ISSL Reflections September 25 2022 Genesis 35:22b–26; 38:24–26; 49:10–12 Post 2

Turning to Genesis 49:1-2 we read, “Then Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father.’”

The editors of these lessons focus on words about Judah in Genesis 49:10-12. Let’s expand that a bit.

Genesis 49:3-12 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might and the first fruits of my vigor,
excelling in rank and excelling in power.
Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel
because you went up onto your father’s bed;
then you defiled it—you went up onto my couch!

Simeon and Levi are brothers;
weapons of violence are their swords.
May I never come into their council;
may I not be joined to their company,
for in their anger they killed men,
and at their whim they hamstrung oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
and scatter them in Israel.

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 whelp;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion,
like a lioness—who dares rouse him up?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him,
and the obedience of the peoples is his.
Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he washes his garments in wine
and his robe in the blood of grapes;
his eyes are darker than wine
and his teeth whiter than milk.

What do Jacob’s words regarding Judah bring to mind for you?

That he will be praised, that his brothers will recognize him as having first place among the brothers, that he will have authority (even Kingship) over others?

That seems to be there for me.

But what of this “Binding his foal to the vine … he washes his garments in … grapes … his eyes darker than wine and his teeth whiter than milk”?

Do we regard these as Hebrew metaphors and images that were understandable in the distant past but are confusing if not undecipherable to us?

Maybe so.

For me the best I have found is to regard these images as something akin to the description of the “promised land” as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Maybe it is intended to describe a blessed land, a blessed age and what some would later describe as the messianic age.

What do you think?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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