on Genesis 49 :8
Thy brethren shall praise thee - As the name Judah signifies praise, Jacob takes occasion from its meaning to show that this tribe should be so eminent and glorious, that the rest of the tribes should praise it; that is, they should acknowledge its superior dignity, as in its privileges it should be distinguished beyond all the others. On the prophecy relative to Judah, Dr. Hales has several judicious remarks, and has left very little to be farther desired on the subject. Every reader will be glad to meet with them here.
"The prophecy begins with his name Judah, signifying the praise of the Lord, which was given to him at his birth by his mother Leah, Genesis 29:35. It then describes the warlike character of this tribe, to which, by the Divine appointment, was assigned the first lot of the promised land, which was conquered accordingly by the pious and heroic Caleb; the first who laid hands on the necks of his enemies, and routed and subdued them, Joshua 14:11; 15;1; Judges 1:1, Judges 1:2; and led the way for their total subjugation under David; who, in allusion to this prediction, praises God, and says: Thou hast given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me, Psalm 18:40. In the different stages of its strength, this tribe is compared to a lion's whelp, to a full grown lion, and to a nursing lioness, the fiercest of all. Hence a lion was the standard of Judah; compare Numbers 2:3, Ezekiel 1:10. The city of David, where he reposed himself after his conquests, secure in the terror of his name, 1 Chronicles 14:17, was called Ariel, the lion of God, Isaiah 29:1; and our Lord himself, his most illustrious descendant, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Revelation 5:5.
"The duration of the power of this famous tribe is next determined: 'the scepter of dominion,' as it is understood Esther 8:4; Isaiah 14:5, etc., or its civil government, was not to cease or depart from Judah until the birth or coming of Shiloh, signifying the Apostle, as Christ is styled, Hebrews 3:1; nor was the native lawgiver, or expounder of the law, teacher, or scribe, intimating their ecclesiastical polity, to cease, until Shiloh should have a congregation of peoples, or religious followers, attached to him. And how accurately was this fulfilled in both these respects!
"1. Shortly before the birth of Christ a decree was issued by Augustus Caesar that all the land of Judea and Galilee should be enrolled, or a registry of persons taken, in which Christ was included, Luke 2:1-7; whence Julian the apostate unwittingly objected to his title of Christ or King, that he was born a subject of Caesar!' About eleven years after Judea was made a Roman province, attached to Syria on the deposal and banishment of Archelaus, the son of Herod the Great, for maladministration; and an assessment of properties or taxing was carried into effect by Cyrenius, then governor of Syria, the same who before, as the emperor's procurator, had made the enrolment, Luke 2:2; Acts 5:37; and thenceforth Judea was governed by a Roman deputy, and the judicial power of life and death taken away from the Jews, John 18:31.
"2. Their ecclesiastical polity ceased with the destruction of their city and temple by the Romans, a. d. 70; at which time the Gospel had been preached through the known world by the apostles, 'his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth;' Acts 2:8; Romans 10:18.
"Our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, before his crucifixion, 'riding on an ass, even a colt the foal of an ass,' which by his direction his disciples brought to him for this purpose, 'Go into the village over against you, and presently ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her; loose them, and bring them to me,' Matthew 21:2-5, remarkably fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, (Zechariah 9:9) is no less a fulfillment of this prophecy of Shiloh, 'binding or tying his foal to the vine, even his ass's colt to the choice vine.' In ancient times to ride upon white asses or ass-colts was the privilege of persons of high rank, princes, judges, and prophets, Judges 5:10; Judges 10:4; Numbers 22:22. And as the children of Israel were symbolized by the vine, Psalm 80:8; Hosea 10:1, and the men of Judah by 'a (choice) vine of Sorek,' in the original, both here and in the beautiful allegory of Isaiah, Isaiah 5:1-7, adopted by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 2:21, and by our Lord, Matthew 21:33, who styled himself the true vine, John 15:1; so the union of both these images signified our Lord's assumption, as the promised Shiloh, of the dignity of the king of the Jews, not in a temporal but in a spiritual sense, as he declared to Pilate, John 18:36, as a prelude to his second coming in glory 'to restore again the kingdom to Israel.'
"The vengeance to be then inflicted on all the enemies of his Church, or congregation of faithful Christians, is expressed by the symbolical imagery of 'washing his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes;' which to understand literally, would be incongruous and unusual any where, while it aptly represents his garments crimsoned in the blood of his foes, and their immense slaughter; and imagery frequently adopted in the prophetic scriptures.
"The strength and wholesomeness of Shiloh's doctrine are next represented by having 'his eyes red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.' And thus the evangelical prophet, in similar strains, invites the world to embrace the Gospel: -
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters, And he that hath no money; come, buy and eat: Yea, come, buy wine and milk, Without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1.
