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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2012 - 8:43AM #251
Posts: 3,398

Gen 48:16c-22

†. Gen 48:16c . . may He bless the lads.

Jacob himself was blessed by The Angel in Gen 32:24-29.

Webster's defines "bless" as 1) to speak well of; viz: approve, 2) to confer prosperity or happiness upon, 3) to protect, to preserve, 4) to endow, and 5) to favor.

I suppose there's a middle ground somewhere between blessing and cursing, which could probably be labeled a zone of indifference: but in regards to God, indifference is dangerously close to a curse because where there's indifference, there's no blessing. Some might consider indifference a blessing in itself, but personally I would far rather be blessed than ignored. To be ignored is to be neglected, and in regards to matters of eternal consequence; that can't be a good thing.

†. Gen 48:16d . . And may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;

Jacob certainly got his wish. The Israelites have survived some pretty extreme genocidal attempts on their existence, but they're still here, and in them, the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have remained famous; and a perpetual reminder of the Bible's God.

What is the purpose of Yhvh's people anyway? To chafe and annoy the world with their famous master-race mentality? No, they hold the distinction of being the one political body on earth who's sacred duty is to prevent the knowledge of God from becoming lost forever; a virtual human depository of divine revelation.

. Acts 7:38 . . Moses was in the assembly in the desert, with The Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.

. Rom 3:2 . . the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God.

What Jacob conferred upon Manasseh and Ephraim wasn't just the dubious fortune to be identified with the world's most famous patriarchs, but rather, the solemn duty of perpetuating the patriarchs' religion too. That's a heavy responsibility; one that Esau himself scoffed, and finally traded for a temporary pleasure.

Identification with Israel is not something to brag about; rather, it's something to be frightened about.

. Amos 3:1-2 . . Hear this word, O people of Israel, that Yhvh has spoken concerning you, concerning the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt: You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth-- that is why I will call you to account for all your iniquities.

In other words; people called to an association with the Bible's God are held to a higher standard than outsiders.

†. Gen 48:16e . . And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

The Hebrew word for "grow" is dagah (daw-gaw'); which means to spawn.

Webster's defines "spawn" as: to produce young; especially in large numbers.

Curiously, this one verse is the only instance in the entire Old Testament where dagah appears.

Increasing by spawning is quite a bit different than increasing by other means like adoption or naturalizing; so the blessing of spawning that Jacob conferred upon the two men is somewhat similar to the blessing of fertility that God conferred upon Adam and his wife at the very beginning at Gen 1:27-28.

Being fruitful just means being fertile, and doesn't automatically imply generating a multitude, whereas spawning implies both fertility and massive numbers of offspring together. As an example of the proliferation implied by spawning; Coho salmon lay an average of 3,096 eggs per fish in just one run upriver.

†. Gen 48:17-19a . .When Joseph saw that his father was placing his right hand on Ephraim's head, he thought it an error; so he took hold of his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's. Not so, Father; Joseph said to his father; for the other is the firstborn; place your right hand on his head. But his father objected, saying: I know, my son, I know.

Joseph himself was an inspired man; so you'd think he'd instantly perceive that Jacob's prioritizing Ephraim over Manasseh was from God; but didn't. That's curious, and tells me that inspired people aren't always 100% inspired all the time. Inspiration is, after all, a Divine initiative rather than a personal talent. God is under no one's beck and call; and inspired people are able to understand certain things only as God himself decides when, where, and how to get in their heads and clear things up.

For example according to 1John 2:26-27 all believers are endowed with a special anointing that enables them to grasp God's meanings; but does that mean they can get by on their own without Spirit-empowered Bible teachers? No. It's via Spirit-empowered Bible teachers that God communicates His meanings. (Eph 4:11-15)

†. Gen 48:19b . . He too shall become a people, and he too shall be great. Yet his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall be plentiful enough for nations.

This is now the third instance in Genesis where the right of the firstborn is seen transferred to a younger sibling. The first instance was Jacob and Esau, and the second was Joseph and Reuben. The important lesson to be learned from this is that in the Bible, the firstborn male of a family isn't eo ipso the one born first. That may seem trivial but when its applied to Christ, it's a really big deal.

. Col 1:14-15 . . He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Was Christ the first human born in all creation? No; Adam was; and there was a time when Adam was the creation's senior patriarch; but not any more. That honor has been transferred to Christ so that there is not a man on earth superior to that one. (Dan 7:13-14, Mtt 28:18, Php 2:9-11)

†. Gen 48:20-22 . . So he blessed them that day, saying: By you shall Israel invoke blessings, saying: God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh. Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph: I am about to die; but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. And now, I assign to you one portion more than to your brothers, which I wrested from the Amorites with my sword and bow.

There exists no specific Biblical record of Jacob's own personal conquest of Canaanite peoples; so that what Jacob is doing here is apparently predicting Joshua's conquest of Canaan as something so certain to take place that he could speak of it as an historical fact already accomplished; similar to the manner in which the apostle John reported many of his visions in the book of Revelation as having taken place as he watched them.

Jacob was an inspired man, so it shouldn't surprise anyone if he was permitted a vision of his progeny's future successes in Palestine. Whatever Joshua was to conquer in later years, would certainly be credited to Jacob's sword and bow just as surely as if he'd been there and led the attacks himself because it was his own blood kin who eventually did all of it, which would be in keeping with his prediction that "God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers." Joseph's body returned to the land as a mummy. But the prediction is a reality: Joseph will return to the land some day, not just to be buried, but to take up residence. (Ezk 37:1-14, Dan 12:1-2, Heb 11:8-16)

The "one portion more than to your brothers" was in keeping with the custom of the firstborn son inheriting a double portion of his father's estate.

Continued > >

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 9:02AM #252
Posts: 3,398

Gen 49:1-7

†. Gen 49:1-4 . . And Jacob summoned his sons and said: Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come. Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob; hearken to Israel your father:

. . . Reuben, you are my first-born, my might and first fruit of my vigor, exceeding in rank and exceeding in honor. Unstable as water, you shall excel no longer; for when you mounted your father's bed, you brought disgrace-- my couch he mounted!

Reuben was clearly a reckless, impetuous individual ruled by the passions and impulses of human nature rather than better judgment; cf. Isa 57:20 where the ocean is shown subject to the forces of nature rather than being under its own control.

The affair to which Jacob referred occurred in Gen 35:22. Even today in modern industrial societies, it is not only unthinkable for a man to sleep with one of his father's wives; but even with one of his girlfriends. True, Bilhah and Jacob weren't officially married but still, she was the legal mother of two Israeli tribal heads: Dan and Naphtali.

Because of his illicit tryst, Reuben lost his rank as Jacob's firstborn son (1Chrn 5:1) demonstrating once again that the biblical rank of firstborn isn't restricted to the son born first, but is a transferable status that can be bestowed upon a younger male sibling.

†. Gen 49:5 . . Simeon and Levi are a pair; their weapons are tools of lawlessness.

With Rueben demoted, Simeon would have been the next in primogeniture, and after him; Levi. But the two men are alike as peas in a pod and brothers in arms-- they're both criminals who simply cannot be trusted to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the honor and the dignity associated with the rank of firstborn. If Reuben was water, then Simeon and Levi are leaky boats with no oars, no sail, no rudder, and no compass.

Ironically, Levi produced Aaron, Israel's line of high priests; and the whole tribe of Levi is exempt from war though they were sired by a bloody man. It would appear then, that the office of Israel's firstborn is far more sacred than any of the Levitical priests, including the Aaronic category. (Moses descended from Levi)

†. Gen 49:6a . . Let not my person be included in their council, let not my being be counted in their assembly.

Simeon and Levi were not the kind of people from whom a sensible person would deem it wise to seek advice and counsel. In other words; they were a bad influence.

Jacob's initial reaction to the murders committed by two of his eldest sons back in chapter 34 was one of concern for his family's safety, and the effect the deed had upon his reputation in those parts. Not till now does he excoriate the two men for their conduct; and the denunciation is severe.

†. Gen 49:6c . . For when angry they slay men, and when pleased they maim oxen.

Simeon and Levi not only committed malicious murders; but also took satisfaction in cruelty to animals. People like that always justify their cruelty by saying they're teaching the animal a lesson and/or breaking it of a bad habit. But in their case it's a lie. They're just violent and vengeful; that's all.

One could almost excuse Cain for murdering his kid brother in a fit of rage because in his day there were no divine prohibitions against murder and/or manslaughter. But Simeon and Levi had no excuse. They didn't act upon a sudden provocation, and both of those men knew full well God prohibited murder and manslaughter because they lived many years after grandpa Noah came off the ark.

. Gen 9:5-6 . . But for your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast; of man, too, will I require a reckoning for human life, of every man for that of his fellow man! Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in His image did God make man.

By all rights, Jacob should have had those two sons of his executed for what they did back in Shechem; but like they say: blood is thicker than water. Jacob let them get away with murder because they're kin, which is the sin of partiality; defined by Webster's as inclined to favor one party over another; viz: bias.

†. Gen 49:7 . . Cursed be their anger so fierce, and their wrath so relentless. I will divide them in Jacob, scatter them in Israel.

Jacob was speaking for Yhvh in that last sentence; and the purpose of dividing and scattering was apparently to make it all the more difficult for the two tribes to unite in a dastardly cause.

Jacob cursed only his sons' anger rather than the sons-- actually, their category of anger; which he described as fierce and relentless.

Webster's defines "fierce" as a behavior exhibited by humans and animals that inspires terror because of the wild and menacing aspect of fury in attack. Ferocity is an aspect commonly seen among roaring, snarling lions savagely attacking prey. There's no sportsmanship in ferocity; only sheer terror, brutality, and blood lust.

Webster's defines "relentless" as: 1) not softening or yielding in determination; viz: hard, stern, and 2) not letting up or weakening in vigor or pace; viz: constant, persistent. A pretty good illustration of that definition is one from the movie Terminator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was said of a terminator that it can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop-- ever! --until you are dead. That was Simeon and Levi.

Continued > >

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 08, 2012 - 11:39AM #253
Posts: 3,398

Gen 49:8-15

†. Gen 49:8 . .You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the nape of your foes; your father's sons shall bow low to you.

Reuben was the original ranking brother, then the position passed to Joseph, and finally to the family of Judah's grandson David; and that's where it remains to this day.

†. Gen 49:10a . .The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the scepter from between his feet

. 2Sam 7:16 . .Your house and your kingship shall ever be secure before you; your throne shall be established forever.

. 2Sam 23:5 . . Is not my House established before God? For He has granted me an eternal pact, drawn up in full and secured.

. Ps 85:35-38 . . I will not violate My covenant, or change what I have uttered. I have sworn by My holiness, once and for all; I will not be false to David. His line shall continue forever, his throne, as the sun before Me, as the moon, established forever, an enduring witness in the sky.

. Ps 89:4 . . I have made a covenant with My chosen one; I have sworn to My servant David: I will establish your offspring forever, I will confirm your throne to all generations.

. Ps 89:30 . . I will establish his line forever, his throne, as long as the heavens last.

†. Gen 49:10b . . And the homage of peoples be his.

The "peoples" of that verse are non Jews; viz: Gentiles. The jurisdiction of Davidic monarchs is normally limited to their own country, among their fellow Jews; but one is coming in Judah's tribe who will one day rule the entire world.

. Dan 7:13-14 . . As I looked on, in the night vision, one like a human being came with the clouds of heaven; he was escorted to the Ancient of Days and presented to Him. Dominion, glory, and kingship were given to him; all peoples and nations of every language must serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship, the one that shall not be destroyed.

. Ps 2:7-9 . . I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give [thee] the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

This next prediction is the scariest one of all.

†. Gen 49:11 . . He washes his garment in wine, his robe in blood of grapes.

That verse has reference to criminal justice-- God's way.

. Isa 63:1-6 . .Who is this coming from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah-- who is this, majestic in attire? Pressing forward in his great might?

. . . It is I, who contend victoriously, powerful to give triumph.

. . .Why is your clothing so red, your garments like his who treads grapes?

. . . I trod the winepress alone; of the peoples no man was with me. I trod them down in my anger, trampled them in my rage; their life-blood bespattered my garments, and all my clothing was stained. For I had planned a day of vengeance, and my year of redemption arrived. Then I looked, but there was none to help; I stared, but there was none to aid-- so my own arm wrought the triumph, and my own rage was my aid. I trampled peoples in my anger, I made them drunk with my rage, and I hurled their glory to the ground.

It's not really all that difficult to determine the identity of the winepress tread-master.

. Rev 19:15-16 . . Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter, He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.

†. Gen 49:13 . . Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore; he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall rest on Sidon.

Zebulun never did actually occupy a Mediterranean shore (Josh 19:10-16) but their proximity to the coast, via the territory of Ashur, gave them opportunity to earn their livings in sea related trades like stevedoring, ship building, and possibly crews on fishing vessels and cargo ships owned and operated by the Philistines and Phoenicians.

Zebulun's flank didn't extend to the coastal city named Sidon, but to a region generally known as Sidonia-- which included the city of Trye --a territory often labeled Sidon for short.

†. Gen 49:14-15 . . Issachar is a strong-boned burro, crouching among the sheepfolds. When he saw how good was security, and how pleasant was the country, he bent his shoulder to the burden, and became a toiling serf.

Men like Zebulun, and Issachar are the invisible people. They don't want much out of life; and they're never really in the news as movers and shakers; the paparazzi don't follow them around, nor are they among the rich, famous, and powerful. Zebulun, and Issachar represent a blue collar labor force, the non-professional working men and women who make a country productive in goods and services.

