We come to the end of Genesis….the beginning of the Bible. Jacob is blessing his sons and dividing the inheritance. The firstborn, Reuben, should have received head of the family blessing and double portion of inheritance; however, he gave up that privilege when he “went into his father’s bed” with Bilhah. Jacob still gives Reuben a single portion of inheritance, but that leaves one extra portion. Jacob decides to adopt Joseph’s two oldest sons so that he can give the extra inheritance portion to one of them and pass down Joseph’s inheritance portion to the other. Thus, we end up with 12 tribes of Israel receiving inheritance. Twelve is God’s number for righteous division of governance/administration.
In chapter 49, we see that Jacob desires to bless Joseph’s two sons. He purposely gives the right hand of blessing to the younger son of Joseph, yet also speaks a positive blessing to the older. How often have we seen God choose as He deemed best, regardless of man’s tradition of blessing the eldest more? God works His plan as He sees best.
Judah is chosen for the first born blessing as head of house and to carry the promised Seed of Abraham. Judah was the 4th eldest son, through Leah, but his older two brothers, Simeon and Levi, had unjustly murdered the inhabitants of the city they had made covenant with….so they were also disqualified for the birthright blessing.
In Genesis 49, we find Jacob prophetically blessing his 12 physical sons (not including the 2 adopted sons of Joseph, but including Joseph himself this time)….again 12. In Deuteronomy 22, Moses blesses these 12 tribes in much the same way (still a group of 12, but Levi is not allotted land due to their designation of priests in the tabernacle). The special blessing to Judah is prophetic of the Messiah Yeshua Jesus Christ. To remind them that their permanent promised land is in Canaan, Jacob instructs them to return his body to the family cave for burial. Joseph honors his father by making it a big procession and mourning with family and also the people of Egypt. They then return to Egypt.
At the end of Genesis, we find Joseph reminding his brothers that he is not seeking any revenge….that he sees it all as God using it to save many people alive (Genesis 50: 19-20)! Prophetic again! Do you see it? Jesus has no revenge or condemnation for us who come to Him in repentance……God worked His plan this way to the saving of many lives!
Joseph has faith that one day according to God’s promise, His people will return to the promised land. Joseph asks for an oath that his bones will go back with them. This does not happen until 200 years later at their exodus from Egypt. We can also have faith that God keeps His promises even if we do not see them fulfilled.
Through this study of Genesis, what have you learned about God? What have you learned about how He thinks and about His ways? How can you apply this to your relationship with God in your life?