Jacob Speaks Over His Sons
1Jacob called his sons and said to them: Gather together so that I can tell you what will happen to you in the last days.
2Be assembled and listen, sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.
3Reuben, my firstborn are you, my vigor and firstborn of my power, endowed with extra dignity, endowed with extra strength—
4like water boiling over you will not have extra, for you got up into your father’s bed, when you defiled a maid’s couch.
5Simeon and Levi are brothers, instruments of violence are their knives.
6In their secret counsel may my soul not enter. In their contingent may my honor never be united. For in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they maimed oxen.
7Cursed be their anger for it was strong and their rage for it was cruel— I will disperse them in Jacob, I will scatter them in Israel.
8Judah, so you are— your brothers will praise you: Your hand will be on your enemies’ neck. Your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9A lion’s cub is Judah— from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches, lies down like a lion, or like a lioness— who would rouse him?
10The scepter will not pass from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs will come. To him will be the obedience of the peoples.
11Binding his foal to the vine, his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine, and in the blood of grapes his robe.
12His eyes are darker than wine, and teeth that are whiter than milk.
13Zebulun will dwell by the seashore, and be by a harbor for ships— his distant border reaches Sidon.
14Issachar is a strong-boned donkey, lying down between two saddlebags.
15He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant. He leaned his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a forced laborer.
16Dan will judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
17Let Dan be a serpent beside a road, a viper beside a path, who strikes a horse’s heels, so that its rider falls backward.
18For your salvation I wait, Adonai!
19Gad—attackers will attack him, but he will attack their heels.
20Asher—rich is his food— he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21Naphtali is a doe let loose, who offers words of beauty.
22A fruitful son is Joseph, a fruitful son beside a spring— daughters walk along a wall.
23The archers were bitter and shot arrows and were hostile towards him.
24Yet his bow was always filled, and his arms quick-moving— by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob. From there a Shepherd, the Stone of Israel,
25from the God of your father who helps you, and Shaddai who blesses you, with blessings of heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of breasts and womb.
26The blessings of your father surpassed the blessings of the ancient mountains, the desire of the everlasting hills. May they be upon Joseph’s head, upon the crown of the one set apart from his brothers.
27Benjamin is a ravening wolf— in the morning he devours spoils, and in the evening divides plunder.
28These are the tribes of Israel, twelve in all, and this is what their father spoke to them. He blessed them, each one he blessed with a suitable blessing.
29Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, that is next to Mamre in the land of Canaan—the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a property for burial.
31There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah, and there I buried Leah.
32The field was purchased along with the cave in it from the sons of Het.”
33When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, then breathed his last and was gathered to his peoples.
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Jacob blesses his sons
1Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
2‘Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.
3‘Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honour, excelling in power.
4Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
5‘Simeon and Levi are brothers –
their swords#49:5 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain. are weapons of violence.
6Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
7Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
8‘Judah,#49:8 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise. your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness – who dares to rouse him?
10The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,#49:10 Or from his descendants
until he to whom it belongs#49:10 Or to whom tribute belongs; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain. shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.#49:12 Or will be dull from wine, / his teeth white from milk
13‘Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend towards Sidon.
14‘Issachar is a scrawny#49:14 Or strong donkey
lying down among the sheepfolds.#49:14 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags
15When he sees how good is his resting-place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labour.
16‘Dan#49:16 Dan here means he provides justice. will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backwards.
18‘I look for your deliverance, Lord.
19‘Gad#49:19 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for attack and also for band of raiders. will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
20‘Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21‘Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.#49:21 Or free; / he utters beautiful words
22‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.#49:22 Or Joseph is a wild colt, / a wild colt near a spring, / a wild donkey on a terraced hill
23With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed#49:23,24 Or archers will attack… will shoot… will remain… will stay supple,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,#49:25 Hebrew Shaddai who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than#49:26 Or of my progenitors, / as great as the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among#49:26 Or of the one separated from his brothers.
27‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.’
28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
The death of Jacob
29Then he gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.#49:32 Or the descendants of Heth’
33When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
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