The Prophetic Promise of God’s Provision
These last chapters of Genesis give us some very practical insight into how the believer should maneuver through life. Hard times will inevitably come, but with a scriptural mindset we will not only get through, we will finish well.
Getting through Hard Times
Then Joseph went and told Pharaoh, and said, “My father and my brothers, their flocks and their herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; and indeed they are in the land of Goshen.” 2 And he took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?”
And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and also our fathers.” 4 And they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to dwell in the land, because your servants have no pasture for their flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.”
5 Then Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.”
7 Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”
9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” 10 So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
11 And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families.
13 Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
15 So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.”
16 Then Joseph said, “Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year.
18 When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.”
20 Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands.
23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.”
25 So they said, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” 26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh’s.
27 So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years. 29 When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.”
And he said, “I will do as you have said.”
31 Then he said, “Swear to me.” And he swore to him. So Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.
How did Jacob get through these hard times? Jacob had a sojourners mindset (47:1-4). He refers to his life as a “pilgrimage” (47:9). Jacob is just passing through. The word “dwell” (47:4 – Hebrew KAL) means to, “sojourn” or to, “to reside in a country not one’s own as a stranger or guest.” Hebrews tells us that Jacob and his ancestors had their eyes of faith on a greater more permanent heavenly city made by God (Hebrews 11:13-16). The word “pilgrimage” refers to, “ a sacred journey to some distant place.” This word conveys the idea of destiny, of moving toward a destination. Hebrews 13:14 states, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” And in Peter’s first epistle he is inspired to write:
· 1 Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
· 1 Peter 2:11-12 - 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
We should see ourselves as pilgrims on a mission. This life is not all there is to our existence. This life is only a step toward our final destination. But this isn’t always the way we think or live is it? Examine yourself. Are you investing all your time, money, and energy in temporal things? Or are you investing in things with eternal value like the salvation of the souls of the lost? Someone has said, this short life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. Do you live with that in mind?
What should our mindset be toward material things? Jesus gives clear instruction on this topic so that we can have a proper perspective on prosperity. He says:
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
If we seek the Lord and His purposes, His Kingdom, everything else will fall into place. Where God guides God provides. He led Jacob to “dwell in the best of the land” (47:6).
And if God blesses us with wealth we need to maintain a proper perspective on what He has blessed us with. Paul addressed this issue when he was inspired to write:
1 Timothy 6:6-19
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
If you are blessed by God with material riches, don’t forget to use them to invest in the eternal things of God. Cars, homes, this world’s toys, will all pass away, but seeking the eternal life and edification of people lasts forever.
Genesis 47 begins by Joseph bringing Jacob and Joseph’s brothers before pharaoh. God has guided them to Egypt and He provided for them through pharaoh (47:5-6). Upon being introduced to pharaoh, Jacob blesses pharaoh (47:7, 10). That Jacob blessed pharaoh is interesting because Hebrews 7:7 states “the lesser is blessed by the greater”; therefore though pharaoh was the king of the greatest earthly kingdom of the time, Jacob was still greater because God’s blessing was upon him. Being blessed by God is greater than any worldly blessing! Why is that? It is because the blessing of God flows out of the eternity of God while all that is earthly is temporal and passing away (1 John 2:15-17).
What characterizes the “blessed” person according the scripture? The first Psalm tells us very clearly:
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The one blessed by God is a person of God’s word who walks according to the word of God. The unrighteous disregards God’s word and is unfruitful in all their ways. There is no eternal worth in the life of the ungodly. Which are you?
Joseph continues to work wisely on behalf of pharaoh even after the divine purpose is fulfilled (47:11-26). Did Joseph take advantage of his circumstances? No where does anyone complain of Joseph’s dealings. Joseph’s life leads us to believe his habit is to act righteously. By today’s standards 20% given to the government would be an exceptional deal! Joseph was merely being a good steward of what God had entrusted to him. There is nothing wrong with being a good business person.
