Thus does dying Jacob, in announcing "what shall befall his sons in the end of the days" (ver.1), speak to Judah, after having dismissed those of his sons to whom, in the name of the Lord, he must tell hard things -- things which did not, however, exclude them from the salvation common to all of them (ver.28), although their shadow made the light of Judah shine so much the more brightly.
In ver.8 everything depends upon a right determination of the meaning of the name Judah. Being formed from the Future in Hophal, it signifies: "He (viz., God) shall be praised." This explanation rests upon Gen. xxix.35, where Leah, after the birth of Judah, says, "Now will I praise the Lord;" and then follow the words: "therefore she called his name Judah." It rests likewise on the common use of the verb [Hebrew: idh], the Hiphil of which is, according to Maurer, almost constantly used of "praising God," and is, as it were, set apart and sanctified for that purpose. After having enumerated a multitude of passages, Gesenius says, in his Thesaurus: "In all these passages it refers [Pg 58] to the praise of God, and it is only rarely (Gen. xlix.8 compared with Job xl.14) that it refers to the praise of men." Even these few exceptions are such only in appearance. In Job xl.14, he whom God will praise is not an ordinary man, but a god-man. By the subsequent words in Gen. xlix.8, "Before thee shall bow down," something divine is ascribed to Judah; we need not therefore be astonished that, by the word [Hebrew: ivdvK], he is raised above the merely human standing. They only who do not know the Lion of the tribe of Judah, have any reason to explain away, by a forced exposition, the slight allusion to a superhuman dignity of the tribe of Judah. The greater number of expositors, referring to the subsequent words, "thy brethren shall praise thee," explain the name by the expression, "blessed one." But, even though we should retain the sure explanation which has been given above, the idea now mentioned falls very naturally in with it. He who, in the fullest sense, is a "God's-praise" (Gottlob), whose very existence becomes the cause of exclaiming, [Greek: doxa to Theo], praise be to God, will assuredly receive praise from the brethren. -- "Judah thou" stands (according to Gen. xxvii.36; Matt. xvi.18) either for, "Thou art Judah," i.e., thou art rightly called so, or, according to Gen. xxiv.60, for, "Thou Judah," i.e., I have something particular to tell thee (compare the emphatic "I" in Gen. xxiv.27). -- On the expression, "Thine hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies," i.e., thou shalt put to flight all thine enemies, and press them hard while they are fleeing, compare Exod. xxiii.27, "I will make all thine enemies (turn their) backs unto thee," and Ps. xviii.41, where David says, in the name of his family, in which Judah centred, as did Israel in Judah, "Thou hast given me mine enemies (to be) a back." If, however, we inquire how this prophecy was fulfilled, we must not overlook the circumstance that the subjects of it are sinful men, and that, for this reason, God could never give up the right of visiting their iniquity, -- a right which has its foundation in His very nature. Three sentences of condemnation precede the blessing upon Judah, and this indicates that Judah too will be weighed in the balance of justice. "The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power," which, in ver.3, were taken from Reuben, are here adjudged to Judah. The circumstance of his being the first-born could not protect the former against the loss of his privileges; [Pg 59] and just as little will the divine election deliver Judah from a visitation for his sins, although, by that election, the total loss of his privileges is rendered impossible. These two ordinations -- the election and the visitation of sin in the elect -- stand by the side of each other; and the latter could not be stayed, even at the time when Judah had reached its height in the Lion from out of his tribe; for although the Shepherd was blameless, yet the flock was not so. The ordination of election is, however, far from being thereby darkened; it only shines by a brighter light. Often painful indeed were the defeats which Judah had to sustain; often enough -- as during the centuries which elapsed between the destruction of David's kingdom and the coming of Christ -- was the promise, "Thy hand shall be in the necks of thine enemies," reversed. But when we behold Judah ever and anon returning and rising to the dignity here bestowed upon him, -- when the advance then always keeps equal pace with the preceding depths of humiliation (we need think only of David's time, and compare it with the period of the Judges), -- then indeed it appears all the more clearly, that the hand of God is ever active in bringing this promise to a sure and firm fulfilment. In the history of the world there is only one power -- that of Judah -- in which, notwithstanding all defeats, the promise, "Thy hand shall be in the necks of thine enemies," is ever, after all, fulfilled anew; only one power, the victorious energy of which may indeed be overcome by sleep, but never by death; only one power which can speak as does David in the name of his family in Ps. xviii.38-40: "I pursue mine enemies and overtake them, I do not return till they are consumed; I crush them, and they cannot rise: they fall under my feet. And Thou girdest me with strength for the war, Thou bowest down those that rise against me." -- Luther remarks on this passage: "These promises must be understood in spirit and faith. This may be seen from the history of David, where it often appears as if God had altogether forgotten him, and what He had promised to him. After he had already been elected, he was, for ten years, not able to obtain a fixed place, or residence in the whole kingdom; and when at last he took hold of the reins of government, he fell into great, grievous, heinous sin, and was sore vexed when he had to bear the punishment of it. Therefore these two things -- promise and [Pg 60] faith -- must always be combined; and it is necessary that a man who has a divine promise know well the art which Paul teaches in Rom. iv.18, to believe in hope even against hope. -- The kingdom of Israel, too, was assailed by so great weakness, and pressed down by so many burdens, that it appeared as if every moment it would fall; and this was especially the case when sin, and punishment in consequence of sin, broke in upon them, as, for instance, after David's adultery with Bathsheba, and oftentimes besides. Yet, even in all such temptations, it always remains, on account of the promise." -- It must be carefully observed that the words, "Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies," are placed between, "Thy brethren shall praise thee," and "Before thee shall bow down the sons of thy father," and that, immediately after this, Judah's victorious power against the enemies of God's people is again pointed out. This teaches us that the exalted position which Judah, when compared with his brethren, occupies, rests mainly on this: -- that he is their fore-champion in the warfare against the world, and that God has endowed him with conquering power against the enemies of His kingdom. The history of David is best calculated to show and convince us, how closely these two things are connected with each other. That he was called to verify the truth of the promise given to Judah, "Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies," was first seen in his victory over Goliath the Philistine, fore-champion of the world's power. After David's word had been fulfilled, "The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear. He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine," and the Philistines had fled, seeing that their champion was dead (1 Sam. xvii.37-51), then also were fulfilled the other words: "Thy brethren shall praise thee, the sons of thy father shall bow before thee." "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." -- And in Sam. xviii.16, it is said: "But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them;" -- and in 2 Sam. v.2, when the ten tribes acknowledged [Pg 61] David as their king, they said: "Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel." David would never have succeeded in overcoming the jealousy and envy of the other tribes, unless the promise, "Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies," had been fulfilled in him. -- Before Judah shall how down the sons of his father. I have already remarked, in my commentary on Rev. xix.10, that there is very little ground for the common distinction between religious and civil [Greek: proskunesis] (bowing down, worship). The true distinction is between that [Greek: proskunesis] which is given to God, either directly or indirectly, in those who bear His image, in the representatives of His gifts and offices, -- and that [Greek: proskunesis] which is exacted apart from, and against God. "The God of Scripture demands to be honoured in those who bear His image, who hold His offices, -- in father and mother and old men (Lev. xix.32), in princes (Exod. xxii.28), in the office of the judge (Deut. i.17; Exod. xxi.6, xxii.7, 8). It is wicked to refuse this honour, and its natural expression in the bowing of the body, under the pretext, that it is due to God alone. It is to be refused only where there is some danger that, thereby, any independent honour would be ascribed to the mere vessel of the divine glory." In what the [Greek: proskunesis] consists, which Judah is to receive from his brethren, we see distinctly from Isa. xlv.14, where the heathen, at the time of the salvation, fall down before Israel: "Thus saith the Lord, The labour of Egypt and merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and be thine: they shall go behind thee; in chains they shall walk; and they shall fall down before thee, and they shall make supplication unto thee (saying). Only in thee is God, and there is no God else." The ground of Judah's adoration on the part of his brethren is this: -- that God's glory is visibly upon him, that by glorious deeds and victories the seal is impressed upon him: "with us is God" (Immanuel). And this found its most glorious fulfilment in the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in Christ, of whom it is said in Phil. ii.9-11: "Wherefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of all those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth; and that every tongue should [Pg 62] confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father." That, in its final accomplishment, this prophecy referred to Christ, was known to Jacob as certainly as he makes Judah centre in the Shiloh. This Solomon also knew, when, in Ps. lxxii.11 (compare Ps. xlv.12), he ascribes to his great Antitype what is here ascribed to Judah: "All kings shall worship Him, and all nations shall serve Him." The consequence of the worship "by kings and nations" is the worshipping "by the sons of the father." Jacob thus transfers to Judah that which Isaac had promised to him: "People shall serve thee, and nations shall worship thee: be lord over thy brethren, and thy mother's sons shall worship before thee:" Gen. xxvii.29.
In ver.9 Judah is first designated a young lion, -- a name which is intended to indicate, that the victorious power ascribed to Judah exists, as yet, only in the germ. It required that centuries should pass away before he grew up to be a lion, a full-grown lion. By the long period which thus intervened between the promise and its fulfilment, the divine election is the more strikingly manifested. (Several interpreters have been of opinion that there is no difference between the young lion, the lion, and the full-grown lion. But it is shown by Ezek. xix.3 -- "And she brought up one of her [Hebrew: gvriM], and it became a [Hebrew: kpir], and it learnt to tear prey," -- that [Hebrew: gvr arih] is a young lion not yet able to catch prey.) In the words, "From the prey, my son, thou art gone up," the prey is the terminus a quo: for [Hebrew: elh] with [Hebrew: mN] is always used of the place from which it is gone up (see Josh. iv.17, x.9; Song of Sol. iv.2): the terminus ad quem is the usual abode, as is shown by what follows. The residence of the conqueror and ruler is conceived of as being elevated. Joseph, according to Gen. xlvi.31, goes up to Pharaoh, and in ver.29 of the same chapter he goes up to meet his father. The expression "to go up" is commonly used of those who come from [Pg 63] other countries to Canaan. But the "going up" in the passage under review implies also the "going down" into the lower regions to seek for prey, just as in Ps. lxviii.19, where it is said of the Lord, after He had fought for His people, and had been victorious, "Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." "To dwell" means there, that, after having accomplished all this, thou mayest dwell gloriously, and be inaccessible to the vengeance of the conquered, in thy usual place of abode. The sense is the same in the passage before us. Luther is therefore wrong in explaining it thus: "Thou hast risen high, my son, by great victories," -- as are others also who translate it, "From the prey thou growest up." Such a view of this clause would, moreover, break up the connection, and all that follows would appear without preparation.
