|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 14||Part 1|
Genesis 49:10, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall belong the gathering of the people."
The Christians argue from this verse, that the patriarch Jacob did hereby prophesy the coming of Jesus, whom he (Jacob) called Shiloh, and through him (Jesus) the prophecy was fulfilled; for the scepter did not depart from the Jews until Jesus appeared: with Him only departed royalty from the Jews.
The Refutation.—The Christians labor under the misconception, that Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah, and king of the Jews. Now, were this interpretation the true one, how can they reconcile it with the fact, that the scepter did not depart from Judah at the advent of the so-called Shiloh? Moreover, we find that Judah lost the sovereignty at the destruction of the first temple, when Nebuchadnezzar led Zedekiah, king of Judah, into captivity; an event which happened 430 years anterior to the birth of Jesus. During the existence of the second temple, however, we find no indication that a descendant of Judah governed Israel. Herod and his descendant, who occupied the throne until the fall of the second temple, were of low birth, and belonged not to the tribe of Judah. How can they, therefore, maintain that the scepter had not departed from Judah, nor royalty from Israel, until the coming of Jesus?
In investigating the true sense of the words, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah (meaning the tribe of Judah), we perceive, that the patriarch Jacob, by his blessing, bequeathed to Judah the supremacy over his brethren. Accordingly, he says, Genesis 49:8, "The children of thy father shall bow down to thee;" and on this account he compares him with the lion as the king among the animals. Hence we find the tribe of Judah taking the precedence in the encampments (see Numbers 10:13, et. seq.), "And Nashon, the prince of that tribe, was admitted on the first day [of the dedication of the tabernacle] to offer up his sacrifice" (see Numbers 7:12). Subsequently, when Joshua was dead, and the Israelites inquired of the Lord, Judges 1:1, "Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first to fight against them? The Lord said, Judah shall go up," etc. From these passages it appears, that, after the leader had left the tribes without a successor, they inquired which of them should assume the rule and precedency, and the Almighty awarded it to the tribe of Judah who, 1 Chronicles 5:2, was the most powerful among his brethren. This superiority may be ascribed to David, who said of himself, 1 Chronicles 28:4, "The Lord chose me before the house of my fathers to be king over Israel for ever; for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah the house of my father, among the sons of my father he willed to make me king over all Israel." From David the royalty descended to Zedekiah, king of Judah, who was of the seed of David. With this king the sovereignty departed from the tribe of Judah. There remained during the whole series of the two captivities only a few dignitaries as princes and chiefs of the captivities who had been denominated by the patriarch Jacob מְחוֹקְקִים (law-givers).
During the existence of the second temple, and also at the time when the priests and their subordinates ruled, there were found princes, descended from David and from the lineage of Zerubbabel, as is stated in the work "Seder Ngolam Zuta."
It is true, we find that originally King Saul was elected ruler, though not descending from the tribe of Judah, but from that of Benjamin; but, at that period, it was against the desire of the Almighty to admit a king. On that account he would not have a king chosen from the tribe to which the promise of a permanent dynasty had been given; and He appointed for them a king who should occupy the throne only for a short time. To this fact Scripture alludes, Hosea 13:11, "I gave thee a king in mine anger, and removed him in my wrath," for he and his children were slain, and the sway departed from him. All this misfortune came to pass, because the Israelites had desired a king in the time of Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, who was their judge and leader: hence we find in 1 Samuel 8:7, "for they have not rejected thee, but me they have rejected from ruling over them." Yet, even in the times of Samuel, the dignity of the leadership was not totally removed from the tribe of Judah, for David was the man who conducted Israel to battle. Hence we must interpret the words "The scepter shall not depart from Judah," according to their literal sense, viz., that the scepter of royalty shall not be taken from Judah as long as the kingdom shall last. And the words "nor a lawgiver from between his feet," viz., that the lawgivers shall not depart, must have reference to the sages and scribes who, being from the seed of Judah; were rulers and leaders during the captivity; for the chiefs of the captivity were descendants of David, and the majority of our exiles were from the tribe of Judah, and many of them were of the lineage of David. They distinguished themselves as scholars and theologians, i.e. sages and scribes, and therefore they were called lawgivers, in the same manner as Moses, the "chief of the prophets," is called in the Hebrew מְחֹקֵק, "lawgiver," (see Deuteronomy 33:21). For there is the portion of the lawgiver concealed, "and he led the heads of the people, and executed the justice of the Lord, and His judgments with Israel." We see, also, in Judges, "From Nachir descended lawgivers, and from Zebulon those who handle the pen of the scribe," which refers again to the sages and the learned who were the rulers of their people. The words from "his feet" are synonymous with his seed. The word שִׁילֹה (Shiloh) signifies the youngest child, or the last child, and is derived from the same root as וּבְשִׁלְיָתָהּ (and towards her young one, Deuteronomy 28:57), which the Chaldee version renders "and towards the youngest of her children." The term Shiloh, refers to our expected king, Messiah, and who will appear in the latter days and be one of the seed of Judah. The words until Shiloh shall come, do not mean that at the coming of Shiloh, the scepter shall immediately depart; but, on the contrary, that it shall not depart thereafter. The word עַד ( until) is used in the same sense in the following instances, (Genesis 28:15), "For I will not leave thee until I shall have done what I have promised unto thee;" and (Deuteronomy 7:24), "No man shall be able to stand before thee until thou shalt have destroyed them." The word יִקְּהַת meaning "authority," in the verse of Genesis under consideration recurs in the Proverbs, 30:17. The supreme power and authority of the Messiah alluded to in Jacob’s prophecy is predicted, also, in Daniel, who says "And all rulers shall serve and obey him."