Imagini ale paginilor

"took out of the hand of the Amorite, with my sword "and with my bow."

The conversation hitherto was private between Jacob and Joseph only but finding his end very near, he called for all his sons together, that while he had strength to deliver his mind, he might take his farewell of them, and not only distribute his blessings among them, but foretell what should befal them and their posterity in aftertimes. Then directing his speech to them severally, he begins thus to the eldest.

Reuben, thou art my first-born, the beginning of my strength, and by right of primogeniture wert entitled to many privileges and prerogatives, in superiority over thy brethren, and in power, from the double inheritance annexed in course to the birth-right: but these thou hast forfeited by defiling thy father's bed.*

Simeont in course is next; but he is joined with Levi, for that wicked combination between them, in the massacre of Hamor and his people. Of these therefore Jacob says that they were brethren in iniquity: instruments of cruelty were in their habitations: O my soul come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man,‡ and in

these words of Jacob in a prophetic sense; foretelling what he and his posterity should do: and through assurance of faith looking upon it as done, undertook to dispose of a double portion (appendant to the birth-right of Joseph, on whom he had conferred the birth-right) to be possessed by his posterity.

* Bed. When Jacob heard that Reuben had defiled Bilhah, his concubinary wife, Gen. xxxv. 22. the text says that he took no farther notice of it then; but now at his death he reproaches him severely with it, and gives it as the reason for which he deprived him of the privileges of primogeniture.

+ Simeon. Reuben, having forfeited his right of primogeniture, it might be expected, that it should have devolved upon Simeon, who was next but for his cruelty to Joseph, and the idolatry of his tribe in worshipping Baalpeor, Numb. xxv. the priesthood, which was the nobler dignity of the primogeniture, was transferred to Levi, the third son; and the kingdom, the other part of the primogeniture, to Judah.

Man. This is by the figure Synechdoche put for all the inhabitants of Shechem.

their cruel rage they digged down a wall: cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel. Thus did Jacob set forth their offence in very aggravating colours, on which he pronounces a sentence proportionate, "I will dividet them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."

of him.

Having treated his three eldest sons with some severity, Jacob softens his style when he comes to Judah; whose name signifying "Praise," it led him to a high encomium "Judah (said he) thou art he whom thy bre“thren shall praise for thy strength and courage. Thou "shalt put thy enemies to flight; thou shalt pursue "them, lay hold of them, and destroy them; thy father's children shall bow down before thee." And then,

* Digged, &c. Meaning destroying and spoiling the city.

+ Divide. This dividing may be applied to Simeon, whose tribe had not a distinct lot assigned them in Canaan, as the other tribes had; but they were thrust within the lot of Judah, Josh. xix. 1. until in the time of Hezekiah King of Judah, a party of them smote the remainder of Amalek, and seating themselves in their possessions, 1 Chron. iv. 24. were thereby divided from the rest of their own tribe. As for the tribe of Levi, it was scattered through all the tribes; having no peculiar lot or share of the land as the other tribes had.

Judah. His mother Leah, Gen. xxix. 35. at his birth gave him that name in gratitude and thankfulness to God. But now his father calls him so for another reason, alluding to the praise his brethren should give him; and that for many reasons; viz. 1. The tribe of Judah was the first that entered the Red-Sea after Moses. 2. After the death of Joshua, the tribe of Judah was pitched upon to be commander in chief of all the other tribes, in their wars, Judg. i. 2. 3. From this ! tribe sprung the mighty and powerful king David, his son king Solomon, and several other kings till the Babylonish captivity. 4. This tribe waged war against the Ishmaelites, Idumeans, Moabîtes, Arabians, and other neighbouring nations. 5. From this tribe descended Zorobabel, who commanded the people in their return from Babylon. 6. And lastly, From this tribe sprung the Messiah.

$ Bow down. By this, though the birth-right was transferred from Reuben to Joseph, 1 Chron. v. 1. with respect to the double portion: yet that part of the prerogative of primogeniture, which concerned authority or government over the rest, is plainly conferred on Judah; and so it is explained here, 1 Chron. v. 2.



wrapped up in the contemplation of Judah's strength and glory, he breaks forth into these elegant allegories; "Judah is like a lion's* whelp. From the prey my son "thou art gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a "lion, and as an old lion, who shall dare to rouze him ?" Then describing the duration of his government; "The "sceptre (said he) shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver be wanting of his issue, till the Messiah and unto him shall the gathering of the people "be." Then pursuing his allegories, to express the prosperity and plenty of Judah's tribe, and the abundant fruitfulness of its soil, he added, "Binding his foal unto "the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine, he "washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the "blood of grapes." Signifying that wine should be with them as plentiful as water.

[ocr errors]

Jacob, keeping still in Leah's line, passes by Issachar, and takes Zebulun; whose name signifying "dwelling," he only says of him, that "he shall dwell at the haven of

For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler, though the birth right was Joseph's, with respect to the inheritance.

* Lion's whelp. Here are gradually described by the lion's age, the three degrees of the state of this tribe of Judah. The first, its infancy under Joshua The second, its virile state under David. The third its confirmed state under Solomon.