Unfortunately, the two tribes, on the whole, believed in peace at any price, and were wont to trade their independence for corvee labor in order to avoid conflict with overlords and invaders-- the two notable exceptions being Zebulun's response when mustered for duty with Gideon (Jdg 6:35) and the two tribes' responses when mustered by Barak (Jdg 5:14-15) but they rarely took the initiative to go on the offensive.

Continued > >

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 09, 2012 - 8:40AM #254
Posts: 3,398

Gen 49:16-21

†. Gen 49:16 . . Dan shall govern his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

That prediction alludes to Dan's isolationist attitude towards the other tribes. In point of fact, Dan's tribe didn't join forces with the others in the north to help repel oppressors. (Jdg 5:17)

A good example of Dan's isolationist attitude is Mr. Samson. During his tenure as a Judge in Israel (Jdg 13:1-16:31) Samson never mustered an army nor led his own men in a charge up a San Juan hill. He fought alone, and he died alone; and seemed to prefer it that way. Definitely not a team player.

†. Gen 49:17 . . Dan shall be a serpent by the road, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider is thrown backward.

A number of poisonous snakes-- e.g. rattlesnakes --don't hunt for food by chasing their prey in racy pursuit but choose rather to coil up and patiently wait along the edges of paths for something to come along. They're typically sluggish on the move but very speedy on the strike. Rattlers, especially, are powerful strikers that don't even have to clamp down to bite. Their strike inertia is powerful enough to drive their fangs into a target's flesh like sewing needles.

When rattlers bite large animals like horses, it's not for food, but generally a reflexive response to a perceived threat; which suggests that Dan's tribe would have hair-trigger tempers that flair up at every provocation-- real or imagined --totally surprising the objects of their fury. People like that are extremely reactive: they're never rational and objective, no, they are emotional, thin-skinned and easily insulted; they get mad over nothing, and every disagreement is an act of war.

It's conceivable that the viper-ish nature of Dan's tribe reminded Jacob of Gen 3:15's prediction to crush the head of the Serpent who caused Man's ruin; and possibly prompted his next remark.

†. Gen 49:18 . . I wait for your deliverance, O Lord!

Everyone becomes curious at one time or another how the Old Testament's luminaries were saved prior to Christ's crucifixion. Well, the interesting thing is: they were all aware that Christ was on the way.

. 1Pet 1:10-11 . . Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

A prophet is simply an inspired man-- the earliest known were Abel (Luke 11:50-51) Enoch (Jude 1:14) Noah (2Pet 2:5) and Abraham (Gen 20:7)

In other words: pre-crucifixion believers looked forward to Christ, while post-crucifixion believers look back.

. Gen 22:8 . . And Abraham said: My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering

And God did exactly that; in more ways than one.

†. Gen 49:19 . . Gad shall be raided by raiders, but he shall raid at their heels.

Gad's tribe, along with Rueben and Manasseh, chose to settle on the wrong side of the Jordan River instead of crossing over into Canaan (Num 32:1-32). Their decision effectively isolated them from the other nine tribes and left their eastern flank vulnerable to desert marauders; which were more nuisance than anything else as Gad's tribe were competent warriors and able to hold their own. (cf. 1Chrn 5:18)

Though the major portion of Jesus' ministry was confined within the national borders of Israel, he crossed over the Jordan on occasion to visit the three tribes on the east side (Mtt 11:21, Mrk 6:45). Gad was the region of the famous swine-herd suicide. (Mrk 5:1-13)

†. Gen 49:20 . . Asher's bread shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties.

Asher's tribe was apportioned land bordering Zebulun and Naphtali, along the Mediterranean coastline in the region of ancient Tyre. The area was famed for its fertility (Deut 33:24). Ashur was located in a Phoenician stronghold of political and commercial activity. The phrase "he shall yield royal dainties" possibly alludes to the tribe's best produce being sold to supply the homes of Phoenician dignitaries.

Note : this chapter in Genesis wasn't recorded in prose, but rather, Hebrew poetry, making it difficult, if not impossible, for translators to correctly interpret some of Jacob's sayings. The poem contains tricky metaphors rather than clear facts; which only complicates the section even more.

†. Gen 49:21 . . Naphtali is a hind let loose, which yields lovely fawns.

A hind is a female of the red deer species-- males are harts. (e.g. Ps 42:1)

Red deer aren't a domestic breed; so the metaphor refers to a captured hind being returned to the wild rather than butchered for its meat. Apparently, this particular hind was pregnant when captured, and the hunter knew the unborn would certainly die if he killed their mother. By returning the expectant hind to the field, the hunter helped assure the survival of local herds; and he no doubt intended to hunt the fawns as adults in the future. That was not only humane, but also a very wise conservation measure too.

