Jacob gave a "prophetic
blessing" to his sons that pictures in grand
outlines the future history of a nation yet to come
into existence. In his blessing, he viewed how each
son and their descendants would be a part of the
"redemptive" nation. The blessing embraces the whole
history of Israel from Jacob's time until its
Before him is a large
canvas. What will he paint? The patriarch Jacob
first sketched his eldest son, Ruben, who should
have been the natural leader and recipient of a
double share of the inheritance. However, Ruben was
morally bankrupt and unworthy of becoming the leader
of the new nation. He was reckless, even
characterized by a seething lust, and "unbridled
Judah is the son to whom
the role of national leadership falls. His name
means, "He for whom Yahweh is praised" (Genesis
49:8). The people of Israel will praise the LORD God
for what He shall bring about through the tribe of
Judah. His mother was praising God when she named
her child Judah (Gen. 29:35). In this prophecy Judah
will receive praise from his brothers for supremacy
in Israel. From the line of Judah will come King
David, the greatest of all kings. Moreover, whatever
preeminence Judah might have had has been eclipsed
by the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Lineage of Judah
This blessing to Judah
emphasized the superior leadership ability and
triumph over his enemies (v. 8). "Judah, your
brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the
neck of your enemies; Your father's sons shall bow
down to you" (Genesis 49:8). Friend and foe will
recognize his effectiveness as a leader. The emblem
of the lion symbolizes the strength of this tribe's
leaders. "Judah is a lion's whelp" (v. 9).
"The scepter shall not
depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from
between his feet" (v. 10). The "scepter" is the
symbol of royal authority, rule and dominion. It
symbolizes his capacity for rule. Originally it was
a long staff, then it became a short rod. The idea
is that no one will be able to remove Judah's
sovereignty, or dominion.
In fact, the dominion of
the earthly rulers of Judah will be protected until
a certain climax is achieved. It is established by
the expressions, "until Shiloh comes," and by the
obedience of the "peoples." These "peoples" are the
non-Jews who submit to His rule. The name "Shiloh"
is a name for the Messiah.
Later in history, the
tribes of Israel went to David and expressed their
recognition of him as the person God had chosen as
king. They said, "Previously, when Saul was king
over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in.
And the Lord said to you, 'You will shepherd My
people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.'
So all the elders of Israel came to the king at
Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them
before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David
king over Israel" (2 Samuel 5:1-3).
In the person of king
David, Judah grew strong and became a conquering
lion. He received the promise that the "lion of the
tribe of Judah" would fulfill the greatest
aspirations of the prophecy. (2 Samuel 5:10-12ff;
Revelation 5:5). The people made the wrong choice
when they chose Saul from the tribe of Benjamin.
God's will was for them to wait until David, from
the tribe of Judah, was crowned king. The royal
family tribe of Israel was Judah (Hebrews 7:14; Luke
3:33; 1 Chronicles 28:4).
The important emphasis is
the reign of the tribe of Judah would be extended
out into eternity through the rule of the Messiah.
In 2 Samuel 7:13 Yahweh explains to David that He
will set up one of David's descendants as king. "He
shall build a house for My name, and I will
establish the throne of his kingdom forever." It
would attain eternal duration and sovereignty over
all nations only by reaching beyond earthly rulers
in the tribe of Judah to Shiloh-Messiah. The
dominion of Judah was to be perfectly fulfilled in
the appearance of Shiloh. The Lord Jesus Christ
fulfilled all of these Messianic prophecies.
Giver of rest
The fulfillment of the
promise to Judah is when Shiloh comes (Genesis
49:10c-12). Shiloh is the man of rest, the giver of
rest or "rest-bringer." The word Shiloh could be
derived from the same root word as salem or shalom,
meaning "to have rest." Jesus is the Peace-giver who
made reconciliation between God and sinful man by
means of His death on the cross.
interpretation of this passage was messianic. The
ancient Jewish Targum of Onkelos reads:
"Until Messiah comes, whose is the kingdom." There
are "very strongly messianic implications" from the
time of the Septuagint onward.
Judah will continue to
hold rule over Israel "until rest comes." It is best
to regard Shiloh as a proper name of a person.
