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Genesis 49

49
CHAPTER 49
1Forsooth Jacob called his sons, and said to them, Be ye gathered together, that I tell what things shall come to you in the last days;
2be ye gathered [together], and hear, ye sons of Jacob, hear ye Israel your father.
3Reuben, my first begotten son, thou art my strength, and the beginning of my sorrow; thou oughtest to be the former in gifts, the more in lordship;
4thou art shed [or poured] out as water; wax thou not, for thou ascend-edest [or went up] on the bed of thy father, and defouledest his bed.
5Simeon and Levi, brethren, fighting vessels of wickedness;
6my soul come not into the counsel of them, and my glory be not in the congregation of them; for in their strong vengeance, they killed a man, and in their [own] will, they under-mined the wall;
7cursed be the strong vengeance of them, for it is obstinate, and the indignation of them, for it is hard; I shall part them in Jacob, and I shall scatter them in Israel.
8Judah, thy brethren shall praise thee, thine hands shall be in the nolls of thine enemies; the sons of thy father shall worship thee.
9Judah, the whelp of a lion; my son, thou hast gone up to the prey; thou restedest, and hast lain as a lion, and as a lioness, who shall raise him?
10The sceptre shall not be taken away from Judah, and a duke of his hip, till he come that shall be sent, and he shall be the abiding of heathen men;
11and he shall tie his colt at the vinery [or vineyard], and his she-ass at the vine; O! my son, he shall wash his stole in wine, and his mantle in the blood of the grape;
12his eyes be fairer than wine, and his teeth be whiter than milk.
13Zebulun shall dwell in the brink of the sea, and in the standing of ships; and he shall stretch till to Sidon.
14Issachar, a strong ass, lying betwixt [the] terms,
15saw rest, that it was good, and saw the land, that it was best, and he underset his shoulder to bear, and he was made serving to tributes#49:15 Either to rent, (Or to pay rent or taxes), as it is in Hebrew..
16Dan shall deem his people, as also another lineage in Israel.
17Dan be made a serpent in the way, and a cerastes, that is, an horned adder, in the path, and bite he the feet of an horse, that the rider of him fall backward;
18Lord, I shall abide thine health.
19Gad shall be girded, and he shall fight before him, and he shall be girded behind.
20Asher, his bread shall be fat, and he shall give delights to kings.
21Naphtali shall be an hart sent out, and giving speeches of fairness.
22Joseph, a son increasing, a son increasing, and fair in beholding; [the] daughters run about on the wall,
23but his brethren wrathed at him, and chided him, and they had darts, and had envy to him.
24His bow sat in the Strong, that is, the Lord, and the bonds of his arms and his hands were unbound by the hand of the mighty God of Jacob; of him a shepherd went out, the stone of Israel.
25God of thy father shall be thine helper, and Almighty God shall bless thee, with blessings of heaven from above, and with blessings of the sea lying beneath, with blessings of teats, and of the womb;
26the blessings of thy father be comforted, that is, be better than the blessings of his fathers, till the desire of everlasting hills came; blessings be made on the head of Joseph, and in the noll of Nazarite, that is, holy, among his brethren.
27Benjamin, a ravishing wolf, shall eat the prey early, and in the eventide he shall part spoils.
28All these were in [the] twelve kindreds of Israel; their father spake these things to them, and he blessed them all by proper blessings,
29and he commanded to them, and said, I am soon to be gathered to my people; bury ye me with my fathers in the double den, that is in the land of Ephron the Hittite,
30 that is, in the den in the field at Machpelah, against Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which den Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite, into possession of a sepulchre.
31There they buried him, and Sarah his wife; also Isaac was buried there, with Rebecca his wife; there also Leah lieth buried.
32(This verse is omitted in the original text.)
33And when the behests were ended, by which he taught his sons, he gathered together his feet on the bed, and died, and he was put to his people.

