About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Blesses His Sons (ch. 49:1 - 28)
Chapter 49 is all about
Jacob blessing his sons before he dies, but these are more than simple
blessings. These are
prophecies, foretelling some of the events that would take place in the
individual sons lineage.
Certain Bible teachers
put more emphasis on this chapter than others.
Some skim over it very quickly, partly because they don't
understand the history and the meaning to what is said.
Others spend lots of time on the chapter trying to understand and
figure out its prophetic significance.
I do believe that this
chapter is very prophetic and has great historical and prophetic
significance, but more than I can understand at this time.
For this reason I will not go into great detail in each of the
prophecies given in this chapter.
Verse 1 clearly states
that Jacob understood what he was about to say was prophetic.
He asked his sons to gather around so he could tell them what
would happen to them "in the days to come."
We must take note here
that the NIV translators decided to use the phrase "days to
come". The JKV
translators used the term "last days'.
I can't tell you why the NIV translators used the words they did,
but from my understanding, the KJV is a better translation for this
verse. The Hebrew word
that the KJV translates "last" from is accurate.
The Hebrew word means, "last or end".
Therefore, I think these prophecies have lots to do with the end
of this age, as well as the history of Israel up to the end of this age,
but how these prophecies will, or are being fulfilled is hard for me to
The term "last days'
is used in two ways in the Bible. In
one sense of the word the last days began at the day of Pentecost, yet
in another sense of the word it means the days, or time, just before the
end of this age when Jesus returns to earth.
In verse 2 we see that
Jacob tells his sons "to listen to Israel" their father, as they gather around him.
Notice in verse 1 we see Jacob's name as Jacob, while in verse2
we see his name as Israel. In every other place in
the Bible when there has been a name change, once the name has change,
the old name isn't used. For
example, Abram to Abraham. Once
Abram became Abraham, you never see the name Abram again. This is not
the case with Jacob. Many
chapters back, God changed Jacob's name to
Here in verse
one we see Jacob, and in verse 2 we see Israel. I'd suggest that this may
be significant in this case. Jacob,
the father gathers his sons to speak to them, but the sons will hear
from Israel, not just their father, but the man of God who will speak
In verse 3 we have the
first prophecy and it is for Rueben, the oldest son.
We will note that the prophecies begin with the oldest and
proceed to go to the youngest, that is for a while, until there is an
interruption in the pattern.
So Rueben gets the first
prophetic word. Remember,
Rueben is the oldest, and he was the one who slept with his father
Jacob's concubine, for this reason he lost the birthright of the
first-born. This means that
he should have inherited the place at the head of the family, but as 1
Chronicles 5:1 to 2 says, he
lost that birthright because of his indiscretion with Jacob's concubine.
The sons of Joseph took Rueben's place.
We see their blessings in the last chapter.
There is another thing to
consider here. We need to
distinguish between the birthright and the lineage.
Joseph's sons got the birthright.
They were the head of Israel. That being said, the
lineage through which the Messiah would come was through Judah.
Jacob says that Rueben
was the "first sign of his strength".
This simply means that Rueben was born when Jacob was young and
The text also says that
Rueben "excelled in honour and power".
That was the case, at least that was the case before his
indiscretion with his father's concubine.
Verse 4 tells us that
Rueben would be like turbulent waters and would not excel any longer.
This was the case. No
kings, judges, or anyone of importance came from Reuben, and I assume
never will in the future.
The NIV uses the word
"turbulent" in this verse.
Other translations use words like "unstable".
For this reason, some Bible teachers suggest that this is an
idiom to suggest that Rueben, like water in a stream, will dry up.
Verse 5 begins the next
prophecy. It is actually
directed towards two sons, Simeon and Levi.
Simeon is the second oldest, while Levi is the third oldest.
Jacob says that "their swords are weapons of violence."
You might remember that it was these two sons that killed all the
men of a certain town because of one of the men from the town raped
their sister. That is
probably why these two men are lump together here. Jacob is referring to
this event, and possibly more that we don't know of.
In verse 6 Jacobs says,
"let me not enter their council, let me not join in their
context tells us that the word "me" refers to Jacob.
Jacob did not want to associate with these two men.
Whether there is any prophetic significance to these words or
not, I do not know. There
must be more to understanding these words than I presently know.
Verse 7 tells us that
because of the anger of these two men, they would be scattered
Verse 8 begins the
prophecy for Judah. The name
It is important to know
that the lineage of Judah
produces that Messiah. Jesus
was born in the lineage of Judah, and in this sense of the word, all of
Another thing to note is
king David also came from the lineage of Judah. It is interesting to note
that king David was a man of praise, both in music and song.
Verse 8 goes on to say
that "your hand will be on the neck of your enemies'.
This, as well as all the other prophecies in this chapter saw
some fulfillment in Old Testament times.
But beyond that, there is still other prophetic significance to
this chapter that is hard at times to comprehend, but maybe not so with
The last phrase in verse
8 states that
Verse 9 calls Judah
a "lion's cub". One
of Jesus' titles is called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah". Most likely this is
where that term came from.
Verse 10 is one often
quoted verse. By far it is
the most well known verse from this passage.
Note the word
"scepter" in verse 10. A
scepter is a rod, and when in connection with a king was used as a
symbol of authority. It was
usually highly decorated with gold and silver, or whatever kind of stone
was precious at the time or in the civilization where it was used.
It could be long or short, wide or thin.
The KJV in verse 10 reads
as, "the scepter will not depart from
Note how the NIV
translates this verse. They
don't even use the word "
So what does this all
mean. This is my suggestion.
First of all, this passage does speak of the Messiah.
