1 AND JACOB called for his sons and said, Gather yourselves together [around me], that I may tell you what shall befall you in the latter or last days.
2 Gather yourselves together and hear, you sons of Jacob; and hearken to Israel your father.
3 Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the beginning (the firstfruits) of my manly strength and vigor; [your birthright gave you] the preeminence in dignity and the preeminence in power.
4 But unstable and boiling over like water, you shall not excel and have the preeminence [of the firstborn], because you went to your father's bed; you defiled it–he went to my couch! [Gen. 35:22.]
5 Simeon and Levi are brothers [equally headstrong, deceitful, vindictive, and cruel]; their swords are weapons of violence. [Gen. 34:25-29.]
6 O my soul, come not into their secret council; unto their assembly let not my honor be united [for I knew nothing of their plot], because in their anger they slew men [an honored man, Shechem, and the Shechemites], and in their self-will they disabled oxen.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.
8 Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down to you.
9 Judah, a lion's cub! With the prey, my son, you have gone high up [the mountain]. He stooped down, he crouched like a lion, and like a lioness–who dares provoke and rouse him? [Rev. 5:5.]
10 The scepter or leadership shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes to Whom it belongs, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. [Num. 24:17; Ps. 60:7.]
11 Binding His foal to the vine and His donkey's colt to the choice vine, He washes His garments in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes. [Isa. 63:1-3; Zech. 9:9; Rev. 19:11-16.]
12 His eyes are darker and more sparkling than wine, and His teeth whiter than milk.
13 Zebulun shall live toward the seashore, and he shall be a haven and a landing place for ships; and his border shall be toward Sidon.
14 Issachar is a strong-boned donkey crouching down between the sheepfolds.
15 And he saw that rest was good and that the land was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear [his burdens] and became a servant to tribute [subjected to forced labor].
16 Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites at the horse's heels, so that his rider falls backward.
18 I wait for Your salvation, O Lord.
19 Gad–a raiding troop shall raid him, but he shall raid at their heels and assault them [victoriously].
20 Asher's food [supply] shall be rich and fat, and he shall yield and deliver royal delights.
21 Naphtali is a hind let loose which yields lovely fawns.
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well (spring or fountain), whose branches run over the wall.
23 Skilled archers have bitterly attacked and sorely worried him; they have shot at him and persecuted him.
24 But his bow remained strong and steady and rested in the Strength that does not fail him, for the arms of his hands were made strong and active by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, [Gen. 48:15; Deut. 32:4; Isa. 9:6; 49:26.]
25 By the God of your father, Who will help you, and by the Almighty, Who will bless you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings lying in the deep beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father [on you] are greater than the blessings of my forefathers [Abraham and Isaac on me] and are as lasting as the bounties of the eternal hills; they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was the consecrated one and the one separated from his brethren and [the one who] is prince among them.
27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at night dividing the spoil.
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one according to the blessing suited to him.
29 He charged them and said to them, I am to be gathered to my [departed] people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30 In the cave in the field at Machpelah, east of Mamre in the land of Canaan, that Abraham bought, along with the field of Ephron the Hittite, to possess as a cemetery. [Gen. 23:17-20.]
31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.
32 The purchase of the field and the cave that is in it was from the sons of Heth.
33 When Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his [departed] people.
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1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation