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Joseph's Birthright #3

Birthright Given


JUDAH'S SEPTRE AND JOSEPH'S BIRTHRIGHT

by Allen (1917)


CHAPTER III.

THE SCEPTRE AND THE BIRTHRIGHT


     Simply to show the fact that there is in Biblical history
that which is styled the Sceptre, and also that there is a
something which is designated as the Birthright, we quote the
following: "The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, etc."--Gen.
49:10. "For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him comes
the chief ruler (prince); but the Birthright is Joseph's."--1
Chron.5:2.
     That the Sceptre blessings, privileges, and promises pertain
to Judah, from whom comes the royal family of Israel's race, is
well known, and its import somewhat fully comprehended in the
realm of light and knowledge as disseminated through Christendom.
     But that which is called the Birthright has not, in the
past, been understood at all, and as yet is understood but by the
few. And the very few who have written on themes which involved
the Birthright have assumed that their readers were as wise as
they, and have written concerning the Birthright without
explaining what it was; hence, the reader is compelled to receive
their use and application of the word without knowing it to be
correct.
     When we say that the word Birthright implies that which
comes by right of birth, or as an inheritance, all will agree
with us; but just what special inheritance is referred to as that
which is declared, in the above text, to be the right of Joseph,
few will understand until the matter is explained. Hence we give
the following.

     In the first covenant which the Lord made with Abraham,
there are two distinct features, in so far as concerns his
children; first, a multiplicity of seed, as involved in the
following: "I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make
nations of thee;" second, a royal line, the promise of which is
given as follows "Kings shall come out of thee." Hence these
covenant promises and blessings, which had been given him direct
from the Lord, became the lawful heritage of Abraham.
     This heritage which was given from God to a human being
seems to have in it both a human and a divine right; the human
right being that a son of the heritage-holder may succeed the
father and become the lawful possessor of the inheritance; the
divine right being that of choice among the legal posterity of
the heritage-holder.
     After this heritage was given, Isaac was the first heir in
the line of succession, and he was also the one whom the Lord had
chosen as the inheritor of that which had been given to his
father. At the time of Abraham's death he was the father, not
only of Isaac, but of six other lawful sons, who were the
children of Keturah, his second wife. Notwithstanding this fact,
the divine record declares that he gave all his possessions to
Isaac, the son of Sarah. "Abraham gave all that he had unto
Isaac."--Gen.25:5.
     Isaac became the heir because he was the first born among
the lawful sons of Abraham; hence those possessions came to him
as the right of the first-born, or by right of birth, i.e., as a
Birthright. And, if Isaac was heir to all that Abraham had, then,
aside from all else which may have come into his possession, he
was most certainly heir of that God-given heritage, the covenants
of promise which contained these two distinct features - a
multitude of people and a royal line.

     Esau, the son of Isaac and brother of Jacob, having been
born first, for he was the elder of twins, was next in the line
of succession, and being the elder or firstborn, came into
possession of the Birthright. Thus he had a birthright at his
disposal, but instead of keeping it, and allowing it, in turn, to
become the property of his first-born son, he undervalued it, and
sold it to his brother Jacob, who, being the younger, could not
have acquired it by right of birth.
     The right of Esau to sell the birthright has never been
questioned; his wisdom in selling it may well be questioned. The
fact that Jacob, who became anxious to obtain that birthright,
felt that he must not only make the purchase from Esau, its
lawful owner, but also knew that he must deceive their father in
order that he might secure from him the accompanying blessing, is
proof positive that the Birthright was the lawful inheritance of
Esau.
     Moreover, when Jacob went in unto Isaac in the disguise
which he and his mother had devised, he went with a lie on his
lips, and said to his father, "I am Esau thy first born." But
Isaac was distrustful; the hands felt all right, but the voice
aroused suspicion. So the blind father asked, "Art thou my very
son Esau?" Again Jacob answered in the affirmative.

     What was he after? That which belonged to the first-born.
What did he get? That which belonged to the firstborn.
     He had not only bought it from the first-born himself, but
also had deluded the father into bestowing upon him the blessing
which made the purchase secure from the human side; for when
Isaac found that Jacob had secured the blessing from him by
subtility, he could not revoke it.
     That word "blessing" seems to be the word which attaches
itself to the receiver and inheritor of even these covenant
promises which pertain wholly to earthly things. For God had said
to Abraham "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I
will multiply thee." It is also recorded that "God blessed Isaac
saying I will bless thee, * * * and I will make thy seed to
multiply as the stars." Esau's sad cry was exceedingly bitter
over his disappointment when he found that Jacob had supplanted
him, but Isaac was compelled to say to him, "I have blessed him
(Jacob) and he shall be blessed." So it is recorded: "And Isaac
called Jacob and blessed him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not
take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram,
to the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father; and take thee a
wife from thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother.
And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply
thee, that thou mayst be a multitude of people; and I will give
thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with
thee."--Gen.28:1-4.

     Thus we see that this blessing, as given to Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, carries with it the promise of a numerous posterity;
also, that the "blessing of Abraham" was given to Jacob by his
father Isaac, who was the direct inheritor of the Abrahamic
heritage; and that, while Isaac in fact gave it to Jacob, he
intended it for Esau, his first-born son, to whom it belonged by
right of birth. If it belonged to him because he was the
first-born, then it was his "birthright." And since he sold his
birthright to Jacob, who thus became its possessor, Jacob and not
Esau must become the father of that promised multitude of people
which is contained in the Birthright; i.e., the covenant promise
to Abraham.
     In truth Esau could justly say: "Is he not rightly named
Jacob? (supplanter) for he hath supplanted me these two times: he
took away my birthright; and, behold now he hath taken away my
blessing."
     Although Jacob had received from his father the much coveted
blessing, which carried with it the inheritance of the Birthright
promises, he was dissatisfied, and seemed to hold those blessings
as insecure until they had been ratified to him directly by the
blessing of God. Having secured them by fraud, he knew that he
was holding them under the protest of both his father and his
outraged brother.

     So much from the human side. On the divine side, God
intended that Jacob should have the birthright, for, as we have
already shown, he chose Jacob in preference to Esau before they
were born. Had Jacob trusted God, he would have placed him in
possession of the birthright in a perfectly honorable way; but
he, in distrust, took matters into his own hands, and gained
possession of it by wicked conniving.
     It was because of this that he had more trouble to secure
the blessing of God upon his possession of this inheritance than
had his predecessors, and though he wrestled for it with the
angel all the night long, he did not secure it until he had first
confessed his name which was expressive of his character - to be
Jacob, i.e., supplanter. Then it was that God bestowed the
blessing, took away that reproachful name, and gave him a new and
unstained one, even Israel: the meaning of which is: "As a prince
thou hast prevailed with God."

