Faithlife Sermons

The Blessing of Israel

Notes
Transcript
Handout

Introduction

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 3155 Blessing Upon Blessing

3155 Blessing Upon Blessing

A tract entitled The Bruised Reed led to the conversion of Richard Baxter. He wrote The Saints’ Rest which was blessed to the conversion of Philip Doddridge. Doddridge wrote The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. William Wilberforce from reading this book found Christ and wrote his Practical View. This book was instrumental in the conversion of Leigh Richmond who wrote The Dairyman’s Daughter which has been translated into more than 50 languages, and has been blessed to the conversion of thousands.

It is related of Dr. Goodel, that when he was through Nicomedia, he left with a stranger a copy of The Dairyman’s Daughter, printed in the Armenian Turkish language. Seventeen years afterwards he visited Nicomedia, and found a church of more than 40 members, and a Protestant community of more than 200 persons. That tract with God’s blessing did the work.

—Dr. George W. Truett

The blessings of God translate to the blessings of man over and over again.
The blessings of God affect many generations beyond the initial blessing.
This truth is clearly seen in the life and testimony of Israel.
God’s blessings falls upon an imperfect people and uses an imperfect people to bless the world.
And God continues that work today of using an imperfect people to shower his blessings upon the world.
As we move through this text this morning, we will consider each of the blessings Israel gives to his children.
At times, these blessings do not feel much like blessings, and they are not, in truth. They are as he will describe them in the opening verses, a telling of what will happen in the days to come. For some, will be more of a blessing than others. But we will see the fulfillment of these “blessings” throughout the narrative of scripture.
So, let’s get into it, shall we?

Outline

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
The Invitation to Blessing - Genesis 49:1-2
Reuben’s Blessing - Genesis 49:3-4
Simeon and Levi’s Blessing - Genesis 49:5-7
Judah’s Blessing - Genesis 49:8-12
Zebulun’s Blessing - Genesis 49:13
Issachar’s Blessing - Genesis 49:14-15
Dan’s Blessing - Genesis 49:16-18
Gad’s Blessing - Genesis 49:19
Asher’s Blessing - Genesis 49:20
Naphtali’s Blessing - Genesis 49:21
Joseph’s Blessing - Genesis 49:22-26
Benjamin’s Blessing - Genesis 49:27
Israel’s Death - Genesis 49:28-33

Sermon Body

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.

The Invitation to Blessing - Genesis 49:1-2

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Jacob calls his sons, telling them to gather so that he can tell them what will happen in the days to come.
I highlighted this in my text, the same as I would “bless” because though the word bless is not used here, that is what Israel is about to do. He is inviting them near, upon the understanding of his death, to bless them.
Those blessings in turn will impact their future; that which is to come.
So, this chapter begins with an invitation to come and be blessed.

Reuben’s Blessing - Genesis 49:3-4

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Reuben’s blessing was not really much of a blessing, was it?
He is told his priority, privilege, and prestige of eldest child is being stripped from him.
Reuben was his firstborn, the firstfruits of his strength
First and Best
Choicest Portion
He was preeminent in dignity and power
Having paramount dignity or importance
But he lost it all due to his sin.
Instead, he is described as unstable as water.
Literally, FROTH.
Abstract term for concrete - meaning opposite. Not firm or stable.
Brimming over in the heat of passion - that suits, doesn’t it?
YOU SHALL NOT have the place of paramount importance, dignity, or privilege. That spot will be taken from you, and as we have seen, will be handed to Joseph through his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh.
1 Chron 5:1 points out that this was true. The birthright, rightfully belonging to Reuben, was given to Joseph instead (through his two sons).
We have already seen this passage twice before as we have studied previous chapters, so we will move on now instead to Simeon and Levi.

