1Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.
2“Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel your father.
1Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.
2“Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel your father.
The words of Jacob show that this chapter is prophetic in character. He will tell his sons what “will befall you in the days to come”, or better: “will befall them in the last of the days”. It is the history of the people of Israel in the end times. Jacob calls his sons to come and listen, both in verse 11Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.
and in verse 22“Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel your father.. He demands their full attention. That shows how important it is what he has to say.
He speaks to his sons as “sons of Jacob” and he addresses them as “Israel your father”. He knows his sons in their behavior, the behavior he himself has shown so often. However, he has learned through his struggle with God and the victory he has achieved, to which he owes his name ‘Israel’. He speaks like a father who finally became a victor. In that power he will tell his sons how things will go with them in the future.
3“Reuben, you are my firstborn;
My might and the beginning of my strength,
Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
4“Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled [it]—he went up to my couch.
Reuben (meaning ‘see, a son’) is the eldest son. Jacob first addresses the word to him. First Jacob speaks at length about the blessings which will be Reuben’s as the firstborn. Jacob first established his natural expectation on him, but he was deceived in his expectation. Reuben does not know how to control his lusts and indulges his father’s wife in lust (Gen 35:2222It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard [of it]. Now there were twelve sons of Jacob—). The high position of Reuben makes his fall all the deeper. He forfeits his birthright.
Jacob recalls this incident that took place about forty years ago. Any sin, including sin of a sexual nature, can be forgiven. Nevertheless, the sin of adultery and fornication often sticks to someone’s life as an indelible stain (Pro 6:32-3332The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense;
He who would destroy himself does it.
33Wounds and disgrace he will find,
And his reproach will not be blotted out.
How much has already been lost in blessing by believers by giving free rein to sexual evil! The blessing of the firstborn is, among other things, strength, a high position (prestige) and a lot of wealth (a double part). It all disappeared with the eruption of its indomitable nature. In Reuben we see the corruption of man. Reuben keeps his rights as a son, but he loses the privilege of the first-born son.
Thus the people of Israel have lost their blessing by letting their corrupt nature run free. They have not as a people respected God but have followed the lusts of their flesh. They have turned their backs on God and committed themselves to the idols.
5“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Their swords are implements of violence.
6“Let my soul not enter into their council;
Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew men,
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
7“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.
Jacob has a word about Simeon (meaning ‘heard’) and Levi (meaning ‘attachment’). After Reuben’s sin, which shows the characteristic of corruption, Jacob speaks of the sin of his next two sons. Another characteristic of sin emerges: violence. Jacob refers to the violence of Simeon and Levi in Genesis 34 (Gen 34:5-295Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in.6Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.7Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard [it]; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.8But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage.9Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves.10Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be [open] before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it.”11Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me.12Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage.”13But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.14They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us.15Only on this [condition] will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised,16then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people.17But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.”18Now their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son.19The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected than all the household of his father.20So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying,21“These men are friendly with us; therefore let them live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters in marriage, and give our daughters to them.22Only on this [condition] will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised.23Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will live with us.”24All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.25Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male.26They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth.27Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister.28They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field;29and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that [was] in the houses.). He clearly distances himself from the actions of his sons.
He does not speak to them, but about them in the presence of all his sons. All of us, including ourselves, must learn from it. These two have been brothers in evil. Jacob rejects any connection with them. He does not want to be involved in their thinking. Jacob will not be in such company, nor do we belong there (Psa 1:11How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
He does not protect his children and does not justify their sin, but calls it by its name. He curses their anger and wrath, not them personally. The consequences of their actions are not withheld (Gal 6:7-87Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.). Instead of staying together – they have been together in evil – they will be divided and scattered among Israel.
