Jacob blesses his sons
1Then Jacob called for his sons. He said, ‘Come here to me. Then I can tell you what will happen to you, in future years. 2Sons of Jacob come together and listen. Listen to your father, Israel.’ #49:2 Now Jacob says what is going to happen to each of his sons and to their descendants.
3Jacob said, ‘Reuben you are my oldest son. You were my first child after I became a man. Of all my sons, you think yourself most important. And you are the strongest.
4Yet you are as wild as the sea. People will no longer know you as the most important son (or first-born son) because you went to your father's bed. And you slept with my concubine. This was a wrong thing to do. You made me ashamed.
Simeon and Levi
5Simeon and Levi are brothers. They use their swords only to hurt people.
Verse 4 See also 35:22.
Verse 5 See also 34:26.
6I will not take part in their plans. They kill men when they are angry. And they hurt animals only because they want to. So, I will not meet with them.
7May they be cursed because they are angry. This is because they are so cruel. And I will make your descendants live with other people. They will not have their own land. They will live all over the country of Israel.
8Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will kill your enemies. Your father's sons will bow down to you.
9Judah is like a wild animal that has eaten its meal. He rests after eating. Nobody would want to wake a wild animal.
10The royal sceptre will not leave him. And the staff of rulers will stay with him. It will stay with him until one man comes. That will be the man that it belongs to. And everyone will obey that man.’ #49:10 Judah will be like a king. Then the person that God has chosen will come to take his place. Bible students think that this means King David, then Christ. #49:10 A royal sceptre is something that a king holds. Its shape is like a stick with a ball on the top.
11 ‘Judah will tie his donkey to a vine. He will tie his horse to the best branch. He will wash his clothes in red wine.’ #49:11 A vine is a plant. Grapes grow on it These make wine. Its branches grow over many things. Vines were valuable plants in Old Testament times. #49:11 Jacob is saying that Judah will be very rich. He will tie his horse to the best branch of a valuable plant. And he will wash his clothes in wine. He will be very rich.
12 ‘His eyes are red from drinking lots of wine. And his teeth are white from drinking milk.’ #49:12 Jacob is saying that Judah will have plenty of everything.
13 ‘Zebulun will live by the sea. And his town will be a safe place for ships to stay. His land will go as far as Sidon.
14Issachar is like a donkey. The donkey is lying down between 2 saddlebags.
15He saw how good his resting-place was. And he saw how nice the country was. So he stayed there. And he worked like a slave for other people.’ #49:15 Jacob is saying that Issachar is strong. He is saying that he will work like a donkey. Donkeys carry heavy things in their saddlebags. Issachar will work for other people, for food and a nice place to stay.
16 ‘Dan will be a ruler for his people. His descendants will be like other tribes of Israel. They are a small tribe. But they will still be like the other tribes.
17He will be as dangerous as a snake on the road. He will be like a snake that bites the feet of horses. Then the person falls off the horse.
18I look to you to keep me safe Lord.’ #49:18 Verse 18 Jacob says a small prayer, then he continues.
19‘People will attack Gad, but he will attack them.
20Asher will have good food. It will be good enough for kings to eat.’ #49:20 The land where Asher lives will be good land. And he will grow very good food. The food will be so good that kings will buy it to eat.
21 ‘Naphtali is like a wild animal. He runs free and has many young ones.
22Joseph is like a vine that has lots of fruit. It grows by a well and the branches go over a wall.’ #49:22 Jacob means that Joseph's descendants will go and live all over the land.
23‘His enemies hated him. And they attacked him.
24But he stayed strong and beat them. That was because the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob (the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel) helped him.’ #49:24 Mighty One is another name for God. It means that God is very strong. Shepherd is also a name for God (see 48:15). Rock of Israel, means that God is strong and does not change. Jacob is showing this. He knows that God has helped Joseph. He also knows that he is still helping him.
25 ‘The Almighty (the God of Jacob) blesses you. So he gives you the blessings of the heaven above and the blessings of the deep that lies below. And he gives you the blessings of the breasts and womb.’ #49:25 ‘Blessings of heaven above’ and ‘blessings of the deep’ mean that God will give Joseph's descendants good land and water to put on the land. #49:25 ‘Blessings of the breasts and womb’ means that Joseph's descendants, and their animals will have many young ones.
26 ‘The blessings of your father are greater than the blessing of my ancestors. They go up to the top of the mountains that last for ever. They are for Joseph, who was separate from his brothers.
27Benjamin is like a hungry wild animal. He kills an animal and eats it in the morning. In the evening, he gives what remains to his people.’ #49:27 Jacob is saying that Benjamin will go out and kill his enemies in the morning. And he will return in the evening. In the evening, he will give what he has taken from his enemies to his people.
28All these are the 12 tribes of Israel. And this is what their father told them. He told them when he blessed them. He told each son what would happen to his descendants. #49:28 Verse 28 ‘the 12 tribes of Israel’ – the descendants of each son would become a separate group of people.
Jacob dies and Joseph buries him
29Then Jacob said to his 12 sons, ‘I am about to die. So take my body from here. Take my body to Canaan. Bury me with my ancestors, in the grave in the field that belonged to Ephron the Hittite. 30The grave is in the field of Machpelah. That is near Mamre in Canaan. Abraham bought this as a place to bury people. He bought it from Ephron the Hittite. Abraham bought the grave with the field. 31That is where they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah. And it is where they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah. And this is where I buried Leah. 32Abraham bought the field and the grave from the Hittites.’ 33Jacob finished telling his sons what he wanted them to do. And he lay on his bed. He died. And he went to be with his ancestors who had died before him.