“The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh arrives, and his will be an assembly of nations.” – Genesis 49:10
Missionaries quote this verse in an effort to prove the alleged messiah-ship of Jesus. The missionary argues that this verse predicts that the tribe of Judah will not lose political power until the coming of the Messiah (Shiloh). Since the tribe of Judah no longer possesses any political power, the Messiah must have already arrived.
The fallacies of this argument are manifold. It is obvious (and missionaries agree) that the Messiah is to come from the tribe of Judah. The prediction contained within this verse is that even unto the coming of the Messiah, Judah’s descendants will occupy positions of leadership. This does not mean that with the coming of the Messiah, this will cease to be. On the contrary, Judah’s descendant, the Messiah, will occupy a most prominent position of leadership.
Now we must ask ourselves if Jesus was from the tribe of Judah? If Jesus had no human father – as the Christians claim, then the answer is clearly – no. (According to an ancient Jewish tradition, Jesus’ was fathered by a gentile.) The last chapter of the book of Numbers makes it abundantly clear, that tribal lineage follows the father. If Jesus’ father was not from the tribe of Judah, then Jesus did not belong to the tribe of Judah. If Jesus was not from the tribe of Judah, then this verse itself tells us that he was not the Messiah.
Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that long before Jesus arrived on the scene, the tribe of Judah had ceased to produce political leaders. With the death of King Zedekiah, (five centuries before the birth of Jesus) the political scepter of leadership departed from the tribe of Judah. This fact does not negate the prophecy of Jacob. It is understood that the terms “rod” and “lawgiver” can apply within the limited sense of internal Jewish leadership, as opposed to political leadership in the international sense. Although the Jewish people lost their independence to the Babylonian conquerors, the rod had still not departed from Judah. Since the Jewish nation retained their national identity, they still looked to their own leaders for guidance on internal matters. In every generation since the Babylonian invasion, many of the Jewish leaders were from the tribe of Judah. This fact holds true until today, thus Jacob’s prophecy is still being fulfilled.