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when the Israelites bless or wish prosperity one to another, they shall take thee for an example or pattern, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh : and set Ephraim before
Manasseh. 21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die : but God shall
be with you, and bring you again-unto the land of your fathers, 22 Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy breth
ren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow; I do now prophetically give, and God will really and actually give, to thy son Ephraim, or his posterity, that parcel of land which I bought of Hamor, (ch. xxxiii. 19.) for though the whole land was given to me and my posterity, yet this was mine by a special civil right, which being seized upon by the inhabitants of the land after I had bought it, I drove them out of it again.*
1. AGED and dying saints should thankfully commemorate
A the goodness of God to them : they should enter into particulars, and keep a catalogue of the most remarkable events ; as Jacob, David, and many others did. Aged christians should bear testimony to the truth and goodness of the Lord, to the pleasures of religion, and the comfort of God's ways; and take occasion from thence to encourage others to walk in them ; thus showing God's strength to this generation, and his flower and glory to those who may come after them.
2. How desirous should christian parents be to put their children in the way of God's blessing, and engage the prayers of eminent saints for them ! Jacoli's prayers and blessing were worth more to the sons of Joseph, than all the wealth and power that he could bestow upon them in the land of Egypt. What passed on this occasion made a lasting impression on the minds of these youths: the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Young persons, in the present degenerate day, have need of all possible helps and encouragements in the way of religion. The prayers and instructions of christian friends and ministers, and especially the blessing of God, which is necessary to make young persons sober and virtuous, should be highly valued and carefully sought. Let us look on those as our best friends, who do any thing to make our children wise and good.
3. We see that the blessing of God is not bestowed according to the natural affection of parents and friends. God's gifts differ
• This afterward became the inheritanee of Joseph, (Fosh. xxiv. 32.) It is mentioned in the New Testament (ohniv. 3.) is a parcel of ground which Jacob gave. Here Christ conversed with the woman of Samaria. There is a fine close in the neighbourliood of She. chem to this day, which Muundrell supposes to be the same which is here said to have been given to Joseph.
from ours ; he sometimes highly favours and distinguishes those, whom we think are most unlikely, and for whom we are least desirous of his favours. He does not act by the order of nature ; he sees farther than we do, and acts accordingly. There are many instances in which the younger is preferred to the elder; for his gifts and grace are free.
4. When our friends are taken away, the presence of the live ing God is indeed comfortable ; and never more so than then. He will never leave nor forsake us ; he can make up all our losses. Though others should depart, and leave us alone ; if God be with us, we need not fear ; he can do for us whatever our best friends could, yea, and infinitely more than they could do ; his presence and blessing can attend us in those circumstances, in which they could not possibly help or comfort us : and ere long, if we are faithful, he will take us to himself, bring us to the land where our pious fathers are gone. Let us, therefore, strengthen and encourage ourselves in the Lord our God, from henceforth, and for ever. Amen.
CHAP. XLIX. 1–18.
Cyrus said, “That the souls of men at the point of death became
prophetic. This ancient opinion never was universally true ; yet Jacob in this chapter prophesies in a most sublime and lofty style, when nature was sinking and dying. The words of dying parents generally leave a strong impression on the mind. Having received blessings from his father, Jacob now divides them among his children. I AND Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather your.
Al selves together, that I may tell you [that] which shall befal you in the last days 5 what shall happen to you and your 2 posterity in future times. Gather yourselves together, and
hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. 8 Reuben, thou (art) my firstborn, my might, and the begin
ning of my strength, begotten in the prime and vijour of my days; the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power;
it was thy due to have had the precedency both in dignity and 4 power ; but thou hast forfeited it, and art now Unstable as
water, without selfgovernment, a man of no resolution ; thou shalt not excel, never come to any degree of eminence, either in number, valour, or extraordinary achievements ; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed ; then defiledst thou [it :] then Jacob, as with indignation at the fact, turns his speech from Reuben to his brethren, and shows how just cause there was to fronounce this sentence against him, and says, He went up to
my couch, this my firstborn son scandalously defled his father's bed; he shall not excel. And so it came to pass ; there never was any eminent person of that tribe ; they were onpressed by
their enemies, and never made any figure. 6 Simeon and Levi (are] brethren ; not only by nature, but
likewise in manners ; and also confederates in the same wicked design, instruments of cruelty, or cruel weapons, (are in) their
habitations, their bloody swords still remain to bear witness 6 against them. O my soul, come not thou into their secret ;
or, thou camest not into their secret ; I protest with my dying breath, I knew nothing of it, neither in word or thought consent, ed to it ; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united, let not my honour or good name be bound up with theirs, whose wickedness I abhor ; for in their anger they slew a man, that is, Shechem, and in their selfwill, not in a sudden passion, but upon a wilful and settled resolution and deliberation, they digged down a wall, the walls of the house where Dinah. was ; or, as in the margin of our bibles, They houghed oxen,
that is, drove away the oxen and cattle of the Shechemites, 7 Cursed [be] their anger, for (it was) fierce ; and their wrath,
for it was cruel,* violent and outrageous ; therefore the divine purpose is this, I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel ; I will disperse them and their posterity among the
children of Jacob or Israel.t 8 Judah, thou (art he] whom thy brethren shall praise, thy
tribe shall be famous for the royal dignity belonging to it, and the Messiah's coming out of it, (Heb. vii. 14. I Chron. v. 2.) which shall be matter of great praise and honour to thee: thy hand (shall be] in the neck of thine enemies, thou shalt attack them sword in hand, and utterly destroy their power; thy father's children shall bow down before thee : this was fulfilled
in David and Solomon, who governed all the twelve tribes. Then 9 follows a beautiful comparison ; Judah [is] a lion's whelp, who
walks about with a stately air when he goes from devouring the prey ; my son, thou art gone up : he stooped down, he couched as a lion, who sometimes lies down, and even sleeps over his prey, conscious of his own strength, and fearless of any foe ; 80 shalt thou be great, and secure in thy victories; and as an old lion, one full grown and fierce ; who shall rouse him up ? none of his enemies shall dare to provoke him ; at least, not without ruin to themselves ; this is a beautiful gradation,
and intimates the increase of his power. Then follows the great 10 promise of the Messiah from him ; The sceptre, the walking
Dr. Kennicott translates these verses thus : 0. 3. their very contracts are instruments of violence. u. 6. For in their anger they slew the m *, and in their selfwill they destroyed the princes. 0. 7. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their confederacy, for it was cruel.
† This accordingly came to pass, and they had cities in every one of the tribes; yet chis was afterward curned into a blessing. See Deut. xxxiii. 9, 1o.
staff, or rod, the emblem of authority, shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, from his posterity, until Shiloh come, till the promised Messiah shall be sent ; it shall be a distinct tribe, judged by its own laws, and not dispersed till Christ shall come ; and unto him (shall] the gathering of the people [be ;) some of all nations, both Jews and
Gentiles, shall yield obedience to Christ, acknowledging him for 11 their Lord and Saviour. Binding his foal unto the vine, and
his ass's colt unto the choice vine ; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes ; his portion of lani in Canaan shall abound with vines and fat pastures, inso
much that wine and milk shall be as plentiful and common, in a 12 manner, as water : His eyes (shall be] red with wine, and
his teeth white with milk ; his eyes shall be brighter than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk ; all the people shall be
healthful and cheerful, through the abundance they shall possess. " 13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea ; here is an al.
lusion to his name, which signifies, dwelling: ; the situation of the twelve tribes being determined by lot, makes these predic. tions the more remarkable ; and he (shall be) for an haven of ships; and his border (shall be] unto Zidon ; their coaste were 80 situated as to be fit for easy and ordinary commerce with the Sidonians.
Issachar [is] a strong ass* couching down between two burdens : his posterity shall be of great strength, but small courage ;
and therefore shall patiently submit to any taxes which may be 15 laid upon them by their neighbours : And he saw that rest
[was) good, and the land that (it was) pleasant; he shall delight in peace and cultivating the earth ; and accordingly he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute; instead of opposing the Canaanites, they actually became tribu
tary to them. 16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
An allusion to his name, ch. xxx. 6. he has absolute power within
himself to rule and govern, though the son of a concubine ; as 17 other tribes who are descended from free women have. Dan
shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.f Then
Jacob, finding himself ready to faint, breaks out into this ejacu18 lation ; I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD ;f or, I am
waiting for thy salvation, for the happiness of a future state and world ; I am ready and will ng to die when thou pleasest.
• The asses of that country were larger than ours; princes and great men used to ride apon them.
+ A person should arise out of that tribe, who, though no danger shall be apprehended yet he shall be like a serpent, or red adder, lying in the dust, which may be trod upon unawares, and shall bite the borse and throw the rider. This was fulfilled in Samson destroy. Ing the Philistines when blind, and in the disposition of this tribe to manage their wars rather by cunning and craft, than open hostilities. See fudges xviii. 27.
* The Chaldee says, For the salvation of the king, iho Messiah
1. T E T us guard against an unstable temper, which was the
L cause of Reuben's sin, and the loss of his privileges. Let us labour after steadfastness of soul, that we may not waver to and fro, and be easily impressed and seduced by temptation ; that our hearts may be fixed for God and religion; that we may be steadfast and unmoveable ; that nothing may turn us aside from it. If we lose the excellency of virtue and piety, no other excellency will be of any avail to us.
2. Let us abhor cruelty of all kinds ; especially under the mask of religion. Jacob remembered Simeon and Levi. Moses also leaves a mark of infamy on his great grandfather. We here see, to what a length the irregular workings of anger and resentment may carry us, and what a lasting blot they may leave on our names. Let us guard against selfwill and obstinacy, running hastily to execute revengeful and wicked purposes. It is cursed anger, esi pecially when religion is brought in and made the pretence for it. What innumerable evils and miseries arise from anger and revenge ! Be angry and sin not ; restrain its workings, and guard your own spirits ; make no friendship with furious men, avoid their company; and let all those who hate and destroy one another, be our abhorrence. O my soul, come not thou into their secret : unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.
3. Let us be thankful that Shiloh is come, and that we are gathered to him. Jacob, at this distance of time, and on his dying bed, saw his day, and Tuus glad ; it was his support and comfort. In the fulness of time he was manifested ; the promised seed was born before the sceptre departed from Judah, or a lawgiver from between his feet. By him the people were gathered together, united in a new, a glorious, a christian church ; and through the riches of divine grace we are gathered into it. Though by nature we belong to the wild olive, to the gentile world, yet by grace we are united to the true vine ; and all the children of God that were scattered abroad are gathered together, and are one in Christ Jesus. Many patriarchs, kings, and prophets desired to see this day, but were not so highly favoured. Let us be thankful for our privileges, and improve them well, that we may be a holy nation, a peculiar people ; otherwise, we may fear that God will yet divide and scatter us; and the greater our privileges have been, the sorer will be our punishment.
4. Let us adore the hand of God in all the blessings of our sit. uation. It is he who fixes the bounds of our habitation ; who hath caused the lines to fall to us in pleasant places, and given us a goodly heritage, a fruitful country, where agriculture and navigation are so happily united, and the blessings of Judah and Zebulun are joined together. Let us serve the Lord with cheerfulness, in the abundance of all the good things we enjoy ; never make them