49 Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather around. I want to tell you what you can expect in the days to come.”

Come together, listen sons of Jacob,
    listen to Israel your father.

3-4 Reuben, you’re my firstborn,
        my strength, first proof of my manhood,
        at the top in honor and at the top in power,
    But like a bucket of water spilled,
        you’ll be at the top no more,
    Because you climbed into your father’s marriage bed,
        mounting that couch, and you defiled it.

5-6 Simeon and Levi are two of a kind,
        ready to fight at the drop of a hat.
    I don’t want anything to do with their vendettas,
        want no part in their bitter feuds;
    They kill men in fits of temper,
        slash oxen on a whim.

A curse on their uncontrolled anger,
    on their indiscriminate wrath.
I’ll throw them out with the trash;
    I’ll shred and scatter them like confetti throughout Israel.

8-12 You, Judah, your brothers will praise you:
        Your fingers on your enemies’ throat,
        while your brothers honor you.
    You’re a lion’s cub, Judah,
        home fresh from the kill, my son.
    Look at him, crouched like a lion, king of beasts;
        who dares mess with him?
    The scepter shall not leave Judah;
        he’ll keep a firm grip on the command staff
    Until the ultimate ruler comes
        and the nations obey him.
    He’ll tie up his donkey to the grapevine,
        his purebred prize to a sturdy branch.
    He will wash his shirt in wine
        and his cloak in the blood of grapes,
    His eyes will be darker than wine,
        his teeth whiter than milk.

13 Zebulun settles down on the seashore;
    he’s a safe harbor for ships,
    right alongside Sidon.

14-15 Issachar is one tough donkey
        crouching between the corrals;
    When he saw how good the place was,
        how pleasant the country,
    He gave up his freedom
        and went to work as a slave.

16-17 Dan will handle matters of justice for his people;
        he will hold his own just fine among the tribes of Israel.
    Dan is only a small snake in the grass,
        a lethal serpent in ambush by the road
    When he strikes a horse in the heel,
        and brings its huge rider crashing down.

18 I wait in hope
    for your salvation, God.

19 Gad will be attacked by bandits,
    but he will trip them up.

20 Asher will become famous for rich foods,
    candies and sweets fit for kings.

21-26 Naphtali is a deer running free
        that gives birth to lovely fawns.
    Joseph is a wild donkey,
        a wild donkey by a spring,
        spirited donkeys on a hill.
    The archers with malice attacked,
        shooting their hate-tipped arrows;
    But he held steady under fire,
        his bow firm, his arms limber,
    With the backing of the Champion of Jacob,
        the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
    The God of your father—may he help you!
        And may The Strong God—may he give you his blessings,
    Blessings tumbling out of the skies,
        blessings bursting up from the Earth—
        blessings of breasts and womb.
    May the blessings of your father
        exceed the blessings of the ancient mountains,
        surpass the delights of the eternal hills;
    May they rest on the head of Joseph,
        on the brow of the one consecrated among his brothers.

27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    all morning he gorges on his kill,
    at evening divides up what’s left over.

28 All these are the tribes of Israel, the twelve tribes. And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing.

29-32 Then he instructed them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre in the land of Canaan, the field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial plot. Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there; Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there; I also buried Leah there. The field and the cave were bought from the Hittites.”

33 Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Jacob Blesses His Sons(A)

49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.(B)

“Assemble(C) and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.(D)

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,(E)
    my might, the first sign of my strength,(F)
    excelling in honor,(G) excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters,(H) you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.(I)

“Simeon(J) and Levi(K) are brothers—
    their swords[a] are weapons of violence.(L)
Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,(M)
for they have killed men in their anger(N)
    and hamstrung(O) oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury,(P) so cruel!(Q)
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.(R)

“Judah,[b](S) your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck(T) of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.(U)
You are a lion’s(V) cub,(W) Judah;(X)
    you return from the prey,(Y) my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,(Z)
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come(AA)
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.(AB)
11 He will tether his donkey(AC) to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;(AD)
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.(AE)
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.[e](AF)

13 “Zebulun(AG) will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend toward Sidon.(AH)

14 “Issachar(AI) is a rawboned[f] donkey
    lying down among the sheep pens.[g](AJ)
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,(AK)
he will bend his shoulder to the burden(AL)
    and submit to forced labor.(AM)

16 “Dan[h](AN) will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.(AO)
17 Dan(AP) will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,(AQ)
that bites the horse’s heels(AR)
    so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance,(AS) Lord.(AT)

19 “Gad[i](AU) will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.(AV)

20 “Asher’s(AW) food will be rich;(AX)
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.(AY)

21 “Naphtali(AZ) is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.[j](BA)

22 “Joseph(BB) is a fruitful vine,(BC)
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches(BD) climb over a wall.[k]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;(BE)
    they shot at him with hostility.(BF)
24 But his bow remained steady,(BG)
    his strong arms(BH) stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,(BI)
    because of the Shepherd,(BJ) the Rock of Israel,(BK)
25 because of your father’s God,(BL) who helps(BM) you,
    because of the Almighty,[m](BN) who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,(BO)
    blessings of the breast(BP) and womb.(BQ)
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills.(BR)
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,(BS)
    on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.(BT)

27 “Benjamin(BU) is a ravenous wolf;(BV)
    in the morning he devours the prey,(BW)
    in the evening he divides the plunder.”(BX)

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel,(BY) and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing(BZ) appropriate to him.

The Death of Jacob

29 Then he gave them these instructions:(CA) “I am about to be gathered to my people.(CB) Bury me with my fathers(CC) in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite,(CD) 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah,(CE) near Mamre(CF) in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field(CG) as a burial place(CH) from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham(CI) and his wife Sarah(CJ) were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah(CK) were buried, and there I buried Leah.(CL) 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.[p](CM)

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.(CN)

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 49:5 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  2. Genesis 49:8 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise.
  3. Genesis 49:10 Or from his descendants
  4. Genesis 49:10 Or to whom tribute belongs; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  5. Genesis 49:12 Or will be dull from wine, / his teeth white from milk
  6. Genesis 49:14 Or strong
  7. Genesis 49:14 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags
  8. Genesis 49:16 Dan here means he provides justice.
  9. Genesis 49:19 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for attack and also for band of raiders.
  10. Genesis 49:21 Or free; / he utters beautiful words
  11. Genesis 49:22 Or Joseph is a wild colt, / a wild colt near a spring, / a wild donkey on a terraced hill
  12. Genesis 49:24 Or archers will attack … will shoot … will remain … will stay
  13. Genesis 49:25 Hebrew Shaddai
  14. Genesis 49:26 Or of my progenitors, / as great as
  15. Genesis 49:26 Or of the one separated from
  16. Genesis 49:32 Or the descendants of Heth

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