselves in Judah; and the sceptre is only a figurative and poetical name for nationality. Israel's nationality, merged in Judah, lasted until Shiloh came. "Lion" — "Shiloh": the two harmoniously declare a truth. There is a strength of force; and there is another strength, the might and majesty of gentleness which is invincible through suffering, the glory of Him who is the Lion and the slain Lamb, the Lion because the Lamb.(4) The fourth prediction respecting Judah has reference to his temporal prosperity. His was to be a territory rich in vineyards and pastures (vers. 11, 12).

5. We now come to Joseph, the last of those five of whom we have a special prediction. Here the whole tone of Jacob's language changes. Specially observe two things:(1) An illustration in this blessing of the fulfilment and principle of the promise of the fifth commandment. Joseph's peculiarity was filial obedience; and his lot above his brethren was distinguished by worldly success and honour. He was the best governor Egypt had ever had. The two were, however, connected. In childish obedience he learned fitness for rule. He who can obey well is the only one who can well command. Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control — these three alone fit a man to be a ruler.(2) He had been "separate from his brethren" (ver. 26), and doubtless it was better for him, though an apparent disadvantage. Education and admixture with equals are two good things; but sometimes the deprivation of these things is better.

II. GENERAL BLESSINGS ON THE SEVEN REMAINING SONS. Observe in all these different characters the true principle of unity. They were not lost in one undistinguished similarity, but each has its own peculiar characteristic: one made up of seamen, another of shepherds; one warlike, another cultivated; and so on. And yet, together, one.

III. Finally, we have on all this chapter FOUR REFLECTIONS to make.

1. Jacob's spiritual character, as tested by his ejaculation, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord" (ver. 18) — a religious ejaculation from the dying patriarch breathless and exhausted with speech. Our exact character is tested by our spontaneous thoughts.

2. See what is assumed in this personification of the tribes. Judah, Simeon, Levi, are taken as the type of the future career of their several tribes. Every man impresses his character on his descendants. Let us add that to the innumerable motives for abstinence from sin.

3. Think of this father's feelings as his family gathered round him. Over each of those children a mother's heart had bled and a father's heart rejoiced. Their very names contained the record of such feelings: "Reuben" — lo! a son. Yes; and, lo! there he is; and what has he become? Happy is it for Christian fathers now, that in looking round on their assembled children they cannot read the future as Jacob did, that they are not able to fix on each of their sons and say, This for God and that for sin.

4. Lastly, let us see something here that tells of the character of future judgment. Have you ever attended the opening of a will, where the bequests were large and unknown, and seen the bitter disappointment and the suppressed auger? Well, conceive those sons listening to the unerring doom. Conceive Reuben, or Simeon, or Levi listening to their father's words. Yet the day will come when, on principles precisely similar, our doom must be pronounced. Destiny is fixed by character, and character is determined by separate acts.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. THE VALUE OF THE TESTIMONY OF EXPERIENCE. It affords encouragement and warning; it reveals the conditions of success, the means to be used, and the errors to be avoided.

II. THE STIMULUS OF EXAMPLE (Genesis 48:16; cf. also ver. 5). The memory of the efforts and struggles of others nerves to patient endurance.

III. THE SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY OF LIFE. Each one is making his own future. Our daily conduct is proving what we are fit for.

IV. THE RECOGNITION THROUGHOUT OF OUR SPIRITUAL DEPENDENCE UPON GOD. This is the only right, sure, and safe way of facing and bearing the solemn responsibility of life.


(A. F. Joscelyne, B. A.)

