Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. (Gen. 49:8-11 ESV)
In this passage, we have Jacob pronouncing a blessing on his twelve sons while on his deathbed (vv.28-33). Jacob is the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham. His twelve sons will go on to form the twelves tribes of Israel who will eventually occupy the land of Canaan. In pronouncing a blessing upon Judah, he says a couple of interesting things.
First, “your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you,” and the “scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” This is the language that Judah, or one of his descendants, will someday ascend to the throne and subdue all his enemies, and his father’s sons, his brothers, will bow down and pay homage to him.
The second interesting thing Jacob says in pronouncing this blessing upon Judah is “he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.” This is what is called Hebrew parallelism where “garments” corresponds to “vesture” and “wine” (red in color) corresponds to the “blood of grapes.” Whomever Jacob is speaking of, he is speaking of a king whose garments will be soaked in blood.
Of course, none of this happens to Judah as the story of Genesis ends in the next chapter. The book of Exodus then begins with the Israelites having been in slavery for four-hundred years. The first king to come from the line of Judah is King David. But even he cannot make the claim that the scepter never departed from his hands or even from his sons. The Davidic dynasty comes to an end with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC to the Babylonians. Hence, this blessing can only be pointing toward one person--Christ, the son of David, who will conquer the greatest enemies of God’s people—sin, death, and Satan—by suffering and dying on the cross for their sins, and of whose kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:30-33). Advent is the celebration of the birth of this king--the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.
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