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's

charge respecting his burial, His death. (28-33)

1,2 All Jacob's sons were living. His calling them together was

a precept for them to unite in love, not to mingle with the

Egyptians; and foretold that they should not be separated, as

Abraham's sons and Isaac's were, but should all make one people.

We are not to consider this address as the expression of private

feelings of affection, resentment, or partiality; but as the

language of the Holy Ghost, declaring the purpose of God

respecting the character, circumstances, and situation of the

tribes which descended from the sons of Jacob, and which may be

traced in their histories.
3-7 Reuben was the first-born; but by gross sin, he forfeited

the birthright. The character of Reuben is, that he was unstable

as water. Men do not thrive, because they do not fix. Reuben's

sin left a lasting infamy upon his family. Let us never do evil,

then we need not fear being told of it. Simeon and Levi were

passionate and revengeful. The murder of the Shechemites is a

proof of this. Jacob protested against that barbarous act. Our

soul is our honour; by its powers we are distinguished from, and

raised 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 will

divide them. The sentence as it respects Levi was turned into a

blessing. This tribe performed an acceptable service in their

zeal against the worshippers of the golden calf, #Ex 32|. Being

set apart to God as priests, they were in that character

scattered 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 his

brethren shall praise him. Judah should be a strong and

courageous tribe. Judah is compared, not to a lion raging and

ranging, but to a lion enjoying the satisfaction of his power

and success, without creating vexation to others; this is to be

truly great. Judah should be the royal tribe, the tribe from

which Messiah the Prince should come. Shiloh, that promised Seed

in whom the earth should be blessed, "that peaceable and

prosperous One," or "Saviour," he shall come of Judah. Thus

dying Jacob at a great distance saw Christ's day, and it was his

comfort and support on his death-bed. Till Christ's coming,

Judah possessed authority, but after his crucifixion this was

shortened, and according to what Christ foretold, Jerusalem was

destroyed, and all the poor harassed remnant of Jews were

confounded together. Much which is here said concerning Judah,

is to be applied to our Lord Jesus. In him there is plenty of

all which is nourishing and refreshing to the soul, and which

maintains and cheers the Divine life in it. He is the true Vine;

wine is the appointed symbol of his blood, which is drink

indeed, as shed for sinners, and applied in faith; and all the

blessings of his gospel are wine and milk, without money and

without price, to which every thirsty soul is welcome. #Isa

55:1|.
13-18 Concerning Zebulun: if prophecy says, Zebulun shall be a

haven of ships, be sure Providence will so plant him. God

appoints the bounds of our habitation. It is our wisdom and duty

to accommodate ourselves to our lot, and to improve it; if

Zebulun dwell at the heaven of the sea, let him be for a haven

of ships. Concerning Issachar: he saw that the land was

pleasant, yielding not only pleasant prospects, but pleasant

fruits to recompense his toils. Let us, with an eye of faith,

see the heavenly rest to be good, and that land of promise to be

pleasant; this will make our present services easy. Dan should,

by art, and policy, and surprise, gain advantages against his

enemies, like a serpent biting the heel of the traveller. Jacob,

almost spent, and ready to faint, relieves himself with those

words, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord!" The salvation

he waited for was Christ, the promised Seed; now that he was

going to be gathered to his people, he breathes after Him to

whom the gathering of the people shall be. He declared plainly

that he sought heaven, the better country, #Heb 11:13,14|. Now

he is going to enjoy the salvation, he comforts himself that he

had waited for the salvation. Christ, as our way to heaven, is

to be waited on; and heaven, as our rest in Christ, is to be

waited for. It is the comfort of a dying saint thus to have

waited for the salvation of the Lord; for then he shall have

what he has been waiting for.
19-21 Concerning Gad, Jacob alludes to his name, which

signifies a troop, and foresees the character of that tribe. The

cause of God and his people, though for a time it may seem to be

baffled and run down, will be victorious at last. It represents

the Christian's conflict. Grace in the soul is often foiled in

its conflicts; troops of corruption overcome it, but the cause

is 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 a

proverb. Naphtali, is a hind let loose. We may consider it as a

description of the character of this tribe. Unlike the laborious

ox and ass; desirous of ease and liberty; active, but more noted

for quick despatch than steady labour and perseverance. Like the

suppliant who, with goodly words, craves mercy. Let not those of

different tempers and gifts censure or envy one another.
22-27 The blessing of Joseph is very full. What Jacob says of

him, is history as well as prophecy. Jacob reminds him of the

difficulties and fiery darts of temptations he had formerly

struggled through. His faith did not fail, but through his

trials he bore all his burdens with firmness, and did not do

anything unbecoming. All our strength for resisting temptations,

and bearing afflictions, comes from God; his grace is

sufficient. Joseph became the shepherd of Israel, to take care

of his father and family; also the stone of Israel, their

foundation and strong support. In this, as in many other things,

Joseph was a remarkable type of the Good Shepherd, and tried

Corner Stone of the whole church of God. Blessings are promised

to Joseph's posterity, typical of the vast and everlasting

blessings which come upon the spiritual seed of Christ. Jacob

blessed all his sons, but especially Joseph, "who was separated

from his brethren." Not only separated in Egypt, but, possessing

eminent dignity, and more devoted to God. Of Benjamin it is

said, He shall ravin as a wolf. Jacob was guided in what he said

by the Spirit of prophecy, and not by natural affection; else he

would have spoken with more tenderness of his beloved son

Benjamin. Concerning him he only foresees and foretells, that

his posterity should be a warlike tribe, strong and daring, and

that they should enrich themselves with the spoils of their

enemies; that they should be active. Blessed Paul was of this

tribe, #Ro 11:1; Php 3:5|; he, in the morning of his day,

devoured the prey as a persecutor, but in the evening divided

the spoils as a preacher; he shared the blessings of Judah's

Lion, and assisted in his victories.
28-33 Jacob blessed every one according to the blessings God in

after-times intended to bestow upon them. He spoke about his

burial-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 so

had finished his testimony, he addressed himself to his dying

work. He gathered up his feet into the bed, not only as one

patiently submitting to the stroke, but as one cheerfully

composing himself to rest, now that he was weary. He freely gave

up his spirit into the hand of God, the Father of spirits. If

God's people be our people, death will gather us to them. Under

the care of the Shepherd of Israel, we shall lack nothing for

body or soul. We shall remain unmoved until our work is

finished; then, breathing out our souls into His hands for whose

salvation we have waited, we shall depart in peace, and leave a

blessing for our children after us.
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