Jacob's blessing of his sons marks the close of the patriarchal dispensation. Henceforth the channel of God's blessing to man does not consist of one person only, but of a people or nation. It is still "one seed," as Paul reminds us, a unit that God will bless, but this unit is now no longer a single person — as Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob — but one people, composed of several parts, and yet one whole; equally representative of Christ, as the patriarchs were, and of equal effect every way in receiving God's blessing and handing it down until Christ came. And it is at this point — where Israel distributes among his sons the blessing which heretofore had all lodged in himself — that we see the first multiplication of Christ's representatives, the mediation going on no longer through individuals, but through a nation; and where individuals are still chosen by God, as commonly they are, for the conveyance of God's communications to earth, these individuals, whether priests or prophets, are themselves but the official representatives of the nation. As the patriarchal dispensation ceases, it secures to the tribes all the blessing it has itself contained. The blessing of Israel is now distributed, and each receives what each can take; and while in some of the individual tribes there may seem to be very little of blessing at all, yet, taken together, they form a picture of the common outstanding features of human nature, and of that nature as acted upon by God's blessing, and forming together one body or Church. In these blessings, therefore, we have the history of the Church in its most interesting form. In these sons gathered round him the patriarch sees his own nature reflected piece by piece, and he sees also the general outline of all that must be produced by such natures as these men have. The whole destiny of Israel is here in germ, and the spirit of prophecy in Jacob sees and declares it. Being nearer to eternity, he instinctively measures things by its standard, and thus comes nearer a just valuation of all things before his mind, and can better distinguish reality from appearance. One cannot but admire, too, the faith which enables Jacob to apportion to his sons the blessings of a land which had not been much of a resting-place to himself, and regarding the occupation of which his sons might have put to him some very difficult questions. And we admire this dignified faith the more on reflecting that it has often been very grievously lacking in our own case — that we have felt almost ashamed of having so little of a present tangible kind to offer, and of being obliged to speak only of invisible and future blessings; to set a spiritual consolation over against a worldly grief; to point a man whose fortunes are ruined to an eternal inheritance; or to speak to one who knows himself quite in the power of sin of a remedy which has often seemed illusory to ourselves. And often we are rebuked by finding that when we do offer things spiritual even those who are wrapped in earthly comforts appreciate and accept the better gifts. So it was in Joseph's case. No doubt the highest posts in Egypt were open to his sons; they might have been naturalized, as he himself had been, and, throwing in their lot with the land of their adoption, might have turned to their advantage the rank their father held and the reputation he had earned. But Joseph turns from this attractive prospect, brings them to his father, and hands them over to the despised shepherd-life of Israel. One need scarcely point out how great a sacrifice this was on Joseph's part. And his faith received its reward; the two tribes that sprang from him received about as large a portion of the promised land as fell to the lot of all the other tribes put together. You will observe that Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted as sons of Jacob. Jacob tells Joseph, "They shall be mine"; not my grandsons, but as Reuben and Simeon. No other sons whom Joseph might have were to be received into this honour, but these two were to take their place on a level with their uncles as heads of tribes, so that Joseph is represented through the whole history by the two populous and powerful tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim and Manasseh were not received alongside of Joseph, but each received what Joseph himself might have had, and Joseph's name as a tribe was henceforth only to be found in these two. This idea was fixed in such a way, that for centuries it was stepping into the minds of men, so that they might not be astonished if God should in some other case — say the case of His own Son — adopt men into the rank He held, and let His estimate of the worth of His Son, and the honour He puts upon Him, be seen in the adopted. This being so, we need not be alarmed if men tell us that imputation is a mere legal fiction or human invention. A legal fiction it may be, but in the ease before us it was the never-disputed foundation of very substantial blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh; and we plead for nothing more than that God would act with us as here He did act with these two, that He would make us His direct heirs, make us His own sons, and give us what He who presents us to Him to receive His blessing did earn and merits at the Father's hand. We meet with these crossed hands of blessing frequently in Scripture; the younger son blessed above the elder — as was needful, lest grace should become confounded with nature, and the belief gradually grow up in men's minds that natural effects could never be overcome by grace, and that in every respect grace waited upon nature. And these crossed hands we meet still; for how often does God quite reverse our order, and bless most that about which we had less concern, and seem to put a slight on that which has engrossed our best affection.In Reuben, the first-born, conscience must have been sadly at war with hope as he looked at the blind, but expressive, face of his father. He may have hoped that his sin had not been severely thought of by his father, or that the father's pride in his first-born would prompt him to hide, though it could not make him forget, it. Could his father, at the last hour, and after so many thronged years, and before his brethren, recall the old sin? He is relieved and confirmed in his confidence by the first words of Jacob, words ascribing to him his natural position, a certain conspicuous dignity too, and power such as one may often see produced in men by occupying positions of authority, though in their own character there be weakness. But all the excellence that Jacob ascribes to Reuben serves only to embitter the doom pronounced upon him. Men seem often to expect that a future can be given to them irrespective of what they themselves are, that a series of blessings and events might be prepared for them, and made over to them; whereas every man's future must be made by himself, and is already in great part formed by the past. It was a vain expectation of Reuben to expect that he, the impetuous, unstable, superficial son, could have the future of a deep, and earnest, and dutiful nature, or that his children should derive no taint from their parent, but be as the children of Joseph. No man's