The words, "He stoopeth down, he croucheth as a lion, and as a full-grown lion; who shall rouse him up?" contain a transition and allusion to what we are subsequently told concerning Shiloh. Even here we are presented with a picture of peace, -- a peace, however, which is not to the prejudice of victorious power, as in the case of Issachar (vers.14, 15), but which, on the contrary, preserves it undiminished. If the promise, "From the prey, my son, thou art gone up," found its first glorious, although only preliminary, fulfilment in the reign of David (compare the enumeration of his victories in 2 Sam. viii.), the words, "He stoopeth down, he coucheth," etc., are the most appropriate inscription for the portal of Solomon's reign. But, in Christ, the pre-eminence in the reign both of war and peace is united. -- That [Hebrew: lbia] is not "the lioness," but only the poetical designation of the lion, appears from just the very passage which is so commonly adduced in support of the former signification, viz., Job iv.11; for the sons of the lion spoken of in that passage are the sons of the wicked (compare Job xxvii.14).
A parallel to the words in ver.10, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah," is formed by the departing of the sceptre from Egypt, in Zech. x.11: "And the pride of Assyria shall [Pg 64] be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away." All dominion of the world over the people of God is only temporary; and so also, the dominion of the people of God over the world, as it centres in Judah, can sustain only a temporary interruption: its departure is everywhere in appearance only; and when it departs, it is only that it may return with enhanced weight. -- The sceptre is the emblem of dominion. The words, "A sceptre rises out of Israel" (Num. xxiv.17), are explained in chap. xxiv.19 by the words, "Dominion shall come out of Jacob." The question as to the subjects of this dominion must be determined from the preceding words; for there shall not depart from Judah what Judah, according to these words, possesses. Hence they are (1) the brethren of Judah, and (2) the enemies of Israel. The latter can the less properly be excluded, because of these alone the whole of the preceding verse treated. In the words of Balaam, in Num. xxiv.17 (which refer to the passage under consideration), "There cometh a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre riseth out of Israel, and smiteth the territories of Moab, and destroyeth all the sons of the tumult," there is viewed, in the sceptre, only the victorious and destructive power which he shall display in his relation to the world; but the subjects of dominion are, in that passage, according to ver.19, the heathens also. The sceptre is pre-eminently an ensign of kings. Hence, to the sceptre and star out of Israel (Num. xxiv.17) corresponds, in ver.7, his king: "And his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted," -- i.e., not merely a single royal person, but the Israelitish kingdom. But we can here the less legitimately separate sceptre and kingdom from each other, because, even in the earlier promises made to the Patriarch, there is the prophecy of the rising of a kingdom among their descendants, -- of a kingdom, too, that shall extend beyond the boundary of that posterity itself. (Compare Gen. xvii.6, "Kings shall come out of thee;" ver.16, "And she shall become nations. Icings of nations shall be of her." See also Gen. xxxv.11.) In vol. ii. of the Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch, p.166 f., we detailed the natural foundations which there existed for foreseeing the establishment of a kingdom in Israel. It is evident that the promise which was formally given to the whole posterity of the Patriarchs, is here appropriated specially to Judah, who, for [Pg 65] the benefit of the whole people, is to have the sceptre. From what has been remarked, it appears that the fulfilment of this prophecy began first with David; up to that time Judah had been only "a lion's whelp." "In the person of Saul," as Calvin remarks, "there was an abortive effort; but there came out at length in David, under the authority and legitimate arrangement of God, the sovereignty of Judah, according to the prophecy of Jacob." It also appears, from what has been observed, that Reinke, S.45 of his Monography, Die Weissagung Jacobs ueber Schilo, Muenster 1849 (a work written with great diligence), is mistaken in determining the sense to be, that Judah as a tribe would not perish, and his superiority not cease, until out of him Shiloh, etc.; and that he is wrong, too, in maintaining, S.133, that the continuance of the royal dignity, and the superiority over all the tribes until the time of Christ, were not required by these words. From the remarks which we have made, even more than that is required, -- the continuance, namely, of Judah's dominion over the Gentiles; for otherwise it would be necessary to make a violent separation of these words from the preceding ones. That which has given rise to such interpretations and assertions, viz., the apparent difficulty encountered in pointing out the fulfilment, is by no means removed by such an explanation. For, if we look to the surface only, what had been left of the superiority of the tribe of Judah, at the time when Christ appeared? But if we look deeper, we shall find no reason for such feeble interpretations. The fulness of strength which, notwithstanding the deepest humiliation, still dwelt in the sceptre of Judah at the time when Christ appeared, is made manifest by the very appearance of Christ -- the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Although faint-heartedness, perceiving only what is immediately before the eyes, might have said, "The sceptre has departed from [Pg 66] Judah," to every one who was not blinded it must have been evident, at the very moment when Christ appeared, that the sceptre had not departed from Judah. We must not allow ourselves to be perplexed by any events and arguments adduced to prove that the sceptre has departed from Judah; for the very same events and arguments would militate against the eternal dominion of his house which had been promised to David, and would therefore make us doubtful of that also. All these events and arguments lose their significancy, when we remark, that this departing is only an apparent, not a definitive one; -- that God never, by His promises, binds the hands of His punitive justice; -- that His election goes always hand-in-hand with the visitation of the sins of the elected; but that, in the end, the election will stand in all its validity. To Judah applies exactly what in Ps. lxxxix.31-35 is said of David: "If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; if they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips." But the greater the degradation that had come upon Judah, the more consoling is this promise. If we see that neither the decline of David's and Judah's dominion after Solomon, nor the apparently total disappearance of David's kingdom which took place after the Chaldee catastrophe, and continued for centuries; nor the altogether comfortless condition (when [Pg 67] looking only at what Is visible) which Jeremiah describes in the words: "Judah is captive in affliction and great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, and findeth no rest. The anointed of the Lord, who was our consolation, is taken in their pits, he of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen. Slaves are ruling over us, and there is none to deliver us from their hand;" -- if we see that all these things did not prevent the fulfilment of the words, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come;" -- that, notwithstanding all these things, it most gloriously manifested itself in the appearance of Christ, that the dominion remained still with Judah; -- why should we be dismayed though the river of the kingdom of God should sometimes lose itself in the sand? Why should we not be firmly confident that in due time it shall spring forth again with its clear and powerful waters? -- But the Jews are not benefited by this distinction betwixt the definitive departing of the sceptre, and one which is merely temporary. The latter must necessarily be distinguished from the former by this: -- that even in the times of abasement, there must be single symptoms which still indicate the continuance of the sceptre; and this was evidently the case in the times before Christ. In Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, and Hezekiah, the sceptre of Judah brought forth new leaves; after their return from the captivity, the place, at least, was pointed out by Zerubbabel, which the Davidic kingdom would, at some future period, again occupy. The victories of the times of the Maccabees, though they themselves were not of the tribe of Judah, served to manifest clearly that the lion's strength and the lion's courage had not yet departed from Judah. It is not without significance that Judas Maccabeus had his name thus. And under all these events the family of David always remained distinct, and capable of being traced out. But nothing of all this is to be found with the Jews during the 1800 years after Christ; and hence the vanity of their hope that, in some future time, it will be made evident by the appearance of Shiloh, that the supremacy and dominion of Judah are not lost.
Along with the sceptre which shall not depart from Judah, the lawgiver is mentioned, for whom many would, quite arbitrarily, substitute the commander's staff. Is. xxxiii.22 is explanatory of this passage; "For the Lord our Judge, the [Pg 68] Lord our Lawgiver, the Lord our King, He will save us" -- where the lawgiver is put on a level with the judge and king. Gesenius translates it by: our commander.
The lawgiver shall not depart "from between his feet." This is a poetical expression for "from him." He is, as it were, to have the lawgiver wherever he moves or stands. Explanatory of this is the passage in Judges v.27, where, in the Song of Deborah, it is said of Jael, "He bowed between her feet, he fell, he lay down." That which any one has between his feet, is accordingly his territory on which he moves, that within his reach. In the latter passage the prose expression would have been, "beside her," and in the passage under consideration, "from him."
Sceptre and lawgiver shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come. Here everything depends upon fixing the derivation and signification of this word. There cannot be any doubt, and, indeed, it is now almost universally admitted, that it is derived from [Hebrew: wlh], "to rest." In the first edition of this work, the author gave it as his opinion, that its formation was analogous to that of [Hebrew: kidvr], "tumult of war," from [Hebrew: kdr], "to be troubled," [Hebrew: qiTr], "smoke," from [Hebrew: qTr], [Hebrew: wlH] from [Hebrew: wlH]; and many (Hofmann, Kurtz, Reinke) have stedfastly maintained this opinion even until now. But the author must confess that the objections raised against this derivation by Tuch are well-founded. "In the first place," Tuch remarks, "it is well known that forms like [Hebrew: qiTr] do not constitute any special class in the etymology, but have originated from Piel forms (Ewald, Lehrb. d. Hebr. Spr. Sec.156 b), as is very clearly shown by [Hebrew: qimvw], being found by the side of [Hebrew: qmvw]. But the o in the final syllable of these words is not an o unchangeable, according to the rules of etymology, and could, therefore, not remain in a root [Hebrew: lh]; and there is not found, in general, any form of a root [Hebrew: lh] analogous to [Hebrew: qiTr]." But far more decisive is another reason. "The nomina Gentilia [Hebrew: gilni] (2 Sam. xv.12), [Hebrew: wilni] (1 Kings [Pg 69] xi.29, xii.15), lead us from the supposed form to the substantive termination [Hebrew: -vN] which a liquida may drop, and express the remaining vowel [Hebrew: v] by [Hebrew: h]." (Compare Ewald, Sec.163.) Now that Shiloh is an abbreviation of Shilon is proved, not only by the nomen gentile, but also by the fact, that the ruins of the town which received its name from the Shiloh in our passage, are, up to the present moment, called Seilun, and that Josephus writes Silo as well as Silun, [Greek: Siloun] (compare Robinson, Travels iii.1, p.305); and, finally, by the analogy of the name [Hebrew: wlmh], which is formed after the manner of [Hebrew: wilh], and likewise shortened from [Hebrew: wlmvN]. We must confess that Tuch is right also when he asserts: "That it is quite impossible to give the word the signification of an appellative noun, since it is only in proper names, in which the signification of the suffix of derivation is of less consequence, that on is shortened into o." The only exception is that of [Hebrew: abdh], "hell," in Prov. xxvii.20; but even this is only an apparent exception, and is quite in accordance with the rule laid down, inasmuch as "hell" is, in this passage, personified, -- as is frequently the case in other passages. (Compare Rev. ix.11.) But this case very plainly shows that we are not at liberty to apply, as Tuch does, the measure of our proper names to those of Scripture, which are used in a more comprehensive sense. The Samaritan translation is, therefore, right in retaining the "Shiloh." As the passage under review is the first in which the person of the Redeemer meets us, so Shiloh is also the first name of the Redeemer, -- a name expressive of His nature, and quite in correspondence with the names in Is. ix.5, and with the name Immanuel in Is. vii.14. With respect to the signification of the name, the termination on, according to Ewald, Sec.163, forms adjectives and abstract nouns. The analogy of the name [Hebrew: wlmh], which is formed after the manner of [Hebrew: wilh], indicates that it has here an adjective signification, and, like Solomon, Shiloh denotes "the man of rest," corresponds to the "Prince of Peace" in Is. ix.5, and, viewed in its character of a proper name, is like the German "Friedrich" = Frederick, i.e., "rich in peace," "the Peaceful one."
To Shiloh the nations shall adhere. The word [Hebrew: iqhh] is commonly understood as meaning "obedience." But it does not [Pg 70] denote every kind of obedience, but only that which is spontaneous, and has its root in piety. This is clearly shown by the only passage in which, besides the one under consideration, the word [Hebrew: iqhh] is found, Prov. xxx.17: "An eye that mocketh at his father, and despises the [Hebrew: iqhh] of his mother." To this view we are led also by the Arabic, where the word [Arabic: **], does not denote obedience in general, but willing obedience, docility, in the viii. sq. [Hebrew: l] dicto audientem se praebuit more discipuli. (Compare Camus in Schulten, on Prov. l. c.) Cognate is [Arabic: **], "to take care," "to guard oneself," specially of the conflict with the higher powers of life, in the viii. semet custodivit ah aliqua re, et absolute timuit coluitque Deum, pius fuit. From it is derived [Hebrew: iqh] pius in Prov. xxx.1, where the son of Jakeh speaks to "With me is God, and I prevail" (Heb. Itheal and Ucal.)
Luther, although he has misunderstood the right meaning of Shiloh, has yet beautifully comprehended the sense of the whole passage. "This is a golden text," he says, "and well worthy of remembrance, namely: that the kingdom of Christ will not be such a kingdom as that of David was, of whom it is said, 1 Chron. xxviii.3, that he was a man of war and had shed much blood. The kingdom of Shiloh, which succeeded it, is not a kingdom so powerful and bloody, but consists in this, -- that the word, by which it is ruled or administered, is heard, believed, and obeyed. All will be done by means of preaching; and this will just be the sign by which the kingdom of Christ is distinguished from the other kingdoms of this world, which are governed by the sword and by physical power." To this point also Luther draws attention, that our prophecy affords a powerful support to the ministers of the Word: "It will be done by the proclamation of the promise, and Shiloh will be [Pg 71] present with it, and will be efficient and powerful through our tongue and mouth."
That by the nations are not meant either the Canaanites in particular, or the tribes of Israel, but the nations in general, appears, partly, from the connection with what precedes -- those who now willingly obey are evidently the enemies spoken of in vers.8, 9, -- and, partly, from the reference to the earlier promises of Genesis, all of which refer to nations in general. If a limitation had been intended, an express indication of it would have been necessary. The analogy of the parallel Messianic passages likewise militates against such a limitation; e.g., Ps. lxxii.8: "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (Compare also Is. xi.10.)
In the Shiloh, the whole dignity of Judah as Lord and Ruler is to be concentrated. It hence follows, that the nations who will not willingly obey Him as Shiloh, must experience the destructive power of His sceptre (Num. xxiv.17; Ps. ii.9), and that behind the attractive kingdom of peace, there is concealed the destructive dominion of the lion.
Several interpreters have determined the sense as follows: -- The dominion of Judah should continue until the appearing of Shiloh; but that then he should lose it. We, on the contrary, conceive the sense to be this: "That the tribe of Judah should not lose the dominion until he attain to its highest realization by Shiloh, who should be descended from him, and to whom all the nations of the earth should render obedience."
Against this interpretation no difficulty can be raised from the [Hebrew: ed ki]. It is true that this term has always a reference to the terminus ad quem only, and includes it; but it is as certain that, very frequently, a terminus ad quem is mentioned which is not intended to be the last, but only one of special importance; so that what lies beyond it is lost sight of. (Compare the author's Dissert. on the Genuin. of Daniel, pp.55-56.) If [Pg 72] only sceptre and lawgiver were secured to Judah up to the time of Shiloh's coming, then, as a matter of course, they were so afterwards. That, previous to the coming of Shiloh, great dangers would threaten the sceptre of Judah, is indicated by Jacob, since he lays so much stress upon the sceptre's not departing until that time. Hence we expect circumstances that will almost amount to a departing of the sceptre.
But the positive reason for this interpretation is, that if, according to the other opinion, Judah were told that the dominion of his tribe were, at some future period, to cease, this would not be in harmony with the tone of the remainder of the address to Judah, which is altogether of a cheerful character. And then, -- Jacob would, in that case, not have allowed the Messianic promise to remain in its indefinite state; from former analogies, we should have been induced to expect that he would transfer it to one of his sons. And finally, -- from the analogy of the other Messianic prophecies, as well as from history, it seems not to be admissible to contrast the dominion of Judah with the kingdom of the Messiah. The dominion of Judah does not by any means terminate in Christ; it rather centres in Him.
We are not expressly told that the Shiloh will be descended from Judah; but this is supposed to be self-evident, and is not, therefore, expressly mentioned. If it were otherwise, the Shiloh would not have been alluded to in connection with Judah at all. A restriction of the promise to Judah, such as would take place if the Shiloh did not belong to him, is the less legitimate, inasmuch as, in vers.8, 9, victory and dominion, without any limitation, are promised to Judah.
Having thus adduced the positive arguments in support of our view of this passage, let us now further examine the opinions of those who differ from us. Here, then, we must first of all consider those which are at one with us in the acknowledgment that this passage contains the promise of a personal Messiah.
1. Some interpreters (Jonathan, Luther, Calvin, Knapp, Dogm.) are of opinion that [Hebrew: wilh] is compounded of the noun [Hebrew: wil], "child," and the suffix of the third person: "Until his (i.e., Judah's) son or descendant, the Messiah, shall come." (Luther, somewhat differently.) But this supposed signification of [Hebrew: wil] [Pg 73] is destitute of any tenable foundation. That by such an explanation, moreover, there is a dissolution of the connection betwixt the Shiloh in this passage, and Shiloh the name of a place, which is written in precisely the same manner, is decisive against both the view just given forth and that which follows.
2. Others (the last of them. Sack in the second edition of his Apolog.) suppose the word to be erroneously pointed. They propose to read [Hebrew: wlh], compounded of [Hebrew: w] for [Hebrew: awr], and the suffix [Hebrew: h] for [Hebrew: v]. They suppose the language to be elliptical: "Until He come to whom the dominion or sceptre belongs, or is due." The principal argument in support of this exposition is, that most of the ancient translators seem to have followed this punctuation. It is true that this is doubtful as regards Onkelos and the Targum of Jerusalem, which translate, "Donec veniat Messias, cujus est regnum;" for we may well suppose that here [Hebrew: wilh] is simply rendered by [Hebrew: mwiHa], while the following clause adds a complement from Ezek. xxi.32, which is founded upon the passage now under review. But it is certain that the LXX. supposed the punctuation to be [Hebrew: wlh]. They translate: [Greek: heos an elthe ta apokeimena auto.] (Thus read the two oldest manuscripts -- the Vatican and Alexandrian. The other reading, [Greek: ho apokeitai], has no doubt crept in from the later Greek translations, notwithstanding the charge which Justinus [Dial. c. Tryph. Sec.120] raises against the Jews, that they had substituted the [Greek: ta apokeimena auto] for the earlier [Greek: ho apokeitai]. Comp. Stroth in Eichhorn's Repert. ii.95; Hohne's edition of the LXX.) Aquila and Symmachus, who translate, [Greek: ho apokeitai], as well as the Syriac and Saadias, who translate, Ille cujus est, follow the same reading. But the defenders of this exposition are wrong in inferring, from the circumstance of the ancient translations having followed this punctuation, that it was generally received. Had such been the case, how could it be explained that it should no more be found in any of our manuscripts? For the circumstance that forty manuscripts collected by de Rossi have [Hebrew: wlh] written without a [Hebrew: i], cannot be considered as of great weight; since it is merely a defective way of writing, occurring frequently in similar words. But if we consider the fact, which may be established upon historical grounds, that the Jews watched with most anxious care the uncorrupted preservation of the received [Pg 74] text of Holy Scripture, according to its consonants and pronunciation; that they did not even venture to receive into the text any emendation, though it should have recommended itself as in the highest degree probable; while, on the other hand, the ancient Jewish and Christian translators took great liberties in this respect, and, in the manifold perplexities into which, owing to their insufficient resources and knowledge, they fell, helped themselves as best they could; -- it will certainly appear to us most probable, that even the ancient translators found our vocalization of the word as the received one, but felt themselves obliged to depart from it, because they could, in accordance with it, give no suitable derivation; whilst the punctuation adopted by them agreed perfectly with the traditional reference of the passage to the Messiah. But if this be the case, the authority of the ancient translations can here be of no greater weight than that of any modern interpreter; and, in the case under review, we are at liberty to urge all those considerations which are, in general, advanced against any change in the vocalization, unless there be most urgent reasons for it. The ancient translators, moreover, can have less weight with us, because we can distinctly perceive that a misapprehension of Ezek. xxi.32 (27) -- on which passage we shall afterwards comment -- gave rise to their error. Against this explanation it may be further urged, not only that the [Hebrew: w] prefix occurs nowhere else in the Pentateuch -- an objection which is not in itself sufficient, since it occurs so early as in the song of Deborah, Judges v.7 -- but also, that the supposed ellipsis would be exceedingly hard. (Compare Stange, Theol. Symm. i. S.238 ff.)
Before we pass on to a consideration of the non-Messianic interpretation, we shall first state the reasons which bear us out in assuming that the passage under review contains a prophecy of a personal Messiah.
It is certainly, with respect to this, a matter of no slight importance that, with a rare agreement, exegetical tradition finds a promise to this effect here expressed; and this circumstance has a significance so much the greater, the less that this agreement extends to the interpretation of the particulars, especially as regards the Shiloh. How manifold soever these differences may be, all antiquity agrees in interpreting this passage of a personal Messiah; and we could scarcely conceive of such an agreement, [Pg 75] unless there had been some objective foundation for it. As regards, first, the exegetical tradition of the Jews, -- how far soever we may follow it, it finds, in ver.10, the Messiah. Thus the LXX. explained it; for, that by "what is destined to Judah" ([Greek: heos an elthe ta apokeimena auto]) they understood nothing else than the sending of the Messiah, is shown by the words following -- [Greek: kai autos prosdokia ethnon], -- which can refer only to the Messiah. (Compare Is. xlii.4 according to the LXX.) In the same manner the passage was understood by Aquila, the Chaldee Paraphrasts, the Targum of Onkelos, of Jonathan, and of Jerusalem, the Talmud, the Sohar, and the ancient book of Breshith Rabba. Several even of the modern commentators, e.g., Jarchi, have retained this explanation, although a strong doctrinal interest, to which others yielded, tempted them to give another interpretation to this passage, which occupied so prominent a place in the polemics of the Christians. (Compare the passage in Raim. Martini Pug. Fid. ed. Carpzov; Jac. Alting's Shiloh, Franc.1660, 4to [also in the opp. t. v.]; Schoettgen, hor. Hebr. ii. p.146; and, most completely, in "Jac. Patriarch. de Schiloh vatic. a depravatione Clerici assertum, op. Seb. Edzardi, Londini 1698, p.103 sq.") The Samaritans, too, understood the passage as referring to the Messiah. (Compare Samarit. Briefwechsel, communicated by Schnurrer in Eichhorn's Repert. ix. S.27.) It is true that from other passages ("Epist. Samarit. ad Jobum Ludolfum," in Eichhorn's Repert. xiii. S.281-9, compared with de Sacy "de Vers. Samarit. Arab. Pentateuchi in Eichhorn's Biblioth." x. S.54) it appears that, in accordance with their doctrine of a double Messiah -- one who had already appeared, and one who was still to come -- they referred our passage, partly to the former, and denied its reference to the real Messiah. But this is of no importance. For, as Gesenius also has remarked (Carmina Samaritana, p.75), the doctrine of a double Messiah is of recent origin with the Samaritans as well as with the Jews; and hence, it is very probable that the reference to the real Messiah was, formerly, the generally prevailing one, which was, even afterwards, to a large extent retained, as is shown by the passage first quoted. -- Finally, In the Christian Church the Messianic interpretation has been the prevailing one ever since the earliest times. We find it as early as Justin Martyr. [Pg 76] The Greek and Latin Fathers agree in it. (Compare the statements in Reinke.) Even Grotius could not but admit that this passage referred to the Messiah; and Clericus stands quite alone and isolated, in his time, as an objector against the Messianic interpretation of it.
But even in the Canon itself, this passage is understood of a personal Messiah. David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, look upon it in this light. (Concerning this point, compare the inquiries in the subsequent portions of this work.)
The entire relation of the Pentateuch to the succeeding sacred literature, and the circumstance that the former constitutes the foundation of the latter, and contains, in the germ, all that is afterwards more fully developed, entitle us to expect, that the Messianic idea has also found its expression in those books. The more prominent the place occupied, in the later books, by the announcement of a personal Messiah, the more unlikely it will be to him who has acquired right fundamental views regarding the Pentateuch, to conceive that this announcement should be wanting in it -- the announcement, especially, of the Messiah in His kingly office; for it is this office of the Messiah which, in the Old Testament, generally takes a prominent place, and is, before all others, represented in the subsequent books. But there cannot be any doubt, that the promise of a personal Messiah in His kingly office, if it be found in the Old Testament at all, must exist in the passage which we are now considering.
The promises which first were given to Jacob's parents, and thereafter transferred to him, included two things: -- first, a numerous progeny, and the possession of Canaan for them; -- and secondly, the blessing which, through them, was to come upon all nations. How, then, could it be expected that Jacob, in transferring these blessings to his sons, and while in spirit seeing them already in possession of the promised land, and describing the places of abode which they would occupy, and what should befall them, should have entirely lost sight of the second object, which was much the more important, and as often repeated? Is it not, on the contrary, probable that, as formerly, from among the sons of Abraham and Isaac, so now, from among the sons of Jacob, he should be pointed out who should, according to the will of God, become the depositary of this [Pg 77] promise, which was acquiring more and more of a definite shape? The contrary of this we can the less imagine, because, according to ver.2, Jacob is to tell his sons that which shall befall them "at the end of the days." The expression, "the end of the days," is always used of that only which lies at the end of the course which is seen by the speaker. (Compare my work on Balaam, p.465 f.) Accordingly, it indicates, in this passage, that Jacob's announcement must comprehend the whole of the future sphere which was accessible to him. But if we do not admit the reference, in this passage, to the Messiah, then a whole territory of future time, notoriously accessible to Jacob, is left untouched by his announcement. -- From the beginning of Genesis, we find the expectation of an universal salvation; and at every new separation, the depositary of this salvation, and its mediator for the whole remaining world, are regularly pointed out. At first, salvation is promised to the whole human race, then to the family of Shem, then to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob. "Now that the patriarchal trias, since Jacob, has extended into a dodekas forming the historical transition from the family of the promise to the nation of the promise, the question arises, from which of the twelve tribes salvation, i.e., the victory of mankind, and the blessing of the nations, is to come." (Delitzsch, Prophetische Theologie, S.293.) Should Genesis become to such a degree inconsistent with itself as not to answer a question which itself has called forth? But that answer is contained in the passage under consideration, only if Shiloh be taken for the personal name of the Redeemer. Unless we have recourse to artificial explanations, the announcement of Judah's being the bearer of salvation is to be found in our passage, only when, at the same time, the first indication of the person of the Messiah is perceived in it.
If the reference of the passage to a personal Messiah be explained away, we should certainly be at a loss to discover where the fundamental prophecy of such an one could possibly be found. We should then, in the first place, be thrown upon the Messianic Psalms, especially Ps. ii. and cx. But as it is the office of prophecy only to introduce to the knowledge of the congregation [Pg 78] truths absolutely new, it would subvert the whole relation of psalm-poetry to prophecy, if in these psalms we were to seek for the origin of the expectations of a personal Messiah. These psalms become intelligible, only if in Shiloh we recognise the first name of the Messiah. The passage in question, in combination with the prophetical announcement of the eternal dominion of the house of David, afforded the complete objective foundation for the subjective poetry of the Psalms. The eternity of dominion here promised to Judah was, as we learn from 2 Sam. vii., transferred to David. The exalted person in whom, according to our passage, the dominion of Judah was to culminate, must then necessarily belong to the house of David. Further, -- If the passage under review be understood of the Messiah, we have an excellent fountainhead for all the prophecies of a personal Messiah; in its significant, enigmatical, and expressive brevity, it is most suitable for such a purpose. But if its reference to the Messiah be explained away, we are deprived altogether of a suitable starting-point. In the Davidic psalms, the Messianic prophecy already more strongly resembles a stream than a fountain.
So great is the weight of these reasons for the Messianic interpretation, that we might reasonably have expected that such expositors at least as stand on the ground of positive Christianity should abandon it only from overwhelming reasons, or, at least, from such only as are in the highest degree probable. But in this expectation we have been disappointed. The most superficial objections have been considered sufficient by Hofmann, Kurtz, and others, to induce them to disregard the consensus of the whole Christian Church. We cannot, indeed, but be astonished at this.
Kurtz, following the example of Hofmann, says: "The organic progress of prophecy, and its correlative connection with history, which must be maintained in all its stages, forbid us, most decidedly, to assign to the expectation of a personal Messiah, a period so early as that of the Patriarchs. The clearly expressed aim of the whole history of this period is the expansion into a great nation; its whole tendency is directed towards the growth of the multiplicity of a people from the unity of the Patriarchs. As long as the subject of the history was the increase into a nation, the idea of a single personal Saviour [Pg 79] could not, by any means, take root. Such could occur only after they had actually expanded into a great nation in history, and the necessity had been felt of concentrating the multiplicity of the expanded, into the unity of a single, individual, i.e., after one had appeared as the deliverer and saviour, as the leader and ruler of the whole nation. It is therefore only after Moses, Joshua, and David, that the expectation of a personal Messiah could arise." -- Do you mean to teach God wisdom? we might ask, in answer to such argumentation. To chain prophecy to history in such a manner, is in reality nothing short of destroying it. How much soever people may choose to varnish it, this is but another form of Naturalism, against the influence of which no one is secure, because it is in the atmosphere of our day. Men who occupy a ground of argumentation so narrow-minded and trifling, -- who would rather shape history than heartily surrender themselves to it, and find out, meditate upon, and follow the footsteps of God in it, -- will be compelled to erase even the promise in Gen. xii.3, "In thee all the families of the earth shall be blessed," yea, even the words, "I will make of thee a great nation," with which the promise begins; for even that violates the natural order. But the historical point of connection for the announcement of a personal Messiah, which here at once, like a flash of lightning, illuminates the darkness, is not at all wanting to such a degree as is commonly asserted. On the contrary, if the blessing upon the heathen be allowed to stand, the expectation of a personal Saviour must necessarily arise from a consideration of the known events of history, and meet the immediate revelation of such an one by God. The whole history of the time of the Patriarchs bears a biographical character. Single individuals are, in it, the depositaries of the divine promises, the channels of the divine life. All the blessings of salvation which the congregation possessed at the time when Jacob's blessing was uttered, had come to them through single individuals. Why, then, should the highest Salvation come to them in any other way? Why should not Abraham be as fit a type of the Messiah as Moses, Joshua, and David, -- Abraham, of whom God, in Gen. xx.7, says to Abimelech, the heathen king, "Now therefore restore the man his wife, for he is a prophet; and if he prays for thee, thou shalt live?" Or why not Joseph, who, according to Gen. xlvii.12, "nourished [Pg 80] his father and his brethren, and all his father's household," and whom the grateful Egyptians called "the Saviour of the World?"
