The Line Of Judah!
Now, we come to the 4th in line, Judah. Judah was next in order of birth, so Jacob granted him the blessing of the firstborn. He would be ruler over Israel and the nations.
“Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
“Judah, a lion’s cub;
With the prey, my son, you have gone high up [the mountain].
He stooped down, he crouched like a lion,
And like a lion—who dares rouse him?
“The scepter [of royalty] shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes,
And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
“Tying his foal to the [strong] vine
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washes his clothing in wine [because the grapevine produces abundantly],
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
“His eyes are darker and sparkle more than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.
Genesis 49:8-12 (AMP)
The first thing we notice is that Jacob has a lot more to say to Judah than to Judah’s older brothers. Many excellent commentaries now tell us that Judah here receives the firstborn blessing. Well, that’s only partially so.
As I mentioned earlier, what Judah actually receives is only part of the blessing that goes to the firstborn. Since there are two primary elements to the firstborn blessing,
- Receiving double the amount of tribal wealth as any other inheritor, and
- The official assumption of the leadership and authority over the tribe, we see that what Judah inherited was only the 2nd part: tribal authority and leadership.
Back in Genesis 48, Joseph was given the other part of the firstborn blessing, the double-portion, and this was in the form of making Joseph’s two sons equal with all of Jacob’s sons. Therefore, Joseph received 2/12ths of all that was Israel, through his two sons.
Judah is the lion…an ancient symbol of regal status… Judah is the new leader of Israel. And, true to his name, Judah, which means praise, will have the praise of his brothers, and eventually the whole world, because out of him would come God’s anointed Kings of Israel, and the Messiah. The royal line of David will come from Judah, and the right to rule Israel will remain with the tribe of Judah until, finally, Shiloh comes.
Now, take a look at V10. This is another controversial verse in this chapter. Some Bibles use, like in mine, the words “to whom obedience belongs” in place of the word Shiloh.
Let’s take a look at this, because it is most interesting, if not important.
First, the word Shiloh appears in the oldest manuscripts we have, and in the Septuagint which was a Greek translation of the OT created 250 years before Christ. So, the word Shiloh, by everything reasonably evident, is part of the original text.
Later in the OT, we will see that there is a town in Canaan called Shiloh, and it’s there that the Tabernacle of the Wilderness will rest for many years. Interestingly, Shiloh will be in the territory of Ephraim. This is actually the first Holy City of the Holy Land. While we all think of Jerusalem in that regard, in reality Shiloh was first, and later the honor of being the holiest city was transferred to Jerusalem. But, even then, Shiloh remained a holy city in Israel for centuries to come, 2nd only to Jerusalem.
Some scholars believe that this city of Shiloh is what was being referred to in this verse, though of course it was not yet in existence at the time of Jacob’s blessing. But, if we render the meaning of Shiloh in Jacob’s blessing to be the name of a future city, the verse doesn’t make a lot of sense.
For most certainly the scepter…that is, the authority to rule…. did not depart from Judah when the city of Shiloh was founded, nor did Judah’s leadership decline as prophesied here, so we ought not to take this to mean a city.
The next popular explanation is that Shiloh is but a word that has the meaning “to whom obedience belongs”, and that is what we find in most Bible versions.
While this most certainly has the implication of referring to a Messiah, in order to achieve this meaning it takes actually assuming that one of the letters in the word “Shiloh” was handed down to us incorrectly…. that is, that the Hebrew was misspelled (that the Hebrew letter “sheen” should have been a “seen”). There is no evidence that this was the case, and even if it seems to afford us a nice answer to what “Shiloh” is, we should not accept such a thing that does not trust the scripture to be what it is, without modifying it to help achieve an answer that suits us.
The last, and most appropriate, explanation is that Shiloh is another name for the Messiah. In other words, Shiloh is a proper noun, in this case, a name.
What’s kind of ironic is that the previous explanation is an attempt to prove the Messianic nature of this verse by modern day Christians who regarded the original Hebrew word Shiloh as having no literal meaning that they could discover…. so, they made one up.
Yet, beginning with the most ancient Hebrew commentary in existence (called Bereshit Rabba), the majority of Hebrew sages and scholars from times long past, agree that Shiloh is purely messianic in nature. It speaks of the Messiah, Shiloh.
So, in the end, if Christians had not, for the last 1900 years, such an animosity towards the Jews, they could have had very early sources for their belief that this “Shiloh” was talking about the coming Yeshua of Nazareth; instead, they had to twist some meaning around, to our shame, that eventually wound up with the same result, anyway!
So, beginning right here in Genesis 49, we have it prophesied that the Messiah will come from the Hebrews, the nation of Israel, the tribe of Judah, the family of David.
With the benefit of the hindsight we now have, knowing who the Messiah is, it would in no way be incorrect to read Genesis 49:10 as fulfilled prophecy, right?
“The scepter shall not pass from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his legs, until it is handed over to Jesus Christ.” And, of course, that rulership has indeed been passed to Jesus.
One more thing about Judah, and we’ll move on. Religious Jews have a big problem today. They continue to assert, correctly, that the Messiah…. or, at least ONE of the Messiahs (because many Jews believe there will be 2)…. is to be from the tribe of Judah, and more precisely, from the Jewish royal family of David.
But, of course, they do NOT acknowledge that Yeshua, who revealed Himself about 30 AD, is that Messiah.
So, the problem is that when that expected day arrives and a “messiah” reveals he as such, how will the Jews ever be able to prove that it is actually He, in the manner they prefer to prove such things…by genealogy?
Because, in 70 AD, the house of records in Jerusalem, and every document that proved the lineage of every Jewish family, was destroyed. Coupled with the nearly 1900 year exile and dispersal they suffered through after that, before returning to a re-born Israel in 1948, there is absolutely no way for any one alive today claiming to be Jewish, to prove it genealogically.
The Jews have never right up to this day, disputed Jesus WAS able to prove it, and His genealogy. Even ultra-Orthodox Jews today readily admit that Yeshua of Nazareth existed, that He WAS of the tribe of Judah that he WAS of the line of David.
Yet, due to the blindness that has overcome so many Israelites, they cannot see the reality of Jesus’ being Messiah, or that it is hopeless that they could, by their very own requirements, EVER prove that whoever it is they think will be Messiah, actually is.
In my next blog post, we’ll look at the remaining tribes’ blessings, beginning with the last 2 children that Leah, Jacob’s first wife, bore to him.
To Be Continued…