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Jacob Speaks Over His Sons

49 Jacob called his sons and said to them:

Gather together so that I can tell you
    what will happen to you in the last days.
Be assembled and listen, sons of Jacob,
and listen to Israel your father.

Reuben, my firstborn are you,
my vigor and firstborn of my power,
    endowed with extra dignity,
    endowed with extra strength—
like water boiling over
you will not have extra,
for you got up into your father’s bed,
when you defiled a maid’s couch.

Simeon and Levi are brothers,
    instruments of violence are their knives.
In their secret counsel
    may my soul not enter.
In their contingent may my honor
    never be united.
For in their anger they slew men,
    and in their self-will they maimed oxen.
Cursed be their anger for it was strong
    and their rage for it was cruel—
    I will disperse them in Jacob,
    I will scatter them in Israel.

Judah, so you are—
    your brothers will praise you:
Your hand will be on your enemies’ neck.
Your father’s sons will bow down to you.
A lion’s cub is Judah—
    from the prey, my son,
    you have gone up.
He crouches, lies down like a lion,
    or like a lioness—
    who would rouse him?[a]
10 The scepter will not pass from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[b]
    until he to whom it belongs will come.
To him will be the obedience of the peoples.[c]
11 Binding his foal to the vine,
    his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,[d]
    he washes his garments in wine,
    and in the blood of grapes his robe.[e]
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
    and teeth that are whiter than milk.

13 Zebulun will dwell by the seashore,
    and be by a harbor for ships—
    his distant border reaches Sidon.

14 Issachar is a strong-boned donkey,
    lying down between two saddlebags.
15 He saw that a resting place was good,
    and that the land was pleasant.
He leaned his shoulder to bear a burden,
    and became a forced laborer.

16 Dan will judge his people,
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Let Dan be a serpent beside a road,
    a viper beside a path,
who strikes a horse’s heels,
    so that its rider falls backward.
18 For your salvation I wait, Adonai!

19 Gad—attackers will attack him,
    but he will attack their heels.

20 Asher—rich is his food—
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21 Naphtali is a doe let loose,
    who offers words of beauty.

22 A fruitful son is Joseph,
    a fruitful son beside a spring—
    daughters walk along a wall.
23 The archers were bitter and shot arrows
    and were hostile towards him.
24 Yet his bow was always filled,
    and his arms quick-moving—
    by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob.
From there a Shepherd,
    the Stone of Israel,[f]
25 from the God of your father
    who helps you,
    and Shaddai who blesses you,
    with blessings of heavens above,
    blessings of the deep that lies below,
    blessings of breasts and womb.
26 The blessings of your father surpassed
        the blessings of the ancient mountains,
        the desire of the everlasting hills.
    May they be upon Joseph’s head,
        upon the crown of the one set apart from his brothers.

27 Benjamin is a ravening wolf—
    in the morning he devours spoils,
    and in the evening divides plunder.

28 These are the tribes of Israel, twelve in all, and this is what their father spoke to them. He blessed them, each one he blessed with a suitable blessing. 29 Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, that is next to Mamre in the land of Canaan—the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a property for burial. 31 There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field was purchased along with the cave in it from the sons of Het.”

33 When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, then breathed his last and was gathered to his peoples.

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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