+ By the sceptre, an ancient and well-known ensign of royalty, is undoubtedly meant, the administration of temporal power. Hence the Septuagint render the passage, "A supreme governor shall not fail out of Judah, till the Messiah's advent." This prediction was actually accomplished. When our Saviour was about twelve years of age, the sceptre, which had been gradually departing for some time, totally departed from Judah; for Herod, (who died while our Lord was an infant) was succeeded by his son Archelaus, who, after reigning ten years, was deposed by Augustus Cæsar. Judah then became a Roman province; Quirinius, Prefect of Syria, was commissioned to take possession in the Emperor's name, and Coponius was sent to preside as Lieutenant Governor. The Jews openty confessed the total departure of the sceptre, when, at the trial of our Saviour, they cried out, "We have no King but Cæsar," and "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”

"the sea; and that he shall be an haven for ships, and "his border shall be unto Zidon."*

Coming next to Issachar, he compares him to a strong ass, couching. down between two burdens; seated in a pleasant and fertile country; but being naturally slothful and pusillanimous, loved an inglorious ease, more than active liberty and bravery.

The good old patriarch having pronounced the future lot of Leah's offspring, proceeds to the children of the handmaidens, beginning with Dan, son of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid. "Dan" signifying " judging," he said, "Dan "shall judget his people, as one of the tribes of Israel;" that is, though it was smaller, yet it should enjoy as much authority as another. That it should be like a snake on the way, or an adder in the path, which bites. the horses' heels, and makes them throw their riders. Here Jacob exclaimed, "I have waited for thy salvation, O "Lord!"

⚫ Zidon. Accordingly this lot came forth. Josh. xix. 11.

Judge. This was fulfilled in Samson; yet was no more than Issachar did by Tola, Judg. x. 1. But it is supposed the reason why this was said of Dan, was shew that the sons of the handmaids (of which Dan was the first named) though as born of bond-women, they were in that respect inferior to the rest of their brethren, should notwithstanding obtain some share in the government.

Snake. This seems to intimate that the Danites should prevail more by policy and stratagem, than by open force: which Samson's dealing with the Phi-listines, Judg, xiv. and xv. ch. and the Danites taking Laish, ch. xviii. confirms.

§ Lord. Modern interpreters are very fanciful in the application of this text. There being no context to make it out, some have conjectured it to be a recommendatory ejaculation on his death-bed. Others conceive that something more than ordinary impressed the patriarch's spirit at this time, and that he had some sense or foresight of the mischief the Danites afterwards brought upon themselves, when, having rifled Micha's house, and robbed him of his gods, they fell into open idolatry. Judg. xviii. We would rather consider it as a pious ejaculation. Being spent with the exertion of speaking, and perhaps ready to faintwith those words he pours out his soul to God. The salvation he had long waited

When he spake of Gad, alluding also to his name, he said, "A troop shall overcome him but he shall over"come at last." By which he is thought to have referred to what was afterwards performed by Jephthah, who was of this tribe.*

Of happy Asher he foretells, his bread shall be rich, and kings shall reckon it a dainty; which denoted the exuberant richness of the soil which his descendants should possess.


Naphtali (says he) shall be like a tree having grafts, "shooting out pleasant branches in its generation."+

And now he comes to his beloved Joseph, on whom he expatiates yery largely, thinking he cannot say enough of him. Joseph (says he) is like a fruitful bough of a tree planted near a spring, whose branches‡ run over the


[ocr errors]

for was Christ, to whom the gathering of the people should be, and to whom his departing spirit was about to be gathered. It was the consolation of a dying saint, that he had longed and waited for the Messiah, who was "all his salvation, and all his desire." Gen. xlix. 18.

Tribe. Sec Judg. xi.

Thus it is translated by the learned Bochart, agreeably to the Septuagint, the Chaldee Paraphrase, and the Arabic Version which he consulted in Sweden, without following the pointing of the Masorets, by which the meaning of the text is frequently corrupted. The ordinary version is thus, " Naphtali is a hind let loose, he giveth goodly words." But we have no proof that the tribe of Naphtali was eminent for eloquence, and the Galileans, whose country belonged to it, were remarkable for a vulgar accent. But Naphtali might well be compared to a fruitful tree, for though he had but four sons, yet at the Exodus his tribe made up 53,400 men able to bear arms. Gen. xlvi. 24. Numb. i. 42. Moses in blessing the same tribe says, Deut. xxxiii. 23. "O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord, possess thou the west and the south," (Vulgate—“ The sea and the south,") i. e. the sea of Genesaret, which was south of their inheri tance. Josephus describes the country which belonged to this tribe as the richest of all Judea.

Branches. By this rhetorical amplification Jacob sets forth the strength of Joseph's family, and the large extent of his two-fold tribe, Ephraim and Manasseh, which at the first numbering of the tribes, yielded of men fit to go forth to war 72,700, (Numb. i.) And at the second numbering, 85,200, (Numb. xxvi.) far exceeding any other tribe.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »