Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the last group of Jacob's twelve sons mentioned in his prophecy with blessing, the group composed of Joseph and Benjamin (49:22-27). The twelve tribes of the sons of Jacob in the Old Testament are always grouped together. In Numbers 2 we see the arrangement of the twelve tribes around the tabernacle: Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun on the east; Reuben, Simeon, and Gad on the south; Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin on the west; and Dan, Asher, and Naphtali on the north.
Among the twelve sons of Jacob, only three were types of Christ: Judah, Joseph, and Benjamin. Judah was a type of Christ as the overcoming victorious Lion. Joseph was a type of Christ as the beloved Son of the Father bringing all the riches to feed the world. Benjamin was a type of the ascended, exalted Christ. When he was born, his mother called him Benoni, which means "son of sorrow," but his father changed his name to Benjamin, which means "son of the right hand." Therefore, Judah, Joseph, and Benjamin typify Christ in a full way. Although Reuben was the firstborn, he lost the birthright because of his defilement. Hence, in God's administration, Judah took the lead. However, without Joseph and Benjamin, the history and significance of the twelve tribes of Jacob would have no conclusion. Joseph and Benjamin provide an adequate, full conclusion of the history of the twelve sons of Jacob.
The twelve sons of Jacob are a complete type of God's people, including all of us. We have seen that the history of God's people begins with sinners, for we were all sinners like Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. Reuben was full of lust, and Simeon and Levi were full of anger. Thus, the history of God's people began with sinners who were full of lust and anger. Then came Christ, typified by Judah. Later Naphtali appeared as a hind set loose and giving beautiful words. If the history of God's people ended with Naphtali, it would be good, but not adequate. For an adequate conclusion both Joseph and Benjamin are needed.
This history of God's people begins with sinners. Eventually these sinners are transformed into Levis with the priesthood and even into Judahs with the kingship. Then Naphtali, the resurrected Christ, brings forth beautiful words. This means that we once were Reubens and Simeons, but we need to be transformed into Levis, Judahs, and Naphtalis. Furthermore, we must go on to become Josephs and Benjamins.
Before we consider the significant aspects of Joseph and Benjamin, I wish to point out that Joseph and Benjamin, two sons born of one mother, Rachel, are two aspects of one person. When Jacob saw Rachel, he fell in love with her, and his heart was set on her. However, he did not firstly marry Rachel, but Leah, who brought forth six sons. Although children had also been born to the maids of Rachel and Leah, Rachel herself did not bear any children until ten sons had been born. Only then did Rachel give birth to Joseph, whose very name indicated that another was to be added. This signifies that in himself there was no completion with Joseph; there was the need of another part. Benjamin, therefore, was Joseph's completion. Thus, Joseph and Benjamin are one. If you read the Old Testament, you will see that it places Joseph and Benjamin together as a unit. Eventually, Joseph received the birthright and through his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, inherited the double portion of the land. In this way Joseph became two tribes, the tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Manasseh. Furthermore, the tribe of Manasseh received two portions of the land: one half of this tribe received land on the east of the Jordan River, and the other half received land on the west. Joseph and Benjamin are one. The fact that Joseph was the eleventh son and Benjamin, the twelfth indicates that they were close to each other in sequence. Thus, among the twelve sons, Joseph and Benjamin were the last pair. Later they became the three tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, which were encamped at the rear of God's dwelling place. Judah was the leading tribe in the front of the tabernacle, but Joseph was at the rear.
Let us now consider the significant aspects of this group. Joseph was very faithful, and he was absolutely victorious. According to the record of the Old Testament, Joseph was the first perfect person. No one who preceded him, including Noah, was perfect. But in Joseph we can find no fault; he was utterly perfect in his behavior. Joseph was perfect because he was altogether victorious. Furthermore, the Old Testament likens Joseph to an ox full of strength (Deut. 33:17, Heb.). He was not a fierce lion or a threatening wolf, but an ox full of strength. As an ox, Joseph had two horns: Ephraim and Manasseh. With these two horns Joseph will push the peoples together to the ends of the earth. This indicates that Joseph is strong in victory.
Joseph also trusted in God and believed in Him. Because Joseph was perfect and victorious, and because he trusted in God, God blessed him. No one in the Bible received a blessing greater than that given to Joseph. As we shall see, he was blessed with ten items in time and in space, with everything from eternity past to eternity future and from heaven to earth. Joseph received everything. The entire universe became a blessing to him.
Benjamin is described as a tearing wolf (49:27, Heb.). Also, God's dwelling place is with Benjamin (Deut. 33:12). Thus, Jacob's prophecy with blessing ends with the fullness of the universal blessing and with God's dwelling place. The end of Genesis 49 requires Revelation 21 and 22 for its complete development.
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