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Jacob Blesses His Sons

49 Jacob called his sons together and said:

My sons, I am Jacob,
    your father Israel.
Come, gather around,
    as I tell your future.

Reuben, you are my oldest,
born at the peak of my powers;
    you were an honored leader.
Uncontrollable as a flood,
you slept with my wife
    and disgraced my bed.
And so you no longer deserve
    the place of honor.

Simeon and Levi,
you are brothers,
    each a gruesome sword.
I never want to take part
    in your plans or deeds.
You slaughtered people
    in your anger,
and you crippled cattle
    for no reason.
Now I place a curse on you
because of
    your fierce anger.
Your descendants
will be scattered
    among the tribes of Israel.

Judah, you will be praised
    by your brothers;
they will bow down to you,
    as you defeat your enemies.
My son, you are a lion
    ready to eat your victim!
You are terribly fierce;
    no one will bother you.
10 You will have power and rule
until nations obey you[a]
    and come bringing gifts.
11 You will tie your donkey
    to a choice grapevine
and wash your clothes
    in wine from those grapes.
12 Your eyes are darker than wine,
    your teeth whiter than milk.

13 Zebulun, you will settle
    along the seashore
and provide safe harbors
    as far north as Sidon.

14 Issachar, you are a strong donkey
    resting in the meadows.[b]
15 You found them so pleasant
that you worked too hard
    and became a slave.

16 Dan,[c] you are the tribe
that will bring justice
    to Israel.
17 You are a snake that bites
the heel of a horse,
    making its rider fall.

18 Our Lord, I am waiting
    for you to save us.

19 Gad,[d] you will be attacked,
    then attack your attackers.

20 Asher, you will eat food
    fancy enough for a king.

21 Naphtali, you are a wild deer
    with lovely fawns.[e]

22 Joseph, you are a fruitful vine
growing near a stream
    and climbing a wall.[f]
23 Enemies attacked with arrows,
    refusing to show mercy.
24 But you stood your ground,
    swiftly shooting back
with the help of Jacob’s God,
    the All-Powerful One—
his name is the Shepherd,
    Israel’s mighty rock.[g]
25 Your help came from the God
your father worshiped,
    from God All-Powerful.
God will bless you with rain
    and streams from the earth;
he will bless you
    with many descendants.
26 My son, the blessings I give
are better than the promise
    of ancient mountains
    or eternal hills.[h]
Joseph, I pray these blessings
    will come to you,
because you are the leader
    of your brothers.

27 Benjamin, you are a fierce wolf,
destroying your enemies
    morning and evening.

28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is how Jacob gave each of them their proper blessings.

Jacob’s Death

29-31 Jacob told his sons:

Soon I will die, and I want you to bury me in Machpelah Cave. Abraham bought this cave as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, and it is near the town of Mamre in Canaan. Abraham and Sarah are buried there, and so are Isaac and Rebekah. I buried Leah there too. 32 Both the cave and the land that goes with it were bought from the Hittites.

33 When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he lay down on his bed and died.

Footnotes

  1. 49.10 until. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 49.14 resting. . . meadows: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 49.16 Dan: In Hebrew “Dan” means “justice” or “judgment.”
  4. 49.19 Gad: In Hebrew “Gad” sounds like “attack.”
  5. 49.21 with lovely fawns: Or “speaking lovely words.”
  6. 49.22 wall: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  7. 49.24 mighty rock: The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.
  8. 49.26 eternal hills: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.