     The next legal inheritor of the Birthright was Reuben, the
first-born son of Jacob and Leah, his first wife; but he, like
Esau, lost it; and Joseph, the firstborn son of Rachel, the
second and best loved wife of Jacob, succeeded his father in the
possession of it. But that we are right in saying that the
first-born is the legal inheritor, is evident from the fact that
Reuben, the first born son of Jacob, is declared to have been
heir to the birthright. This is made clear in the Biblical
account of the entertainment which was given by Joseph to his
brethren, when they came into Egypt the second time to buy food
and brought Benjamin with them; for when the feast was ready, and
Joseph - who had not yet revealed to them the fact that he was
their brother - gave the word, "Set on bread," it is said of the
servants, who, it seems, had previously been instructed, that,
"They sat before him the first-born according to his Birthright,
and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marveled one
at another."--Gen.43:33.
     The fact that Reuben was the first born and possessor of the
Birthright, and the cause of his losing it, are set forth in
connection with the declaration that the Birthright had been
given to Joseph, as follows: "Now the sons of Reuben, (for he was
the first-born; but forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his
birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and
the genealogy [of Reuben's sons] is not to be reckoned after the
Birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him is
the chief ruler; but the birthright is Joseph's.) The sons of
Reuben the first-born of Israel were, etc."--1 Chron.5:I-3.
     If our readers would know just why this act should have
caused Reuben to forfeit his birthright, they must be able to
read between the lines. We are only at liberty to say that, after
that act, if either Reuben or his probable first-born had come
into possession of the Israelitish birthright, the Lord could not
have declared, as he did concerning Israel, "I planted thee a
noble vine, wholly a right seed."
     To Isaac and to Israel God had confirmed the covenants of
promise in their entirety, including in the confirmation the
promise of the land, a multiplicity of seed, the one seed, or the
Messianic covenant, and a royal line; but you will note from the
Scripture just quoted, that the promise of a royal line, which,
as the sacred story proceeds, is clearly shown to contain the
Messianic covenant, had been separated from the birthright, and
given to Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, while the
birthright fell to Joseph. This individual separation of the
Sceptre and the Birthright took place just previous to the death
of Jacob, who had these blessings at his disposal. Not, however,
as his own selfwill or human judgment might suggest, but only as
God should direct; for the history of the people involved is a
divine work from start to finish, and its ultimate object is the
glory of God in the vindication of his word.
     The call of Abraham and the giving of the promises to him
were supernatural; for God had appeared unto and talked with him.
The production of Isaac was also supernatural. No human
possibility was there. But the possibility of faith was there,
and it prevailed. The conception, and the birth of Jacob and Esau
were also supernatural, for there were "two nations," two
distinct races, - a white child and a red one - Caucassian and
Arabic, in one womb; and the manner of their birth was so
supernaturally manipulated, that, as they struggled in the womb,
Jacob held Esau's heel, and thus they were born: the very manner
of which, as we hope to show, is one of the most striking types
in all the Word of God. And yet, none of these events are any
more supernatural, nor attended with any greater manifest power
of God, nor is his will any more clearly manifest in them, than
is the transfer of the Sceptre, and the Birthright, by dying
Jacob, to Judah and to Joseph.
     At the time of Jacob's death, all Israel was in Egypt living
in the land of Goshen. When it was reported to Joseph that his
father was dying, he took with him his two sons, and hastened to
the bedside of the dying patriarch. But when Joseph and his sons
were ushered into the presence of the dying man, it appears that
supernatural strength, from the one who had given him the name of
Israel, was given him, for, although dying, it is recorded, that
"He strengthened himself and sat up in the bed." Then discovering
that Joseph was not alone he asked, "Who are these?" to which
Joseph replied, saying, "They are my sons, whom God hath given me
in this place," i. e., Egypt.
     After Joseph had explained to Jacob, concerning his
half-blood Egyptian boys, - Joseph had married an Egyptian woman
- then Jacob proceeded to adopt them as his own legal sons; at
which time he said: "And now thy two sons Ephraim and Manasseh,
which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto
thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be
mine." (Gen.48:5.) But after the adoption was completed he said
to Joseph, concerning the issue which should be begotten of him
after them, "They shall be thine," but they "shall be called
after their brethren in their inheritance." So it is that the
tribal names of all the posterity of Joseph are dealt with, both
from a historic and a prophetic standpoint, as Ephraim and
Manasseh. Do not forget that, for upon it depends much of
interest in that which is to follow.
     It would appear that, at the time of the adoption or prior
to it, the Holy Ghost had told Jacob that Ephraim was the one
which had been chosen by the Lord as the inheritor of the
birthright, or the blessing of the first born. For at that time,
the name of Ephraim, the younger, was mentioned before Manasseh,
the older; as also the name of Reuben, who was the real first
born, is mentioned first when his name is coupled with that of
Simeon. But the transfer of the birthright from his eldest to his
younger son was not made known to Joseph until after he had
presented his sons before Israel for the promised blessing.
     Jacob had said, "I will bless them." So when Joseph brought
them to him, and bowed himself with his face to the earth, he
held Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left, and Manasseh
in his left hand to the right hand of Jacob. Joseph in his human
calculation, was managing so as to have Manasseh his first born
get that promised "blessing" which was in Jacob's right hand. His
thought was, "If I take Manasseh in my left hand, that will bring
him to the right of my father, so that, even if he is blind, when
he stretches forth his hands to give the blessing, his right hand
will rest on the head of my first born son."
     But no! Look ! As Jacob reaches out his hands to lay them in
blessing upon those two heads, he being under the inspiration 'of
the Holy Ghost,' is "guiding his hands wittingly," i. e.,
knowingly, crosses them and lets his right hand rest upon the
head of Ephraim, the younger brother. They were in this position
when "he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long
unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless
the lads; and let my name (Israel) be named on them, and the name
of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow into a
multitude in the midst of the earth." These were the collective
blessings which those two received; together they inherited the
names of the racial fathers; together they are to grow into a
multitude of people.

