In continuing his prophecies, Jacob blessed and warned the rest of his eight sons: Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin. The example of Jacob in this lesson teaches us that upon learning of both the struggles and the blessings of one’s descendants, one still ought to wait patiently for the Lord and hope in supplication for the coming of His salvation.
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- “Haven of the sea…for ships” (49:13): A reference of Zebulun’s connection with the sea is also mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy 33:19 where Zebulun and Issachar “shall partake of the abundance of the seas.” There are several interpretations by biblical references to Zebulun’s connection with sea and ships. First, the tribe of Zebulun temporarily dwelled by the sea. While the writer of the book of Joshua described that the inheritance lot of the children of Zebulun was inland (Josh 19:10-16), a biblical reference explained that Zebulun’s dwelling place “by the haven of the sea” was a temporary settlement by the seashore. In Hebrew, the word “dwell” can literally be translated as “live” and it is commonly used in the book of Genesis to refer to an impermanent living in tents (Gen 9:27, 16:12, 25:18). Second, the tribe of Zebulun was employed by the Phoenicians. According to a biblical reference, Near Eastern coastal cities were filled with mixed ethnicities, and thus, the tribe of Zebulun was one of them who took employment in stevedoring, servicing ships and commercing. The book of
2nd Samuel recorded the scattering presence of the Israelites even to Phoenicia, especially the city of Sidon and Tyre (2 Sam 24:6-7). Third, the tribe of Zebulun exploited the wadis which could be used as anchorage sites for small ships. A biblical reference revealed such a practice through the excavations at Abu Hawam on Wadi Kishon, at Tell Qasile on the Yarkon, and at Tell Mor on Wadi Lachish. [ref]
- Sidon (49:13), according to a biblical reference, can refer to the well-known port city in Phoenicia, 25 miles north of Tyre. On the other hand, Sidon can also refer to Phoenicia(ns) in general—a land of an average breadth of “20 miles along the shores of the Mediterranean” and about 120 miles in length,” passing through Canaan. [ref]
- “Issachar is a strong donkey” (49:14): The phrase, in Greek-Septuagint, can literally be translated as “Issachar, he desired goodness.” But in Hebrew, the phrase can literally be translated as “an ass of sojourners”—which reflects Issachar’s condition as a band of slaves or “ass of strong bones”—which reflects Issachar’s strong-limbed might.
- Burdens (49:14) can be translated literally in Hebrew as “saddle-baskets,” “sheepfolds” or “fire-places.”
- “A band of slaves” (49:15): The word “slave” in Hebrew can literally be translated into several meanings. First, it can be translated as “forced,” “compel,” “enslave” or “bondage,” such as in the example of forced laborers (Josh 16:10;
1 Kgs 9:21), of compelling one to serve as a slave (Lev 25:39), of enslaving people (Jer 30:8; Ezek 34:27) or of keeping one in bondage (Ex 6:5; Jer 34:9, 10). Second, it can be translated as “till,” “plow,” “cultivate” or “farmer,” such as in the example of tilling the ground (Gen 2:5, 3:23, 4:2, 12; Jer 27:11; Prov 12:11, 28:19), of plowed valley or land (Deut 21:4), of cultivating the city (Ezek 48:19) or of a farmer (Zech 13:5). Third, it can be translated as “serve,” such as in the example of serving foreign authority (Gen 14:4, 15:13, 14; Ex 1:13, 14, 14:12; Deut 20:11; Judg 3:8, 14; 1 Kgs 4:21; 2 Kgs 18:7, 25:24; Isa 19:23; Jer 27:8, 40:9), of serving one’s brother (Gen 25:23, 27:40; Deut 15:12), of serving the tabernacle of meeting (Num 4:24, 26, 37, 41, 8:15), of serving Baal or other gods (Ex 23:24; Deut 4:19, 28, 11:16, 13:2, 28:14, 30:17; Josh 24:2; Judg 2:11, 3:7; 1 Kgs 16:31, 22:53; 2 Kgs 10:18, 17:12) or of serving the Lord God (Ex 3:12, 4:23, 8:20; Deut 6:13, 10:12, 11:13; Josh 22:5, 24:15; Judg 2:7; 1 Sam 12:14; 2 Sam 15:8; 1 Chr 28:9; Psa 2:11; Zeph 3:9). Furthermore, a biblical reference once recorded a letter from the king of Megiddo to Egypt (circa 1400 B.C.) found at El-Amarna mentioning the men from Yapu (Japhia)—an adjacent territory of Zebulun (Josh 19:12)—were working in the forced labors at Shunem—a part of Issachar’s territory (Josh 19:18). [ref]
- Judge (49:16): The pronunciation of the verb “judge” in Hebrew is “Dan.” In Hebrew, the word “judge” can literally be translated as “plead” (Prov 31:9; Jer 5:28, 30:13), “administer” (Psa 9:8), “dispute” (2 Sam 19:9), “vindicate” (Psa 54:1), “contend” (Ecc 6:10) or “execute” (Jer 21:12).
- “A viper by the path” (49:17): The “viper” mentioned in Gen 49:17 can be referred to a cerastes cornutus, a horned snake marked with white and black sports.
“It has a venom-injecting spine-like scale above each eye” that instantaneously slay its prey on contact. The snake buries itself in the sand, “especially in the hollows made by camel’s hoofs,” and its dietary includes rodents and scavenger birds. Though poisonous, the poison of a cerastes cornutus is not lethal enough to kill a camel or a horse. [ref]
- Rider (49:17): In Hebrew, the word “rider” can also refer to a charioteer as in the example of the book of Exodus 15:21, which refers to the event of the book of Exodus 15:19, and in the example of the book of Jeremiah 51:21.
- Salvation (49:18) can literally be translated into several meanings in Hebrew, such as: “prosperity” (Job 30:15), “help” (2 Sam 10:11;
1 Chr 19:12; Psa 3:2, 22:1), “deliverance” (Isa 26:18; 1 Sam 14:45; Psa 18:50), “victories” (Psa 44:4) and “salvation” of God (Ex 14:13; Deut 32:15; 1 Sam 2:1; 2 Sam 22:51; Job 13:16; Psa 3:8, 14:7, 21:5, 35:9, 88:1, 118:14; Isa 12:2, 49:6; Jon 2:9; Hab 3:8).
- “I have waited for your salvation” (49:18): The phrase in Hebrew can be literally translated as “I have looked eagerly for your salvation.”
- “A troop shall tramp…he shall triumph” (49:19): The pronunciations of the noun “troop” and the verb “tramp” and “triumph” are similar to the root of the word “Gad” in Hebrew. Therefore, Gen 49:19 can literally be translated in Hebrew as “Gad, a marauding band will attack him. But it is he who will attack the hinder-part.” The tribe of Gad, along with the tribe of Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh, was vulnerable from the surrounding enemies—the Bashanites (Deut 3:1, 29:7; Num 21:33), the Ammonites (Judg 11:12-28) and the Syrians (1 Kgs 22:1-3;
2 Kgs 10:32-33).
- Bread (49:20) can literally be translated in Hebrew as “food” in general (Psa 136:25, 146:7; Mal 1:7; Ezek 48:18; Jer 52:6; Isa 3:7; Prov 28:3, 30:22; Job 42:11;
1 Chr 12:40; 2 Kgs 4:8, 25:3; 2 Sam 12:20) or “a feast” (Ecc 10:19).
- Asher (49:20): In Hebrew, the word “Asher” can literally be translated as “the happy one” and the meaning reflected the happiness which Leah, Asher’s mother by Zilpah, felt (Gen 30:13, 35:26).
- “…shall be rich” (49:20): The word “rich” in Hebrew can refer to several meanings. First, it refers to a good, rich land or a good pasture (Num 13:20;
1 Chr 4:40; Neh 9:25; Ezek 34:14). Second, it refers to a plentiful and fat produce of the land (Isa 30:23). Third, it refers to stout, strong men (Judg 3:29; Ezek 34:16). The writer of the book of Joshua mentioned that the inheritance of the Asherites “reached to Mount Carmel westward” (Josh 19:24-31). According to a biblical reference, Asher’s land was famed for its fertility and the coastline of Acco provided many harbors (Judg 5:17) for commercial activities. [ref]
- Dainties (49:20) in Hebrew can be literally translated as “food of the king” or as “delight.” For example, the writer of the book of Proverbs mentions that the corrected son will give delight to his parents’ soul (Prov 29:17). In addition, the mentioned word can be translated as “enjoyment” in Greek-Septuagint.
- Deer (49:21): In Greek-Septuagint, the word can literally be translated as “branch.” The root of the word “deer” in Hebrew is similar to the word “terebinth” as in Gen 35:4; Deut 11:30 or
2 Sam 18:10. Thus, the Greek-Septuagint literally translated it as a branch of a tree.
- “Let loose” (49:21): The expression can be literally translated in Hebrew as “sent out” someone or a raven, a sword, famine, fire (Gen 3:23, 8:8, 27:42; Ex 4:13, 12:33, 24:5; Lev 16:21, 26:25; Num 13:2, 20:14, 32:8; Deut 1:22, 24:3; Josh 2:1, 10:3; Judg 3:18;
1 Sam 5:8, 16:1, 20:31; 2 Sam 12:1, 24:13; 1 Kgs 1:53; 2 Kgs 7:14, 22:18; 1 Chr 12:19; 2 Chr 8:18; Ezra 8:16; Neh 6:2; Est 5:10; Job 22:9; Psa 18:14; Isa 6:8, 48:16; Jer 8:17, 27:15, 35:15; Ezek 23:16; Dan 10:11; Hos 5:13; Hag 1:12; Mal 3:1), “divorce” (Deut 22:19, 29, 24:4; Mal 2:16), “stretch out” or “reach out” or “put out” or “lay” the hand (Gen 19:10, 22:10, 12, 37:22, 48:14; Ex 3:20, 4:4, 9:15, 22:11; Num 5:3; Deut 25:11; Judg 3:21, 5:26, 15:15; 1 Sam 14:27, 24:6, 26:11; 2 Sam 6:6, 24:16; 1 Kgs 13:4; 2 Kgs 6:7; Est 3:6; Job 2:5; Prov 31:19; Jer 1:9), “let go” or “free” or release” (Gen 32:26, 43:14; Ex 4:21, 5:1-2, 7:14, 8:1-2, 29, 9:35, 10:3-4; Lev 16:26; 1 Sam 20:5; 1 Kgs 11:22; Jer 34:9; Ezek 2:9), “shot” arrows (1 Sam 20:20), “cast” or “thrown” into a net (Job 18:8; Isa 16:2 [NKJV–”thrown out of the nest”]), “deliver” offspring (Job 39:3), “sow” strife (Prov 6:14, 19, 16:28), “forsaken” (Isa 27:10), “point” finger (Isa 58:9), “force” (Obad 7).
- “Beautiful words” (49:21): In Hebrew, the expression can literally be translated as “decrees of godliness.”
- Fruitful (49:22): The word “fruitful” here has a similar root in Hebrew with the expression “be fruitful” found in God’s commands and blessings to His people (Gen 1:22, 28, 8:17, 9:1, 7, 17:6, 20, 35:11, 48:4). In addition, the mentioned word’s pronunciation is similar to the pronunciation of the name Ephraim in Hebrew, which literally means “to be fruitful.” The same word “fruitful” also echoes the blessing of God to Joseph when he named Ephraim, his second son, “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Gen 41:52).
- “Joseph is a fruitful bough” (49:22): In Greek-Septuagint, the verse in Gen 49:22 can literally be translated as “Joseph is a son who has become an enviable son. My young son, you conduct yourself toward me.” Alternatively, the verse in Gen 49:22 can literally be translated as “Joseph is a wild colt, in the meadow the wild colt steps.” Thus, the alternative literal translation of Gen 49:22 maintains the animal metaphor throughout Jacob’s prophecy, such as: “Judah is a lion’s whelp” (Gen 49:9), “Issachar is a strong donkey” (Gen 49:14), “Dan shall be a serpent” (Gen 49:17), “Naphtali is a deer” (Gen 49:21).
- “Over the wall” (49:22): Such a similar expression is used in
2 Sam 22:30 and Psa 18:29, “For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall,” which suggested one’s vigor and power.
- Archers (49:23) can literally be translated as “lord of arrows” in Hebrew. In addition, the word can be literally translated as “rulers” or “lords” in the example of the book of Isaiah 16:8 and “[those who] were pledged”—members of assemblies—in the example of the book of Nehemiah 6:18.
- “Bitterly grieved” (49:23): The expression can literally be translated in Hebrew as “provoke” (Ex 23:21), “dealt very bitterly” (Ruth 1:20), “deep distress” (2 Kgs 4:27), “weep bitterly” (Isa 22:4) and “moved with rage” (Dan 8:7, 11:11)
- “The archers…hated him” (49:23): In Hebrew, the word “hate” can be literally translated as “bear a grudge” or “cherish animosity.” Similar examples of the usage can be found in the phrase “Esau hated Jacob” (Gen 27:41) and “perhaps Joseph will hate us” (Gen 50:15).
- “His bow remained in strength” (49:24): While the English and the Hebrew translations focus on the perspective of Joseph whose “bow remained in strength…by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob,” the translation of the Greek-Septuagint focuses on the perspective of the enemies. Thus, the verse in Gen 49:24 in Greek-Septuagint can literally be translated as “and their bows were crushed with strength, and their arms’ sinews were exhausted in strength, on account of the hand of the Sovereign One of Jacob.”
- “The Mighty God of Jacob” (49:24): In the Scriptures, the expression “the Mighty God of Jacob” or “the Mighty God of Israel” is limitedly used to refer to the Lord (Psa 132:2, 5; Isa 1:24, 49:26, 60:16). In addition, the word “mighty” can literally be translated in Hebrew as “strong” (Psa 22:12; Jer 8:16), “stouthearted” (Psa 76:5), “valiant” (Isa 10:13; Jer 46:15), “stubborn-hearted” (Isa 46:12).
