Jacob Blesses His Sons
1 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
2 “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords[a] are weapons of violence.
6 Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
8 “Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.[e]
13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend toward Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.[g]
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labor.
16 “Dan[h] will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward.
18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.
19 “Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.[j]
22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.[k]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
The Death of Jacob
29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.[p]”
33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
- Genesis 49:5 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
- Genesis 49:8 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise.
- Genesis 49:10 Or from his descendants
- Genesis 49:10 Or to whom tribute belongs; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
- Genesis 49:12 Or will be dull from wine, / his teeth white from milk
- Genesis 49:14 Or strong
- Genesis 49:14 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags
- Genesis 49:16 Dan here means he provides justice.
- Genesis 49:19 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for attack and also for band of raiders.
- Genesis 49:21 Or free; / he utters beautiful words
- Genesis 49:22 Or Joseph is a wild colt, / a wild colt near a spring, / a wild donkey on a terraced hill
- Genesis 49:24 Or archers will attack … will shoot … will remain … will stay
- Genesis 49:25 Hebrew Shaddai
- Genesis 49:26 Or of my progenitors, / as great as
- Genesis 49:26 Or of the one separated from
- Genesis 49:32 Or the descendants of Heth
As Jacob lies on his death bed, he blesses his sons, establishing the 12 tribes of Israel and giving the first foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Jacob then requests to be buries on the field of Machpelah (in Hebron), along with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and his first wife Leah.
As the Age of the Patriarchs comes to a close, we can trace the threads of the generations:
We have Adam, created in God’s image, to Noah and his family. Everyone else perishes in the flood.
From the sons of Noah, we can trace to Terah in Ur, father of Abraham.
Then Isaac and Jacob.
Jacob’s sons make up the twelve tribes of Israel (literally the tribes of Jacob since God renamed him Israel.)
Judah, who became the tribe of Judah is a descendant of David, who is a descendant of Jesus. The first foreshadowing of Jesus is in verses 8 through 10:
8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.