Saturday, March 27, 2021

2021.03.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 49:1–28

Read Genesis 49:1–28

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did Jacob call in Genesis 49:1-2? What did he say he would tell them? What does he call Reuben in Genesis 49:3? But what does he say will come of him (Genesis 49:4a)? Why (verse 4b–d)? Whom does Jacob name together in Genesis 49:5a? What does he say about them in verse 5b, Genesis 49:6 c–d? What does he warn against doing with such people (verse 6a–b)? What does he pronounce upon them in Genesis 49:7 a-b? What, specifically, is that curse (verse 7c–d)? Whom does he bless in Genesis 49:8-12? What will his brothers do to him (verse 8a, c)? What will he do to his enemies (verse 8b)? What does Jacob call Judah in Genesis 49:9a? How does he describe his strength and victory (verse 9b–d; cf. Revelation 5:5)? What will not depart from Judah (Genesis 49:10a)? What else (verse 10b)? Until what (verse 10c)? What will come to Him (verse 10d)? How is this King and Lawgiver from Judah described in Genesis 49:11-12)? What will happen to Zebulun (Genesis 49:13)? What does he call Issachar in Genesis 49:14a? But what is this strong donkey doing (verse 14b)? Why (Genesis 49:15 a-b)? What will come of this (verse 15c–d)? What will Dan do (Genesis 49:16)? What do Genesis 49:17 a-b call him? What does he do with what effect (verse 17c–d)? What does prophesying this cause Jacob to exclaim (Genesis 49:18)? What will happen to Gad at first (Genesis 49:19a)? But with what outcome (verse 19b)? Whom does Genesis 49:20 bless and how? And whom Genesis 49:21? Who receives five verses of blessing in Genesis 49:22-26? How is he described in verse 22? Who has done what to him in Genesis 49:23? How does he survive this (Genesis 49:24 a-c)? What else comes from the Mighty One of Jacob (verse 24d)? What four blessings is Joseph to receive from God Almighty (Genesis 49:25)? What does Jacob say about the strength of these blessings (Genesis 49:26 a-c)? Upon whom did he save such strong blessings (verse 26d)? What does he call him (verse 26e)? Whom does he bless in Genesis 49:27? What does he call him? What will he do, morning and night (verse 27b–c)? What does Genesis 49:28 call them? What does it point out about the blessings?

While this is the blessing of a nation that is about to be redeemed by grace (cf. Exodus 1–15, 2 Samuel 7:23), it yet includes a number of earthly blessings and curses—outcomes of actions and gifts of mercy.

From Reuben, we learn not to presume. He should have had the first place (Genesis 49:3a), but loses it for his sin (Genesis 49:4). Simeon and Levi teach us the consequences of wickedness (they are divided and scattered for their violence (Genesis 49:5-7), but also the amazingness of grace—that the Lord would take one of these tribes to be His priests!

Because the blessings are in order by birth mother, Judah appears here among the sons of Leah (but the prophecy about Judah is important to consider in the context of a chapter as a whole, and we’ll return to him). This is why instead of Dan, Zebulun and Issachar appear at this point. Issachar is older, but Zebulun goes first and has a good blessing (Genesis 49:13), while Issachar goes second and is prophesied to squander his strength by laziness and end up in slavery (Genesis 49:14-15).

Dan is a reminder that deliverers (Genesis 49:16) might come by cleverness instead of raw power (Genesis 49:17), but that regardless of human mechanism, salvation comes from Yahweh (Genesis 49:18). Gad (the raided raider who raids back, Genesis 49:19), Asher (the ‘happy’ one who enjoys and provides rich food and delicacies, Genesis 49:20), and Naphtali (sure-footed and sure-breeding, Genesis 49:21) all receive brief but desirable blessings.

Though the highest place ends up going to Judah in the prophecy of the Messiah, Joseph’s blessing is indeed a double portion (Ephraim/fruitful, Genesis 49:22, cf. chapter 48) and Manasseh (forgetful, with Genesis 49:24 making him forget the griefs of Genesis 49:23) … 

but far more than just double. The turnaround comes by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (Genesis 49:24c), the Shepherd Who is the Stone of Israel (verse 24d), the God of Jacob (Genesis 49:25a), the Almighty (verse 25b). With such an One giving the blessing, it’s not surprising that the blessings are as exhaustive as possible. “Heavens and the deep” (verse 25c–d) are bookends that mean “blessings everywhere.” And “of the breasts and of the womb” focuses especially on how the Lord will multiply Joseph to be able to employ and enjoy all this blessing. Comparing blessings has been a major theme in Jacob’s life (cf. chapters 27–28), and he announces that Joseph’s blessing has been better than them all (Genesis 49:26). Certainly, the brevity of Benjamin’s blessing (Genesis 49:27) seems to bear this out by contrast.

And this brings us back to Judah. His blessing begins with a play on his name (Genesis 49:8a) and victory over his enemies (verse 8b) before implying that Joseph’s dreams/fulfillment were a foreshadowing of something that would belong to Judah in a fuller way (verse 8c). The combination of the lion illustration (Genesis 49:9) with the prophecy of the forever-king (Genesis 49:10) leads to the idea of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ (cf. Revelation 5:5). 

The word Shiloh (Genesis 49:10c) may refer to the place where the tabernacle was for a time, in which case it would be a prophecy of God tabernacling among His people, ultimately in Christ as Priest. Or, it could be two Hebrew words which mean “tribute to Him,” in which case it would refer to the wealth of the nations being brought to Christ as King. 

As is often true in Scripture, both may be implied at the same time, though the same ideas about the kingship of Christ appear in close connection in Psalm 72, where his enemies’ defeat (Genesis 49:8b, cf. Psalm 72:9), the bringing of tribute (Genesis 49:10c, Psalm 72:10), and the bowing of the nations (Genesis 49:10d, Psalm 72:8–9, Psalm 72:11) all appear. Genesis 49:11-12 may sound odd in our ears, but they are a description of royal splendor—he will be so wealthy, he’ll use wine instead of water to wash his clothes; and, they’ll describe the beauty of his appearance using images from the abundance of his wealth (verse 12).

O how great can be the earthly consequences of our sin, and how great can be the earthly blessings of God’s grace! But how infinitely greater is the blessing the comes from the priesthood and kingship of Christ!

What are you doing to avoid sins of lust and violence? What earthly blessings have you received? Why is the blessing of Christ’s forever-kingship infinitely better than these?

Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion”

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