Tag Archives: 1 Chronicles 5

Genesis 50: God Works for the Good…

In this final chapter of Genesis, my study reminded me of an extremely important principle – the idea that even in the worst of circumstances, God is still at work. The He can bring good out of things even when we can’t see how He could ever do it.

At the end of chapter 49, Jacob had died after giving his blessing to each of his sons. Beginning in chapter 50, it tells of the embalming of Jacob’s body and the preparations made for his burial. Jacob had made his sons promise to take his body and bury it along side his forefathers, Abraham and Isaac. It took a full 40 days for the embalming process, and the whole nation of Egypt mourned for Jacob for 70 days. Then, with Pharaoh’s permission, a large group of people headed toward Canaan in order to bury Jacob. They stopped near the Jordan river, and Joseph held another 7 day period of mourning. Then they buried him “in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field,” and headed back to Egypt.  After their father had died, Joseph’s brothers again realized that Joseph could easily take vengeance on them for the wrong they had done to him, and they feared for their lives. But Joseph reassured them that he truly believed that God had used his troubles for the good of all around him. He said to them “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” (v. 19-21).  Then chapter 50 and the entire book of Genesis closes by telling of the death of Joseph. On his death bed, he reminded his brothers of the promise God had made to give them the land of Canaan, and he made them promise to take his bones back there when they returned. Then Joseph died at 110 years old.

Although there are a lot of great lessons to be learned from this – especially a huge lesson in forgiveness that my own study took me through – the thing that stood out to me was something that I had already been through several chapters before this. Back in chapter 45, when Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers, he had told them “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5). I wrote a post on that day about how Joseph had a better attitude than I would have had – I would have wanted revenge, but Joseph remembered that it was God who had caused everything to happen as it had, and he couldn’t be upset about that. Now in chapter 50, the brothers fear once again that Joseph may take revenge on them, but he reassures them, saying that he would be out of place in taking revenge on them, since “God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.”

I pray for that kind of conviction and for that kind of faith. How awesome is that, that Joseph can see his difficulties as blessings from God? And not just blessings for him, but also for those around him!  It shows wisdom, patience, and a level of self-less-ness that, up to this point, I don’t believe I have seen in another character in Genesis. I praise God for Joseph’s example.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” I know that this verse brings up the whole mess with predestination, and I’m not even going to try and touch that topic! But when I read this verse this morning, I couldn’t help but see Joseph.  Allow me to elaborate:

  • Just as Joseph had said – God had worked what had happened to Joseph into good, into something that accomplished His purpose.
  • I posted a couple of days ago (in a discussion of Jacob’s blessing of all his sons) about how Joseph was a type of Christ – a forerunner who was like Jesus in a lot of ways.
  • In 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 it says “The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph).”

These 3 things are exactly what Romans 8:28 is saying!  So that verse, to me, is a great reminder of the story of Joseph and his legacy – that we will encounter difficult times, but that we can choose to have the right attitude, and that it’s a lot easier if we remember that God can work magic with bad situations, turning them into something good.

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Genesis 49: A closer look at Judah…

My study today did not cover anything new out of Genesis 49, but instead had me look closer at the person of Judah, and more specifically, look at his lineage to David and then to Christ. I am going to try and share a little of what I studied today, but it will be much shorter than yesterday’s post, which is probably a good thing.

Genesis 49:8-12 is a quote from Jacob as he blesses Judah before he dies. As I have written about before, often times these end-of-life blessings are as much prophecies over their son’s lives as they are anything else. We saw this in the case of Isaac blessing Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27).  Jacob proclaims in these verses:

Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

The first part of this says that Judah will be greater than his brothers. This is similar to what Isaac had told Jacob when he blessed him – “Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.” (Genesis 27:29). I think this can be taken one of two ways – either you can see it as a prophecy of what is to come, that Judah and his descendants are foretold to be “lord” over his brothers’ descendants, or you can see this as a proclamation of Jacob giving Judah a title of lordship over his brothers. Either way, it is accurate, since Judah did become a great nation and one of the 2 kingdoms. Jerusalem, the central power of the nation of Israel (and of the later nation of Judah), was located in the kingdom of Judah.  And Judah was the leader among his brothers, respected by both them and their father (even though he was not the firstborn).