Not much will remain of Simeon as a tribe (Num 1:2323their numbered men of the tribe of Simeon [were] 59,300.; 26:1414These are the families of the Simeonites, 22,200.; Jos 19:1-91Then the second lot fell to Simeon, to the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families, and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Judah.2So they had as their inheritance Beersheba or Sheba and Moladah,3and Hazar-shual and Balah and Ezem,4and Eltolad and Bethul and Hormah,5and Ziklag and Beth-marcaboth and Hazar-susah,6and Beth-lebaoth and Sharuhen; thirteen cities with their villages;7Ain, Rimmon and Ether and Ashan; four cities with their villages;8and all the villages which [were] around these cities as far as Baalath-beer, Ramah of the Negev. This [was] the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families.9The inheritance of the sons of Simeon [was taken] from the portion of the sons of Judah, for the share of the sons of Judah was too large for them; so the sons of Simeon received [an] inheritance in the midst of Judah’s inheritance.). They will live in the land largely among Judah. The scattering of Levi is changed into a blessing by the grace of God. By their scattering they come amidst the whole people, so that they can teach the whole people the laws of God.
8“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
9“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He couches, he lies down as a lion,
And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
10“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him [shall be] the obedience of the peoples.
11“He ties [his] foal to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12“His eyes are dull from wine,
And his teeth white from milk.
Jacob speaks about Judah (meaning ‘praise’) in a very different tone than about his oldest three sons. He mentions only praiseworthy things about Judah, a great contradiction with the first three sons. This is because Judah’s future is closely connected with the Messiah, Who will come forth from Judah. We can see Judah himself here as a type of the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. Therefore Jacob also says more words to him than to the other sons – with the exception of Joseph, for the same reason. All his brothers will praise him, he will take first place which his eldest brother has lost. Thus Christ takes the first place among His brethren (Rom 8:2929For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;; Heb 2:1212saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”).
Judah has conquered the enemies. Therefore his brothers praise him. His victory-strength is clearly visible in the picture of the lion. Christ is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev 5:55and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”). Judah’s rule will not be temporary, but eternal: his scepter or ruler’s staff will not depart. When Shiloh (meaning ‘rest bringer’ or ‘peacemaker’) comes, that is, when the Lord Jesus comes as Messiah, his reign will reach its peak. Then even nations will obey him. That will happen in the kingdom of peace.
The scene with the donkey (verse 11a11“He ties [his] foal to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
) is reminiscent of the Lord Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, where that time is experienced for a moment, as it were: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout [in triumph], O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zec 9:99Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout [in triumph], O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
). That time itself, which is the time of the kingdom of peace, will be characterized by an abundance of joy, of which the wine is a picture (Isa 25:66The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
[And] refined, aged wine.
The blessing of Judah is concluded with a description of the personal lordship of the Lord Jesus (verse 1212“His eyes are dull from wine,
And his teeth white from milk.; cf. Song 5:10-1610“My beloved is dazzling and ruddy,
Outstanding among ten thousand.
11“His head is [like] gold, pure gold;
His locks are [like] clusters of dates
[And] black as a raven.12“His eyes are like doves
Beside streams of water,
Bathed in milk,
[And] reposed in [their] setting.
13“His cheeks are like a bed of balsam,
Banks of sweet-scented herbs;
His lips are lilies
Dripping with liquid myrrh.14“His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl;
His abdomen is carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.
15“His legs are pillars of alabaster
Set on pedestals of pure gold;
His appearance is like Lebanon
Choice as the cedars.
16“His mouth is [full of] sweetness.
And he is wholly desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.”).
13“Zebulun will dwell at the seashore;
And he [shall be] a haven for ships,
And his flank [shall be] toward Sidon.
Jacob does not speak a word about Zebulun (meaning ‘dwelling place’) personally. He says only where Zebulun will dwell. We must place what Jacob says about Zebulun in the prophetic perspective Jacob has in mind according to verse 11Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.
. After the failure of the three oldest sons, the Messiah appears in Judah. The dominion is given to Him. But when He comes, He is rejected, and Israel is scattered among the nations. This is represented in the picture in Zebulun. The sea is a picture of the nations (Rev 17:1515And he *said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.; Isa 17:12-1312Alas, the uproar of many peoples
Who roar like the roaring of the seas,
And the rumbling of nations
Who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters!
13The nations rumble on like the rumbling of many waters,
But He will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like chaff in the mountains before the wind,
Or like whirling dust before a gale.
Israel is scattered among the nations, with which the people trade, which is presented in the “ships”. Israel focuses on the nations, which is represented in being “toward Sidon” (Isa 23:22Be silent, you inhabitants of the coastland,
You merchants of Sidon;
Your messengers crossed the sea
). In this fate of Zebulun, and of Israel as a whole, will come a reversal. This reversal has come in a certain sense, when the Lord Jesus goes to dwell there (Mt 4:12-1612Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;13and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.14[This was] to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
15“THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI,
BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—
16“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT,
AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH,
UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”
). Zebulun is also connected with the nations by Matthew. The coming of the Lord Jesus has brought blessing to Israel and the nations. The blessing for Israel has been postponed because of the Lord’s rejection, but will certainly come when He appears the second time.
14“Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between the sheepfolds.
15“When he saw that a resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear [burdens],
And became a slave at forced labor.
What Jacob says about Issachar (meaning ‘wage’), characterizes this son as someone who seeks convenience and advantage, but has to pay a price for it. So it is with Israel after the rejection of the Lord Jesus. Israel went to dwell by the sea, the nations (Zebulun). But it did not stop there. The people have become dependent on the nations. They have become a beast of burden, they are slaves of them (Neh 9:3636“Behold, we are slaves today,
And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty,
Behold, we are slaves in it.
), while it is God’s intention that the nations are their slaves (Deu 28:1,131“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.13The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe [them] carefully,).
16“Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17“Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
A horned snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
18“For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.
At Dan (meaning ‘judge’) Jacob speaks about salvation. In Dan a judge, a leader, will rise up to deliver the people from the yoke of the nations. He will use an insidious tactic. This leader, the future king of the Jews, will be inspired by satan, “the serpent of old” (Rev 12:99And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.). This is the antichrist, to whom the word Paul quotes from the mouth of David: “Poison of a viper is under their lips” (Psa 140:3b3They sharpen their tongues as a serpent;
Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.
; Rom 3:13b13“Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”;) applies in full.
Jacob does not express a wish here, but an event. By this we also understand the sigh that Jacob breathes (verse 1818“For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.). He does not expect “salvation” from Dan, for he is deceitful, but from the LORD Himself. When we consider what we read of Dan in the Scriptures (Lev 24:10-1110Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp.11The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.); Jdg 18:1-311In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel.2So the sons of Dan sent from their family five men out of their whole number, valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search it; and they said to them, “Go, search the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.3When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite; and they turned aside there and said to him, “Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this [place]? And what do you have here?”4He said to them, “Thus and so has Micah done to me, and he has hired me and I have become his priest.”5They said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be prosperous.”6The priest said to them, “Go in peace; your way in which you are going has the LORD’s approval.”7Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were in it living in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was no ruler humiliating [them] for anything in the land, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone.8When they came back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What [do] you [report]?”9They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you sit still? Do not delay to go, to enter, to possess the land.10When you enter, you will come to a secure people with a spacious land; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.”11Then from the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out.12They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim.13They passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.14Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish said to their kinsmen, “Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod and household idols and a graven image and a molten image? Now therefore, consider what you should do.”15They turned aside there and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him of his welfare.16The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate.17Now the five men who went to spy out the land went up [and] entered there, [and] took the graven image and the ephod and household idols and the molten image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.18When these went into Micah’s house and took the graven image, the ephod and household idols and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”19They said to him, “Be silent, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?”20The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod and household idols and the graven image and went among the people.21Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the livestock and the valuables in front of them.27Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire.28And there was no one to deliver [them], because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it.29They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish.30The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.31So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.), there seems to be much to say for that the antichrist will indeed come forth from the tribe of Dan, or perhaps already came forth; who knows, he already lives.
