Contemporary English Version
Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Two Sons
48 Joseph was told that his father Jacob had become very sick. So Joseph went to see him and took along his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 When Joseph arrived, someone told Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to see you.” Jacob sat up in bed, but it took almost all his strength.
3 Jacob told Joseph:
God All-Powerful appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, where he gave me his blessing 4 and promised, “I will give you a large family with many descendants that will grow into a nation. And I am giving you this land that will belong to you and your family forever.”
5 Then Jacob went on to say:
Joseph, your two sons Ephraim and Manasseh were born in Egypt, but I accept them as my own, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6 Any children you have later will be considered yours, but their inheritance will come from Ephraim and Manasseh. 7 Unfortunately, your mother Rachel died in Canaan after we had left northern Syria[a] and before we reached Bethlehem.[b] And I had to bury her along the way.
8-10 Jacob was very old and almost blind. He did not recognize the two boys, and so he asked Joseph, “Who are these boys?”
Joseph answered, “They are my sons. God has given them to me here in Egypt.”
“Bring them to me,” Jacob said. “I want to give them my blessing.” Joseph brought the boys to him, and he hugged and kissed them.
11 Jacob turned to Joseph and told him, “For many years I thought you were dead and that I would never see you again. But now God has even let me live to see your children.” 12 Then Joseph made his sons move away from Jacob’s knees,[c] and Joseph bowed down in front of him with his face to the ground.
13 After Joseph got up, he brought his two sons over to Jacob again. He led his younger son Ephraim to the left side of Jacob and his older son Manasseh to the right. 14 But before Jacob gave them his blessing, he crossed his arms, putting his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh. 15 Then he gave Joseph his blessing and said:
My grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac worshiped the Lord God. He has been with me all my life, 16 and his angel has kept me safe. Now I pray that he will bless these boys and that my name and the names of Abraham and Isaac will live on because of them. I ask God to give them many children and many descendants as well.
17 Joseph did not like it when he saw his father place his right hand on the head of the younger son. So he tried to move his father’s right hand from Ephraim’s head and place it on Manasseh. 18 Joseph said, “Father, you have made a mistake. This is the older boy. Put your right hand on him.”
19 But his father said, “Son, I know what I am doing. It’s true that Manasseh’s family will someday become a great nation. But Ephraim will be even greater than Manasseh, because his descendants will become many great nations.”
20 Jacob told him that in the future the people of Israel would ask God’s blessings on one another by saying, “I pray for God to bless you as much as he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh.” Jacob put Ephraim’s name first to show that he would be greater than Manasseh. 21 After that, Jacob said, “Joseph, you can see that I won’t live much longer. But God will be with you and will lead you back to the land he promised our family long ago. 22 Meanwhile, I’m giving you the hillside[d] I captured from the Amorites.”
Jacob Blesses His Sons
49 Jacob called his sons together and said:
My sons, I am Jacob,
your father Israel.
2 Come, gather around,
as I tell your future.
3 Reuben, you are my oldest,
born at the peak of my powers;
you were an honored leader.
4 Uncontrollable as a flood,
you slept with my wife
and disgraced my bed.
And so you no longer deserve
the place of honor.
5 Simeon and Levi,
you are brothers,
each a gruesome sword.
6 I never want to take part
in your plans or deeds.
You slaughtered people
in your anger,
and you crippled cattle
for no reason.
7 Now I place a curse on you
your fierce anger.
will be scattered
among the tribes of Israel.
8 Judah, you will be praised
by your brothers;
they will bow down to you,
as you defeat your enemies.
9 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[e]
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.[f]
15 You found them so pleasant
that you worked too hard
and became a slave.
16 Dan,[g] you are the tribe
that will bring justice
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,[h] 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.[i]
22 Joseph, you are a fruitful vine
growing near a stream
and climbing a wall.[j]
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.[k]
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.[l]
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.
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. 50 1 Joseph started crying, then leaned over to hug and kiss his father.
2 Joseph gave orders for Jacob’s body to be embalmed, 3 and it took the usual forty days.
The Egyptians mourned seventy days for Jacob. 4 When the time of mourning was over, Joseph said to the Egyptian leaders, “If you consider me your friend, please speak to the king[m] for me. 5 Just before my father died, he made me promise to bury him in his burial cave in Canaan. If the king will give me permission to go, I will come back here.”
6 The king answered, “Go to Canaan and keep your promise to your father.”
7-9 When Joseph left Goshen with his brothers, his relatives, and his father’s relatives to bury Jacob, many of the king’s highest officials and even his military chariots and cavalry went along. The Israelites left behind only their children, their cattle, and their sheep and goats.
10 After crossing the Jordan River and reaching Atad’s threshing place, Joseph had everyone mourn and weep seven days for his father. 11 The Canaanites saw this and said, “The Egyptians are in great sorrow.” Then they named the place “Egypt in Sorrow.”[n]
12 So Jacob’s sons did just as their father had instructed. 13 They took him to Canaan and buried him in Machpelah Cave, the burial place Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite.
14 After the funeral, Joseph, his brothers, and everyone else returned to Egypt.
Joseph’s Promise to His Brothers
15 After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers said to each other, “What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?”
16 So they sent this message to Joseph:
Before our father died, 17 he told us, “You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you.”
Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.
When Joseph heard this, he started crying.
18 Right then, Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to the ground in front of him and said, “We are your slaves.”
19 But Joseph told them, “Don’t be afraid! I have no right to change what God has decided. 20 You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing. 21 Don’t be afraid! I will take care of you and your children.” After Joseph said this, his brothers felt much better.
22 Joseph lived in Egypt with his brothers until he died at the age of one hundred ten. 23 Joseph lived long enough to see Ephraim’s children and grandchildren. He also lived to see the children of Manasseh’s son Machir, and he welcomed them into his family. 24 Before Joseph died, he told his brothers, “I won’t live much longer. But God will take care of you and lead you out of Egypt to the land he promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 Now promise me that you will take my body with you when God leads you to that land.”
26 So Joseph died in Egypt at the age of one hundred ten; his body was embalmed and put in a coffin.
- 48.7 northern Syria: See the note at 24.10.
- 48.7 Bethlehem: The Hebrew text has “Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem.”
- 48.12 move. . . Jacob’s knees: The two boys were placed either on or between Jacob’s knees, as a sign that he had accepted them as his sons.
- 48.22 the hillside: Or “a larger share than your brothers, the land.”
- 49.10 until. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 49.14 resting. . . meadows: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 49.16 Dan: In Hebrew “Dan” means “justice” or “judgment.”
- 49.19 Gad: In Hebrew “Gad” sounds like “attack.”
- 49.21 with lovely fawns: Or “speaking lovely words.”
- 49.22 wall: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 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.
- 49.26 eternal hills: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 50.4 the king: See the note at 12.15.
- 50.11 Egypt in Sorrow: Or “Abel-Mizraim.”