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JACOB'S BLESSING ON JUDAH.
188. We come now to the consideration of a very important section of the Jehovistic writer, which contains the Blessing of Jacob upon his sons, and will furnish us with some decisive signs of time, if regarded, like the other predictions,—on the relations of Edom and Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh, — as a vaticinium ex evento, a piece of historical narrative, referring to facts contemporary with the writer. With respect to most of the tribes, indeed, so little is here said, and so little is known to us about them from other sources, that we cannot expect to obtain, from a consideration of the words addressed to each of them, any distinct indications of time. But in the case of three tribes, Levi, Judah, and Joseph, and slightly, perhaps, in that of one or two others, we do find such signs. We shall first consider at length the blessings' pronounced on these three tribes, beginning with that on Judah, and add a few remarks upon the others and on the Blessing generally.
He stooped, he couched as a lion,
There can scarcely be a doubt that the above passage refers to the position of the tribe of Judah in David's reign. It contains plain references to the martial spirit and prowess of David, -to the flourishing state of Judah under his rule, to the fact that his struggles still continued either within or without his kingdom,—and it expresses the confidence which the writer felt that he would ultimately triumph over all opposition. Under Solomon, indeed, the splendour of the kingdom of Judah was greatest. But Solomon was a peaceful king, and in respect of power he fell short of his father, and was unable, as we have seen (148–161), to maintain his hold on Syria and Edom, which had been subdued by David.
190. Before David's time the tribe of Judah was not distinguished. It is not even named in the Song of Deborah, Ju.v, having been probably from its position especially exposed to the inroads of the Philistines, and having taken no part in Barak’s great victory, in which the northern tribes were chiefly concerned. We read of the Ammonites attacking Judah, Ju.x.9 ; and in Ju.xv.10–13, we find the men of Judah'ignobly recognising the lordship of the Philistines, and binding Samson to deliver him into their hands. In xx.18-21, when all Israel was gathered “from Dan to Beersheba 'to punish the Benjamites, Judah was sent out first against Benjamin, and was utterly routed. When Saul numbered his troops in Bezek, the men of
Judah are reckoned as one in ten of the men of Israel, 1S.xi.8, and one in twenty at Telaim, 1S.xv.4. And so we come to the time of David, when his brethren bowed' to Judah.
191. But the Blessing' here addressed to Judah has a trumpet-sound of war in it as well as a full tone of royaltv
“Thy hand is on the neck of thy foes ;
And as a lioness,—who shall rouse him ?' Such language may very well have been used to describe David's exploits, as recorded in 2.S.v,viii, where we are told how David 'took the stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites,' v.7, and went on and grew great,' v.10, and “smote the Philistines at Baal-Perazim,' v.20, and again from Geba until thou come to Gezer,' v.25, and smote them again and subdued them, viii.l, and ‘smote Moab, — ' and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground, even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive,' v.2,and smote also Hadadezer king of Zobah,' v.3, and when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour him, slew of the Syrians also 22,000 men,' and— 'put garrisons in Edom, and all they of Edom became David's servants,' v.14– with other such conquests.
192. We lay it down then as certain that the words of • Jacob's Blessing' now before us were written with reference to David's time—and at a period, as we have said, when he was still exposed to danger, or harassed by difficulties, from within or from without. The expression, 'the obedience of the peoples, may be understood as applying only to the tribes of Israel, comp. v.16, xxviii.3; or it may be understood of the subjugation of the nations round-about, as Moab and Edom; and the distinct reference to David's victories seems to make the last the most probable supposition. He was to go on, 'conquering
and to conquer,' until his hand should be on the neck of every foe,
* Until he come to Shiloh,
And to him be the obedience of the peoples.' Thus we can fix the date of the composition of this section with tolerable precision, as, at all events, after B.c.1046, the tenth year of David's reign.
193. But what is the exact meaning of the clause just quoted, · Until he come to Shiloh'?
I will first quote a very striking passage in which Dr. KURTZ justifies, in opposition to the violent denunciations of HengSTENBERG, his own translation of the clause in question.
The structure of the tenth verse will only allow of the word Shiloh being rendered as the object; for, if we render it as the subject of the verb- until Shiloh come'-we at once destroy the parallelism of thought between the two clauses, and this parallelism is required by the arrangement of the verse. In the two clauses, 'till the Messiah comes,' and 'to him the obedience of the nations,' there is no parallelism at all, but merely a progress in the thought. If, however, we regard Shiloh as the object, and take Judah as the subject from the previous clause, the two clauses 'till Judah come to rest,' and the obedience of the nations shall be his,'harmonize admirably; for the obedience of the nations, who cheerfully and without resistance submit to Judah's rule, forms a part of the rest,' which Judah is to enjoy after the victorious conflict just before described. ii. p.41.
The meaning of the prophecy is that Judah shall remain in uninterrupted possession of the rank of prince among his brethren, until through conflict and victory he has reached the object, and made the fullest display of his supremacy, in his own enjoyment of peaceful rest, and the cheerful obedience of the nations to his rule. Hence the terminus ad quem, which is mentioned here, does not set before us the limits or the termination of his supremacy, but rather the commencement of his secure and irresistible sway. And from this it follows quite as naturally, that the victory gained by Judah, and the blessings of peace which he secures, are shared by his brethren in all their fulness, because he fights as the prince and champion of his brethren. And not only so, but the blessings of this peace must be extended necessarily to all the nations who now cheerfully obey him. p.46.
Since the above was written, the passage before us has been most elaborately expounded by HENGSTENBERG. And, as my mode of treating the subject is keenly criticised, and warmly opposed, I am induced to add the following supplementary remarks. HENGSTENBERG's work has left me more than erer convinced of the correctness of my views, and the fallacy of those advocated by him; and his retractions, so far from improving his theory, have rather tended to deteriorate it. But the author has written in so confident a tone, made his assertions with such unbending determination, and heaped up such an overwhelming abundance of supposed proofs, that any reader, who does not examine his arguments with the most critical care, is likely to be dazzled and carried away by them.
He says . The most superficial objections have been considered by HOFMANN, Kurtz, and others, sufficient to induce them to disregard the consensus of the whole Christian Church. We cannot, indeed, but be astonished at this.' I leave my readers to judge whether my reasons are superficial' or not. I do not think them superficial. But I am more concerned about the charge that I have set at nought the common consent of the whole Christian Church. I attach as much importance to the assurance, that I am supported by the common consent of the whole Christian Church, even in matters of exegesis, as my honoured opponent,-perhaps rather more ; and I believe that my writings will bear comparison in this respect with those of HENGSTENBERG. Take, for example, his subtle and trifling remarks on the signs and wonders in Egypt, especially on the last plague. In this and many other instances, he has disregarded not only the consensus of the whole Christian Church, but that of all sound grammatical and historical interpretation, at which I was not the only one, or the first, to feel astonishment. No one, indeed, will deny, and least of all HENGSTENBERG himself, that even a Christian-minded commentator may and must deviate in many cases from the traditional exegesis. The consensus of the whole Christian Church has understood Ps.xxii.16 to refer to a piercing of the hands and the feet; but HENGSTENBERG, in his later writings, has disregarded this consensus. Many persons who have thus felt themselves deprived of one of the most cherished, most important, and most convincing predictions of the sufferings of Christ, have probably been as much surprised at this, as HENGSTENBERG himself at my interpretation of Gen.xlix. 10. And yet he is undoubtedly in the right.
But let us look more closely at the common consent of the Christian Church in reference to G.xlix.10. It is true, the early Christian Church without exception referred this passage to a personal Messiah, and so did the ancient synagogue, but on the ground of a decidedly false rendering of the word in question, and one which HENGSTENBERG is no less confident in pronouncing false than I am, viz. the rendering given by the Septuagint and Vulgate. It is absurd for a man to boast of the consensus of the Church, when he has pronounced the very basis on which it rests, erroneous,-in other words, has pronounced the consensus itself to be without foundation. ii.p.63,64.
HENGSTENBERG has left the field of scientific discussion, and made a very cutting appeal to my conscience. I am far from denying that any one has a right to do this. But, before bringing against another charges so sweeping as those of ‘naturalism,' of 'shaping history,' destroying prophecy,' and sacrilegiously 'wishing to teach God wisdom,'—charges, which, as HENGSTENBERG might well hare known, would go to my heart like a two-edged sword, - it is a duty to weigh