Genesis 49:10

Genesis 49:10

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah
Which some understand of the tribe, that Judah should not cease from being a tribe, or that it should continue a distinct tribe until the coming of the Messiah, who was to be of it, and was, and that it might appear he sprung from it; but this was not peculiar to this tribe, for the tribe of Benjamin continued, and so did the tribe of Levi unto the coming of Christ: besides, by Judah is meant the tribe, and to say a tribe shall not depart from the tribe, is not only a tautology, but scarcely sense; it rather signifies dominion, power, and authority, as the sceptre always does, it being an emblem of it, see ( Numbers 24:17 ) ( Zechariah 10:11 ) and this intends either the government, which was in the heads and princes of the tribe, which commenced as soon as it became a tribe, and lasted as long as it remained one, even unto the times of the Messiah; or kingly power and government, which the sceptre is generally thought to be an emblem of, and which first commenced in David, who was of the tribe of Judah, and continued unto the Babylonish captivity, when another sort of governors and government took place, designed in the next clause: nor a lawgiver from between his feet;
which may be rendered disjunctively, "or a lawgiver"; any ruler or governor, that has jurisdiction over others, though under another, as the word is used, ( Judges 5:14 ) and the sense is, that till the Messiah came there should be in the tribe of Judah, either a king, a sceptre bearer, as there was unto the captivity; or a governor, though under others, as there were unto the times of Christ under the Babylonians, Persians, Grecians, and Romans; such as Gedaliah, Zorobabel and particularly the sanhedrim, a court of judicature, the members of which chiefly consisted of the tribe of Judah, and the (ayvn) , or prince of it, was always of that tribe, and which retained its power to the latter end of Herod's reign, when Christ was come; and though it was greatly diminished, it had some power remaining, even at the death of Christ, but quickly after had none at all: and if by the "lawgiver" is meant a scribe or a teacher of the law, as all the Targums, Aben Ezra, Ben Melech, and others interpret it, who used to sit at the feet of a ruler, judge, or prince of the sanhedrim; it is notorious there were of these unto, and in the times of the Messiah: in short, it matters not for the fulfilment of this prophecy what sort of governors those were after the captivity, nor of what tribe they were; they were in Judah, and their government was exercised therein, and that was in the hands of Judah, and they and that did not depart from thence till Shiloh came; since those that were of the other tribes, after the return from the captivity all went by the name of Judah: until Shiloh come;
which all the three Targums interpret of the Messiah, as do many of the Jewish writers, ancient and modern F16; and is the name of the Messiah in their Talmud F17, and in other writings {r}; and well agrees with him, coming from a root which signifies to be "quiet", "peaceable", and "prosperous"; as he was of a quiet and peaceable disposition, came to make peace between God and men, and made it by the blood of his cross, and gives spiritual peace to all his followers, and brings them at length to everlasting peace and happiness; having prospered and succeeded in the great work of their redemption and salvation he undertook: and unto him shall the gathering of the people be;
not of the Jews, though there were great gatherings of them to hear him preach, and see his miracles; as there were of all his people to him at his death, and in him as their head and representative, ( Ephesians 1:10 ) but of the Gentiles; upon his death, the Gospel being preached to all nations, multitudes among them were converted to Christ, embraced his doctrines, professed his religion, and abode by him, see ( Isaiah 11:10 ) some render it, the obedience of the people F19, from the use of the word in ( Proverbs 30:17 ) , which sense agrees with the former; for those who are truly gathered by the ministry of the word yield an obedience to his doctrines and ordinances; and others read, "the expectation of the people" F20; the Messiah being the desire of all nations, ( Haggai 2:6 ) this, with what goes before, clearly shows that the Messiah must be come, since government in every sense has departed from Judah for 1900 years or thereabout, and the Gentiles have embraced the Messiah and his Gospel the Jews rejected: the various contradictory senses they put upon this prophecy show the puzzle and confusion they are in about it, and serve to confirm the true sense of it: some apply it to the city Shiloh, others to Moses, others to Saul, others to David; nay, some will have Shiloh to be Jeroboam, or Ahijah the Shilonite, and even Nebuchadnezzar: there are two senses they put upon it which deserve the most notice, the one is, that "Shebet", we render "sceptre", signifies a "rod"; and so it does, but such a rod as is an ensign of government, as it must here, by what follows, see ( Ezekiel 19:11 ) , but they would have it to signify either a rod of correction F21, or a staff of support; but what correction or affliction has befallen the tribe of Judah peculiar to it? was it not in a flourishing condition for five hundred years, under the reign of David's family? and when the rest of the tribes were carried captive and never returned, Judah remained in its own land, and, when carried captive, after seventy years returned again to it; add to which, that this is a prediction, not of affliction and distress, that should abide in the tribe of Judah, but of honour and glory to it: and besides, Judah has had a far greater share of correction since the coming of the true Messiah than ever it had before: and what support have the Jews now, or have had for many hundred years, being out of their land F22, destitute of their privileges, living among other nations in disgrace, and for the most part in poverty and distress? the other sense is this, "the sceptre and lawgiver shall not depart from Judah for ever, when Shiloh comes F23"; but this is contrary to the accents which separate and divide the phrase, "between his feet", from that, "for ever", as this version renders the word; though (de) never signifies "for ever", absolutely put, without some antecedent noun or particle; nor does (yk) signify "when", but always "until", when it is joined with the particle (de) , as it is here; besides, this sense makes the prophecy to pass over some thousands of years before any notice is taken of Judah's sceptre, which, according to the Jews, it had thousands of years ago, as well as contradicts a received notion of their own, that the Messiah, when he comes, shall not reign for ever, but for a certain time, and even a small time; some say forty years, some seventy, and others four hundred {x}.


FOOTNOTES:

F16 Zohar in Gen. fol. 32. 4. & in Exod. fol. 4. 1. & in Numb. fol. 101. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 98. sect. 85. 3. Jarchi & Baal Hatturim, in loc. Nachmanidis Disputat. cum Paulo, p. 53. Abarbinel. Mashmiah Jesbuah, fol. 10. 1. R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror Hammor, fol. 36. 4. & 62. 2.
F17 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2.
F18 Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2.
F19 (Myme thqy) "obedientia populorum", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Ainsworth; with which agree the Targums of Onkelos and Jerusalem, Aben Ezra, Kimchi in Sepher Shorash. rad. (hqy)
F20 (prosdokia eynwn) , Sept Theodotion; "expectatio Gentium", V. L.
F21 R. Joel Ben Sueb apud Menasseh, Ben Israel. Conciliator in Gen. Quaest. 65. sect. 8.
F22 Written about 1750. Ed.
F23 Vid. Menasseh, ib. sect. 3.
F24 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.
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