Genesis 49:21

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.[a]

Genesis 49:21 in Other Translations

21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
21 "Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns.
21 “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.
21 Naphtali is a deer running free that gives birth to lovely fawns.
21 Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.

Genesis 49:21 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 49:21

Naphtali is a hind let loose
Onkelos applies it to the tribe itself, and to the goodness of its land,

``as for Naphtali, his lot fell in a good land, and his inheritance a fruit bearing one,''
as it was; for in it was the most fruitful country of Gennesaret, which gave name to a sea or lake by it, and which abounded with gardens, with palm trees, fig trees, and olive trees; and which, Josephus says F14 one might call the ambition of nature; and Strabo F15, an Heathen writer, says of it, that it was an happy blessed country, and bearing all sorts of good things; and Jarchi on the place observes, this is the vale of Gennesaret, which is as quick to bring forth fruit, as a hind is swift to run. Some will have this prophecy to be fulfilled in Barak, as Ben Gersom, Abendana, and others, who was of this tribe, and who at first was fearful like the hind, and backward to go out to war when called, but afterwards readily went out with Deborah, and at last gave goodly words in the song they both sung: but it better describes the genius, disposition, and manners of the tribe, who were kind and loving, swift and expeditious in their affairs; lovers of liberty, well spoken persons, humane, affable, courteous, of a good address and pleasing language, as follows: he giveth goodly words;
to those he converses with; and it may be applied, particularly to Christ and his disciples, and to the inhabitants of this tribe in his time, among whom they much were, see ( Matthew 4:13 ) ( 9:1 ) he himself is compared to the hind of the morning, ( Psalms 22:1 ) in the title, and to a roe or a young hart, ( Song of Solomon 2:9 Song of Solomon 2:17 ) ( Song of Solomon 8:14 ) for his amiableness and loveliness in himself, and for his lovingness to his people, and for his swiftness to do the will and work of his father, being sent out F16, as the word here used signifies, by him into this world, on the business of man's salvation: and so his disciples, who were Galilaeans, were swift to obey his call, and left all and followed him, and were sent out by him to preach his Gospel; and both he and they may be said to "give goodly words", as the doctrines of the Gospel are, words of grace, truth, and life; wholesome, comfortable, pleasant and delightful; good tidings of good things, of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation and eternal life by Christ: and the inhabitants of this country in Christ's time were swift to run after him, and hear him; panted after him as the hart after the water brooks, and both received and gave out the goodly words of the Gospel, and were made free thereby, and so like an hind let loose. Bochart gives a different version of these words, which is countenanced by the Septuagint version, Naphtali is a tree full of shoots, or "a tree shot out, sprouting out beautiful branches"; but as this is contrary to the points, and coincides with the next verse, it is rejected by many learned men.

F14 De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 9. sect. 3.
F15 Geograph. l. 16. p. 519.
F16 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 18. col. 896.

Genesis 49:21 In-Context

19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.
20 “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21 “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility.

Cross References 2

  • 1. S Genesis 30:8; Deuteronomy 33:23
  • 2. Job 39:1

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "free;" / "he utters beautiful words"
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