Just as untenable is a second argument against the Messianic explanation, -- namely, that there is no parallelism between the two clauses, "until Shiloh comes," "and to Him shall be the obedience of the nations," but only a pure progress of thought. The laws of parallelism are not iron fetters; and, moreover, the parallelism in substance fully exists here, if only it be acknowledged that [Hebrew: iqhh] does not signify any kind of obedience, but only a willing surrender. The words, "until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the nations," are identical in meaning with, "until He cometh, who bringeth rest, and whom the nations shall willingly obey." The second member thus serves to explain the first; the sense would be substantially preserved although one of the members were wanting. The parallelism is slightly concealed only by the circumstance that the words run, "to Him the obedience of the nations," -- instead of, "He to whom shall be the obedience of the nations."
Let us now take a survey of the principal non-Messianic interpretations. A suspicion as to their having any foundation at all in the subject itself must surely be raised by their variety and multiplicity, as well as by the circumstance, that they who object to the Messianic explanation can never, in any way, succeed in uniting with each other, but that, with them, one interpretation is sure to be overthrown by another. Such is, in every case, a sure indication of error.
Moreover, it is possible, in every case, to trace out some interest, apart from the merits of the question, which has led to the objections against the Messianic interpretation. With the Jews, it was because they were driven to a strait by the argumentation of the Christians, that the Messiah must long ago have come, since sceptre and lawgiver had long ago departed from Judah. The rationalistic interpreters have evidently been determined by their antipathy to any Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Hofmann and his followers do not in the least conceal that they are guided by their principle of a concatenation of prophecy with history.
The opinion, according to which it is maintained that Shiloh is the name of the well-known locality in Ephraim, has found not a few defenders. Among these, several, and last of all [Pg 81] Bleek, in the Observ.; Hitzig, on Ps. li.2; Diestel, "der Segen Jacobs," translate: "Until he or they come to Shiloh." The sense is thus supposed to be: "Judah will be the leader of the tribes, in the journey to Canaan, until they come to Shiloh." There, in consequence of the tribes being dispersed to the boundaries assigned to them, he would then lose his leadership. But such an explanation is, in every point of view, inadmissible. It is very probable that the town Shiloh did not exist at all, under this name, at the time of Jacob. The name nowhere occurs in the Pentateuch; and the Book of Joshua (as we shall show at a subsequent time) contains traces, far from indistinct, that it arose only after the occupation of the land by the Israelites. But even supposing that the town of Shiloh already existed tit the time of Jacob, yet the abrupt mention of a place so little known would be something strange and unaccountable. It would be out of the range of Jacob's visions, which nowhere regard mere details, but have everywhere for their object only the future in its general outlines. Further, -- The temporary limitation thus put to the superiority of Judah would be in glaring contradiction to vers.8 and 9, where Judah is exalted to be the Lion of God without any limitation as to time. And, finally, -- Up to the time of their arrival in Shiloh, Judah was never in possession of the sceptre and lawgiver; -- and this reason would alone be sufficient to overthrow the opinion which we are now combating. We have already proved that, by these terms, royal power and dominion are designated, and that, for this reason, the beginning of the fulfilment cannot be sought for in any period previous to the time of David. But even if we were to come down to the mere leadership of Judah, we could demonstrate that even this did not belong to him. His marching in front of the others cannot, even in the remotest degree, be considered as a leadership. Moses, who belonged to another tribe, had been solemnly called by God to the chief command. Nor was Joshua [Pg 82] of the tribe of Judah. In him, on the contrary, there appeared the germ of Ephraim's superiority, which continued through the whole period of the Judges, and which came to an end only by David's having been raised to the royal dignity. (Compare my commentary on Ps. lxxviii.)
Others (Tuch, Maurer) give the explanation: "As long as they come to Shiloh." This, according to them, the "poet" meant to be identical with: "in all eternity." They think that his (the "poet's") meaning was, that the holy tabernacle, which at his time (Tuch assigns the composition of Jacob's blessing to the period of Samuel) was at Shiloh, would remain there to all eternity. To this exposition it would be alone sufficient to object that, according to it, the phrase [Hebrew: ed ki], which uniformly means only "until," is taken in the signification "as long as." Further, -- History plainly enough shows how little the sanctuary was considered to be bound to Shiloh; to which place it had been brought, not in consequence of an express divine declaration, but only in accordance with Joshua's own views. When the ark of the covenant was carried away by the Philistines, this was considered as an express declaration of God, that He would no longer dwell in Shiloh. How different was the case as regards Jerusalem! Notwithstanding the destruction by the Chaldees, the city continued to be the seat of the sanctuary. Further, -- This view implies a strange blending of gross error -- viz., the supposition that the sanctuary would remain for ever in Shiloh -- and of true prophecy, viz., the announcement, uttered at the time of Ephraim's leadership, of the dominion of the tribe of Judah, which was first realized in David's royalty. The only ground in support of the Ephraimitic Shiloh -- the fact, namely, that Shiloh, wherever else it occurs in the Old Testament, always signifies the name of the place -- we hope to invalidate by and by; when it will be seen that the town received its name only on the ground of the passage now under consideration.
Other opponents of the Messianic interpretation take Shiloh as a nomen appellativum, in the signification of rest. They translate either, "Until rest cometh and people obey him" (thus Vater, Gesenius, Knobel), or, "Until he comes (or, they come) to rest" (thus Hofmann, Kurtz, and others). By "rest," they understand either the political rest enjoyed under David and Solomon, or they find here expressed the idea of eternal rest in [Pg 83] the expected Messianic time. Thus do Gesenius, Hofmann, and Kurtz understand it. The last-named determines the sense thus: "Judah shall remain in the uninterrupted possession of a princely position among his brethren, until through warfare and by victory he shall have realized the aim, object, and consummation of his sovereignty in the attained enjoyment of happy rest and undisturbed peace, and in the willing and joyful obedience of the nations." But this explanation is to be suspected, simply from the circumstance, that, in whatever other place Shiloh occurs, it is used as a nomen proprium; while it is entirely overthrown by the circumstance, that, according to its form, as already deduced, Shiloh can be nothing else than a nomen proprium. We here only remark, by way of anticipation, that David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Ezekiel bear testimony against this explanation. An interpretation which dissevers the connection betwixt Shiloh and Shiloh, betwixt Shiloh and Solomon, betwixt Shiloh and the Prince of Peace, betwixt Shiloh and Him "whose is the judgment," must be, thereby, self-condemned. Against the explanation, "Until he comes to rest," it may also be urged, that the Accusative could not here stand after a verb of motion; it was too natural to consider Shiloh as the subject. If it had been intended in any other sense, a preposition would have been absolutely requisite.
We further remark, that vers.11 and 12, which ancient and modern interpreters, e.g., Kurtz, have attempted to bring into artificial connection with ver.10, simply "finish the picture of Judah's happiness by a description of the luxurious fulness of his rich territory" (Tuch). Their tenor is quite different from that which precedes, where a pre-eminence was assigned to Judah; for they contain nothing beyond a simple, positive declaration. What is in them assigned to Judah, belongs to him only as a part of the whole, as a fellow-heir of the country flowing with milk and honey, and corresponds entirely with the blessings upon the other sons, which are, almost all of them, only individual applications of the general blessing. It is evidently parallel to what, in vers.25, 26, is said of Joseph, and in ver.20 of Asher. That which Jacob here assigns to Judah, was [Pg 84] formerly, in Gen. xxvii.28, assigned by Isaac to Jacob, and in him to the whole people: "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine." Hence, it is not at all necessary to examine history for the purpose of ascertaining whether Judah was distinguished above the other tribes, by plenty of wine and milk.
We need not lose much time in discussing the attempts which have been made to assign the blessing of Jacob to a later period. The futility of all of them is proved by the circumstance, that we have not here before us any special predictions, such as are peculiar to vaticinia post eventum, but general prophetical outlines, individual applications of the general blessings, exemplifications. Whatever seems, at first sight, to be different, melts away while handling it. Thus, for example, the blessings which Israel enjoyed by his dwelling on the sea-side, are pointed out in the blessing upon Zebulun, because he had his name from the dwelling, Gen. xxi.20. That Zebulun is here viewed only as a part of the whole, appears from the fact that, afterwards, he did not live by the sea at all. In the case of Issachar, it was the individuality of the ancestor Jacob which gave him occasion to describe, from his own example, the dangers of an indolent rest. History does not say anything of Issachar alone having yielded to these dangers in a peculiar degree. In the case of Joseph, the events personal to the son are transferred to the tribe, and in the tribe, to the whole nation. In an inimitable manner the tender love of the father towards his son and provider meets us here. The only thing which goes beyond the human sphere of Jacob, is the prediction by which Judah is placed in the centre of the world's history. But it is just this which, even in its beginnings, goes beyond the time at which this pretended vaticinium post eventum is placed by Tuch, Bleek, and Ewald; for, by this assumption of theirs, they are necessarily limited to the time before David, if they wish to avoid the insurmountable difficulties which arise from what is said of Levi and of Joseph. But to the man who looks deeper, vers.8-10 are just the seal of the divinity, and hence of the genuineness also, of this prophecy, and, with all his heart, he will hate such miserable conjectures.
Let us now follow through history Jacob's blessing upon Judah. From this inquiry it will appear how deep has been the impression made by it upon the people of the covenant. On this occasion also, it will be seen still more distinctly what the right is which rationalistic criticism has to declare this fundamental prophecy to be the recent production of an obscure poet. The chain-like character of Holy Scripture will be seen in a very striking light.
In Num. ii. regulations are laid down respecting the order in which the tribes are to encamp about the tabernacle, and in which they are to set forth. "On the east side, towards which the entrance of the sanctuary is directed, and hence in the front, Judah, as the principal tribe, is encamped; and the two sons of his mother -- Issachar and Zebulun -- who were born immediately after him, pitch next to him. On the south side there is the camp, with the standard, of Reuben; and next to him are his brother Simeon, who was born immediately after him, and Gad, one of the sons of his mother's maid. The west side is assigned to the sons of Rachel, with Ephraim at their head. And, finally, on the north side, the three other sons of the maids, viz., Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, have their position. In the same order as they encamp they are also to set forth." (Baumgarten.)