Simeon and Levi’s Blessing - Genesis 49:5-7

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Sons of Leah. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, first four born to Leah.
Weapons of Violence are their swords - Genesis 34:25-26
TWO sons…TWO did this entire massacre.
Thus, Israel aptly describes them as “fierce” and “Cruel”
Fierce - Strong, intense
Cruel - To make hard. To harden.
Interesting definition. BECAUSE, to be cruel, you have to harden yourself to compassion, empathy, sympathy, love, kindness, etc. A cruel person, to do the kinds of they do, is hardened to the affects of their cruelty so that they are not impeded by it.
In their anger over Dinah’s defilement, they destroyed every male in the city of the man who was responsible, Shechem and his father Hamor.
Rather than a blessing, they bear a curse for their violence and brashness.
“Let my soul NOT come into their council...”
“O my glory, BE NOT JOINED to their company”
He is disavowing himself from them.
He is disassociating himself from their actions and refusing to take credit for or part in their villany.
FOR in their anger they killed men and WILLINGLY hamstrung oxen.
Not only did they kill the men, they rendered their animals as useless.
They plundered the city and took all for themselves.
So fierce and cruel was their anger that they laid complete waste to the city without regard for anything but their anger.
Theirs was not a blessing, but a curse of being scattered throughout the tribes and not given a true inheritance of their own.
Levi - Numbers 3:5-12
Levitical priesthood…they did not get their own land but where scattered through every tribe serving as the priests and temple caretakers of the places of worship.
Simeon - Joshua 19:1-9
Their land allotment was INSIDE Judah’s.
Show Map
Judah’s was too large for them, so essentially, Simeon’s tribe was given a portion of Judah’s rather than their own and were surrounded by Judah on all sides.

Judah’s Blessing - Genesis 49:8-12

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Judah’s blessing...
His will be the royal line, ruling line
Brothers shall praise him
Play on his name. Genesis 29:35 - Leah praised the Lord at his birth and his name reflects praise to God for Judah’s birth.
Thus, this expression is a play on that.
Father’s sons shall bow before him
Lion/lioness terminology - that of might and royalty.
Was a common and understood image of royalty and power throughout the middle east.
He shall have the submission of peoples
Hand shall be on the neck of your enemies
(Again) People shall bow before him
To him shall be the obedience of all peoples
The scepter/ruler’s staff shall not depart from Judah
Scepter is a staff that commonly recognized as a symbol of authority for one who rules.
Ruler’s Staff - synonym for scepter.
From between his feet - euphemism for genitals. It is another, more direct way of saying that the scepter will not depart from Judah.
Phase is also used in Deut 28:57
Used of a women giving birth to a child… “her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears...”
The imagery is used to depict childbirth.
And we know that this finds it culmination in the person of Christ who is THE final king in the line of Judah.
Matthew 1:1-16
Read Through Judah and then skip to end to see Christ....we are familiar, no need to read the whole thing.
1 Timothy 6:13-16; Revelation 19:11-16
Truly, this was upheld and found its fulfillment in the person of Christ!
There are allusions to this truth in the text....
The text says (Genesis 49:8-12) that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet.....
Until tribute comes to him
Actual Hebrew - Shiloh
Some of your translations, including KJV, NKJV, NASB, use Shiloh.
Difficult word to translate; wide opinion of what the word means.
There are several key ways this passage seeks to be interpreted. I am going to share the most likely two.
The first is the one in which the ESV uses in its translation.
Tribute (ESV, Tanakh (Jewish Bible), NRSV)
The word tribute occurs in other places throughout scripture and describes the offering of gifts by the nations to an all powerful Lord
This picture would sit well and agree with the imagery we are seeing in this text.
This obedience could very often be expressed through the presentation of royal tribute and gifts.
This interpretation of Tribute keeps close to the original text while seeking to allow the context to provide the understanding of this word.
The imagery of kingship, submission, obedience, praise fits with the imagery of tribute being presented.
The second understanding of this word Shiloh renders the translation, “to whom it belongs.” Many translations write it this way (NIV, NLT).
Meaning, to whom the SCEPTER belongs comes.
In other words, it would read....It shall not depart until “he comes to whom it belongs.”
(Here we see a very possible allusion pointing forward to the Messiah; to Christ)
It will not depart until it finds its fulfillment in Christ, in the one true king, the Messiah.
We get this understanding from how we understand the word, until.
“Until”
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Judah (49:8–12)

The word “until” does not mean that the role of Judah’s house ceases with the coming of the king. The word “until” (ʿad kî) does not always indicate a break from the preceding action, but it may indicate continuity with the past action and which reaches a fuller expression.

