New English Translation
Joseph’s Wise Administration
47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father, my brothers, their flocks and herds, and all that they own have arrived from the land of Canaan. They are now[a] in the land of Goshen.” 2 He took five of his brothers and introduced them to Pharaoh.[b]
3 Pharaoh said to Joseph’s[c] brothers, “What is your occupation?” They said to Pharaoh, “Your servants take care of flocks, just as our ancestors did.”[d] 4 Then they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live as temporary residents[e] in the land. There is no[f] pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”
5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best region of the land. They may live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any highly capable men[g] among them, put them in charge[h] of my livestock.”
7 Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him[i] before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed[j] Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?”[k] 9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All[l] the years of my travels[m] are 130. All[n] the years of my life have been few and painful;[o] the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.”[p] 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.[q]
11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers. He gave them territory[r] in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the land, the land of Rameses,[s] just as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 Joseph also provided food for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household, according to the number of their little children.
13 But there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe; the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan wasted away[t] because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan as payment[u] for the grain they were buying. Then Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace.[v] 15 When the money from the lands of Egypt and Canaan was used up, all the Egyptians[w] came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Why should we die[x] before your very eyes because our money has run out?”
16 Then Joseph said, “If your money is gone, bring your livestock, and I will give you food[y] in exchange for[z] your livestock.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for their horses, the livestock of their flocks and herds, and their donkeys.[aa] He got them through that year by giving them food in exchange for all their livestock.
18 When that year was over, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We cannot hide from our[ab] lord that the money is used up and the livestock and the animals belong to our lord. Nothing remains before our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your very eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we, with our land, will become[ac] Pharaoh’s slaves.[ad] Give us seed that we may live[ae] and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.”[af]
20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each[ag] of the Egyptians sold his field, for the famine was severe.[ah] So the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 Joseph[ai] made all the people slaves[aj] from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. 22 But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
23 Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate[ak] the land. 24 When the crop comes in, give[al] one-fifth of it to Pharaoh. The remaining four-fifths will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.” 25 They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor,[am] and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”[an]
27 Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they owned land there. They were fruitful and increased rapidly in number.
28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; the years[aq] of Jacob’s life were 147 in all. 29 The time[ar] for Israel to die approached, so he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh[as] and show me kindness and faithfulness.[at] Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest[au] with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” Joseph[av] said, “I will do as you say.”
Manasseh and Ephraim
48 After these things Joseph was told,[bc] “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 2 When Jacob was told,[bd] “Your son Joseph has just[be] come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. 3 Jacob said to Joseph, “The Sovereign God[bf] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 4 He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful[bg] and will multiply you.[bh] I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants[bi] as an everlasting possession.’[bj]
5 “Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine.[bk] Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. 6 Any children that you father[bl] after them will be yours; they will be listed[bm] under the names of their brothers in their inheritance.[bn] 7 But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died—to my sorrow[bo]—in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” 9 Joseph said to his father, “They are the[bp] sons God has given me in this place.” His father[bq] said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”[br] 10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing[bs] because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph[bt] brought his sons[bu] near to him, and his father[bv] kissed them and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected[bw] to see you[bx] again, but now God has allowed me to see your children[by] too.”
12 So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees[bz] and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 Joseph positioned them;[ca] he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father.[cb] 14 Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger.[cc] Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked—
the God who has been my shepherd[cd]
all my life long to this day,
16 the angel[ce] who has protected me[cf]
from all harm—
bless these boys.
May my name be named in them,[cg]
and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.
May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”
17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him.[ch] So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude[ci] of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying,
21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you[cm] and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22 As one who is above your[cn] brothers, I give to you the mountain slope,[co] which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
The Blessing of Jacob
2 “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob;
listen to Israel, your father.
3 Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might and the beginning of my strength,
outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power.
4 You are destructive[cr] like water and will not excel,[cs]
for you got on your father’s bed,[ct]
then you defiled it—he got on my couch![cu]
5 Simeon and Levi are brothers,
weapons of violence are their knives![cv]
6 O my soul, do not come into their council,
do not be united to their assembly, my heart,[cw]
for in their anger they have killed men,
and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce,
and their fury, for it was cruel.
I will divide them in Jacob,
and scatter them in Israel![cx]
8 Judah,[cy] your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies,
your father’s sons will bow down before you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah,
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He crouches and lies down like a lion;
like a lioness—who will rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[cz]
until he comes to whom it belongs;[da]
the nations will obey him.[db]
11 Binding his foal to the vine,
and his colt to the choicest vine,
he will wash[dc] his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be red[dd] from wine,
and his teeth white from milk.[de]
13 Zebulun will live[df] 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.
15 When he sees[dg] a good resting place,
and the pleasant land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and become a slave laborer.[dh]
16 Dan[di] will judge[dj] his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 May Dan be a snake beside the road,
a viper by the path,
that bites the heels of the horse
so that its rider falls backward.[dk]
18 I wait for your deliverance, O Lord.[dl]
19 Gad will be raided by marauding bands,
but he will attack them at their heels.[dm]
20 Asher’s[dn] food will be rich,[do]
and he will provide delicacies[dp] to royalty.
21 Naphtali is a free running doe,[dq]
he speaks delightful words.[dr]
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,[ds]
a fruitful bough near a spring
whose branches[dt] climb over the wall.
23 The archers will attack him,[du]
they will shoot at him and oppose him.
24 But his bow will remain steady,
and his hands[dv] will be skillful;
because of the hands of the Powerful One[dw] of Jacob,
because of[dx] the Shepherd, the Rock[dy] of Israel,
25 because of the God of your father,
who will help you,[dz]
because of the Sovereign God,[ea]
who will bless you[eb]
with blessings from the sky above,
blessings from the deep that lies below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.[ec]
26 The blessings of your father are greater
than[ed] the blessings of the eternal mountains[ee]
or the desirable things of the age-old hills.
They will be on the head of Joseph
and on the brow of the prince of his brothers.[ef]
27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning devouring the prey,
and in the evening dividing the plunder.”
29 Then he instructed them,[ei] “I am about to go[ej] to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 30 It is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought for a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah; and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were acquired from the sons of Heth.”[ek]
33 When Jacob finished giving these instructions to his sons, he pulled his feet up onto the bed, breathed his last breath, and went[el] to his people.
The Burials of Jacob and Joseph
50 Then Joseph hugged his father’s face.[em] He wept over him and kissed him. 2 Joseph instructed the physicians in his service[en] to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming.[eo] The Egyptians mourned for[ep] him seventy days.[eq]
4 When the days of mourning[er] had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s royal court,[es] “If I have found favor in your sight, please say to Pharaoh,[et] 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath. He said,[eu] “I am about to die. Bury me[ev] in my tomb that I dug for myself there in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go and bury my father; then I will return.’” 6 So Pharaoh said, “Go and bury your father, just as he made you swear to do.”[ew]
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father; all Pharaoh’s officials went with him—the senior courtiers[ex] of his household, all the senior officials of the land of Egypt, 8 all Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. But they left their little children and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him, so it was a very large entourage.[ey]
10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad[ez] on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there with very great and bitter sorrow.[fa] There Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw them mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a very sad occasion[fb] for the Egyptians.” That is why its name was called[fc] Abel Mizraim,[fd] which is beyond the Jordan.
12 So the sons of Jacob did for him just as he had instructed them. 13 His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. This is the field Abraham purchased as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, along with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to bury his father.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay[fe] us in full[ff] for all the harm[fg] we did to him?” 16 So they sent word[fh] to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave these instructions before he died: 17 ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father.” When this message was reported to him, Joseph wept.[fi] 18 Then his brothers also came and threw themselves down before him; they said, “Here we are; we are your slaves.” 19 But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid. Am[fj] I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant to harm me,[fk] but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.[fl] 21 So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.[fm]
22 Joseph lived in Egypt, along with his father’s family.[fn] Joseph lived 110 years. 23 Joseph saw the descendants of Ephraim to the third generation.[fo] He also saw the children of Makir the son of Manasseh; they were given special inheritance rights by Joseph.[fp]
24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to you[fq] and lead you up from this land to the land he swore on oath to give[fr] to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 25 Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He said, “God will surely come to you. Then you must carry my bones up from this place.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. After[fs] they embalmed him, his body[ft] was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
- Genesis 47:1 tn Heb “Look they [are] in the land of Goshen.” Joseph draws attention to the fact of their presence in Goshen.
- Genesis 47:2 tn Heb “and from the whole of his brothers he took five men and presented them before Pharaoh.”
- Genesis 47:3 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 47:3 tn Heb “both we and our fathers.”
- Genesis 47:4 tn Heb “to sojourn.”
- Genesis 47:4 tn Heb “for there is no.” The Hebrew uses a causal particle to connect what follows with what precedes. The translation divides the statement into two sentences for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 47:6 tn Heb “men of skill.”
- Genesis 47:6 tn Heb “make them rulers.”sn Put them in charge of my livestock. Pharaoh is, in effect, offering Joseph’s brothers jobs as royal keepers of livestock, a position mentioned often in Egyptian inscriptions, because the Pharaohs owned huge herds of cattle.
- Genesis 47:7 tn Heb “caused him to stand.”
- Genesis 47:7 sn The precise meaning of the Hebrew verb translated “blessed” is difficult in this passage, because the content of Jacob’s blessing is not given. The expression could simply mean that he greeted Pharaoh, but that seems insufficient in this setting. Jacob probably praised Pharaoh, for the verb is used this way for praising God. It is also possible that he pronounced a formal prayer of blessing, asking God to reward Pharaoh for his kindness.
- Genesis 47:8 tn Heb “How many are the days of the years of your life?”
- Genesis 47:9 tn Heb “the days of.”
- Genesis 47:9 tn Heb “sojournings.” Jacob uses a term that depicts him as one who has lived an unsettled life, temporarily residing in many different places.
- Genesis 47:9 tn Heb “the days of.”
- Genesis 47:9 tn The Hebrew word רַע (raʿ) can sometimes mean “evil,” but that would give the wrong connotation here, where it refers to pain, difficulty, and sorrow. Jacob is thinking back through all the troubles he had to endure to get to this point.
- Genesis 47:9 tn Heb “and they have not reached the days of the years of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.”
- Genesis 47:10 tn Heb “from before Pharaoh.”
- Genesis 47:11 tn Heb “a possession,” or “a holding.” Joseph gave them a plot of land with rights of ownership in the land of Goshen.
- Genesis 47:11 sn The land of Rameses is another designation for the region of Goshen. It is named Rameses because of a city in that region (Exod 1:11; 12:37). The use of this name may represent a modernization of the text for the understanding of the intended readers, substituting a later name for an earlier one. Alternatively, there may have been an earlier Rameses for which the region was named.
- Genesis 47:13 tn The verb לַהַה (lahah, = לָאָה, laʾah) means “to faint, to languish”; it figuratively describes the land as wasting away, drooping, being worn out.
- Genesis 47:14 tn Or “in exchange.” On the use of the preposition here see BDB 90 s.v. בְּ.
- Genesis 47:14 tn Heb “house.”
- Genesis 47:15 tn Heb “all Egypt.” The expression is a metonymy and refers to all the people of Egypt.
- Genesis 47:15 tn The imperfect verbal form has a deliberative force here.
- Genesis 47:16 tn The word “food” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 47:16 tn On the use of the preposition here see BDB 90 s.v. בְּ.
- Genesis 47:17 tn The definite article is translated here as a possessive pronoun.
- Genesis 47:18 tn Heb “my.” The expression “my lord” occurs twice more in this verse.
- Genesis 47:19 tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates consequence.
- Genesis 47:19 sn Pharaoh’s slaves. The idea of slavery is not attractive to the modern mind, but in the ancient world it was the primary way of dealing with the poor and destitute. If the people became slaves of Pharaoh, it was Pharaoh’s responsibility to feed them and care for them. It was the best way for them to survive the famine.
- Genesis 47:19 tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates purpose or result.
- Genesis 47:19 tn The disjunctive clause structure (vav plus subject plus negated verb) highlights the statement and brings their argument to a conclusion.
- Genesis 47:20 tn The Hebrew text connects this clause with the preceding one with a causal particle (כִּי, ki). The translation divides the clauses into two sentences for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 47:20 tn The Hebrew text adds “upon them.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 47:21 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 47:21 tc The MT reads “and the people he removed to the cities,” which does not make a lot of sense in this context. Smr and the LXX read “he enslaved them as slaves.”
- Genesis 47:23 tn The perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive is equivalent to a command here.
- Genesis 47:24 tn The perfect form with the vav (ו) consecutive is equivalent to an imperfect of instruction here.
- Genesis 47:25 tn Heb “we find favor in the eyes of my lord.” Some interpret this as a request, “may we find favor in the eyes of my lord.”
- Genesis 47:25 sn Slaves. See the note on this word in v. 21.
- Genesis 47:26 tn On the term translated “statute” see P. Victor, “A Note on Hoq in the Old Testament,” VT 16 (1966): 358-61.
- Genesis 47:26 tn The words “which is in effect” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 47:28 tn Heb “the days of the years.”
- Genesis 47:29 tn Heb “days.”
- Genesis 47:29 sn On the expression put your hand under my thigh see Gen 24:2.
- Genesis 47:29 tn Or “deal with me in faithful love.”
- Genesis 47:30 tn Heb “lie down.” Here the expression “lie down” refers to death.
