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Jacob's Final Days
The writer gives a brief record of the rest of Jacob's life before he gives details of the events surrounding the time of his death. Jacob lived seventeen more years in Egypt and saw his descendants multiply. Before his death, he made Joseph promise to take his body back to be buried with Abraham and Isaac.
Some time prior to Jacob's death, Joseph took his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh to be blessed by him. Jacob adopted them as sons who might have been born to Rachel. Woods says, "The act of placing the sons beside Jacob's knees had symbolized their adoption by him." By placing his right hand on Ephraim's head, Jacob designated which son was to receive the greater blessing from him. To Joseph, Jacob said, "Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 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."
Jacob then called all of his sons to him and blessed each one. With God's help, these blessings were prophetic. Reuben lost the right of the birthright because he went into his father's bed with Bilhah (35:22). Simeon and Levi were scattered among the tribes with no real inheritance of their own because of their angry sin at Shechem (34:25-26). The Levites had cities throughout the land. Simeon's inheritance was in the middle of Judah's land and eventually caused his descendants to be absorbed ( Jos_19:1 ).
Of Judah Jacob said, "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." Of course, this was fulfilled in Christ. Zebulun was located in the perfect spot for commerce ( Deu_33:18-19 ; Jos_19:10-16 ). Issachar received a beautiful piece of land but ended up serving the surrounding nations. Dan was the smallest of the tribes but would, by guerilla warfare, prove a difficulty to any enemy entering Israel. Gad was troubled with raiders but defended herself very well.
Asher received a plot of land that was among the most fertile in the promised land ( Jos_19:24-31 ). Rich foods came out of this region which were fit for kings. Naphtali is described as a hind, or gazelle, which Keil and Delitzsch say "is a simile of a warrior who is skilful and swift in his movements." The men of this tribe helped Deborah and Barak defeat the armies of Jabin, who was a king of Canaan ( Jdg_4:1-24 ; Jdg_5:1-31 ).
Joseph, as Jacob's firstborn by Rachel, received the double portion through the adoption of his two sons by his father. A fruit tree by a spring grew especially well in Israel. Joseph's descendants faced strong opposition but overcame with God's help. When the blessings were complete, Jacob died ( Gen_47:27-31 ; Gen_48:1-22 ; Gen_49:1-33 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Genesis 49". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany