Do you ever come to the last few pages of a book and feel sorry that it is going to end? I have this feeling with Genesis (even though I know Exodus is also an incredible book).
Jacob is on his death bed and has gathered his sons around him. He is going to prophesy over each son. I think we are going to linger a bit over the various words spoken and I want to share some of the teachings I have had on this chapter. Besides research, I also learned things from Pastor Don, Beth Moore, Jon Courson and Chuck Missler teachings, and my dictionaries, etc.
Beth Moore points out in her study, The Patriarchs that the prophecies spoken over the sons were near prophecies and for the distant future. She had asked us in the study to look at the blessings given and pointed out that some blessings were “anti-blessings” not seemingly good things. and on page 233 she says, “Toward the beginning of the lesson I promised we’d consider how “anti-blessings” like those given to Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, could be labeled “blessings.” Since Waltke introduced the term to us, we’ll let him explain: ‘In terms of the nation’s destiny these anti-blessings are a blessing. By demoting Reuben for his turbulence and uncontrolled sex drive, Jacob saves Israel from reckless leadership. Likewise, by cursing the cruelty of Simeon and Levi, he restricts their cruel rashness from dominating.” We might call these blessings of restriction.”
p. 233 “In the Old Testament, God could also sanctify a line and change its course. The tribe of Levi was ultimately set apart as priests or assistants to the priests in the worship system God ordained after the Exodus.”
p. 234 “The fourth and final element is the long-term effect of the sons’ actions and their subsequent blessings. Each tribe was somehow marked by its ancestor. An undeniable theme in Genesis is the long-term effects of actions, both positive and negative.
By now you know about God switching between the names of Jacob and Israel, listen to how he addresses the assembled sons, verse 2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.”
REUBEN verse 3 Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. (Can you imagine how puffed up Reuben must be at this point, he is the first-born and was probably anticipating the double portion. Can you imagine his shock at the following comments of his father) verse 4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it–He went up to my couch. (I imagine his ego deflated faster than a popped balloon).
After Rachel died, Reuben went into his father’s concubines and defiled Bilhah. I wonder if he thought that he had fooled his father, but here is proof that our sins will find us out. Because of that foolish action on his part, he lost his father’s respect, the double portion, and he will not excel (in numbers of offspring). 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel–he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s–the sons of Reuben are then listed.
It does seem to be rather mixed up, Reuben does not inherit the double portion, Joseph does, but the genealogy of the kings of Israel come from the line of Judah. By giving way to his carnal nature and pride, Reuben lost his birthright. He truly did not excel, in all of his sons there would emerge no judges, no kings, and no prophets.
Numbers 32 talks about how Reuben, Gad and 1/2 of Manassah refused to cross the Jordan. Instead they chose to stay where they were to tend to their cattle. They were told that they had to help the other tribes conquer the promised land, but they could stay on the other side of the Jordan. In Joshua 13, Reuben was given the land of Aroer, and their border was the bank of the Jordan. Reuben had the southernmost portion of the land, which meant that whenever the enemies came up to attack Israel, his land was the first attacked. Ironically, he had chosen this place to protect his family from harm.
Moses also prophesied over the 12 tribes and in Deuteronomy 33:6 Let Reuben live and not die, nor let his men be few.
There were two census counts taken: Numbers 1:21 gives the number of Reuben’s tribe to be
SIMEON and LEVI verses 5-7 Simeon and Levi are brothers, instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.
So far the tribes are listed in the natural order of birth. Simeon and Levi were the ones who concocted that plot when Dinah was raped, where they had Shechem males circumcise themselves and while they were hurting killed them. These two were known for cruelty.
Did you know that Genesis was written by Moses, and Moses was from the tribe of Levi, so he is writing derogatory passages about his own tribe?
Many of the Rabbis of old think that Simeon was the ringleader for what happened to Joseph. Simeon was the one that Joseph kept bound in Egypt awaiting the return of his brothers with Benjamin. He was the second son of Jacob by Leah.
Little is heard about Simeon after King Asa, but there is a door in the end times’ temple with Simeon’s name on it. When the lots were cast to divide the land, Simeon got a portion of the land allocated to Judah.
LEVI, ends up with 48 cities, not territories. They are a priesthood. In Exodus 32:27-28 Moses asks for assistance to get rid of idolatry, and Levi volunteers, slaughtering 3,000 rebellious Hebrew males. It is this that changed their lot in life, for they became the priesthood. They turned God’s wrath away from the people and won an everlasting priesthood. Levi shows God’s grace in action.Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah.
