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Jacob’s Last Words to His Sons

49 [a]Then Jacob called his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in days to come.

Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob,
    and hearken to Israel your father.

Reuben, you are my first-born,
    my might, and the first fruits of my strength,
    pre-eminent in pride and pre-eminent in power.
Unstable as water, you shall not have pre-eminence
    because you went up to your father’s bed;
    then you defiled it—you[b] went up to my couch!

Simeon and Levi are brothers;
    weapons of violence are their swords.
O my soul, come not into their council;
    O my spirit,[c] be not joined to their company;
for in their anger they slay men,
    and in their wantonness they hamstring oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
    and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
    and scatter them in Israel.

Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
    your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
    from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down, he couched as a lion,
    and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs;[d]
    and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
    and his ass’s colt to the choice vine,
he washes his garments in wine
    and his vesture in the blood of grapes;
12 his eyes shall be red with wine,
    and his teeth white with milk.

13 Zeb′ulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;
    he shall become a haven for ships,
    and his border shall be at Sidon.

14 Is′sachar is a strong ass,
    crouching between the sheepfolds;
15 he saw that a resting place was good,
    and that the land was pleasant;
so he bowed his shoulder to bear,
    and became a slave at forced labor.

16 Dan shall judge his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
    a viper by the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that his rider falls backward.
18 I wait for thy salvation, O Lord.

19 Raiders[e] shall raid Gad,
    but he shall raid at their heels.

20 Asher’s food shall be rich,
    and he shall yield royal dainties.

21 Naph′tali is a hind let loose,
    that bears comely fawns.[f]

22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,
    a fruitful bough by a spring;
    his branches run over the wall.
23 The archers fiercely attacked him,
    shot at him, and harassed him sorely;
24 yet his bow remained unmoved,
    his arms[g] were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
    (by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel),
25 by the God of your father who will help you,
    by God Almighty[h] who will bless you
    with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that couches beneath,
    blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
    are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains,[i]
    the bounties of the everlasting hills;
may they be on the head of Joseph,
    and on the brow of him who was separate from his brothers.

27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
    in the morning devouring the prey,
    and at even dividing the spoil.”

Jacob’s Death and Burial

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel; and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him. 29 Then he charged them, and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field at Mach-pe′lah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah— 32 the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites.” 33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.


  1. 49.1-27 In their present form these “Oracles of Jacob,” blessings pronounced upon his sons as epitomizing the twelve tribes, date from the period of the early monarchy.
  2. Genesis 49:4 Gk Syr Tg: Heb he
  3. Genesis 49:6 Or glory
  4. Genesis 49:10 Syr Compare Tg: Heb until Shiloh comes or until he comes to Shiloh
  5. Genesis 49:19 Heb gedud, a raiding troop
  6. Genesis 49:21 Or who gives beautiful words
  7. Genesis 49:24 Heb the arms of his hands
  8. Genesis 49:25 Heb El Shaddai
  9. Genesis 49:26 Compare Gk: Heb of my progenitors to

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