Exactly what Jacob meant to convey by this metaphor is difficult to ascertain with confidence. It could be that Naphtali's people exhibited artifice, artistry, intelligence, abilities and aptitudes that their enemies would recognize as far too valuable to waste by just indiscriminately killing them off in wholesale slaughter simply to seize their lands and goods. As an example; some of Nazi Germany's scientists were brought to America and became very useful in developing the USA's rocket science, and subsequently NASA's space program. What if the US had executed those scientists because they were responsible for the buzz bombs that devastated London? No, sometimes human resources are well worth the restraint to spare them.

Note : Barak, an ordinary man recruited by Deborah to become a military commander, was of Naphtali. (Jdg 4:4-5:31)

Continued > >

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 10, 2012 - 9:42AM #255
Posts: 3,398

Gen 49:22-33

†. Gen 49:22 . . Joseph is a wild burro, a wild burro by a spring-- wild colts on a hillside.

That sentence has been translated at least two other ways, totally different than the above's 1985 JPS Tanakh.

(1) A charming son is Joseph, a charming son to the eye (Stone Tanach)

(2) Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. (NIV)

See what I mean about experts in Hebrew having a tough time interpreting Jacob's poem?

Oddly, neither of the Hebrew words for donkey-- chamowr (the male) and 'athown (the female) --nor the word gephen for vine --are anywhere in that sentence. Instead, the words translated "wild burro" by the JPS are parah and ben which mean "fruitful son" so the NIV is probably closer to the correct meaning than the other two. And besides; "wild burro" is the description God assigned to Ishmael back in chapter 16; and I hardly think Joseph fits the description of a man whose hand is against everyone, and everyone's hand against him.

Jacob's assessment of Joseph is similar to the assessment of a blessed man in the very first Psalm.

. Ps 1:1-6 . . Blessed is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, nor taken the path of sinners, nor joined the company of the insolent; rather, Yhvh's teaching is his delight, and he studies that teaching day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose foliage never fades, and whatever it produces thrives.

. . . Not so the wicked; rather, they are like chaff that wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners stand in the assembly of the righteous. For Yhvh cherishes the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed.

†. Gen 49:23 . . Archers bitterly assailed him; they shot at him and harried him.

The "archers" in that sentence are the kind who wait in ambush.

Well, that certainly happened to Joseph. He was totally ambushed by his very own brothers, and then later on, ambushed by Potipher's wife. But he escaped them all. They thought to ruin Joseph, but he prospered instead.

†. Gen 49:24-25a . .Yet his bow stayed taut, and his arm were made firm by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob-- there is the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel --the God of your father who helps you, and Shaddai who blesses you

It is so easy to admire Joseph's perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity while overlooking the real reason behind his success. It was Yhvh's providence all the way. Left to himself, it's very likely Joseph would have been dead before he was thirty years old; either by murder, execution, or suicide.

†. Gen 49:25 . .With blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lurk below, blessings of the breast and womb.

Those blessings consist of rain, dew, and abundant water resources; all of which depict fruitfulness of the soil and the fecundity of both man and beast.

†. Gen 49:2 6. .Your father's blessings surpassed the blessings of my ancestors, to the utmost bounds of the eternal hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the elect of his brothers.

Compare Deut 33:13-17 where Manasseh and Ephraim are indirect recipients of Joseph's blessings, and will apparently conquer and colonize quite a bit of the earth some day in the future.

Jacob pronounced Joseph the "elect" of his brothers not out of a spirit of favoritism, but out of a spirit of prophecy. You can easily tell that Yhvh is micro-managing the entire meeting.

Compared to man, the hills really are "eternal" from one generation to another. Jacob's ancestors included Abel, Seth, and Noah. They were good men but none of them inherited the promises God made to Abraham; which are promises just as eternal as the hills; if not more so.

†. Gen 49:27 . . Benjamin rends in pieces, like a wolf-- in the morning he consumes the prey, and in the evening he apportions the booty.

That is hardly the picture of a peaceful, agrarian society. Israel used to be a land of milk and honey (Ex 3:8) and you have to wonder what on earth happened that caused the transformation of a tribe of herders and farmers into human predators.

As a testament to the cruel nature of the tribe of Benjamin, Israel's first king; the selfish Mr. Saul, came from there. (1Sam 9:1-2)

The nightmarish events of Judges 19 and 20 took place in Benjamin's borders and led to the tribe's decimation in a brief civil war.

