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Genesis 49

49
1Jacob called his sons together, and said, “Gather round so I can tell you what's going to happen to you in the future. 2Come here, sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.
3Reuben. You are my firstborn, conceived when I was strong, born when I was vigorous! You were above all others in position, above all others in power. 4But you boil over like water, so you won't be above anyone anymore, because you went and slept with my concubine;#49:4. See 35:22. you violated my marriage bed.
5Simeon and Levi are two of the same kind—they use their weapons for destructive violence.#49:5. See 34:25. 6I refuse to be part of their decisions; I refuse to participate in what they do. For they killed men in their anger; they crippled cattle just for fun. 7I curse their anger because it is too harsh; I curse their fury because it is too cruel! I will separate their descendants throughout Jacob; I will scatter them throughout Israel.
8Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will defeat your enemies. Your father's sons shall bow down to you in respect. 9My son Judah is a young lion coming back from eating its prey. He crouches and lies down like a lion. Like a lion, who would dare to disturb him? 10Judah will always hold the scepter, and the staff of authority will always be at his feet until Shiloh#49:10. “Shiloh”: there is considerable disagreement among commentators over this word. Many see this as a prophecy relating to the Messiah. comes; the nations will obey him. 11He ties his donkey to the vine, his donkey's colt to the best vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the red juice of grapes.#49:11. The intent of this verse is that the descendants of Judah would have such prosperity that they could afford to tie donkeys to their vines and have so much wine they could wash their clothes with it. 12His eyes sparkle more than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.
13Zebulun will live on the seashore and provide a harbor for ships; his territory will extend towards Sidon.
14Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two saddle bags.#49:14. “Saddle bags”: or, “sheepfolds.” 15He sees that the place where he's resting is good, and the land is lovely, so he's willing to lower his back to accept the burden and to work as a slave.
16Dan will judge#49:16. Dan means judge, see 30:6. his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan will be as dangerous as a snake beside the road, a viper by the path that bites the horse's heel, throwing its rider off backwards.
18I trust in you to save me, Lord.
19Raiders will attack Gad, but he will attack their heels.
20Asher will have delicious food—he'll produce fancy food for royalty.
21Naphtali is a deer that's free to run; it gives birth to beautiful fawns.#49:21. “Gives birth to beautiful fawns”: or “gives beautiful words.”
22Joseph is a fruitful tree, a fruitful tree beside a spring, whose branches climb over the wall. 23The archers viciously attacked him; they shot their arrows at him with hate. 24But he held his bow steady, and his arms and hands moved quickly in the strength of the Mighty One of Jacob, who is called the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. 25The God of your father will help you and the Almighty will bless you with blessings from the heavens above, with blessings from the depths below, with blessings for many children.#49:25. “Many children”: literally “breasts and womb.” 26The blessings your father received were greater than the blessings of his forefathers, more than the blessings of the eternal mountains.#49:26. The Hebrew of this verse is unclear. May they be upon the head of Joseph, on the forehead of the one set apart as a leader from his brothers.
27Benjamin is a vicious wolf. In the morning he destroys his enemies,#49:27. “Destroys his enemies”: literally “eats the prey.” in the evening he divides the loot.”
28These are all of the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father told them as he blessed them, each according to their respective blessings.
29Then he gave them the following instructions: “I'm going to die soon. Bury me with my forefathers 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 together with the field from Ephron the Hittite to own as a burial site. 31Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there, Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there, and I buried Leah there. 32The field and the cave were bought from the Hittites.”
33When Jacob finished giving these instructions he pulled up his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and joined his forefathers in death.
49
Chapter 49
Jacob blesses his sons
1Then Jacob called for all his sons. He said, ‘Come here to me. Then I can tell you what will happen to you, in future years. 2You sons of Jacob, come together now and listen to your father, Israel.’ #49:2 Jacob calls himself by both his old name, ‘Jacob’, and the new name that God has given to him, ‘Israel’. He says what is going to happen to each of his sons and to their descendants.
Reuben
3Jacob said, ‘Reuben you are my firstborn son. You were born first, when I was a strong young man. Of all my sons, you are the most famous and the strongest.
4Yet you are as wild as the sea. You had sex with your father's slave wife. This bad thing brought me shame. So you will not become great. #49:4 See Genesis 35:22.
Simeon and Levi
5Simeon and Levi are brothers. They use their swords as weapons to destroy people. #49:5 See Genesis 34:26.