19“As for Gad, raiders shall raid him,
But he will raid [at] their heels.
Gad (meaning ‘raiders’, among other things) represents the bravery of the remnant of Israel, which suffers much from the terror exercised by the antichrist. When the Lord Jesus comes to bring salvation, He will use this remnant to chase and defeat the enemies, “raiders”, who have made his life so difficult.
20“As for Asher, his food shall be rich,
And he will yield royal dainties.
With Asher (meaning ‘happy’) only blessing is connected. In the kingdom of peace that will come when the Lord Jesus has appeared and destroyed the enemies, there will be an abundance of blessing, of rich food (Psa 72:1616May there be abundance of grain in the earth on top of the mountains;
Its fruit will wave like [the cedars of] Lebanon;
And may those from the city flourish like vegetation of the earth.
; 85:1212Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.
; Hos 2:21-2221“It will come about in that day that I will respond,” declares the LORD.
“I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
22And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil,
And they will respond to Jezreel.
). Israel will also distribute that blessing to others.
21“Naphtali is a doe let loose,
He gives beautiful words.
With Naphtali (meaning ‘(my) struggle’) the main idea is freedom, while with Gad and Asher the main idea is respectively victory and abundance of the most delicious food. This freedom is a big difference from Issachar, who goes under a slave yoke. Naphtali is a doe let loose, which testifies to the greatest possible freedom of movement. A doe let loose is not hindered by anything in her fast movement and feels completely free. It is quite a struggle to achieve that freedom.
Spiritually this is also the case. In Romans 7 we see the struggle of the believer and in Romans 8 his freedom. It is also not surprising that this freedom leads to “beautiful words”. See the end of Romans 8 (Rom 8:31-3931What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is] against us?32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.). Freedom is based only on the work of Christ on the cross. The result is that we want to honor Him with “beautiful words”. Psalm 22 shows both one, the work of Christ (Psa 22:1-211For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
2O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.
3Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
4In You our fathers trusted;
They trusted and You delivered them.
5To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.
6But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
7All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, [saying],
8“Commit [yourself] to the LORD; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
9Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
You made me trust [when] upon my mother’s breasts.
10Upon You I was cast from birth;
You have been my God from my mother’s womb.
11Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
12Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong [bulls] of Bashan have encircled me.
13They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.
14I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
15My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
16For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
17I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
18They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
19But You, O LORD, be not far off;
O You my help, hasten to my assistance.
20Deliver my soul from the sword,
My only [life] from the power of the dog.
21Save me from the lion’s mouth;
From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.
), and the other, the song of praise (Psa 22:22-3122I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23You who fear the LORD, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
24For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
25From You [comes] my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.
26The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.
Let your heart live forever!
27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations will worship before You.
28For the kingdom is the LORD’S
And He rules over the nations.
29All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.
30Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the [coming] generation.
31They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed [it].). Once Israel has been freed from its enemies, they will let hallelujah be heard.
22“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a spring;
[Its] branches run over a wall.
23“The archers bitterly attacked him,
And shot [at him] and harassed him;
24But his bow remained firm,
And his arms were agile,
From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses you
[With] blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26“The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
Jacob says most of his words to Joseph (meaning ‘He will add’). It is not surprising that the blessing given by Jacob to Joseph is the greatest of all in content and length. Jacob speaks about all that God has laid aside for Joseph. It is not difficult to see the picture of the Lord Jesus behind Joseph.
