Genesis 49* Jacob calls his sons to bless them. (1,2) Reuben, Simeon,Levi. (3-7) Judah. (8-12) Zebulun, Issachar, Dan. (13-18) Gad,Asher, Naphtali. (19-21) Joseph and Benjamin. (22-27) Jacob'scharge respecting his burial, His death. (28-33)1,2 All Jacob's sons were living. His calling them together wasa precept for them to unite in love, not to mingle with theEgyptians; and foretold that they should not be separated, asAbraham's sons and Isaac's were, but should all make one people.We are not to consider this address as the expression of privatefeelings of affection, resentment, or partiality; but as thelanguage of the Holy Ghost, declaring the purpose of Godrespecting the character, circumstances, and situation of thetribes which descended from the sons of Jacob, and which may betraced in their histories. 3-7 Reuben was the first-born; but by gross sin, he forfeitedthe birthright. The character of Reuben is, that he was unstableas water. Men do not thrive, because they do not fix. Reuben'ssin left a lasting infamy upon his family. Let us never do evil,then we need not fear being told of it. Simeon and Levi werepassionate and revengeful. The murder of the Shechemites is aproof of this. Jacob protested against that barbarous act. Oursoul is our honour; by its powers we are distinguished from, andraised above, the beasts that perish. We ought, from our hearts,to abhor all bloody and mischievous men. Cursed be their anger.Jacob does not curse their persons, but their lusts. I willdivide them. The sentence as it respects Levi was turned into ablessing. This tribe performed an acceptable service in theirzeal against the worshippers of the golden calf, #Ex 32|. Beingset apart to God as priests, they were in that characterscattered through the nation of Israel. 8-12 Judah's name signifies praise. God was praised for him,chap. #29:35|, praised by him, and praised in him; therefore hisbrethren shall praise him. Judah should be a strong andcourageous tribe. Judah is compared, not to a lion raging andranging, but to a lion enjoying the satisfaction of his powerand success, without creating vexation to others; this is to betruly great. Judah should be the royal tribe, the tribe fromwhich Messiah the Prince should come. Shiloh, that promised Seedin whom the earth should be blessed, "that peaceable andprosperous One," or "Saviour," he shall come of Judah. Thusdying Jacob at a great distance saw Christ's day, and it was hiscomfort and support on his death-bed. Till Christ's coming,Judah possessed authority, but after his crucifixion this wasshortened, and according to what Christ foretold, Jerusalem wasdestroyed, and all the poor harassed remnant of Jews wereconfounded together. Much which is here said concerning Judah,is to be applied to our Lord Jesus. In him there is plenty ofall which is nourishing and refreshing to the soul, and whichmaintains and cheers the Divine life in it. He is the true Vine;wine is the appointed symbol of his blood, which is drinkindeed, as shed for sinners, and applied in faith; and all theblessings of his gospel are wine and milk, without money andwithout price, to which every thirsty soul is welcome. #Isa55:1|. 13-18 Concerning Zebulun: if prophecy says, Zebulun shall be ahaven of ships, be sure Providence will so plant him. Godappoints the bounds of our habitation. It is our wisdom and dutyto accommodate ourselves to our lot, and to improve it; ifZebulun dwell at the heaven of the sea, let him be for a havenof ships. Concerning Issachar: he saw that the land waspleasant, yielding not only pleasant prospects, but pleasantfruits to recompense his toils. Let us, with an eye of faith,see the heavenly rest to be good, and that land of promise to bepleasant; this will make our present services easy. Dan should,by art, and policy, and surprise, gain advantages against hisenemies, like a serpent biting the heel of the traveller. Jacob,almost spent, and ready to faint, relieves himself with thosewords, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord!" The salvationhe waited for was Christ, the promised Seed; now that he wasgoing to be gathered to his people, he breathes after Him towhom the gathering of the people shall be. He declared plainlythat he sought heaven, the better country, #Heb 11:13,14|. Nowhe is going to enjoy the salvation, he comforts himself that hehad waited for the salvation. Christ, as our way to heaven, isto be waited on; and heaven, as our rest in Christ, is to bewaited for. It is the comfort of a dying saint thus to havewaited for the salvation of the Lord; for then he shall havewhat he has been waiting for. 19-21 Concerning Gad, Jacob alludes to his name, whichsignifies a troop, and foresees the character of that tribe. Thecause of God and his people, though for a time it may seem to bebaffled and run down, will be victorious at last. It representsthe Christian's conflict. Grace in the soul is often foiled inits conflicts; troops of corruption overcome it, but the causeis God's, and grace will in the end come off conqueror, yea,more than conqueror, #Ro 8:37|. Asher should be a rich tribe.His inheritance bordered upon Carmel, which was fruitful to aproverb. Naphtali, is a hind let loose. We may consider it as adescription of the character of this tribe. Unlike the laboriousox and ass; desirous of ease and liberty; active, but more notedfor quick despatch than steady labour and perseverance. Like thesuppliant who, with goodly words, craves mercy. Let not those ofdifferent tempers and gifts censure or envy one another. 22-27 The blessing of Joseph is very full. What Jacob says ofhim, is history as well as prophecy. Jacob reminds him of thedifficulties and fiery darts of temptations he had formerlystruggled through. His faith did not fail, but through histrials he bore all his burdens with firmness, and did not doanything unbecoming. All our strength for resisting temptations,and bearing afflictions, comes from God; his grace issufficient. Joseph became the shepherd of Israel, to take careof his father and family; also the stone of Israel, theirfoundation and strong support. In this, as in many other things,Joseph was a remarkable type of the Good Shepherd, and triedCorner Stone of the whole church of God. Blessings are promisedto Joseph's posterity, typical of the vast and everlastingblessings which come upon the spiritual seed of Christ. Jacobblessed all his sons, but especially Joseph, "who was separatedfrom his brethren." Not only separated in Egypt, but, possessingeminent dignity, and more devoted to God. Of Benjamin it issaid, He shall ravin as a wolf. Jacob was guided in what he saidby the Spirit of prophecy, and not by natural affection; else hewould have spoken with more tenderness of his beloved sonBenjamin. Concerning him he only foresees and foretells, thathis posterity should be a warlike tribe, strong and daring, andthat they should enrich themselves with the spoils of theirenemies; that they should be active. Blessed Paul was of thistribe, #Ro 11:1; Php 3:5|; he, in the morning of his day,devoured the prey as a persecutor, but in the evening dividedthe spoils as a preacher; he shared the blessings of Judah'sLion, and assisted in his victories. 28-33 Jacob blessed every one according to the blessings God inafter-times intended to bestow upon them. He spoke about hisburial-place, from a principle of faith in the promise of God,that Canaan should be the inheritance of his seed in due time.When he had finished both his blessing and his charge, and sohad finished his testimony, he addressed himself to his dyingwork. He gathered up his feet into the bed, not only as onepatiently submitting to the stroke, but as one cheerfullycomposing himself to rest, now that he was weary. He freely gaveup his spirit into the hand of God, the Father of spirits. IfGod's people be our people, death will gather us to them. Underthe care of the Shepherd of Israel, we shall lack nothing forbody or soul. We shall remain unmoved until our work isfinished; then, breathing out our souls into His hands for whosesalvation we have waited, we shall depart in peace, and leave ablessing for our children after us.
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