Genesis 49:2, 8-10, December 17, 2021


Jacob called his sons and said to them:
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel, your father.

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
–your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah, like a lion’s whelp,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent,
the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him?
The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
or the mace from between his legs,
While tribute is brought to him,
and he receives the people’s homage.”


On his death bed, Jacob is addressing his family for the final time.  Known as the “Blessings of Jacob,” this last declaration is more of a prophecy than a blessing.  It is mostly targeted to the tribes that carry Jacob’s name, instead of his own sons.  The passage denotes the ending of the historical era that was encompassed by the book of Genesis.  Judah is revealed as distinguished and superior to his brothers.   Judah is dubbed a lion’s whelp, which signifies bravery, ability, and vigor.   Along with Jesus’ genealogy found in Matthew’s gospel, this reading emphasizes the messiah roots.  Jesus is interconnected with many of the important individuals in the chaotic history of Israel.  During this Season of Advent, it is important to realize Jesus did not appear out of nowhere but came from God who is intimately linked not only with our Jewish brothers and sisters, but to us.  We have a God who wants to be deeply involved in our lives, who loves us unconditionally and desires to be in relationship with us.