Genesis 49:10b—If Judah was to reign until the Messiah, why was Israel’s first king from the tribe of Benjamin?

Problem: Genesis 49:10 indicates that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes.” But history records that the first king of Israel (Saul) was from “the tribe of Benjamin” (Acts 13:21; cf. 1 Sam. 9:1–2).

Solution: This problem is predicated on the assumption that “Shiloh” is a reference to the Messiah. Some scholars take it to refer to the city in Ephraim where the Tabernacle of Moses was erected. On this interpretation, Judah was to be the leader of the 12 tribes all during the wilderness, until they came into the Promised Land.

Even if “Shiloh” is a reference to the Messiah, there is no real problem here, since the Messiah came from the tribe of Judah (cf. Matt. 1:1–3, 16; Rev. 5:5). In God’s eyes David (from the tribe of Judah), not Saul, was His choice for the first king of Israel (cf. 1 Sam. 15–16). So, the tribe of Judah was always the ruling line from which the Messiah was to come.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.