Jacob Blesses His Sons
49 Then Jacob called his sons to him. He said, “·Come here to [L Gather around] me, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the ·future [L days to come].
2 “·Come [L Assemble] together and listen, sons of Jacob.
Listen to Israel [C another name for Jacob; 32:28], your father.”
3 “Reuben, my ·first son [firstborn], you are my strength.
·Your birth showed I could be a father [L …and the first of my virility/vigor].
·You have the highest position among my sons [L …excelling in pride/rank/authority],
and you are the most powerful [L …excelling in power].
4 But you are ·uncontrolled [unstable] like water [C often a symbol of chaos or evil],
so you will no longer ·lead your brothers [L excel].
This is because you got into your father’s bed
and ·shamed me by having sexual relations with my slave girl [L you defiled it by going up on my couch; 35:22].
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers
who used their ·swords [or circumcision knives; or counsels; or treaties; ch. 34] to do violence.
6 I will not join their secret talks,
and I will not ·meet with them to plan evil [L join them in their assembly].
They killed men because they were angry,
and they ·crippled [hamstrung] oxen ·just for fun [or at will; 34:25–31].
7 May their anger be cursed, because it is too ·violent [severe; strong; intense].
May their violence be cursed, because it is too ·cruel [harsh].
I will divide them up among the tribes of Jacob
and scatter them through all the tribes of Israel [C neither Simeon nor Levi received a tribal allotment in the Promised Land; Josh. 13–22].
8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you [C the Hebrew verb for “praise” sounds like the name Judah].
·You will grab your enemies by the neck [L Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies],
and ·your brothers [L the sons of your father] will bow down to you.
9 Judah is like a ·young lion [lion cub].
You have ·returned from killing [L come up from the prey], my son.
Like a lion, he stretches out and ·lies down to rest [crouches],
and [L like a lioness] ·no one is brave enough to [who will…?] wake him.
10 ·Kings will come from Judah’s family [L No one will turn aside the scepter from Judah; C a scepter is a symbol of kingship];
·someone from Judah will always be on the throne [L the ruler’s staff/mace from between his feet; C anticipates the rise of a perpetual kingship from the tribe of Judah; 2 Sam. 7].
Judah will rule until ·Shiloh comes [or he comes to Shiloh; or he comes to whom it belongs; or tribute comes to him],
and the ·nations [peoples] will obey him.
11 He ties his donkey to a grapevine,
his young donkey to the best ·branch [vine].
He ·can afford to use wine to wash his clothes [L washes his clothes in wine]
and the ·best wine [L blood of grapes] to wash his robes.
12 His eyes are dark like the color of wine,
and his teeth are as white as the color of milk.
13 “Zebulun will live ·near [L at the shore/coast of] the sea.
His ·shore [coast] will be a safe place for ships,
and his land will reach as far as Sidon [10:15].
14 “Issachar is like a strong donkey
who lies down ·while carrying his load [or between the pack saddles].
15 When he sees his ·resting place [camp] is good
and how pleasant his land is,
he will put his ·back [L shoulder] to the load
and become a slave [L at forced labor].
16 “Dan will ·rule [judge; or contend for; C the Hebrew verb for “judge” sounds like the name Dan] his own people
like ·the other [L one of the] tribes in Israel.
17 Dan will be like a snake by the side of the road,
a ·dangerous snake [viper] lying near the path.
That snake bites a horse’s ·leg [heel; hoof],
and the rider is thrown off backward.
18 “Lord, I wait for your ·salvation [or victory].
19 “·Robbers [or Raiders] will ·attack [raid] Gad [C the Hebrew word for “raiders” sounds like the name Gad],
but he will ·defeat them and drive them away [L raid them at their heels].
20 “Asher’s land will grow much ·good [or rich] food;
he will grow ·food fit for a king [kingly delicacies].
21 “Naphtali is like a female deer that runs free,
that has ·beautiful fawns [or beautiful words].
22 “Joseph is like a ·grapevine that produces much fruit [or fruitful bough/tree; or foal of a wild donkey]
a ·healthy vine [or fruitful bough/tree; or foal of a wild donkey] ·watered by [L by] a spring,
·whose branches grow over the wall [or a wild donkey on a hillside].
23 Archers attack him violently
and shoot at him angrily,
24 but ·he aims his bow well [L his bow remains taut].
His arms ·are made strong [or were snapped].
·He gets his power from [L …by the hands of] the Mighty God of Jacob
·and his strength from [or by the name of] the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
25 Your father’s God helps you.
God Almighty blesses you.
He blesses you with ·rain [L blessings] from above,
with ·water from springs below [L the blessings of the deep that crouches below],
with ·many babies born to your wives
and many young ones born to your animals [L the blessings of breasts and womb]
26 The blessings of your father are greater
than the blessings of the ·oldest [or eternal] mountains,
greater than the ·good things [delight] of the long-lasting hills.
May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph,
on the forehead of the one who was ·separated from [or prince among] his brothers [C Ephraim would become the dominant tribe in northern Israel].
27 “Benjamin is like a hungry wolf.
In the morning he eats ·what he has caught [prey],
and in the evening he divides ·what he has taken [the plunder].”
28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them. He gave each son the blessing that was ·right [suitable; appropriate] for him. 29 Then Israel gave them a command and said, “I am about to ·die [L be gathered to my people/relatives; 25:8]. Bury me with my ·ancestors [fathers] in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite [23:7–20; 25:9]. 30 That cave is in the field of Machpelah east of Mamre in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought the field and cave from Ephron the Hittite for a ·burying place [burial site]. 31 Abraham and Sarah his wife are buried there. Isaac and Rebekah his wife are buried there, and I buried my wife Leah there. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittite people.” 33 After Jacob finished ·talking to [or instructing] his sons, he lay down. He put his feet back on the bed, took his last breath, and ·died [L was gathered to his people/relatives; 25:8].