-Jacob summons his boys for a word of prophecy and blessing over them before he passes away into eternity.
-Reuben, the first born or his father’s strength, is uncontrolled as water (what a great illustrative depiction) and will not have preeminence because he went up to his father’s bed and defiled it with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). *Application* Sin always has consequences that take us down a road of sorrow and pain further than we could ever imagine. The sin that may not seem that great at the time and void of problems always finds its day of reckoning. When we sin, we need to confess and repent and beg the LORD for grace by the blood of Jesus. He will forgive, but sin always has consequences. Never forget that.
-Simeon and Levi are grouped together as violent men who deserve no right to council since in their anger they slew (murdered) men. They are rebuked for their self-will, a theme that will run throughout Scripture. Their anger is cursed for it is cruel and they will be dispersed in Israel. Simeon is one of the ten lost tribes and Levi becomes the priestly class that has no land inheritance.
-Judah is praised by his father and his brothers and is given preeminence. He is the lion’s whelp (unweaned cub) who is courageous and victorious in battle. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, which is fulfilled with David and his promise of an eternal Kingdom by the LORD (2 Samuel 7:11-13). Shiloh (The One to whom it belongs) refers to the Messiah, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, son of David from the tribe of Judah. “He shall have the obedience of the peoples” refers to the eternal Kingdom of our LORD and will be fully realized in the millennium (Revelation 20:4). There are predictions for the time of Messiah’s coming in this section. The tying of the donkey’s colt to a choice vine means that Messiah will come in a time of prosperity (Roman period and time of Herod the Great). A donkey is free to eat the grapes off of the vine that is choice, which indicates that there is plenty and no need to worry about sustenance. The washing of his garments in wine could refer to the blood that was shed for the remission of mankind’s sins by the Savior (Matthew 26:27-28).
-Zebulun will dwell at the seashore and be a haven for ships. Trade will be his forte.
-Issachar is a strong donkey in a pleasant land bearing burdens and becoming a slave at forced labor.
-Dan will be a judge of his people (this occurs in the north of the land of promise) as one of the tribes. He though is a serpent, or sneaky-deceitful one, that causes problems and strife.
-There is an interesting interlude after Dan’s prophecy referring to the salvation that the LORD will bring. This salvation must be waited for in patience. *Application* It seems the chosen of God are always dealing with a waiting aspect where there is hope and expectation amidst trouble. It is here where faith is evident.
-Gad will be raided and will himself be a raider.
-Asher will have rich food and yield royal dainties in the land he will inherit.
-Naphtali is a doe let loose, which refers to his being let loose from the west to the south in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 33:23). He gives beautiful words.
-Joseph is the fruitful son and indeed gets a double portion. He was attacked and harassed, but his strength prevailed and he was agile (flexible). From his father Jacob comes the Shepherd and Stone of Israel. Joseph resembles this One who is to come. *Application* There are many similarities between the Messiah and His work compared to the life of Joseph: 1. Their fathers loved them dearly, 2. They shepherded their father’s sheep, 3. They were sent by their father to their brothers, 4. They were hated by their brothers, 5. Others plotted to harm them, 6. They were tempted, 7. They were taken to Egypt, 8. Robes were taken from them, 9. They were sold for a price, 10. They were bound in chains, 11. They were falsely accused, 12. They were placed with two identifiable prisoners, one was saved the other was lost, 13. Both were 30 years old when their public ministry began, 14. They were both exalted after suffering, 15. They forgave those who wronged them, 16. They saved their nation and world, 17. What people did to hurt them God used for good.
-Joseph is blessed by the LORD and will have blessings of the womb. He receives the blessing of his father beyond his ancestors with the everlasting hills of his homeland and he is distinguished among his brothers.
-Benjamin is declared a ravenous wolf that devours the prey and divides the spoil.
-Jacob now implores them one last time to bury him back in Canaan where his fathers were buried. He draws his feet up into his bed and breathes his last breath on earth and was gathered to his people. *Application* Israel’s story is now completed. God took this deceiver and transformed him into the namesake of a great people that would change the course of human history. God was with him and turned his sorrow into joy. God’s plan was alive and active as it still is today.
Verse to memorize: Genesis 49:10