In Genesis 49:1, sons of Jacob gathered at his request that he may tell them what would 'befall them' in ''the last days,''which I understand being peculiar as an endtimes' reference.

So when Jacob comes to Judah, in addition to other utterances, he pronounces a messianic blessing in the following verse;

Genesis 49:10
The sceptre 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.

According to reformed theology, how does this particular verse bear upon believers in these endtimes? If at all.

Because in Genesis 49:10, it clearly distinguishes 'Judah' as a 'lawgiver,'' which role also Psalm 60:7 & Psalm 108 affirm, while 'Ephraim' is the strength of God's head.

Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of my head; Judah is my lawgiver;(Psalm 60:7)

To my understanding this isn't a casual comparison between Judah and Ephraim, since we as christians see the result of 'Judah' being a lawgiver among all the nations.

Putting it differently, according to christianity, Jews have missed Messiah's birth, since a part of that prophecy has come true in ''Judah'', and that is, from Judah came one who is Messiah, a belief which is the life and the foundation of christianity. Yet that prophecy doesn't end with ''Judah,'' but with ''Shiloh,'' which latter in many places is associated with the northern kingdom in words like ''strength of my head'' in Psalm 60 and 108, but which northern kingdom ( Ephraim) is ''NOT a people,'' long before the coming of ''Judah,'' ref;Isaiah 7:8.
Could it be the same with christians, that while we point at Jews for their oversight, we have as well misunderstood this character of 'shiloh' in Genesis 49:10, who is portrayed in the above Psalms as being in the same honour as 'Judah' atleast as far as Judah's sceptre is concerned?

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for taking the site tour. What do you mean, "since one side of it in 'Judah' already has"? This question could use some clarification as to exactly what you're asking. For some tips on writing good questions here, please see: How do I ask a good question? Feb 10, 2017 at 23:27
  • A part of that prophecy has come true in ''Judah'', according to christianity, and that is, from Judah came one who is Messiah, a belief which is the life and the foundation of christianity. Yet that prophecy doesn't end with ''Judah,'' but with ''Shiloh,'' which latter in many places is associated with the northern kingdom in words like ''strength of my head'' in Psalm 60 and 108, but which northern( Ephraim) is ''NOT,'' long before the coming of ''Judah,'' ref;Isaiah 7:8. And so, I asked if Christians are still in the dark concerning the whole truth of Genesis 49:10.
    – Ted O
    Feb 11, 2017 at 11:57
  • Is your question "Are Christians misunderstanding who Shiloh is?" or "How does this verse apply to Christians today?"? Also, your assumption that the phrase "last days" refers to the end times of this world as we know it is not the only Reformed position, and while I can address this more fully in an answer once I know exactly what you are asking, another view is that the "last days" can also refer to the last days of the Old Covenant, between the ascension of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
    – Birdie
    Feb 12, 2017 at 0:52
  • Perhaps your question is more along the lines of "Does Genesis 49:10 have any current fulfillment for the church today, or has it already been completely fulfilled in a past time?"
    – Birdie
    Feb 12, 2017 at 0:54
  • @ Birdie I suppose that's true, and if you have an explanation then let's hear it.
    – Ted O
    Feb 12, 2017 at 12:14

3 Answers 3


Jewish scholars admit that the meaning of the Masoretic Text in Genesis 49:10 is obscure. In some interpretations "Shiloh" is understood to mean "shai loh" - "tribute to him". This would be more consistent with the Septuagint, which is based on a Hebrew text centuries older than the Masoretic Text:

A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of nations.

This verse could be interpreted to refer to the first coming of Christ, not the end times, since when Christ was born a ruler had, in fact, failed to come from Judah: Herod's father was an Edomite who had converted to Judaism and was therefore not from the tribe of Judah.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Your answer does throw some interesting light on that verse. The question itself is a bit broad and far-ranging for this site, but your answer does seem to respond to one of its questions about whether we have misunderstood the character of Shiloh in Genesis 49:10. Feb 13, 2017 at 1:22
  • Thx for the input. We've a problem however in this particular translation relative to similar scriptures that touch on the nature of this rulership. A familiar place being about a ''lamp'' to David being FOREVER before God, a lamp is a ''son'', ref; 2 Ch 21:7. According to this translation as I read it, shiloh's coming apparently breaks that oath in the adverb ''until.'' I consider the sceptor of Judah to refer to the devine laws and not the secular government as that has long ended, but the verse says that will NEVER be, Psa 60:7 & 108:8 affirming! Partly fulfilled in ''Judah's laws''!
    – Ted O
    Feb 13, 2017 at 4:46

In "The Last Days" by Ward Fenley, he says the following:

In order to determine whether we are in the last days, we should determine how the phrase was originally used in the Hebrew Scriptures. This will help us immensely in regard to our interpretation of the New Testament usage of the term "last days." First, I would like to consider the first usage of the phrase "last days" and consider those who are primarily addressed:

Gen 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.

Jacob, in this swan song, basically pronounced the general evil that would come upon the twelve tribes. So, clearly, Israel is the subject of the last days and the last days concern the Jews.

This means that in the Genesis 49 passage, what is being discussed is the last days of the Israelites. The last days of the Israelites occurred after Jesus' ascension, up until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This is consistent with New Testament passages which talk about how the current generation of that time was in the last days.