6I will not join them when they decide to do bad things. I will not meet with them. They have killed people when they are angry. They have hurt animals because it makes them happy.
7Their anger is so strong that God will curse them. Their anger makes them do cruel things. So God will curse them. I will make your descendants separate from one another. They will live all over the country of Israel.
Judah
8Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will win against your enemies. Your father's sons will bend down towards the ground in front of you.
9Judah is like a young lion who has eaten good food. He has eaten what he killed and now he rests. Nobody would want to try and wake him up!
10Judah's descendants will always rule as king. They will continue to hold the stick and the sceptre that show the king's authority. They will do that until the man comes who truly has that authority. People from all nations will obey that king. #49:10 King David was from the tribe of Judah, and so was Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true King who rules for ever. A sceptre is something that a king holds. Its shape is like a stick with a ball on the top.
11Judah will tie his young donkey to a vine. It will be a vine that has the best grapes. He will wash his clothes in the red wine that is made from those grapes. #49:11 Vines were valuable plants in Old Testament times. Jacob is saying that Judah will be very rich. He will tie his donkey to the best of his valuable plants. He will wash his clothes in wine. He will be very rich.
12His eyes will become red because he drinks so much wine. His teeth will become white because he drinks so much milk.#49:12 Jacob is saying that Judah will have plenty of everything.
Zebulun
13Zebulun will live by the shore of the sea. His town will be a safe place for ships to stay. His land will go as far as Sidon.
Issachar
14Issachar is like a strong donkey that is lying down between two of its bags.
15He will see that he has a good place to live, with good land. Then he will agree to work hard. He will work like a slave for other people. #49:15 Jacob is saying that Issachar is strong. He is saying that he will work like a donkey. Donkeys carry heavy things in their bags. Issachar will work for other people, to get food and a nice place to stay.
Dan
16Dan will be a ruler for his people. His descendants will be equal with the other tribes of Israel. #49:16 The tribe of Dan was a small tribe, but they had the same authority as all the other tribes.
17He will be small and dangerous, like a snake that lies beside the road. He will be like a snake that bites the legs of horses so that the riders fall off.
18I trust you to save me from trouble, Lord. #49:18 Jacob prays for himself and then he continues.
Gad
19Robbers will attack Gad, but he will fight back against them.
Asher
20Asher will have much good food. It will be good enough for kings to eat.
Naphtali
21Naphtali is like a deer that runs freely and gives birth to beautiful babies.
Joseph
22Joseph is like a vine that has lots of fruit. It grows near a well and its branches go over a wall. #49:22 Jacob means that Joseph's descendants will go and live all over the land.
23His enemies will attack him with arrows. 24But he will hold his own bow strongly. He will shoot his arrows well. The Mighty One of Jacob will give Joseph strength. God, who is Israel's Shepherd and Rock, will help him. #49:24 Mighty One means the God who is very strong. It is a name for the Lord God. Shepherd is also a name for God (see Genesis 48:15). Rock of Israel, means that God is strong and does not change. Jacob knows that God will continue to help Joseph.
25The Almighty God, the God of your father, will help you and he will bless you. He will give you rain that comes from the sky above. He will give you water that comes up from below the ground. He will cause you and your animals to give birth to many children. That is how God will bless you.
26The blessings that I, your father, give to you are great! They are greater than any good things that the old mountains or hills can give to you. They are special blessings for you, Joseph, because you are the leader of your brothers.
Benjamin
27Benjamin is like a hungry wolf. He kills an animal and eats it in the morning. In the evening, he gives what remains to his people.’ #49:27 Jacob is saying that Benjamin will go out and kill his enemies in the morning. And he will return in the evening. In the evening, he will give what he has taken from his enemies to his people.
28All these are the 12 tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He told each of his sons what was right for them and their descendants. #49:28 The descendants of each of Jacob's sons would become a separate group of people. Those are the tribes of Israel (Jacob).
Jacob dies and Joseph buries him
29Then Jacob said to his 12 sons, ‘I am soon going to die. You must take my dead body back to Canaan. Bury me there with my ancestors. Bury me in the cave in the field that belonged to Ephron the Hittite. 30The cave is at Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan. Abraham bought this cave from Ephron as a place to bury his family. 31That is where they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah. They also buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah there. I buried Leah there too. 32Abraham bought the cave and the field from the Hittites.’ 33Jacob finished telling his sons what they should do. Then he lay down on his bed again. He breathed for the last time and he died there.