Joseph has secured the land of Goshen for his family and their livestock. Shepherds were abhorred by the Egyptians so this area would be away from the general population. Egypt was agricultural and raised crops like melons, vegetables, grain and cattle. Sheep do not mix well with these endeavors. Shepherding was profitable and healthy. It also minimizes association with the neighboring idolaters who worshiped sheep. Being alone, the shepherds could safeguard their religious and spiritual heritage. They also learned to care for another creature and you had to depend on God because it was an unstable business. It was physically less exhaustive than agriculture.
So, Jacob settles in Goshen as a reward for what Joseph did and they “settle” but not permanently. Jacob blesses Pharaoh because the earthly is subject to the heavenly, and Jacob makes quite an impression on Pharaoh. Jacob says that he is a sojourner in this world. His answer to Pharaoh in Gen 47.9 is 33 words in Hebrew. Isaac, his father, lived for 180 years and Jacob will live 147 years, 33 short of Isaac. The numerical value for “live” is 33 and Yeshua was 33 years old when he died. Jacob found “life” in Egypt and so can we, even surrounded by unbelief. We can prosper if we follow the Lord.
As the famine proceeded, Egypt gained great wealth. This wealth will be what Israel takes with them when they depart in the Exodus (Gen 15.11). When the people spent all their money, they came to Joseph for food. They had exchanged everything for food. Now Joseph tells them to give up their livestock for food, and they agreed. When that food was gone, they had nothing left but their bodies and their lands. So they said “Buy us and our lands” and we will be slaves (tenants) to Pharaoh. Joseph bought the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. This was all part of God’s plan. Joseph moved them to the cities in Egypt because they had no claim on their land now. He didn’t buy them as slaves but as tenants and “aliens, just like Israel was. Joseph buys all the land for Pharaoh except the land of the priests.
Joseph tells them that he has paid for them and their land. In exchange, he gives them their seed to plant when the time comes. As a result, one-fifth will go to Pharaoh from their produce and they can keep the rest. They agreed because their lives were spared. Israel, on the other hand, bought their own land and owned their own property (47.27). But later this will be reversed (Exo 1.11). This agreement was still in place at the time of Moses (47.26).
In a Torah scroll there are nine spaces between on Parsha (Torah portion) and the next one. But, between Gen 47. 27 and 28 there is only one space. The parsha teaches what will happen to Israel in the latter days with the nations “closing in.” In this case, Egypt will be “closing in” on Israel. Jacob calls Joseph to him and makes him promise with an oath that he will carry him out of Egypt and to bury him in Hebron, at the cave of Machpelah. In Gen 48 Joseph is told that his father is sick. In verse two we see that the name of Jacob and Israel is used. Jacob alludes to the earthly, fleshly aspect. Israel alludes to the heavenly, spiritual aspect in his life. When he sees Joseph come in, he goes from the flesh (Jacob) to the spiritual (Israel) and will prophesy. He “adopts” Joseph’s two sons Ehpraim and Manesseh and they will become tribes.
Jacob goes to bless the two boys and he puts his right hand on Ephraim (the younger) and his left hand on Manasseh (the oldest), forming an “X” or the ancient letter “Tav.” This letter means “covenant, cross, to seal, sign or finished.” The “aleph-tav” is symbolic of God and it means “head (aleph) of the covenant (tav)” for instance. When Joseph saw this, it displeased him and he tries to correct his father, but Jacob said “I know” and said the younger brother shall be greater than the older brother. He said his descendants shall become the “fullness of the nations” or Gentiles. The Hebrew term is “M’loh ha Goyim” and it means a handful that fills, a multitude. This will be Jews who will be among the Gentiles when Messiah comes, too many to number. Paul refers to this concept in Rom 9.25-26 and 11.25-26. When he says “until the fullness of the Gentiles (nations) has come in” he is not referring to Gentiles being saved. He is talking about Jews believing and coming back into the land in a Second Redemption from the exile, after Messiah returns. This term comes from Gen 48.19. Jacob tells Joseph that he is giving him “one shoulder more than your brothers” and this will play out literally because Joseph was given the city of Shechem, meaning “shoulder”, which was in the territory of Ephraim. Later in this teaching, we are going to look at the story of what happened to Joseph in more detail.
In Gen 49, we have a very eschatological chapter and Jacob summons his sons and he is going to tell them what will “befall you in the days to come.” The term “days to come” is “Acharit Yamim” and it is the same as “B’Yamim” (in the days) and it means “when the Messiah comes” (Jer 23.5, 33.15, 50.4). He wants them to hear what will happen to their posterity and family. He wants them to “Shema” or hear, and this implies “to obey.” So he begins with Reuben. This was not an honor to go first here, but a reproach. He was first born but would not have that blessing, and this is a reminder. He is called “unstable” as water and he lost his status as first born because he “went up to your father’s bed” in Gen 35.22 with Bilhah (1 Chr 5.1). Then he goes to Simeon and Levi. They are brothers in many ways and they are violent. Jacob does not want to enter into their counsel (sowd) or their assembly (kahal). In their anger they slew a man (Hamor, the king of Shechem) and maimed an ox (Joseph), and cursed be their anger. Levi was dispersed all over the land and Simeon did not have a portion in the land of Canaan, but their inheritance was out of the portion given to Judah (Josh 19.1; Deut 33.7; 2 Sam 19.43).
