● Gen 49:1-4 . . And Jacob summoned his sons and said: Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come. Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob; hearken to Israel your father:
. . . Reuben, you are my first-born, my might and first fruit of my vigor, exceeding in rank and exceeding in honor. Unstable as water, you shall excel no longer; for when you mounted your father's bed, you brought disgrace-- my couch he mounted!
Reuben was clearly a reckless, impetuous individual ruled by the passions and impulses of human nature rather than better judgment. Compare Isa 57:20 where the ocean is depicted subject to the forces of nature rather than under its own control.
The affair to which Jacob referred occurred in Gen 35:22. Even today in modern industrial societies, it is not only unthinkable for a man to sleep with one of his father's wives; but even with one of his girlfriends. True, Bilhah and Jacob weren't officially married but still, she was the legal mother of two Israeli tribal heads: Dan and Naphtali.
Because of his illicit tryst, Reuben lost the firstborn's position (1Chrn 5:1) demonstrating once again that the biblical rank of firstborn isn't restricted to the son born first, but is a transferable status that can be bestowed upon a younger male sibling.
● Gen 49:5 . . Simeon and Levi are a pair; their weapons are tools of lawlessness.
With Rueben demoted, Simeon would have been next in primogeniture, and after him; Levi. But the two men are alike as peas in a pod and brothers in arms-- they're both criminals who simply cannot be trusted to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the honor and the dignity properly associated with the position of Israel's firstborn. If Reuben was water, then Simeon and Levi are leaky boats with no oars, no sail, no rudder, and no compass.
Ironically, Levi produced Aaron, Israel's line of high priests; and the whole tribe of Levi is exempt from war though they were sired by a bloody man. It would appear then, that the office of Israel's firstborn is far more sacred than any of the Levitical priests, including the Aaronic category.
NOTE: Moses descended from Levi. (Ex 2:1-10)
● Gen 49:6a . . Let not my person be included in their council, let not my being be counted in their assembly.
Simeon and Levi were not the kind of people from whom a sensible person would deem it wise to seek advice and counsel. In other words; they were a bad influence.
Jacob's initial reaction to the murders committed by two of his eldest sons back in chapter 34 was one of concern for his family's safety, and the effect the deed had upon his reputation in those parts. Not till now does he excoriate the two men for their conduct; and the denunciation is severe.
● Gen 49:6c . . For when angry they slay men, and when pleased they maim oxen.
Simeon and Levi not only committed malicious murders; but also took satisfaction in cruelty to animals. People like that always justify their cruelty by saying they're teaching the animal a lesson and/or breaking it of a bad habit. But in their case it's a lie. They're just heartless and violent; that's all.
One could almost excuse Cain for murdering his kid brother in a fit of rage because in his day there were no divine prohibitions against murder and/or manslaughter. But Simeon and Levi had no excuse. They didn't act upon a sudden provocation, and both of those men knew full well God prohibited murder and manslaughter because they lived many years after grandpa Noah came off the ark. (cf. Gen 9:5-6)
By all rights, Jacob should have had those two sons of his executed for what they did back in Shechem; but like they say: blood is thicker than water. Jacob let them get away with murder because they're kin, which is the sin of partiality; defined by Webster's as inclined to favor one party over another; viz: bias.
● Gen 49:7 . . Cursed be their anger so fierce, and their wrath so relentless. I will divide them in Jacob, scatter them in Israel.
Jacob was speaking for Yhvh in the last sentence; and the purpose of dividing and scattering was apparently to make it all the more difficult for the two tribes to unite in a dastardly cause.
Jacob cursed only his sons' anger rather than the sons-- actually, their category of anger; which he described as fierce and relentless.
Webster's defines "fierce" as a behavior exhibited by humans and animals that inspires terror because of the wild and menacing aspect of fury in attack. Ferocity is an aspect commonly seen among roaring, snarling lions savagely attacking prey. There's neither sportsmanship nor sympathy in ferocity; only sheer terror, brutality, and blood lust.
Webster's defines "relentless" as: 1) not softening or yielding in determination; viz: tough, hard, and stern, and 2) not letting up or weakening in vigor or pace; viz: constant, persistent.
The wrath of God is depicted in much the same way. (Isa 13:9)
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