Perhaps in the varying opinions, there is an agreement between one or more of these.
It seems, the most likely understanding from the text and history is that it refers to the fact that the rulership will not depart from and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the coming of the Messiah and in truth, tribute, submission, obedience, and worship WILL come from the world to this one true king.
The blessing ends with these words....
Genesis 49:11-12
What is the imagery here? What is this conveying?
Convey’s a successful and abundant harvest. So much so that there is little concern with tying a donkey to a vine. What is going to happen if a donkey is tied to a vine? He is going to eat it. The fact that one does this with little to no concern of the damage the donkey would do indicates the extravagant abundance they are experiencing.
We see this same picture of abundance in the next phrase...
Washed garments in wine, vesture in the blood of grapes
Parallel thought to that of the donkey
To wash ones clothes in grapes, wine depicts the excess of the harvest.
OR it could refer the grape juice soaked garments after pressing the juice out of the grapes
Either way, it depicts the abundance of the harvest
Verse 12 goes on to depict the appearance of the man and what the abundance has done for him.
Eyes darker than wine
Teeth whiter than milk
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Judah (49:8–12)

So rich and abundant is the wine that he has produced, his eyes are “darker” (ḥaklîlî; cf. ḥaklîlût, Prov 23:29) than the wine itself, and his teeth glisten whiter than milk against his red-stained lips.613 The images of wine (vineyard) and milk portray prosperity (e.g., Deut 32:14; Isa 55:1).

Imagery of wine and milk depicts riches and abundance
Judah’s blessing is a royal and rich one. To him will come the royal line and through the royal line will come the Messiah, the one true king.
His blessing is one of royalty and abundance, blessing and riches.

Zebulun’s Blessing - Genesis 49:13

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
This blessing ends up being a little confusing.
Turn with me to Joshua 19:10-16
Show Map
Does Zebulun look like it is a coastal territory?
NOPE.
And yet, Genesis 49:13 says that they shall dwell at the sea and become a haven for ships...
However, they were uniquely positioned on a prominent and lucrative trade route FROM the sea.
The fact that they are said to “dwell at the shore of the sea” and that they would “become a haven for ships” suggests that though their territory is land locked, they become SAVY and skilled at maximizing their ability to deal in seaports and trading.
Point is, Zeb becomes a city with connection to the sea despite not dwelling on it.

Issachar’s Blessing - Genesis 49:14-15

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Here again, we see a reversal of order in blessings. Issachar is older than Zebulun and yet Zeb is mentioned first.
Consistently throughout the OT we see Zebulun being listed/mentioned prior to Issachar. As before we have seen, here a younger brother becomes greater in prominence that and older brother.
So while Issachar is older than Zebulun, we see Zeb taking priority over Issachar.
So what does Issachar’s blessing mean?
Here again, we have a translation variance, once that leads to confusion.
Sheepfolds - Hebrew is the word for saddlebags.
The imagery is that of a donkey laboring under burden of labor in shouldering the load it has been asked/forced to bear.
Seeing that the land (their inheritance) was pleasant, they willingly bowed their should and became slaves.
During the 6th-8th centuries, they would in fact become subject to the occupation of Canaanite peoples and be put to forced work.
The blessing (if you want to call it that) is saying that Issachar is strong and seeing that the land is good, would willingly bow the shoulder to forced labor rather than be forced out of the land.

Dan’s Blessing - Genesis 49:16-18

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Dan was a child born to Rachel’s servant Bilhah.
Again, a play on names.
Genesis 30:6 - God has judged me...
Dan’s blessing is a mixed one. Dan’s history is one of “remarkable achievements and dismal failures.”
Dan is said to be a judge for the people
In lingo of the book of judges, this was one who would stand in defense of his people rather than one standing in judgement over them.
Samson would be a judge that would rise out of Dan and defend the people of Israel.
They would become an isolated people, leading some to believe that though they are counted among the tribes of Israel, this role of judge may well have been primarily restricted to their own tribe rather than the nation as a whole.
Samson’s role, for instance, was likely
Yet, though they would serve a key role as judge among the nation of Israel, they would also be known for their aggression and lack of spiritual morality.
They are the second most numerous tribe in Israel - Numbers 2:26 and Numbers 26:42
But they failed to take possession of their inheritance and ended up abandoning it. Joshua 19:40-48
Dan would not be known for it’s spiritual strength or morality.
Though they would be known for their aggressiveness AS WELL AS their isolation from the rest of the tribes due to their northern movement after their abandonment of their allotment.
This aggressiveness fits well with how they are described here.
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Dan (49:16–18)

M. O’Connor observed that of the animals named in the Blessing of Jacob, the snake is the only one that lives alone. Dan’s move to the far north put it at a great distance from the center of Israel’s life.