Jacob uses some equations in connection with Joseph. The first is that of a fruit tree, whose branches grow over a wall. That is Joseph. He bears fruit because he stands by a spring. By drinking from the spring, God Himself, and knowing himself dependent on Him, he bears rich fruit for God (Jer 17:88“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
; Psa 1:33He will be like a tree [firmly] planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Fruit is where there is “a spring” of community and a “wall” of separation. We see this perfectly with the Lord Jesus. Not only does He bear fruit within the walls of the people of Israel, but His fruit is also for everyone outside Israel who believes in Him (Mk 7:24-3024Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know [of it]; yet He could not escape notice.25But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.26Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.27And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”28But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, [but] even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”29And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”30And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.; Jn 4:39-4239From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I [have] done.”40So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.41Many more believed because of His word;42and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”). He also lives in perfect fellowship with His Father.
The second equation is that of the archer. The ‘deadly arrows’ were shot at him (Jer 9:88“Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
It speaks deceit;
With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor,
But inwardly he sets an ambush for him.
; cf. Eph 6:16b16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil [one].). Remember the treatment of his brothers and the wife of Potiphar. Such arrows were also shot at Christ, whom He answered with arrows from God’s Word: “It is written” (Mt 4:1-101Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”5Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”8Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”10Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”). All our strength to withstand temptations and bear trials comes from God. His grace is enough for us, and His strength is accomplished in our weakness.
Joseph answers these arrows with accurate arrows. He reacts in the power of God, Who with His hands strengthens Joseph’s hands. It has sometimes been compared to a small child who wants to carry his father’s heavy suitcase. He cannot lift the suitcase himself. Yet he manages to lift the suitcase because his father’s strong hand goes around his hand and lifts it with his hand.
The names Jacob uses for God show that he has learned a lot about God. By this he knows God’s thoughts about the blessing He wants to give and is also able to give. After all, he is also the “Almighty”!
The blessing is threefold:
1. from the sky from above,
2. of the water tide down and
3. on earth.
Jacob sees that the blessing he gives his son goes far beyond the blessings promised to the patriarchs. Everything will come “on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers”. “Distinguished” is literally “separated” or “Nazarite”. This is the third equation Jacob uses. Here we find for the first time the concept of “Nazarite”. From Numbers 6 we learn that this is someone who voluntarily devotes himself to God (Num 6:1-211Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,3he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.4All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from [the] seeds even to [the] skin.5‘All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.6‘All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person.7He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head.8All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.9‘But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head [of hair], then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day.10Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting.11The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and [the] other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the [dead] person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head,12and shall dedicate to the LORD his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation was defiled.13‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting.14He shall present his offering to the LORD: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering,15and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering.16Then the priest shall present [them] before the LORD and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering.17He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering.18The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head [of hair] at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put [it] on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.19The priest shall take the ram’s shoulder [when it has been] boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put [them] on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated [hair].20Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.’21“This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the LORD according to his separation, in addition to what [else] he can afford; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation.”).
The Lord Jesus is the true Nazarite. By Him shall His brethren, His people, and all the earth be blessed in the kingdom of peace.
27“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And in the evening he divides the spoil.”
Benjamin (meaning ‘son of the right hand’) is a picture of Christ who returns and destroys all His enemies when He appears in glory. Joseph and Benjamin belong together. We have seen this in the previous chapters. Joseph is a picture of Christ in His humiliation and His exaltation as the Bearer of all the favor of God; Benjamin is a picture of Christ coming back in power and majesty and reigning on earth. We also see a double picture like this in David and Salomon. “Morning” and “evening” cover the whole day or the whole period of the kingdom of peace.
28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.
“Every one with the blessing appropriate to him.” This also applies to Reuben and Simeon and Levi. It may seem strange to speak of blessing in their case. Yet it is a blessing to be pointed to our failure. We can then confess that and then continue with the Lord to be blessed by Him.
29Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. 31There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah— 32the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
Jacob repeats what he said earlier about his burial (Gen 47:3030but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” And he said, “I will do as you have said.”). This clearly shows his faith in the resurrection and that God is the God of the resurrection. His heart is not with what he leaves behind, but with what awaits him in the resurrection. Death does not destroy the promise of life. When Jacob dies, he is gathered to his people. If God’s people are our people, we will be gathered with them by death.