- Genesis 47:30 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 47:31 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 47:31 tn Heb “swear on oath to me.” The words “that you will do so” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 47:31 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 47:31 tn Heb “swore on oath to him.”
- Genesis 47:31 sn The Hebrew verb normally means “bow down,” especially in worship or prayer. Here it might simply mean “bend low,” perhaps from weakness or approaching death. The narrative is ambiguous at this point and remains open to all these interpretations.
- Genesis 47:31 tc The MT reads מִטָּה (mittah, “bed, couch”). The LXX reads the word as מַטֶּה (matteh, “staff, rod”) and interprets this to mean that Jacob bowed down in worship while leaning on the top of his staff. The LXX reading was used in turn by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 11:21).
- Genesis 48:1 tn Heb “and one said.” With no expressed subject in the Hebrew text, the verb can be translated with the passive voice.
- Genesis 48:2 tn Heb “and one told and said.” The verbs have no expressed subject and can be translated with the passive voice.
- Genesis 48:2 tn Heb “Look, your son Joseph.”
- Genesis 48:3 tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “Sovereign God” in Gen 17:1.
- Genesis 48:4 tn Heb “Look, I am making you fruitful.” The participle following הִנֵּה (hinneh) has the nuance of a certain and often imminent future.
- Genesis 48:4 tn The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive carries on the certain future idea.
- Genesis 48:4 tn The Hebrew text adds “after you,” which has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 48:4 tn The Hebrew word אֲחֻזָּה (ʾakhuzzah), translated “possession,” describes a permanent holding in the land. It is the noun form of the same verb (אָחַז, ʾakhaz) that was used for the land given to them in Goshen (Gen 47:27).
- Genesis 48:5 sn They will be mine. Jacob is here adopting his two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim as his sons, and so they will have equal share with the other brothers. They will be in the place of Joseph and Levi (who will become a priestly tribe) in the settlement of the land. See I. Mendelsohn, “A Ugaritic Parallel to the Adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh,” IEJ (1959): 180-83.
- Genesis 48:6 tn Or “you fathered.”
- Genesis 48:6 tn Heb “called” or “named.”
- Genesis 48:6 sn Listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. This means that any subsequent children of Joseph will be incorporated into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
- Genesis 48:7 tn Heb “upon me, against me,” which might mean something like “to my sorrow.”
- Genesis 48:9 tn Heb “my.”
- Genesis 48:9 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 48:9 tn The cohortative with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose after the imperative.
- Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “heavy.”sn The disjunctive clause provides supplemental information that is important to the story. The weakness of Israel’s sight is one of several connections between this chapter and Gen 27. Here there are two sons, and it appears that the younger is being blessed over the older by a blind old man. While it was by Jacob’s deception in chap. 27, here it is with Jacob’s full knowledge.
- Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “them”; the referent (Joseph’s sons) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 48:11 tn On the meaning of the Hebrew verb פָּלַל (palal) here, see E. A. Speiser, “The Stem pll in Hebrew,” JBL 82 (1963): 301-6. Speiser argues that this verb means “to estimate” as in Exod 21:22.
- Genesis 48:11 tn Heb “your face.”
- Genesis 48:11 tn Heb “offspring.”
- Genesis 48:12 tn Heb “and Joseph brought them out from with his knees.” The two boys had probably been standing by Israel’s knees when being adopted and blessed. The referent of the pronoun “his” (Israel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 48:13 tn Heb “and Joseph took the two of them.”
- Genesis 48:13 tn Heb “and he brought near to him.” The referents of the pronouns “he” and “him” (Joseph and his father respectively) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 48:14 tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial-concessive here.
- Genesis 48:15 tn Heb “shepherded me.” The verb has been translated as an English noun for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 48:16 sn Smr reads “king” here, but the traditional reading (“angel”) may be maintained. Jacob closely associates God with an angelic protective presence. This does not mean that Jacob viewed his God as a mere angel, but it does suggest that he was aware of an angelic presence sent by God to protect him. Here he so closely associates the two that they become virtually indistinguishable. In this culture messengers typically carried the authority of the one who sent them and could even be addressed as such. Perhaps Jacob thought that the divine blessing would be mediated through this angelic messenger.
- Genesis 48:16 tn The verb גָּאַל (gaʾal) has the basic idea of “protect” as a near relative might do. It is used for buying someone out of bondage, marrying a deceased brother’s widow, paying off debts, avenging the family, and the like. The meanings of “deliver, protect, avenge” are most fitting when God is the subject (see A. R. Johnson, “The Primary Meaning of גאל,” Congress Volume: Copenhagen, 1953 [VTSup], 67-77).
