1And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 2Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
3¶ Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.49.4 thou shalt…: Heb. do not thou excel49.4 he went…: or, my couch is gone
5¶ Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.49.5 instruments…: or, their swords are weapons of violence 6O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.49.6 digged…: or, houghed oxen 7Cursed 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, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
13¶ Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
14¶ Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
16¶ Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.49.17 an adder: Heb. an arrow-snake 18I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
19¶ Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
20¶ Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
21¶ Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
22¶ Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:49.22 branches: Heb. daughters 23The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: 24But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
27¶ Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
28¶ All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them. 29And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace. 31There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. 32The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth. 33And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
Jacob blesses his sons
1Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
2‘Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.
3‘Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honour, excelling in power.
4Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
5‘Simeon and Levi are brothers –
their swords49:5 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain. are weapons of violence.
6Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
7Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
8‘Judah,49:8 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise. your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness – who dares to rouse him?
10The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,49:10 Or from his descendants
until he to whom it belongs49:10 Or to whom tribute belongs; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain. shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.49:12 Or will be dull from wine, / his teeth white from milk
13‘Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend towards Sidon.
14‘Issachar is a scrawny49:14 Or strong donkey
lying down among the sheepfolds.49:14 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags
15When he sees how good is his resting-place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labour.
16‘Dan49:16 Dan here means he provides justice. will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backwards.
18‘I look for your deliverance, Lord.
19‘Gad49:19 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for attack and also for band of raiders. will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
20‘Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21‘Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.49:21 Or free; / he utters beautiful words
22‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.49:22 Or Joseph is a wild colt, / a wild colt near a spring, / a wild donkey on a terraced hill
23With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed49:23,24 Or archers will attack… will shoot… will remain… will stay supple,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,49:25 Hebrew Shaddai who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than49:26 Or of my progenitors, / as great as the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among49:26 Or of the one separated from his brothers.
27‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.’
28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
The death of Jacob
29Then he gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.49:32 Or the descendants of Heth’
33When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.