The next part of this blessing in Genesis 49 talks about how “the scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his…” I believe this points directly to 2 of Judah’s descendants – David and Jesus. We know through the genealogical records that David was a descendant of Judah. In 1 Chronicles 5:2, it mentions that “…Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him…”.  In Matthew 1, we see the human genealogy of Jesus, and we that both David and Judah are his ancestors. So it can be said that this line from Judah’s blessing is an accurate prophecy – that Judah’s descendants would be rulers. David, of course, was the king appointed over Israel after Saul. Jesus’ reign is a heavenly kingdom, and his rule over the earth is yet to come. In Isaiah 9:6 it prophecies Christ’s birth and rule – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  In verse 7 it says that “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom…” In Jeremiah 33:15 it also prophecies of Jesus’ coming – “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line…”

This “scepter” that is talked about could be either a symbol of leadership, or it could be a symbol of a person who is the lawgiver. My study pointed out that either way, this points directly at Christ. In Revelation 19:15 it says of Jesus – “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” This actually is a quote from the words of David in Psalm 2, when speaking of “the LORD” and “his Anointed One” (v. 2, speaking of Christ), he says “You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery” (v. 9). This lines up perfectly with the idea of Jesus as the lawgiver – as the one who puts the law in place, he is the one with the right to judge all people and all nations – to “dash them to pieces,” if you will.

One final thought that my study didn’t bring up, but that I did mention in yesterday’s post, is about the final line of the blessing. It says “He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch…” I automatically assumed that this meant that at some point, Judah’s power would be transferred to Joseph.  My reasoning behind this is that, just a few lines later, when Jacob is blessing Joseph, he calls Joseph “a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring…” (Genesis 49:22). It also says in Judah’s blessing that he will rule “until he comes to whom it belongs…” My study pointed out that this refers to Joseph – in 1 Chronicles 5:2, it blatantly says “though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph…” This, to me, also points to Christ – Joseph is seen by many as a “type” of Christ, or a figure, example, or pattern. See this page for a list of verses that compare Joseph to Christ. So perhaps Jacob is saying that at some point, Judah will submit to Christ’s authority.  It is interesting to note that Jesus also calls himself a vine in John 15:1.

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Genesis 49: The Blessing of Jacob’s Sons…

In Genesis 49, Jacob calls together his 12 sons and blesses them before his death. He calls each son by name and speaks of their pasts as well as their futures. I thought it would be an interesting study to take each of these sons of Jacob and analyze their blessings, attempting to apply what is said of them by their father to our own lives.

Reuben

Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn son, born to his wife Leah. Leah had been forced on Jacob, and in Genesis 29:31, it specifically states that she was not loved by him.  Because of this, God showed mercy to her by giving her a son, whom she named Reuben and said “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” (Genesis 29:32). My online Bible comments that “Reuben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery ; the name means see, a son.” Later in the text, it mentions that Reuben slept with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah, and Israel (Jacob) heard about it (Genesis 35). This extremely short verse appears as almost an afterthought in Genesis 35, but it ends up playing a huge role in the story as a whole. In chapter 49, when Jacob blesses Reuben he says “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.”  This was Reuben’s blessing in its entirety – so basically, one act of indiscretion (however large it may be) lost Reuben all of his inheritance. Later, in 1 Chronicles 5:1-2, it states that even though Reuben was the firstborn, because of his sin the firstborn rights were given to Joseph. Reuben could no longer even be listed first in the genealogical order. The lesson I take from this is the seriousness with which God sees sin. It’s not just some simple act of indiscretion that can be overlooked whenever we sin – because of His righteousness and holiness, justice must be served when we sin. Unfortunately for Reuben, the concept of grace was still foreign, and he had to live with the consequence.

Simeon & Levi

Simeon and Levi are Reuben’s younger brothers, born to Leah. When Simeon was born, Leah said “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too,” and my commentary says that “Simeon probably means one who hears.” When Levi was born Leah said “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons,” and my commentary states that “Levi sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for attached.” Unfortunately for Leah, none of these 3 sons brought Jacob any closer to becoming attached to her, and Jacob didn’t particularly become attached to any of these sons either. Reuben, of course, was because he defiled his father’s marriage bed, but for Simeon and Levi, it was because of the revenge they enacted on the Shechemites when their ruler raped Dinah, Jacob’s daughter.  Simeon and Levi, with the help of the rest of their brothers, attacked the Shechemites and killed every last male (Genesis 34).  Because of this, Jacob said “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.” (v. 30). Later, during the blessing, Jacob says of them “Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.” This is an interesting statement, because Jacob does not curse the sons for their actions, but he curses their anger. Let’s face it – at least part of us thinks that it’s awesome that Simeon and Levi were passionate enough to serve justice to the Shechemites, regardless of how ruthless they were. I think Jacob may have felt this way too – so, as Matthew Henry puts it, “Jacob does not curse their persons, but their lusts.” An interesting side note – Jacob states in their blessing/curse that he will scatter/disperse them. In Henry’s commentary, he mentions that this sounds like a curse, but that it in fact becomes a blessing for Levi, who’s descendants were spread throughout the tribes of Israel to serve as priests.