Jacob never forgot the Promised Land he temporarily had to leave. He made Joseph promise that when he died, Joseph would bury Jacob in the Promised Land (47:29-31). Jacob never forgot the Promised Land and the promises associated with it by God. We need to follow in his steps and keep the Land of Promise in view.
Accepting the Will of God
Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, “Indeed your father is sick”; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 And Jacob was told, “Look, your son Joseph is coming to you”; and Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. 3 Then Jacob said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ 5 And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. 6 Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. 7 But as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
8 Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”
9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”
And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
12 So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:
“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ ” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”
The setting for Genesis 48 and 49 is the deathbed of Jacob. It is here that he gives his last words to his sons. In Genesis 48 Jacob adopts Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim (48:5). Joseph knows his sons are from God, his faith continues to be strong (48:9).
Jacob had not expected to ever see Joseph again let alone his grandsons; that is the way God’s will is, it exceeds our expectations (48:8-11; Eph. 3:20). God blessed Jacob in a way he could have never expected; in a way that he had given up all hope of it happening. Remember that next time you are tempted to despair.
God’s will is often unconventional. Jacob blesses the younger Ephraim over the older Manasseh. Joseph struggles with the will of God given through his father (48:12-14, 17-20). God does not always proceed chronologically. We have seen this in God’s blessing Abel over Cain, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, Ephraim over Manasseh, and later in the Bible in David over his brothers. God reserves the right to bless and work through who He determines and sometimes that involves breaking with our tradition or convention. Remember that next time you remain rigid to your own plans. God never bypasses or contradicts His word, but He does work in ways we do not expect. God always leaves room for hope (e.g. Romans 4:18-22).
God is in control and Joseph surrendered to God’s will in the end. Jacob blesses Joseph. He recalls how God “fed” him and “redeemed” him (48:15). God has provided for him and his family. And Jacob also mentions, “The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil” (48:16); this is likely a reference to the Christophany in Genesis 32 experienced by Jacob. Jacob gives Joseph a double portion (48:22).
But notice Joseph is “displeased” when Jacob blesses the younger in place of the older of his sons (48:17). Sometimes we question the will of God. Like Joseph we even try to correct what we see as a mistake (48:17-18). To question the will of God is not sinful but the way we do so may cross the line into sin. It is sinful to question God in a demanding or proud way like the wicked (Matthew 22:15-16; Mark 6:1-6; John 18:33-38). But there is nothing wrong to sincerely question God’s will (Acts 1:6; 2:37). Even Jesus brought a question in His prayers (Matthew 26:36-46). But we have to be ready to surrender and submit to God’s will even if we don’t understand it completely. That is what Joseph did (48:19-22). Ultimately we need to trust the Lord to bring forth His plan (e.g. Numbers 14). No matter what remember, “God will be with you” (48:21).
And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:
2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob,
And listen to Israel your father.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
My might and the beginning of my strength,
The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it—
He went up to my couch.
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
6 Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.
8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
11 Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.
13 “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;
He shall become a haven for ships,
And his border shall adjoin Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between two burdens;
15 He saw that rest was good,
And that the land was pleasant;
He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden,
And became a band of slaves.
16 “Dan shall judge his people
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way,
A viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heels
So that its rider shall fall backward.
18 I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!
19 “Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him,
But he shall triumph at last.
20 “Bread from Asher shall be rich,
And he shall yield royal dainties.
21 “Naphtali is a deer let loose;
He uses beautiful words.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall.
23 The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.
24 But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at night he shall divide the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.
29 Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
In Genesis 49 Jacob, now 147 years old, is on his deathbed. He summons his sons to his side for some final words. It is during this time that he pronounces his blessing on his sons. These words are poetic and prophetic. He says the purpose of his words are, “that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days” (49:1). Therefore he gathers them together to make his pronouncement (49:2).