Judah is the chief tribe on the chief side. This distinction [Pg 86] is not based on the deeds hitherto performed by Judah, nor is it the result of any revelation which Moses received upon the subject. It is regarded as a matter of course. And yet, there must necessarily have been some foundation for such a distinction, because, otherwise, it would have called forth the opposition of the other tribes, especially of that of Ephraim. Such a foundation, however, is afforded only by the blessing of Jacob, in which the tribe of Judah appears as the leading one. The complete realization of this prediction is left, indeed, in the hand of God; but the bearer of honours so great, even although future, must, in the prospect of that future, enjoy, even in the present, a certain distinction; such distinction, however, as does not at all imply sovereignty.
But we are compelled to have recourse to Genesis, and especially to chap. xlix., the more because the whole arrangement of the camp has evidently its foundation in Genesis, and the key to a whole series of facts in it can be found only in chap. xlix. If we ask why it is that the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun are subordinate to Judah; that Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, that Ephraim and Benjamin, that Dan, Asher, and Naphtali are encamped by each other; it is in Genesis alone that we are furnished with the answer.
The position which Reuben occupies specially points to Gen. xlix. As the first-born, he ought to stand at the head; but here we find him occupying the second place. In Gen. xlix. Jacob says to him, on account of his guilt, "Thou shalt not excel;" and "the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power," which up to that time he had possessed, are transferred to Judah. Yet Moses has so much regard to his original dignity, that he places him immediately after Judah; the utterance of Jacob did not entitle him to assign to him a lower position. Further, -- The reason why Dan stands at the head of the sons of the maids is explained only in Gen. xlix.16-18, where Dan is specially distinguished among them, and where it is specially said of him, "Dan shall judge his people."
If the blessing of Jacob be the production of a later time, then the order of the encampment, which rests upon it, must necessarily be so also; but such an idea will at once be discarded by every man of sound judgment. Even they who refuse to acknowledge Moses as the author of the Pentateuch, admit that [Pg 87] those regulations which bear reference only to the condition of things in the wilderness must have originated from him.
But exactly the same order which Moses in Num. ii. prescribes for the encampment and setting forth of the tribes, is found again in chap. vii., where there is described the offerings which the princes of the tribes offered at the dedication of the altar. Every prince has here a day to himself, and here also does Judah occupy the first place: "And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah." -- If any one should venture to set down this chapter also, with all its details, as a fabrication of later times, he would only betray an utter absence of all scientific judgment.
According to Num. x.14, Judah led the march when they set forth from Sinai.
Balaam's prophecies, the genuineness of which is proved by so many weighty arguments (compare the enumeration of them in my work on Balaam), rest, in general, on the fundamental prophecies of Genesis, but especially on the blessing of Jacob upon Judah.
In Num. xxiii.24, Balaam says: "Behold, a people, like a full-grown lion he rises, and like a lion he lifts himself up. Not shall he lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain." This conclusion of Balaam's second prophecy, which at once demolishes Balak's vain hopes of victory, by pointing out the dreadful power of Israel, unconquerable by all his enemies, and crushing them all, has an intentional reference to Gen. xlix.9, -- a reference specially suitable for such a conclusion. What was there ascribed to Judah is here transferred to Israel, whose fore-champion Judah is. "Dost thou think," says Balaam to Balak, "of being able to overcome them, to stop them in their course towards the mark held out to them? Behold, according to an old revelation of their God, they are a people destroying their enemies with the lion's strength. Therefore, get thee out of their way, lest such a fate befall thee."
In Num. xxiv.9, Balaam says, "He couches, he lies as a lion, and as a great lion, who shall stir him up?" As in the preceding prophecy he had pointed out Israel's dreadful power which secures to him victory in the battle, so here he shows how, even after having finished the battle, this power so intimidates his enemies, that they do not venture to disturb his peace. [Pg 88] That which Jacob had said of Judah, is, with intended literality, here transferred to Israel.
In Num. xxiv.17, we read: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star goeth out of Jacob, and a sceptre riseth out of Israel, and smiteth the borders of Moab, and destroyeth all the sons of the tumult." -- As the two preceding utterances carry us back to Gen. xlix.9, so this one refers to ver.10, where the sceptre, the emblem of dominion, denotes, just as it does in this passage, dominion itself, and where to Judah, and in him to all Israel, the kingdom is promised which shall at last be consummated in the Shiloh. The meaning of the words, "A sceptre riseth out of Israel," is explained in ver.19 by the words, "Dominion shall come out of Jacob." Jacob has in view the internal relations among his descendants, and hence he speaks specially of Judah; but Balaam, in accordance with his object, speaks of Israel only. Jacob points, at the close, to Shiloh's just and peaceful dominion; but Balaam, who has to do with the enraged and obstinate enemies of Israel, points out, from among the effects produced by the star and sceptre, only the victorious might, and destructive power which these will display in the conflict with the enemies of Israel.
In the blessing of Moses, Deut. xxxii.7, it is said of Judah: "Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people; with his hands he fights for himself, and be Thou an help to him from his enemies." Even the remarkable brevity of this utterance points back to the blessing of Jacob. With this brevity, the length of the blessing upon Levi, who had been treated too summarily by Jacob, forms a striking contrast. In the case of Reuben also, the attempt to pour oil into the wounds then inflicted is visible. The whole announcement is based upon the supposition that Judah is the fore-champion of Israel; and this supposition refers us back to Gen. xlix. This appears especially in the words, "Bring him to his people," on which light is thrown only by Gen. xlix. It is for his people that Judah engages in foreign wars, and the Lord, fulfilling the words, "From the prey, my son, thou goest up," brings him safely to his people.
There can be no doubt that in Shiloh, as the name of a place, there is a reference to Gen. xlix.10. They who rightly denied that Shiloh could, in that passage, be understood as the name of the place, could, nevertheless, not feel satisfied as long as they allowed a twofold Shiloh to exist unconnected with each other. The agreement in the very rare and peculiar form, which nowhere else occurs, cannot well be a matter of accident.
In the Pentateuch, Shiloh does not occur at all as the name of a place. In the passage where Shiloh is first mentioned -- in Josh. xvi.6 -- another name is beside it, and prefixed to it. According to that passage, the former name was Taanah. (They who are of opinion that this place was different from Shiloh, can find no support from the authority of Eusebius; it is not said Taanah by Shiloh, but Taanath-Shiloh.) After that place had become the seat of the Sanctuary, the holy name Shiloh took the place of the former natural one. The reason why this name was given to it is indicated in Josh. xviii.1: "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there; and the land was subdued before them." Compare also xxi.44, xxii.4, where it is remarked that at that time "the Lord gave them rest round about." (See Bachiene, Palestina ii.3, S.409 ff.) In the subjection of the country, -- in the rest which the Lord had given them from all round about, they saw an earnest of, and a prelude to, the obedience of the nations in general, and to the state of perfect rest which should take place at some future time with the appearing of Shiloh. Victory, peace! (Siegfried!) such was the watchword corresponding to the elevated consciousness of the people. It is an elevation quite similar to that which we so often perceive in the Psalms. "Sometimes there rises the hope that the Gentiles shall, at some future period, be received among the people of God -- a hope based upon the experience of the Lord's victorious power in the present, in which faith perceives a pledge of the future subjection of the world's power under His sceptre. Thus, in vers.29-32 of Ps. lxviii., which was composed by David on the occasion of his having, by the help of the Lord, conquered his most dangerous enemies, the Aramites and Ammonites; in Ps. xlvii., written on the occasion of Jehoshaphat's victory over several heathen nations; and in Ps. lxxxvii., composed on the [Pg 90] ground of the joyful events under Hezekiah, the germ of the hope for the conversion of the heathen, which had all along lain dormant in the people, was developed."
After the main power of the Canaanites had been broken by the expeditions of all Israel under Joshua, Judah begins, at the command of God, to expel the Canaanites from the territory assigned to him. In Judges i.1, 2, we read: "And the children of Israel asked the Lord, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites at the beginning to fight against them? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up; behold, I deliver the land into his hands." They were concerned to find out the tribe who, by the decree of God, had been destined to be the fore-champion for his brethren, and with whom they might be sure of a happy commencement of the war. The short answer, "Judah shall go up," would scarcely have been justified, had it not had a foundation in a previous declaration of God's will. It indicates that Jacob's blessing upon Judah still possessed its power.
In like manner, in the war against Benjamin, according to divine direction, Judah goes up first to the battle, forms the vanguard. Judges xx.18. The intentional identity of the expression used here and in chap. i., leads us to the supposition that the words, "Judah shall go up," have, in both passages, the same foundation.
From both of these events, we are led to expect that Judah may be called to occupy a still more important position. The announcement of Jacob regarding Judah, to which the words, "Judah shall go up," refer, finds, in these events, evidently but a poor beginning of its complete fulfilment. All, however, which was required in the meantime, was the indication, by gentle touches, of the position which Judah was called to occupy in future times. It is just God's way to take time in carrying out [Pg 91] His elections; all human conditions must first disappear. After these two intimations, at the end of the time of Joshua (for Judges i.1, 2, belongs to that period; the words, "And it came to pass after the death of Joshua," do not refer to what follows immediately after, but only to the contents of the book as a whole), and at the beginning of the time of the Judges, Judah retires out of view. During the whole period of the Judges, Ephraim held the supremacy. Under David, the validity of the election suddenly appeared, and the announcement of Jacob found a glorious fulfilment; but again, such an one only as pointed to a still more glorious fulfilment in the future. Before this took place, however, -- before Shiloh came, to whom the obedience of the people was promised, the lamp of Judah was once more to be extinguished, so that, to human eyes, it should be invisible for many centuries.
In 1 Chron. xxviii.4, David says: "And the Lord God of Israel chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever; for He hath chosen Judah to be the ruler, and in the house of Judah, the house of my father, and in the house of my father. He liked me to make me king over all Israel." David here points to an event by which Judah was raised to be the ruling tribe; and such an election is nowhere else to be found than in Gen. xlix. We cannot for a moment suppose that Judah was elected only in, and with, the election of David. Against such a supposition militates the fact, that even the election of David's house is represented in history as being distinct from the election of David himself; for in 1 Sam. xvi. the decree of God is first made known, that one of Jesse's sons is to be king; and it is only afterwards that we are told which of them is to be chosen. The expression too, "He hath chosen Judah to be the ruler," is decisive against it; for this expression has an evident reference to the sceptre and lawgiver in Gen. xlix. But if any doubt should still remain, it would be entirely removed by the parallel passage in 1 Chron. v.2, where, in the words, "For Judah was mighty among his brethren, and of him the prince was to come," there is an allusion, which cannot be mistaken, to Gen. xlix.
