Judah’s Scepter

Jesus is that great Judean son.

Although peace was established by Judean kings such as David and Solomon, their reign could not establish it universally where “the obedience of the peoples” (v. 10) belonged to them, nor could they bring about a kingdom prosperity that provided eschatological abundance (vv. 11–12). They were a picture of a greater son of Judah, the true Prince of Peace, who brings the full blessing of His glorious kingdom. 

 

There is no doubt that Old Testament kingship reaches its climax with the rise of the Davidic monarchy. What is just as clear is that the promise of kingship did not begin with David. It goes back as far as Abraham. Recall that the Lord promised Abraham that “kings shall come from you” (Gen. 17:6), a promise that was reiterated with Jacob (35:11). This kingship promise takes on a prominent form in the final words of Jacob to his sons in Genesis 49, where he pronounces the blessing of dominion on Judah. Let’s consider this blessing of Jacob and how it anticipated the rise of kingship for the people of God.

In verse 8, Judah is made the object of praise and endowed with worldwide dominion. Verse 9 continues this portrayal of Judah’s rule by vividly depicting him as a young, growing lion that has hunted down its prey, has returned to its den with its kill, and rests in power where no one dares challenge him.

This leads to the intriguing images in verse 10. Jacob associates two symbols of kingship with Judah: a “scepter” (Num. 24:17; Isa. 11:4; Ps. 45:6; Zech. 10:11) and a “ruler’s staff” (Num. 21:18; Ps. 60:7). The phrase “from between his feet” is a euphemism for the male reproductive organ (Judges 3:24; 1 Sam. 24:3; Isa. 7:20) and thus represents Judah’s progeny. In other words, a Judean will always be a national commander of God’s people. This will remain true “until Shiloh comes” (Gen. 49:10, NKJV).

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