Old Testament Commentary ~ Genesis 49

by Don R. Hender

Jacob's Last Days Prophetical Blessing Concerning His Sons

Editorial, Commentary and Explanation by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
           CHAPTER 49             

Jacob blesses his sons and their seed—Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are chastened—Judah shall bear rule until Shiloh (Christ) comes—Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well—His braches (the Nephites and Lamanites) to run over the wall—
The Shepherd and Stone of Israel (Christ) shall bless Joseph temporally and spiritually—Jacob chooses to be buried with his fathers in Canaan—He yields up the ghost and is gathered to his people.

 1 AND aJacob called unto his bsonsa, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the clast days.
 2  Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your afather.

Later Days Blessing 
Perhaps a better perspective is to consider these blessing as being upon the 'later' posterity of the sons of Jacob, on up and into the lasts days.
 1a Jacob called unto his sons When Jacob calls the rest of his sons to bless them before his death, Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh have already been blessed with the birthright covenant blessings of the firstborn. This perspective should be maintained. Many scholars ignore this and attempt to make Judah the recipient of that blessing after the fact, but he was not. Though Judah's bloodline parented the house of David, leagally and lawfully Christ was an Ephrathite, descendant of Mahlon and his father Elimelech.  1a 2 Ne. 4:12: Alma 8:22;
      Alma 45:15;
   b TG Patriarch
   b TG Last Days
 2a TG Family, Patriarchal

 3 ¶ aReuben, thou art my firstborna, my might, and the bbeginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
 4  Unstable as watera, thou shalt not excelb; because thou wentest up to thy father's abed; then bdefiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

Reuben's Sin had been with Bilhah, Rachel handmaid and Jacob's concubine of Rachel. Thus Reuben's act was an attack against the house of Rachel.

 3a my firstborn Reuben was Jacob's first born son, the son of Leah. But this only references physical birth as Reuben would not inherit the covenant of the firstborn.
 4a Unstable as water Though Jacob's stong son and not of a murderous nature, Reuben still suffered from a weak and unstable character.
 4b thou shalt not excel This was expected. Reuben would not obtain the birthright blessing of the firstborn as ancestor to the Messiah and the multitude of nations.
 3a Gen. 29:32: Deut. 33:6;
      1 Chr. 5:1; 2 Ne. 1;29 (28-29);
      D&C 68:17; Abr. 1:3
   b Deut. 21:17
 4a TG Sexual Immorality
   b TG Sensuality

Reuben was the best of Jacob's four oldest sons. Despite his sin, Reuben stood up for Joseph and would not sin unto murder against him and sought to return Joseph to his father Jacob. Thus Reuben preserved the life of Joseph (See Genesis 37 commentary).

 5 ¶ aSimeon and bLevia are brethren; instruments of ccruelty are in their habitations.
 6  O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou aunited: for in their banger they cslew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
.aCursed be their banger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was ccruel: I will divide thema in Jacob, and scatter thema in Israel.
  5a Simeon and Levi Simeon and Levi were just mean. All one had to do was to 'stir' them up and ask, 'What shall be do about this dreamer Joseph?' And they would have replied, 'Kill him.'
  7a divide them ... scatter them The posterity of Simeon and Levi would be distributed and not recognized as a people. Simeon became sectioned into Israel with some in Judah and Levi by the priesthood postion was 'scattered' throughout all Israel.
 5a Gen. 29:33-34: Gen. 34:25-31;
      D&C 128:24
   b Deut. 33:8-11; D&C 13:1
   c TG Cruelty
 6a Eph. 5:11: Alma 5:57;
   b TG Retribution
   c Gen. 34:26 (25-31);
 7a TG Curse
   b Gen. 34:26 (25-31); TG Anger
   c TG Cruelty

.8 ¶ aJudaha, thou art he whom thy brethren shall bpraiseb: thy hand shall be in the cneck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall dbow down before thee.
.9  Judah is a alion's whelpa: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a blion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
.10  The sceptrea shall not depart from aJudah, nor a blawgiver from between his feet, until cShilohb come; and unto him [the Messiah] shall the dgathering of the people be**.
.11  Binding his [the Messiah] foal to the vine, and his [the Messiah] ass's colt unto the choice avine; he [the Messiah] bwashed his [the Messiah] garments in wine, and his [the Messiah] clothes in the cblood of grapes:
 12  His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Fact & Presumption 
The fact of the matter is that there is no direct statement contained in Judah's prophetic blessing which states that 'Shiloh' the 'Messiah' was to be a descendant of Judah. The Lord by the voice of Jacob never directly states this to be the fact of the matter. Scholars have only 'presumed' that this blessing indicates that 'Shiloh' is of Judah. But that is not what the blessing states. The blessing states that until Shiloh the Messiah comes the sceptre would not depart from Judah. In actual fact, for the sceptre to 'depart' from Judah, it would have to leave the tribe of Judah. Thus the statement of prophetic blessing tends more to indicate that Shiloh the Messiah would not be of Judah, else the sceptre would still have to be said to remain in Judah if Shiloh the Messiah was also of Judah.

