Genesis 49:9
Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, you are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
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(9) Judah is a lion’s whelp.—We have seen that the sons of Jacob had each his signet, and that Judah’s was so large as to be worn by him attached to a cord fastened round his neck (Genesis 38:18). Probably his emblem was a lion; that of Zebulun a ship; that of Issachar an ass; that of Dan an adder, and so on. Using then his self-chosen emblem, Jacob compares him, first, to a “lion’s whelp,” full of activity and enterprise, and which, after feasting upon its prey, goes up to its mountain lair, calm and fearless in the consciousness of its strength. But as Judah is a young lion in his activity and fearlessness, so is he “a lion” full-grown and majestic in his repose, which Jacob’s words literally describe. For the “stooping down” is the bending of the limbs together before the lion couches, that is, lies down in his den.

As an old lion.—Heb., as a lioness, the female being said to be more fierce than the male, and to resent more angrily any disturbance of its rest.

Genesis 49:9. Judah is a lion’s whelp, &c. — The lion is the king of beasts, the terror of the forest when he roars; when he seizeth his prey, none can resist him; when he goes up from the prey, none dares pursue him to revenge it. By this it was foretold that the tribe of Judah should become very formidable, and should not only obtain great victories, but should peaceably enjoy what was gotten by those victories. Judah is compared, not to a lion rampant, always raging, but to a lion couching, enjoying the satisfaction of his success, without creating vexation to others.49:8-12 Judah's name signifies praise. God was praised for him, chap. 29:35, praised by him, and praised in him; therefore his brethren shall praise him. Judah should be a strong and courageous tribe. Judah is compared, not to a lion raging and ranging, but to a lion enjoying the satisfaction of his power and success, without creating vexation to others; this is to be truly great. Judah should be the royal tribe, the tribe from which Messiah the Prince should come. Shiloh, that promised Seed in whom the earth should be blessed, that peaceable and prosperous One, or Saviour, he shall come of Judah. Thus dying Jacob at a great distance saw Christ's day, and it was his comfort and support on his death-bed. Till Christ's coming, Judah possessed authority, but after his crucifixion this was shortened, and according to what Christ foretold, Jerusalem was destroyed, and all the poor harassed remnant of Jews were confounded together. Much which is here said concerning Judah, is to be applied to our Lord Jesus. In him there is plenty of all which is nourishing and refreshing to the soul, and which maintains and cheers the Divine life in it. He is the true Vine; wine is the appointed symbol of his blood, which is drink indeed, as shed for sinners, and applied in faith; and all the blessings of his gospel are wine and milk, without money and without price, to which every thirsty soul is welcome. Isa 55:1.A lion's whelp is Judah. - In physical strength Judah is compared to the lion, the king of beasts. At first he is the lion's whelp, the young lion, giving promise of future vigor; then the full-grown lion, exulting in his irresistible force, seizing and overmastering the prey, and after reaping the fruits of his victory, ascending to his mountain lair and reposing in undisturbed security. The lioness is brought into the comparison with propriety, as in defense of her cubs she is even more dangerous than the male to the unwary assailant. After being satiated with prey, the lion, reposing in his majesty, will not disturb the passer-by; but who shall rouse him up and escape?Ge 49:8-12. Judah—A high pre-eminence is destined to this tribe (Nu 10:14; Jud 1:2). Besides the honor of giving name to the Promised Land, David, and a greater than David—the Messiah—sprang from it. Chief among the tribes, "it grew up from a lion's whelp"—that is, a little power—till it became "an old lion"—that is, calm and quiet, yet still formidable. Judah is as

a lion’s whelp, or as a young lion, for courage, and strength, and terror to his enemies. The particle as is here wanting, as also Genesis 49:14,17,21,22, and in many other places, as Psalm 11:1 12:6 22:6, &c. And he is rightly compared first to a lion’s whelp, then to an old lion, to signify the growth of that tribe in strength and interest; and that from small beginnings, and a precedency of order only, Judges 1:1,2, it should ascend to the height of honour, and power, and happiness in David, and especially in the Messiah, who should conquer all nations.

From the prey... thou art gone up. Having taken the prey, i.e. conquered thine enemies, thou art

gone up in triumph; or gone up, i.e. grown greater and higher after thy victories, as the manner is. Or he alludes to the lions, which usually dwell in mountains, as divers writers observe, and come down to prey in the valleys, and when they have got their prey, they go up to their habitations, and so shall Judah do.

He stooped; a change of the person very frequent in prophetical writings, as we shall oft have occasion to note hereafter.

He couched. When he hath taken the prey, he doth not convey it away to his den with haste and speed for fear the enemy should return and overtake him, but like a lion he stoops down to feed upon his prey, and coucheth or lieth down securely to rest himself after he hath eaten it, without the least fear of any enemy, as it is observed of him, Isaiah 31:4. Judah’s conquests shall not be interrupted or followed with ill successes and defeats or overthrows afterward, as it frequently happens in the course of war, but he quietly possess his spoils, and after the bloody wars, to which he will be forced, shall enjoy a sweet peace and tranquillity, which his posterity did, 1 Kings 4:25.