Genesis 11:27–50:26 Dan (49:16–18)

Dan is likened to a snake that effectively brings down a horseman, probably to be understood as an interloper (v. 17). The usual word for “snake” (nāḥāš) is matched by the rare term “viper,” occurring only here (šĕpîpōn, “horned snake”?). The imagery of a small, obscure snake that strikes (“bites,” nōšēk) an unsuspecting passerby illustrates the stealth of this lethal opponent (e.g., Jer 8:17; Amos 9:3). The tactic of surprise attack brought down the more prosperous but trusting city Laish (Judg 18:7, 10, 27). A reflex of the garden imagery (3:15) is apparent, where snapping at the “heel” injures the victim (cf. Gad, v. 19). Moreover, “heel” (ʿāqēb) in vv. 17, 19 recalls the play on Jacob’s name (25:26; 27:36). The picture of Dan is not as victim but victimizer, like the serpent in the garden or Jacob the deceiver.

Perhaps you remember the story of Dan from our study of Judges. In chapter 18, we see clearly the depiction of Dan becoming a serpent - Judges 18
They sent men to take an inheritance for themselves because they had not recieved one yet.
They end of luring away a Levite to be their priest, stealing the household gods that had been erected there.
When they are confronted for their sin, they basically threaten Micah (the man whom they stole the priest and gods from) if he tries to withstand them.
They came to Laish, a quiet people and killed them all, taking possession of their land for their own.
And they established a cult, setting up a false god as their own.
Sounds serpent like, doesn’t it?
Genesis 49:17 - Sounds like one who bites at horses heels and causes death, destruction, and chaos.
It is interesting to note that they are left off the list of tribes in Revelation 7:4-8 of those sealed during the tribulation period.
Is it any wonder then that Israel cries out for their salvation in Genesis 49:18 Having issued this blessing/curse on Dan, Israel cries out to God for salvation and redemption for him.

Gad’s Blessing - Genesis 49:19

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Gad’s name means “what good fortune” Genesis 30:11
Israel, in a sense, reverses that and details misfortune that will befall them.
Gad is sandwiched between the Moabites to the south, the Ammonites to the east, and the Arameans to the northeast.
They had to war in order to survive. They would become renowned warriors as a result.
We do see their warrior ways in 1 Chron 5:18-22.
Now granted, they are not the only ones here showing to be warring, but they are mentioned as ones who had a military might to take notice of.
The mention of enemies “heels” would suggest their tactics were stealth and surprise or even that their enemy is in flight as they chase them down.
Theirs would be a hard lot (As they all would be) as they contend with enemies but this blessing seems to allude to their veracity in standing their ground.

Asher’s Blessing - Genesis 49:20

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Deut 33:24 - Blessing of Moses, let Asher be favored among his brothers.
Leah named him Asher because his birth, via Zilpah, made her happy.
His blessing is certainly one of abundance and happiness.
The land that Asher would inherit will be agriculturally rich and would supply many gourmet delights for the palace.
Their location on the cost would provide access to rich trade and harbors bringing goods from far away lands.
Show Map
The land produced rich and decadent wonders that would be enjoyed throughout Israel but especially in the palace.

Naphtali’s Blessing - Genesis 49:21

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Naphtali’s blessing is one of abundance and blessing. Of prosperity and fruitfulness.
We see it as well in Deut 33:23
The abundance and blessing is seen in the imagery and picture of a doe that is set loose and procreates, producing beautiful fawns.
Naphtali possessed remarkable natural resources that made for a beautiful and bountiful land, truly one with the blessing of God.
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Naphtali (49:21)

The allotment of Naphtali lay in the upper Galilee, west of the lake of Galilee, extending northward along the Jordan River (Josh 19:32–39).

