JACOB'S PROPHECY OF THE LAST DAYS
1 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.
2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
Reuben, Simeon and Levi are conjoined in the prophecy. They had slain Hamor and Shechem, and all the males of their city.
This circumstance is taken as a characteristic of their tribes in the last days. "Instruments of cruelty," said Jacob, "are in their habitations." And foreseeing the part they would play in relation to the Seed, he exclaimed, "0 my soul, come not thou unto their secret, unto their assembly (Psalm 2:2 ; Matt. 26:14), mine honour be not thou united." But why not Jacob?
"For in their anger they slew a man (Matt.26:57, 59), and in their self-will they digged down a wall," that is, overthrew a city (Gen. 34:25-29). "Cursed be their anger for it was fierce: and their wrath, for it was cruel."
The verification of these things will easily be recognized in the history of the tribe of Levi at the era of the crucifixion.
It was the priests who sought and at last accomplished the death of Jesus, to whom Jacob refers; and to mark his sense of their conduct, he said "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." This was fulfilled in giving Levi no cantonal inheritance in the land, and in including Simeon's portion within the limits of the canton of Judah (Josh. 19:1,9). From this arrangement, Levi, Simeon, and Judah, became the tribes principally concerned in the transactions of the last days.
Elpis Israel ii.3.4.
6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
Slew a man - Messiah
7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.
Having spoken of the death of Christ by Levi and Simeon, he then proceeded to speak of things connected with Judah alone. Of this tribe he affirmed,
1. That Judah should be the praise of all the tribes;
2. That it should subdue its enemies;
3. That it should rule over all lsrael;
4. That its sovereignty should be monarchical;
5. That Shiloh should arise out of it as a lawgiver;
6. That the gathering of the people should be to him;
7. That he should ride an ass accompanied by its foal;
8. That his garments should be dyed with the blood of his enemies; and,
9. That the fountains and rocks of the country should exuberate with grapes and pasture.
Such are the points into which the members of Jacob's beautiful prophecy concerning the things of the kingdom,in connexion with Judah as the royal tribe, are resolvable when converted into literal, or unfigurative, speech. But, it is very clear from the past history of the tribe, that the prophecy is only partially accomplished.
Judah is now "stooping down, and couching as an old lion ;" and in view of his present prostration, Jacob inquired, "Who shall rouse him up?" Yes; who shall do it? Who shall start him to his feet again, that he may rend and tread down, and devour the enemies of Jerusalem? Who but the Shiloh, whose goodly horse in the battle Judah is appointed to be? (Zech. 10:3-5 ; 12:6; 14:14).
Elpis Israel ii.3.4.
9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
10 The sceptre [shevet] shall not depart from [Yehudah], nor a lawgiver [Mekhokek] from between his feet [raglayim], until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be [ be the obedience of the amim].
Two appearances of the Shiloh are indicated by Jacob; first, at the departure of the sceptre from Judah; and secondly, at the attainment of the tribe to the dignity of giving laws to the gathered people. The sceptre departed from Judah at the appearing of Jesus; but neither Jesus, nor the tribe, have promulgated a code of laws to Israel or the Gentiles. Moses was a lawgiver, not of Judah, but of Levi, but when Shiloh comes as the lawgiver of Judah, then
"the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).
The blessing on Judah contains in it the hope of Israel. It shows what views Jacob had of the promises made to him, and his fathers. His faith was of things substantial and definable. He looked for a kingdom and an empire, whose royal domain should be the land of Canaan, and especially that part of it allotted to Judah (Ezek. 48:8-22); and whose imperial ruler should be the Giver of Peace, descended from his loins in the line of Judah.
The Spirit of God in Jacob marked him out to wield the sceptre and to give laws to the world, possessing the gate of his enemies, and blessing all the nations of the earth. It is generally supposed that Jacob saw the sceptre depart from Judah. This is implied by the English version, "not depart until Shiloh came," which is as much as to say, when Christ appears it shall depart: which is not in accordance with the facts of the case.
Elpis Israel ii. 3.4.
According to 'Strongs' the probable root of shevet is to 'branch off'.
The promise of the Davidian 'branch' points forward to the heir to whom all nations shall be obedient.
We suggest the following interpretation ...
The father's providential oversight (by metaphor shevet or rod - supervision) over Judah shall not depart 'until Shiloh come'. (Then Shiloh shall rule the nations in perfect justice with a shevet of iron Psa 2: 9)
11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
Treading the winepress - Isa 63:3
12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
14 Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
18 I have waited for thy salvation, O Yahweh.
19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
20 Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
Having blessed Judah in the terms recorded in scripture (Gen. 49:8-12), he passed over Zebulun., Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, with a brief notice, and then dwelt with emphasis upon Joseph. He described in general terms the fertility of the cantons of Ephraim and Manasseh, and invocated blessings of every kind upon his posterity.
Recalling Joseph's history in the past as indicative of his descendants' in the future, he predicted that they would be sorely grieved by their enemies, and separated from the other tribes. Nevertheless their bow, though unstrung, should abide in strength, and they should be made strong again "by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob, who should help them," and bless them above what their progenitors enjoyed before they were carried away into captivity.
He saw that they would be a royal tribe, and that at some period of their nationality, "the everlasting hills" unto their utmost bound, should bow to his sceptre, who is destined to rule them (Hab. 3:3-16).
But in the blessing of Joseph, Jacob gave a very remarkable intimation concerning the Shiloh. He styles him [v24]
"the shepherd and stone of Israel" (Isaiah 28:16).
In his blessing on Judah, he foretold his descent from him; but in the blessing of Joseph, he declares he is from the God of Jacob; and (being thus spoken of in connection with Joseph) after the parable of his history. In other words, that the Seed should be both son of Judah and Son of God; and that his relation to the tribes of Israel should be after the representation of Joseph's to his brethren.
Elpis Israel ii.3.4.
23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty elohim of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
The stone which will become a great mountain and fill the earth.
This Shepherd-Stone is typified in the two onyx stones of the Aaronic ephod, upon which the names of the twelve tribes were engraved in the order of the birth of their fathers, and which were to be borne before Yahweh upon the two shoulders of the one man officiating as High Priest, for a memorial (Exod. xxviii. 9,12).
The prophet Isaiah also speaks of him to Judah thus: "Sanctify," saith he,
"Yahweh Tz'vaoth himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary. But also for a Stone of stumbling, and for a Rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (viii. 14).
This has in part been accomplished, and we wait now for this stone to be laid in the identical place where it was stumbled over; according to the words of the Spirit by the same prophet, saying, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not be confounded" (xxviii. 16). This is "the stone which the builders refused" which will then have "become the chief of the corner" (Psa. cxviii. 22), the head stone with Seven Eyes brought forth with shoutings of "Grace, grace, unto it!" (Zech. iii. 9; iv. 7,10).
25 Even by the El of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying place.
31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.