Scriptural text: Gen. 35:22b-26; 38:12-19; 26-36; 49:8-12
At the be- ginning of the patriarchal narratives in Genesis, God promised to make Abraham “a father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5). From these descendants God declared that “kings shall come” (17:6). Abraham’s grandson Jacob fathered 12 sons: the descendants of these sons became the tribes of Israel. Through Jacob’s family, God’s promise of royalty would come. He would choose neither Jacob’s oldest son (Reuben) nor his favorite son (Benjamin) to be the ancestor of the royal line. Rather, out of Judah would come an eternal kingdom.
Jacob’s Family (Gen. 35:22b-26):
Twelve Sons (vv. 22b).
“Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.” In other words, “Jacob” had “twelve sons” by his two wives and two “concubines.” And they are listed in verses 23- 26.
Four Mothers (vv. 23- 26a).
“The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun.” The writer first lists “The sons of Leah”: “Leah was Rachel’s older sister who was given to “Jacob” when Laban promised him Rachel. “Leah” gave birth to “six sons.”
Despite her numerous sons, Leah never experienced the love from Jacob that her sister received (29:30).
Judah would rise to a position of leadership among his brothers (Gen. 37:25- 28). While Judah acted unrighteously at times, he was uniquely blessed.
“The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin.” The first son was “Joseph.” Because he was loved by his father Jacob, his brothers hated him. “Joseph” had dreams indicating that his brothers would bow to him. So one day they had a chance to get rid of him, instead of killing him, they sold him to traveling mer- chants for twenty pieces of silver who then took “Joseph” into slavery in Egypt (Gen. 37:18-20). “Benjamin” was “Rachel’s” youngest son. Saul, Israel’s first king came from the tribe “Benjamin.”
Judah’s Ruler” (Gen. 49:10-12).
At the end of his life, Jacob called together his sons and described their future (Gen. 49:10-12). Much of what he started would un- fold when the descendants of his sons settled in the promised land centuries later. Jacob’s lengthy speech regarding Judah spoke of his son’s preeminence. Judah’s brothers would someday praise him and bow down to him. Ju- dah would become like a lion, bringing fear to those “who shall rouse him up” (49:9). Jacob’s words be- gan addressing Judah directly, but shifted to talk about Judah and his descendants.
The King’s Reign (V. 10).
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” The word “scepter” refers to a ceremonial or emblematic staff that symbolizes royal or kingly authority. Here, the “scepter “ refers to the rule of a king. The tribe of “Judah” would be the royal tribe, and the tribe in which the Messiah would come. Therefore, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law- giver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.”
Jacob here foresaw first that “the scepter” or royal rule will come from the tribe of “Judah,” which was fulfilled when David, on whose family the crown was entailed or settled. He foresaw that the tribe of “Judah” would be the royal tribe, and from which “Shiloh” or the Messiah would come. A dying Jacob saw Christ’s day at a great distance and it was his com- fort and support on his death-bed. Jacob foresaw that after the coming of “the scepter” or royal rule into the tribe of “Judah,” it will not “depart from Judah” but it will continue in that tribe until the coming of the Messiah.
References: Standard Lesson Commentary KJV 2022-2023, Enduring Word Bible Commentary, Inter- national Sunday School Commentary