- “The Shepherd” (49:24) can literally be translated as “feed” (Gen 30:36, 37:2, 48:15; Song 2:16, 6:3; Hos 12:1), “tend” (Ex 3:1), “keep” (1 Sam 16:11, 17:34) in Hebrew. Apart from being used to symbolize a king over his people (Ezek 34:23, 37:24), the word “shepherd” can also be used to symbolize the Lord God (Isa 40:11).
- “The Stone of Israel” (49:24): In Hebrew, the word “stone” can literally be referred into several meanings. First, it can be referred to as a precious stone or “jewels” (Gen 2:12; Ex 25:7, 28:9, 31:5, 35:9;
2 Sam 12:30; 1 Kgs 10:2, 10-11; Prov 17:8; Isa 54:12; Zech 9:16). Second, it can literally be translated as “weight” (Lev 19:36; Deut 25:13, 15; Prov 11:1, 16:11, 20:10, 23). Third, it can be referred to as a memorial stone, stone of witness or an altar of stone (Deut 27:5; Josh 4:6-7; Josh 24:27). Fourth, it can literally be translated as a “cornerstone” or a stone of foundation (Job 38:6; Isa 28:16; Jer 51:26). Fifth, it can be referred to as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense (Isa 8:14).
- “The Almighty” (49:25): In the Scriptures, the title of God “the Almighty” not only refers to the Lord God who blesses (Gen 28:3, 35:11, 49:25), gives mercy (Gen 43:14), requires holiness (Gen 17:1), builds up (Job 22:23) and excels in judgment (Job 37:23); but also refers to the Lord God who afflicts (Ruth 1:21), pours His “wrath” (Job 21:20), chastens (Job 5:17) and destroys (Isa 13:6; Joel 1:15).
- “The deep” (49:25) can refer to several meanings in Hebrew. First, it refers to the waters of the formless and void earth (Gen 1:2; Prov 8:27; Psa 104:6). Second, it refers to the waters underneath the land or “the fountains of the deep” (Gen 7:11, 8:2; Prov 8:28; Job 38:16; Isa 51:10). Third, it refers to the deep of the seas (Jon 2:6; Ex 15:5; Psa 106:9, 135:6, 148:7). Fourth, it refers to the deep of the rivers (Ezek 31:4). Fifth, it refers to “the depths of the earth” (Psa 71:20).
- “…of the breasts…of the womb” (49:25): In the Scriptures, the word “breast” and “womb” are sometimes paired together to symbolize birth and nursing (Job 3:11-12; Psa 22:9-10; Hos 9:14). In addition, the writer of the book of Song of Solomon symbolizes “breasts” as “clusters of the vine” (Song 7:8) and as “towers” (Song 8:10). Furthermore, in the Old Testament, the Lord once required the children of Israel to consecrate every firstborn male that “opens the “womb” for Him (Ex 13:2, 12, 15, 34:19) before He took the Levites instead (Num 3:12).
- “Have excelled” (49:26): The word “excel” can be translated into several meanings in Hebrew, such as: “prevail” (Gen 7:19, 20;
2 Sam 11:23; Psa 65:3), “strong” (2 Sam 1:23), “mighty” (Job 21:7), “valiant” (Jer 9:3).
- “The blessings of your father” (49:26): In Greek-Septuagint, the sentence is literally translated as “the praise of your father and your mother.”
- “The utmost bound” (49:26): The expression in Hebrew can literally be translated as “pleasant” (Gen 3:6), “succulent” (Job 33:20), “intense craving” (Num 11:4), “desire” (Psa 10:3, 17, 21:2, 38:9, 78:29; Prov 10:24, 13:12, 18:1, 19:22), “greedily” (Prov 21:26) or “lusted” (Psa 106:14).
- “The everlasting hills” (49:26): The phrase in Hebrew can literally be translated as “the ancient hills.” In the Scriptures, the word “mountains” and “hills” are often paired and are used for several reference of meanings. First, they symbolize the blessings of God as recorded in the book of Joel, “The mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk” (Joel 3:18). Second, they symbolize the Lord’s people as recorded in the book of Isaiah, “The LORD of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill” (Isa 31:4). Third, they symbolize peace and righteousness as written in the book of Psalms, “The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness” (Psa 72:3). Fourth, they symbolize the foundation of the LORD’s house as narrated in the book of Micah, “The mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills” (Mic 4:1). Fifth, they symbolize the place where God declares His judgment against His people as recorded in the book of Ezekiel, “O mountains of Israel…to the hills…I will bring a sword against you” (Ezek 6:3).
