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Jacob is taking his final breaths. He gathers his sons to bless them each according to their own personal traits.

Jacob Blesses His Sons 1 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so 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 honor, excelling in power.4 Turbulent 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 swords[a] are weapons of violence.6 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.7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,   and their fury, so cruel!I will scatter them in Jacob   and disperse them in Israel. 8 “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.9 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?10 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.11 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.12 His eyes will be darker than wine,   his teeth whiter than milk.[e] 13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore   and become a haven for ships;   his border will extend toward Sidon. 14 “Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey   lying down among the sheep pens.[g]15 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. 16 “Dan[h] will provide justice for his people   as one of the tribes of Israel.17 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. 18 “I look for your deliverance, LORD. 19 “Gad[i] 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.[j] 22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,   a fruitful vine near a spring,   whose branches climb over a wall.[k]23 With bitterness archers attacked him;   they shot at him with hostility.24 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,25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,   because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses youwith blessings of the skies above,   blessings of the deep springs below,   blessings of the breast and womb.26 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. 27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;   in the morning he devours the prey,   in the evening he divides the plunder.” 28 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 29 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, 30 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. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.[p]” 33 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.

    Jacob is taking his final breaths. He gathers his sons to bless them each according to their own personal traits. The sons sat in silence as their father proceeded to judge their qualities.
    The first to receive his judgment was Reuben, who had slept with Jacob’s concubine. Jacob condemns him for sleeping with his step-mother. He pronounces that Reuben shall not succeed and indeed no king of prophet arises from the tribe of Reuben.
    Again he has nothing good to say about Simeon and Levi. They seem to have been cruel all their lives even leading in the mistreatment of Joseph. Jacob call upon them to be scattered across the land of Israel. Eventually the Leviets become priests making this curse a blessing.
    To Judah Jacob gives the role as leader in the family saying, “your brothers will praise you.”Even after Judah’s questionable pass arises a righteous man. His offspring will contain King David and Jesus Christ. Jacob even goes so far to mention the coming of Christ in this passage.
    Jacob prophesied that Zebulan would live by the see. Later Zebulan makes a home in Galilee where the shores of the water served as a safe harbor for turbulent weather. Galilee is also where Mary and Joseph took refuge during Herod’s persecution.
    Issacher is given a pleasant piece of land and lives a peaceful life choosing to become a servant to tribute rather than go to war for the possession of the land. Jacob calls upon Dan to be a judge of his people, and later Samson a notable judge would rise from his line of offspring. However, he also introduces idolatry to his people causing Jacob to call him a, “serpent by the way”.
    Jacob foresees Gad being overtaken by his enemies. Gad did not follow the other tribes into the promised land and was the often attacked and eventually taken captive by raiders. In contrast Asher is given fruitful territory in the promised land known for its delicacies. Naphtali is said to have beautiful words and the judge and prophet Deborah would rise from him.
    The greatest blessing was given to Joseph. His father was proud at how he had handled his hardships even blessing those who persecuted him. Jacob assures Joseph that God will remain with him. Finally, Jacob likens Benjamin to a wolf in his strength. Benjamin would remain a small but fierce tribe.
    After Jacob is done giving his blessings he gives specific instructions concerning his burial. He directs his sons to bury him with his forefathers, Abraham and Issac, in the promised land. This might be his way of staking out the land the LORD has promised to give him.

 


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