49 And Jacob called for his sons and said, Gather yourselves together [around me], that I may tell you what shall befall you [a]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 [b]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.
5 Simeon and Levi are brothers [equally headstrong, deceitful, vindictive, and cruel]; their swords are weapons of violence.(B)
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 [d]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?(C)
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.(D)
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.(E)
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,(F)
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 [e]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.(G)
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.
- Genesis 49:1 See Deut. 33, where Moses blesses the same tribes in a similar prophetic way.
- Genesis 49:3 Reuben was the eldest of Jacob’s twelve sons and therefore entitled to the birthright, which would make him successor to his father as head of the family or tribe and inheritor of a double portion of his father’s estate. But Reuben forfeited all this by his conduct with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Gen. 35:22). By adopting Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and giving each of them a portion of the inheritance, Jacob virtually gave Joseph Reuben’s extra portion of the land. And Judah became the tribal leader in Reuben’s place (Gen. 49:8-10).
- Genesis 49:4 The whole fertile territory once occupied by the tribe of Reuben has long since been deserted by its settled inhabitants and given up to the nomad tribes of the desert. Reuben did “not excel,” and even before Jacob’s death he had lost his “preeminence of the firstborn” (John D. Davis, A Dictionary of the Bible).
- Genesis 49:7 This was literally fulfilled. Levi got no inheritance except 48 towns scattered throughout different parts of Canaan. As to Simeon, they were originally given only a few towns and villages in Judah’s lot (Josh. 19:1). Afterward, needing more room, they formed colonies in districts which they conquered from the Idumeans and the Amalekites I Chron. 4:39, 40. (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible with A Commentary).
- Genesis 49:27 The tribe of Benjamin is fitly compared to a ravenous wolf because of the rude courage and ferocity which they invariably displayed, particularly in their war with the other tribes, in which they killed more men than all of their own numbers combined (Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible with A Commentary). The tribe was absorbed by the tribe of Judah and is not mentioned after the return from the Babylonian captivity, except in connection with its former land or as the source of some individual person. Ehud, Saul, Jonathan, and the apostle Paul were Benjamites.
- Genesis 49:4 : Gen. 35:22.
- Genesis 49:5 : Gen. 34:25-29.
- Genesis 49:9 : Rev. 5:5.
- Genesis 49:10 : Num. 24:17; Ps. 60:7.
- Genesis 49:11 : Isa. 63:1-3; Zech. 9:9; Rev. 19:11-16.
- Genesis 49:24 : Gen. 48:15; Deut. 32:4; Isa. 9:6; 49:26.
- Genesis 49:30 : Gen. 23:17-20.