Genesis  ◦   Chapter 49

1Then Jacob called his sons before him and said, “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to your descendants in the days to come.

2   “Gather together and listen, you sons of Jacob;

      take heed to what your father, Israel, has to tell you.

3   “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

      recipient of my strength and first manifestation of my procreative power,

      destined to lead my sons – the greatest in power.

4   But you lost control of yourself and your passion boiled over like water,

      and so you will not be the greatest and will not lead,

      for you presumed to usurp your father’s bed,

      and you defiled it – Yes, he went up onto my couch!

5   “Simeon and Levi are brothers – two of a kind;

      their lives are instruments of violence.

6   May I never be part of their conspiracies,

      may my name never be connected to their company,

      for in anger they have murdered innocent men

      and taken pleasure in maiming and abusing animals.

7   Their merciless anger is a curse,

      their indiscriminate rage is cruel.

      I will break up their violent union by spreading them among the people,

      and dilute their influence by dispersing them throughout Israel.

8   “Judah, your brothers will praise your power;

      your father’s stiff-necked enemies will bow before your Son.

9   O Judah, you are like a young lion –

      with victory, my son, you will rise up;

      but you will become like an old lion,

      stooped and bent down – who will arouse you?

10   But the scepter will not depart from Judah,

      nor the ruler’s staff from your descendants,

      until Shiloh – the Remedy to sin – comes

      and cleanses the people.

11   He will be like a donkey of peace tied to the vine of humanity,

      a colt bound to the chosen branch;

      his garments of character will be washed in new wine

      and his robes of righteousness with blood, like crushed grapes.

12   His eyes will sparkle like wine,

      his teeth will be whiter than milk.

13   “Zebulun will live by the coast

      and be a haven for ships,

      with borders to Sidon.

14   “Issachar is like a strong, hard-working donkey

      that finds rest between the burdens of life.

15   For the reward of a comfortable home

      and a peaceful land,

      your descendants will carry many burdens

      and be slaves to their own ambitions.

16   “Dan likes to rule over others

      and will seek to be first among the tribes of Israel.

17   The descendants of Dan will be like a crafty serpent beside the road,

      like a viper that strikes at the horse’s heels and causes the rider to fall backward;

      their words will mislead and cause the people to stumble backward.

18   “Oh, how I look forward to you healing your creation, O Lord!

19   “Gad, your descendants will not seek conquest, but when attacked by raiders,

      will attack back to drive them away.

20   “From Asher will come rich foods;

      his descendants will provide food fit for kings.

21   “Naphtali, you are like a deer running free,

      reveling in sharing the beauty of life.

22   “Joseph is my fruitful son –

      like a fruitful vine near a life-giving well;

      his branches are like a protective wall.

23   Those over him attacked him;

      they shot their arrows of bitterness and resentment to destroy him.

24   But he is like a bow that bends under pressure and then reverses the assault;

      his power was strengthened

      by the hand of the Mighty God of Jacob,

      protected and guided by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

25   helped by your father’s God,

      blessed by Almighty Creator God,

      blessed with the refreshing rains of heaven,

      blessed with the fruitfulness of the earth,

      blessed to produce and sustain life.

26   The blessings of Jacob, your father, are greater

      than the blessings of my ancestors,

      enduring like the everlasting hills.

      Let all these blessings rest upon Joseph’s head –

      on the brow of the prince who was set apart from his brothers.

27   “Benjamin is like a ravenous wolf –

      devouring enemies in the morning

      and dividing plunder in the evening.”

28These are the twelve tribes of Israel and the blessing that their father spoke to them before he died. He gave each one the blessing that was right for them.

29Then Jacob gave them these instructions: “I am soon to join my ancestors in the sleep of death. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 30This is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, Isaac and his wife Rebekah are buried, and it was there that I buried Leah. 32The field and cave in it were bought from the sons of Heth.”

33When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he curled up in bed, breathed his last, and joined his ancestors asleep in death.