†. Gen 49:28 . . All these were the tribes of Israel, twelve in number, and this is what their father said to them as he bade them farewell, addressing to each a parting word appropriate to him.

Numbering the tribes of Israel is tricky because Jacob has twelve birth sons, and two adopted sons; which adds up to fourteen. But the tribes are always listed so that the numbering comes out to twelve. Compare the list at Rev 7:5-8 where everybody but Dan and Ephraim are named so that the number again comes out to twelve. The same strange numbering system was employed in counting the Lord's apostles. Even after Judas was eliminated, they were still referred to as the twelve. (1Cor 15:5)

†. Gen 49:29-33 . .Then he instructed them, saying to them: I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave which is in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site-- there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried; and there I buried Leah --the field and the cave in it, bought from the Hittites.

. . .When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his kin.

The phrase "gathered to his kin" is an action separate from being buried side by side with kin in a cemetery. Jacob was gathered to his kin immediately upon expiration, but wasn't buried with them till more than seventy days after his demise.

According to Christ, though Jacob's flesh expired many centuries ago in Egypt, he continues to exist somewhere else.

. Luke 20:37-38 . . But now, as to whether the dead will be raised-- even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to Yhvh as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. So He is the God of the living, not the dead. They all live unto Him.

There is a region in the netherworld where faithful Israelites were at one time warehoused waiting for the resurrection of their bodies. (e.g. Luke 16:19-31, cf. Mtt 17:1-9)

Continued > >

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 11:44AM #256
Posts: 3,398

Gen 50:1-9

†. Gen 50:1 . . Joseph threw himself upon his father's face and wept over him and kissed him.

It almost looks like Joseph smothered his dad; but in reality that scene was probably a bit difficult to put in writing because there's so much emotion. I think what we're actually looking at there is a one last cheek-to-cheek farewell with Joseph clutching his father's hand; and I would not have liked to be in the room when it took place because Joseph was terribly broken up by his dad's passing.

The word for "wept" is bakah (baw-kaw') and means not just to weep, but to bemoan; which Webster's defines as: to express deep grief and/or distress. Deep grief is what people undergo when they experience loss.

If there is one salient characteristic of Jacob's family, I would have to say it was a lack of affection. Joseph seemed the only one in the entire home who was truly bonded with his dad. His siblings were somehow detached; and I think that the multiplicity of mothers is what did it.

When I found out that my own dad had two sons besides me by two other women, it destroyed any notion I had of feeling special in my own home; especially when the only son my dad was ever really proud of was one that didn't even live with us; but with whom my dad stayed in contact over the years without telling me. Is it any real mystery then why so many of Jacob's sons turned out to be such sociopathic monsters?

†. Gen 50:2 . .Then Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel.

It is apparently well known that mummification, with all its elaborate ritual, played a crucial role in Egyptian religion and was bound up with the cult of Osiris and concepts of the afterlife. Life after death was taken for granted by the Egyptians. Central to this notion was the belief in the importance of the physical preservation of the deceased's body. They took meticulous care to prevent the putrefaction of the corpse in order to ensure the right of the dead to immortality.

I seriously doubt Egypt's religion played a role in Joseph's decision to embalm his dad. His reason was simply one of practicality. The body was to be transported to Palestine for burial, and if care wasn't taken to preserve it, poor old Jacob would be in a terrible state of decay by the time they arrived; and very smelly too.

Joseph's own personal physicians performed the task rather than professional morticians, thus assuring nobody would come around to defile Jacob with pagan rituals, garments, and/or enchantments and spiritual potions. Jacob's life, and afterlife, were fully consecrated to Yhvh; and no pagan deities were permitted an attempt to claim a share of his future.

†. Gen 50:3 . . It required forty days, for such is the full period of embalming. The Egyptians bewailed him seventy days

There exists no information about embalming procedures from Joseph's era but there is some available from the fifth century BC and from the late Hellenistic period. Herodotus (Histories 2.86) reports that bodies were marinated in niter (potassium nitrate) for seventy days.

Diodorus of Sicily (Histories 1.91) describes a thirty-day treatment of the corpse with oils and spices plus seventy-two days of public mourning for a king. That practice probably corresponds to the American flag being raised at half mast for deceased dignitaries and notable personages.

Jacob was afforded royal honors no doubt brought about by Joseph's influence, and his connections with Egypt's aristocrats; sort of like J.F.K. Junior's burial at sea from the US Navy's Spruance class destroyer USS Briscoe. J.F.K. Jr. never served in the US military, nor in any Federal civil service capacity whatsoever; ergo: he certainly did not merit burial at sea from a US Navy vessel; but the Kennedy dynasty is very influential, and well connected; and has been for a good many years beginning with patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. That just goes to show that it doesn't hurt to be connected in this world.

