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ture in right of their father Joseph, to whom the birth. right was transferred from Reuben, because of his in estuous transgression against his father :] “But as for “ the issue thou shalt beget after them, they shall be
thine, and shall be called by the name of their bre. " thren in their inheritance:” And proceeding, he gave Joseph a short account of the death and burial of Rachel his mother.
· While Jacob was talking to Joseph concerning himself and his sons, he had not taken notice that Joseph's sons were with him, but spoke of them as if they had been absent ; but turning to Joseph, and seeing some. body with him, though he could not well discern who they were, for (his eyes being dim with age, and the children standing between their father's knees, he could not distinguish them,) he asked, “ Who are these ?» Jo. seph immediately and piously answers, “ These are my
sons, whom God hath given me in this place.” Then Jacob bids him bring them near him that he might bless them : and kissing and embracing them, said to Joseph in a transport of joy, “ I was out of hopes of ever seeing
thy face again, and now God hath doubled that bless
ing; for he hath suffered me to live to see thee and thy " children!”
Joseph placing the children according to the order of their birth, had set Manasseh so as to receive the blessing of his father's right-hand and Ephraim that of his left, guiding his hand at the sange time: but Israel stretching out his right-hand laid it upon the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left upon Manasseh's head; and he blessed Joseph in blessing his children, saying, “ God, ** before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, " the God which fed me all my life-time to this day, and " the Angel* which redeemed me from all evils, bless the
lads: and let my namet be named on them, and the
• Angel. That is, Christ, who is called the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant, Mal. üi. 1.
+ Name. That is, let them be reckoned into my family, equally with the rest of my song
“ name of my fathers; and let them grow into a multi“ tude in the midst of the earth.” Joseph was uneasy that his father laid his right-hand (which carried with it the preference) on the head of the youngest; and supposing it had been done through inadvertence, he held up his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's to Ma. nasseh's head, saying, “ Not so, my father; for this is the “ first-born, therefore put thy right-hand upon his head.” But Israel, actuated by divine direction, refused, saying, “ I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a “ people and shall be great; but truly his younger bro“ iher shall be greater than he, and his posterity shall be. “ come a multitude.” Then, adding to his former bless“ ing, he said, “ In* thee shall Israel bless, saying, God “ make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh :" still setting Ephraim before Manasseh. Finding himself then grow weaker, he said to Joseph, “ I am now near my end ; but “ though I leave you, God shall be with you, and bring
you again into the land of your fathers : and as for thee,
my Joseph, as a distinguishing mark of my love, I have “ given thee one portiont above thy brethren, which I
• In thee, &c. That is when any of the people of Israel shall bless their children, they shall say, “ Be thou multiplied as Ephraim and Manasseh are multiplied.” From hence it was the custom in Israel, that children should be brought to men eminent for piety, that they might bless them, and pray over them : thus they brought little children to Jesus. But when the blessing was given by imposition of hands, if it was to a son, he that blessed said " God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh;” if it was a daughter, “God make thee as Sarah and Rebecca."
+ Portion. Since Jacob was so peaceable a man, that he never, as we read of, engaged in any martial enterprize, it may be enquired, how and when he took this portion of land, which he here gave to Joseph, from the Amorite with his sword and bow, or by force of arms ? Some refer it to that act of Simeon and Levi, in destroying the inhabitants of Shechem, Gen. xxxiv. But that cannot be : for, first, Jacob disavowed that act, and blamed them for it both then and now, Gen. xlvi. 5,6,7. Secondly, Those people of Shechem, whom they slew, were not Amorites, but Hivites, descended from Hivi, the sixth son of Canaan, Gen. x. 17, whereas the. Amorites came from the fourth son of Canaan, v. 16. Others tahe
“ took out of the hand of the Amorite, with my sword “and with my bow.”
The conversation hitherto was private between Jacob and Joseph only : but finding his end very near, he called for all his sons together, that while he had strength to deliver his mind, he might take his farewell of them, and not only distribute his blessings among them, but foretell what should befal them and their posterity in aftertimes. Then directing his speech to them severally, he begins thus to the eldest.
Reuben, thou art my first-born, the beginning of my strength, and by right of primogeniture wert entitled to many privileges and prerogatives, in superiority over thy brethren, and in power, from the double inheritance an nexed in course to the birth-right: but these thou hast for. feited by defiling thy father's bed. *
Simeont in course is next; but he is joined with Levi, for that wicked combination between them, in the mas. sacre of Hamor and his people. Of these therefore Jacob says that they were brethren in iniquity: instruments of cruelty were in their habitations: O my soul come not thou into their secret ; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united : for in their anger they slew a man, I and in their cruel rage they digged* down a wall : cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel. Thus did Jacob set forth their offence in very aggravating colours, on which he pronounces a sentence proportionate, “I will dividet them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”
these words of Jacob in a prophetic sense ; foretelling what he and his posterity should do: and through assurance of faith looking upon it as done, undertook to dispose of a double portion (appendant to the birth-right of Joseph, on whom he had conferred the birth-right) to be possessed by his posterity.