There cannot be a doubt that David gave to his son the name Solomon, because he hoped that, in his just and peaceful reign, he would be a type of the Shiloh whom the nation should willingly [Pg 92] obey, just as, in his own reign, there had been the first grand fulfilment of what Jacob had prophesied of Judah's lion-courage, and lion-strength, -- of Judah's sceptre and lawgiver. We have here the counterpart of the fact, that the children of Israel, after the first occupation of the country, gave to the seat of the sanctuary the name of Shiloh. In the case of Solomon, both the name and the substance point to Shiloh. With regard to the name, three out of the four letters of which the name [Hebrew: wlmh] consists, are common to it with Shiloh. The signification is precisely the same; so also is the form. In [Hebrew: wlmh] as well as in [Hebrew: wilh] we meet with the very rare case of the [Hebrew: wilh] at the end being thrown off. In Ewald's Grammar, Sec.163, these two names are, for this reason, pointed out and placed immediately beside each other. And, with regard to the agreement in the substance, we refer to 1 Chron. xxii.9, where Nathan says to David: "Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days." We refer, further, to 1 Kings v.4, where Solomon says to Hiram: "And now the Lord my God hath given me rest round about; there is neither adversary nor evil obstacle." We refer, finally, to 1 Kings v.4, 5 (iv.24, 25): "He had dominion over all the region on the other side of the river, from Tiphsah even to Gaza, over all the kings on the other side of the river, and he had peace from all his servants round about. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and fig-tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon."
But if any further doubt should remain as regards the typical relation in which Solomon stands to Shiloh, it would be removed by Ps. lxxii., which discards the very idea that Solomon could be anything more than a type, -- that any hope had ever been entertained of his being himself the Shiloh. Even David's Messianic Psalms bear witness against such an opinion. In harmony with the words of our Lord in Matt. xii.42, "A [Pg 93] greater than Solomon is here," Solomon In this Psalm points beyond himself. In his own just and peaceful dominion, he beholds a type of the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, who, by His justice and love, shall obtain dominion over the world, and whom all kings shall worship, and all the heathen shall serve. How closely this Psalm is connected with Gen. xlix. is pointed out by Ezekiel, in a passage of which we shall immediately treat.
In ver.9 of Ps. lx., which was composed by David, the words, "Judah is my lawgiver" -- equivalent to, Judah is my, i.e., Israel's ruling tribe -- point to Gen. xlix.10, according to which the lawgiver shall not depart from Judah; just as ver.13, "Give us help from the enemy," alludes to Deut. xxxiii.7, where it is said of Judah, "Be thou a help to him from his enemies," and ver.14, to Num. xxiv.18.
That the Prince of Peace spoken of in Is. ix.5, under whom there is "no end to the increase of government and of peace," refers to the Peaceful One, to whom the nations render obedience, will not be doubted by those who have recognised the connection in which Solomon and Ps. lxxii. stand to the Shiloh. Nor will such fail to recognise an allusion to the Shiloh in all the other passages of the Prophets, in which the Messiah is described as the Author of rest and peace; e.g., Mic. iv.1-4; Is. ii.2-4; Zech. ix.10; and the less so, the more clearly it appears, from passages of Ezekiel, what influence Gen. xlix. exercised over the prophetic consciousness. Isaiah significantly alludes to it in other passages also. In chap. xxix.1, 2, he says: "Woe to Ariel, (i.e., Lion of God), the city where David encamped! Add ye year to year, let the feasts revolve. And I distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and affliction, but it shall be unto me as Ariel;" -- the meaning of which is: Jerusalem will, in times to come, endure heavy affliction (through Asshur), but the world-conquering power of the kingdom of God will manifest itself in her deliverance. The name Ariel is emphatically placed at the beginning, and, in it, the Prophet gives to the congregation of God a guarantee for her deliverance. That which Jacob had said of Judah, who, to him, appeared as the invincible lion of God, is here applied to Zion, the city where David encamped, the centre of the kingdom of Judah.
Ezekiel, in his lamentation over the princes of Israel who, [Pg 94] in his time, were standing just at the brink of the abyss, says in chap. xix.2: "Thy mother was a lioness, who lay down among lionesses, and brought up her whelps among young lions." The mother is the congregation of Judah. The image of the lion points to the blessing of Jacob, and its fulfilment in history. "Judah once couched in a threatening position, endangering his adversaries, in the midst of lions, i.e., among the other powerful kingdoms fond of conquests." (Haevernick.)
In Ezek. xxi.15, 18 (10-15), the Lord, with an evident allusion to Gen. xlix.10, announces the (temporary) destruction of the sceptre of His son (i.e., Israel or Judah), a sceptre which despises all other sceptres.
In vers.30-32 (25-27) of the same chapter, Ezekiel foretells, in the name of the Lord, a complete overturning of all relations, a total revolution, in which the Davidic kingdom especially is brought down, a condition of affairs in which rest and safety will not anywhere be found. This state of things is to continue "until He comes to whom is the judgment; to Him I will give it."
The reference of this passage to Gen. xlix. cannot be mistaken. It was recognised, indeed, by the ancient translators; only that most of them erroneously found in it an explanation instead of an allusion.
Instead of the words, "to whom is the judgment," we should, from the expression used in Gen. xlix.10, "Until Shiloh cometh," have expected, "to whom is peace;" but Ezekiel has filled up Gen. xlix.10 from Ps. lxxii.1-5, where judgment and righteousness appear as the basis of the peace which the Anointed One shall bring. And peace occupies the background in Ezekiel also. The advent of Him to whom is the judgment, in contrast with the injustice and wickedness of those who were hitherto the bearers of the sceptre, puts an end to strife, confusion, and destruction. That, in like manner, in Gen. xlix., the judgment occupies the background, we see plainly, from the commentary upon that passage furnished by Ps. lxxii., as well as from Is. ix. and ii. In Ps. lxxii., peace comes into consideration, only in so far as it is a product and consequence of justice, which is an attribute of the King, and is by him [Pg 95] infused into the life of the nation. In vers.1-50, the thought is: "God gives righteousness to His King, and in consequence of it, righteousness and the fear of God become indigenous to the people, and these again bring peace in their train."
Every word in Ezekiel is taken from Gen. xlix. and Ps. lxxii. From the latter are taken the words, "judgment," and "I will give it." (Compare Ps. lxxii.1: "Give the King thy judgments.") The combination of these two passages points out their close connection, and indicates that Ps. lxxii. is to be viewed as a comment. Onkelos, who thus translates the passage in Gen. xlix., "Until Messiah comes, to whom the kingdom is due, and Him the people shall obey," has very properly only supplemented the declaration of Jacob from Ezekiel, or, at least, has taken thence the explanation of Shiloh.
But, at the same time, the words [Hebrew: awr li hmwpT], which, on the basis of Ps. lxxii., Ezekiel puts in the place of [Hebrew: wilh], allude to the letters of the latter word which forms the initials of the words in Ezekiel. That [Hebrew: w] is the main letter in [Hebrew: awr], is shown by the common abbreviation of it into [Hebrew: w]; and that the [Hebrew: i] in [Hebrew: wilh] is unessential, is proved by the circumstance that the name of the place is often written [Hebrew: wlh], and that even in Gen. xlix.10, a number of manuscripts have this orthography.
"From the allusion to a prophecy so well known, and so frequently used, the brevity of the prophecy in Ezekiel is to be explained. It forms a most powerful conclusion and resting-point for the prophetic discourse." (Haevernick.)
There cannot be any doubt that Ezekiel found in Gen. xlix.10, the prophecy of a personal Messiah. They, therefore, who assert that no such prophecy is contained in our passage, must, at the same time, assert that Ezekiel misunderstood it; yea, even more, that, even as early as at that period, a false view of that passage was generally prevalent. For, the manner in which Ezekiel alludes to it presupposes that, at that time, the view which found in it a personal Messiah was generally held. If we observe still further, that Ezekiel connected the allusion to Ps. lxxii. with that to Gen. xlix., we cannot hesitate for a moment to admit that he understood the name Shiloh to be Rest-maker, Peace-maker; only, that on the ground of Ps. lxxii., he mentions the cause instead of the effect. He had, moreover, the stronger reason for designating the bearer of peace as the bearer of judgment, [Pg 96] because, in his time, the want of judgment had evidently produced the absence of peace, and the general confusion, misery, and destruction.
"As in Gen. xlix. the Patriarch sees a light rising at a far distance, and spreading its brightness over the darkness of centuries, so in Ezekiel also, the same ray of glorious hope lightens through the dark night of confusion and unutterable misery in which he sees himself enveloped."
Kurtz, S.266, has altogether denied the connection of the passage in Ezekiel with Gen. xlix. These two passages are, as he thinks, altogether different, inasmuch as Ezekiel announces destruction and desolation which shall continue until He comes to whom is the judgment, while Gen. xlix., when understood of a personal Messiah, announces dominion which shall continue until Shiloh comes. But Ezekiel does not contradict Gen. xlix.10. He gives only the supplement necessary for preventing this passage from being considered as a permission to sin, and from becoming a support of false security. Ezekiel, too, assumes a continuation of the dominion. If that were not concealed behind the destruction, how could "the coming of Him to whom is the judgment" be pointed out as the limit of that destruction? The tree indeed is cut down, but the root remains in its full vigour.
When Jacob announces that the sceptre shall not depart until Shiloh, the prince of peace, cometh, he can thereby mean only that it would not depart definitively; for, otherwise, he would have belied his own experience. From the way by which the Lord had led him, he had sufficiently learnt that God's promises to sinful men must be taken cum grano salis; that they never exclude the visitation of the elect on account of their sins, and that it is only in the end that God will bring all to a glorious fulfilment. When he went to Mesopotamia, God had said to him, "I am with thee, and I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest," Gen. xxviii.15; and yet the deceit which he had practised upon his father and brother was recompensed to him there by the deceit of Laban, and he was obliged to say, "In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from mine eyes," Gen. xxxi.40. When he came from the land of the two rivers, God blessed him and gave him the honourable name of Israel, Gen. xxxii.; and yet [Pg 97] he had soon thereafter to experience grievous distress on account of Dinah and Joseph; and in chap. xxxvii.34, 35, we are told concerning him: "And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, I shall go down into the grave unto my son in sorrow." In the kingdom of God there are no other promises than such as resemble those rivers which flow alternately above and below ground, since it is certain that all the subjects of the promises are affected by sin.