- Genesis 48:16 tn Or “be recalled through them.”
- Genesis 48:17 tn Heb “it was bad in his eyes.”
- Genesis 48:19 tn Heb “fullness.”
- Genesis 48:20 tn The pronoun is singular in the Hebrew text, apparently elevating Ephraim as the more prominent of the two. Note, however, that both are named in the blessing formula that follows.
- Genesis 48:20 tn Or “pronounce a blessing.”
- Genesis 48:20 sn On the elevation of Ephraim over Manasseh see E. C. Kingsbury, “He Set Ephraim Before Manasseh,” HUCA 38 (1967): 129-36; H. Mowvley, “The Concept and Content of ‘Blessing’ in the Old Testament,” BT 16 (1965): 74-80; and I. Mendelsohn, “On the Preferential Status of the Eldest Son,” BASOR 156 (1959): 38-40.
- Genesis 48:21 tn The pronouns translated “you,” “you,” and “your” in this verse are plural in the Hebrew text.
- Genesis 48:22 tn The pronouns translated “your” and “you” in this verse are singular in the Hebrew text.
- Genesis 48:22 tn The Hebrew word שְׁכֶם (shekhem) could be translated either as “mountain slope” or “shoulder, portion,” or even taken as the proper name “Shechem.” Jacob was giving Joseph either (1) one portion above his brothers, or (2) the mountain ridge he took from the Amorites, or (3) Shechem. The ambiguity actually allows for all three to be the referent. He could be referring to the land in Shechem he bought in Gen 33:18-19, but he mentions here that it was acquired by warfare, suggesting that the events of 34:25-29 are in view (even though at the time he denounced it, 34:30). Joseph was later buried in Shechem (Josh 24:32).
- Genesis 49:1 tn After the imperative, the cohortative with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose/result.
- Genesis 49:1 tn The term אַחֲרִית (akharit) refers to what is after or behind, which by extension can refer to the result, descendants, the hind part of something, or the following time (cf. HALOT 36). Like its Akkadian cognate, ina aḫirāt ūmī, the Hebrew phrase בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים (be’akharit hayyamim) means “in future days.” In OT literature, most predictive discourse is prophetic and consequently naming a future time period, like “days are coming” (יַמִּים בָּאִים, yammim baʾim; 20x) or “in a future time” (13x), typically occurs in prophetic speech. The description in BDB 31 s.v. אַחֲרִית overreaches the evidence to say that this is “a prophetic phrase denoting the final period of the history so far as the speaker’s perspective reaches” (cf. Num 24:14; Deut 4:30; 31:29), although several times the phrase does refer to the restoration after the Babylonian conquests. The contents of some of the sayings in this chapter stretch from the immediate circumstances to the time of the settlement in the land to the coming of Messiah. There is a great deal of literature on this chapter, including among others C. Armerding, “The Last Words of Jacob: Genesis 49, ” BSac 112 (1955): 320-28 and B. Vawter, “The Canaanite Background of Genesis 49, ” CBQ 17 (1955): 1-18.
- Genesis 49:4 tn The Hebrew noun פַּחַז (pakhaz) only occurs here in the OT. A related verb occurs twice in the prophets (Jer 23:32; Zeph 3:4) for false prophets inventing their messages, and once in Judges for unscrupulous men bribed to murder (Judg 9:4). It would describe Reuben as being “frothy, boiling, turbulent” as water. The LXX has “run riot,” the Vulgate has “poured out,” and Tg. Onq. has “you followed your own direction.” It is a reference to Reuben’s misconduct in Gen 35, but the simile and the rare word invite some speculation. H. Pehlke suggests “destructive like water,” for Reuben acted with pride and presumption; see his “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Genesis 49:1-28” (Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1985).
- Genesis 49:4 tn Heb “Do not excel!” The Hiphil of the verb יָתַר (yatar) has this meaning only here. The negated jussive is rhetorical here. Rather than being a command, it anticipates what will transpire. The prophecy says that because of the character of the ancestor, the tribe of Reuben would not have the character to lead (see 1 Chr 5:1).
- Genesis 49:4 sn This is a euphemism for having sexual intercourse with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah (see Gen 35:22).
- Genesis 49:4 tn The last verb is third masculine singular, as if for the first time Jacob told the brothers, or let them know that he knew. For a discussion of this passage see S. Gevirtz, “The Reprimand of Reuben,” JNES 30 (1971): 87-98.
- Genesis 49:5 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word מְכֵרָה (mekherah) is uncertain. It has been rendered (1) “habitations”; (2) “merchandise”; (3) “counsels”; (4) “swords”; (5) “wedding feasts.” If it is from the verb כָּרַת (karat) and formed after noun patterns for instruments and tools (maqtil, miqtil form), then it would refer to “knives.” Since the verb is used in Exod 4:25 for circumcision, the idea would be “their circumcision knives,” an allusion to the events of Gen 34 (see M. J. Dahood, “‘MKRTYHM’ in Genesis 49, 5, ” CBQ 23 : 54-56). Another explanation also connects the word to the events of Gen 34 as a reference to the intended “wedding feast” for Dinah which could take place only after the men of Shechem were circumcised (see D. W. Young, “A Ghost Word in the Testament of Jacob (Gen 49:5)?” JBL 100 : 335-422).
- Genesis 49:6 tn The Hebrew text reads “my glory,” but it is preferable to repoint the form and read “my liver.” The liver was sometimes viewed as the seat of the emotions and will (see HALOT 456 s.v. II כָּבֵד) for which the heart is the modern equivalent.
- Genesis 49:7 sn Divide…scatter. What is predicted here is a division of their tribes. Most commentators see here an anticipation of Levi being in every area but not their own. That may be part of it, but not entirely what the curse intended. These tribes for their ruthless cruelty would be eliminated from the power and prestige of leadership.
- Genesis 49:8 sn There is a wordplay here; the name Judah (יְהוּדָה, yehudah) sounds in Hebrew like the verb translated praise (יוֹדוּךָ, yodukha). The wordplay serves to draw attention to the statement as having special significance.
- Genesis 49:10 tn Or perhaps “from his descendants,” taking the expression “from between his feet” as a euphemism referring to the genitals. In this case the phrase refers by metonymy to those who come forth from his genitals, i.e., his descendants.
- Genesis 49:10 tn The Hebrew form שִׁילֹה (shiloh) is a major interpretive problem. There are at least four major options (with many variations and less likely alternatives): (1) Some prefer to leave the text as it is, reading “Shiloh” and understanding it as the place where the ark rested for a while in the time of the Judges. (2) By repointing the text others arrive at the translation “until the [or “his”] ruler comes,” a reference to a Davidic ruler or the Messiah. (3) Another possibility that does not require emendation of the consonantal text, but only repointing, is “until tribute is brought to him” (so NEB, JPS, NRSV), which has the advantage of providing good parallelism with the following line, “the nations will obey him.” (4) The interpretation followed in the present translation, “to whom it [belongs]” (so RSV, NIV, REB), is based on the ancient versions. Again, this would refer to the Davidic dynasty or, ultimately, to the Messiah.tc Henri Cazelles, “Shiloh, the Customary Laws and the Return of the Ancient Kings,” in Proclamation and Presence, eds. J. I. Durhan and J. R. Porter, 248, shows that שִׁילֹה could represent “to whom it belongs” because a scribal practice at Qumran and in Mishnaic writings was to show doubling of a consonant by preceding it with a mater lectionis (consonant used as vowel letter). So s-y-l-h could equal s-l-l-h, or שֶׁלֹּה, which is the way the ancient versions read it. שֶׁלֹּה can be a compound of a relative pronoun (“which”), a preposition (“to”), and archaic third masculine singular suffix (“him”). Thirty-eight Hebrew manuscripts show this variant. See Walter C. Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 51, and Cazelles, 248.sn Cazelles, “Shiloh,” 248, notes that the translation followed here is reflected in the Samaritan Pentateuch; the LXX; the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotian; the Targums, and the Syriac Peshitta. Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blesssing, 703, gives the Targum Onkelos as saying: “Until the Messiah comes, whose is the kingdom, and him shall the nations obey.” Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis (NICOT), 2:660, adds that Patriarchal Blessings (4QPBless) shows that the Qumran community interpreted Gen 49:10 in a messianic way. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch (Commentary on the Old Testament), 1:397, state that “the entire Jewish synagogue and the whole Christian Church” were in “perfect agreement” that the patriarch was “here proclaiming the coming of the Messsiah.”
- Genesis 49:10 tn “and to him [will be] the obedience of the nations.” For discussion of this verse see J. Blenkinsopp, “The Oracle of Judah and the Messianic Entry,” JBL 80 (1961): 55-64; and E. M. Good, “The ‘Blessing’ on Judah,” JBL 82 (1963): 427-32.
- Genesis 49:11 tn The perfect verbal form is used rhetorically, describing coming events as though they have already taken place.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Genesis 49:15 tn The verb forms in this verse (“sees,” “will bend,” and “[will] become”) are preterite; they is used in a rhetorical manner, describing the future as if it had already transpired.
