Explanation of Genesis 49 and Genesis 50. Jacob’s life was about to end so he called together his sons and told them what would happen to each one of them in the future (49:1-2). The descendants of Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, would not prosper (49:3-4) because he had sinned against his father by sleeping with his concubine (Genesis 35:22). Not one of his descendants became a leader in Israelite history and there is almost no mention of his tribe. Simeon and Levi were known as men of violence (Genesis 34:25-29) and both of their tribes would be scattered (49:5-7), although Levi’s descendants would eventually become the priestly tribe. Judah would dominate his enemies and his brothers would praise him; furthermore, his descendants would rise to national leadership including David, Solomon, and the soon-coming Messiah, referred to here as Shiloh (49:8-12). This Messiah (Jesus Christ) would be called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in Revelation 5:5. Judah’s tribe would be blessed and prosperous. Zebulun‘s descendants would benefit from sea traders moving through her land (49:13). Issachar, although strong, would work for others (49:14-15). The tribe of Dan was raised up to be a judges, but they would not be faithful (49:16-18). Gad would settle in a place where they would be subject to attackers, but they would prevail (49:19). Asher would settle in a fertile area and provide rich food (49:20). Naphtali‘s tribe would be known for speed and agility, but also for their beautiful words (49:21). Most of Jacob’s blessing would fall upon Joseph, and his two sons, who would experience victory (49:23-24) and prosperity (49:25-26). Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son, would produce a violent, warlike tribe whose future descendants included Saul and eventually Paul (49:27).
Following Jacob’s prophetical words, he died and was buried alongside his wife as he had requested (49:28-50:13). After Jacob’s burial in the land of Canaan, Joseph and his brothers returned to Egypt but “…when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him’” (50:15). Their sudden fear caused them to remind Joseph that their father had requested that he forgive them for their actions (50:15-17). When Joseph heard that they questioned his genuineness, he wept and said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones” (50:18-21). Joseph’s words showed that he trusted in God’s plan from the beginning and knew that his bad circumstances were orchestrated by God in order to spare the lives of many. Joseph lived until the age of 110, but before his death he reminded his brothers of God’s promise to bring them into the land of Canaan (50:22-26). Even in his death, Joseph embraced the promises of God and was faithful to Him until he took his last breath.
Dear God, thank You for giving me the example of Joseph, who was faithful to You until the day he died. May I be faithful as Joseph was faithful.