That's pretty well accepted.
The scepter of authority belongs to
When the one finally
comes to whom the authority really belongs to, all nations will obey
Him. At the end of this age,
Jesus will return, He will rule, and all nations will obey Him.
Verses 11 and 12 clearly
speak of Jesus. Here it is,
way back in Jacob's day, and we have a prophecy of Jesus that is clearly
recognizable. The text says
that he "will tether his donkey to the vine, his colt to the choice
branch." I believe this
is clearly speaking of Jesus riding into
Concerning Jesus riding
The last half of verse 11
says that he will wash his clothes in wine, and his robe in the blood of
grapes." Wine in the
Bible is associated with the death of Jesus, In particularly, wine
symbolized blood, mainly because of the colour, but also because of the
richness of wine. We see in
Isaiah 63 the blood stained robe of Jesus as seen on the cross.
In Revelation 19 we still see the blood stained robe of Jesus
when He returns to earth
Verse 12 states that
"his eyes will be darker than wine and his teeth whiter than
milk." I see the dark
eyes as being the dark and piercing eyes of Jesus, that pierce a person,
right to his soul. His teeth
being whiter than milk must speak of righteous judgment that comes forth
from Jesus' mouth.
Now in verse 13 we turn
to the prophecy spoken to Zebulun. Not
much is said about Zebulun other than the portion of the promise land
that he would receive in later history when the tribes were allotted
their portion of
Suddenly at this point we
stop going in order of ages. Zebulun
was the tenth born to Jacob. I
would suggest this change has something to do with
It is interesting to
note, that even though Jesus was born in
Verse 14 begins the
prophecy to Issachar. The
text says that he is a strong or rawboned donkey.
This would be a strong tribe, but some say they were lazy.
Again, as was the case with Zebulun, if this chapter represents a
time line in Israeli history, Issachar is in the time after 70 A.
In verses 16 through 18
we now see the prophecy to Dan. This
is an interesting prophecy because in the twelve tribes in Revelation 7,
Dan is left out. We note in
Genesis 46, in the list of genealogies, next to nothing is said about
Dan's tribe. The same in
Numbers 26 in that list of genealogies.
Many scholars feel that God is blotting out this tribe because of
certain things he did. Dan
is the last to inherit land when the land
In Judges 18 we see and
event the begins a whole series of degeneration of
Notice in Ezekiel 48,
when the land once again is divided in the thousand year rule of Christ,
Dan is the first one that gets some land.
Therefore, he is not totally cut off from God.
God has mercy on Dan in the very end.
Verse 16 says that
through Dan justice would be provided
Verse 17 says that Dan
will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper that bights the heals of
horses that causes them to fall back.
From this, and other passages, many Jews and Christians alike
suggest that the anti-Christ will come out of the tribe of Dan.
The word "serpent" here is taken by some to be a
throw-back to satan who is called a serpent in Genesis 3.
The ultimate expression of a human serpent would be the
anti-christ. If the time line aspect to this chapter is correct, then,
the anti-christ coming out of Dan would fit in nicely at this point.
In verse 18 we see a
pause in these prophecies with just one simple thought.
Jacob says, "I look for your deliverance, O Lord."
What could this mean? Maybe
he was speaking of the deliverance of his own life when his eyes shut in
death for the last time. Or,
maybe he is speaking of
Verse 19 begins the
prophecy to Gad. Gad ended
up on the east side of the
Verse 20 speaks of Asher.
The land in which they were given was in northern parts of Israel
where there was rich land that provided for rich food.
Verse 21 concerns
Naphtali bearing beautiful favors. And
alternative reading for the word "favor" is "words",
as in "beautiful words."
The region where Jesus grew up and spent much of His ministry was
In verse 22 Jacob turns
to Joseph and prophesies to him. Verses
22 to 25 are in past and present tense.
The statements here show what kind of man Joseph has become.
He is a fruitful vine and near a well.
Verse 24 shows us Joseph's strength in military terms.
Note the words
"Shepherd and "Rock" are capitalized in verse 24.
The reason for this is that most scholars believe this refers to
the Messiah, that is, Jesus. It
was the Shepherd and the Rock that brought Joseph to the place where he
presently is. Both the
"Shepherd" and the "Rock" are equated with the
"Mighty One of Jacob". That's
God. Here we see an elusion
to the Deity of Christ. The
word "shepherd" and the word "rock" speak of two
aspects of Jesus' character that will be clearly seen at the end of this
age. He, the Rock will crush
all nations, while, He the Shepherd, will care for His people.
Verse 25 begins the
prophetic significance of these words. There
is one blessing after another pronounced on Joseph, and in many
instances throughout the Bible you will note that Joseph is one of the
most blessed of all the tribes of
In verse 27 we see that
Benjamin becomes a ravenous wolf, devouring everything in sight.
Throughout Israel's Old Testament history you will see that the tribe of Benjamin was
mighty in war. King Saul was
from this tribe, and so was the apostle Paul.
Once again, I do not
pretend to state the full meaning of these prophecies.
I'm not sure many people can.
I do believe that these prophecies have great significance, and
possibly we will understand this as time goes on.
As I've said,
a real way to look at these prophecies might well be as a time
line in Israeli history. Just
as many people see the seven churches of the book of Revelation as a
history of the church, I would not be surprised that these prophecies
are a history of Israel.
Verse 28 simply states
that these words were the blessing that Jacob gave to his sons.
We note that not all of what he told his sons were positive
blessings. So you can't take
the word "blessing" to suggest all that was said was good,
because lots of what was said, although being true, was not all that
nice, but that is the way it has been with the history of Israel.