The Blessings of Israel

I. Jacob blesses the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48).

A. Jacob recounts his life to Joseph and his sons (Genesis 48:1-12).

1. Jacob has been infirm and bedridden for some time.

a. He has been in Egypt for seventeen years.
1)   He was 130 when he came (47:9).
2)   He was 147 when he died (47:28).
b. He has had much time to reflect, pray, and seek God’s insight.
1)   He has formed clear understanding of his sons.
2)   He knows Joseph will be a strong influence among Israel.
3)   He has seen Judah become the leader among Israel.

2. Jacob sees his legacy beginning at Bethel.

a. “God Almighty” appeared and blessed me at Luz (48:3).
1)   Genesis 28:10-19 – the “Ladder” and promise of a land
2)   Genesis 35:6-13 – “Israel” promised “multitudes”
3)   Repeat of blessings to Abraham and Isaac
4)   The foundation of Jacob’s faith and eternal vision
b. The “Almighty” as a descriptive title is used 48 times in the OT.
1)   Used six times in Genesis
a).  The first time by God to Abraham (17:1)
b). Then by Isaac to Jacob (28:3)
c). The rest are in Jacob’s life (35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25).
2)   Used 31 times in the Book of Job (contemporary of Abraham)
3)   Used 2 times each in Numbers, Ruth, Psalms, and Ezra
4)   Used 1 time in Exodus, Isaiah and Joel
5)   All stress God’s sovereignty in granting blessing or giving out judgment.
c. The sad premature death of Rachel is remembered (48:7).
1)   She died in giving birth to Benjamin (35:16-20).
2)   She was buried on the way to Ephrath (now called Bethlehem – Moses probably inserts this comment).

B. Jacob formally acknowledges Joseph’s two sons (48:5-6).

1. Ephraim and Manasseh are like Reuben and Simeon.

a. Even this “off-the-cuff” greeting places Ephraim first.
b. The comparison is not particularly favorable.
1) Reuben is “unstable as water” (49:4).
2) Simeon is an “instrument of cruelty” (49:6).

2. Ephraim and Manasseh are probably recognized for birth order.

C. Jacob formally blesses the two sons of Joseph (48:13-20).

1. Joseph bows down before Jacob in recognition of his position in God’s sovereign plan for the nation.

a. The brothers had fulfilled the earlier dream of Joseph.
b. The dream that his father and mother would also bow down to Joseph was never actually performed (37:9-10).
1)   God’s plans always come to pass (Isaiah 46:10).
2)   Joseph probably added his own dream to God’s dream.

2. Joseph places the children in birth order before Jacob.

3. Jacob crosses his arms, “guiding his hands wittingly” (48:14).

4. Jacob calls on the name of the Triune Godhead.

a. The God who the fathers worshiped (the Father)
b. The God who fed and led him all his life (the Holy Spirit)
c. The Angel who redeemed him (the Son)

5. Joseph tries to stop Jacob from blessing the “wrong” son.

a. Joseph was “displeased” (Hebrew = “quivered” – in anger) compare Genesis 38:10.
b. Joseph tried to remove his father’s hands to “correct” him.
c. Jacob refused and said, “I know, I know” (48:19).

6. Jacob pronounces the blessing on the sons of Joseph.

a. “Truly” the younger shall be the greater.
b. Ephraim will be greatest and become a “multitude of nations”.
c. Both will be the blessing Israel uses to encourage others (“God make them as Ephraim and as Manasseh”).

7. Jacob grants “one portion above” to Joseph (48:21-22).

a. Jacob, apparently, had taken some land from an Amorite.
b. No specific reference to this event in Scripture except an allusion in John 4:5 (near the well in Samaria).

8. God has often bypassed the oldest in favor of a younger.

a. Isaac instead of Ishmael
b. Jacob instead of Esau
c. Joseph instead of Reuben
d. Judah instead of Reuben
e. Ephraim instead of Manasseh
f. David instead of Eliab, the firstborn
g. Gideon was the “least” in his father’s house.
h. The rule is: “the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

II. Jacob delivers the prophecies of the Twelve Tribes (Genesis 49).

A. The message is delivered in poetic form.

1. Spoken in poetry, symbol, and prophecy – not “normal”

2. Commanded to “hear” and “hearken” to Israel, your father

3. Given “in the Spirit” and for “the last days” (49:1)

4. Each prophecy is given mostly birth order sequence.

B. Reuben is the firstborn (49:3-4).

1. He was Jacob’s “might” and “strength” and “dignity” and “power.”

2. He became “unstable as water” – and lost respect and leadership.

3. Reuben never furnished a leader in Israel nor excelled in anything.

4. Reuben was the first tribe to request a land – never crossed the Jordan (Numbers 32)

5. Reuben erected an unauthorized place of worship (Joshua 22).

6. Reuben failed to answer the call to war under Deborah (Judges 5).

C. Simeon and Levi are connected together (49:5-7).

1. They are “instruments of cruelty” and their anger “cursed”.

2. They would be “divided” and “scattered” in Israel.

3. Simeon was given an inheritance in Judah, but many were captured and lived with the Edomites and Amalekites (II Chronicles 15:9).

4. Simeon was mostly scattered in Judah and later assimilated by Assyria.

5. Levi never had an inheritance of their own land, just cities scattered throughout the nation (Joshua 21).

6. Levi later stood with Moses against idolatry (Exodus 32) and was chosen to become the priestly tribe in Israel.

D. Judah (whose name means “Praise”) was very different (49:8-12).

1. He will be praised by his brethren.

2. He will be strong and courageous and the land fruitful.

3. He would become the ruling Tribe in Israel.

a. The “scepter” did not come to Judah until 640 years later.
b. The “lawgiver” would not depart “from between his feet”.
1)   Hebrew: “One who decrees”
2)   “Between his feet” = Judah’s progeny
c. The key word is “Shiloh” – a form of “shalom”.
1)   Likely: “One who brings peace”
2)   Shiloh is a “him” (49:10) who will draw the people together.
3)   This has always been accepted as a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah by both Jewish and Church commentators.
d. The scepter did depart from Judah in A.D. 70.
1)   The scepter was to be in Judah “until Shiloh come”.
2)   Judah remained in a rulership position from King David until Christ came.
3)   Titus destroyed Jerusalem and all genealogical records were lost – only God can restore the Tribal associations (Revelation 7)
4)   Thus, the Messiah did indeed come prior to A.D. 70.

E. The next several sons are given a concise place in Israel.

1. Zebulun is to have his impact and trade by the sea (49:13).

2. Issachar would be strong, but lazy (49:14-15).

3. Dan would lead but be treacherous (49:16-18).

a. Danites introduced idolatry to Israel officially (Judges 18).
b. Danite Jeroboam set up two golden calves for the Northern Tribes to worship (1 Kings 12).
c. Dan is not mentioned as one of the twelve tribes in the Kingdom (Revelation 7; compare Deuteronomy 29:16-21).

4. Gad (whose name means “troop”) would fight and repel invaders (49:19).

5. Asher would enjoy rich food and royal delicacies, later to fail to take the Tyre-Sidon region, and fell into insignificance (49:20)

6. Naphtali would be known as swift warriors and composers of eloquent speech and beautiful literature (49:21).

F. Joseph is to be the “fruitful bough” in Israel (49:22-26).

1. The twofold tribe (Ephraim and Manasseh) would be strong and numerous.

2. They would be beset by enemies but would prevail.

3. “Ephraim” would become synonymous with the Northern 10 tribes.

4. They are “made strong” by “the shepherd” and “the stone” (49:24).

a. This is the 1st mention of God as “the Shepherd”.
b. This is the 1st mention of God as “the Stone” (rock).
c. God would protect and nourish Joseph.
d. Joseph would “be separate” from his brothers.
e. Joseph is named as a unique Tribe in Revelation 7:8.

G. Benjamin would devour the prey and divide the spoil (49:27).

1. He would be strong and successful in warfare.

2. He would have a tendency to be cruel and voracious.

3. Judges 20 records the near extinction of the Tribe.

4. Israel’s first King was Saul, a Benjamite, whose character exemplifies the prophecy of Jacob.

III. Joseph leads the sons to bury Jacob at Machpelah (Genesis 50).

A. Jacob dies and is embalmed in Egypt (49:28 through 50:6).

1. Joseph has his own physicians embalm Jacob.

2. Pharaoh grants permission to take Jacob to Canaan.

B. Joseph leads a great entourage to Canaan (50:7-13).

1. A “very great company” (50:9) went with Joseph.

2. They “made a mourning” for Jacob for seven days.

3. The sons buried Jacob in Machpelah.

C. Joseph, back in Egypt, reassures his brothers that there is no ill will toward them or their children (50:13-21).

1. The brothers spoke directly to Joseph about their sin.

2. Joseph reiterates his role of protector, granted to him by God.

3. Joseph “spake kindly unto them”.

D. Joseph insists that his “bones” be returned to Canaan (50:22-26).

1. He knows “God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land”.

2. He “took an oath” from the brothers to “carry up my bones”.

3. He dies at 110 and was placed in a “coffin in Egypt”.

The Patriarchs
ch. 49


Living in His Light and His Love

A Life of Loving God's Word in Psalm 119

The Power and Perseverance of Grace

A New You and a New Life

A series of lessons on chapters 1-11 of Genesis

The People and Power of Christ

A series of lessons on the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph

A series on the book of Revelation

Loving God and Loving Others in Exodus 20

Go to top