Until Shiloh Comes: Brief Expository Notes on Genesis 49:1-12

Genesis 49:1  And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:

  • His eyes are dim, but he can still see that which God reveals to him
  • It’s for the future, far off descendants, not his actual sons


2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob,

And listen to Israel your father.

These are the words of a dying man, and were therefore presumed to be vitally important


3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

My might and the beginning of my strength,

The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.

  • What one might expect of a first-born
  • A picture of Adam, the first-born
  • The pinnacle of creation, hand-crafted in clay


4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel,

Because you went up to your father’s bed;

Then you defiled it—

He went up to my couch.


  • But marred and spoiled by sin.
  • In chapter 35 he lay with his father’s concubine.
  • He lost his birthright and inheritance (see 1 Chron 5)
  • Another fitting picture of Adam


5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.

6 Let not my soul enter their council;

Let not my honour be united to their assembly;

For in their anger they slew a man,

And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.

7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;

And their wrath, for it is cruel!

  • In chapter 34 they had led a massacre.
  • Cruelty and vengeance was their hall-mark at Shechem; though Levi still was blessed


I will divide them in Jacob

And scatter them in Israel.

Simeon became one of the smallest tribes, and Levi was scattered throughout the land


8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;

Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

Your father’s children shall bow down before you.

  • Through Judah, Satan will be arrested and judged;
  • He shall be royal and worthy of praise.


9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;

From the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He bows down, he lies down as a lion;

And as a lion, who shall rouse him?


  • Lion- another picture of royalty, strength and power
  • A young lion, and an old lion


Revelation 5: 5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.


10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,

  • A symbol of royalty
  • A symbol of judgement and power
  • Not depart? The Jewish kings came to an end;
  • Although their descendants lived on, they did not reign.
  • It is talking about One who cannot die

Daniel 7:14: He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever


Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,

  • Moses was not a Jew, but a Levite.
  • This law-giver pre-dates Moses.
  • Moses carried down the stones, but this law giver dictated them


Until Shiloh comes;

  • Jerome translates it as ‘He who shall be sent.’
  • 1 John 4:14: And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world
  • If it is a proper name, then “Shiloh” means “the one who brings peace.”


Isaiah 9:6-7 Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,


and Micah 5:5 says of the Messiah that “he will be their peace.”

  • What kind of peace?
  • Peace in life?
  • Peace in death?
  • Peace between sinful man and a holy God


Or, ‘He to whom it belongs’ ie the sceptre and the law

  • If it is a Hebrew contraction, Jacob is prophesying that the Messiah will be the rightful ruler of the world.
  • Both thoughts are true, of course, and it is possible that both thoughts are intended by the expression “Shiloh.”


And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

11 Binding his donkey to the vine,

And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,


  • He is one to be obeyed
  • He will usher in a period of prosperity- you’d tie donkeys to your vines, allowing them to eat your best plants because there’s such an abundance of grapes and wine

Romans 8:17: and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.


He washed his garments in wine,

And his clothes in the blood of grapes.

  • May be another picture of prosperity- wine which is dearer than water is so plentiful we may do our chores with it
  • Or if refers to Shiloh’s mission, which result in shedding his own blood at His first coming, and his enemies’ at his second:


Isaiah 63:

Who is this who comes from Edom,

With dyed garments from Bozrah,

This One who is glorious in His apparel,

Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—

“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

2 Why is Your apparel red,

And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?

3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,

And from the peoples no one was with Me.

For I have trodden them in My anger,

And trampled them in My fury;

Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,

And I have stained all My robes.

4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart,

And the year of My redeemed has come.

5 I looked, but there was no one to help,

And I wondered

That there was no one to uphold;

Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;

And My own fury, it sustained Me.

6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,

Made them drunk in My fury,

And brought down their strength to the earth


12 His eyes are darker than wine,

And his teeth whiter than milk.

  • Messiah is beautiful.
  • But was He anything special to look at?

Is 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

  • His character is beautiful
  • His mission is beautiful
  • His people are beautiful

1 John 3:2: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.