future need be altogether a doom to him, for God may bless to him the evil fruit his life has borne; but certainly no man need look for a future which has no relation to his own character. His future will always be made up of his deeds, his feeling, and the circumstances which his desires have brought him into. The future of Reuben was of a negative, blank kind — "Thou shalt not excel"; his unstable character must empty it of all great success. And to many a heart since have these words struck a chill, for to many they are as a mirror suddenly held up before them. They see themselves, when they look on the tossing sea, rising and pointing to the heavens with much noise, but only to sink back again to the same everlasting level. Men of brilliant parts and great capacity are continually seen to be lost to society by instability of purpose. The sin of the next oldest sons was also remembered against them, and remembered apparently for the same reason — because the character was expressed in it. The massacre of the Shechemites was not an accidental outrage that any other of the sons of Jacob might equally have perpetrated, but the most glaring of a number of expressions of a fierce and cruel disposition in these two men. In Jacob's prediction of their future he seems to shrink with horror from his own progeny — like her who dreamt she would give birth to a firebrand. He sees the possibility of the direst results flowing from such a temper, and, under God, provides against these by scattering the tribes, and thus weakening their power for evil. They had been banded together so as the more easily and securely to accomplish their murderous purposes. "Simeon and Levi are brethren" — showing a close affinity, and seeking one another's society and aid, but it is for bad purposes; and therefore they must be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel. This was accomplished by the tribe of Levi being distributed over all the other tribes as the ministers of religion. The fiery zeal, the bold independence, and the pride of being a distinct people, which had been displayed in the slaughter of the Shechemites, might be toned down and turned to good account when the sword was taken out of their hand. Qualities such as these, which produce the most disastrous results when fit instruments can be found, and when men of like disposition are suffered to band themselves together, may, when found in the individual and kept in check by circumstances and dissimilar dispositions, be highly beneficial. Very humbling must it have been for the Levite who remembered the history of his tribe to be used by God as the hand of His justice on the victims that were brought in substitution for that which was so precious in the sight of God. The blessing of Judah is at once the most important and the most difficult to interpret in the series. There is enough in the history of Judah himself, and there is enough in the subsequent history of the tribe, to justify the ascription to him of all lion-like qualities — a kingly fearlessness, confidence, power, and success; in action a rapidity of movement and might that make him irresistible, and in repose a majestic dignity of bearing. If there were to be kings in Israel, there could be little doubt from which tribe they could best be chosen. A wolf of the tribe of Benjamin, like Saul, not only hung on the rear of retreating Philistines and spoiled them, but made a prey of his own people, and it is in David we find the true king, the man who more than any other satisfies men's ideal of the prince to whom they will pay homage — falling, indeed, into grievous error and sin, like his forefather, but, like him also, right at heart, so generous and self-sacrificing that men served him with the most devoted loyalty, and were willing rather to dwell in caves with him than in palaces with any other. The kingly supremacy of Judah was here spoken of in words which have been the subject of as prolonged and violent contention as any others in the Word of God. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come." These words are very generally understood to mean that Judah's supremacy would continue until it culminated or flowered into the personal reign of Shiloh; in other words, that Judah's sovereignty was to be perpetuated in the person of Jesus Christ. But it comes to be an inquiry of some interest, How much information regarding a personal Messiah did the brethren receive from this prophecy? — a question very difficult indeed to answer. The word Shiloh means "peacemaking," and if they understood this as a proper name, they must have thought of a person such as Isaiah designates as the Prince of Peace — a name it was similar to that wherewith David called his son Solomon, in the expectation that the results of his own lifetime of disorder and battle would be reaped by his successor in a peaceful and prosperous reign. It can scarcely be thought likely, indeed, that this single term " Shiloh," which might be applied to many things besides a person, should give to the sons of Jacob any distinct idea of a personal Deliverer; but it might be sufficient to keep before their eyes, and specially before the tribe of Judah, that the aim and consummation of all lawgiving and ruling was peace. And there was certainly contained in this blessing an assurance that the purpose of Judah would not be accomplished, and therefore that the existence of Judah as a tribe would not terminate, until peace had been through its means brought into the world. Thus was the assurance given that the productive power of Judah should not fail until out of that tribe there had sprung that which should give peace. But to us who have seer the prediction accomplished it plainly enough points to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who in His own person combined all kingly qualities. In Him we are taught by this prediction to discover once more the single Person who stands out on the page of this world's history as satisfying men's ideal of what their King should be, and of how the race should be represented — the One who, without any rival, stands in the mind's eye as that for which the best hopes of men were waiting, still feeling that the race could do no more than it had done, and never satisfied but in Him. Zebulun, the sixth and last of Leah's sons, was so called because, said Leab, "Now will my husband dwell with me" (such being the meaning of the name), "for I have borne him six sons." All that is predicted regarding this tribe is that his dwelling should be by the sea, and near the Phoenician city Zidon. This is not to be taken as a strict geographical definition of the tract of country occupied by Zebulun, as we see when we compare it with the lot assigned to it and marked out in the Book of Joshua; but though the border of the tribe did not reach to Zidon, and though it can only have been a mere tongue of land belonging to it that ran down to the Mediterranean shore, yet the situation ascribed to it is true to its character as a tribe that had commercial relations with the Phoenicians, and was of a decidedly mercantile turn. It is still, therefore, character rather than geographical position that is here spoken of, though it is a trait of character that is peculiarly