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The Joseph Theory

Chapter 8:   Jacob's Last Blessings

"Jacob named the second-born son of Joseph... Ephraim."

47:28 -- "And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years. And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, 'If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buringplace.'

And he said, 'I will do as thou hast said.'
And he said, 'Swear unto me.'
And he sware unto him.
And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head."

Many words are used in this scene with Jacob... to show Jacob's need to be reassured... that he would not be betrayed again. And Jacob made Joseph swear to him to return him to Canaan.

Before Jacob died, he adopted Joseph's two sons and made them as first and second sons to him. Jacob then gave his blessing to Ephraim, Joseph's second born son.

48:5 -- "And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine."

And when he had finished speaking to Joseph's sons, he spoke to Joseph.

48:21 -- "Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

It would just make more sense for the translation of this verse to have said,
"You will return to the land of your fathers in peace. Moreover, I will extract justice from your brothers. With my own hand I will take my sword and my bow."

There is no instance of "Amorites" in Jacob's scriptural history. The massacre at Shechem was something he had abhored, and he says just that in his last blessings to Simeon and Levi. This passage must be referring to something else. Was "Laban" an Amorite? The word "Amorite" appears only once before in Genesis, in Abram's dream that foretold the bondage of his descendents.

15:15 -- "And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."

(One cannot ignore the possibility that the word "Amorite" could have been inserted into the original scripture... in the generations of time since the writing of this story... through the mis-translations and insertions by untrained scribes).

Jacob's words to Joseph, "I will give you one portion above your brothers," seems to reflect back to Joseph's dreams as a young man. Gen 37:7-9 His stalk of corn stood upright, while his brothers' stalks did obeisance to him. It may not be a stretch to conclude that Jacob was referring to the "brothers" as Amorites... or enemies.

One can conclude such... because immediately after saying this to Joseph...

49:1 -- "... Jacob called unto his sons and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which will befall you in the last days."

Other translations say, "... what will happen in the days to come" but, it is not a big strain to translate these words to mean... "that I may tell you what you will get."

Jacob was not just the father to twelve sons, but was the patriarch of what would be nations of people... kings coming from his line. He must speak judgment. And... if this "last will and testament" of Jacob was dispensing land in Canaan... the brothers showed no interest in claiming it. After they buried Jacob, they all returned to Egypt. The brothers could not have known of Abraham's nightmare... about serving in a strange land for four generations.

As a balance to the awful nature of this chapter... Joseph saw more going on in the lives of his brothers. Joseph refused to condemn them. What did Joseph see? Is this the reason that he tried to hold back Jacob's hand, when he was giving his blessing to Ephraim... he knew there was more to this than met the eye?

Is it possible, perhaps, that these sons of Israel are living manifestations of the ages of mankind? Did the prophetic nature of Adam's tribe emerge in a strange and mysterious way... in these sons of Jacob?

What follows in the scriptures is in poetic form... as if purposefully written as words to a song. One might almost picture a singer... sitting with a lyre... singing these judgments to the sons. The poetry uses a twist on their names to dispense this judgment. These words are full of sarcasm and anger. Jacob's sons had come for a piece of the inheritance... but they would get nothing. They are all being disowned. One might picture Jacob as he watched this scene... while the musician... and perhaps a dramatist, as well... imparts his judgments.

Jacob's Last Blessings: A Sonnet

in the order given by Jacob

The last chapter of Genesis

(son #1) Reuben: "See! a son!"

King James translation

"Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch."

New International Version

"Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength, the first-fruit of my manhood, exceedingly proud, exceedingly fierce. Unstable as water, never first shall you be, for your father's bed you did ascend; him have I degraded who went up to my couch."

Another translation

Reuben, you are my firstborn.
As the first fruit of my manhood
You hold a superior place
And are extremely proud
Of your high stature

But you yourself are like water
Having no integrity
Or nobility
You deigned to sleep in your father's bed

You went to take your father's place,
and your father has taken yours.

(son #2) Simeon: "to be heard" and
(son #3) Levi: "adhering" or "joining"

King James translation

"Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."

New International Version

"Simeon and Levi are brothers. Their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Simeon and Levi, brothers indeed, weapons of violence are their swords. My soul, never enter their company, never be in their assembly, my spirit! Because in their fury they slew men, in their willfullness they hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their fury because it is violent, their rage because it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, I will scatter them in Israel."

Another translation

Simeon and Levi called "brothers!"
Weapons of outrage, their stock and trade!

My soul! Get me out of their club!
My heart! Get me away from their company!
They slew a man with such rage!
They slaughtered an ox so eagerly!

Cursed be their anger for its violence
And their wrath for its cruelty.

I shun them from me
I disown them.

(son #4) Judah: "praise"

King James translation

"Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk."

New International Version

"Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons will bow down to you. You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness-- who dares to rouse him?

The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Juda, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you. A lion's whelp is Juda; from the prey you have gone up, my son. He crouches and couches as a lion; as a lioness, and who will disturb him?

The sceptre shall not depart from Juda, nor the staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs. To him shall be the obedience of nations. He tethers his ass to the vine; his ass's colt to the choicest vine. He washes his garment in wine, his robe in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk."