**Unto Him [Messiah] Shall
the Gathering of the People Be 
 It is unto Jesus Christ that the gathering in the last days in to be. What is of interest is that it is the tribe of Ephraim to whom the fulfillment of the promises of the blessing of the nations of the earth is to be fulfilled. That is Ephraim is whom that is in charge of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters of the earth. It is Ephraim who is to take that gospel unto the nations and gather out Israel. So just how is it reconciled that the gather is unto Christ and it is Ephraim who gathers them?
In the JST Genesis 48:10, it states of Joseph, the father of Ephraim and Manasseh, 'Thou hast prevailed, and thy father's house hath bowed down unto thee, even as it was shown unto thee, before thou wast sold into Egypt by the hands of thy brethren; wherefore thy brethren shall bow down unto thee, from generation to generation, unto the fruit of thy loins for ever;' Now we are also taught that we ought not bow down and worship any one but the Lord our God.
Then there is Isaiah chapter 11 which speaks of the Savior and of one who is in the hands of Christ. The answers to Isaian 11 are considered to be given in D&C 113. But depending upon one's interpretaion of that explanation and what may be drawn from it, there has been a bit of a confusion. Perhaps best said here is that there is a very strong tie between Ephraim seed and the Lord Jesus Christ. And here I will leave it for now with a reference to a prepared text entitled Messiah ben David ~ Messiah ben Joseph.
  8a Judah He was Jacob's fourth son by Leah. Some scholars teach Judah had moved into the positon of Jacob's 'firstborn' due to the sins of Reuben, Simeon and Levi. They teach that God impressed Jacob in blessing Judah with the position of ancestry to the Messiah under the covenant of the firstborn. This is unsound doctrine as Judah was as sinful and guilty as his older brethren.

Judah would have considered himself to be in line to the birthright with his older three brothers out of the running. But this only gave Judah the motive to rid himself of his other contender, Joseph, the firstborn 'dreamer of dreams' of mother Rachel. All Judah needed now was the opportunity to present itself. Being a natural leader and spokesman, Judah plotted with his brethren the murder of Joseph and thus end the prophetic dreams of Joseph becoming the birthright son of Jacob instead of himself. There was as much murder in the heart of Judah to get gain by killing his brother as had been in the heart of Cain in killing Abel. So when Reuben stepped in and preserved Joseph's life, it was Judah who understood Reuben's motive to return Joseph to his father Jacob. In Reuben's absense, having lost the iniative to Reuben of killing Joseph, Judah, now contrived how to still rid himself of Joseph the dreamer by influencing his brethren to sell his younger brother into slavery, thereby satisfying Reuben's condition but still for all intensive purposes meeting his own.

Further, Judah was just as guilty of sexual sin as Reuben had been. Judah sought out the company of a whore, how often we do not know. Because it was Tamar that we read about is no excuse for the sinful behavior of Judah. Judah was wholely unworthy to be the covenant bearer of the firstborn birthright. It was only the wisdom of God in Jacob that understood the situation. Judah of he house of Leah would always contend against Joseph and Ephraim of the house of Rachel. Judah would never accept a Messiah or 'Lawgiver' out of Ephraim's line. Judah's natural ability to influence his brethren made it impossible to leave Leah's posterity completely out of any consideration. Thus God in his wisdom had a plan whereby Judah could claim the Messiah and still have the Messiah be legally and lawfully of the seed of the firstborn in Israel, Ephraim.

Deep down, the learned of Judah understood this, but on the surface it allowed Leah's posterity to save face. Ironically, when the Son of David did come, knowing well that the House of David was of a mixed blood from Ruth and of legal descent of Ephraim though of the blood of Judah, they did charged the Lord by stating, 'Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan.' Thus they recjected whom they had always claimed as their own and still on the surface so continue to claim the Messiah to be of Judah via David.
  8b Brethren shall praise Judah means praise thus this phrase is a play on Judah's name more than the fact that Judah was worthy of his brother's praise. Judah was a natural leader and had much influence over his brethern. In this sense, his brethern did look to Judah for leadership and in so doing did 'raise' and 'praise' him up. And it was not Judah but Judah's posterity which was being spoken of in the last days.
 9a Lion's whelp Or "young lion." He would grow to greatness and would be the ancestor of the Messiah re0505.
  10a Sceptre A staff of a king es0501.
  10b Shiloh From the text Bible scholars are able to see that this is the Messiah. The LDS references in the right column present a possible source and meaning to the name. And Joseph Smith, in the inspired translation of Genesis chapter 50, sets out that Shiloh is indeed the name of the Savior.

 8a TG Israel, Judah, People of
   b Gen. 29:35
   c 2 Sam. 22:41
   d Gen. 27:29: 1 Ne. 7:20;
      1 Ne. 21:23
 9a Deut. 33:22: Rev. 5:5;
   b Num. 24:9: 3 Ne. 20:16 (15-16);
      Morm. 5:24;
10a TG Israel, Judah, People of
    b Ps. 60:7; D&C 38:22;
       D&C 45:59;
    c The Heb. word shiloh may be a
       a short form of asher-lo, which
       can be rendered "whose right it
       JST Gen. 50:24; Ezek. 21:27;
       TG Jesus Christ, Messiah;
       TG Jesus Christ, Prophecies abt
    d 2 Ne. 10:7 (7-8);
       2 Ne. 25:17 (15-18);
       TG Israel, Mission of;
11a John 15:1 (1-6); 1 Ne. 15:15;
    b D&C 133:35
    c Isa. 63:2; D&C 76:107;
       D&C 133:48 (46-50)

Until Shiloh Come 
Perhaps it would be better stated from the perspective of the latter days as 'Until Shiloh Comes Again' for we stand after that 'First Coming' when the throne of David, of Judah, was ended in its rightful heir Jesus Christ when he came to earth in that mortal state granted by his birth of woman, Mary. During that first coming, Christ was then rejected by the Jews and crucified by them. Thus marking the change in course in direct opposition to when king David did select Judah and Jerusalem over Israel despite that fact wherein Israel did have the greater right in David. And thus by that rejection of Israel and selecting of Judah, David did complete the Jew's and associated Israel's rebellion against Jehovah as King and Shiloh. And not until Shiloh, Jesus in Shiloh, does come again as the rightful King of Israel and their acceptance of him in Ephraim who is Israel and associated Israel with him, will it be shown that Israel has once again chosen and selected Jehovah, Jesus, to be their God and King. It is the process of the turning away from and the returning unto the Lord which proceeds through time and the events of time throught out the history of the scattering and gathering of Israel. Today that 'gathering' is underway as in Ephraim the Lord is once again gathering Israel unto Shiloh, unto him to whom it rightfully belongs. And then He will stand as that beloved David, that King of Heaven and Earth and of His People, Jeruslem, Zion, Shiloh and Israel.
 13 ¶ aZebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon. -  13a Gen. 30:20: Deut. 33:25-18-19;
      Josh. 19:10-16

 14 ¶ aIssachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
 15  And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
  14a Issachar  14a Gen. 30:18: Deut. 33:18-19;

 16 ¶ aDan shall bjudge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
 17  Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
 18  I have awaited for thy salvation, O LORD.
  16a Dan See on jos1947.  16a Gen. 33:22
     b Deut. 30:6
 18a Ps. 25:5; 1 Ne. 21:23;
       D&C 98:2; D&C 133:45

 19  aGad, a btroop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. -  19a Gen. 33:20-21:
       1 Chr. 5:26 (18, 26)
    b Gen. 30:11

 20  Out of aAsher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. -  20a Gen. 30:13; Deut. 33:24-25;

.21  aNaphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

  The Hebrew for "gives" here is nathan which may also mean "to bring forth."  So we may see Napthali's giving of good words as a deer bringing them forth as it would give birth to fawns.
  The doe that gives goodly words may represent the Scriptures that present God's words. Those who love God recognize His Word as authoritative and the only sure foundation for any serious admonition 2ti0316, is0820, re1103a.
 21a Gen. 30:8: Gen. 33:23

