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.
JACOB'S PROPHECY OF THE LAST DAYS.
Jacob being a hundred and forty-seven years old, and about to die, called his sons together to tell them "what should befall them in the last days." From what has been already advanced on "the end of the world," the reader will understand to what period the prophecy of Jacob principally refers. But, lest any should have forgotten, I will repeat, that it relates to events which were to happen in the last days of the Hebrew commonwealth, under the constitution from Mount Sinai.
It sketches the political fortunes of the twelve tribes which, with the blessing on Joseph's sons, it now constituted; touches upon the peculiar features of the several portions of Canaan which should be allotted to them; and reveals certain principal events in connexion with the tribes of Levi, Judah, and Joseph.
It will not be necessary for me to do more than to point out these special incidents as bearing upon the kingdom of God. After 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.
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 3.4.
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 3.4.
'...not depart from Judah' (KJV) is supported by various translations (AMP, Youngs, OJB, RV)
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 for consideration / comment..
The father's providential oversight (by metaphor shevet or rod representing the father's chastening 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)
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).