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Genesis 49

49
Jacob’s Last Words to His Sons
1Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come.
2“Come and listen, you sons of Jacob;
listen to Israel, your father.
3“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength,
the child of my vigorous youth.
You are first in rank and first in power.
4But you are as unruly as a flood,
and you will be first no longer.
For you went to bed with my wife;
you defiled my marriage couch.
5“Simeon and Levi are two of a kind;
their weapons are instruments of violence.
6May I never join in their meetings;
may I never be a party to their plans.
For in their anger they murdered men,
and they crippled oxen just for sport.
7A curse on their anger, for it is fierce;
a curse on their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will scatter them among the descendants of Jacob;
I will disperse them throughout Israel.
8“Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You will grasp your enemies by the neck.
All your relatives will bow before you.
9Judah, my son, is a young lion
that has finished eating its prey.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down;
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants,#49:10a Hebrew from between his feet.
until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,#49:10b Or until tribute is brought to him and the peoples obey; traditionally rendered until Shiloh comes.
the one whom all nations will honor.
11He ties his foal to a grapevine,
the colt of his donkey to a choice vine.
He washes his clothes in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth are whiter than milk.
13“Zebulun will settle by the seashore
and will be a harbor for ships;
his borders will extend to Sidon.
14“Issachar is a sturdy donkey,
resting between two saddlepacks.#49:14 Or sheepfolds, or hearths.
15When he sees how good the countryside is
and how pleasant the land,
he will bend his shoulder to the load
and submit himself to hard labor.
16“Dan will govern his people,
like any other tribe in Israel.
17Dan will be a snake beside the road,
a poisonous viper along the path
that bites the horse’s hooves
so its rider is thrown off.
18I trust in you for salvation, O Lord!
19“Gad will be attacked by marauding bands,
but he will attack them when they retreat.
20“Asher will dine on rich foods
and produce food fit for kings.
21“Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.
22“Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey,
the foal of a wild donkey at a spring—
one of the wild donkeys on the ridge.#49:22 Or Joseph is a fruitful tree, / a fruitful tree beside a spring. / His branches reach over the wall. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
23Archers attacked him savagely;
they shot at him and harassed him.
24But his bow remained taut,
and his arms were strengthened
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
25May the God of your father help you;
may the Almighty bless you
with the blessings of the heavens above,
and blessings of the watery depths below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.
26May my fatherly blessings on you
surpass the blessings of my ancestors,#49:26 Or of the ancient mountains.
reaching to the heights of the eternal hills.
May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph,
who is a prince among his brothers.
27“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
devouring his enemies in the morning
and dividing his plunder in the evening.”
28These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he told his sons good-bye. He blessed each one with an appropriate message.
Jacob’s Death and Burial
29Then Jacob instructed them, “Soon I will die and join my ancestors. Bury me with my father and grandfather in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 30This is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a permanent burial site. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried. There Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, are buried. And there I buried Leah. 32It is the plot of land and the cave that my grandfather Abraham bought from the Hittites.”
33When Jacob had finished this charge to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and joined his ancestors in death.
49
Israel’s Prophecy concerning His Sons
1Then Jacob called for his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves [around me] that I may tell you what will happen to you and your descendants #See Deut 33, where Moses blesses the same tribes in a similar prophetic way.in the days to come.
2Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel (Jacob) your father.
3“Reuben, you are my #Reuben was the eldest of Jacob’s twelve sons and therefore entitled to the birthright, which would make him successor to his father as head of the family or tribe, and inheritor of a double portion of his father’s estate. But Reuben forfeited all this by his conduct with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (35:22). By adopting Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and giving each of them a portion of the inheritance, Jacob virtually gave Joseph the extra portion of the land that would have gone to Reuben. Judah became the tribal leader in Reuben’s place (49:8-10).firstborn;
My might, the beginning of my strength and vigor,
Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power [that should have been your birthright].
