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Jacob’s Last Words to His Sons

49 Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together so that I may tell you what will happen to you in the days to come. Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob. Listen to your father Israel.

“Reuben, you are my first-born, my power and the beginning of my strength, first in pride and first in power. But because you are as wild as water, the first place will not be yours. It is because you went to your father’s bed and made it unclean.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers. They hurt others with their swords. May my soul not have a part in their secrets, nor my shining-greatness be joined to them. Because in their anger they killed men and for no reason they hurt cattle. Their anger will be punished, for it is bad. Their bad temper will be punished, for it is bad. I will divide them in Jacob and spread them apart in Israel.

“Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of those who hate you. Your father’s sons will bow down to you. Judah is a young lion. Like a lion full of meat, you have become great, my son. He lies down and sleeps like a lion. And as a lion, who is willing to wake him? 10 The right of a ruler will not leave Judah. The ruler’s special stick will not go from between his feet, until Shiloh comes. Then the people will obey Him. 11 He ties his young donkey to the vine, his donkey’s young one to the best vine. He washes his clothes in wine, his coats in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes are darker than wine. And his teeth are whiter than milk.

13 “Zebulun will live beside the sea and be a safe place for ships. His land will lie beside Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a strong donkey lying down between the loads. 15 He saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasing. So he made his shoulder ready to carry loads. He let himself be a servant.

16 “Dan will judge his people, as one of the families of Israel. 17 Dan will be a snake in the way, a snake in the road, that bites the horse’s heels so that the man falls off. 18 I wait for Your saving power, O Lord.

19 “A group of soldiers will go against Gad. But he will go against them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich. He will give pleasing food to kings.

21 “Naphtali is a female deer let loose who gives beautiful young ones.

22 “Joseph is a branch with much fruit, a branch with much fruit by a well. It grows over the wall. 23 The men fought against him with their bows. They sent arrows toward him and made it hard for him. 24 But his bow did not shake. His arms were made strong by the hands of the Powerful One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25 by the God of your father Who helps you, and by the All-powerful Who brings good to you. He brings good from heaven above, and from the deep that lies below, and from the body of a mother. 26 More good has come to your father than to my fathers before me, as lasting as the hills that last forever. May this good be on the head of Joseph, on the crown of him who was divided from his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a hungry wolf. In the morning he eats the animals he has caught. And in the evening he divides what he has taken.”

28 All these are the twelve family groups of Israel. This is what their father said to them when he prayed that good would come to them. He prayed for each of them to receive the good they should have.

The Death of Jacob

29 Then he told them, “I will soon be with my people who have died before me. Bury me with my fathers in the grave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the grave that is in the field of Machpelah, east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought this grave and the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burying place. 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 grave that is in it were bought from the sons of Heth.”

33 When Jacob finished telling his sons what to do, he lay back down on his bed and died.

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)


  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