New Defender's Study Bible Notes
49:3 Reuben. No prophet, judge, king or other notable leader ever came from Reuben’s tribe. He lost his birthright because of incest with his father’s concubine.
49:7 divide them...and scatter. The tribe of Simeon had an inheritance surrounded by that of Judah except at the south, which opened on the Negev Desert. The tribe of Levi was scattered through all the tribes, having been designated as the priestly tribe because of their opposition to the golden calf (Exodus 32:26).
49:9 couched. That is, “crouched down” or “laid down.”
49:10 not depart from Judah. This important prophecy has been strikingly fulfilled. Although Judah was neither Jacob’s firstborn son nor his favorite son nor the son who would produce the priestly tribe, he was the son through whom God would fulfill His promises to Israel and to the world. The leadership, according to Jacob, was to go to Judah, but this did not happen for over six hundred years. Moses came from Levi, Joshua from Ephraim, Gideon from Manasseh, Samson from Dan, Samuel from Ephraim and Saul from Benjamin. But when David finally became king, Judah held the sceptre and did not relinquish it until after Shiloh came. Shiloh, of course, is a name for the Messiah, probably related to the Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom) and meaning in effect “the one who brings peace.”
49:13 at the haven. The word “at” is only inferred from the context, but could just as well be “toward.” That is Zebulun’s interests would lie toward the sea and trade from the sea, whether or not any of her borders would actually lie on the sea coast. The same applies to her northern border, not actually adjacent to Zidon, but with trade from Zidon. She did border in part on the Sea of Galilee, and encompassed the future cities of Cana and Nazareth in Galilee.
49:14 Issachar. The tribe of Issachar, like their father, was strong physically, but lethargic and led by others.
49:18 thy salvation. This is the first mention of the word “salvation” in the Bible. The Hebrew word, yeshua, is actually the same as the name “Jesus.” In the context, Jacob, in giving his prophetic comments concerning Dan, called the tribe “a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward” (Genesis 49:17). The prophecy probably had reference to the fact that it would be the Danites who first introduced the Satanic practice of idolatry into Israel on a regular official basis (Judges 18:30,31). As he uttered the prophecy, Jacob surely would have recalled the primeval promise of the coming Seed of the woman, whose heel would be bitten by the Serpent (Satan), but who would in turn finally crush the Serpent’s head and bring eternal salvation (Genesis 3:15). It was in reference to this Messianic promise that he had just spoken to Judah. It is natural, therefore, that right at this point, he would cry out: “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD!” It might not be out of line to suggest that he was even personifying God’s coming salvation and saying: I have waited for Jesus, O LORD!”
49:19 Gad. Gad’s territory was on the east of the Jordan, often attacked by the warlike descendants of Ishmael, Esau and others. However, they were valiant fighters and usually prevailed.
49:20 Asher. Asher’s western border was the northern sea coast and the northern border near Sidon of the Phoenicians. These circumstances tended to produce both material prosperity and spiritual degeneracy.
49:21 Naphtali. Barak was probably the greatest leader from the tribe of Naphtali (Judges 4:6), but the tribe as a whole was characterized by both courage and eloquence. Note the song of Deborah and Barak (Judges 5).
49:26 everlasting hills. No hills could be everlasting, of course. The Hebrew word is olam, and is better translated “ancient.” The hills of Canaan presumably dated back some seven hundred years or more to the time of the great Flood.
49:26 head of Joseph. It is a significant fulfillment of prophecy that the two sons on whom Jacob pronounced the longest and fullest blessings later became the two dominant tribes in Israel, Judah and Ephraim.