The Life of Joseph - Lesson 44, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Jacob had made his pronouncements concerning Leahís sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulan, and Issachar.
He now turns to Dan.
Genesis 49:16,17, Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
Lets go back in scripture and see Danís beginning so we may understand Jacobís words better.
Genesis 30:1-6, And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacobís anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in Godís stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.
So Dan was the first son to be born by proxy to Rachel.
In todayís manner of speech we would call Bilhah a surrogate mother.
Bilhah bearing upon Rachelís knees simply means that what Bilhah bears will be set upon Rachelís knees as if Rachel bore the baby herself.
Bilhah is simply to be the one who carries the child but not officially the mother.
We see here how Rachel named the son of her handmaid and she named him according to what she thought God had done.
She claimed that God had heard her cry of barrenness and judged her worthy of a son and had given her this son though Bilhah so she named him Judge or Dan (Dawn) in the Hebrew.
So Jacob may be using a trait of Dan to describe what will become a tribal trait in the latter days.
Perhaps Dan had a tendency towards treachery and Jacob in this blessing is cautioning him against that.
In any case Jacob pronounces for Dan a role as one of the tribes of Israel and indicates that Dan will play a part in suppressing the enemies of Israel.
Dan, born of a handmaid, would help its people get their rights.
The tribe of Dan produced only one judge, but he was an outstanding character of the Bible, the mightiest of the judges, the man Samson.
Paul lists him among those heroes of faith in the letter to the Hebrews.
Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
Samson may be the one indicated as an example in this blessing of Jacob because Samson embodied the characteristics of the Dan described by Jacob.
Samson was unsteady, unscrupulous, violent, stealthy in tactics, much like a serpent in the way, an adder in the path that bit the horseís heels and made the rider fall backwards not knowing what befell him.
As a snake can strike at the legs of a horse and overthrow the mightier animal in an act of surprize, so too would Dan be able to exert itself as one of the tribes.
This was exemplified in Samson.
But perhaps this was also a prophesy of the treachery that would be displayed by this tribe.
Danís inheritance in the kingdom was a rich one, bordering on the Mediterranean and included the great seaport of Joppa.
This area fronted on Philistine country and was constantly threatened by those war loving neighbors.
The Danites, dissatisfied with this portion, migrated north.
Jacob described the character of Dan as a serpent by the way and that description was fulfilled when with the cunning of a serpent they took the city of Laish (Judges 18) and established themselves in the far north of Israel.
There they faced constant pressure from hostile northern powers such as Syria.
It was Dan that first introduced idolatry into Israel as tribal religious policy, and it was in Dan that Jeroboam set up one of his golden calves.
The reference to Dan as a serpent also brings some to think that the Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan, but there is no scriptural documentation for this.
There are twenty lists of tribes in the Bible and Dan appears in eighteen of them.
Dan does not appear in the list of tribes listed in Rev 7, that compose the 144,000 servants of God who were sealed in their foreheads.
All of Leahís sons are listed, Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zabulon,
All of her sons by Zilpah are listed, Gad, Aser (Asher)
One of two sons of Bilhahís are listed, Nepthalim (Naphtali) Dan is not listed,
All of Rachelís sons are listed, Joseph who probably represents Ephraim, and Benjamin, and Manasses of Joseph
Revelation 7: 5-8, Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Rueben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
What the omission of Dan in Rev 7 means I do not know.
But one fact we do know and that is Jacobís pronouncement that: Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
Perhaps Dan shall have a special place in the kingdom and that place shall concern the judging of matters between the people in Israel.
At this point in the blessings of Jacob, Israel bursts in a prayer of faith.
Who knows whether or not his strength was failing and he had to go to the fount of life for sustenance to continue?
Appearing as if out of nowhere in this passage he utters a Prayer as if gasping for a breath of air.
And in this interruption of the blessings of his sons he takes the light off his sons and on to the salvation of the LORD.
This is the very first use of the word salvation in the Bible and it has to do only with the Lord.
Yes his sons, through their tribes, shall do great exploits but he intends not to glory in his sons who bring no salvation.
Nor does he intends to depress himself in the sins of his sons, but he intends to glory in the Lord who brings salvation, so he says in:
Genesis 49:18, I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
A common prayer of the Jews is based upon this utterance of Israel:
My soul waiteth not for the deliverance of Gideon, the son of Joash, for it was only temporal; nor for that of Samson, for it was but transient; but for the redemption of the Messiah, the Son of David, which in Thy word Thou hast promised to send to Thy people, the children of Israel; for this, Thy salvation, my soul waiteth.
Yes, all of my sons shall be tribes and much glory awaits them but what I await is for thy salvation, O Jehovah!
And this is what his sons are also to wait on.
Not in the exploits of their tribes but to wait on the LORD who will deliver.
What a lesson for us when we too often praise the exploits of men or of those close to us.
In all of our praising we too must pause and say: I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
Jacob now turns to Gad and Asher, sons of Leah by her handmaid, Zilpah.
Genesis 49:19, Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali, sons of the handmaids were those that were included in Josephís ill report to Jacob, so many years ago.
Looking at Gad, Jacob saw him in the latter days in two lights, that of the vanquished, and that of the victorious.
Fortunately the victory came after being vanquished.
Gad means troop and Jacob used this name in his blessing, a troop shall overcome him but his troop shall overcome at the last.
Though he be pressed hard, he in turn presses hard upon those that assail him.
We learn in later scripture that Gad chose his inheritance on the far side of Jordan.
This area without the natural protection that a river affords was under constant attack from waring nomadic tribes which attacked Gadís fields from the dessert.
All of the tribes that settled east of the Jordan were the first to be carried away when Assyrian armies came.
But Gad produced some notable men, Jephthah, Barzillai, and the prince among the prophets, Elijah were from the tribe of Gad.
Gad could take a beating from his enemies and come back in triumph.
The war is not over until the last battle was done and when the last battle was done Gad was the victor.
Jacob therefore, foresees that Gad will be especially exposed to the raids of marauding bands.
Gad was exposed to the bands of roving marauders from the desert, Midianites and Ammonites, and Arabians.
But Gad will not be slow in defending himself and striking back.
Much as we see in our day when Israel takes no time to strike those who strike them.
So Jacob pronounces Gad as an over comer!