* Bed. When Jacob heard that Reuben had defiled Bilhah, his concubinary wife, Gen. xxxv. 22. the text says that he took no farther notice of it then; but now at his death he reproaches him severely with it, and gives it as the reason for which he deprived him of the privileges of primogeniture.
+ Simeon. Reuben, having forfeited his right of primogeniture, it might be expected, that it should have devolved upon Simeon, who was next : but for his cruelty to Joseph, and the idolatry of his tribe in worshipping Baalpeor, Numb. XXV. the priesthood, which was the nobler dignity of the primogeniture, was transferred to Levi, the third son ; and the kingdom, the other part of the primogeniture, to Judah.
Man. This iş by the figure Synechdoche put for all the inhabitants of Shechem.
Having treated his three eldest sons with some severity, Jacob softens his style when he comes to Judah ; [ whose name signifying.“ Praise,” it led him to a high encomium of him. “ Judah (said he) thou art he whom thy bre“thren shall praise for thy strength and courage.
Thou " shalt put thy enemies to flight; thou shalt pursue “them, lay hold of them, and destroy them; thy father's “ children shall bows down before thee.” And then,
* Digged, &c. Meaning destroying and spoiling the city.
† Divide. This dividing may be applied to Simeon, whose tribe had not a distinct lot assigned them in Canaan, as the other tribes had; but they were thrust within the lot of Judah, Josh. xix. 1. until in the time of Hezekiah King of Judah, a party of them smote the remainder of Amalek, and seating themselves in their possessions, 1 Chron. iv. 24. were thereby divided from the rest of their own tribe. As for the tribe of Levi, it was scattered through all the tribes ; having no peculiar lot or share of the land as the other tribes had.
Fudab. His mother Leah, Gen. xxix. 35. at his birth gave him that name in gratitude and thankfulness to God. But now his father calls him so for another reason, alluding to the praise his brethren should give him ; and that for many reasons s viz. 1. The tribe of Judah was the first that entered the Red-Sea after Moses. 2. After the death of Joshua, the tribe of Judah was pitched upon to be commander in chief of all the other tribes, in their wars, Judg. i. 2. 3. From this tribe sprung the mighty and powerful king David, his son king Solomon, and se. veral other kings till the Babylonish captivity. 4. This tribe waged war againse the Ishmaelites, Idumeans, Moabites, Arabians, and other neighbouring nations. 5. From this tribe descended Zorobabel, who commanded the people in their return from Babylon. . 6. And lastly, From this tribe sprung the Messiah.
& Bow down. By this, though the birth-right was transferred from Reuben to Joseph, 1 Chron. v. 1. with respect to the double portion : yet that part of the prerogative of primogeniture, which concerned authority or government over the rest, is plainly conferred on Judah ; and so it is explained here, 1 Chron. y. 2.
wrapped up in the contemplation of Judah's strength and glory, he breaķs forth into these elegant allegories ; * Judah is like a lion's* whelp. From the prey my son “thou art gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a “ lion, and as an old lion, who shall dare to rouze him ?” Then describing the duration of his government ; “ The
sceptre (said he) shall not depart from Judah, nor a ..“ law-giver be wanting of his issue, till the Messiah “ come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people “ be.”+ Then pursuing his allegories, to express the prosperity and plenty of Judah's tribe, and the abundant fruitfulness of its soil, he added, “Binding his foal unto “ the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine, he “ washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the “ blood of grapes.”
Signifying that wine should be with them as plentiful as water.
Jacob, keeping still in Leah's line, passes by Issachar, and takes Zebulun ; whose name signifying " dwelling," he only says of him, that " he shall dwell at the haven of
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler, though the birth-right was Joseph's, with respect to the inheritance.
• Lion's whelp. Here are gradually described by the lion's age, the three de grees of the state of this tribe of Judah. The first, its infancy under Joshua The second, its virile state under David. The third its confirmed state under Solomon.
+ By the sceptre, an ancient and well-known ensign of royalty, is undoubtedly meant, the administration of tempora) power. Hence the Septuagint render the passage, “A supreme governor shall not fail out of Judah, till the Messiah's ad. vent.” This prediction was actually accomplished, When our Saviour was about twelve years of age, the sceptre, which had been gradually departing for some time, totally departed from Judah ; for Herod, (who died while our Lord was an infant) was succeeded by his son Archelaus, who, after reigning ten years, was deposed by Augustus Cæsar. Judah then became a Roman province ; Quirinius, Prefect of Syria, was commissioned to take possession in the Emperor's name, and Coponius was sent to preside as Lieutenant Governor. The Jews openty confessed the total departure of the sceptre, when, at the trial of our Saviour, they cried out, “We have no King buf Cæsar,” and “ It is not lawful for us to put any man to death."