It should be mentioned that this is the first mention of the phrase, “in the last days.” This is a phrase that is used in scripture to refer to a period in history where the end of a group or conclusion of a series of events takes place. One commentator explains this phrase in the following way:
In the last days introduces the whole prophecy and functions in an important way in the Old Testament. It “refers to Israel’s future in dual perspective: the period of their occupation of Canaan, and the time of the coming of Messiah. Sometimes the expression refers to Israel at the end of the Tribulation period (Deut 4:30; Ezk 38:16), sometimes to the history of Gentile nations (Dan 2:28), and sometimes to the present church age in its entirety (Heb 1:2) or at its conclusion (II Tim 3:1; Jas 5:3). Jacob’s pronouncements in chapter 49 included both prophecy (vs. 1) and blessings (vs. 28)” 
Jacob is pointing to how his sons and their posterity will end up.
Jacob first speaks to Reuben (49:3-4). Reuben is a pathetic individual. As firstborn he had the potential of becoming Jacob’s “might” and “strength.” He was in the prime position to oversee the inheritance of Jacob. But he forfeited all his position might have been. What reasons are given for this forfeiture? First Reuben was “unstable.” A double minded person is unstable (James 1:8). A person who is indecisive is unstable. The Bible attributes instability to: Wrong teaching – Galatians 1:6-11; 3:1; Colossians 2;4-8; Spiritual immaturity – 1 timothy 3:6; Shallowness – Hebrews 5:11-14; and being double-minded – James 1:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16.
Jacob pronounced that because of this Reuben would “not excel.” And this is what the history of Israel shows. The tribe of Reuben never provided a leader of any kind for the nation as a whole. The Reubenites settled east of the Jordan and never entered the Promised Land (Numbers 32). They took part in building an unauthorized place of worship later in history (Joshua 22:10-34). This tribe never excelled in any way.
One last thing about Reuben; Jacob mentions that he was lustful. When Reuben laid with Bilhah we have no record of Jacob expressing any clear displeasure (Genesis 35:22). But here we see Jacob mention it. It must have been a great shame, disgrace and disappointment for his eldest son to abuse his father in this way. Lust always leads to loss and is contrary to the Spirit filled life of the New Testament (Galatians 5:16 ff.).
Simeon and Levi are next on Jacob’s list (49:5-7). These two are taken together by Jacob as they were partners in violence. They were the ones who killed all the men of Shechem (Genesis 34:25-31). Violence and revenge sought in human wrath is not in accordance of God’s plans (Proverbs 1:10-19; 14:17; 16:32; Hebrews 12:14; James 1:19-20). The Simeonites were eventually absorbed into the tribe of Judah (Joshua 19:1; 2 Chronicles 15:9). The Levites were given cities to occupy not portions of the Promised Land (Joshua 21:1-3). The Levites redeemed themselves by becoming a priestly tribe who stood against idolatry (Exodus 32:26).
Judah is spoken of by Jacob next (49:8-12). The name “Judah” means “praise.” Judah appears to have had a transformation in his heart and life (49:9; see earlier discussion of chapter 43). Jacob says Judah will be a leader of his people. David was from the tribe of Judah and Judah became dominant in its provision of kings for Israel. When the nation split Judah became the dominant tribe of the southern kingdom of Judah.
The most important aspect of Jacob’s prophetic announcement is found in 49:10. The scepter is a symbol of leadership. The word Shiloh is taken from the root word Shalom that means peace. Shiloh is an accepted messianic title (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2-5). Incorporated in Jacob’s blessing is this prophetic pronouncement that the Messianic “Seed” will come through the line of Judah (Genesis 3:15; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). In Revelation 5:5 Jesus is referred to as “The Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Therefore, “Shiloh” the messiah, must come before the scepter departs from Judah. Since the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Jesus is the only logical and possible Person to fulfill this prophecy. There is also evidence that the Romans withdrew the right of capitol punishment from the ruling Jews at a time that coincides with the birth of Christ. The right of capitol punishment may be the “scepter” the prophecy of Jacob refers to. The words, “He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes,” therefore takes on great significance in regards to this prophetic word that finds its ultimate fulfillment in jesus (see 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Jacob next speaks of Zebulun (49:13). Zebulun’s borders were fulfilled in Joshua’s time (Joshua 19:11).