- Genesis 49:15 sn The oracle shows that the tribe of Issachar will be willing to trade liberty for the material things of life. Issachar would work (become a slave laborer) for the Canaanites, a reversal of the oracle on Canaan. See C. M. Carmichael, “Some Sayings in Genesis 49, ” JBL 88 (1969): 435-44; and S. Gevirtz, “The Issachar Oracle in the Testament of Jacob,” ErIsr 12 (1975): 104-12.
- Genesis 49:16 sn The name Dan (דָּן, dan) means “judge” and forms a wordplay with the following verb.
- Genesis 49:16 tn Or “govern.”
- Genesis 49:17 sn The comparison of the tribe of Dan to a venomous serpent is meant to say that Dan, though small, would be potent, gaining victory through its skill and shrewdness. Jewish commentators have linked the image in part with Samson. That link at least illustrates the point: Though a minority tribe, Dan would gain the upper hand over others.
- Genesis 49:18 sn I wait for your deliverance, O Lord. As Jacob sees the conflicts that lie ahead for Dan and Gad (see v. 19), he offers a brief prayer for their security.
- Genesis 49:19 tc Heb “heel.” The MT has suffered from misdivision at this point. The initial mem on the first word in the next verse should probably be taken as a plural ending on the word “heel.”sn In Hebrew the name Gad (גָּד, gad) sounds like the words translated “raided” (יְגוּדֶנּוּ, yegudennu) and “marauding bands” (גְּדוּד, gedud).
- Genesis 49:20 tc Heb “from Asher,” but the initial mem (מ) of the MT should probably be moved to the end of the preceding verse and taken as a plural ending on “heel.”
- Genesis 49:20 tn The Hebrew word translated “rich,” when applied to products of the ground, means abundant in quantity and quality.
- Genesis 49:20 tn The word translated “delicacies” refers to foods that were delightful, the kind fit for a king.
- Genesis 49:21 tn Heb “a doe set free.”
- Genesis 49:21 tn Heb “the one who gives words of beauty.” The deer imagery probably does not continue into this line; Naphtali is the likely antecedent of the substantival participle, which is masculine, not feminine, in form. If the animal imagery is retained from the preceding line, the image of a talking deer is preposterous. For this reason some read the second line “the one who bears beautiful fawns,” interpreting אִמְרֵי (ʾimre) as a reference to young animals, not words (see HALOT 67 s.v. *אִמֵּר).sn Almost every word in the verse is difficult. Some take the imagery to mean that Naphtali will be swift and agile (like a doe), and be used to take good messages (reading “words of beauty”). Others argue that the tribe was free-spirited (free running), but then settled down with young children.
- Genesis 49:22 tn The Hebrew text appears to mean “[is] a son of fruitfulness.” The second word is an active participle, feminine singular, from the verb פָּרָה (parah, “to be fruitful”). The translation “bough” is employed for בֵּן (ben, elsewhere typically “son”) because Joseph is pictured as a healthy and fruitful vine growing by the wall. But there are difficulties with this interpretation. The word “son” nowhere else refers to a plant and the noun translated “branches” (Heb “daughters”) in the third line is a plural form whereas its verb is singular. In the other oracles of Gen 49 an animal is used for comparison and not a plant, leading some to translate the opening phrase בֵּן פָּרָה (ben parah, “fruitful bough”) as “wild donkey” (JPS, NAB). Various other interpretations involving more radical emendation of the text have also been offered.
- Genesis 49:22 tn Heb “daughters.”
- Genesis 49:23 tn The verb forms in vv. 23-24 are used in a rhetorical manner, describing future events as if they had already taken place.
- Genesis 49:24 tn Heb “the arms of his hands.”
- Genesis 49:24 tn Or “Mighty One.”
- Genesis 49:24 tn Heb “from there,” but the phrase should be revocalized and read “from [i.e., because of] the name of.”
- Genesis 49:24 tn Or “Stone.”
- Genesis 49:25 tn Heb “and he will help you.”
- Genesis 49:25 tn Heb “Shaddai.” See the note on the title “Sovereign God” in Gen 17:1. The preposition אֵת (ʾet) in the Hebrew text should probably be emended to אֵל (ʾel, “God”).
- Genesis 49:25 tn Heb “and he will bless you.”
- Genesis 49:25 sn Jacob envisions God imparting both agricultural (blessings from the sky above, blessings from the deep that lies below) and human fertility (blessings of the breasts and womb) to Joseph and his family.
- Genesis 49:26 tn Heb “have prevailed over.”
