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Jacob Blesses His Twelve Sons

49 Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together so that I can tell you what will happen with you in days to come.[a]

Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob!
    Listen to Israel your father!
Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my strength, and the firstfruit of my vigor,
    excelling in rank and excelling in power.
Unstable[b] as water, you shall not excel any longer,
    for you went up upon the bed of your father,
    then defiled it. You went up upon my couch!
Simeon and Levi are brothers;
    weapons of violence are their swords.
    Let me[c] not come into their council.
Let not my person[d] be joined to their company.
    For in their anger they killed men,
    and at their pleasure they hamstrung cattle.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
    and their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will divide them in Jacob,
    and I will scatter them in Israel.
Judah, as for you, your brothers shall praise you.
    Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies.
    The sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah is a lion’s cub.
    From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bowed down; he crouched like a lion and as a lioness.
    Who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff between his feet,
until Shiloh comes.
    And to him shall be the obedience of nations.
11 Binding his donkey to the vine
    and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he washes his clothing in the wine
    and his garment in the blood of grapes.
12 The eyes are darker than wine,
    and the teeth whiter than milk.
13 Zebulun shall settle by the shore of the sea.
    He shall become a haven for ships,
    and his border shall be at Sidon.
14 Issachar is a strong donkey,
    crouching between the sheepfolds.
15 He saw a resting place that was good,
    and land that was pleasant.
So he bowed his shoulder to the burden
    and became a servant of forced labor.
16 Dan shall judge his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent on the way,
    a viper on the road
that bites the heels of a horse,
    so that its rider falls backward.
18 I wait for your salvation, O Yahweh.
19 Bandits shall attack Gad,
    but he shall attack their heels.
20 Asher’s food is delicious,
    and he shall provide from the king’s delicacies.
21 Naphtali is a doe running free
    that puts forth beautiful words.
22 Joseph is the bough[e] of a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful bough[f] by a spring.
    His branches climb over the wall.
23 The archers[g] fiercely attacked him.
    They shot arrows at him and were hostile to him.
24 But his bow remained in a steady position;
    his arms[h] were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob.
    From there is the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
25 Because of the God of your father he will help you
    and by Shaddai[i] he will bless you
    with the blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that crouches beneath,
    blessings of the breasts and the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
    are superior to the blessings of my ancestors,
    to the bounty of the everlasting hills.
May they be on the head of Joseph,
    and on the forehead of the prince of his brothers.
27 Benjamin is a devouring wolf,
    devouring the prey in the morning,
    and dividing the plunder in the evening.

The Death and Burial of Jacob

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, each according to their blessing. 29 Then he instructed them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me among my ancestors[j] 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 before[k] Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife. And there I buried Leah— 32 the purchase of the field and the cave which was in it from the Hittites.” 33 When Jacob finished instructing his sons he drew his feet up to the bed. Then he took his last breath and was gathered to his people.


  1. Genesis 49:1 Literally “the latter days”
  2. Genesis 49:4 Or “reckless”
  3. Genesis 49:5 Or “my soul”
  4. Genesis 49:6 Or “my glory”
  5. Genesis 49:22 Or “son”
  6. Genesis 49:22 Or “son”
  7. Genesis 49:23 Literally “the masters of the bow”
  8. Genesis 49:24 Literally “the arms of his hands”
  9. Genesis 49:25 Or “the Almighty”
  10. Genesis 49:29 Or “fathers”
  11. Genesis 49:30 Or “east of”