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Genesis 11:27–50:26 Naphtali (49:21)

One of the distinctive features of Naphtali in the giving of the tribal inheritances is the absence of a northern border specifically delineated. This unrestricted northern frontier may be reflected in Jacob’s picture of the hind unfettered to roam where it pleased. Naphtali possessed remarkable natural resources that made for a beautiful and bountiful land, truly one “full with the blessing of the LORD”

In addition to this physical prosperity and abundance, they would also have possessed some military expertise that could be alluded to in this description.
John MacArthur

49:21 Deer-like speed and agility marked Naphtali’s military prowess (cf. Jdg 4:6; 5:18). The song of Deborah and Barak, who hailed from Naphtali (Jdg 4:6), is representative of his eloquent words (Jdg 5).

Point is, their was an inheritance of prosperity and abundance.
Nap’s blessing was one of abundance and blessing.

Joseph’s Blessing - Genesis 49:22-26

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
This is the longest of the twelve.
It can be broken into three segments.
This blessing to Joseph, is of course realized through his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh who have been adopted by Israel into his own family.
Prosperity - Genesis 49:22
Protection - Genesis 49:23-24
Blessings - Genesis 49:25-26

Prosperity - Genesis 49:22

Fruitful Bough
Fruitful bough by a spring
Branches grow and extend over a wall.
A variant translation puts it...
Or Joseph is a wild donkey, a wild donkey beside a spring, his wild colts beside the wall
One variation is that a wild donkey is to be the preferred translation here.
More dominant in Israel’s blessing is the imagery of animal comparisons rather than plant. This has led many to translate this word, which means young animal or son, man, young man, to be translate using donkey imagery instead of plant imagery.
Support for this is found in Hosea when Hosea compares him to a wild donkey. Hosea 8:9
However, if you go with the animal imagery, the imagery of a wall would not fit with the description of a WILD donkey, one that is undomesticated and it seem more likely to be an ox or something.
So, the main reason for some varying away from the plant imagery to animal is that is does not seem consistent with Israel’s language throughout the rest of the passage.
However, plant imagery is often used throughout scripture to depict the fruitfulness and prosperity of a person or nation. (e.g., Pss 1:3; 128:3; Jer 17:8; Ezek 19:10; Dan 4:11)
Mathews, K. A. (2005). Genesis 11:27–50:26 (Vol. 1B, p. 904). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
It does seem more likely that the plant imagery is the one used by Jacob for that very reason.
Picture is that the growth of the tree cannot be contained by that which was designed to and it is overgrowing it in its abundance.
This imagery too strengthens the argument for plant imagery when you consider the rapid growth of Israel to extend beyond territories they possessed to claim others that they did not originally do so.
Of course, due to the promise that Ephraim will become very great and numerous this probably MOST realized through Ephraim…though certainly, all of Joseph’s descendants are included.
Ephraim becomes exceedingly great, one of the most numerous nations.
His name was meant an expression of fruitfulness and abundance in the land of affliction.
So again, we see the blessing playing off his name.
The beginning of this blessing then begins by considering the prosperity and blessing of Joseph and his descendants.