Genesis 49

49
Jacob’s Testament.#The testament, or farewell discourse, of Jacob, which has its closest parallel in Moses’ farewell in Dt 33:6–25. From his privileged position as a patriarch, he sees the future of his children (the eponymous ancestors of the tribes) and is able to describe how they will fare and so gives his blessing. The dense and archaic poetry is obscure in several places. The sayings often involve wordplays (explained in the notes). The poem begins with the six sons of Leah (vv. 2–15), then deals with the sons of the two secondary wives, and ends with Rachel’s two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Reuben, the oldest son, loses his position of leadership as a result of his intercourse with Bilhah (35:22), and the words about Simeon and Levi allude to their taking revenge for the rape of Dinah (chap. 34). The preeminence of Judah reflects his rise in the course of the narrative (mirroring the rise of Joseph). See note on 44:1–34. 1Jacob called his sons and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what is to happen to you in days to come.
2“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel, your father.
3“You, Reuben, my firstborn,
my strength and the first fruit of my vigor,
excelling in rank and excelling in power!
4Turbulent as water, you shall no longer excel,
for you climbed into your father’s bed
and defiled my couch to my sorrow.#Gn 35:22; 1 Chr 5:1–2.
5#This passage probably refers to their attack on the city of Shechem (Gn 34). Because there is no indication that the warlike tribe of Levi will be commissioned as a priestly tribe (Ex 32:26–29; Dt 33:11), this passage reflects an early, independent tradition. “Simeon and Levi, brothers indeed,
weapons of violence are their knives.#Knives: if this is the meaning of the obscure Hebrew word here, the reference may be to the knives used in circumcising the men of Shechem (34:24; cf. Jos 5:2).
6Let not my person enter their council,
or my honor be joined with their company;
For in their fury they killed men,
at their whim they maimed oxen.#Gn 34:25.
7Cursed be their fury so fierce,
and their rage so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob,
disperse them throughout Israel.
8“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
—your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
9Judah is a lion’s cub,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches, lies down like a lion,
like a lioness—who would dare rouse him?#1 Chr 5:2.
10The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
or the mace from between his feet,
Until tribute comes to him,#Until tribute comes to him: this translation is based on a slight change in the Hebrew text, which, as it stands, would seem to mean, “until he comes to Shiloh.” A somewhat different reading of the Hebrew text would be, “until he comes to whom it belongs.” This last has been traditionally understood in a messianic sense. In any case, the passage aims at the supremacy of the tribe of Judah and of the Davidic dynasty.
and he receives the people’s obedience.
11He tethers his donkey to the vine,
his donkey’s foal to the choicest stem.
In wine he washes his garments,
his robe in the blood of grapes.#In wine…the blood of grapes: Judah’s clothes are poetically pictured as soaked with grape juice from trampling in the wine press, the rich vintage of his land; cf. Is 63:2.
12His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth are whiter than milk.
13“Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore;
he will be a haven for ships,
and his flank shall rest on Sidon.
14“Issachar is a rawboned donkey,
crouching between the saddlebags.
15When he saw how good a settled life was,
and how pleasant the land,
He bent his shoulder to the burden
and became a toiling serf.
16“Dan shall achieve justice#In Hebrew the verb for “achieve justice” is from the same root as the name Dan. for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17Let Dan be a serpent by the roadside,
a horned viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heel,
so that the rider tumbles backward.
18“I long for your deliverance, O Lord!#This short plea for divine mercy has been inserted into the middle of Jacob’s testament.
19“Gad shall be raided by raiders,
but he shall raid at their heels.#In Hebrew there is assonance between the name Gad and the words for “raided,” “raiders,” and “raid.”
20“Asher’s produce is rich,
and he shall furnish delicacies for kings.
21“Naphtali is a hind let loose,
which brings forth lovely fawns.
22“Joseph is a wild colt,
a wild colt by a spring,
wild colts on a hillside.
23Harrying him and shooting,
the archers opposed him;
24But his bow remained taut,
and his arms were nimble,
By the power of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25The God of your father, who helps you,#A very similar description of the agricultural riches of the tribal land of Joseph is given in Dt 33:13–16.
God Almighty, who blesses you,
With the blessings of the heavens above,
the blessings of the abyss that crouches below,
The blessings of breasts and womb,
26the blessings of fresh grain and blossoms,
the blessings of the everlasting mountains,
the delights of the eternal hills.
May they rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
27“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
mornings he devours the prey,
and evenings he distributes the spoils.”
Farewell and Death. 28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said about them, as he blessed them. To each he gave a suitable blessing. 29Then he gave them this charge: “Since I am about to be gathered to my people, bury me with my ancestors in the cave that lies in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial ground.#Gn 23:17. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there, too, I buried Leah— 32the field and the cave in it that had been purchased from the Hittites.”
33When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.