Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be to Zidon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Zebulun . . . —“Sea” is plural in the Heb., and is rightly so rendered in the Syriac. The territory of the tribe lay upon the inland sea of Gennesaret, but did not extend to the shore of the Mediterranean. We do not know of any literal fulfilment of the prediction, but Moses also speaks of Zebulun and Issachar as tribes that would “suck of the abundance of the seas.” It is very possible that, living in the neighbourhood of the Phœnicians, they took part in maritime pursuits; and thus the general meaning of the blessing may be that Zebulun would be a tribe, not of agriculturists, but of traders. It is also remarkable that Tyre, which was much nearer the tribe of Zebulun, and was the leading city in David’s time, is not mentioned, but only the more ancient town of Sidon.Genesis 49:13. Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea — This was fulfilled, when, two or three hundred years after, the land of Canaan was divided by lot, and the “border of Zebulun went up toward the sea,” Joshua 19:11.
His border shall be unto Zidon; or, his side or coast, to wit, that which is upon the Mediterranean Sea, in near Zidon, understanding not the city, but the territory belonging to it, unto which that tribe reached upon the sea-coast; for though Asher might seem to intercept them, yet he did not reach to the sea. Or, his coast looks towards Zidon, hath it in view, and lies commodiously for commerce with that great city, which then was the mart of the nations. Joshua 19:10 and this was done, not at the discretion of Joshua, or at the choice of this tribe, but by lot; and which shows that Jacob said this under a spirit of prophecy, and which had its fulfilment two hundred years after; and is a full proof of the prescience and providence of God; and who, as he sets the bounds of the people, or of the nations of the world, and of the tribes of Israel, so the bounds of the habitations of particular persons, Acts 17:26 and he shall be for an haven of ships; shall have good ports commodious for ships to station in, and to cover them from storms and tempests; this tribe being situated by the sea shore (b):
and his border shall be unto Zidon; not the city Zidon, for the tribe of Zebulun reached no further than Carmel, as Josephus observes;"the Zebulunites (says he) obtained the land from Carmel, and the sea to the lake of Gennesaret.''Now Carmel was forty miles at least from Zidon; but Phoenicia is meant, of which Zidon was the chief city; and so the Septuagint in Isaiah 23:2 put Phoenicia instead of Zidon; and whereas Carmel was the border of this tribe that way, it is also said by Jerom (d) to be the border of Phoenicia; so that Zebulun reaching to Carmel, its border may be truly said to be to Zidon or Phoenicia.Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. shall dwell] For the play probably intended on one of the meanings of Zebulun, see note on Genesis 30:20.
haven] Rather, as R.V. marg., Heb. beach or shore. The same word is used to describe the beach washed by the sea (Joshua 9:1), and the shore which is sought by the ships. Zebulun’s territory evidently at one time included the coast line. In Joshua 19:10-16 the tribe of Asher comes in between Zebulun and the Mediterranean. In Jdg 5:17 it is Asher who is abiding by “the haven of the sea.” But, in Deuteronomy 33:18-19, Zebulun is joined with Issachar in sucking “the treasure of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand.”
upon] or, by. See note on Genesis 48:7. Delitzsch understood the preposition to mean “towards.” The versions, Sam., LXX, Vulg., Syr. Pesh., render “up to,” “as far as,” following a different reading (‘ad, for ‘al). “Border,” better “flank,” or “further side.”
Zidon] The famous Phoenician capital whose neighbourhood must have been a source of wealth to the nearest Israelite tribe. See note on Genesis 10:15.Verse 13. - Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; - not παρ ὅρμον πλοίων (LXX.), in statione navium (Vulgate), but to, or at, or beside, the. shore (from the idea of being washed by the waters of the ocean) of the waters, i.e. of the Galilean and Mediterranean seas - and he shall be for an haven of ships; - literally, and he to, at, or on, a shore of ships, i.e. a shore where ships are unloaded (so. shall dwell), the words being a repetition of the previous thought, with only the expansion, suggested by the term ships, that Zebulun's calling should be in the direction of commerce; - and his border shall be unto Zidon - literally, and his side, or hinder part (sc. shall be, or extend), towards, rather than unto, - usque ad (Vulgate), ἕως (LXX.), - Zidon, since the territory subsequently allotted to Zebulun neither actually touched the Mediterranean, nor reached to Zidon - a circumstance that may be noted as an indirect hint that this prophecy was not spoken, or even first written, after the occupation of the land. Genesis 34:25.), that Jacob would have no fellowship with it. "Into their counsel come not, my soul; with their assembly let not my honour unite." סוד, a council, or deliberative consensus. תּחד, imperf. of יחד; כּבודי, like Psalm 7:6; Psalm 16:9, etc., of the soul as the noblest part of man, the centre of his personality as the image of God. "For in their wrath have they slain men, and in their wantonness houghed oxen." The singular nouns אישׁ and שׁור, in the sense of indefinite generality, are to be regarded as general rather than singular, especially as the plural form of both is rarely met with; of אישׁ, only in Psalm 141:4; Proverbs 8:4, and Isaiah 53:3; of שׁור־שׁור, only in Hosea 12:12. רצון: inclination, here in a bad sense, wantonness. עקּר: νευροκοπεῖν, to sever the houghs (tendons of the hind feet), - a process by which animals were not merely lamed, but rendered useless, since the tendon once severed could never be healed again, whilst as a rule the arteries were not cut so as to cause the animal to bleed to death (cf. Joshua 11:6, Joshua 11:9; 2 Samuel 8:4). In Genesis 34:28 it is merely stated that the cattle of the Shechemites were carried off, not that they were lamed. But the one is so far from excluding the other, that it rather includes it in such a case as this, where the sons of Jacob were more concerned about revenge than booty. Jacob mentions the latter only, because it was this which most strikingly displayed their criminal wantonness. On this reckless revenge Jacob pronounces the curse, "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I shall divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." They had joined together to commit this crime, and as a punishment they should be divided or scattered in the nation of Israel, should form no independent or compact tribes. This sentence of the patriarch was so fulfilled when Canaan was conquered, that on the second numbering under Moses, Simeon had become the weakest of all the tribes (Numbers 26:14); in Moses' blessing (Deuteronomy 33) it was entirely passed over; and it received no separate assignment of territory as an inheritance, but merely a number of cities within the limits of Judah (Joshua 19:1-9). Its possessions, therefore, became an insignificant appendage to those of Judah, into which they were eventually absorbed, as most of the families of Simeon increased but little (1 Chronicles 4:27); and those which increased the most emigrated in two detachments, and sought out settlements for themselves and pasture for their cattle outside the limits of the promised land (1 Chronicles 4:38-43). Levi also received no separate inheritance in the land, but merely a number of cities to dwell in, scattered throughout the possessions of his brethren (Joshua 21:1-40). But the scattering of Levi in Israel was changed into a blessing for the other tribes through its election to the priesthood. Of this transformation of the curse into a blessing, there is not the slightest intimation in Jacob's address; and in this we have a strong proof of its genuineness. After this honourable change had taken place under Moses, it would never have occurred to any one to cast such a reproach upon the forefather of the Levites. How different is the blessing pronounced by Moses upon Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8.)! But though Jacob withdrew the rights of primogeniture from Reuben, and pronounced a curse upon the crime of Simeon and Levi, he deprived none of them of their share in the promised inheritance. They were merely put into the background because of their sins, but they were not excluded from the fellowship and call of Israel, and did not lose the blessing of Abraham, so that their father's utterances with regard to them might still be regarded as the bestowal of a blessing (Genesis 49:28).
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