- Separate (49:26) can also literally be translated in Hebrew as “untended vine” (Lev 25:5, 11) or “a Nazirite” (Num 6:2, 13, 18-21; Judg 13:5, 7, 16:17; Lam 4:7; Amos 2:11-12). In addition, the mentioned word has a similar Hebrew root with the word “crown” (Ex 29:6;
2 Sam 1:10; 2 Kgs 11:12) and the word “hair” (Jer 7:29).
- “In the morning…at night” (49:27): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can literally be translated as “early in the morning he will still eat.” In the Scriptures, the two contrasting phrases mentioned can be used to express a continual action as in the example of the book Psalms 55:17 and 92:2.
- “Twelve tribes” (49:28): In the Scriptures, the first mention of the “twelve tribes” is in Gen 49:28. The mentioned phrase is literally translated as “twelve sons” in Greek-Septuagint.
By comparing Gen 49:13-27 with Deut 33:12-29, describe the changing fate of the next eight sons of Jacob throughout time: Zebulun and Issachar;Hide Answer
The writer of the book of Genesis mentioned that Zebulun would “dwell by the haven of the sea” and Issachar would become “a band of slaves” (Gen 49:13-15). Later in the blessings of Moses, the writer of the book of Deuteronomy recorded that both Zebulun and Issachar would “offer sacrifices of righteousness” and would “partake of the abundance of the seas” (Deut 33:18-19).
In his prophecies, Jacob described Dan as “a serpent by the way, a viper by the path” (Gen 49:16). But in the blessings of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses described Dan as a “lion’s whelp” (Deut 33:22).
Although in the prophecy of Jacob in Gen 49:19 Gad was trampled by a troop and he would triumphed at last, the writer of the book of Deuteronomy emphasized the future blessings of Gad. In his blessings, Moses described that Gad would be enlarged and he would administer “the justice of the LORD, and His judgments with Israel” (Deut 33:20-21).
In regards to Jacob’s prophecy of Asher’s richness of bread and dainties (Gen 49:20), Moses in the book of Deuteronomy adds that “Asher is most blessed of sons [and] favored by his brothers.” After describing the blessings of Asher, the writer of the book of Deuteronomy continued to describe how the Lord would guide Asher and Israel to safety and thrust out their enemies (Deut 33:24-29).
The writer of the book of Genesis mentioned that “Naphtali is a deer let loose; he uses beautiful words” (Gen 49:21). Later, in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses blessed Naphtali even more by saying that he would be “satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the LORD, [and would] possess the west and the south” (Deut 33:23).
In his prophecies to Joseph, Jacob began with the struggle of Joseph and ended with God’s blessings to Joseph (Gen 49:22-26). In the book of Deuteronomy, not only did the writer echo some of the blessings of God to Joseph, such as the blessing of heaven, of the deep lying beneath, of the everlasting hills and of the blessing on the crown of Joseph’s head (Deut 33:13, 15-16); but the writer also added more blessings and continued Joseph’s story of to the glory of his two sons—Ephraim and Manasseh (Deut 33:13-17).
Although Jacob prophesied that Benjamin was a “ravenous wolf” who would “devour the prey” in the morning and would “divide the spoil” at night (Gen 49:27); in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses explained further in his blessings that Benjamin, “the beloved of the LORD,” would “dwell in safety by Him” and would “dwell between His shoulders” (Deut 33:12).
How did the meaning of Dan’s name echo the judgment of God upon Israel?Hide Answer
The meaning of Dan’s name was related to the example of God’s judgment upon His people. According to the book of Genesis, Rachel named Bilhah’s son, Dan, to reflect the judgment of God upon her case and how God had heard her plea for a son (Gen 30:6). Just as the meaning of Dan’s name reflected the judgment of God upon Rachel’s case in Gen 30:6, the meaning of Dan’s name echoed the judgment of Israel in the prophecy of Jacob (Gen 49:16).
List several examples of the judgment of God upon His people throughout the Scriptures. What can we learn about God’s nature from those examples?Hide Answer
There are several examples of the judgment of God upon His people throughout the Scriptures. First, the author of the book of Genesis mentioned about God’s judgment upon the Egyptians for their affliction against the Israelites (Gen 15:14; Psa 110:6). Second, the writer of the book of Deuteronomy described that the LORD would judge His people and would “have compassion on His servants” (Deut 32:36; Job 36:31; Psa 135:14). Third, the psalmist in the book of Psalm shared how the LORD would judge the people according to one’s righteousness and one’s integrity (Psa 7:8, 72:2, 96:10). Fourth, the prophet Jeremiah mentioned how the Lord judged the cause of the poor and the needy (Jer 22:16).
We can learn about God’s nature of judgment from the verses above. Not only does God give judgment to those who afflict or harm His people, but God will also judge His own people who neglect “the poor and needy” and who only satisfy their “covetousness.” Therefore, God’s justice is not just about executing judgment against our outer deeds, but His justice is also about judging the righteousness and the integrity of our inner heart.
How did the symbolism of the phrase “Dan shall be…a viper by the path” connected with the examples of the Danites’ deadliness against other nations in the book of Judges? See Judg 13-16 and 17-18.Hide Answer
The symbolism of the phrase “Dan shall be…a viper by the path” (Gen 49:17) was connected with the examples of the Danites’ deadliness against other nations in the book of Judges. For instance, the writer of the book of Judges explained how Samson “of the family of the Danites” (Judg 13:2) was like a deadly viper which attacked the Philistines and the Canaanites. Throughout his life, Samson single-handedly killed “thirty…men” (Judg 14:19), had “a great slaughter” (Judg 15:8), killed “a thousand men” with a “fresh jawbone of a donkey” (Judg 15:15) and at the end of his life, despite his weakened condition, he killed “more than he had killed in his life” (Judg 16:30). The writer of the book of Judges described further how “six hundred men of the family of the Danites” (Judg 18:11) struck the people of the city of Laish, a Canaanite city, and “burned the city with fire” (Judg 18:27) for the purpose of seeking “their inheritance among the tribes of Israel” (Judg 18:1).
Why did Jacob pause his prophesies with a prayer in Gen 49:18?Hide Answer
In the middle of his prophesies, Jacob paused to submit a prayer of eagerness toward God’s salvation in Gen 49:18. Jacob prayed, waiting for God’s salvation, because he knew that apart from the blessings which his descendants would receive, there were also curses and difficulties which they would face. For example, in his prophesies Jacob mentioned about the instability and the non-excellency of Reuben (Gen 49:4), the cursed anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen 49:5-7), the slavery of Issachar (Gen 49:15), the trampling upon Gad (Gen 49:19) and the archers would shoot at Joseph and would hate him (Gen 49:23). Therefore, upon knowing the struggles and adversaries that some of his descendants would encounter, Jacob offered of a prayer of anticipation toward God’s salvation.
Describe the different actions toward “Your salvation” listed in the Scriptures.Hide Answer
There are several different actions toward “Your salvation” listed in the Scriptures. The different actions are as follows: to see the salvation of the Lord (Ex 14:13;
2 Chr 20:17; Psa 98:3; Isa 52:10), to rejoice in God’s salvation (1 Sam 2:1; Psa 9:14, 20:5; Isa 25:9), to proclaim the good news of God’s salvation (1 Chr 16:23; Psa 96:2), to love God’s salvation (Psa 70:4), to trust in God’s salvation (Psa 78:22), to show God’s salvation (Psa 91:16), to seek God’s salvation (Psa 119:123), to hope for God’s salvation (Psa 119:166) and to long for God’s salvation (Psa 119:174).
What were the significances of the different actions toward God’s salvation given by the Scriptures in question 2b?Hide Answer
The examples of the different actions toward God’s salvation from the Scriptures contain certain significances. The words such as “wait,” “seek,” “trust” and “love” (Gen 49:18; Psa 119:123; Psa 78:22, 70:4) used in the examples from the Scriptures are verbs that do not only require patience and faith but also require effort and intimate relationship from us. Furthermore, words such as “long,” “hope,” “see” and “rejoice” (Psa 119:174, 166; Ex 14:13;
1 Sam 2:1) used in the examples from the Scriptures are verbs which not only reflect ones’ faithfulness and determination to wait for the salvation but also reflect the actual progression and the fulfillment of God’s deliverance to those who wait.
According to the Scriptures, what were the rewards for those who wait for God’s salvation?Hide Answer
The Scriptures mentioned several rewards for those who wait for God’s salvation. Not only will those who wait for God not be ashamed (Psa 25:2, 69:6; Isa 49:23), but they will also be strengthened in their heart (Psa 27:14). According to the psalmists, those who are waiting for the LORD will inherit the earth (Psa 37:9, 34) and their cry will be heard by Him (Psa 40:1). Furthermore, according to the book of Proverbs and the book of Isaiah (Prov 20:22; Isa 25:9), those who wait for Him will be saved from evil. Lastly, the prophet Isaiah emphasized that those who wait for God will receive their renewal of strength (Isa 40:31).
How did the phrase “[Gad] shall triumph at last” represent the might of the Gadites as men of war in the Scriptures? See also
1 Chr 5:18 and 12:8.Hide Answer
The phrase “[Gad] shall triumph at last” in Gen 49:19 represented the might of the Gadites as men of war in the Scriptures. The writer of the book
1st Chronicles mentioned that the Gadites, along with the Reubenites and the half of the Manassehites, were “valiant men, men able to bear shield and sword, to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war” (1 Chr 5:18). The writer also described further that the Gadites were men ”who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains” (1 Chr 12:8). Therefore, Jacob’s prophecy in Gen 49:19 was a representation of the Gadites’ prowess in their later battles against their enemies.
