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Genesis 49:22–27 (ESV)

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.

“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Joseph is now two tribes instead of just one (making him more fruitful). Joseph has been—and will be— mightily blessed by God.

But notice the undercurrent of Jacob’s legendary love for Rachel. Jacob didn’t just double Joseph’s share when he claimed Manasseh and Ephraim as his own. He also compensated for Rachel’s relative barrenness. She now has three sons.

The tribe of Benjamin will, indeed, turn out to be fierce adversaries (see 1 Chron. 8:40 & 12:2 and Judges 20:12-48). But that’s not Jacob’s point here. Rachel was Benjamin’s first prey, when she died giving birth to him. Jacob lost the love of his life that day, and Benjamin replaced her.

Morning is often a reference to the beginning of life. The imagery here is intentional.

Once again, we see that Jacob didn’t have the power to make his predictions come true, even when they’re deathbed blessings. Jacob wanted Rachel to be the mother of his children. That desire was crushed time and again. Jacob was massively blessed, but not in the way he wanted. Judah will be his signature tribe.

Clearly, Jacob developed a close relationship with God. He surely prayed many times for Rachel to get pregnant. Yet, God denies this particular heart’s desire.

In Genesis 30:22–24, when Rachel finally does have a son, scripture describes this as God hearing Rachel’s prayers, not Jacob’s. Then, a short time after God changes his name to Israel, and says, “A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body,” Rachel dies.

At that point, Jacob didn’t know that Joseph was alive; he thought that Benjamin was all that was left of the love of his life. He had received many encouraging signs from God, but one of his most fervent prayers was, yet again, slapped back hard. God didn’t just say no that time; He finalized it.

Take heart. If monstrously discouraging setbacks can happen to Jacob, they can happen to you.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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