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1 And Iacob called vnto his sonnes, and said, Gather your selues together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last dayes.

2 Gather your selues together, and heare ye sonnes of Iacob, and hearken vnto Israel your father.

3 Reuben, thou art my first borne, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellencie of dignitie, and the excellencie of power:

4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excell, because thou wentest vp to thy fathers bed: then defiledst thou it. He went vp to my couche.

5 Simeon and Leui are brethren, instruments of crueltie are in their habitations.

6 O my soule, come not thou into their secret: vnto their assembly mine honour be not thou vnited: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfe will they digged downe a wall.

7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruell: I will diuide them in Iacob, and scatter them in Israel.

8 Iudah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the necke of thine enemies, thy fathers children shall bow downe before thee.

9 Iudah is a Lyons whelpe: from the pray my sonne thou art gone vp: he stouped downe, hee couched as a Lyon, and as an old Lyon: who shall rouse him vp?

10 The scepter shall not depart from Iudah, nor a Law-giuer from betweene his feete, vntill Shiloh come: and vnto him shall the gathering of the people be:

11 Binding his foale vnto the vine, and his asses colt vnto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.

12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milke.

13 Zebulun shall dwell at the hauen of the sea, and hee shall be for an Hauen of ships: and his border shall be vnto Zidon.

14 Issachar is a strong asse, couching downe betweene two burdens.

15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant: and bowed his shoulder to beare, and became a seruant vnto tribute.

16 Dan shall iudge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

17 Dan shalbe a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heeles, so that his rider shall fall backward.

18 I haue waited for thy saluation, O LORD.

19 Gad, a troupe shall ouercome him: but he shall ouercome at the last.

20 Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yeeld royall dainties.

21 Naphtali is a hinde let loose: He giueth goodly words.

22 Ioseph is a fruitfull bough, euen a fruitfull bough by a well, whose branches runne ouer the wall.

23 The archers haue sorely grieued him, and shot at him, and hated him.

24 But his bow abode in strength, and the armes of his hands were made strong, by the hands of the mighty God of Iacob: from thence is the Sheapheard, the stone of Israel,

25 Euen by the God of thy father who shall helpe thee, and by the Almightie, who shall blesse thee with blessings of heauen aboue, blessings of the deepe that lyeth vnder, blessings of the breasts and of the wombe.

26 The blessings of thy father haue preuailed aboue the blessings of my progenitors: vnto the vtmost bound of the euerlasting hils, they shall bee on the head of Ioseph, and on the crowne of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

27 Beniamin shall rauine as a wolfe: In the morning hee shall deuoure the pray, and at night he shall diuide the spoile.

28 All these are the twelue tribes of Israel, and this is it that their father spake vnto them, and blessed them: euery one according to his blessing he blessed them.

29 And hee charged them and said vnto them, I am to bee gathered vnto my people: burie me with my fathers, in the caue that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

30 In the caue that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite, for a possession of a burying place.

31 (There they buried 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 caue that is therein, was from the children of Heth.

33 And when Iacob had made an end of commanding his sonnes, he gathered vp his feete into the bed, and yeelded vp the ghost, and was gathered vnto his people.

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Commentary for Genesis 49

Jacob calls his sons to bless them. (1,2) Reuben, Simeon, Levi. (3-7) Judah. (8-12) Zebulun, Issachar, Dan. (13-18) Gad, Asher, Naphtali. (19-21) Joseph and Benjamin. (22-27) Jacob's charge respecting his burial, His death. (28-33)1,2 All Jacob's sons were living. His calling them together was a precept for them to unite in love, not to mingle with the Egyptians; and foretold that they should not be separated, as Abraham's sons and Isaac's were, but should all make one people. We are not to consider this address as the expression of private feelings of affection, resentment, or partiality; but as the language of the Holy Ghost, declaring the purpose of God respecting the character, circumstances, and situation of the tribes which descended from the sons of Jacob, and which may be traced in their histories.

3-7 Reuben was the first-born; but by gross sin, he forfeited the birthright. The character of Reuben is, that he was unstable as water. Men do not thrive, because they do not fix. Reuben's sin left a lasting infamy upon his family. Let us never do evil, then we need not fear being told of it. Simeon and Levi were passionate and revengeful. The murder of the Shechemites is a proof of this. Jacob protested against that barbarous act. Our soul is our honour; by its powers we are distinguished from, and raised above, the beasts that perish. We ought, from our hearts, to abhor all bloody and mischievous men. Cursed be their anger. Jacob does not curse their persons, but their lusts. I will divide them. The sentence as it respects Levi was turned into a blessing. This tribe performed an acceptable service in their zeal against the worshippers of the golden calf, #Ex 32|. Being set apart to God as priests, they were in that character scattered through the nation of Israel.

8-12 Judah's name signifies praise. God was praised for him, chap. #29:35|, praised by him, and praised in him; therefore his brethren shall praise him. Judah should be a strong and courageous tribe. Judah is compared, not to a lion raging and ranging, but to a lion enjoying the satisfaction of his power and success, without creating vexation to others; this is to be truly great. Judah should be the royal tribe, the tribe from which Messiah the Prince should come. Shiloh, that promised Seed in whom the earth should be blessed, "that peaceable and prosperous One," or "Saviour," he shall come of Judah. Thus dying Jacob at a great distance saw Christ's day, and it was his comfort and support on his death-bed. Till Christ's coming, Judah possessed authority, but after his crucifixion this was shortened, and according to what Christ foretold, Jerusalem was destroyed, and all the poor harassed remnant of Jews were confounded together. Much which is here said concerning Judah, is to be applied to our Lord Jesus. In him there is plenty of all which is nourishing and refreshing to the soul, and which maintains and cheers the Divine life in it. He is the true Vine; wine is the appointed symbol of his blood, which is drink indeed, as shed for sinners, and applied in faith; and all the blessings of his gospel are wine and milk, without money and without price, to which every thirsty soul is welcome. #Isa 55:1|.

13-18 Concerning Zebulun: if prophecy says, Zebulun shall be a haven of ships, be sure Providence will so plant him. God appoints the bounds of our habitation. It is our wisdom and duty to accommodate ourselves to our lot, and to improve it; if Zebulun dwell at the heaven of the sea, let him be for a haven of ships. Concerning Issachar: he saw that the land was pleasant, yielding not only pleasant prospects, but pleasant fruits to recompense his toils. Let us, with an eye of faith, see the heavenly rest to be good, and that land of promise to be pleasant; this will make our present services easy. Dan should, by art, and policy, and surprise, gain advantages against his enemies, like a serpent biting the heel of the traveller. Jacob, almost spent, and ready to faint, relieves himself with those words, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord!" The salvation he waited for was Christ, the promised Seed; now that he was going to be gathered to his people, he breathes after Him to whom the gathering of the people shall be. He declared plainly that he sought heaven, the better country, #Heb 11:13,14|. Now he is going to enjoy the salvation, he comforts himself that he had waited for the salvation. Christ, as our way to heaven, is to be waited on; and heaven, as our rest in Christ, is to be waited for. It is the comfort of a dying saint thus to have waited for the salvation of the Lord; for then he shall have what he has been waiting for.

19-21 Concerning Gad, Jacob alludes to his name, which signifies a troop, and foresees the character of that tribe. The cause of God and his people, though for a time it may seem to be baffled and run down, will be victorious at last. It represents the Christian's conflict. Grace in the soul is often foiled in its conflicts; troops of corruption overcome it, but the cause is God's, and grace will in the end come off conqueror, yea, more than conqueror, #Ro 8:37|. Asher should be a rich tribe. His inheritance bordered upon Carmel, which was fruitful to a proverb. Naphtali, is a hind let loose. We may consider it as a description of the character of this tribe. Unlike the laborious ox and ass; desirous of ease and liberty; active, but more noted for quick despatch than steady labour and perseverance. Like the suppliant who, with goodly words, craves mercy. Let not those of different tempers and gifts censure or envy one another.

