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12 His eyes will be red[a] from wine,
and his teeth white from milk.[b]
13 Zebulun will live[c] by the haven of the sea
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend to Sidon.
14 Issachar is a strong-boned donkey
lying down between two saddlebags.

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  1. Genesis 49:12 tn Or “glisten from.” The adjective חַכְלִילִי (khakhlili) occurs only once in the Bible, it’s meaning uncertain. A possible Akkadian cognate suggests it means “dark”. The LXX interprets it as “glisten.” DCH also suggests “red” (DCH s.v. חַכְלִילִי) as a possibility. The preposition מִן (min) can indicate the source “from,” or comparison “more than.” So the possible meanings are “darker than” (NIV, ESV, NRSV), “redder than,” dark or “dull from” (NASB), “red from” (KJV) or “glisten from” (LXX). Since the context describes positive elements that Judah will enjoy as blessings, we don’t expect it to mean eyes glazed over from being drunk. Also the possible Akkadian cognate refers to darkness or gloom, not simply a dark color. Alcohol can cause capillaries to break, leading to red eyes. But whatever is going on with the eyes, the point is that Judah will have abundance to partake of. The LXX suggests a glint of happiness in the eyes spurred by drinking wine. While this may suit the context well, it is not clear that the translator wasn’t simply guessing to fit the context.
  2. Genesis 49:12 tn Some translate these as comparatives, “darker than wine…whiter than milk,” a reference to, presumably, a healthy appearance (so NEB, NIV, NRSV). But understood as a symbol of abundance, the dark or red eyes would be from drinking wine, and the white teeth from drinking milk.
  3. Genesis 49:13 tn The verb שָׁכַן (shakhan) means “to settle,” but not necessarily as a permanent dwelling place. The tribal settlements by the sea would have been temporary and not the tribe’s territory.

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