Jacob Blesses His Sons (v. 1-27)
Jacob gathers his sons so he can tell them what is going to happen to them.
The section title says he blesses them, but in the actual text he says he's giving them a prophecy. And it certainly seems more prophetic then blessing to me. Strange.
v2 "Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father."
We have the same strange name thing here. He calls himself Jacob and Israel within a few words. I just don't get it.
From Guzik's commentary (note: all commentary today will be from Guzik)
At the very beginning of the blessing, Jacob realized he was both Jacob and Israel, and his sons are sons of each. This was a place of spiritual maturity, realizing both what God made him (Israel) and what he had to battle against (Jacob)I guess that explanation makes some bit of sense, I certainly don't know what else this could be. Still, seems weird as hell to me.
Reuben: Preeminent in dignity and power, unstable as water. He is the firstborn but not preeminent because he defiled his father's bed.
He has a ton of power but he's unstable? Awesome. Also, what does it mean that he defiled his father's bed?
Reuben’s immorality with his father’s concubine Bilhah (the mother of his brothers Dan and Naphtali) is recorded in Genesis 35:22.Whoa, I don't remember that at all. I apparently didn't notice it when I read that chapter, although I don't really fault myself too much. I went back to the text, and this is just stuck in there in the middle of some other boring stuff. Nothing is made of it at the time.
Simeon and Levi: They are very violent. They have killed men in anger and hamstrung oxen willfully. Their anger is fierce and their wrath is cruel, they shall be separated and scattered in Israel.
Holy crap! Great job picking the chosen people God.
The second-born son Simeon and the third-born son Levi received the same “blessing” for the same evil deed. They were instruments of cruelty when they wiped out all the men of Shechem in retaliation for the rape of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34:25-29)Ahh yes, that little incident
The sins of our past can come back and haunt us. Even when forgiven, they may carry consequences we must face for a lifetime.I would hope so, if that sin includes slaughtering and looting an entire city.
The real problem with Simeon and Levi was their anger (in their anger they slew a man). Their anger was sin because it was rooted in self-willNo, I'm sorry but they didn't kill a man, they killed all of the men in a city, took the women and children and looted the place.
Judah: Your brothers shall praise you because your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. He's like a lion. The scepter shall not depart from him, obedient people will come to him.
So he'll kill his enemies and wind up in power. Great.
Judah wasn’t a completely exemplary character. He suggested a profit motive in getting rid of Joseph (Genesis 37:26). He did not deal faithfully with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Genesis 38:26), and he had sex with her as a prostitute (Genesis 38:18). But he did shine when he interceded and offered himself as a substitute for Joseph (Genesis 44:18-34). Overall, this blessing is an example of the riches of God’s grace.So he did some really bad stuff but also some good stuff. I guess that's pretty much the pinnacle here.
Zebulun: He will found a port city bordering Sidon
That's pretty good. Go Zebulun!
The tribe of Zebulun was noted for its faithfulness to David, supplying the largest number of soldiers to David’s army of any single tribe: of Zebulun there were fifty thousand who went out to battle, expert in war with all weapons of war, stouthearted men who could keep ranks (1 Chronicles 12:33).Apparently being a haven for ships means that he can move men around for the wars that will come up. Not so much a port city but a Navy. Awesome.
Issachar: He was strong but lazy and became a slave
I am not sure how well I understood this one, I'm going to just copy the text here, do you think my summary is accurate?
v14-15: Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor.
“The meaning seems to be that Issachar was strong, but docile and lazy. He would enjoy the good land assigned him but would not strive for it. Therefore, eventually he would be pressed into servitude and the mere bearing of burdens for his masters.” (Leupold)Looks like I got this one right. Go me!
Dan: He shall be a serpent who bites the horse's heels so the rider falls backward
But Dan was a troublesome tribe. They introduced idolatry into Israel (Judges 18:30). Jeroboam set up one of his idolatrous golden calves in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-30) and later Dan became a center of idol worship in Israel (Amos 8:14).
Some think the serpent by the way refers to the idea that the Antichrist comes from the tribe of Dan (based on Daniel 11:37 and Jeremiah 8:16).So he was trouble, good enough for me I guess.
Gad: He will be raided, but he will raid at their heels.
So is he raiding them back?
The tribe of Gad supplied many fine troops for David (1 Chronicles 12:14)More fighting. That seems to be all that is important to these people
Asher: will produce rich food and royal delicacies
That sounds good
In Deuteronomy 33:24, Moses again took up this prophecy regarding Asher: Asher is most blessed of sons; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.This one I thought seemed pretty clear, but I find the commentary completely baffling.
Naphtali: He is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns. There's a footnote that this could also be translated to mean "he gives beautiful words" or "he bears fawns of the fold"
So he either has beautiful offspring or creates good art?
Naphtali’s land was in a key portion near the Sea of Galilee, the region where Jesus did much of His teaching and ministry. It is fittingly said of him that he gives goodly words.Joseph: He'll be attacked but will not waver, he will stand strong and be blessed by God
Well, I guess there was a little bit of blessing here, although Jacob didn't exactly bless Joseph, he just said God would in the future.
Benjamin: He is a ravenous wolf, devouring the prey and dividing the spoils
At least he shares.
These guys seem pretty violent on the whole, they are the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel? I've asked this before, but why are these guys God's chosen people?
Jacob's Death and Burial (v. 28-33)
He told his sons he wanted to be buried next to where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah were buried. Then he died.