Another translation

You will have praise
Praise from your brothers!
With your hand on their neck
you force your father's sons
to bow to you!

A lion's unruly charge is Judah.
From the kill, oh my son,
have you raised your stature.

He crouches like a lion.
Like a watchful lion he crouches.
Who would dare to rouse him?

The sceptre of power
will not be withdrawn from Judah,
nor the leader's place he takes,
until he gets his tribute,
until the obedience of everyone
is to him.

He binds his horse to the vine.
and his donkey's foal to the bough.
He washes his clothes in wine
and his coat in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine
and his teeth whiter than milk.

(Judah had presumed himself the inheritor.
He had tethered himself to this assumption
and prepared himself to become king
like a drooling lion in wait to take his kill.)

(son #10) Zebulun: "dwelling"

King James translation

"Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon."

New International Version

"Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Zabulon shall dwell by the seashore; and he shall be by the shore of ships, with his flank toward Sidon."

Another translation

Zebulun shall dwell on the seas,
and he will be a haven of ships,
with his port Sidon.

(He had given safe haven to his brothers.)

(son #9) Issachar: "given wages or compensation"

King James translation

"Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulders to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."

New International Version

"Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Issachar is a sturdy ass, among the stock-pens he lies. He saw that settled life was good, and the the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulders to bear burdens, and became a slave under taskwork."

Another translation

Issachar is a big-boned donkey
stuck between two weights.
He saw that the place was good
and the country was pleasing to him,
and he bowed himself to the work
and became a servant to his wages.

(He became a servant to his brothers,
who took good care of him
as long as he shouldered
the burden of their crimes).

(son #5) Dan: "judgment"

King James translation

"Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord."

New International Version

"Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider tumbles backward. I look for your deliverance, O Lord."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Dan shall achieve justice for his people, like any tribe of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the road, a viper by the path; Biting at the hoofs of the horse, so that the rider tumbles backward. Thy salvation, O Lord, I wait for!"

Another translation

Dan will be judged
like the rest of this tribe.

Dan shall be a snake by the roadside,
an asp along the path
that bites the horse's heels
so that its rider falls backwards.

I have waited for your salvation, Lord.

(Rather than be a judge,
he will be judged
along with the rest of the tribe...
a snake lying in the path
set to dislodge him from his throne.
Jacob had had to endure it all).

(son #7) Gad: "a troop, multitude, or fortune"

King James translation

"Gad, a troop shall overcome him,
but he shall overcome at the last."

New International Version

"Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Gad, raiders shall raid him;
but he shall raid their rear."

Another translation

A troop shall come at him
but he shall come at them in the end.

(Jacob's predicament).

(son #8) Asher: "blessedness or happy"

King James translation

"Out of Asher his bread shall be fat,
and he shall yield royal dainties."

New International Version

"Asher's food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king."

Douay-Challoner Text

"His food shall be rich; he shall provide dainties for kings."

Another translation

Asher was given rich sustenance
and he blessed it with little.

(He was given much,
and in return gave very little).

(son #6)
Naphtali: "a prevailing wrestler"

King James translation

"Naphtali is a hind let loose:
he giveth goodly words."

New International Version

"Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns
(or utters beautiful words)."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Naphtali is a deer set free, ..............."

Another translation

Naphtali is a deer set free,
begetting goodly things.

(Or is this referring to intestinal gas
or even excrement...).

(son #11) Joseph: "may God add more"

King James translation

"Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of him that was separate from his brethren."

New International Version

"Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father's God, who helps you, because of the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father's blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Joseph is a young fruit tree, a young fruit tree near the spring, with branches climbing over the wall. Against him in bitterness they fought; archers assailed him, But his bow remained firm, his strong arms supple, by the strength of the Mighty One of Jacob; by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel; By the God of your father, may he help you; by the God, the Omnipotent, may he bless you, With the blessings of the skies above, the blessings of the abyss couching beneath, the blessings of the breasts and womb; The blessings of your father surpass the blessings of my forebears to the limit of the timeless hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of the prince among his brothers."

Another translation

Joseph is an enterprising character
within a wealthy estate
and an inheritance of his own

The archers have taken aim against him
and acted out of their hatred
but he did not take revenge.
He knew with surety what he was to do,
what God had revealed to him to do,
which he related to his leader,
the decider, Israel...
for imperical advice and approval,
which is given...
and for wisdom, which is given...
with absolute freedom to do this thing...
giving him all the offspring of Jacob

The blessings of your father have prevailed
above the blessings of my progenitors
unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:
they shall be on the head of Joseph,
and on the crown of the head of him
that was separate from his brethren.

(son #12) Benjamin: "son of my right hand"

King James translation

"Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil."

New International Version

"Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder."

Douay-Challoner Text

"Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; devouring prey in the morning, and at evening dividing spoil."

Another translation

Benjamin shall raven as a wolf;
in the morning
he shall devour the prey,
and at night
he shall divide the spoils.

(By default,
he had caused the death of his mother,
yet it was Jacob's very love of Rachel
that made him loved by his father).

"And when Jacob had finished charging his sons,
he gathered his feet up into the bed,
and breathed out his last breath,
and joined his ancestors.
And Joseph threw himself on his father's face, and wept over him and kissed him."

Chapter 9:   Jacob's Burial

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