Issachar (49:14-15) was predicted by Jacob to be strong but lazy. Laziness leads to poverty (Proverbs 6:9-11), waste (Proverbs 18:9), and missing out on the things of God (Matthew 25:26-30).
Jacob speaks next of Dan (49:16-18). The name Dan means “judge” and so judges were predicted by Jacob to come from this tribe. It’s interesting that Jacob’s mention of the “serpent” and “viper” was fulfilled in the evil activities of the Danites. It was the Danites who introduced idolatry in Israel (Judges 18:30-31). King Jeroboam was a Danite. He led the insurrection that led to the division of the Kingdom into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 12:28-30). This is likely why the Danites are not listed among the tribes of Israel in the book of Revelation (Revelation 7:4-8; see also Deuteronomy 29:16-21).
It’s interesting that the first mention of “salvation” in the Bible occurs here (49:18). “Salvation” is literally YESHUA in the original Hebrew (Strong’s #3444 - יְשׁוּעָה yshûw˓âh, yesh-oo’-aw) and refers to, “deliverance, health, help (-ing), salvation, save, saving (health), welfare.”  Perhaps mention of the serpent in regards to his son Dan moved Jacob to remember the account of the Garden of Eden and fall of man along with the promise of a saving “Seed” (Genesis 3:15). In the New Testament YESHUA is translated “Jesus.” (The Greek Septuagint translates YESHUA into the Greek IASOU and that translates to the English JESUS.)
Gad (49:19) historically was the tribe that settled separately from the other tribes and therefore was always vulnerable to invasion. Historically they were able to repel invaders (1 Chronicles 5:18; 12:8).
Asher (49:20) produced the royal bakers of the twelve tribes. Naphtali (49:21) produced poets and speechmakers. Deborah and Barak, descendents of this tribe, composed a song found in Judges 5:1-31.
Joseph is prophesied to be blessed and fruitful (49:22-26). The blessing given to Joseph was on par with that he gave to Judah. That Jacob describes Joseph with the imagery of “branches” that “run over the wall,” indicates he would prosper others around him (49:22). He was “bitterly grieved” (49:23). That is what we have seen in the record of his life. Joseph was hated by jealous brothers (37:4), scorned because of his dreams (37:8), almost murdered (37:28), sold into slavery and separated from his family (37:27-28), tempted by Potiphar’s wife (39:7), falsely accused of sexual immorality (39:13-18), imprisoned wrongfully (39:20-23), and forgotten but the butler who he helped (40:23). But through it all Joseph didn’t take revenge. He trusted in God (45:4-8; 50:20; Romans 12:19). And Jacob attributes all of what happened to “the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel” (49:24). Jacob encourages Joseph by telling him his God would watch over him and bless him in mighty ways (49:25-26).
Lastly, Jacob mentions Benjamin (49:27). Joseph’s brother Benjamin will not receive as great a blessing as his older brother because he is “a ravenous wolf.” Because of greed Benjamin will miss out (compare Judges 20:21, 25). Greed leads to defeat (Joshua 7:11-26 – Achan), murder (1 Kings 21:1-16), and betrayal (Luke 22:1-6).
The final words of Jacob in this chapter compose a charge to his sons to bury his bones in the Promised Land. Then Jacob dies (49:28-33).
Jacob’s Burial and Joseph’s Death
Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him, and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
4 Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’ ”
6 And Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s house. Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering.
10 Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father. 11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians.” Therefore its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.
12 So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them. 13 For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place. 14 And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
22 So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees.
24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
The final chapter of Genesis records the death of Jacob and Joseph. No other burial is given such lengthy attention to detail, as is the burial of Jacob. It’s interesting that Joseph’s brothers continue to feel guilty even to the end of Joseph’s life (50:15-18). Joseph remains a man of integrity (50:19-21). He commits his life past, present and future to God Almighty (50:20). Joseph’s dying words are a prophecy of the exodus of God’s people from Egypt to the Promised Land (50:24). Joseph’s last words were words of encouragement (50:22-26). His final thoughts were not of himself but of others. That’s a good example and testament to leave behind.