As an old lion, or rather a grown lion, not a decrepit and impotent lion, but one come to his full strength; who shall presume or dare to disturb or provoke him? All shall fear him, and seek peace with him. Judah is a lion's whelp,.... Or as one; the note of similitude being wanting, as Aben Ezra and Ben Melech observe; he was comparable to a young lion for his strength, courage, and generosity; and it may refer to the infant state of this tribe in the times of the judges, who first went up against the Canaanites and overcame them, Judges 1:1.

from the prey, my son, thou art gone up; alluding to the lion going up to the mountains, where it chiefly resides, after it has found its prey and satiated itself with it:

he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; one that is grown up, and has arrived to its full strength, such an one is a proper emblem of David king of Israel, of his royalty, courage, valour and conquests; and who having subdued the nations round about him, couched like a lion, and had rest from all his enemies; and especially this was verified in the times of Solomon his son, when he had peace on all sides, and Judah and Israel dwelt safely under their vines and fig trees, 1 Kings 4:24.

who shall rouse him up? a lion grown up and in its full strength, or a lioness, as some choose to interpret it, and which is the fiercest, and therefore the most dangerous to rouse up when laid down, either in its den, or with its prey in its paws: so dangerous it was to provoke the tribe of Judah, as its enemies after found, especially in the times of David: all this may be applied to Christ, the lion of the tribe of Judah; the lion being the king of beasts, and the strongest among them, may denote the kingly power and authority of Christ, his great strength as the mighty God and mighty Saviour, his courage in engaging with all the powers of darkness, and valour in vanquishing all enemies; his generosity and lenity to those that stoop to him, and his fierceness to his adversaries, who took the prey from the mighty, and then ascended on high, leading captivity captive; where he sat down at the right hand of God at rest and ease, and who will dare to rouse him up, or be able to stand before him when once he is angry? This verse in some ancient (o) writings of the Jews is interpreted of Messiah the son of David.

(o) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 49. 3. 4.

Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; {h} who shall rouse him up?

(h) His enemies will so fear him.

9. a lion’s whelp] For the comparison of Judah with a lion, which through this verse became its historic symbol, cf. 2Es 12:31-32; Revelation 5:5. The metaphor of a lion is applied to Gad (Deuteronomy 33:20) and to Dan (Deuteronomy 33:22). For its use in poetical description, cf. Numbers 23:24; Numbers 24:9; Micah 5:8; 1Ma 3:4.

gone up] The lion, having seized and devoured its prey, returns to its fastness in the hills, secure and inaccessible.

stooped down … couched] A description of the movements of a lion (cf. Numbers 24:9) stalking its prey, running swiftly and secretly, and gathering itself for a final spring. The verb describes the habitual swiftness and force in the movements of the tribe.Reuben, my first-born thou, my might and first-fruit of my strength; pre-eminence in dignity and pre-eminence in power. - As the first-born, the first sprout of the full virile power of Jacob, Reuben, according to natural right, was entitled to the first rank among his brethren, the leadership of the tribes, and a double share of the inheritance (Genesis 27:29; Deuteronomy 21:17). (שׂאת: elevation, the dignity of the chieftainship; עז, the earlier mode of pronouncing עז, the authority of the first-born.) But Reuben had forfeited this prerogative. "Effervescence like water - thou shalt have no preference; for thou didst ascend thy father's marriage-bed: then hast thou desecrated; my couch has he ascended." פּחז: lit., the boiling over of water, figuratively, the excitement of lust; hence the verb is used in Judges 9:4; Zephaniah 3:4, for frivolity and insolent pride. With this predicate Jacob describes the moral character of Reuben; and the noun is stronger than the verb פחזת of the Samaritan, and אתרעת or ארתעת efferbuisti, aestuasti of the Sam. Vers., ἐξύβρισας of the lxx, and ὑπερζέσας of Symm. תּותר is to be explained by יתר: have no pre-eminence. His crime was, lying with Bilhah, his father's concubine (Genesis 35:22). חלּלתּ is used absolutely: desecrated hast thou, sc., what should have been sacred to thee (cf. Leviticus 18:8). From this wickedness the injured father turns away with indignation, and passes to the third person as he repeats the words, "my couch he has ascended." By the withdrawal of the rank belonging to the first-born, Reuben lost the leadership in Israel; so that his tribe attained to no position of influence in the nation (compare the blessing of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:6). The leadership was transferred to Judah, the double portion to Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:1-2), by which, so far as the inheritance was concerned, the first-born of the beloved Rachel took the place of the first-born of the slighted Leah; not, however, according to the subjective will of the father, which is condemned in Deuteronomy 21:15., but according to the leading of God, by which Joseph had been raised above his brethren, but without the chieftainship being accorded to him.
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