Today we begin Genesis Chapter 49.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
“And Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days’“
After my extensive treatment of Jacob’s blessings over Manasseh and Ephraim (well actually more Ephraim), we are now going to take a good luck at the blessings he pronounced over the rest of his sons.
It’s probably more accurate to say blessings AND curses because the contents of what Jacob will pronounce is mostly a mixed bag of both positives and negatives.
As with many other aspects of the Bible, I think the importance of this custom of a father imparting a blessing over his son or sons prior to his death is missed and not really understood in the American culture.
In the ancient Middle East it was considered extremely important for a son to receive the blessing from his father before he passed away into the next world.
Now what you should find greatly encouraging is that much of what we’re about to study has already been fulfilled!
This is powerful evidence proving the truthfulness and divine origin of our Scriptures.
And what’s even more exciting is that there are still many more prophecies about the tribes of Israel in the process of being fulfilled and others whose fulfillment are just beyond the horizon.
So let’s get started.
The scene is one of much tension and anticipation as Jacob is surrounded by his sons who eagerly await their father’s final words to them.
Some of the sons will walk away from this momentous event greatly satisfied.
Others will be greatly disappointed.
Some will receive greater blessings than others resulting in sibling rivalry that will break out into full scale tribal warfare later on in Israel’s history.
In fact, a lot of the heated conflict we hear about in the Middle East today is rooted in mutual tribal animosity going back hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.
So the first thing Jacob says to his sons is that he is going to tell them what is going to happen in the “last days”.
The Hebrew is ACHARIT HAYAMIM.
And it literally means “the end of days“.
So what period in time was Jacob talking about?
Some say Jacob was referring to the time when Moses will lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
The argument supporting this viewpoint is that there is no way Jacob or his sons would have been thinking in terms of thousands of years into the future.
Since about 1000 years after this blessing all of the tribes except Judah and Benjamin will vanish, it is argued that Jacob had to be referring to a time BEFORE the 10 tribes of Israel were swallowed up by the Gentile nations.
Well, as with many events and pronouncements in Scripture, I believe there is a dual physical/spiritual dichotomy that we have to wrestle with when trying to make sense of things.
Jacob’s sons could only see the immediate physical side of this blessing but as modern believers who have the advantage of hindsight, we are able to view things from their proper spiritual perspective and thus recognize how divine providence has been guiding events all along till this present day.
So my take is that when Jacob was pronouncing these blessings on his sons, in his mind he was speaking of the state of each tribe in the years leading up to their exodus from Egypt.
However, at the same time, unbeknownst to him, he was also uttering truth about what would take place in the end-times of the world as well.
And one of those truths is that Ephraim who represents the 10 lost tribes is going to mysteriously reappear in some form in the end-times.