Anyway, under his son Joseph's auspices, Jacob's was the most grandiose funeral of any of Israel's primary patriarchs, including Abraham the paterfamilias of the entire family.

†. Gen 50:4a . . and when the wailing period was over, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh's court

It's curious that Joseph didn't meet with Pharaoh in person; I mean, after all, Joseph was second in command over the entire country of Egypt, and certainly outranked all of Pharaoh's courtiers. It's guessed by some that in the Egypt of Joseph's day, a dead man's close kin were deemed unfit to approach a Pharaoh. Whether it was for religious reasons, or just simply customary propriety is not known.

†. Gen 50:4a-5a . . saying: Do me this kindness, and lay this appeal before Pharaoh; My father made me swear, saying; "I am about to die. Be sure to bury me in the grave which I made ready for myself in the land of Canaan."

Apparently, some time in the past, prior to Jacob's immigration to Egypt, he spent some time in Abraham's cemetery preparing a spot in it for his own burial so all that his surviving kin had to do upon his demise was just take him there-- no muss, no fuss, no money problems, and no legal hassles. It's a good idea for people to make arrangements for their own burials rather than leaving it all up to the inconvenience of their kin.

†. Gen 50:5b . . Now, therefore, let me go up and bury my father; then I shall return.

It's quite probable that Joseph's assurance of his return anticipated Pharaoh's anxiety that Joseph might stay back in the land with his brothers if permitted to leave the country and thus The Man would lose the services of not only his kingdom's best cattle ranchers but also the services of an extraordinarily capable bureaucrat.

†. Gen 5:6 . . And Pharaoh said: Go up and bury your father, as he made you promise on oath.

Pharaoh's choice of words, though inadvertent, were quite appropriate. Travel to Israel is to go "up" and to leave it is to go down. Israel is biblically regarded as the top of the mountains.

. Isa 2:2-3 . . In the days to come, The Mount of Yhvh's House shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above the hills; and all the nations shall gaze on it with joy. And the many peoples shall go and say: Come, let us go up to the Mount of Yhvh, to the House of the God of Jacob; that He may instruct us in His ways, and that we may walk in His paths. For instruction shall come forth from Zion, the word of Yhvh from Jerusalem.

†. Gen 50:7-8 . . So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the officials of Pharaoh, the senior members of his court, and all of Egypt's dignitaries, together with all of Joseph's household, his brothers, and his father's household; only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the region of Goshen.

Leaving the children and the flocks back in Egypt was not only a practical consideration but served to reassure Pharaoh that Joseph and his family fully intended to return as he had promised; which sort of reminds me of a scene in Goodbye Girl when Richard Dreyfuss leaves his guitar behind when he goes to a new acting job to assure Marsha Mason he'll be back. When people pick up and move; lock, stock, and barrel; you pretty much know they aren't coming back; which is probably why a later Pharaoh wouldn't let Moses go to worship with everything his people possessed. (Ex 10:24)

Precisely why Pharaoh's courtiers, and all of Egypt's dignitaries came along is hard to understand unless protocol and custom demanded they pay their respects because of Joseph's rank. Though he wasn't really a home boy, Joseph's marriage to the daughter of the priest of On, and his Pharaoh-given name of Tsophnath Pa'neach, made him a naturalized Egyptian; and he was entitled to just as much of the nation's respect afforded its native sons.

Note : it's been observed that the reason half of us go to funerals is to pay our respects to people we couldn't be bothered with when they were alive.

†. Gen 50:9 . . Chariots, too, and horsemen went up with him: it was a very large troop.

The unit of fighting men was no doubt to safeguard all the dignitaries. Palestine was a frontier in those days-- a caravan of aristocrats would be a really tempting target for brigands.

Continued > >

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 12, 2012 - 8:45AM #257
Posts: 3,398

Gen 50:10-26

†. Gen 50:10 . .When they came to Gorena ha-Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and solemn lamentation; and he observed a mourning period of seven days for his father.

A geographic location described as "beyond the Jordan" suggests the east side of the river but the term is ambiguous and can just as easily mean west (e.g. Deut 3:18-20).

The Hebrew word for "Gorena" is goren (go'-ren) which identifies smooth places; e.g. threshing floors or any cleared space like a parade ground. Judging by the size of Joseph's cortege, I'd have to say Gorena ha-Atad comprised some appreciable acreage.

Seven days became a traditional period of Jewish mourning (e.g. 1Sam 31:13, Job 2:13)

†. Gen 50:11 . . And when the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning at Goren ha-Atad, they said; This is a solemn mourning on the part of the Egyptians. That is why it was named Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.