22-27 The blessing of Joseph is very full. What Jacob says of him, is history as well as prophecy. Jacob reminds him of the difficulties and fiery darts of temptations he had formerly struggled through. His faith did not fail, but through his trials he bore all his burdens with firmness, and did not do anything unbecoming. All our strength for resisting temptations, and bearing afflictions, comes from God; his grace is sufficient. Joseph became the shepherd of Israel, to take care of his father and family; also the stone of Israel, their foundation and strong support. In this, as in many other things, Joseph was a remarkable type of the Good Shepherd, and tried Corner Stone of the whole church of God. Blessings are promised to Joseph's posterity, typical of the vast and everlasting blessings which come upon the spiritual seed of Christ. Jacob blessed all his sons, but especially Joseph, "who was separated from his brethren." Not only separated in Egypt, but, possessing eminent dignity, and more devoted to God. Of Benjamin it is said, He shall ravin as a wolf. Jacob was guided in what he said by the Spirit of prophecy, and not by natural affection; else he would have spoken with more tenderness of his beloved son Benjamin. Concerning him he only foresees and foretells, that his posterity should be a warlike tribe, strong and daring, and that they should enrich themselves with the spoils of their enemies; that they should be active. Blessed Paul was of this tribe, #Ro 11:1; Php 3:5|; he, in the morning of his day, devoured the prey as a persecutor, but in the evening divided the spoils as a preacher; he shared the blessings of Judah's Lion, and assisted in his victories.

28-33 Jacob blessed every one according to the blessings God in after-times intended to bestow upon them. He spoke about his burial-place, from a principle of faith in the promise of God, that Canaan should be the inheritance of his seed in due time. When he had finished both his blessing and his charge, and so had finished his testimony, he addressed himself to his dying work. He gathered up his feet into the bed, not only as one patiently submitting to the stroke, but as one cheerfully composing himself to rest, now that he was weary. He freely gave up his spirit into the hand of God, the Father of spirits. If God's people be our people, death will gather us to them. Under the care of the Shepherd of Israel, we shall lack nothing for body or soul. We shall remain unmoved until our work is finished; then, breathing out our souls into His hands for whose salvation we have waited, we shall depart in peace, and leave a blessing for our children after us.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Genesis 49

  • Menia Battle
    I have read the Bible but I am re-reading it because I want true understanding and as I am re-reading through with different eyes I am connected and it seems as if I can visualize these things happening. I can get lost in what I am reading. I have to admit, I had to re-read chapter 49 and I still don't have clarity on it's meaning. I am going to read it again and disect every sentence.
  • Bruce
    Jesus is now in Heaven at the right hand of The Father.He sent His Spirit to guide us, give us comfort. He gives His Spirit to all who are Washed by The Blood of The Lamb! Jesus cannot be everywhere at one time He have a Body like us, His Spirit can.The Spirit wil be everywhere all at one Time. He will teach and guide us. We meet to praise Our Lord and to strengthen One another in The Faith. Amen.
  • Irene123
    Thomas Colbert, 9/10/'12 - SHILOH was a place in the O.T. that all the people gathered at to hear from God. Shiloh then was a shadow of Jesus, v. 10. Now in this N.T. age we still gather together at 'Shiloh', the church bldg., to hear from God. It's as simple as that. The ch. bldg. is where Jesus is now. He's everywhere at all times, OMNiSCIENT, yet more so when we gather - Heb. 10:25.
  • BSP
    Jacob cursed Simeon and Levi's anger. This shows he did not approve of their angry and murderous ways in connection with the men of Shechem.
  • Jane
    Dave read Gen 35:22 Reuben slept with Jacob's concubine.
  • great commentary! my friend and I found out heaps for our assignment

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