4But unstable and reckless and boiling over like water [in sinful lust], you shall #The fertile land once occupied by the tribe of Reuben was deserted by its settled inhabitants and given over to the tribal nomads of the desert. Because of his behavior, Reuben had forfeited his rights as the firstborn even before Jacob’s prophecy.not excel or have the preeminence [of the firstborn],
Because you went up to your father’s bed [with Bilhah];
You defiled it—he went up to my couch.
5“Simeon and Levi are brothers [equally headstrong, deceitful, vindictive, and cruel];
Their swords are weapons of violence and revenge.
6O my soul, do not come into their secret council;
Let not my glory (honor) be united with their assembly [for I knew nothing of their plot];
Because in their anger they killed men [an honored man, Shechem, and the Shechemites],
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
7Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce;
And their wrath, for it was cruel.
I will divide and disperse them in Jacob,
And #This prophecy was fulfilled when the tribe of Levi received no inheritance except forty-eight towns scattered throughout different parts of Canaan. The tribe of Simeon was originally given only a few towns and villages in the midst of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah (Josh 19:1).scatter them in [the midst of the land of] Israel.
8“Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
9Judah, a lion’s cub;
With the prey, my son, you have gone high up [the mountain].
He stooped down, he crouched like a lion,
And like a lion—who dares rouse him?
10The scepter [of royalty] shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes,
And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11Tying #I.e. the tribe of Judah.his foal to the [strong] vine
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washes his clothing in wine [because the grapevine produces abundantly],
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12His eyes are darker and sparkle more than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.
13“Zebulun shall dwell at the seashore;
And he shall be a haven (landing place) for ships,
And his flank shall be toward Sidon.
14“Issachar is [like] a strong-boned donkey,
Crouching down between the sheepfolds.
15When he saw that the resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear [burdens],
And became a servant at forced labor.
16“Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17Dan shall be a [venomous] serpent in the way,
A fanged snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
18I wait for Your salvation, O Lord.
19“As for #The Hebrew word from which the name “Gad” is derived has two meanings. In this verse the Hebrew meaning is associated with a “raiding troop” but in 30:11 it is associated with “good fortune.”Gad—a raiding troop shall raid him,
But he shall raid at their heels and assault them [victoriously].
20“Asher’s food [supply] shall be rich and bountiful,
And he shall yield and deliver royal delights.
21“Naphtali is a doe let loose, [a swift warrior,]
Which yields branched antlers (eloquent words).
22“Joseph is a fruitful bough (a main branch of the vine),
A fruitful bough by a spring (a well, a fountain);
Its branches run over the wall [influencing others].
23The [skilled] archers have bitterly attacked and provoked him;
They have shot [at him] and harassed him.
24But his bow remained firm and steady [in the Strength that does not fail],
For his arms were made strong and agile
By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
(By the name of the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the #Heb Shaddai.Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of the heavens above,
Blessings lying in the deep that couches beneath,
Blessings of the [nursing] breasts and of the [fertile] womb.
26The blessings of your father
Are greater than the blessings of my ancestors [Abraham and Isaac]
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
Even on the crown of the head of him who was the distinguished one and the one who is prince among (separate from) his brothers.
27“Benjamin is a #The tribe of Benjamin invariably displayed courage and ferocity, particularly in their war with the other tribes. The tribe of Benjamin was absorbed by the tribe of Judah and is not mentioned after the return from the Babylonian captivity, except in connection with its former land or as the source of some individual person. Ehud, Saul, Jonathan, and the apostle Paul were Benjamites.ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And at night he divides the spoil.”
28All these are the [beginnings of the] twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one according to the blessing appropriate to him. 29He charged them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30in the cave in the field at Machpelah, east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, that Abraham bought, along with the field from Ephron the Hittite, to possess as a burial site. 31There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah— 32the field and the cave that is in it was purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33When Jacob (Israel) had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was #See note 25:8.gathered to his people [who had preceded him in death].