Jacob blesses his sons
1-2Jacob called his sons together and said:
My sons, I am Jacob,
your father Israel.
Come, gather around,
as I tell your future.
3Reuben, you are my eldest,
born at the peak of my powers;
you were an honoured leader.
4Uncontrollable as a flood,
you slept with my wife
and disgraced my bed.
And so you no longer deserve
the place of honour.
5Simeon and Levi,
you are brothers,
each a gruesome sword.
6I never want to take part
in your plans or deeds.
You slaughtered people
in your anger,
and you crippled cattle
for no reason.
7Now I place a curse on you
your fierce anger.
will be scattered
among the tribes of Israel.
8Judah, you will be praised
by your brothers;
they will bow down to you,
as you defeat your enemies.
9My son, you are a lion#Nu 24.9; Rev 5.5.
ready to eat your victim!
You are terribly fierce;
no one will bother you.
10You will have power and rule
until nations obey you#49.10 until…you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
and come bringing gifts.
11You will tie your donkey
to a choice grapevine
and wash your clothes
in wine from those grapes.
12Your eyes are darker than wine,
your teeth whiter than milk.
13Zebulun, you will settle
along the seashore
and provide safe harbours
as far north as Sidon.
14Issachar, you are a strong donkey
resting in the meadows.#49.14 resting…meadows: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
15You found them so pleasant
that you worked too hard
and became a slave.
16Dan,#49.16 Dan: In Hebrew “Dan” means “justice” or “judgment”. you are the tribe
that will bring justice
17You are a snake that bites
the heel of a horse,
making its rider fall.
18Our LORD, I am waiting
for you to save us.
19Gad,#49.19 Gad: In Hebrew “Gad” sounds like “attack”. you will be attacked,
then attack your attackers.
20Asher, you will eat food
fine enough for a king.
21Naphtali, you are a wild deer
with lovely fawns.#49.21 with lovely fawns: Or “speaking lovely words”.
22Joseph, you are a fruitful vine
growing near a stream
and climbing a wall.#49.22 wall: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
23Enemies attacked with arrows,
refusing to show mercy.
24But 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.#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.
25Your help came from the God
your father worshipped,
from God All-Powerful.
God will bless you with rain
and streams from the earth;
he will bless you
with many descendants.
26My son, the blessings I give
are better than the promise
of ancient mountains
or eternal hills.#49.26 eternal hills: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Joseph, I pray these blessings
will come to you,
because you are the leader
of your brothers.
27Benjamin, you are a fierce wolf,
destroying your enemies
morning and evening.
28These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is how Jacob gave each of them their proper blessings.
29-31Jacob told his sons:#Gn 23.3-20.#Gn 25.9-10; Gn 35.29.
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. 32Both the cave and the land that goes with it were bought from the Hittites.
33When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he lay down on his bed and died.#Ac 7.15.
Learn More About Contemporary English Version (Anglicised) 2012
© British and Foreign Bible Society 2012
1Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather around. I want to tell you what you can expect in the days to come.”
2Come together, listen sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel your father.
3-4Reuben, you’re my firstborn,
my strength, first proof of my manhood,
at the top in honor and at the top in power,
But like a bucket of water spilled,
you’ll be at the top no more,
Because you climbed into your father’s marriage bed,
mounting that couch, and you defiled it.
5-6Simeon and Levi are two of a kind,
ready to fight at the drop of a hat.
I don’t want anything to do with their vendettas,
want no part in their bitter feuds;
They kill men in fits of temper,
slash oxen on a whim.
7A curse on their uncontrolled anger,
on their indiscriminate wrath.
I’ll throw them out with the trash;
I’ll shred and scatter them like confetti throughout Israel.
8-12You, Judah, your brothers will praise you:
Your fingers on your enemies’ throat,
while your brothers honor you.
You’re a lion’s cub, Judah,
home fresh from the kill, my son.
Look at him, crouched like a lion, king of beasts;
who dares mess with him?
The scepter shall not leave Judah;
he’ll keep a firm grip on the command staff
Until the ultimate ruler comes
and the nations obey him.
He’ll tie up his donkey to the grapevine,
his purebred prize to a sturdy branch.
He will wash his shirt in wine
and his cloak in the blood of grapes,
His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.
13Zebulun settles down on the seashore;
he’s a safe harbor for ships,
right alongside Sidon.
14-15Issachar is one tough donkey
crouching between the corrals;
When he saw how good the place was,
how pleasant the country,
He gave up his freedom
and went to work as a slave.
16-17Dan will handle matters of justice for his people;
he will hold his own just fine among the tribes of Israel.
Dan is only a small snake in the grass,
a lethal serpent in ambush by the road
When he strikes a horse in the heel,
and brings its huge rider crashing down.
18I wait in hope
for your salvation, God.
19Gad will be attacked by bandits,
but he will trip them up.
20Asher will become famous for rich foods,
candies and sweets fit for kings.
21-26Naphtali is a deer running free
that gives birth to lovely fawns.
Joseph is a wild donkey,
a wild donkey by a spring,
spirited donkeys on a hill.
The archers with malice attacked,
shooting their hate-tipped arrows;
But he held steady under fire,
his bow firm, his arms limber,
With the backing of the Champion of Jacob,
the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
The God of your father—may he help you!
And may The Strong God—may he give you his blessings,
Blessings tumbling out of the skies,
blessings bursting up from the Earth—
blessings of breasts and womb.
May the blessings of your father
exceed the blessings of the ancient mountains,
surpass the delights of the eternal hills;
May they rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the one consecrated among his brothers.
27Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
all morning he gorges on his kill,
at evening divides up what’s left over.
28All these are the tribes of Israel, the twelve tribes. And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing.
* * *
29-32Then he instructed them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre in the land of Canaan, the field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial plot. Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there; Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there; I also buried Leah there. The field and the cave were bought from the Hittites.”
33Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
Learn More About The Message
THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of NavPress. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.