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.