Jacob Blesses His Sons
Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.
“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords[a] are weapons of violence.
Let 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.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
“Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You 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?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
He 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.
His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.[e]
“Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend toward Sidon.
“Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.[g]
When 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 labor.
“Dan[h] will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward.
“I look for your deliverance, Lord.
“Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
“Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
“Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.[j]
“Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.[k]
With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”
All 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
Then 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, the 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. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.[p]”
When 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.
- Genesis 49:5 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
- Genesis 49:8 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise.
- Genesis 49:10 Or from his descendants
- Genesis 49:10 Or to whom tribute belongs; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
- Genesis 49:12 Or will be dull from wine, / his teeth white from milk
- Genesis 49:14 Or strong
- Genesis 49:14 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags
- Genesis 49:16 Dan here means he provides justice.
- Genesis 49:19 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for attack and also for band of raiders.
- Genesis 49:21 Or free; / he utters beautiful words
- Genesis 49:22 Or Joseph is a wild colt, / a wild colt near a spring, / a wild donkey on a terraced hill
- Genesis 49:24 Or archers will attack … will shoot … will remain … will stay
- Genesis 49:25 Hebrew Shaddai
- Genesis 49:26 Or of my progenitors, / as great as
- Genesis 49:26 Or of the one separated from
- Genesis 49:32 Or the descendants of Heth
Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”
Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”
So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen[a] also went up with him. It was a very large company.
When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.[b]
So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.
Joseph Reassures His Brothers
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The Death of Joseph
Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.[c]
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
- Genesis 50:9 Or charioteers
- Genesis 50:11 Abel Mizraim means mourning of the Egyptians.
- Genesis 50:23 That is, were counted as his