Judah's capacity to rule will come to a climax in a
ruler so competent that He shall be able to achieve
perfect rest and He shall be called, "rest," or
"rest-giver. The Messiah is the bearer of rest. He
is the giver of peace and rest. Therefore, the
sovereignty of Judah's rule reaches its highest
point in the Messiah. Cf. Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke
Who is this giver of
rest? The Scriptures are consistent in their
emphasis on the Prince of Peace who gives His people
rest. He is the "Prince of Peace" in Isaiah 9:6.
Joshua couldn't lead the people into the Sabbath
rest, the perfect peace. "So there remains a Sabbath
rest for the people of God. For the one who has
entered His rest has himself also rested from his
works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be
diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will
fall, through following the same example of
disobedience" (Hebrews 4:9-11). Salvation through
Jesus Christ is God's perfect rest. He can give us
His perfect peace. Because we have "been justified
by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
A multitude of angels
greeted His birth singing, "Glory to God in the
highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He
is pleased" (Luke 2:14).
The Giver of rest stands
before every hurting person today and says, "Come to
Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will
give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from
Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy
and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). He gives
his perfect peace, "Peace I leave with you; My peace
I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to
you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it
be fearful" (John 14:27; cf. John 16:33; 20:19, 21,
Remember the promise to
Abraham? "And in you all the families of the earth
will be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). Jacob says, "and to
him shall be the obedience of the peoples" (Genesis
49:10d). Again, it is the plural form referring to
the non-Jews. The nations of the world shall
willingly submit to His rule. "Now it will come
about that in the last days The mountain of the
house of the Lord Will be established as the chief
of the mountains, And will be raised above the
hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And
many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up
to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God
of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.' For the law will
go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations,
and will render decisions for many peoples; and they
will hammer their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up
sword against nation, and never again will they
learn war. Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in
the light of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:2-5).
The emphasis is on
Shiloh, the giver of rest. He shall be such an
effective leader that men will readily yield Him
obedience. A day is coming when men from all over
the world are going to bow with cheerful, tender
willing inner submission to the Messiah. Many have
made a personal decision to do just that by giving
their lives to Jesus Christ in simple childlike
The coming of
It is the judgment of
most modern translators to derive "Shiloh" from the
Hebrew particle of relationship, sher (or
asher), rendered "whose" or "whom," and l, which
means "to." The meaning is "he to whom." The NIV
renders it, "until he comes to whom it belongs." The
NASB prefers to use "Shiloh" as a name for the
Messiah, "Until Shiloh comes," and gives the meaning
in the margin, "Until He comes to whom it belongs."
Shiloh refers to Jesus'
rightful rule and authority. There can be only one
Shiloh who fulfils the meaning. He came as that
eternal ruler in Judah's line. If Jesus has not
fulfilled the prophecy, there will never be another
person who can do so.
The rulers of Israel
descended through the line of Judah through King
David down to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.
Matthew 1:13-16 puts Jesus in the royal line of
David, through his son Solomon.
He came the first time as
a humble servant-king. "He ties his foal to the
vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine; He
washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the
blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, and
his teeth white from milk" (Genesis 49:11-12).
However, when he comes a
second time He will reign as the sovereign king of
the universe. There is therefore another side to
this great prophetic blessing. Genesis 49:11-12
refers to the judgment and salvation at the Second
Coming of Christ. The Prince of Peace will reign as
King of Kings for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15;
5:5-14). The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel cried out,
"A ruin, a ruin, a ruin, I will make it. This also
will be no more until He comes whose right it is,
and I will give it to Him" (Ezekiel 21:27). The
reference is to the Messiah.
Revelation 5:5 sees the
resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ as the
"lion of the tribe of Judah." One of the elders in
John's vision of heaven said, "Stop weeping; behold,
the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root
of David, has overcome so as to open the book and
its seven seals" (Revelation 5:5). The sovereign
messianic king will rule with the roar of a strong
Jesus has delivered us
from the old "roaring lion," the devil, who prowls
about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Today
Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We have the choice of
humbling ourselves and bowing to His reign today.
There is coming a day, however, when everyone
regardless of their desires will bow and worship
Him. "God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name, so that at the
name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that
every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians
The Lamb of God who takes
away the sin of the world is also the lion of tribe
of Judah who reigns as King of Kings.
49:8-12 Until Shiloh Comes
Christ in the Old Testament