Genesis chapter 49

Jacob’s final words. Jacob dies.

 


 

JACOB’S FINAL WORDS

 

VERSE 1. Jacob called to his sons, and said: “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which will happen to you in the days to come.

Jacob called to his sons. This incident is very famous.

that I may tell you. The verses that follow are often thought of as blessings from Jacob to his sons. People say “Jacob blesses his sons.”

However, if a “blessing” is a good thing, then Jacob did not “bless” all twelve of his sons. In that sense, he “curses” at least three of his sons …

that which will happen to you in the days to come. Jacob speaks of the future for each of his twelve sons:

  • Jacob condemns three sons to a life of failure
  • Jacob condemns one son to a life of slavery
  • Jacob predicts a good life for seven sons
  • Jacob speaks ambiguously for one son

Specifics:

 

VERSE 2. Assemble yourselves, and hear, you sons of Jacob. Listen to Israel, your father.

 

VERSE 3. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, excelling in dignity, and excelling in power.

 

VERSE 4. Boiling over like water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed, then defiled it. He went up to my couch.

you shall not excel. Jacob condemns his son Reuben to a life of failure.

 

VERSE 5. “Simeon and Levi are brothers. Their swords are weapons of violence.

 

VERSE 6. My soul, don’t come into their council. My glory, don’t be united to their assembly; for in their anger they killed men. In their self-will they hamstrung cattle.

 

VERSE 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.

I will divide them … scatter them. Jacob condemns his sons Simeon and Levi to a life of failure.

 

VERSE 8. “Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. Your father’s sons will bow down before you.

your brothers will praise you. Jacob speaks of a good future for his son Judah.

 

VERSE 9. Judah is a lion’s cub. From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, as a lioness. Who will rouse him up?

 

VERSE 10. The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs. The obedience of the peoples will be to him.

 

VERSE 11. Binding his foal to the vine, his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.

 

VERSE 12. His eyes will be red with wine, his teeth white with milk.

 

VERSE 13. “Zebulun will dwell at the haven of the sea. He will be for a haven of ships. His border will be on Sidon.

Zebulun will dwell at the haven of the sea. Jacob speaks of a good future for his son Zebulun.

 

VERSE 14. “Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the saddlebags.

 

VERSE 15. He saw a resting place, that it was good, the land, that it was pleasant. He bows his shoulder to the burden, and becomes a servant doing forced labor.

becomes a servant doing forced labor. Jacob condemns his son Issachar to a life of slavery.

 

VERSE 16. “Dan will judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

Dan will judge his people. Jacob speaks of a good future for his son Dan.

 

VERSE 17. Dan will be a serpent on the trail, an adder in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward.

 

VERSE 18. I have waited for your salvation, LORD.

 

VERSE 19. “A troop will press on Gad, but he will press on their heel.

A troop will press on Gad. Jacob has neutral things to say about his son Gad.

 

VERSE 20. “Asher’s food will be rich. He will produce royal dainties.

Asher’s food will be rich. Jacob speaks of a good future for his son Asher.

 

VERSE 21. “Naphtali is a doe set free, who bears beautiful fawns.

Naphtali is a doe set free. Jacob speaks of a good future for his son Naphtali.

 

VERSE 22. “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine by a spring. His branches run over the wall.

Joseph is a fruitful vine. Jacob speaks of a good future for his son Joseph.

 

VERSE 23. The archers have severely grieved him, shot at him, and persecuted him:

 

VERSE 24. But his bow remained strong. The arms of his hands were made strong, by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel),

 

VERSE 25. even by the God of your father, who will help you, by the Almighty, who will bless you, with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.

 

VERSE 26. The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of your ancestors, above the boundaries of the ancient hills. They will be on the head of Joseph, on the crown of the head of him who is separated from his brothers.

 

VERSE 27. “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf. In the morning he will devour the prey. At evening he will divide the plunder.”

Benjamin is a ravenous wolf. It is unclear if this is a good future or a bad one.

 

JACOB DIES

 

VERSE 28. All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them, and blessed them. He blessed everyone according to his own blessing.

 

VERSE 29. He instructed them, and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

 

VERSE 30. in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place.

 

VERSE 31. There they buried Abraham and Sarah, his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah, his wife, and there I buried Leah:

 

VERSE 32. the field and the cave that is therein, which was purchased from the children of Heth.”

 

VERSE 33. When Jacob finished charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, breathed his last breath, and was gathered to his people.

 


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GENESIS

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