Judah’s Highest Blessing
Judah was Jacob’s fourth son. He received the highest blessing, one which gave him ascendancy and power. Though not directly so stated by Jacob, this son received the right of the first-born to leadership, which was lost by Reuben because of emotional instability, and by Simeon and Levi because of their cruelty.
Judah had shown a godly character. Even in the dark hour when Joseph’s brothers were planning to kill him, he had suggested a way that saved Joseph’s life (Genesis 37:26, 27). In addition, the goodness of his character was illustrated in the offering of his own life as a surety for that of Benjamin, and also when he pleaded with Joseph on Benjamin’s behalf, to save him from bondage (Genesis 43:9, 10; 44:16–34).
It had been clear even earlier, in his behavior toward Tamar (Genesis. 38:26), though at first, he seems to have been a rather untamed and rash person (Genesis 38:7–26). His own power of character, obtained by his victories over the weaknesses of the flesh, was illustrated in the manhood of the tribe that carried his name.
Jacob prophesied, “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 scepter 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” (Genesis 49:8-12).
Jacob prophesied that Judah would overcome his enemies. And he affirmed that Judah’s brothers would submit to him – not only the sons of his mother were to do so (Genesis 27:29; Judges 8:19), that is, the tribes coming from Leah, but “the sons of his father,” or all the tribes of Israel. This prophecy was fulfilled when David was made king over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1, 2).
In the prophecy, this son was resembled to a young lion growing up to be a strong one (Revelation 5:5). He was to continue as leader among the tribes until the time of the coming of the Messiah or Shiloh, who would take over the son’s royal right as leader of Israel and to whom all nations would submit.
In Genesis 49:11, Jacob stated, “Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.” The prophecy of the riding of the Messiah on a colt was fulfilled at the triumphal entry of Jesus (Matthew 21:7) as the king of peace (Judges 1:14; 10:4; 12:14). Judah’s vine would be so firm that asses could be tied to it, and so fruitful that its juice could be used to clean cloths. Judah’s wine and milk would be so refreshing. All these symbols referred to Judah’s success.
In His service,