Tribes of Israel – Predications of Genesis 49

I have been writing about the boys and referencing Genesis 49 but it is interesting to look at the inspiration for Jacob’s words.

  • 1. Reuben turbulent water   The water that Jacob would have know was a swollen Jordan River or the flooded, rushing gullies in the wilderness after a thunderstorm. He understood the violence and power of moving water; so he recognizes Reuben’s strength, power and abilities.
  • 4. Judahlion    Lions were common in Palestine usually living near the Jordan River. In Africa the male lion’s roars can be heard up to five miles away. Their stately appearance and raw strength has apparently inspired respect for thousands of years. A modern moniker for Jesus is the “Lion of Judah” directing our thoughts to the strength and power of a risen, glorified Jesus.
  • 5. Dan – snake/viper     Eerdman’s sites that there are harmless snakes in that region but that all biblical references refer to venomous snakes. They site the Carpet or Saw-scaled viper (Palestine viper) as a possible candidate and the Arkive Organization attest to its quick strike and the amount of human attacks.  The tribe of Dan in Judges 18 where they stole “gods” and then killed off a quiet people and took a northern most position in Israel show their violent nature and is a good picture of what Jacob must have seen in his son.
  • 6. Naphtali – a doe    According to Eerdman’s the possible animals may have been the Fallow Deer, Gazelle or the Nubian Ibex. I am not sure that the specific animal is important but the symbolism; a doe and its fawns are such a tranquil picture. So I would assume that Naphtali did not have the temper of Simeon or Levi.
  • 9. Issachara strong donkey   A strong donkey shows his usefulness and his tendency to be like Jacob, a “home-body.” Interestingly he was not called a wild-donkey because they are the exact opposite; they are free roaming and very hard to get along with.
  • 12. Joseph – a fruitful vine   The only choice of plants here is the grape and the picture would be like the cluster of grapes the spies brought back in the Exodus story. Besides the words for Judah this is the only one that I could call a blessing; Jacob here gives it all to Joseph and calls for the supplying of all his needs and ask special favor of God to take notice of Joseph.
  • 13. Benjamina wolf    They are a social yet fierce predator that takes care of family.  So I still think that Jacob was recognizing a loyal yet mean side to his youngest son. There were other predators that could have been chosen like foxes, bears or jackals so him picking the wolf is interesting.
  • 2. Simeon and 3. Levi  – still after all the years that lapsed Jacob had nothing good to say about these two.
  • 10. Zebulun – he will live by a seashore
  • 7. Gad – he would be attacked and then fights back
  • 8. Asher – that he would have and make awesome food

The last three are hard to track down in the Bible so I wonder if they may not have been words about their life in Egypt.

references: Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible,                                                              about the viper                             picture of viper                   picture of wolf                               picture of the flood

Tribes of Israel – Reuben

The first-born son of Jacob by Leah was Reuben.

Genesis 29:32  Reuben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery; the name means see, a son. Like all of the sons you should not only look at them but what happened with their families. All of the boys have prophecy about them form Jacob and then one for them/their tribe from Moses.

Jacob’s statement before he died concerning Reuben was “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it. Genesis 49:3  (NIV 1984)

Moses’ statement to the tribe of Reuben before he died was found in Deuteronomy 33:6 “Let Reuben live and not die, nor his men be few.” (NIV 1984) A footnote in the NIV says that the meaning of this phrase is uncertain.

As I mused about Reuben I knew he had been removed as family leader but he was still family and loved by God. God did not throw him away because of the mistake. Reuben did try to save Joseph from his brothers (Gen. 37:29) and he tried to take the lead in Genesis 42:37 for getting food for the family when Jacob was reluctant to risk another trip. His family fulfilled the agreement with Moses when they took the lead with their troops going first into the Promise Land 9 (Joshua 1:16). Men from the tribe supported David at a critical time when he needed help (1 Chronicles 12:37).

God still honored him/his family; in Ezekiel his allotment is between Ephraim (Joseph) and Judah on the north side of the City and in Revelation 7 he is second on the list under Judah. Again in Ezekiel 48 his gate is with Judah and Levi on the north side of the City.

Their gate on the north side is a interesting direction but I guess it is because north is where trouble comes from so the strongest families are facing that way. Sounds like another Bible study to me.