"On the last day of the feast of tabernacles it was customary among the Jews for the people to bring water from the fountain of Siloah or Siloam, which they poured on the altar, singing the words of Isaiah, Isaiah 12:3 : With joy shall ye draw water from the fountain of salvation; which the Targum interprets, 'With joy shall ye receive a new doctrine from the Elect of the Just One;' and the feast itself was also called Hosannah, Save, we beseech thee. And Isaiah has also described the apostasy of the Jews from their tutelar God Immanuel, under the corresponding imagery of their 'rejecting the gently-flowing waters of Siloah,' Isaiah 8:6-8.
"Hence our Lord, on the last day of the feast, significantly invited the Jews to come unto him as the true and living Fountain of waters, Jeremiah 2:13. 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink;' John 7:37. He also compared his doctrine to new wine, which required to be put into new bottles, made of skins strong enough to contain it, Matthew 9:17; while the Gospel is repeatedly represented as affording milk for babes, or the first principles of the oracles of God for novices in the faith, as well as strong meat [and strong wine] for masters in Christ or adepts, Matthew 13:11; Hebrews 5:12-14.
"And our Lord's most significant miracle was wrought at this fountain, when he gave sight to a man forty years old, who had been blind from his birth, by sending him, after he had anointed his eyes with moistened clay, to wash in the pool of Siloam, which is the Greek pronunciation of the Hebrew שלה Siloah or Siloh, Isaiah 8:6, where the Septuagint version reads Σιλωαμ, signifying, according to the evangelist, απεσταλμενος, sent forth, and consequently derived from שלח shalach, to send, John 9:7. Our Lord thus assuming to himself his two leading titles of Messiah, signifying anointed, and Shiloh, sent forth or delegated from God; as he had done before at the opening of his mission: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me forth (απεσταλκε) to heal the broken-hearted,' etc.; Luke 4:18.
"And in the course of it he declared, I was not sent forth (απεσταλην) but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 15:24, by a two-fold reference to his character in Jacob's prophecy of Shiloh and Shepherd Of Israel, Genesis 49:10-24. 'This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou sentest forth,' (απεστειλας), to instruct and save mankind, John 17:3; and he thus distinguishes his own superior mission from his commission to his apostles: 'As The Father hath sent Me, (απεσταλκε με), so I send you,' πεμπω ὑμας, John 20:21. Whence St. Paul expressly styles Jesus Christ 'the Apostle (Ὁ Αποστολος) and High Priest of our profession,' Hebrews 3:1; and by an elaborate argument shows the superiority of his mission above that of Moses, and of his priesthood above that of Aaron, in the sequel of the epistle. His priesthood was foretold by David to be a royal priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, Psalm 110:4. But where shall we find his mission or apostleship foretold, except in Jacob's prophecy of Shiloh? which was evidently so understood by Moses when God offered to send him as his ambassador to Pharaoh, and he declined at first the arduous mission: 'O my Lord, send I pray thee by the hand of Him whom thou wilt send,' or by the promised Shiloh, Exodus 3:10; Exodus 4:13; by whom in his last blessing to the Israelites, parallel to that of Jacob, he prayed that 'God would bring back Judah to his people,' from captivity, Deuteronomy 33:7. "Here then we find the true meaning and derivation of the much disputed term Shiloh in this prophecy of Jacob, which is fortunately preserved by the Vulgate, rendering qui mittendus est, he that is to be sent, and also by a rabbinical comment on Deuteronomy 22:7 : 'If you keep this precept, you hasten the coming of the Messiah, who is called Sent.' "This important prophecy concerning Judah intimates, 1. The warlike character and conquests of this tribe; 2. The cessation of their civil and religious polity at the first coming of Shiloh; 3. His meek and lowly inauguration at that time, as spiritual King of the Jews, riding on an ass like the ancient judges and prophets; 4. His second coming as a warrior to trample on all his foes; and, 5. To save and instruct his faithful people." - Hales' Anal., vol. ii., p. 167, etc.
on Genesis 49 :8
Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, comes in for the supremacy after the three former have been set aside. His personal prowess, the perpetuity of his dominion, and the luxuriance of his soil are then described. "Thee shall thy brethren praise." This is an allusion to his name, which signifies praise Genesis 29:35. As his mother praised the Lord for her fourth son, so shall his brethren praise him for his personal excellence. Ardor of temperament, decision of character, and frankness of acknowledgment are conspicuous even in the blemishes of his early life. Tenderness of conscience, promptitude in resolve, capacity for business, and force of eloquence come out in his riper years. These are qualities that win popular esteem. "Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies." They shall flee before him, but shall not escape his powerful grasp. They shall be compelled to yield to his overwhelming power. "Thy father's sons shall bow down to thee." Not only his enemies, but his friends, shall acknowledge his sway. The similar prediction concerning Joseph Genesis 37:6-8 was of a personal nature, and referred to a special occasion, not to a permanent state of affairs. It had already received its main fulfillment, and would altogether terminate with the lifetime of Joseph. The present announcement refers to Judah not as an individual, but as the head of a tribe in Israel, and will therefore, correspond in duration with that commonwealth.
on Genesis 49 :8