Abel-mizraim means Meadow of the Egyptians. Unfortunately, it's precise location has been lost in antiquity.

†. Gen 50:12-14 . .Thus his sons did for him as he had instructed them. His sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, the field near Mamre, which Abraham had bought for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.

If Joseph and his brothers were aware of the prediction Yhvh made to Abraham back in Gen 15:13-14, then they probably returned to Egypt with heaviness knowing in advance the slavery and the oppression in store for their progeny.

†. Gen 50:15 . .When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said: What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong that we did him?

Where did they get the idea that Joseph was bearing any grudge at all, let alone "still" bearing a grudge? You know what they did? They did just what Laban did to Jacob back in chapter 31 when he threatened Jacob with divine retribution if he abused Rachel and Leah or dumped them for other women. Jacob had worked for Laban, on his ranch, up close and personal for twenty years and never gave Laban one single reason to either believe, or suspect that Jacob might do anything at all unkind to his wives. In other words: Laban projected; that is: he assumed everyone was like himself. Now that's an ego!

Joseph's brothers had a wicked conscience. It wasn't beyond them to project their own base motives upon everybody else and assume everybody else would do the very same things they themselves would do in their place. They totally brushed aside the gracious reception they received in Joseph's house back in chapter 45 and replaced his hospitality with their own corrupt imaginations; not to mention the seventeen years just past when they lived a very good life in Egypt under Joseph's generous auspices. Nobody's reputation is safe in the hands of people like that who fail to take into consideration someone's impeccable track record.

†. Gen 50:16-17a . . So they sent this message to Joseph; "Before his death your father left this instruction: So shall you say to Joseph; Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly. Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father."

That is one of the most bold, bare-faced lies in the entire Bible. If Jacob had desired Joseph to let his brothers off like they said, he would have met with Joseph and said so himself in person rather than elect the brothers as his messengers posthumously.

†. Gen 50:17b . . And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him.

The people referred to as "they" were not the brothers, but rather, the messengers they sent. I've not doubt whatsoever that Joseph suspected the message was a lie concocted by his brothers as a desperate measure to save their own skins. His disappointment in them for not trusting him must have been overwhelming. Joseph had never done even one single thing in his entire life to deliberately injure his brothers and this is how they react?

†. Gen 50:18-21 . . His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him, and said: We are prepared to be your slaves. But Joseph said to them: Have no fear. Am I a substitute for God? Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result-- the survival of many people. And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your children. Thus he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

They say repetition is an effective teaching aid; and it's probably because some people just don't pay attention. Joseph had already made a similar speech to his brothers once before already in chapter 45 and here he is having to do it all over again. Their lack of trust in his word as a man of honor and integrity is just unforgivable.

. John 5:24 . . I assure you; those who listen to my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Do you trust Jesus? Do you have even one single reason to believe he is not a man of honor and integrity who can be trusted to tell the truth? Then why do you think there might be a chance you won't make it to safety when you cross over to the other side? Are you like Joseph's brothers; projecting your own corrupt integrity onto Jesus as if he were no more reliable than you are at keeping his word?

†. Gen 50:22-26 . . So Joseph and his father's household remained in Egypt. Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph lived to see children of the third generation of Ephraim: the children of Machir, son of Manasseh, were likewise born upon Joseph's knees.

. . . At length, Joseph said to his kin: I am about to die. God will surely take notice of you and bring you up from this land to the land that He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. So Joseph made the children of Israel swear, saying: When God has taken notice of you, you shall carry up my bones from here.

. . . Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Josephs' "coffin" was probably an ornate mummy case; and kept in storage above ground in a special location sort of like a shrine or a memorial. As they say: Out of sight, out of mind. Keeping Joseph's remains perpetually on view would make it difficult for the people of Israel to forget him.

Did Joseph finally make it back home again? Yes; he finally did.

. Ex 13:18-19 . . Now the Israelites went up armed out of the land of Egypt. And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph, who had exacted an oath from the children of Israel, saying "God will be sure to take notice of you; then you shall carry up my bones from here with you."

. Josh 24:32 . .The bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought for a hundred kesitahs from the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, and which had become a heritage of Joseph's progeny.

Genesis records Jacob purchasing the property (Gen 33:17-20). But Stephen said it was Abraham's transaction (Acts 7:15-16) which strongly suggests that the county recorder in the community of Shechem was a bit careless with his paperwork and let Abraham's deed slip through a crack; necessitating Jacob pay for the lot all over again; no doubt at a higher price the second time around.

The End

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