dependent on geographical position. We, for example, because islanders, have become the maritime power and the merchants of the world; not being shut off from other nations by the encompassing sea, but finding paths by it equally in all directions ready provided for every kind of traffic. Zebulun, then, was to represent the commerce of Israel, its outgoing tendency; was to supply a means of communication and bond of connection with the world outside; so that through it might be conveyed to the nations what was saving in Israel, and that what Israel needed from other lands might also find entrance. In the Church also this is a needful quality: for our well-being there must ever exist among us those who are not afraid to launch on the wide and pathless sea of opinion; those in whose ears its waves have from their childhood sounded with a fascinating invitation, and who at last, as if possessed by some spirit of unrest, loose from the firm earth, and go in quest of lands not yet discovered, or are impelled to see for themselves what till now they have believed on the testimony of others. And as the seafaring population of a country might be expected to show less interest in the soil of their native land than others, and yet we know that in point of fact we are dependent on no class of our population so much for leal patriotism and for the defence of our country, so one has observed that the Church also must make similar use of her Zebuluns — of men who, by their very habit of restlessly considering all views of truth which are alien to our own ways of thinking, have become familiar with, and better able to defend us against, the error that mingles with these views. Issachar receives from his father a character which few would be proud of or would envy, but which many are very content to bear. As the strong ass that has its stall and its provender provided can afford to let the free beasts of the forest vaunt their liberty, so there is a very numerous class of men who have no care to assert their dignity as human beings, or to agitate regarding their rights as citizens, so long as their obscurity and servitude provide them with physical comforts and leave them free of heavy responsibilities. They prefer a life of easy and plenty to a life of hardship and glory. They, as well as the other parts of society, have amidst their error a truth - the truth that the ideal world in which ambition, and hope, and imagination live is not everything; that the material has also a reality, and that though hope does bless mankind, yet attainment is also something, even though it be a little. Yet this truth is not the whole truth, and is only useful as an ingredient, as a part, not as the whole; and when we fall from any high ideal of human life which we have formed, and begin to find comfort and rest in the mere physical good things of this world, we may well despise ourselves. There is a pleasantness still in the land that appeals to us all; a luxury in observing the risks and struggles of others while ourselves secure and at rest; a desire to make life easy, and to shirk the responsibility and toil that public spiritedness entails. Yet of what tribe has the Church more cause to complain than of those persons who seem to imagine that they have done enough when they have joined the Church and received their own inheritance to enjoy; who are alive to no emergency, nor awake to the need of others; who have no idea at all of their being a part of the community, for which, as well as for themselves, there are duties to discharge; who couch, like the ass of Issachar, in their comfort, without one generous impulse to make common cause against the common evils and foes of the Church, and are unvisited by a single compunction that while they lie there, submitting to whatever fate sends, there are kindred tribes of their own being oppressed and spoiled? Next came the eldest son of Rachel's handmaid, and the eldest son of Leah's handmaid, Dan and Gad. Dan's name, meaning "judge," is the starting-point of the prediction - "Dan shall judge his people." This word " judge" we are perhaps somewhat apt to misapprehend; it means rather to defend than to sit in judgment on; it refers to a judgment passed between one's own people and their foes, and an execution of such judgment in the deliverance of the people and the destruction of the foe. We are familiar with this meaning of the word by the constant reference in the Old Testament to God's judging His people; this being always a cause of joy as their sure deliverance from their enemies. So also it is used of those men who, when Israel had no king, rose from time to time as the champions of the people, to lead them against the foe, and who are therefore familiarly called "The Judges." From the tribe of Dan the most conspicuous of these arose, Samson, namely; and it is probably mainly with reference to this fact that Jacob so emphatically predicts of this tribe, "Dan shall judge his people." And notice the appended clause (as reflecting shame on the sluggish Issachar)," as one of the tribes of Israel," recognizing always that his strength was not for himself alone, but for his country; that he was not an isolated people who had to concern himself only with his own affairs, but one of the tribes of Israel. The manner, too, in which Dan was to do this was singularly descriptive of the facts subsequently evolved. Dan was a very small and insignificant tribe, whose lot originally lay close to the Philistines on the southern border of the land. It might seem to be no obstacle whatever to the invading Philistines as they passed to the richer portion of Judah, but this little tribe, through Samson, smote these terrors of the Israelites with so sore and alarming a destruction as to cripple them for years and make them harmless. We see, therefore, how aptly Jacob compares them to the venomous snake that lurks in the road and bites the horses' heels; the dust-coloured adder that a man treads on before he is aware, and whose poisonous stroke is more deadly than the foe he is looking for in front. And especially significant did the imagery appear to the Jews, with whom this poisonous adder was indigenous, but to whom the horse was the symbol of foreign armament and invasion. The whole tribe of Dan, too, seems to have partaken of that "grim humour" with which Samson saw his foes walk time after time into the traps he set for them, and give themselves an easy prey to him - a humour which comes out with singular piquancy in the, narrative given in the Book of Judges of one of the forays of this tribe, in which they carried off Micah's priest and even his gods. Gad also is a tribe whose history is to be warlike, his very name signifying a marauding guerilla troop; and his history was to illustrate the victories which God's people gain by tenacious, watchful, ever-renewed warfare. And there is something particularly inspiriting to the individual Christian in finding this pronounced as part of the blessing of God's people - "A troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last." It is this that enables us to persevere - that we have God's assurance that present discomfiture does not doom us to final defeat.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