Being trampled by enemies’ troop (Gen 49:19) and sandwiched between enemies’ territories (Deut 3:1-17 and Judg 11:12-28), what can we learn about endurance from the Gadites’ triumphant survival? See Rom 5:3.Hide Answer
Being trampled by the troop of their enemies and sandwiched between enemies’ territories, we can learn about endurance from the Gadites’ triumphant survival. The continuous war with the enemies in Deut 3:1-17 and Judg 11:12-28, forged the Gadites to become skillful warriors, “men [who were] able to bear shield and sword…and spear” (1 Chr 5:18, 12:8). Eventually, the Gadites survived through the enemies’ trampling.
From the example of the Gadites, we learn the importance of endurance during difficulties. The apostle Paul shared in his letter to the Romans that “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom 5:3). From the book of Romans, we learn that our sufferings and difficulties will eventually produce not just our endurance to face them but also our character and hope in Christ Jesus. Just like Job’s perseverance (Jas 5:11) in his sufferings produced his understanding toward the Lord’s will (Job 42:1-6) and refined his character like gold (Job 23:10); the difficulties in our life ought to serve as instruments for our perseverance to wait and to rely for the Lord’s deliverance.
Describe the three parts of Jacob’s prophecy to Joseph in Gen 49:22-26.Hide Answer
Jacob’s prophecy to Joseph can be divided into three parts. First, the fruitfulness of Joseph (Gen 49:22). Second, the strengthening of Joseph (Gen 49:23-24). Third, the blessings of Joseph (Gen 49:25-26).
Observe how the imagery of Joseph’s “fruitful bough by a well” was similarly used throughout the Scriptures and describe the meaning of each of the imagery. See Psa 1:3 and Jer 17:7-8.Hide Answer
In his prophecy, Jacob described the prosperity of his son Joseph was like a “fruitful bough by a well” (Gen 49:22). Likewise, the mentioned imagery was similarly used throughout the Scriptures. For example, the writer of the book of Psalms mentioned that the one who delights “in the law of the LORD” is like “a tree planted by the rivers of water.” In other words, whatever one does, the Lord will make him prosper (Psa 1:3). The prophet Jeremiah also described further that one “who trusts in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD” will be like “a tree planted by the waters.” Thus, one will not fear when difficulties come and will not be anxious in the time of hardships (Jer 17:7-8).
How did the archers in Jacob’s prophecy treat Joseph?Hide Answer
In his prophecy, Jacob described that the archers “bitterly attacked [Joseph],” “shot at him” and “harassed him severely” (Gen 49:23 [ESV]).
According to the Scriptures, what was the symbolism of the archers’ weapons? See Jer 9:3, 8; Prov 25:18 and 26:18-19.Hide Answer
The Scriptures mention several examples of the symbolism of the archers’ weapons. For example, the prophet Jeremiah likened the lying tongues to the archers’ bending bow (Jer 9:3) and the deceitful tongue to the shot out arrow (Jer 9:8). Moreover, the writer of the book of Proverbs described that “a man who bears false witness” and “who deceives his neighbor” is like “a sharp arrow” (Prov 25:18, 26:18-19). These examples from the Scriptures show that bows and arrows are used to symbolize one who lies, deceives and bears false witness to others.
How did the description of the archers’ treatment in Gen 49:23 represent Joseph’s life experiences in the past? And how did those experiences reIate to the symbolism of the archers’ weapons in question 5b?Hide Answer
The treatment of the archers, such as the bitter attack and the severe harassment [ESV], described by Jacob in Gen 49:23 represented Joseph’s life experience. From Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar’s wife to the royal chief butler, they were like archers who bitterly attacked, shot and severely harassed Joseph with their arrows.
First, Joseph’s brothers “harassed” Joseph through their false witness when they sold him to the Ishmaelites and lied to their father, Jacob, concerning his whereabouts (Gen 37:25-36). Second, Potiphar’s wife “attacked” Joseph through her false accusation when she lied in front of the men of her house and in front of Potiphar, her husband, about what had happened between her and Joseph (Gen 39:11-20). Third, the chief butler “shot” Joseph through his ignorance, forgotting to “show kindness” to Joseph, the one who had helped interpreted the chief butler’s dream (Gen 40:14, 20-23).
List the divine titles of God mentioned in Jacob’s prophecy.Hide Answer
The divine titles of God mentioned in Jacob’s prophecy were as follows: “the Mighty God of Jacob,” “the Shepherd” and “the Stone of Israel” (Gen 49:24).
How did the mentioned titles of God summarize Jacob’s and Joseph’s relationship with God?Hide Answer
The mentioned titles of God in Gen 49:24 summarized Jacob’s and Joseph’s relationship with God.
