Jacob Blesses His Sons
1Then Jacob called all his sons to him. He said, “My sons, come here to me. I will tell you what will happen in the future.
2“Children of Jacob, gather around.
Come listen to Israel, your father.
3“Reuben, my first son, you are my strength,
the first proof of my manhood.
You were the most honored
and powerful of all my sons.
4But your passion was like a flood you couldn’t control.
So you will not remain my most honored son.
You climbed into your father’s bed
and slept with one of his wives.
You brought shame to my bed,
to the bed you lay on.
Simeon and Levi
5“Simeon and Levi are brothers.
They are violent with their swords.
6I will not join their secret meetings.
I will not take part in their evil plans.
They have killed people out of anger
and crippled animals for fun.
7Their anger is so strong that it is a curse.
They are too cruel when they are angry.
They will not get their own land in the land of Jacob.
They will be spread throughout Israel.
8“Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You will defeat your enemies.
Your brothers will bow down to you.
9Judah is like a young lion.
My son, you are like a lion standing over the animal it killed.
Like a lion, Judah lies down to rest,
and no one is brave enough to disturb him.
10Men from Judah’s family will be kings.
The sign that his family rules
will not leave his family before the real king comes.#49:10 before the real king comes Or “until Shiloh comes,” “until the man it belongs to comes,” or “until his tribute comes.”
Then many people will obey and serve him.
11He ties his donkeys to the best grapevines.
He washes his clothes in the best wine.
12His eyes are red from drinking wine.
His teeth are white from drinking milk.#49:10-12 Or “10 The ruler’s scepter will not pass from between Judah’s feet before he gets what is his, that is, the people’s obedience. 11 His young donkey will be tied to the very best grapevines. He will wash his finest clothes in wine, the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes will be redder than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.”
13“Zebulun will live near the sea.
His seacoast will be a safe place for ships.
His land will continue as far as the city of Sidon.
14“Issachar is like a donkey that has worked too hard.
He will lie down under his heavy load.
15He will see his land is pleasant
and that his resting place is good.
But he will agree to carry heavy loads;
he will agree to work as a slave.
16“Dan#49:16 Dan This name means “judge” and is a wordplay with “rule.” will rule his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17Dan will be like a snake at the side of the road.
He will be like a dangerous snake lying near the path.
That snake bites a horse’s foot,
and the rider falls to the ground.
18“Lord, I am waiting for your salvation.
19“A group of robbers will attack#49:19 A group of robbers will attack The Hebrew words for “group of robbers” and “attack” sound like the name Gad. Gad,
but Gad will chase them away.
20“Asher’s land will grow much good food.
He will have food fit for a king!
21“Naphtali is like a deer running free,
and his words are beautiful.
22“Joseph is like a wild donkey,
like a young donkey by a spring,
like colts grazing in a pasture.#49:22 Or “Joseph is very successful. Joseph is like a vine covered with fruit, like a vine growing by a spring, like a vine growing along a fence.”
23People attacked him and made life hard for him.
Men with arrows became his enemies.
24But he won the fight
with his mighty bow and his skillful arms.
He gets power from the Mighty One of Jacob,
from the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25the God of your father who helps you.
May God All-Powerful bless you
and give you blessings
from the sky above and from the deep below.
May he give you blessings
from breast and womb.
26My parents had many good things happen to them.
And I, your father, was blessed even more.
Your brothers left you with nothing.
But now I pile all my blessings on you,
as high as a mountain.
27“Benjamin is like a hungry wolf.
In the morning he kills and eats.
In the evening he shares what is left.”
28These are the twelve families of Israel. And this is what their father said to them. He gave each son a blessing that was right for him. 29Then Israel gave them a command. He said, “When I die, I want to be with my people. I want to be buried with my ancestors in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 30That cave is in the field of Machpelah near Mamre in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought that field from Ephron so that he could have a burying place. 31Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried in that cave. Isaac and his wife Rebekah are buried in that cave. I buried my wife Leah in that cave. 32That cave is in the field that was bought from the Hittites.” 33After Jacob finished talking to his sons, he lay down, put his feet back on the bed, and died.