Protection - Genesis 49:23-24

These next verses are a commentary on Joseph’s life.
A combination of words put together in rapid succession detail the offenses.
They bitterly attacked him
They Shot at him
They harassed him severely
The identity of these attackers is not directly mentioned.
It is likely this a reference to some or all of the trials he faced at the hands of his brothers, Potipher’s wife, and even the Cupbearer.
Joseph undoubtedly endured great hardship and trial in his life. Verse 23 speaks to that opposition in dark.
Despite that, verse 24 reads...
Genesis 49:24
He remained unmoved.
Constant, continual
Bears idea of unchanging
Picture is that of a stream that continually flows.
Ironic that we translate it unmoved but the imagery is that of something that is constantly moving…faithfully so.
He was not deterred, altered from course. He did not cease to stand firm. He remained unchanged in his convictions and faith.
His faith steadily flowed despite the many obstacles he faced.
His arms were made agile
The imagery of an archer is reflected here in the thought of Joseph’s agility and speed in responding to the attacks he faced.
Point is, he remained steadfast and responded promptly and swiftly to the attacks and challenges he faced.
In the next sentence, the strength and source of this sustaining power is exposed.
BY the hands of the MIGHTY ONE OF JACOB
The Shepherd
The Stone of Israel
All names to describe God as the source of Joseph’s strength and steadfastness.
Each name of God used to make a specific point
By the Hands of the MIGHTY ONE OF JACOB
Describes God’s Power to Save
Play on words tying back to Joseph’s arms were made agile.
This name (and its variation - Mighty One of Israel) occurs six times over the poetic writings. Every other time it is used in scripture it is directly and inextricably linked to the name Yahweh…making it clear of whom it is speaking.
Point is…it speaks to the mighty power of God to save, deliver.
SHEPHERD
Describes the power of God to provide
Israel, in his blessing to Joseph, used the same name, referring to God as his Shepherd.
It was God who through all these long years had provided for and cared for Israel and His family and Israel acknowledges that in this blessing here as well as in other times and places throughout his life.
THE STONE OF ISRAEL
Describes the constancy and security of divine support.
The word translated STONE here is eben (as opposed to sur). Generally, eben is used to refer to precious, natural, or cut stones. The kind of greater value, where sur is used to reference a boulder or larger rock.
Point is, the Stone of Israel is of greater worth and value than that of sur (normal stones)
It is also constant and secure in the sense that it is largely unchanging and sure.
Point is, this trio of names is given as a beautiful explanation of the strength and source of might that has long sustained Joseph through these many long years of trouble.
It is by the strength of God that Joseph was sustained through all the conflict, opposition, and trial he faced.
HOW TRUE IS THIS FOR US AS WELL?
After offering words of prosperity and protection over Joseph, he moves into the final two verses that focus on Joseph and we see blessing.

Blessings - Genesis 49:25-26

In these next two verses, the word group “bless” occurs 6 times. This dense repetition exposes God intention to ABUNDANTLY bless Joseph and his descendents.
Notice the emphasis on the person of God
By the God (El) of your father...
by the Almighty (Shaddai)...
The name, El Shaddai, is divided between these two parallel lines.
This title of El Shaddai is the divine title of God that is distinctive to the God of the Patriarch’s.
Notice the emphasis of personal connection
Who will help you
Will bless you
This is a personal relationship between God and individual family member.
Our God is a personal God.
This blessing is specific to the personal person of Joseph and his descendents.
Kenneth Matthews notes...
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Joseph (49:22–26)

The term “help” (ʿāzar) occurs here for the first time in the Old Testament. It is well known as an element in names referring to God, for example, “Ebenezer” (1 Sam 7:12). Typically, the word group ʿ-z-r describes military assistance (e.g., Josh 10:4; Isa 41:10) or personal assistance (e.g., Ps 30:11; Isa 50:7, 9), both human and divine. Particularly forbidding to the victim is when there is “no one to help” (e.g., 2 Kgs 14:26; Pss 22:11[12]; 72:12).

Our God is a God of help.
A personal God of help.
And in this blessing to Joseph, Israel makes the point that God has and will continue to personally bless, help Joseph.
Specificity of the Blessings
Rain
Blessings of heaven above
Blessings of the deep that crouches beneath.
Reminiscent of creation terminology in Genesis 1:1-2; 7:11; 8:2
Similar vocabulary is used in Moses’ blessing/song in Deut 33:13
Children
See in the use of the description of breasts and womb.
Idea of birth and weaning of children.
Miscarriages and dry breasts are seen in Hosea 9:14 as a judgement of God.
Thus, the inclusion of birth and weaning in this blessing exposes the blessing of the provision of children and families.
Point is…this is a blessing of fertility and blessing.
The blessing goes on to express that Israel’s own blessing has far exceeded that of his parents and grandparents.
Possibly an illusion to the fact that both Abraham and Isaac had fewer children than Israel has been blessed with.
Possibly an illusion to greater wealth
Possibly a greater illusion to the overall blessings he has known
Possibly a combination of all of these.
The blessings of your father (your father, Joseph…me) ARE MIGHTy and beyond the blessing of my own parents.
They are are the bounties of the everlasting hills.
Bounty here denotes desire, delight. Meaning that which is desirable and delightful. Parallel’s the thought of blessing that drips from this text. The things that are desirable and delightful!
The blessing is one of richness, abundance, and blessing.
The final phrase in verse 26 is a call for this blessing to come to pass....it is a beseeching of God to bring it all to pass.
May it be on the head of Joseph
and on the brow of him who was separated (by spite and jealousy at first and by blessing now—his is the highest blessing) from this brothers.
Judah may well be the kingly line, but Joseph’s has a unique and abundant blessing due to his position as ruler of Egypt.
The blessing on Joseph is in fact the longest and arguably the richest and finest.
And that brings us to the final blessing. Benjamin.

