Genesis 49:13
Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
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(13) Zebulun . . . —“Sea” is plural in the Heb., and is rightly so rendered in the Syriac. The territory of the tribe lay upon the inland sea of Gennesaret, but did not extend to the shore of the Mediterranean. We do not know of any literal fulfilment of the prediction, but Moses also speaks of Zebulun and Issachar as tribes that would “suck of the abundance of the seas.” It is very possible that, living in the neighbourhood of the Phœnicians, they took part in maritime pursuits; and thus the general meaning of the blessing may be that Zebulun would be a tribe, not of agriculturists, but of traders. It is also remarkable that Tyre, which was much nearer the tribe of Zebulun, and was the leading city in David’s time, is not mentioned, but only the more ancient town of Sidon.

Genesis 49:13. Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea — This was fulfilled, when, two or three hundred years after, the land of Canaan was divided by lot, and the “border of Zebulun went up toward the sea,” Joshua 19:11.

49:13-18 Concerning Zebulun: if prophecy says, Zebulun shall be a haven of ships, be sure Providence will so plant him. God appoints the bounds of our habitation. It is our wisdom and duty to accommodate ourselves to our lot, and to improve it; if Zebulun dwell at the heaven of the sea, let him be for a haven of ships. Concerning Issachar: he saw that the land was pleasant, yielding not only pleasant prospects, but pleasant fruits to recompense his toils. Let us, with an eye of faith, see the heavenly rest to be good, and that land of promise to be pleasant; this will make our present services easy. Dan should, by art, and policy, and surprise, gain advantages against his enemies, like a serpent biting the heel of the traveller. Jacob, almost spent, and ready to faint, relieves himself with those words, I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord! The salvation he waited for was Christ, the promised Seed; now that he was going to be gathered to his people, he breathes after Him to whom the gathering of the people shall be. He declared plainly that he sought heaven, the better country, Heb 11:13,14. Now he is going to enjoy the salvation, he comforts himself that he had waited for the salvation. Christ, as our way to heaven, is to be waited on; and heaven, as our rest in Christ, is to be waited for. It is the comfort of a dying saint thus to have waited for the salvation of the Lord; for then he shall have what he has been waiting for.Zebulun means "dwelling," to which there is an allusion in the first clause of the verse. "At the haven of seas." This tribe touched upon the coast of the sea of Kinnereth and of the Mediterranean. It probably possessed some havens for shipping near the promontory of Karmel: and its northwestern boundary touched upon Phoenicia, the territory of Zidon. He is placed before Issakar, who was older, because the latter sank into a subordinate position.Ge 49:13. Zebulun was to have its lot on the seacoast, close to Zidon, and to engage, like that state, in maritime pursuits and commerce. Acknowledge here and adore the Divine Providence, which directed Jacob thus exactly to foretell the portion of Zebulun, which fell to them two hundred years after this, and that not by choice, or any design of men, but merely by lot. His portion was extended from the sea of Galilee to the great Mediterranean Sea, and to such parts of it where there were convenient havens.

His border shall be unto Zidon; or, his side or coast, to wit, that which is upon the Mediterranean Sea, in near Zidon, understanding not the city, but the territory belonging to it, unto which that tribe reached upon the sea-coast; for though Asher might seem to intercept them, yet he did not reach to the sea. Or, his coast looks towards Zidon, hath it in view, and lies commodiously for commerce with that great city, which then was the mart of the nations.

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea,.... Of the sea of Galilee, sometimes called the sea of Tiberias and of Gennesaret; and of the Mediterranean sea; and accordingly we find that the border of this tribe, when settled in the land of Canaan, was toward the sea, Joshua 19:10 and this was done, not at the discretion of Joshua, or at the choice of this tribe, but by lot; and which shows that Jacob said this under a spirit of prophecy, and which had its fulfilment two hundred years after; and is a full proof of the prescience and providence of God; and who, as he sets the bounds of the people, or of the nations of the world, and of the tribes of Israel, so the bounds of the habitations of particular persons, Acts 17:26 and he shall be for an haven of ships; shall have good ports commodious for ships to station in, and to cover them from storms and tempests; this tribe being situated by the sea shore (b):

and his border shall be unto Zidon; not the city Zidon, for the tribe of Zebulun reached no further than Carmel, as Josephus observes;"the Zebulunites (says he) obtained the land from Carmel, and the sea to the lake of Gennesaret.''Now Carmel was forty miles at least from Zidon; but Phoenicia is meant, of which Zidon was the chief city; and so the Septuagint in Isaiah 23:2 put Phoenicia instead of Zidon; and whereas Carmel was the border of this tribe that way, it is also said by Jerom (d) to be the border of Phoenicia; so that Zebulun reaching to Carmel, its border may be truly said to be to Zidon or Phoenicia.

(b) "in litore maris", V. L. "ad litus marium", Drusius, Cocceius, Schmidt. (d) Comment. in Amos, 9. 3.

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
13. shall dwell] For the play probably intended on one of the meanings of Zebulun, see note on Genesis 30:20.

haven] Rather, as R.V. marg., Heb. beach or shore. The same word is used to describe the beach washed by the sea (Joshua 9:1), and the shore which is sought by the ships. Zebulun’s territory evidently at one time included the coast line. In Joshua 19:10-16 the tribe of Asher comes in between Zebulun and the Mediterranean. In Jdg 5:17 it is Asher who is abiding by “the haven of the sea.” But, in Deuteronomy 33:18-19, Zebulun is joined with Issachar in sucking “the treasure of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

upon] or, by. See note on Genesis 48:7. Delitzsch understood the preposition to mean “towards.” The versions, Sam., LXX, Vulg., Syr. Pesh., render “up to,” “as far as,” following a different reading (‘ad, for ‘al). “Border,” better “flank,” or “further side.”

Zidon] The famous Phoenician capital whose neighbourhood must have been a source of wealth to the nearest Israelite tribe. See note on Genesis 10:15.

Verse 13. - Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; - not παρ ὅρμον πλοίων (LXX.), in statione navium (Vulgate), but to, or at, or beside, the. shore (from the idea of being washed by the waters of the ocean) of the waters, i.e. of the Galilean and Mediterranean seas - and he shall be for an haven of ships; - literally, and he to, at, or on, a shore of ships, i.e. a shore where ships are unloaded (so. shall dwell), the words being a repetition of the previous thought, with only the expansion, suggested by the term ships, that Zebulun's calling should be in the direction of commerce; - and his border shall be unto Zidon - literally, and his side, or hinder part (sc. shall be, or extend), towards, rather than unto, - usque ad (Vulgate), ἕως (LXX.), - Zidon, since the territory subsequently allotted to Zebulun neither actually touched the Mediterranean, nor reached to Zidon - a circumstance that may be noted as an indirect hint that this prophecy was not spoken, or even first written, after the occupation of the land. Genesis 49:13Zebulun, to the shore of the ocean will he dwell, and indeed (והוּא isque) towards the coast of ships, and his side towards Zidon (directed up to Zidon)." This blessing on Leah's sixth son interprets the name Zebulun (i.e., dwelling) as an omen, not so much to show the tribe its dwelling-place in Canaan, as to point out the blessing which it would receive from the situation of its inheritance (compare Deuteronomy 33:19). So far as the territory allotted to the tribe of Zebulun under Joshua can be ascertained from the boundaries and towns mentioned in Joshua 19:10-16, it neither reached to the Mediterranean, nor touched directly upon Zidon (see my Comm. on Joshua). It really lay between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean, near to both, but separated from the former by Naphtali, from the latter by Asher. So far was this announcement, therefore, from being a vaticinium ex eventu taken from the geographical position of the tribe, that it contains a decided testimony to the fact that Jacob's blessing was not written after the time of Joshua. ימּים denotes, not the two seas mentioned above, but, as Judges 5:17 proves, the Mediterranean, as a great ocean (Genesis 1:10). "The coast of ships:" i.e., where ships are unloaded, and land the treasures of the distant parts of the world for the inhabitants of the maritime and inland provinces (Deuteronomy 33:19). Zidon, as the old capital, stands for Phoenicia itself.
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