Such a position is also taken by John Lightfoot, Milton S. Terry, John Owen, J. Stuart Russell and many others of Reformed heritage.

This affects our understanding of the rest of the passage as referring to the end times of the Israelites, and thus not directly applicable to the modern church. In addition,

until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

is typically understood to be a reference to the coming of Christ. This is also consistent with the last days being just after Christ; until Christ came and gathered the elect out of Israel before destroying Jerusalem and the Israelite nation, Judah was the giver of the law, and the location of Jerusalem, the centre of religion in the Israelite nation.

  • Thanks for your, response, however I have an issue with your view concerning the ''last days.'' Since you limit the prophecy to the Jews only, to what then are these ''last days'' a reference to? |Because in most respects the 12 sons of Jacob still 'are' in their descendants, mixed, granted. Also the coming of a shiloh is represented as a positive thing for the unbelievers , that is he comes to ''gather'' all nations/peoples. But NOT so the return of Messiah! His return is written as being bad news for all the unconverted, including Jews , Himself says so! Rev 1:7. So who is this 'shiloh'?
    – Ted O
    Feb 13, 2017 at 3:55
  • The last days are the last days of the Israelite nation and the Old Covenant administration. They started at the ascension of Christ or thereabouts, and finished with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., putting an end to the Israelite nation and Old Covenant administration. The coming of Christ IS a positive thing for all nations/people, but not necessarily for unbelievers who remain so. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that the coming of Shiloh is a positive thing for unbelievers, not sure where you get that idea from. Shiloh is Christ, the Prince of Peace.
    – Birdie
    Feb 13, 2017 at 4:10
  • @TedO if you want to talk about this in chat further, come to chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1167/the-upper-room and we can talk more :)
    – Birdie
    Feb 13, 2017 at 4:11
  • shiloh is signified in several places as being distinct from Judah's line of descendancy, clearly associated with the northern 'Ephraim' in Psalm 108 and Psalm 60 where Judah is said to be a 'lawgiver,' the 'light' to the nations., Ephraim is the 'strength' of the God's head, that is the 'majority of the God's rulers in the earth.'' Yet 'Ephraim wasn't a 'people'(Isaiah 7:8) when Messiah was born. Do you see where this leads? There's lots to say but, see you in chat if you so wish, thanks for the invite, I am still gropping for my way around the site so my apologies in advance.
    – Ted O
    Feb 13, 2017 at 22:58
  • If you do make it to the chat, type @Birdie and your message to notify me. I don't see any other reference to Shiloh in the Bible as a person except in Genesis 49, so I don't know where you get any other meaning for Shiloh outside of that passage. Psalm 108 and Psalm 60 don't mention Shiloh by name.
    – Birdie
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:27

Here is what the Jewish scholar Rashi has to say on this verse:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah: prophetic; the line of the kings will remain unbroken from David on down

until Shiloh come: 1) the King Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs 2) the combination of two words "shy" and "lo", a gift to him, possibly related to Psalm 76:12 "and they shall bring a gift to Him who is to be feared"

unto him shall the gathering: a number of nations who unite to serve God under the single banner of the King Messiah.

Actually, with these interpretations, from a famous Jewish scholar, I find the predictions for Christ early in the Pentateuch to be quite convincing. The Jews' contention wouldn't be with the title or the role, but with Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of prophesy.

  • Many thanks for your input. I understand that 'shiloh' is one of contention b'se it appears in a construct state, however, in any case it turns out as denominative, at the very least, which aspect changes nothing as to that character being a REALITY, just as Judah, whom Christians & scriptures associate with the sceptre or lawgiving. And by lawgiving it refers to the ''devine laws,'' not the secular government based upon these, since the latter setting has long ended with the old Judea, as well as their secular set up having been not for all the 'peoples.' But sceptre concerns all ppls!
    – Ted O
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:50
  • Yet in all Judah's generations, 'she' was & still is the source of the devine laws in all the earth, and which remains EVEN at the coming of this 'shiloh,' though to him is said to be the gathering of all the peoples, which gathering I understand not being flesh but in knowledge as 'Judah' put in Matthew 23:37
    – Ted O
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:54
  • It would help your answer to take the Jewish scholar's position you have presented and show how it conforms to reformed theology, which is the perspective that this question asks for. Feb 13, 2017 at 17:08
  • @Ted O. The Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashiach; however, when referring to the Messiah as an indefinite name, Jews use the feminine name Shechinah ["ch" in both cases like Chanukkah]--the Divine presence in exile. As it turns out, I'm a Jewish to Catholic convert, and I don't much about reformed theology outside of Calvinism and differences in the real presence.
    – Stu W
    Feb 13, 2017 at 20:12
  • @Stu W. Good to know a little about you. I also was raised catholic and changed to the 'reformed' camp. I am aware of the label of messiah being a reference to an operation rather than to a title, and such there are many messiahs in creation(Ez 28:14). But I use it for the sake of being on 'common ground' with many who aren't into these things, yet have come this far as to the name. Now I don't see how that is a problem, yourself knowing what maschiach means, b'se one is a''lawgiver,'' another a ''gatherer,'' Psa 60:7, both do it by the power of the Most High, that is, anointed (mashiachs)
    – Ted O
    Feb 13, 2017 at 22:36

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