Read Genesis 49:1-50:14
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Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.
2 “Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel your father.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,
pre-eminent in dignity and pre-eminent in power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not have pre-eminence,
because you went up to your father’s bed;
then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;
weapons of violence are their swords.
6 Let my soul come not into their council;
O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
and in their wilfulness they hamstrung oxen.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
and scatter them in Israel.
8 “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.
13 “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;
he shall become a haven for ships,
and his border shall be at Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
crouching between the sheepfolds.
15 He saw that a resting-place was good,
and that the land was pleasant,
so he bowed his shoulder to bear,
and became a servant at forced labour.
16 “Dan shall judge his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
a viper by the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that his rider falls backwards.
18 I wait for your salvation, O Lord.
19 “Raiders shall raid Gad,
but he shall raid at their heels.
20 “Asher’s food shall be rich,
and he shall yield royal delicacies.
21 “Naphtali is a doe let loose
that bears beautiful fawns.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
a fruitful bough by a spring;
his branches run over the wall.
23 The archers bitterly attacked him,
shot at him, and harassed him severely,
24 yet his bow remained unmoved;
his arms were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 by the God of your father who will help you,
by the Almighty who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that crouches beneath,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents,
up to the bounties of the everlasting hills.
May they be on the head of Joseph,
and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
in the morning devouring the prey
and at evening dividing the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him. 29 Then he commanded them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury 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 at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as 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 field and the cave that is in it were bought from the Hittites.” 33 When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
50 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him for seventy days.
4 And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favour in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, 5 My father made me swear, saying, ‘I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.’ Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.” 6 And Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear.” 7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father for seven days. 11 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 12 Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.
Thoughts to consider
In this scene of Genesis Jacob is nearing death and gathers his sons around him as a prophet to reveal to them their futures. While Jacob’s words are technically a death bed blessing, they do also include cursing for some of the sons. Some of the most intriguing prophecies are given to Reuben, Simeon and Levi, Judah, and Joseph. Jacob begins by cursing Reuben for having sex with his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22), and Simeon and Levi for being violent men (e.g. Genesis 34). He then appoints Judah as the son of the promise as Judah has made the journey from godless to godly man in much the same fashion as his father had. Jacob prophesies a coming king from the line of Judah in Genesis 49:10 which included David (2 Samuel 7) and was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is the King of Kings. After speaking, Jacob then instructed his sons to bury him next to his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. He requested to be buried in the Promised Land as his final act of faith trusting that one day God would allow his family to return just as He had promised. Joseph and his brothers buried their father according to his instructions and returned to Egypt. The centrepiece of Jacob’s blessing at the end of the book of beginnings is the promise of a king coming to rule all “nations” in the end from the line of Judah (Genesis 49:10). This great theme of the kingship of Jesus builds with the coming of Judah’s descendant king David who was given a promise in 2 Samuel 7 that an even greater king would be coming in fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis. The rest of the Bible contributes a great deal to our understanding of who this promised coming king is. According to Matthew 1:1-3, 2:6; Luke 3:30-33; Hebrews 7:14; and Revelation 5:5 Jesus is the promised descendant of Judah. And, according to Numbers 24:17; Hebrews 1:8; and Revelation 19:15-16 Jesus Christ is the King of Kings who is coming again to rule all nations of the earth in fulfillment of Genesis 49:10.
- Spend some time thinking about how God weaves his purposes into the whole of the bible through sinful men and women. Think about how He is also in control of your life, weaving His purposes too. Ask Him to use you and commit yourself to being available to Him and obedient to His will.
- Throughout the New Testament Jesus is repeatedly called the firstborn (e.g. Luke 2:7, 2:23; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 1:18; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 1:5). As you have seen the concept of the honours of the firstborn male in God’s covenant with us what does it mean that Jesus is the firstborn?
Father, I thank you that even though I am a sinful person, you redeemed me and have declared me righteous because of Jesus who took my place and paid for my sin. I ask you to use me now to accomplish all that you have planned for me to do. I want to do your will Lord, help me to be submitted to your will today. I ask all of this in Jesus’ name, amen.