(Continued from last issue)
a) They would be in Egypt only temporarily, Canaan was their dwelling place. Jacob desired to rest in Canaan
b) Even in burial, he would reside with his fathers. This was a picture of the abiding friendship with God and his people that even death could not sever.
3) Questions: Is the burial of the body after death the only proper means of disposing the body? What about cremation? Why are people buried with the face looking eastward?
c. Joseph swears an oath.
1) This request was serious in Jacob’s mind. He demanded that Joseph take an oath that he would fulfill the request. Didn’t he trust Joseph? Why did he worship afterwards (vs. 31)?
2) Is there a place for such oaths today? What about Matt. 5:34? What about making a “will”? Is that similar?
2. Blessing Joseph’s two sons
a. The motivation
1) Jacob had now become sick, he was dying.
2) Joseph learns of this and quickly goes to his father, taking his 2 sons with him. They were about 18-20 years old.
3) Jacob desires to bless these 2 sons of Joseph, his reasons,
a) They were born outside the land of Canaan, in Egypt. By this act Jacob incorporated them into the covenant family.
b) Jacob desired to give the double portion of the inheritance to Joseph. The birthright included 3 things. The princely rule, the priestly benediction, and the double portion of the inheritance. Joseph was to receive this later part. He was the first-born of Rachel, his beloved wife.
c) Even then, this is not favoritism of the flesh. Rachel desired covenant seed and Jacob with her, desired that the seed of the covenant be as the stars of the heaven as God had promised (vs. 14). By placing Ephraim and Manasseh within the nation of Israel, the godly desire was fulfilled. The content of the blessing makes this plain.
b. The blessing.
1) Ephraim and Manasseh would be the continuation of Joseph’s place in Israel.
a) In blessing his sons, Joseph was blessed (vs. 15). Instead of a tribe of Joseph, there were 2 tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh.
b) Joseph’s other sons would be included, only they would not have a special place, but as comprehended in Ephraim and Manasseh (vs. 6).
2) The placing of his hands upon their heads.
a) Jacob was not acting simply as a grandfather, but as the Patriarch father, the servant of God. He is Israel (vs. 2).
b) God revealed directly to Jacob the place each son would have in the generations to come. Hence the switching of the hands, “wittingly” vs. 14.
c) The hands on the head, mentioned for the first time in this connection,symbolized that God would accomplish this blessing by the guidance of his Spirit.
d) Is there anything like this in the church today?
3) The pronouncement.
a) The blessing was from God, the covenant God. He alone was Father (Provider, Protector, Instructor, and Bestower of the Inheritance). God is this only through the Angel (vs. 16). This Angel redeems from evil circumstances, but especially from sin! Consider how foreign is the very idea that God blesses the unregenerate wicked! Is there any blessing of God apart from Christ?
b) it included a promise of a great multitude. Mark you, not just numbers, but a multitude of covenant seed. This was fundamentally the desire of Jacob and Rachel, this must be the desire of every Christian couple that is joined in marriage.
c) According to God’s sovereign direction, this blessing is without the consideration of men. God did not here convey the blessing to Ephraim and Manasseh because they were any better, only because it was His sovereign will. For this reason the right hand of Jacob rested upon Ephraim, the younger, when usually it rested upon the first-born.
d) God assures Joseph they shall return to Canaan because God is faithful to fulfill His promises. Jacob conveyed to Joseph a portion of land in Canaan (vs. 22). Jacob bought this land near Shechem and now it became Joseph’s. See John 4:5. IN the future they would regain it however, only by the sword. In this same place, the bones of Joseph were buried years later, Joshua 24:32.
3. Jacob blesses his 12 sons
a. The character of the blessing.
1) This is not to be compared to certain wishes a father may be moved to express on behalf of his children.
2) Neither are these personal sentiments based upon observation of their lives. A parent is want to mark certain traits in their children and say e.g. “he’s aggressive,he’ll really get places.” These blessings are nothing like that. It is true Jacob reacts to some of their deeds, or reflects on the meaning of their names, but essentially the moving significance of these blessings is the revelation God gave to Jacob concerning each son.
3) These blessings are pronouncements of faith, revealed to Jacob by God Himself, dealing with the future nation of Israel and to the place each son will have in that nation.
a) Things that will befall thee in the later day (49:1) refers to the whole O.T. centrally in the birth of Christ. With the coming of Christ we enter into the “last days.”
b) The sons of Jacob must hearken unto Israel. What special significance is there in that name in this context?
4) They were principally spiritual blessings.
a) They often assumed a material or visible form, either much or less.
b) Natural prosperity in Canaan was a token of God’s favor.
c) Therefore the measure of prosperity was indicative of the favor. This is true today?
d) In the heart of the promises was the promise to Judah, Shiloh would come. Christ would be born, King of the Jews.
b. The content.
1) Reuben, the firstborn, guilty of incest (Gen.35:21, 22). As such he could not be leader in Israel. This was a warning to all the brethren. Dathan and Abiram were from Reuben’s tribe.
2) Simeon and Levi, guilty of murder (Gen. 14:25-31). Again they were to be divided and scattered in Israel. Simeon had a place in Judah (Josh. 19:1-9). Levi it would seem repented for the Priesthood was given to him and his inheritance resided in Levitical cities (Joshua 21:1-40).
3) Judah “praised,” received promise of material blessings (vines, wine, milk, vs.11, 12), assured that he would be strong (as a lion and subject his enemies under him) thus pointing us to the rule of David and Solomon as typical manifestations of Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Kingly rule would abide in Judah till He would be born. (Scepter and rulers staff were symbols of Kingly office.) Christ is called here Shiloh “Man of rest.”
4) Zebulun “dwelling” he would make his habitation in the northern border of Canaan, Joshua 19:10-16.
5) Issachar “wages” he will have work to do and be fruitful. Jacob saw that Issachar would be hesitant to fight, so much that he would rather pay tribute than war.
(To be continued, D.V.)