Ezekiel xliii.15 likewise refers to the blessing of Jacob upon Judah. The altar for the burnt-offerings in the new temple is first called Harel = the mountain of God, and afterwards Ariel = the Lion of God, -- indicating that what had been promised to Judah in Gen. xlix., viz., the Lion's nature and invincible power, victorious over all enemies, has its root in the altar, -- in the circumstance that the people of God are a people whose sins are forgiven, who dedicate themselves to God, and give Him thanks and praise.
A very remarkable reference to Gen. xlix. meets us at the very threshold of the New Testament. In Luke ii.13, 14, the heavenly host praise God, saying: "Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace." The words, "glory" or "praise be to God," are an allusion to Judah, and to the glorious things foretold in Gen. xlix. of him who centres in Christ. Christ is the true Judah, -- He by whom God is glorified, John xiv.13. The words, "on earth peace," contain the explanation of the name Shiloh, the first name under which the Saviour is celebrated in the Old Testament.
As the words with which the Saviour is first introduced into the world allude to Gen. xlix., so the Lord Himself, before His departure, alludes to this fundamental Messianic prophecy in John xiv.27: "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you;" and in xvi.33: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace." So also, after His resurrection, Christ says, in the circle of His disciples, "Peace be unto you," John xx.19, 21, 26.
The last book of the entire Holy Scripture -- the Apocalypse [Pg 98] -- likewise points back to the remarkable prophecy of Christ at the close of its first book. In Rev. v.5, we read: "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed." "The designation of Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, rests on Gen. xlix.9. Judah appears there as a lion, in order to denote his warlike and victorious powers. But Judah himself, according to the blessing of dying Jacob, is at some future period to centre in the Messiah. As a type, he had formerly centred already in David, in whom the lion-nature of the tribe of Judah was manifested." This allusion shows that even what Is said in vers.8, 9, found its complete fulfilment only in Christ, and that vers.8, 9, are parallel to the entire ver.10, and not to its first half only.
Bengel remarks on Rev. v.6: "The elder had pointed John to a Lion, and yet John beheld a Lamb. The Lord Jesus is called a Lion only once in this prophecy, and that, at the very beginning, before the appellation Lamb appears. This indicates that as often as the Lamb is remembered, we should also remember Him as the Lion of the tribe of Judah."
As the designation of Christ as the Lion refers to what, in the blessing of Jacob, is said of the lion-nature of the tribe of Judah, so, in the "Lamb" -- the emblem of innocence, justice, silent patience and gentleness -- the name Shiloh is embodied.
Footnote 1: Luther says: "No doubt the sons of Jacob will have waited with anxious desire, and with weeping and groaning, for what their father had yet to say; for, after having heard curses so hard and severe, they were very much confounded and afraid. And Judah, too, will certainly not have been able to refrain from weeping, and will have been afraid, when thinking of what should now become of him. There will have arisen in his heart very sad recollections of his sins, of his whoredom with Thamar, and of the advice which he had given to sell Joseph. Certainly, I should have died with sorrow and tears. But there soon follow a fine dew and a lovely balm, refreshing the heart again."
Footnote 2: Bochart says: "When the whelp of a lion is weaned, and begins to go out for prey, and to seek his own food without the help of his mother, he then ceases to be a [Hebrew: gvr], and is called a [Hebrew: kpir]." Deut. xxxiii.22 must, therefore, not be translated, "Dan is a lion's whelp leaping from Bashan" -- as if the [Hebrew: gvr arih] were already active -- but thus, "Dan is a lion's whelp; he shall leap (i.e., after he shall have grown up) from Bashan." Dan is in that place styled a lion's whelp, just as is Judah in Gen. xlix.9, because, as yet, he is only a candidate for future victories.
Footnote 3: The LXX. translate, [Greek: ek blastou huie mou anebes], "from a shoot, my son, thou hast grown up." They explain [Hebrew: TrP] by an inappropriate reference to Ezek. xvii.9, where it is used of a fresh green leaf.
Footnote 4: Calvin says: "This dignity is bestowed upon Judah only with a view to benefit the whole of the people."
Footnote 5: In the first edition of this work, the author had likewise maintained that view.
Footnote 6: It was this difficulty which led Grotius to adopt the feeble exposition, "That teachers out of Judah's posterity would lead the people until the times of the Messiah, who would be the highest leader and commander of Jews and Gentiles."
Footnote 7: Calvin says: "If any one should object, that the words of Jacob convey a different meaning, we would answer him, that whatever promises God gave concerning the outward condition of the Church, they were so far limited that God might, in the meantime, exercise His judgments in the punishment of men's sins, and prove the faith of His people. And indeed it was not a light trial when, at the third succession, the tribe of Judah was deprived of the greater part of his territory. A more severe one followed when, before the eyes of the father, the sons of the king were slain, his own eyes put out, and himself was carried to Babylon, and given over to servitude and exile along with the whole royal family. But the heaviest trial of all came, when the people returned to their land, and were so far from seeing their expectations fulfilled, that they were, on the contrary, subjected to a sad dispersion. But even then, the saints beheld with the eye of faith the sceptre hidden under ground; neither did their hearts fail, nor their courage give way, so that they desisted not from continuing their course."
Footnote 8: Many expositors, following the LXX. ([Greek: ek ton meron autou]), the Vulgate (de femore ejus), and the Chaldee Paraphrast, understand this expression as a designation of origin and production. But in that case, we must assume a very hard ellipsis, viz., "he who is to proceed." Moreover, this explanation is destructive of the parallelism, according to which, "from between his feet" must correspond with "from Judah."
Footnote 9: The signification, "expectation," given to this word by the LXX. ([Greek: kai autos prosdokia ethnon]), Jerome, and other translators, is founded upon the erroneous derivation of the word from [Hebrew: qvh]. In the other passage (Prov. xxx.17), where the LXX. translate, "the age of his mother," they have confounded the root [Hebrew: iqh] with [Hebrew: qhh], "to be blunted."
Footnote 10: Gousset says: The word can signify something good only, on account of the passage, Prov. xxx.17, namely, something which adorns the relation of the son to his mother, the despising of which is a crime on the part of the son, and which deserves that he should be sent [Greek: eis korakas]. And not less so from its being used in Gen. xlix.10 in reference to the Shiloh, where, thereby, not one or a few, but all the nations without exception, are bound to Him by a tie similar to that which exists betwixt mother and son.
Footnote 11: Thus Luther says: "This sceptre of Judah shall continue, and shall not be taken from him, till the hero come; but when He comes, then the sceptre also shall depart. The kingdom or sceptre has fallen; the Jews are scattered throughout the whole world, and, therefore, the Messiah has certainly come; for, at His appearing, the sceptre should be taken from Judah."
Footnote 12: In the volume containing the Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel, etc. Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark.
Footnote 13: Delitzsch (who had formerly been a defender of the explanation of a personal Messiah) differs, in his Commentary on Genesis, from this view, only in so far, that he supposes that, while Judah's dominion over the tribes comes to an end in Shiloh, his dominion over the nations dates from that period. But this explanation must be objected to on the ground, that the dominion bestowed upon Judah is not merely a dominion over the tribes, but over the world.
Footnote 14: Knobel knows of no other expedient by which to escape from the force of this argument, than by changing the punctuation. He proposes to read [Hebrew: wlh], a word which nowhere occurs.
Footnote 15: The rationalistic objection, that at so great an age, and on the brink of the grave, man is not wont to compose poems, may be refuted by a reference to the history of the ancient Arabic poetry. The Arabic poets before the time of Mohammed often recited long poems extempore, -- so natural to them was poetry. (Compare Tharaphae Moallakah, ed. Reiske, p. xl.; Antarae Moallakah, ed. Menil. p.18.) The poet Lebid, who attained to the age of 157 years (compare Reiske prolegg. ad Thar. Moall. p. xxx.; De Sacy, Memoires de l'Academie des inscriptions, p.403 ff.), composed a poem when he was dying; compare Herbelot Bibl. Or. p.513. The poet Hareth was 135 years old when he recited extempore his Moallakah, which is still extant; compare Reiske l.c. The objection, too, that it is inconceivable how the blessing spoken by Jacob could have been handed down verbatim to Moses, finds its best refutation in the history of Arabic poetry. The art of writing was introduced among the Arabs only a short time before Mohammed. (Compare de Sacy l.c. pp.306, 348; Amrulkeisi Moall. ed. Hengstenberg, p.3.) Up to that time, even the longest poems, of which some consisted of more than a hundred verses, were preserved by mere oral tradition (compare Nuweiri in Rosenmueller, Zoheiri Moall. p.11); and the internal condition of those which have been preserved to us bears the best testimony to their having been faithfully handed down. But in the case before us, something altogether different from a poem was concerned.
Footnote 16: Onkelos paraphrases these words very correctly, thus: "Hear, O Lord, the prayers of Judah when he goes out to war, and bring him safely back to his people."
Footnote 17: It is probable also, that in the passage, Josh. xvi.6, where Shiloh occurs for the first time as the name of a place, and which we have already discussed, there is not, as we assumed, a connection of the former name with the latter, but the complete appellation, of which the latter -- Shiloh -- is only an abbreviation. From the well ascertained and common signification of the verb [Hebrew: anh], we are entitled to explain Taanath-Shiloh: "the futurity, or the appearance of Shiloh." Shiloh shall come! Such was the watchword at that time. The word [Hebrew: tanh] would then correspond to the [Hebrew: iba] of the fundamental passage.
Footnote 18: That there exists a connection between Shiloh and Solomon has often been guessed at and expressed; but expositors have not succeeded well in determining it more closely. The Samarit. Arab. Translation here says expressly: "Until Solomon cometh." (Comp. Lib. Genes. sec. Arab. Pent. Samarit. vers. ed. Kuenen. Leyden, 51.)
Footnote 19: Kimchi says: "As long as the Jews were doing the will of God, they could lie down like the lion without fear."