Tag Archives: Genesis 27

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 48: Mixed-Up Blessings…

My study today took me through Genesis 48. In this chapter Joseph is summoned to see his father Jacob, because he is ill and presumably on his deathbed. Joseph takes his sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him, and when they arrive Jacob sits up and speaks to them. Jacob tells Joseph of the promise God had made to him a long time ago – God had said “I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.” (v. 4). Jacob tells Joseph that his 2 sons will share in the inheritance and in this blessing from God just as Joseph’s other brothers will.  Then, Jacob proceeded to bless Joseph’s sons, but not as in the manner Joseph would have expected. Joseph placed his sons before Jacob so that his firstborn, Manasseh, was on Jacob’s right, and Ephraim was on his left. But Jacob crossed his arms while he blessed them, placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and his left on Manasseh’s. This displeased Joseph, but Jacob tells him “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” (v. 19). Then Jacob tells Joseph that he is about to die, but that God will take care of him and allow him to return to the land of Canaan.

My study (Precept Upon Precept) had me read this chapter, then took me on a Biblical field trip on walking with God (as Jacob mentions his forefathers did in verse 15). I will return to this topic of walking with God tomorrow, but for today I want to look at the blessing that Jacob bestows on Joseph’s sons.

My first observation from this chapter is that, when Joseph is summoned to Jacob’s bed when he is ill, Joseph must know that he is going to bless him and his sons. The reason I say this is because, from what I can tell, Jacob has not met Joseph’s sons before this point. Jacob acts like this is the first time he has seen them – “When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, ‘Who are these?’ ” (v. 8). This seems odd to me, because the text tells us that Jacob spent 17 years in Egypt before he died (see Genesis 47:28), and that seems like a long time for him to live there without meeting his grandsons, who were born before he moved to Egypt (see Genesis 41:50-52). Of course, Jacob’s vision was failing him, so it is possible that he just didn’t recognize them, but I really don’t think this is the case.  So why would Joseph take his sons to meet their grandfather now, but not before? First, Joseph obviously knows that there are some social divisions in Egypt that might cause problems if he were to have too close of a relationship with his family. In chapter 46, Joseph explains to them that shepherds are detestable to Egyptians, and in chapter 47, he tells Pharaoh that his family will be living in Goshen, which is a ways away from the center of Egyptian leadership and a majority of the population. Joseph, having a highly public and respected position, perhaps could not risk getting too close to his family, or having his sons get too close them. Another reason Joseph may have known that his sons would be blessed by Jacob in this meeting was that it was possibly a deathbed tradition. Jacob’s father, Isaac, had blessed his sons while on his deathbed (see Genesis 27), so perhaps this was just something that Joseph expected.

My next observation is that, when Jacob went to bless Manasseh and Ephraim, he crossed his arms and placed his right hand on the younger grandson.  Joseph had attempted to put his sons in their right place, placing the firstborn on the right side of Jacob where his right hand could touch him during the blessing, and placing the younger son on Jacob’s left. Jacob saw where they were, and crossed his arms so that his right hand would touch Ephraim during the blessing. This obviously disturbed Joseph – the right hand must have held more blessing power or something. But Jacob reassures Joseph that he knows what he is doing. This story reminds me that God makes choices based on his own holiness and righteousness, and his own knowledge that supersedes time and human understanding. As Matthew Henry put it in his commentary over this chapter

Jacob acted neither by mistake, nor from a partial affection to one more than the other; but from a spirit of prophecy, and by the Divine counsel. God, in bestowing blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him.

So Henry suggests that God, and not just Jacob, chose Ephraim to be the greater of the 2 brothers. To Joseph and Manasseh this may have seemed unfair, but I try to remember that we, as humans, usually aren’t wise enough or powerful enough to understand why He makes the choices He makes.  Romans 11:33 says “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” God is way bigger, wiser, and more powerful than we can understand – if He were small enough for us to understand, He wouldn’t be big enough to worship. I hope to remember this when I consider questioning God during the times that I don’t understand what is going on.

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Genesis 36: More than meets the eye…

Genesis 36 is one of those chapters that is not easy to read. It contains a lot of genealogy, which is never simple to read through, but I believe that we can learn a lot about God in these genealogies. My study today was a good example of that.

The chapter begins by stating that it is going to give the “account” of Esau (also known as Edom). It lists Esau’s wives, Adah, Basemath, and Oholibamah, and his sons and grandsons as well. It also lists the “sons of Seir the Horite,” – I’m not sure at this point if these were related to Esau or not. The chapter ends with a listing of the rulers of Edom over time.

I didn’t particularly notice anything right off that grabbed my interest, but as I was thinking about writing this post I went online looking for some graphics of Esau’s family tree (or perhaps even better, his father Isaac’s family tree so to include Jacob’s family, too). I came across a site that discusses Esau’s family tree, and it mentions that there are actually 2 accounts of Esau’s wives (something I had forgotten about): In Genesis 26:34 we read “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.” And in Genesis 28:8 we read “Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.” So this lists Esau’s wives as:

  1. Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and
  2. Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite, later followed by
  3. Mahalath sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael

Then, in Genesis 36:2, it says “Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite- also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.” So this lists Esau’s wives as:

  1. Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite and
  2. Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite, later followed by
  3. Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth

This list leaves out Judith completely, and seems to mix up which wife was the daughter of which person. So, we either have contradictory accounts, 2 separate lists that don’t take everything into account, or different names for the same women. The author of the site I read this from (see here) tends to think that a combination of the latter two has the best possibility of being right. He says that, taking into consideration the meanings of their names (see the site for a description), Esau most likely had 4 wives:

  1. Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and
  2. Adah also known as Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite, and
  3. Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite (Horite in Gen. 38), later followed by
  4. Mahalath also known as Basemath sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael.

Another seeming contradiction in this chapter is that of the reasoning of Esau moving to the region of Seir. In Genesis 32, it tells of how Jacob sends messengers to Esau in Seir to let him know that he is coming home. This would mean that Esau is already in Seir, presumably having moved there “in rejection of his parents’ wishes.” In Genesis 36:6-8 it says

“Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.”

The site I mentioned before concludes that the reasoning for this difference is that the account from Genesis 36 probably has Edomite origins – meaning that it came from the region that Esau ended up taking over. It doesn’t mention anything about the family problems Esau causes, and places him in a much more favorable light.

Beyond just noticing differences in this account with earlier ones, my study pointed out that there is usually a lot we can learn from genealogies, if nothing more than seeing where a character that is spoken of later came from. For instance, my study pointed out how Amalek (mentioned in v. 12) is a grandson of Esau. He ends up becoming the leader of a people-group (the Amalekites) who have much conflict with the Isrealites – they followed them as they were wearily coming out of Egypt and killed off the stragglers from the group (see Deuteronomy 25:17-19), they were living in a part of the land God had promised to Jacob’s descendants (see Numbers 13:25-30), and they fought the Israelites once they got there (see Exodus 17:8-16). To top it off, although God commanded that the Amalekites be wiped off the face of the earth and gave Israel’s later king, Saul, the orders to do it, he did not, which caused Israel a lot more grief (see 1 Samuel 15:1-20). So did anyone see this conflict between Jacob’s descendants and Esau’s descendants coming? You bet! In Genesis 27, Isaac blesses Jacob by saying “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”  He later tells Esau that “You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.” Turns out, the Amalekites are a pretty good example of what had already been predicted by Isaac when he blessed his sons. You’ve gotta love God’s word!

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