O Naphtali, satisfied with favor - Though this may refer to the very great fertility of the country that fell to this tribe, yet certainly something more is intended. Scarcely any of the tribes was more particularly favored by the wondrous mercy and kindness of God, than this and the tribe of Zebulun. The light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shone brightly here, Matthew 4:13, Matthew 4:15, Matthew 4:16. Christ's chief residence was at Capernaum in this tribe, Matthew 9:1; Mark 2:1; and this city, through Christ's constant residence, and the mighty miracles he wrought in it, is represented as being exalted unto heaven, Matthew 11:23. And it is generally allowed that the apostles were principally of the tribe of Naphtali, who were to possess the west and the south - to dispense the Gospel through all the other tribes. The word ים yam, which we here translate west, literally signifies the sea, and probably refers to the sea of Gennesareth, which was in this tribe.
Satisfied with favor - Compare Genesis 49:21 and note.
The west and the south - i. e., taking the words as referring not to geographical position but to natural characteristics, “the sea and the sunny district.” The possession of Naphtali included nearly the whole west coast of the Sea of Galilee, the Lake of Merom, the modern Bahr el Hulch, and the well watered district near the springs of Jordan. It contained some of the grandest scenery and some of the most fertile land in Palestine. Josephus speaks of the shore of Gennesaret as “an earthly paradise;” and Porter describes it as “the garden of Palestine.” The modern name for this district, “land of good tidings,” is significant.
The blessing ended, Jacob gave his son the assurance—leaving for the generations to come, through long years of bondage and sorrow, this testimony to his faith—“Behold, I die; but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.” PP 235.1
At the last all the sons of Jacob were gathered about his dying bed. And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father,” “that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” Often and anxiously he had thought of their future, and had endeavored to picture to himself the history of the different tribes. Now as his children waited to receive his last blessing the Spirit of Inspiration rested upon him, and before him in prophetic vision the future of his descendants was unfolded. One after another the names of his sons were mentioned, the character of each was described, and the future history of the tribes was briefly foretold. PP 235.2
Thus the father pictured what should have been the position of Reuben as the first-born son; but his grievous sin at Edar had made him unworthy of the birthright blessing. Jacob continued— PP 235.4
The priesthood was apportioned to Levi, the kingdom and the Messianic promise to Judah, and the double portion of the inheritance to Joseph. The tribe of Reuben never rose to any eminence in Israel; it was not so numerous as Judah, Joseph, or Dan, and was among the first that were carried into captivity. PP 235.6
Next in age to Reuben were Simeon and Levi. They had been united in their cruelty toward the Shechemites, and they had also been the most guilty in the selling of Joseph. Concerning them it was declared— PP 235.7
At the numbering of Israel, just before their entrance to Canaan, Simeon was the smallest tribe. Moses, in his last blessing, made no reference to Simeon. In the settlement of Canaan this tribe had only a small portion of Judah's lot, and such families as afterward became powerful formed different colonies and settled in territory outside the borders of the Holy Land. Levi also received no inheritance except forty-eight cities scattered in different parts of the land. In the case of this tribe, however, their fidelity to Jehovah when the other tribes apostatized, secured their appointment to the sacred service of the sanctuary, and thus the curse was changed into a blessing. PP 235.9Read in context »