Benjamin’s Blessing - Genesis 49:27

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
Benjamin is a ravenous wolf
Ravenous - To rip, tear, shred.
Wolf - Wild animal.
Devouring, eating the prey in the morning
Diving the spoil/prophets of war in the evening.
This blessing paints a picture of the tribe as one continuously on the prowl, on the war path. It depicts them as one who are perhaps mighty warriors and vicious as that.
They will exhibit a great propensity for war during the settlement and early monarchy days of the conquest.
They would be known for their skill as left handed marksman and for their bravery.
They were a scrappy and efficient lot.
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Benjamin (49:27)

The warriors of Benjamin were renown for their skill as left-handed marksmen (Judg 20:15–16; 1 Chr 12:2) and for their bravery (1 Chr 8:40).

We also see a bit of this (or alot) in the book of Judges. Judges 19:22
Gibeah, a city belonging to Benjamin, would be guilty to a vile crime.
A Levite and his concubine happened upon this city and were planning to reside in the town square over night. (for no none was willing to take them into their house).
One man, an old man, coming in from the field at work saw them and told them that they could not spend the night there and took him back home to his place to give them a place to rest for the night.
The men of city, much like Sodom and Gomorrah of old, came to his house and demanded that man that they might “know” him.
The man dissuaded them, in like fashion to Lot, by giving them instead the man’s concubine.
Unlike Sodom and Gomorrah of old, there was no angel to intercede. The men of city took her and abused her so violently all night long that she ended up dead.
The Levite took her dead body home, dismembers it, and sends parts of it all over Israel raising up the tribes in anger and response to the crimes of Gibeah.
The tribes assemble and go to war against Benjamin, and Benjamin systematically shreds Israel’s army more than once.
The first battle was 26,000 against 400,000. They won. Israel lost 22,000 men that day.
The second battle went as badly as Israel lost 18,000 men.
The third battle, God interceded and granted Israel victory. In that third battle, 25,100 men (nearly the entire army who of Benjamin) was wiped out.
Point of this little story is to show the fulfillment of this blessing/curse made of Israel here.
In the days of the Judges, their military might was used for wicked ends as these men did what they wanted. At other points in history, God used their might and power to deliver Israel and judge the nations.
Saul was a Benjamite.
Ehud, a judge who killed King Eglon was from the tribe of Benjamin.
They would be the least, but they would be mighty and scrappy for sure.
Interestingly, Moses’ picture paints them very differently.
Deut 33:12
Moses’ depiction paints them as a calm and peaceful people.
It is an interesting picture of Benjamin, who through this narrative has been a passive participant and we have not seen much regarding them.

Israel’s Death - Genesis 49:28-33

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
The twelve tribes of Israel are achieved when one tribe is dropped from their numbering.
Genesis 11:27–50:26 Conclusion (49:28)

(e.g., Levi, Num 1; 13; Simeon, Deut 32; Dan, Rev 7:5–8)

Three times, the term blessing is used here, again emphasizing the purpose of this text.
Each blessing was made suitable to each of the children.
Each distinct blessing spoke to the unique role and function each tribe would play in the life of the nation.
Each child was blessed and mentioned but each was given a different blessing/future.
After the blessings were given, he gave them very specific instructions about this burial arrangements.
He was to be buried in the same cave that was in the field of Ephron the Hittite, that Abraham had purchases to bury Sarah in; the he later would be buried in; that Isaac and Rebecca would be buried in, as would Leah.
Upon this, Israel dies and so passes his legacy from this life on to his sons.

Conclusion

Big Idea: Israel blesses his sons, forwarding the blessing of Abraham to future generations.
As we consider this text, a few notes
God’s promise of a great nation, of blessing to Abraham is coming to fruition
The blessing continues to be passed from one generation to the next
The greatest blessing/fulfillment will be through Judah as the Messiah, Christ comes.
God is faithful and Good.
As we reflect upon these closing words (along with chapter 50 next week) of this great book, I pray the that might and strength, and glory and splendor of our God shines forth as His blessing continues to spread in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham.