Judah

When Judah was born to Leah she said “This time I will praise the LORD,” and the name Judah sounds like the Hebrew word for praise (Genesis 29:35). Judah’s blessing is one of the longest, but Judah’s descendants also play the largest role in the history of the nation of Israel. It is Judah’s descendants who become the rulers of all the tribes of Israel, foretold in the blessing  – “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you…the scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his” (Genesis 49:8,10). Jacob also foretells of the coming of one of Jacob’s descendants who will be greater than all others – “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (v. 10, emphasis added). My commentary says that this part – “to whom it belongs” – means “Or until Shiloh comes ; or until he comes to whom tribute belongs” meaning when one comes who is greater than all others. Jacob also says that Judah will “tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch” – Christ calls himself “the true vine” in John 15:1, and later Jacob calls Joseph “a fruitful vine,” (Genesis 49:22) and Joseph is seen by many as a figure who foreshadows the being of Christ.

Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, & Naphtali

Each of these sons of Jacob receives a foretelling of what their descendants will be like or live through.

  • Zebulun is told he will leave by the sea and become a haven for ships. An interesting side note – one commentary I read said that when Joshua assigned the allotments of land to the tribes of Israel, Zebulun received the region of Galilee along the shore of Lake Tiberias, reaching to the Mediterranean Sea. Zebulun was also an important “haven” in another respect (other than just for ships) – after fleeing King Herod, upon returning from Egypt, Joseph and Mary, with their child Jesus, took refuge in Galilee, the land allotted to Zebulun.
  • Issachar is told that he will enjoy his new land, perhaps to the point that he would live their as a slave rather in order to stay there, rather than fight for it.
  • Dan is told that his tribe will provide justice for the people of Israel. The name Dan means “judge” or “he who vindicates,” but there is no history linking the person of Dan to this prophecy. Samson, the future judge of Israel, does come from this tribe, though (Judges 13).
  • Gad is told that he “will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.” (Genesis 49:19). It’s interesting to note that “Gad was one of the tribes who chose to stay on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead (along with the Reubenites, see Numbers 32), rather than cross the Jordan and be with the other tribes within the promised land. Because of this, they were isolated from the other tribes, and thus, were subject to attacks by border raiders” (see Judges 10:8, Judges 11:4, 1 Chronicles 5:18, and Jeremiah 49:1).
  • Asher is told that his “food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.” (Genesis 49:20). The tribe of Asher is later allotted an area that was prosperous and known for its wheat, olive oil, milk, and butter (all delicacies at that time).
  • Naphtali is called “a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.” Some believe that this is a prophecy of the fact that a later prophetess and judge – Deborah – came from the tribe of Naphtali (see Judges 4). The latter portion of Jacob’s blessing – “…that bears beautiful fawns” – is translated “he giveth goodly words,” which some  believe to be a prophecy of the song of Deborah in Judges 5.

Joseph

Jacob has already blessed Joseph and his 2 sons at an earlier time (see Genesis 48), so in this blessing Jacob refers mainly to Joseph’s past of perseverance and staying strong through adversity. Joseph was a blessing to all those around him – to the Egyptians and to all those around Egypt – “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.” Joseph was imprisoned and persecuted, but he stayed strong – “with bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.  But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber.”  It was because of God that Joseph was able to succeed – “…because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,  because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you…”

Benjamin

Benjamin is told that he “is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.” It is thought that this prophetically refers to the tribe of Benjamin’s fierceness and courage. Historically, this is very accurate. For fierceness, note that Ehud, a judge of Israel mentioned in Judges 3, was a Benjamite. Under the guise of paying tribute, he got close to the king of Moab and plunged a sword into his fat belly. “Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.” (v. 22). Great story!!!  Also, the apostle Paul was a Benjamite, and he is remembered for how he fiercely persecuted the church before his conversion (see Acts 9).  For courage, note that Mordecai and Esther were Benjamites, and few stories in the Bible tell of more courage than that of these two characters (see the book of Esther)

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