My favorite prophecy in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ, is found in Genesis 49:10.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
For the longest time I had very little understanding of what this prophetical utterance from Jacob, given at the point of his own death, really meant. We are all familiar with other prophecies regarding the Messiah, prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus, such as . . .
The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem --- (Micah 5:2).
The Messiah would be born of a virgin --- (Isaiah 7:14).
The Messiah would be existent before His birth --- (Micah 5:2).
The Messiah would suffer and die for His people by crucifixion --- (Isaiah 53:12).
The Messiah would become the righteousness of His people --- (Jeremiah 23:6).
But this prophecy, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be"(Genesis 49:10), has become my favorite.
Let me try to help you understand it by focusing on four key words or phrases:
Shiloh --- is the Jewish idiom (or name) for "the Messiah," and was often used by ancient Jewish writers in place of "the Messiah."
Judah --- is the name of Jacob's son, but even more importantly, became the name of the entire Southern Kingdom of Israel.
The sceptor --- is the tribal staff or the tribal identity of Judah. It's modern equivalent would be our "national flag" that would cease to exist if we were captured or conquered as a nation.
A lawgiver from between his feet --- is the ability of Judah (or the Southern Kingdom of Israel) to apply and enforce the Mosaic laws. In essence, for Judah to have a "lawgiver between his feet" was an idiomatic expression that spoke of Judah's right to adjudicate and administer capital punishment for violations of the Mosaic laws.
Using the above definitions, a simple descriptive translation of Genesis 49:10 would be as follows:
"The (national identity of Judah) shall not depart from Judah, nor (the ability to enforce Mosaic law, including the right to administer capital punishment) shall leave Judah, until Shiloh come." (Genesis 49:10).
Two questions must now be asked:
(1). WHEN did JUDAH lose her national identity?
(2). When did JUDAH lose the right to administer capital punishment?
According to Genesis 49:10, if you can identify those two dates or occasions, you will know that Shiloh has come.
Rome destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem (capital of Judah) in 70 AD. It was then that Judah ceased to exist as a nation. 70 AD was the culmination of years of conflict between the Jews and Rome.
But Judah's leaders had lost her ability to administer capital punishment for violations of the Mosaic law about 40 years earlier. The Romans took the "lawgiver ability" away from Judah in 30 A.D., though they allowed Judah to retain her national identity. The reason the Jewish leaders brought Jesus before the Romans is because they no longer had the power themselves to put him to death.
"A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews." The Talmud, folio 24.
Even the Jews themselves understand the significance of this loss
"Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come." The Sanhedrin as recorded by the Babylonian Talmud, Ch. 4, folio 37.
Oh, but Shiloh already had come.
Just a few years before Judah lost her ability to adjudicate and administer capital punishment, God revealed His Son, our Messiah, at Jordan. The heavens opened and God declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16). It was then Jesus' public ministry began. Less than three years later, at the Mount of Transfiguration, God reiterated what He had said of Jesus the Messiah at Jordan and then added these words, "Hear ye him" . The Messiah had been revealed. His words were to take precedence over Moses' words. The Old Covenant would shortly be fulfilled and abolished. The New Covenant would be ratified by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah - the Shiloh that Genesis 49:10 promised would come.
Jacob, under inspiration of God, gave his Shiloh prophecy nearly two thousand years BEFORE Jesus came to earth. Jesus is Shiloh, and just like the prophecy declared, He arrives on earth just prior to the loss of Judah's ability to administer capital punishment (30 AD) and to her loss of national identity (70 AD).
Our sins are forgiven because --- Shiloh has come.
Our lives have meaning because --- Shiloh has come.
Our Bible can be trusted because --- Shiloh has come.
As C.S. Lewis so eloqutently stated: "You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Jesus is the Son of God. He is my Lord.
Shiloh has come.
In His Grace,