Jacob’s Promises to His Sons

Genesis 49:1-28 reveals to us the promises Jacob made to his 12 sons just before he died. “He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.” (Gen. 49:28 NASB) Through these promises we gain critical insight into Israel’s coming savior, the Messiah. Because of their misdeeds, Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son, and then Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s next two sons, lost the blessing of the first-born. (Gen. 49:4-7)

The blessing and the authority to rule passed down to Judah as Jacob explains in Gen. 49:10: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. He would be “Shiloh”—the “Prince of Prince” prophesied by Isaiah. (Isa. 9:6) To him not only Israel but all mankind would become obedient. “He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes.” (Gen. 49:11 NASB) Tying his foal to the vine [Israel] indicates he would become Israel’s king. (Isa. 5:1-7, Zech. 9:9) Washing his garments in wine and blood pictures that Jesus alone would tread the path to Calvary’s cross to secure man’s salvation and later, he will tread the winepress of God’s wrath bringing this present evil world to an end. (Isa. 63:2,3, Rev. 14:20, Rev. 19:15)

Then, Jacob calls Joseph, “a fruitful bough by a spring.” (Gen. 49:22 NASB) Jesus would become the vine by the spring of truth that would bring life and produce the fruit of righteousness to all who become joined to him. (John 15:1-8) While the archers (leaders of Israel) attacked him, Jesus’ bow remained firm, his arms remained agile by God’s mighty power and Jesus becomes the great shepherd and the stone or rock of Israel. (Gen. 49:23,24, John 10:11,14-16, Ezek. 34:23, 1 Cor. 10:4) God would bless Jesus with “blessings of heaven above … May they be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.” (Gen. 49:25,26 NASB) Like Joseph, Jesus would become the one distinguished among his brothers—the king of Israel. (John 1:49, 12:13)