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Genesis 49

49
1And Jacob calleth unto his sons and saith, ‘Be gathered together, and I declare to you that which doth happen with you in the latter end of the days.
2‘Be assembled, and hear, sons of Jacob, And hearken unto Israel your father.
3Reuben! my first-born thou, My power, and beginning of my strength, The abundance of exaltation, And the abundance of strength;
4Unstable as water, thou art not abundant; For thou hast gone up thy father's bed; Then thou hast polluted: My couch he went up!
5Simeon and Levi [are] brethren! Instruments of violence — their espousals!
6Into their secret, come not, O my soul! Unto their assembly be not united, O mine honour; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will eradicated a prince.
7Cursed [is] their anger, for [it is] fierce, And their wrath, for [it is] sharp; I divide them in Jacob, And I scatter them in Israel.
8Judah! thou — thy brethren praise thee! Thy hand [is] on the neck of thine enemies, Sons of thy father bow themselves to thee.
9A lion's whelp [is] Judah, For prey, my son, thou hast gone up; He hath bent, he hath crouched as a lion, And as a lioness; who causeth him to arise?
10The sceptre turneth not aside from Judah, And a lawgiver from between his feet, Till his Seed come; And his [is] the obedience of peoples.
11Binding to the vine his ass, And to the choice vine the colt of his ass, He hath washed in wine his clothing, And in the blood of grapes his covering;
12Red [are] eyes with wine, And white [are] teeth with milk!
13Zebulun at a haven of the seas doth dwell, And he [is] for a haven of ships; And his side [is] unto Zidon.
14Issacher [is] a strong ass, Crouching between the two folds;
15And he seeth rest that [it is] good, And the land that [it is] pleasant, And he inclineth his shoulder to bear, And is to tribute a servant.
16Dan doth judge his people, As one of the tribes of Israel;
17Dan is a serpent by the way, An adder by the path, Which is biting the horse's heels, And its rider falleth backward.
18For Thy salvation I have waited, Jehovah!
19Gad! a troop assaulteth him, But he assaulteth last.
20Out of Asher his bread [is] fat; And he giveth dainties of a king.
21Naphtali [is] a hind sent away, Who is giving beauteous young ones.
22Joseph [is] a fruitful son; A fruitful son by a fountain, Daughters step over the wall;
23And embitter him — yea, they have striven, Yea, hate him do archers;
24And his bow abideth in strength, And strengthened are the arms of his hands By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, Whence is a shepherd, a son of Israel.
25By the God of thy father who helpeth thee, And the Mighty One who blesseth thee, Blessings of the heavens from above, Blessings of the deep lying under, Blessings of breasts and womb; —
26Thy father's blessings have been mighty Above the blessings of my progenitors, Unto the limit of the heights age-during They are for the head of Joseph, And for the crown of the one Separate [from] his brethren.
27Benjamin! a wolf teareth; In the morning he eateth prey, And at evening he apportioneth spoil.’
28All these [are] the twelve tribes of Israel, and this [is] that which their father hath spoken unto them, and he blesseth them; each according to his blessing he hath blessed them.
29And he commandeth them, and saith unto them, ‘I am being gathered unto my people; bury me by my fathers, at the cave which [is] in the field of Ephron the Hittite;
30in the cave which [is] in the field of Machpelah, which [is] on the front of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying-place;
31(there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah);
32the purchase of the field and of the cave which [is] in it, [is] from Sons of Heth.’
33And Jacob finisheth commanding his sons, and gathereth up his feet unto the bed, and expireth, and is gathered unto 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.