.22 ¶ aJoseph is a fruitful bbough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose cbranches drun over the wall:
 23  The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
.24  But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from athence is the bshepherd, the cstone of Israel:)
.25  Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the aAlmighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the bwomb:
 26  The ablessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the butmost bound of the everlasting chills: they shall be on the head of dJoseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

Joseph's Land 
The process by which the nations of the earth would receive the blessings of the covenant through the seed of Abraham would fall upon the responsibility of the sons of Joseph, primarily upon Ephraim. Thus a land was prepared for Joseph's seed to possess from which the blessing of the kingdom of God could roll forth from and fill the earth. As seen by Ether and recorded by Moroni (See Ether 13:8 (6, 8, 10)), this promised land of Joseph was America. It is the land prepared for the restoration from which Zion is rolling forth into all the world.
 22a Bough [tree branch] In the promised land, Joseph was as planted in and by the land of Jacob's well. Yet this well of water and the wall thereof was the ocean which the seed of Joseph would cross or run over in order to obtain (See Ether 13:8 (6, 8, 10)). Lehi's family of Manasseh and Ishmael's family of Ephraim accompanying; as well as Mulek, who was of the house of David, and therefore also legally and rightfully of the house of Joseph (See Messiah ben David ~ Messiah ben Joseph).
  23a Archers Here we might see Joseph's brothers who hated him and would have killed him. But to a greater extent, it is any and all who have so afflicted Joseph down through the centuries and actually had a hand in the scattering of Joseph/Ephraim into all the world.
  24a Bow ... strength ... made strong by the hands of the might God of Jacob Joseph's seed was scattered and sifted unto the ends of the earth until it was in America that the hand and strength of the Lord did preserve to Joseph's seed a great nation founded upon liberty and the belief is Jesus Christ, the God of that land (See Ether 13:8 (6, 8, 10)). God of Jacob has reference to the fact that Jacob's God was Jehovah with whom Jacob struggled with in order to prevail with the Lord to obtain the covenant blessings (see Gen. 32:24), which he had passed on to Joseph and his seed in the blessings recorded in Gen. 48.
  24b (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel) This is Jacob's blessing upon the head of Joseph. Jacob is not referencing himself, or any other but Joseph, when he states that 'from thence', that is from Joseph, is the shepard, the stone of Israel' to come forth. The Shepard and Stone of Israel is the Messiah, Jesus Christ (See Messiah ben David ~ Messiah ben Joseph).
 22a 2 Ne. 3:4 (2-5):
     b TG Vineyard of the Lord
     c 1 Ne. 15:12 (12, 16);
        1 Ne. 19:24; 2 Ne. 3:5 (4-5);
        Jacob 2:25; Alma 26:36
        TG Book of Mormon
     d TG Israel, Scattering of
 24a IE It is from the linage of
        Jacob that the Messiah comes         but this references directly
        to Joseph as part of Joseph's
        blessing that Christ is of him

     b TG Jesus Christ, Good Shphrd
        TG Shepherds
     c D&C 50:44;
        TG Jesus Christ, Prophecies abt
        TG Rock
 25a TG God, Power of
     b TG Birth Control
 26a Gen. 48:9; Abr. 2:9
     b TG Lands of Inheritance
        Ether 13:8 (6, 8, 10)
     c Deut. 33:15; 2 Ne. 12:2-3
        D&C 49:25: D&C 109:61
        D&C 133:31 (26-34)
     d TG Israel, Joseph People of

 27 ¶ aBenjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. -  27a Gen. 42:4: Gen. 44:29;
        Deut. 33:12; Josh. 18:11-28

 28 ¶ All these are the atwelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and bblessed them; every one according to his cblessing he blessed them.
 29  And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my apeople: bbury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
 30  In the cave that is in the field of aMachpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of bEphron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.
 31  There they aburied Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
 32  The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
 33  And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the aghosta, and was bgathered unto his people.
  31a - ge2309.
  33a yielded up the ghost That this mortal was the tabernacle of the spirit was well understood. 'Giving up the ghost' is a statement which refers to the separation of the body and spirit at death.
 28a TG Israel, Twelve Tribes of
     b Gen. 33:1-25
     c TG Israel, Blessings of
 29a Alma 5:24;
     b Gen. 47:29; Gen. 50:13
 30a Gen. 23:9 (9, 19): Gen. 25:9
     b Gen. 23:16 (16-17)
 31a Gen. 25:10
 33a Jacob 7:20-21; Hel. 14:21;
        TG Spirits, Disembodied
     b TG Family, Eternal

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