The Scepter Of Judah

Q. Thanks for the continued good work.
Please explain Gen.49:10 … The scepter shall not depart from Judah … I have read somewhere that this refers in some way to the Roman occupation of Judea at the time of Christ’s coming.

A. The entire verse reads, The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is his. (Genesis 49:10)

This prophecy was given to Judah by his father Israel, as Israel lay dying in Egypt. It meant that someone from the Tribe of Judah would govern over the nation of Israel continuously until the Messiah came. (Some translations use the word Shiloh in referring to the Messiah in this passage.)

Centuries later, when the nation Israel, called Judea then, asked Rome for help in defending themselves against outside aggressors, Rome agreed, using the opportunity to establish a foothold in the Middle East. Within a few years they had muscled their way into Israel themselves.

In a negotiated agreement, Rome let the Jews remain a self-governing part of the Empire as long as there wasn’t any unrest among the populace. In return, the Jewish leaders agreed to certain restrictions on their autonomy, such as the administration of capital punishment, and gave Rome the right to impose taxes upon the Jewish people.

This was viewed by some religious leaders as relinquishing their sovereignty as a nation, and they paraded through the streets of Jerusalem in sackcloth and ashes crying, “The scepter has departed from Judah and Shiloh has not come.” They believed that God’s word had been broken. But Shiloh had come. Jesus was a boy in Nazareth at the time.

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