Genesis 49 (ESV)
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,
preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,
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 willfulness 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. . . Continue Reading
The Last Words of Jacob
In modern times, it’s common for people to have a will that outlines what will be done with their estate and who will get what. As Jacob comes upon his final hour, he gathers his sons and speaks his will prophetically and “blesses” each of his sons, the twelve tribes of Israel. Genesis 49:28 says, “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.” Keyword: suitable! The word “bless” or “blessing” doesn’t appear until Jacob speaks to Joseph in Genesis 49:29. In reading through Jacob’s words to his sons, it appears that each are a curse (or consequence) with the exception being Joseph.
Imagine the scenario of reading someone’s will – someone of wealth who passes away. The family gathers around and there’s an excitement in the air. Each one is eager to find out what their blessing will be (how much they will get). As the will is read aloud, each one is deflated to learn that what they hoped for themselves was actually left to one while they were left with a favorite pen or worse, the reasons why nothing was left to them at all.
This is the scene in the last words of Jacob. He begins with Reuben, who lost the privileges granted to the firstborn son because he slept with (and possibly raped) Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22) who Rachel gave to Jacob to bear children because she was baron (Genesis 30:3-8). What’s interesting is the text says Israel heard of it but at the time didn’t say anything. He’s saying something now!
He then speaks to Simeon and Levi who killed all the men in the city where their sister Dinah had been raped and captured all the now widowed women, their children, flocks, herds, whatever was in the city and in their houses. Jacob rebuked them at the time and now with his final breath, makes his final disapproval known.
After speaking to each of his sons, he gets to Joseph and speaks literal blessings to him saying “by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep the crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 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” (Genesis 49:25-26).
That’s a lot of blessings after what Jacob just said to Joseph’s older brothers!
Joseph was set apart. He proved that time and time again in the most difficult circumstances. He didn’t let what others did to him define him. He didn’t blame them but instead saw God leading him and guiding him. He was a person of integrity and character and his actions spoke that out in the lives of many, including Pharaoh.
The chapter ends with Jacob asking to be buried in the same field and cave as his grandfather and grandmother, Abraham and Sarah and his mother and father, Isaac and Rebekah, and where he buried his wife, Leah. His final words were spoken and he breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
At the end of our lives, what will God say of us when his will is revealed?
Thank you for reading my daily online journal today. Far from commentaries these are just my initial thoughts after reflecting on what I’ve read from a chapter in God’s Word each morning. This not only helps me apply what I’ve read because I’m reflecting and sharing instead of only reading but it also allows me to encourage others to prayerfully consider doing the same.
In His Care,