Judah will be praised (Gen 29.35) and he will subdue his enemies (alludes to David and Messiah). Kings will come from him. He was compared to a young lion, strong and courageous. After he has defeated his enemies, it goes into the mountains and lives in peace (1 Kings 4.24-25). Who will rouse him? After Messiah defeats his enemies, who can provoke him. The kingship will not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver (literally “inscribing pen”), until Shiloh (Messiah) comes. Shiloh means “peace bringer” or “a gift to him” and it alludes to peace in the Messianic Kingdom, and it is related to the word “Shalom.” Unto him (Shiloh/Messiah) will be the obedience of the peoples (non-Jews). He ties his foal (a donkey is a kingly animal) to the vine (Israel-Isa 5.2; Jer 7.2; Matt 21.35) and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine. He washes his garments in wine (speaks of abundance of teaching) and his robe in the blood of grapes. Judah had an abundance of grapes in his territory. This also alludes to teaching and defeating his enemies (Isa 63, Rev 19.11-13). His eyes are red with wine and this alludes to the Messiah being full of teaching, and his teeth are whiter that milk speaks of pure doctrine (1 Pet 2.2) of his teaching.
Zebulon will dwell near the Sea of Galilee and his border will be unto Sidon (Phoenicia). His territory will be a haven for ships and have good ports. Issachar is a strong one, able to carry burdens. They were skillful in prophecy and eschatology (1 Chr 12.32). His territory was between Zebulon and Dan (between the sheepfolds) and his land was a good resting place. He will bear the ploughing, sowing and reaping and pay more in tribute than the others so they could stay at home and attend the fields when the others went to war.
Dan will have some who share in the government. Being at the extreme north end of the land, they will need to be a “serpent in the way” (wise). They will need to be crafty to defend themselves against the invaders that come from the north. He had a subtle disposition. It is believed that the False Messiah will come from this tribe. For more information on this see the teaching “The Greatest Delusion Ever Told” on this site. Jacob pauses at this point and says, “For they salvation (Hebrew “Yeshua”) I wait, O Lord” before proceeding.
Gad will be on the east side of the Jordan and he will also be exposed to invaders. They will conquer the invaders and return by the same roads and tracks they came from. Asher will have plenty of food out of their own land. There was a valley there that would be called “the fat valley” (Deut 33.24). He yielded food fit for kings (i Kings 4.16). Naphtali is as a doe (swift but fearful before going to war). They helped Deborah and gave good words in song and disposition, and were lovers of liberty. They were courteous and kind.
Joseph’s blessing will be very Messianic. Joseph will be fruitful and his two sons will be tribes. His “branches” (Hebrew “daughters”) run over the wall and this refers to the cities of Ephraim and Manasseh which are sometimes called “daughters.” We will also have allusions to the suffering servant Messiah Ben Joseph. Archers (his brothers) bitterly attacked him and shot at him. This alludes to the Messiah because he was persecuted by his brothers. His bow (his virtues) remained strong and his arms were agile, so he held his ground and did not weaken. From there (from God who sent Joseph) is the Shepherd (to feed his father’s family) and the Stone (a name for the Messiah). He was sent ahead to shepherd his people. This was only temporary because Judah will take his place. God will help him and bless him with the blessings of heaven above (the sun, moon, stars, rain, dew, wind, etc). There will also be blessings from the deep, like fountains and springs of water. The blessings of the breasts and womb means there will be an increase in children and livestock. Jacob’s blessings were greater and more abundant than Abraham’s or Isaac’s. These blessings will continue on the head of Joseph and on the head who was separate from his brothers, as Yeshua was (Heb 7.26). He had a kedusha.
Benjamin shall be as a ravenous wolf, and this alludes to the fact that a wolf is brave and has fortitude, very warlike (Judges 20.15). Saul was from Benjamin and had many victories (1 Sam 14.47). Mordechai and Esther were from Benjamin. At the beginning of Israel’s history (“in the morning”) and at the end of Israel’s history (“in the evening”) the spoil of God’s enemies will be divided among his people.
These are the blessings to the sons and these prophecies apply to the tribes, not individuals. These blessings were according to the blessings appointed to them by God. Jacob charges them all to bury him in Canaan, in Hebron, at the cave of Machpelah. After this, Jacob “drew his feet” (his earthly walk was over) and he passed away.
In Part 21, we will pick up here.