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.)

I. MORAL DISTINCTIONS. What is it which "exalts" a nation (Proverbs 14:34.)? In the development of history, the character of individuals is an important element. God's government of the world is moral government, and sin never, eventually, goes unpunished. Sooner or later, our sin "finds us out."

II. MESSIANIC HOPE. The hope of a coming king is the central point of Judah's blessing. And Judah's blessing is the central blessing of all that Jacob says concerning his sons.

III. MANIFOLD DESTINIES. Apply this to ourselves. How different the conditions, circumstances, capabilities of each one of us! how various the particular destinies in store for us! Yet, God will help, and guide, and bring us on our way, if we trust in Him. We know not exactly where God will lead us, or place us; or what our particular difficulties or temptations may be, but let us trust Him, and seek to do His will always, and everywhere.

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

Written it is of the swan, that before his death he singeth most sweetly, and so did this holy patriarch in this place. Never more sweet songs have passed from the godly than toward their latter ends (Moses in Deuteronomy 31. and in the two chapters following, Joshua in his last chapter, and even our Saviour Himself in John 14:15-17 and at His last supper). The apostle Paul, when the time of his offering was at hand (2 Timothy 4:7, 8, &c.). The apostle Peter, when he told them he thought it meet, while he was in this tabernacle, to stir them up, knowing that the time was at hand that he must lay down his tabernacle, &c.

I am profoundly affected by the grandeur of prophecy. God unveils the frescoed wall of the future, not so much that we may count the figures, and measure the robes, and analyze the pigments; but that, gazing upon it, our imaginations may be enkindled, and hope be inspired, to bear us through the dismal barrenness of the present. Prophecy was not addressed to the reason, nor to the statistical faculty, but to the imagination; and I should as soon think of measuring love by the scales of commerce, or of admiring flowers by the rule of feet and inches, or of applying arithmetic to taste and enthusiasm, as calculations and figures to these grand evanishing signals which God waves in the future only to tell the world which way it is to march.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A belief prevailed among nearly all ancient nations, that the human mind, at the approaching hour of death, is capable of penetrating into the mysteries of the future, and of distinctly revealing them in prophetic speech. We are on this point not restricted to obscure inferences. We find the idea clearly and explicitly stated by more than one classical author. Cicero observes: "When death is near, the mind assumes a much more Divine character; and at such times easily predicts the future." Socrates, when defending himself in the capital charge preferred against him, and foreseeing a condemnatory verdict, is recorded to have reminded the judges that, with death before his eyes, he was in that state which enables men to utter prophecies. Xenophon relates, in his "Institution of Cyrus," that this prince, when feeling his impending dissolution, summoned his sons and friends to his death-bed; and, in order to impress upon them the doctrine of immortality, used the following argument: "Nothing resembles death more closely than sleep; but it is in sleep that the soul of man appears most Divine, and it is then that it foresees something of the future; for then, as it seems, it is most free." In a perfectly analogous manner, Pythagoras and other philosophers, according to Diodorus Siculus, considered it a natural consequence of the belief in immortality, that the soul, in the moment of death, becomes conscious of future events. In harmony with these views, Greek and Roman writers not unfrequently introduce persons in the last stage of their existence predicting the destinies of those survivors who at that time particularly absorb their attention. Patroclus, mortally wounded, foretells, in Homer's Iliad, the immediate death of Hector, from the hand of Achilles; and when this prophecy was literally verified, Hector, in his last moments, augurs that Apollo and Paris would, at the Scaean gate, soon destroy Achilles, who, convinced of the truth and reality of such forebodings, exclaims: "I shall accept my fate whenever Jupiter and the other immortal gods choose to inflict it." In the AEneid of Virgil, the expiring Dido prophesies not only the chief incidents in the future life of AEneas, his laborious and exhausting wars with Turnus, the Rutulians, and the Latins; his separation from his beloved son, Iulus, when imploring assistance in Etruria; and his early death, unhonoured by the sacred rites of sepulture: but she alludes to the inextioguishable hatred and the sanguinary enmity that would rage between the Romans and the Carthaginians, and to Hannibal himself, who would avenge her sufferings, and as a fearful scourge of war desolate the beautiful plains of Italy. In the same epic poem, Orodes, before closing his eyes in death, threatens his victorious antagonist, Mezentius, that he would not long enjoy his triumph, but would soon also be hurled into the lower regions; which menace, indeed, Mezentius haughtily scorns but recognizing the possibility of its fulfilment, he laughs "with mixed wrath." Posidonius makes mention of a man of Rhodes, who, not long before his demise, stated the exact order in which six of his friends would successively die. When Alexander the Great, at the termination of his days, was asked whom he appointed his successor, he replied "the best; for I foresee that great funeral games will be celebrated for me by my friends"; and this remark is adduced by Diodorus as an example of the astonishing realization of prophecies pronounced shortly before death. And Cicero, extending the same power of presentiment to perfectly uncivilized tribes, mentions the uneducated Indian Calanus, who, when about to burn himself, predicted the almost immediate death of the Macedonian monarch.

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

Asher, Benjamin, Dan, Ephron, Gad, Heth, Hittites, Isaac, Issachar, Jacob, Joseph, Leah, Levi, Mamre, Naphtali, Rebekah, Reuben, Sarah, Simeon, Zebulun, Zidon
Canaan, Machpelah, Mamre, Rameses, Sidon
Assemble, Befall, Calleth, Declare, Fate, Future, Gather, Gathered, Jacob, Latter, News, Sons, Summoned, Yourselves
1. Jacob calls his sons to bless them.
3. Their blessing in particular.
29. He charges them about his burial.
33. He dies.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 49:1-28

     1335   blessing
     7266   tribes of Israel
     8638   benedictions

Genesis 49:1-33

     5095   Jacob, life

The Shepherd, the Stone of Israel
'... The mighty God of Jacob. From thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel.'--GENESIS xlix. 24. A slight alteration in the rendering will probably bring out the meaning of these words more correctly. The last two clauses should perhaps not be read as a separate sentence. Striking out the supplement 'is,' and letting the previous sentence run on to the end of the verse, we get a series of names of God, in apposition with each other, as the sources of the strength promised to the arms of the hands
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Joseph Attacked by the Archers
Joseph is dead, but the Lord has his Josephs now. There are some still who understand by experience--and that is the best kind of understanding--the meaning of this passage, "The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." There are four things for us to consider this morning. First of all, the cruel attack--"the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

Now, my brethren, if it be so in earthly things, it is so also in spiritual. Instability in religion is a thing which every man despises, although every man has, to a degree, the evil in himself, but stability in the firm profession and practice of godliness, will always win respect, even from the worldly, and certainly will not be forgotten by him whose smile is honor and whose praise is glory, even the great Lord and Master, before whom we stand or fall. I have many characters here to-day whom
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

The Messianic Prophecies in the Pentateuch.
In the Messianic prophecies contained in Genesis we cannot fail to perceive a remarkable progress in clearness and definiteness. The first Messianic prediction, which was uttered immediately after the fall of Adam, is also the most indefinite. Opposed to the awful threatening there stands the consolatory promise, that the dominion of sin, and of the evil arising from sin, shall not last for ever, but that the seed of the woman shall, at some future time, overthrow their dreaded conqueror. With the
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Balaam's Prophecy. (Numb. xxiv. 17-19. )
Carried by the Spirit into the far distant future, Balaam sees here how a star goeth out of Jacob and a sceptre riseth out of Israel, and how this sceptre smiteth Moab, by whose enmity the Seer had been brought from a distant region for the destruction of Israel. And not Moab only shall be smitten, but its southern neighbour, Edom, too shall be subdued, whose hatred against Israel had already been prefigured in its ancestor, and had now begun to display Itself; and In general, all the enemies of
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Bunsen's Biblical Researches.
When geologists began to ask whether changes in the earth's structure might be explained by causes still in operation, they did not disprove the possibility of great convulsions, but they lessened necessity for imagining them. So, if a theologian has his eyes opened to the Divine energy as continuous and omnipresent, he lessens the sharp contrast of epochs in Revelation, but need not assume that the stream has never varied in its flow. Devotion raises time present into the sacredness of the past;
Frederick Temple—Essays and Reviews: The Education of the World

Appendix viii. Rabbinic Traditions About Elijah, the Forerunner of the Messiah
To complete the evidence, presented in the text, as to the essential difference between the teaching of the ancient Synagogue about the Forerunner of the Messiah' and the history and mission of John the Baptist, as described in the New Testaments, we subjoin a full, though condensed, account of the earlier Rabbinic traditions about Elijah. Opinions differ as to the descent and birthplace of Elijah. According to some, he was from the land of Gilead (Bemid. R. 14), and of the tribe of Gad (Tanch. on
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

His Throat is Most Sweet, Yea, He is Altogether Lovely. This is My Beloved, and this is My Friend, O Daughters of Jerusalem.
The good qualities of ordinary things may be sufficiently well expressed by ordinary phrases of commendation, but there are some subjects so above expression that they can only be worthily admired by declaring them above all praise. Such is the Divine Bridegroom, who, by the excess of His perfections, renders His Bride dumb when she endeavors most worthily to praise Him, that all hearts and minds may be attracted to Him. Her passion causes her to burst out into the praise of some of the excellencies
Madame Guyon—Song of Songs of Solomon

The Debt of Irenæus to Justin Martyr
If we are to proceed with safety in forming a judgment as to the relation between Justin and Irenæus in respect of the matter which they have in common, it will be necessary not merely to consider a number of selected parallels, but also to examine the treatment of a particular theme in the two writers. Let us set side by side, for example, c. 32 of Justin's First Apology with c. 57 of the Demonstration. Justin has been explaining to his Roman readers who the Jewish prophets were, and then
Irenæus—The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching

'Fruit which is Death'
'Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. 2. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images. 3. For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the Lord; what then should a king do to us? 4. They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Blessing of Jacob Upon Judah. (Gen. Xlix. 8-10. )
Ver. 8. "Judah, thou, thy brethren shall praise thee; thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; before thee shall bow down the sons of thy father. Ver. 9. A lion's whelp is Judah; from the prey, my son, thou goest up; he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as a full-grown lion, who shall rouse him up? Ver. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him the people shall adhere." Thus does dying Jacob, in announcing
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

General Notes by the American Editor
1. The whole subject of the Apocalypse is so treated, [2318] in the Speaker's Commentary, as to elucidate many questions suggested by the primitive commentators of this series, and to furnish the latest judgments of critics on the subject. It is so immense a matter, however, as to render annotations on patristic specialties impossible in a work like this. Every reader must feel how apposite is the sententious saying of Augustine: "Apocalypsis Joannis tot sacramenta quot verba." 2. The seven spirits,
Victorinus—Commentary on the Apocolypse of the Blessed John

The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word. ...
The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word. We are so familiar with the part assigned in our Creeds to the Holy Spirit in connection with our Lord's birth, that the passage now to be quoted from Justin may at first sight seem very surprising. It may be well to approach it by citing some words from the learned and orthodox Waterland, who in 1734, in his book on The Trinity (c. vi: Works, III, 571: Oxford, 1843), wrote as follows in reference to a passage of St Irenæus: "I may remark by
Irenæus—The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching

The Growth of the Old Testament Prophetic Histories
[Sidenote: Analogies between the influences that produced the two Testaments] Very similar influences were at work in producing and shaping both the Old and the New Testaments; only in the history of the older Scriptures still other forces can be distinguished. Moreover, the Old Testament contains a much greater variety of literature. It is also significant that, while some of the New Testament books began to be canonized less than a century after they were written, there is clear evidence that
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Jewish Dispersion in the West - the Hellenists - Origin of Hellenist Literature in the Greek Translation of the Bible - Character of the Septuagint.
When we turn from the Jewish dispersion' in the East to that in the West, we seem to breathe quite a different atmosphere. Despite their intense nationalism, all unconsciously to themselves, their mental characteristics and tendencies were in the opposite direction from those of their brethren. With those of the East rested the future of Judaism; with them of the West, in a sense, that of the world. The one represented old Israel, stretching forth its hands to where the dawn of a new day was about
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

A Preliminary Discourse to Catechising
'If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled.' - Col 1:23. Intending next Lord's day to enter upon the work of catechising, it will not be amiss to give you a preliminary discourse, to show you how needful it is for Christians to be well instructed in the grounds of religion. If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled.' I. It is the duty of Christians to be settled in the doctrine of faith. II. The best way for Christians to be settled is to be well grounded. I. It is the duty of Christians
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Fifthly, as this Revelation, to the Judgment of Right and Sober Reason,
appears of itself highly credible and probable, and abundantly recommends itself in its native simplicity, merely by its own intrinsic goodness and excellency, to the practice of the most rational and considering men, who are desirous in all their actions to have satisfaction and comfort and good hope within themselves, from the conscience of what they do: So it is moreover positively and directly proved to be actually and immediately sent to us from God, by the many infallible signs and miracles
Samuel Clarke—A Discourse Concerning the Being and Attributes of God

Gamala. Chorazin.
These things determine the situation of Gamala:--1. It was "in lower Gaulon," in which, as we have seen, Bethsaida was. 2. It was "upon the lake [of Gennesaret]." 3. It was "over-against Tarichee." Compare the maps, whether in their placing of it they agree with these passages. Here was Judas born, commonly called 'Gaulanites,' and as commonly also, the 'Galilean.' So Peter and Andrew and Philip were Gaulanites; of Bethsaida, John 1:44; and yet they were called 'Galileans.' While we are speaking
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

What Messiah did the Jews Expect?
1. The most important point here is to keep in mind the organic unity of the Old Testament. Its predictions are not isolated, but features of one grand prophetic picture; its ritual and institutions parts of one great system; its history, not loosely connected events, but an organic development tending towards a definite end. Viewed in its innermost substance, the history of the Old Testament is not different from its typical institutions, nor yet these two from its predictions. The idea, underlying
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Covenanting Predicted in Prophecy.
The fact of Covenanting, under the Old Testament dispensations, being approved of God, gives a proof that it was proper then, which is accompanied by the voice of prophecy, affording evidence that even in periods then future it should no less be proper. The argument for the service that is afforded by prophecy is peculiar, and, though corresponding with evidence from other sources, is independent. Because that God willed to make known truth through his servants the prophets, we should receive it
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Prophet Jonah.
It has been asserted without any sufficient reason, that Jonah is older than Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah,--that he is the oldest among the prophets whose written monuments have been preserved to us. The passage in 2 Kings xiv. 25, where it is said, that Jonah, the son of Amittai the prophet, prophesied to Jeroboam the happy success of his arms, and the restoration of the ancient boundaries of Israel, and that this prophecy was confirmed by the event, cannot decide in favour of this assertion,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

On Genesis.
[1139] Gen. i. 5 And it was evening, and it was morning, one day. Hippolytus. He did not say [1140] "night and day," but "one day," with reference to the name of the light. He did not say the "first day;" for if he had said the "first" day, he would also have had to say that the "second" day was made. But it was right to speak not of the "first day," but of "one day," in order that by saying "one," he might show that it returns on its orbit and, while it remains one, makes up the week. Gen. i. 6
Hippolytus—The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus

The Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt not kill.' Exod 20: 13. In this commandment is a sin forbidden, which is murder, Thou shalt not kill,' and a duty implied, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others. The sin forbidden is murder: Thou shalt not kill.' Here two things are to be understood, the not injuring another, nor ourselves. I. The not injuring another. [1] We must not injure another in his name. A good name is a precious balsam.' It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. We injure others in
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Plan for the Coming of Jesus.
God's Darling, Psalms 8:5-8.--the plan for the new man--the Hebrew picture by itself--difference between God's plan and actual events--one purpose through breaking plans--the original plan--a starting point--getting inside. Fastening a Tether inside: the longest way around--the pedigree--the start. First Touches on the Canvas: the first touch, Genesis 3:15.--three groups of prediction--first group: to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3; to Isaac, Genesis 26:1-5; to Jacob, Genesis 28:10-15; through Jacob,
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus

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