- Genesis 49:26 tn One could interpret the phrase הוֹרַי (horay) to mean “my progenitors” (literally, “the ones who conceived me”), but the masculine form argues against this. It is better to emend the text to הַרֲרֵי (harare, “mountains of”) because it forms a better parallel with the next clause. In this case the final yod (י) on the form is a construct plural marker, not a pronominal suffix.
- Genesis 49:26 tn For further discussion of this passage, see I. Sonne, “Genesis 49:24-26, ” JBL 65 (1946): 303-6.
- Genesis 49:28 tn Heb “All these.”
- Genesis 49:28 tn Heb “and he blessed them, each of whom according to his blessing, he blessed them.”
- Genesis 49:29 tn The Hebrew text adds “and he said to them,” which is not included in the translation because it is redundant in English.
- Genesis 49:29 tn Heb “I am about to be gathered.” The participle is used here to describe what is imminent.
- Genesis 49:32 tn Some translate the Hebrew term “Heth” as “Hittites” here (see also Gen 23:3), but this gives the impression that these people were the classical Hittites of Anatolia. However, there is no known connection between these sons of Heth, apparently a Canaanite group (see Gen 10:15), and the Hittites of Asia Minor. See H. A. Hoffner, Jr., “Hittites,” Peoples of the Old Testament World, 152-53.
- Genesis 49:33 tn Heb “was gathered.”
- Genesis 50:1 tn Heb “fell on.” The expression describes Joseph’s unrestrained sorrow over Jacob’s death; he probably threw himself across the body and embraced his father.
- Genesis 50:2 tn Heb “his servants the physicians.”
- Genesis 50:3 tn Heb “and forty days were fulfilled for him, for thus are fulfilled the days of embalming.”
- Genesis 50:3 tn Heb “wept for.”
- Genesis 50:3 sn Seventy days. This probably refers to a time of national mourning.
- Genesis 50:4 tn Heb “weeping.”
- Genesis 50:4 tn Heb “the house of Pharaoh.”
- Genesis 50:4 tn Heb “in the ears of Pharaoh.”
- Genesis 50:5 tn Heb “saying.”
- Genesis 50:5 tn The imperfect verbal form here has the force of a command.
- Genesis 50:6 tn Heb “he made you swear on oath.”
- Genesis 50:7 tn Or “dignitaries”; Heb “elders.”
- Genesis 50:9 tn Heb “camp.”
- Genesis 50:10 sn The location of the threshing floor of Atad is not certain. The expression the other side of the Jordan could refer to the eastern or western bank, depending on one’s perspective. However, it is commonly used in the OT for Transjordan. This would suggest that the entourage came up the Jordan Valley and crossed into the land at Jericho, just as the Israelites would in the time of Joshua.
- Genesis 50:10 tn Heb “and they mourned there [with] very great and heavy mourning.” The cognate accusative, as well as the two adjectives and the adverb, emphasize the degree of their sorrow.
- Genesis 50:11 tn Heb “this is heavy mourning for Egypt.”
- Genesis 50:11 tn The verb has no expressed subject and so it may be translated as passive.
- Genesis 50:11 sn The name Abel Mizraim means “the mourning of Egypt.”
- Genesis 50:15 tn The imperfect tense could be a simple future; it could also have a desiderative nuance.
- Genesis 50:15 tn The infinitive absolute makes the statement emphatic, “repay in full.”
- Genesis 50:15 tn Or “evil.”
- Genesis 50:16 tn The verb means “command,” but they would hardly be commanding him. It probably means they sent their father’s instructions to Joseph.
- Genesis 50:17 tn Heb “and Joseph wept when they spoke to him.”
- Genesis 50:19 tn Heb “For am I.”
- Genesis 50:20 tn Heb “you devised against me evil.”
- Genesis 50:20 tn Heb “God devised it for good in order to do, like this day, to preserve alive a great nation.”
- Genesis 50:21 tn Heb “spoke to their heart.”
- Genesis 50:22 tn Heb “he and the house of his father.”
- Genesis 50:23 tn Heb “saw Ephraim, the children of the third.”
- Genesis 50:23 tn Heb “generation. Also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on the knees of Joseph.” The expression "born on the knees" implies their adoption by Joseph, which meant that they received an inheritance from him.
- Genesis 50:24 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) means “to visit,” i.e., to intervene for blessing or cursing; here Joseph announces that God would come to fulfill the promises by delivering them from Egypt. The statement is emphasized by the use of the infinitive absolute with the verb: “God will surely visit you.”
- Genesis 50:24 tn The words “to give” are supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 50:26 tn Heb “son of a hundred and ten years.”
- Genesis 50:26 tn Heb “he.”