The Scriptorium

Forward to Shiloh

Jacob offers a prophetic genealogy. Genesis 49.8-12

Gleanealogy: Foundations (7)

Pray Psalm 132.11, 12.
The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”

Sing contemplatively Psalm 132.11, 12..
(Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David;
Do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor,
And He shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
And walk within My testimonies ever,
Thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

Read Genesis 49.1-28.

1. This is more a summation and prospectus than a genealogy. Explain.

2. How would Moses’ recording this have helped the people of his generation?

We’re fudging a bit here to include this passage with the toledoth of Genesis. But remember that the genealogies in the book of Genesis serve several purposes: They are bridges to connect various phases of God’s covenant; they distinguish the people of promise from the rest of the nations and peoples; and they provide hinges moving God’s project of redemption forward from one generation to the next. It is in this last sense, I believe, that our text for today qualifies as a genealogy, though not a toledoth.

The people Moses led into the wilderness would have needed these genealogies to remember who they were and what God had chosen them to do. Having just recounted the census of those seventy persons who went down to Egypt (Gen. 46), now Moses records Jacob’s final words to his sons, and provides a prospectus of what each tribe can expect in the days ahead. These blessings (v. 28) take the form of prophetic utterances. We cannot unpack each of them, and we do not know to what extent Jacob’s words were precisely fulfilled. The most important of these prophetic blessings is in verses 8-12, the prophesy concerning Judah, which is a kind of prophetic genealogy, looking forward to people and events that will bring God’s project to full realization.

Surprisingly, Judah will be the focus of Israel’s joy and praise – not Joseph, as we might suppose. Judah will receive his brothers’ praise and be the vanquisher of Israel’s enemies (v. 8). He is likened to a lion, in all forms of lion-ness, from whelp to maturity. As John will explain, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5.5) will prevail to carry God’s project to completion.

To the tribe of Judah, a scepter – the emblem of rule – will be given (v. 10), and with that, rulers whose mandate is to interpret and enforce the Law of God. A dynasty is indicated here (from Judah to Shiloh) which will rule in uprightness and according to the life-giving Law of God (cf. Ps. 45.6; Lev. 18.1-5; Deut. 17.18-20). That dynasty stops with One Whose name is Shiloh. When that Ruler comes, for Whom the rule and scepter have always been intended, then the dynasty descending from Judah ceases. That King, we are to understand, will be an eternal Ruler, “And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples”, not “people” as in NKJV. All those genealogies of nations and peoples, and all the tribes of Israel, will bow and worship before the King Who receives the Kingdom which began with one of Judah’s offspring (David, as it turns out, Ps. 132).

The mention of a donkey and a donkey’s colt, garments red with wine, and teeth as pure as milk are associations which, as we know, Jesus the Messiah fulfilled completely. One is coming, Jacob prophesied, who will be the Seed of the woman to destroy all enemies and bring the Kingdom to God’s people (cf. Dan. 7.13-25).

What hope and courage that must have filled the people who followed Moses into the wilderness, as they read this prophesy by their father, Jacob!

1. What would have been the effect of this prophesy on Judah’s role among the people of Israel, as they entered Egypt?

2. How many different aspects of this prophesy point us to Jesus? In what ways?

3. What is the importance of Jacob’s saying that the obedience of the peoples would come to Shiloh? How does this help to define our calling as followers of Shiloh?

Again, he is called a Lion; not a man eater, but, as it were, showing by this title his kingly, strong and resolute nature, Then too, he is called a Lion in opposition to the lion, our adversary who roars and devours those who have been deceived. For the Savior came, not having changed his own gentle nature, and yet as the mighty lion of the tribe of Judah, saving them that believe but trampling upon the adversary.
Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386), Catechetical Lectures 10.3

Help me, Jesus, to seek Your Kingdom in all things today as I…

Pray Psalm 132.13-18.
Thank God for sending His Spirit to dwell within you, for giving you rest in Jesus, clothing you in His salvation, and equipping you to serve Him today and every day.

Sing Psalm 132.13-18.
Psalm 132.13-18 (Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
God dwells among us, and He will forever,
To meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior,
And made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His presence ever,
But we shall reign with Him before His face.

T. M. Moore

The genealogies of Scripture reveal the heart of God in His covenant relationship with His people. To learn more about God’s covenant, order our book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here. You can learn to sing all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes by ordering a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here). You can download the weekly studies in this series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore