[quote=Genesis 49:10]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.
*Or until Shiloh comes ; or until he comes to whom tribute belongs
When Jacob addressed his son Judah, according to another translation, he made this declaration in this way…
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.
It is generally agreed that the word ‘sceptre’ refers to the royal power and the name ‘Shiloh’ is a well-known title of the coming Messiah.
For example, in the Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Johanan comments…
The world was created for the sake of the Messiah, what is the Messiah’s name? The school of Rabbi Shila said 'his name is Shiloh, for it is written; until Shiloh come.
In other words, God promised that the tribe of Judah will not lose its sovereign right to govern before the appearance of Shiloh, the Messiah-- so the kingdom of Judah would posses the right to enforce capital punishment for criminals for example.
This is not a Christian interpretation. For example, a Jewish paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures, known as the Targum Onkelos, revealed a similar interpretation of Genesis 49:10 as follows…
The transmission of dominion shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children’s children, forever, until Messiah comes.
During all the centuries from Solomon until the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, Judah did indeed retain the ability to run its own courts as a sovereign power. Even during the seventy year captivity by the Babylonians, the Jewish people retained the ability to run their own courts and systems of religious laws. The same is true under the Persians, the Greek Seleucids, and the early years of Rome’s rule of Judea.
However, according to the history of Josephus in Antiquities 17:13, it was revealed that during the life of Jesus, Israel’s Sanhedrin court actually lost its power to judge capital cases (those involving the death penalty) after the Roman Caesar Augustus appointed a Roman procurator in A.D. 7 to directly rule Judea.
This testimony of Josephus is actually quite in agreement with the Christian Scriptural record which portrays the Sanhedrin as being subject to the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate…
[quote=John 18:28-32]Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
**“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” **
Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected.
This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
Consequently, when we look back to Genesis 49:10, we clearly see the fullfillment of this messianic prophecy quite well. The transmission of dominion did not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children’s children, forever-- that is, until Jesus the Messiah came.
In other words, the fact that Israel’s Sanhedrin court actually lost its power to judge capital cases (those involving the death penalty) after the Roman Caesar Augustus appointed a Roman procurator in A.D. 7 to directly rule Judea was in itself a sign that they were entering the Age of the Messiah-- that the Messiah was coming to them very soon.