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Genesis Chapter 49:1-33 - The Lion of the Tribe of Judah - Part 4
We now continue with Jacob prophesying over his sons.
Vs. 16-17 - “Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that its rider tumbles backward.”
Dan was a pretty tough tribe, they were a small tribe but they were great fighters. The other brothers would look to them many times for defence.
Samson, one of the great Judges from the book of Judges is a descendant of the tribe of Dan.
Interesting that twice he is called a snake. So there are those, including the early Church Father, Ireaneus, that speculate that maybe the antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan because of this prophecy along with some other Scripture like (Jer. 7:4-8). And the fact that they are not included in the prophecy in the tribes in Rev. 7:4-8, Dan is not mentioned in the 144 thousand. That is interesting.
What we DO know is that Dan will be the first tribe to fall into idolatry in Judges 18 and they will never recover from that. And that makes these guys a real stumbling-block for their brothers, thus the image of the rider falling backward.
So most scholars simply believe that this judgment here is linked to idolatry of Dan from which they never fully recovered, and maybe THAT’S why there’s no mention of them in the tribes of the 144 thousand in Rev. Ch. 7.
Now, vs. 18 is very interesting, just seems to come out of nowhere between the prophecies of Dan and Gad. Jacob just sorta stops and says: Vs. 18 - “I look for your deliverance, Lord.”
Underline that word “deliverance,” or “salvation.” In the Hebrew that word is “Yeshuah” which is the Hebrew form of the Greek name “Jesus.” So we have the first mention of salvation in the Bible, and what’s really interesting here, is that the first mention of salvation comes right after the prophecy of a serpent biting a heel there in vs. 17. And what does that remind us of? Gen. 3:15 where the Lord told Satan, speaking of Christ, “He shall crush your head but you will bruise His heel.”
So maybe Iraenus was onto something, I don’t know, but it’s pretty interesting.
So here’s Jacob in the middle of this prophecy, this poetic flow is broken, and here is Jacob saying - “I’m just waiting for your salvation, O Lord.”
And that right there lets us know that this man is in communion with his Lord during the bringing forth of these prophecies. This is just further proof of the Spirit of God moving in this man. Basically what Jacob is saying here is: “Lord, You are the one. We are waiting for YOUR salvation. I’M not going to do it, these boys aren’t going to get it done. It is You and You alone Lord, through whom salvation comes for all of us.”
Vs. 19-28 - “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.
“Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
“Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.
“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.
With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility.
But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.
Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.”
Gad, these guys settled on the east side of the Jordan river along with a half tribe of Menassah. They didn’t have that natural defensive barrier that the Jordan river represented because they chose to settle - unlike the rest of the tribe - on the other side of it. And thus the prophecy here - “You guys are going to be attacked. You’ll overcome, but make no mistake about it, you’ll be attacked.”
Asher, that word means “blessed” in the Hebrew. It means “happy,” and based on the context here I think these guys are just essentially a bunch of happy go lucky bakers! Those were the go-to guys for donuts! And Jacob tells him; “You guys are going to serve kings.”
You got Naphtali in vs. 21, the image of a “doe let loose” speaks of a very free spirited people. “Beautiful words” will come from this tribe. So you’ve got some hippie poets here in Naphtali! It is interesting that beautiful words will come from Naphtali and we know that they settled in that northern region of Galilee, of course that’s where Christ spoke for much of His ministry, indeed the most beautiful of words. So in that sense, very interesting prophecy here.
We’ll get to Joseph in a minute. But now Benjamin, these guys were the toughest of all the tribes. There was one point in Israel’s history where they all tried to gang up on Benjamin and ALL TOGETHER they could barely take him. So, very tough tribe, very determined individuals and it makes sense to us that the Apostle Paul came from the tribe of Benjamin.
The balance of the prophecy here is extended upon Joseph, he gets the most of the press, 5 verses. A couple of those vs. speak to his history - vs. 23-24 - how that he was just tried by fire, he faced adversity; but man, he just remained steadfast despite the trials that came his way because he recognized - unlike most of us - that those trials were divinely ordained of God to move him along.
Now the fruit of that faithfulness in adversity, believing what the word of God says - and the Bible tells you and I that trials are God’s way of making us mature - but we don’t necessarily believe that, do we? Joseph did, and the fruit of that is this guy is just rolling in the blessings.
Let me unpack it this way. Jacob is essentially painting a picture here, giving us an image, very much like having a large apple tree that extends over into your neighbor’s yard. That’s why I had you underline the end of vs. 22 - “Its branches over a wall.”
In other words, you’re the owner of the tree. The tree is on your property, and you're going to bear great fruit from that. YET so will the neighbors who have your branches extending over their property line and into their yard as well. The idea is that this guy is so fruitful that others will benefit from that fruitfulness and there is a tremendous encouragement in here for us.
To recognize that when we are faithful, not only will we be blessed, but so will those who are near us! So we recognize that OUR faithfulness, YOUR faithfulness ushers in the blessings of God upon those who are near to us. So when we’re NOT faithful, there’s a very real sense in which we’re robbing those who are near us of those blessings.
Join us next week as we conclude this chapter. Blessings to you all.