The Life of Joseph - Lesson41, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis49:1,2, And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
Genesis 49:5-7, Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 0 my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall Most translations: And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursedbe their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
The sons next in age to Reuben were Simeon and Levi, also sons of Leah.
No doubt they knew, because of their past, that something good was not going to happen to them!
It was a long time ago since they expressed their cruelty in Shechem!
In Shechem where they murdered all the males of the city because of Dinah's defilement.
In Shechem where they took advantage of men who had three days before been circumcised.
Some say the instrument of cruelty in this verse refers to the circumcision knifes that were turned to weapons of violence.
The Bible gives us the account of their violence, in Chapter 34, probably over 40 years prior to Jacob's blessing.
But Jacob sees in Simeon and Levi their character which has followed them all their lives.
That's not a bad start, perhaps this won't be so bad after all, Simeon and Levi may have thought.
We know that they are brethren after the flesh, for they are both sons of Leah.
Jacob means they are brethren after the spirit for they were companions in evil.
They were brothers in cruelty, instruments of cruelty in their habitations!
They are of the same mind and disposition.
It was not the same as the character of Reuben, one of weakness, but of deliberate wickedness.
So because of the violence of Simeon and Levi, Jacob would have nothing to do with their deeds or thoughts.
To the credit of Jacob he saw the evil in these two sons and advised the others not to take their advice or follow their leadership.
o my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall.
Another way to say this: O my spirit, be not joined to their company; for in their anger they slay men, and in their wantonness they hamstring oxen
Most translations: And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
If an animal was not tractable or compliant they cut the tendons of their legs.
They had acted in pride and anger and for their pleasure destroyed the community of Shechem, and hamstrung oxen, thereby making unprofitable for others what they chose not to take for their own use.
Genesis: 34 relates that after killing all the males, they took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field and all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive.
The sense here that Jacob is relating is that Simeon and Levi's motives were not simply in the pursuit of justice because of Dinah, but this occasion in Shechem was simply an opportunity to bring out their cruel nature and to display the cruelty of their hearts.
And for this Jacob under inspiration, curses their anger, meaning they were cursed or expelled from the community.
Not 1n a casting out way because they still remained as sons and tribes but in a way whereby they would not have a prominent role or in the case of Levi have no land area to call his own.
They will still be in Jacob, in Israel, but they are to be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel.
Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
All the rest of the tribes are to have quiet settlements in the land, but Simeon and Levi are to have, it would seem, no fixed habitations for -instruments of cruelty are in their habitations·
His tribe was from the first very small, feeble and insignificant.
In fact, in the second numbering of Israel Simeon had sunk to be the smallest tribe.
Numbers 26:14, These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.
Numbers wise Simeon came out of Egypt comparable with other tribes but during the wilderness wanderings Simeon lost position and influence and was given land inheritance within the confines of the inheritance of the children of Judah.
Joshua19:8-9, This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families. Out of the portion of the children of Judah was the inheritance of the children of Simeon: for the part of the children of Judah was too much for them: therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them.
In the days of Josiah, the Simeonites were counted with the people of Ephraim, Hanasseh, and Naphtali because many had left what homes they had in the midst of Judah.
In other words a very secondary role without influence or power.
In the case of Levi, the scattered in Israel, part of Jacob's blessing pertains.
In Levi's case God choose to turn a curse into a blessing for Levi was made the priestly tribe.
Levi took a stand for God at Baal-peor when Israel sinned with the daughters of Moab.
When Moses raised his standard and cried: Who is on the Lord's side it was the tribe of Levi that responded.
Because of their bold stand for God in the wilderness, the tribe of Levi received forty-eight cities scattered up and down the kingdom among the tribes to perform the priestly and religious service to the nation.
So although they had no separate inheritance of their own among their brethren, they had the Lord himself as their inheritance.
Read: Deuteronomy 10:9, Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.
Divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel they were indeed!
But it was in the character of the chosen priests and ministers of the Lord.
The scattering which was announced by Jacob turned out to be indeed a blessing, for Levites were found in all the coasts of the kingdom of Israel.
With Simeon and Levi disposed of, Jacob continues with Leah's fourth son, Judah.
Genesis 49:8-12, Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
Judah is next.
Remember the past of Judah?
Remember his part in the selling of Joseph into Egypt.
Remember the pagan woman that Judah married.
Remember Er and Onan who resulted from this marriage but were
taken by the Lord because of their wickedness.
Remember the importunity of Tamar and how she forced a child from Judah in order to carry on the name of Er.
Judah had heard the past brought up in the cases of Reuben,
Simeon and Levi.
Hadn't Judah pledged himself, not his sons as had Reuben, for Benjamin and also when he had poured out his soul before Joseph?
Apparently Jacob's judgment seat was not there to dredge up confessed and forgiven sins.
This is not the time for that/but it is a time to recognize Judah as the leader of the brothers.
Genesis 49:8, Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.
Judah had become a godly man and Jacob recognized it here.
He pronounces the result of that godliness by declaring Judah to have prominence over his brothers, his enemies and his father's children, meaning this prominence will carry on in future generations.
Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: Judah means praise.