The Last Words of Jacob
1Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather round, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the future:
2“Come together and listen, sons of Jacob.
Listen to your father Israel.
3“Reuben, my firstborn, you are my strength
And the first child of my manhood,
The proudest and strongest of all my sons.
4You are like a raging flood,
But you will not be the most important,
For you slept with my concubine
And dishonoured your father's bed.
5“Simeon and Levi are brothers.
They use their weapons to commit violence.
6I will not join in their secret talks,
Nor will I take part in their meetings,
For they killed men in anger
And they crippled bulls for sport.
7A curse be on their anger, because it is so fierce,
And on their fury, because it is so cruel.
I will scatter them throughout the land of Israel.
I will disperse them among its people.
8“Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You hold your enemies by the neck.
Your brothers will bow down before you.
9 # Num 24.9; Rev 5.5 Judah is like a lion,
Killing his victim and returning to his den,
Stretching out and lying down.
No one dares disturb him.
10Judah will hold the royal sceptre,
And his descendants will always rule.
Nations will bring him tribute#49.10 Probable text Nations… tribute; Hebrew unclear.
And bow in obedience before him.
11He ties his young donkey to a grapevine,
To the very best of the vines.
He washes his clothes in blood-red wine.
12His eyes are bloodshot from drinking wine,
His teeth white from drinking milk.#49.12 His eyes… milk; or His eyes are darker than wine, his teeth are whiter than milk.
13“Zebulun will live beside the sea.
His shore will be a haven for ships.
His territory will reach as far as Sidon.
14“Issachar is no better than a donkey
That lies stretched out between its saddlebags.
15But he sees that the resting place is good
And that the land is delightful.
So he bends his back to carry the load
And is forced to work as a slave.
16“Dan will be a ruler for his people.
They will be like the other tribes of Israel.
17Dan will be a snake at the side of the road,
A poisonous snake beside the path,
That strikes at the horse's heel,
So that the rider is thrown off backwards.
18“I wait for your deliverance, LORD.
19“Gad will be attacked by a band of robbers,
But he will turn and pursue them.
20“Asher's land will produce rich food.
He will provide food fit for a king.
21“Naphtali is a deer that runs free,
Who bears lovely fawns.#49.21 Naphtali… fawns; or Naphtali is a spreading tree that puts out lovely branches.
22“Joseph is like a wild donkey by a spring,
A wild colt on a hillside.#49.22 Joseph… hillside; or Joseph is like a tree by a spring, a fruitful tree that spreads over a wall.
23His enemies attack him fiercely
And pursue him with their bows and arrows.
24But his bow remains steady,
And his arms are made strong#49.24 But… strong; or But their bows were broken and splintered, the muscles of their arms torn apart.
By the power of the Mighty God of Jacob,
By the Shepherd, the Protector of Israel.
25It is your father's God who helps you,
The Almighty God who blesses you
With blessings of rain from above
And of deep waters from beneath the ground,
Blessings of many cattle and children,
26Blessings of corn and flowers,#49.26 Probable text corn and flowers; Hebrew your fathers are mightier than.
Blessings of ancient mountains,#49.26 One ancient translation ancient mountains; Hebrew my ancestors to.
Delightful things from everlasting hills.
May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph,
On the brow of the one set apart from his brothers.
27“Benjamin is like a vicious wolf.
Morning and evening he kills and devours.”
28These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he spoke a suitable word of farewell to each son.
The Death and Burial of Jacob
29Then Jacob commanded his sons, “Now that I am going to join my people in death, bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30#Gen 23.3–20at Machpelah, east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought this cave and field from Ephron for a burial ground. 31#Gen 25.9–10; 35.29That is where they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; that is where they buried Isaac and his wife Rebecca; and that is where I buried Leah. 32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites. Bury me there.” 33#Acts 7.15When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he lay down again and died.
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Good News Bible. Scripture taken from the Good News Bible (r) (Today's English Version Second Edition, UK/British Edition). Copyright © 1992 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
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