     At this juncture Joseph noticed that Jacob's right hand was
not resting on Manasseh's head, and wanted to remove it, but
Jacob refused, saying "Not so."
     "But," says the anxious Joseph, "You have your right hand on
my younger son's head."
     To this, Jacob replied, "I know it, my son, I know it."
     How does Jacob know it?  He is in a dying condition and
blind. Ah, the Spirit - the Spirit of Prophecy - is upon him!
See what follows.   
     Jacob does not remove his hands, nor change their position;
but with his left hand still on Manasseh's head, and his right
hand on Ephraim's head, he continues to prophesy; still the
prophecies are no longer collective, but special and individual. 
Of Manasseh he declares, "He shall also become a people (nation)
and he shall also be great; but truly his younger brother shall
be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of
nations.  And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall
Israel bless, saying: God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh;
and he set Ephraim before Manasseh."--Gen.48:19,20.

     So Ephraim was set before Manasseh, both nationally and
tribally; but they were to grow together until they became a
multitude of people in the midst of the earth. Eventually
Manasseh was to become a separate nation, and as such was to be a
great nation. But Ephraim was to become a multitude of nations,
or as some translate it, "a company of nations"; in either case
this is a reiteration and confirmation of the promise made to
Abraham.
     In his tribal relations, also, Ephraim was placed before his
elder brother, because he was elevated to the inheritance which
was forfeited by Reuben, the firstborn of Israel. This is why God
declares "I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born."
Jer.31:9.
     While the spirit of prophecy was still upon Jacob, he called
all his sons together to tell them what their posterity should
become "in the last days." Among other prophetic utterances, of
which we shall speak later, was the following concerning Judah
and the Sceptre: "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."--Gen.49:10.

     Whatever else the Birthright may have contained, or if God
ever did count those other blessings and promises as belonging to
the Birthright, one thing is certain; that is, that when the
Birthright passed into the possession of Joseph and his sons, it
was stripped bare of all else, save the oft-repeated promises
which pertain to a multiplicity of seed for Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob. Hence, when it was recorded in the Chronicles that the
Birthright was Joseph's, it was understood that from the loins of
Joseph's sons must come seed, posterity, people. Yea, multitudes,
nations - "many nations," even races of people.
     This is the crucial test. Since the promise of the
fatherhood of many nations, which was given successively to
Abraham and Jacob, was inherited and sold by Esau, then inherited
and forfeited by Reuben, but finally given to Joseph and his two
sons, and never revoked, then, we say, that the crucial test; not
only for the faithfulness of God, but also for the integrity of
his Word, is that Joseph, through Ephraim and Manasseh, must of
necessity become the father of those many nations which were
promised to the fathers of Israel.

     But the fact that Joseph must become the father of those
promised nations is not only the crucial test of God and his
Word, but it is also a test of the power and worth of FAITH; "By
faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph."
Heb.11:21. What was that for which Jacob put forth faith when he
blessed the sons of Joseph? It was that they should grow to be a
multitude in the midst of the earth and eventually become that
which the Birthright demanded that is, a multitude of nations. It
was this Birthright, the fatherhood of many nations, that Esau
sold.
..........

To be continued


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