God will tell them “I am your inheritance.” They depended on God for their sustenance. Parts of the offerings brought to the temple were theirs, and they were responsible for moving the temple and presenting the peoples’ sacrifices to God.
JUDAH was the most important tribe, from Judah will emerge David, Solomon, and Jesus.
Genesis 49:8-12 Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.
This was a strange mystery for Judah was not the first born, and the right to the firstborn went to Joseph, so why would all of his father’s children bow down to Judah. They won’t understand it until King David and we all know that Shiloh is Jesus. 1 Chronicles 5:2 yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s. Daniel 9 predicts the coming of the Messiah. Michal 5:2 talks about how the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.
Moses in Deuteronomy 33:7 says this about Judah, And this he said of Judah, “Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people; Let his hands be sufficient for him, and may You be a help against his enemies.
There was a prediction that the scepter would not depart from Judah until the Messiah came. According to Josephus the priests and Levites were tearing their clothes and mourning 12 A.D. because the Romans took away the right of capital punishment from the Israelites – in their eyes that meant that the scepter had departed from them. What they did not know is that at that time in a temple a certain 12 year old boy was debating with the Priests and Scribes with great knowledge, while his parents searched for him. That boy was Jesus, and the scepter had departed because the Messiah had come. John 18:31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.”
We know that the choice vine is Jesus, and that Jesus on Palm Sunday came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (remember this prophesy was several thousand years before Jesus was born).
Isaiah 63 and Revelation 14 talks about reaping the vines of the earth, and Revelation 19 when Jesus came on the white horse, verse 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God.
Jesus tells us in John 15, that He is the vine and we are the branches, we are to abide IN Him.
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
ZEBULUN Zebulun, along with Reuben was on Mount Ebal with the men pronouncing the curses if the Israelites disobeyed God. Zebulun was the 10th son born to Jacob – so I don’t know why he is placed here, out of order. Only think I can think of is that Jesus was raised in Napthali and Zebulun for a period of time.
Genesis 48:13 Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; He shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon.
Deuteronomy 33:18 And of Zebulun he (Moses) said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out.”
When the tribes were settling in the Promised Land, Zebulun went beyond the call of duty to provide support, and in the song of Deborah (Judges 5, 14, 18) Zebulun is mentioned twice.
There were no clear boundaries between Issachar and Zebulun. Issachar was in tents. Judges 5:18Zebulun is a people who jeopardized their lives to the point of death, Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield. Zebulun was very loyal to David and was commercially effective. Matthew 4:13-15 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.” 11 out of 12 of Jesus’ disciples were Galileans. It was a place where Jesus sought refuge at times.
Genesis 49:14-15 Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens; he saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; he bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves.
Deuteronomy 33:18-19 “…and Issachar in your tents! They shall call the peoples to the mountain: there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; for they shall partake of the abundance of the seas and of treasures hidden in the sand.
Issachar was a bit lazy. He would end up as a servant in forced labor. Issachar’s tribe was large, only Dan and Judah had more. 1 Chronicles 7:5 Now their brethren among all the families of Issachar were mighty men of valor, listed by their genealogies, eighty-seven thousand in all.
Issachar was the ninth son born to Jacob by Leah. Issachar followed the tribe of Judah on the journey from Mount Sinai to Canaan. The land allocated to Issachar was hard to geographically locate, it was south of the Sea of Galilee and went to the valley of Jezreel.
Not much is known about Issachar
I am going to save the rest until tomorrow, starting with Dan, the one who again will be slighted in the prophesy. And after all brothers are accounted for, I learned something so cool from a teaching by Chuck Missler, that I can’t wait to share with you (but I will she says with a smile).
Hope this blesses you. When I first read the Bible, I had a hard time keeping names straight, so sometimes I like to try and remember who is who, so that I can see more connections. I still shake my head when I think how years ago, before I was saved, I thought those who studied the Bible were peculiar – it had only 1900 or so pages, and how many times could you read the same book? Sigh, thank God wisdom came, thank God for God.
Tomorrow my oldest is going to meet with a representative of a college, just testing the waters. He has to come to some sort of decision about where he wants to go. I am praying God’s guidance because I haven’t a clue.
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