Application and Discussion Questions

What does it mean to be blessed?
Happy, fortunate, privileged, praised.
In OT, it is usually pronouncing good things on the recipient.
What is the purpose of God’s blessings? Cite scripture to support your answer.
Ps 67 - God blesses us that we might know Him and praise His name.
1 Pt 3:8-9 - We were called to bless others. We were saved, graced, and given blessing that we might be a source of blessing to others, even our enemies.
Blessing is not primarily about our benefit but God’s and others. However, when others use their blessing as God intended, we receive blessing as well.
Read Matthew 5:2-12.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
Humble. Not self exalting.
What does it mean, “Blessed are those who mourn?” What do you think the reason for mourning is? Read James 4:8-10. What insight does this provide about the object of mourning?
Mourning over sin. A mourning to leads to repentance and a change of mind and attitude about sin.
A mourning over spiritual brokenness.
We must be careful not to apply this wrongly.
The context is that of spiritual emphasis. Poor in spirit, meekness, hungering after righteousness.
It is not to say that God does not comfort us in our grief, he often does.
But here, and even in 2 Cor 1:3-7 where it speaks of God’s comfort, it is spiritual in nature. In 2 Cor 1:3, God comforts for those afflicted and persecuted.
God is a God of comfort in mourning from loss and suffering, but these two passages often used to teach that God comforts us in our temporal, fleshly sorrow speak of something different than we often apply them.
Define meek/meekness. What does it look like to live a meek lifestyle?

MEEKNESS—a calm temper of mind, not easily provoked (James 3:13).

In the NT meekness (prautēs and adjective praus) refers to an inward attitude, whereas *GENTLENESS is expressed rather in outward action. It is part of the fruit of Christlike character produced only by the Spirit (Gal. 5:23, AV). The meek do not resent adversity because they accept everything as being the effect of God’s wise and loving purpose for them, so that they accept injuries from men also (as Moses above), knowing that these are permitted by God for their ultimate good (cf. 2 Sa. 16:11).

Meekness shows itself by not easily being roused to anger or brashness.
One who will consider their ways, their actions; who will take time to ponder a situation and respond correctly rather than merely reacting.
Not being controlled by emotions but rather being controlled by truth.
What is the promise/truth of verse 6?
If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be satisfied.
If you desire righteousness, you will be satisfied in finding it.
What does it look like to hunger and thirst after righteousness? Be specific. Be practical.
Desire that which is right and true more than which is wrong and sinful.
Prioritizing time spent with God, in His word, around others who love God.
Guarding ones influences and input to protect against sinful thinking, desires, and values from creeping in.
Filling our minds with thoughts of righteousness. Allowing our words to express regular passion for righteousness.
Define Mercy.
Pity, sympathy, compassion
Not giving what one deserves
Why do those that show mercy, receive mercy?
Those who show mercy, a pit, a sympathy, a compassion that does not give what was rightfully deserves, invokes mercy and compassion from others.
When we exhibit that trait, it is the evidence of a heart that is affected by love, grace, and mercy and shows the character of a person.
What does it mean to be pure in heart?
Without defect, impurity, dirt.
It means to be free from sinful motivation, desire, or thinking.
To be pure in heart is to have no selfish focus or intent.
Why is purity of heart an essential requirement for seeing God?
God is pure and cannot be in the presence of impurity. His righteousness and purity demands righteousness and purity.
How do we become pure in heart?
Prayer
Renewing of our minds
Guarding our heart
Forsaking the pleasures of the flesh
Guarding our lives and influencers.
Why are peacemakers called the “sons of God?” What is so distinctive about that to receive such a title?
God is a God of peace. To live as peacemakers displays that have been changed by and embrace the ways of the God. To live as he does, shows we represent him and are his.
To live as peacemakers, we display the changes he has brought in us and prove the reality of our faith.
Why is it a blessing to be persecuted?
Reread verse 12. What light does this shed upon why it is a blessing to be persecuted?
Our reward is great in heaven.
It exposes the strength and reality of our faith and the salvation our words profess.
God is glorified and praised in that act of suffering for him. It shows him to be valuable as we are willing to endure hardship for him. Thus he is glorified. As he is glorified, we are satisfied in him.
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