First, the title “the Mighty God of Jacob” represents the might or the strength of the Lord God against those who had opposed Jacob and Joseph. For example, when Laban intended “to do [Jacob] harm” for his escape, God came to Laban, warning him to “speak to Jacob neither good nor bad” (Gen 31:24, 29). The might and the greatness of God prevented Laban to do harm against Jacob. Furthermore, in Joseph’s example, the greatness of the Spirit of God in Joseph made Pharaoh see the discernment of Joseph and choose Joseph to rule Egypt (Gen 41:37-41). The mighty hand of God also delivered Joseph from the false accusation of Potiphar’s wife (Gen 39:11-18) and the false imprisonment of Potiphar (Gen 39:19-23).
Second, the title “the Shepherd” represents the tender care of the Lord God toward Jacob and Joseph. For instance, after Jacob was sent away alone by his father, Isaac, to Padan Aram—a place which he never been into; the Lord God appeared to Jacob in a dream and assured him, saying, “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you” (Gen 28:15). Indeed just like a shepherd toward his sheep, the Lord did keep and guide Jacob throughout his life. Likewise, God was like a shepherd toward Joseph. Whenever Joseph was in difficult situations such as in slavery or in imprisonment, the writer of the book of Genesis emphasized that the Lord was with Joseph throughout his life (Gen 37:5-11, 39:2, 23, 40:8-22, 41:9-45, 48:3-22, 50:18-26).
Third, the title “the Stone of Israel” represents the foundation that Jacob and Joseph held on to during their difficult moments. For example, when Jacob was afraid of Esau, his brother, he held on to the Lord God as his only hope through his prayer, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac…deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother…” (Gen 32:9-12). Similarly, when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, he firmly clung to the Lord as his foundation. Therefore, the “day by day” enticements were rendered useless against Joseph’ immovable faith (Gen 39:8-10).
Describe the Almighty’s blessings to Joseph, according to Jacob’s prophecy in Gen 49:25-26.Hide Answer
According to Jacob’s prophecy in Gen 49:25-26, the Almighty’s blessings to Joseph were as follows: The “blessings of heaven above,” the “blessings of the deep that lies beneath,” the “blessings of the breasts and of the womb” and the “blessings of [his] father.” The Almighty’s blessings to Joseph covered not only from above and below but also from both father and mother.
How was “the Almighty” described in Gen 49:25 closely and personally related to Jacob’s life and to the life of his forefather?Hide Answer
“The Almighty” described in Gen 49:25 was related to the life of Jacob’s forefather and Jacob’s life. First, the Almighty had previously appeared to Jacob’s forefather, Abram, requiring him to “walk before [Him] and be blameless” (Gen 17:1). Second, Jacob’s father, Isaac, had blessed Jacob with the blessing of the Almighty before he sent Jacob away to Padan Aram (Gen 28:3-4). Third, God the Almighty Himself appeared to Jacob “when he came from Padan Aram” and emphasized to him the blessing which Isaac had previously given to Jacob (Gen 35:9-12).
In Gen 49:26, how did Joseph’s life of “[separation] from his brothers” resemble the essence of that who was consecrated to the Lord—the Nazirite?Hide Answer
Joseph’s life of separation from his brothers resembled the essence of one who was consecrated to the Lord—the Nazirite. According to the book of Numbers, the essence of a Nazirite was to “be holy to the LORD…all the days of his separation” (Num 6:8). Starting from Potiphar’s house to the governing office of the Pharaoh in Egypt, Joseph had separated himself for the Lord. For example, in facing the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph dared not commit the “great wickedness…[the] sin against God” (Gen 39:9). Therefore, Joseph was setting himself apart to lead a holy life before the Lord. Moreover, from the selling of Joseph, the slavery, the imprisonment to the ruling of Joseph in Egypt, those were literally God’s plan to “set apart” Joseph “to preserve a posterity for [the children of Israel] in the earth, and to save [their] lives by a great deliverance” (Gen 45:7). The Lord had separated Joseph from his family and home, and had “consecrated” Joseph to be His instrument to fulfill the will of God for the survival of the children of Israel.
List the examples from the Scriptures which supported that the Benjamites were like “a ravenous wolf.”Hide Answer
The Scriptures recorded several examples which supported that the Benjamites were like “a ravenous wolf.” First, the example of Ehud the Benjamite, a judge who delivered Israel from the Moabites (Judg 3:12-30). Second, the example of the Benjamites’ participation with Debora against the army of Sisera (Judg 5:14). Third, the example of a civil war between the Israelites and the Benjamites, where twenty-six thousand Benjamites were up against four hundred thousand Israelites (Judg 20:15-17). Fourth, the example of King Saul the Benjamite who delivered Jabesh Gilead from the Ammonites (1 Sam 11:1-14). Fifth, the example of one of the mighty men of David, Ittai the Benjamite (2 Sam 23:29). Sixth, the example of valiant men of David’s army (1 Chr 12:2).