Genesis 49: Jacob’s Last Words

On what basis could Jacob predict what would become of his sons?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:1–2 Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather around me so I can tell you what to expect in the days to come. Come closer and listen, sons of Jacob. Hear what your father Israel has to say.”
King James
Genesis 49:1–2 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.

Why couldn’t Jacob praise Reuben for his strengths rather than condemn him for his weaknesses? Why wasn’t he given credit for planning to rescue Joseph from the cistern.?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:3–4 “Reuben, my firstborn, is the first evidence of my manhood and strength. You should be exalted, with great honor and power, but you are as uncontrollable as a flood. You will not excel, because you slept with my wife and brought disgrace to my marriage.”
King James
Genesis 49:3–4 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable 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.

How did their father’s curse affect the future of Simeon and Levi?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:5–7 “Simeon and Levi are brothers wielding swords of violence. I was never a part of their plotting or a participant in their anger as they killed a man and took pleasure in destroying a prince. Let them be cursed for their fierce anger and harsh vengeance, separated from the sons of Jacob and scattered among the tribes of Israel.”
King James
Genesis 49:5–7 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O 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. Cursed 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.

Why did Jacob predict greatness for Judah? Was the tribe of Judah great because of Jacob’s prediction? Why?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:8–12 “Judah, you will be praised by your brothers. They will bow to honor you as you defeat your enemies. You are a young lion, my son, victorious over your prey. Crouched like a lion, no one dares to oppose you. Judah will hold the power and rule the land until the supreme ruler comes to gather the nations. He will tie his donkey to a grapevine and its colt to a chosen branch. His garments will be washed in wine, the blood of grapes. His eyes are dark like wine, his teeth milk-white.”
King James
Genesis 49:8–12 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. Judah 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? The 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. Binding 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: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

What made Jacob think Zebulun would live by the seashore?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore and be a safe harbor for ships as far north as Sidon.”
King James
Genesis 49:13 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.

How did Issachar feel about being told he would be a slave? Did his father saying so make that outcome inevitable?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:14–15 “Issachar is a strong donkey weighted down by heavy burdens. 15 When he a good resting place, a pleasant land, he will bend beneath the weight and become a slave.”
King James
Genesis 49:14–15 Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And 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.

What did Dan and the others think when their rule was compared to the behavior of a snake?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:16–18 “Dan will rule his people like the other tribes of Israel, like a snake by the roadside or a viper on the path, striking the horse’s leg and causing the rider to fall backward.
“Lord, I am patiently waiting for your deliverance.”
King James
Genesis 49:16–18 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.

How might their father’s words have affected the behavior of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, changed their choices, and made their future something different from what it would have been, otherwise?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:19–21 “Gad will be attacked but will eventually win.
“Asher will grow rich crops suitable for kings.
“Naphtali is a wild deer with his lovely words.”
King James
Genesis 49:19–21 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

In what ways do you think Joseph was blessed after his father died? How could he have been more blessed than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

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Genesis 49:22–26 “Joseph is a fruitful grapevine fed by a spring, its branches climbing over the wall. You have been savagely attacked by those who hated you, but the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob, Shepherd and Rock of Israel, kept you strong. May God Almighty bless you, bringing rain from above and life-giving streams below. May you be blessed with many descendants. May you be blessed more abundantly than your father and Abraham and Isaac before us and be as lasting as the everlasting mountains. May these blessings rest upon Joseph, who is a prince above his brothers.”
Genesis 50:22–23 Joseph remained in Egypt with all his father’s families. He lived to be 110 years old and lived to see his son Ephraim’s great-grandchildren. He sat upon his knees the children of Makir, Manasseh’s son, as they grew up.
King James
Genesis 49:22–26 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But 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:) Even 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: The 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.
Genesis 50:22–23 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees.

How did Benjamin’s personality differ from Joseph’s?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:27 “Benjamin is a hungry wolf, devouring his prey in the morning and sharing his plunder in the evening.”
King James
Genesis 49:27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

How can there be twelve tribes when fourteen sons are listed, including Ephraim and Manasseh? Why is this list different from the twelve tribe listed in Revelation, where Ephraim and Dan are not included from the list of fourteen?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel as the sons were blessed by their father.
Revelation 7:1–8 After this, four messengers stood on the four corners of the earth, restraining the four winds there, so all was calm on land and sea. Nothing rustled the leaves on the trees. Another messenger, wearing the signet ring of the living God, rose from the eastern horizon and shouted to the four messengers who had power to harm the land and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the land and the sea. Don’t touch the trees until God’s servants have been identified—a seal placed upon their foreheads.” A voice revealed the number who would be sealed: 144 thousand of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand from each tribe: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin.
King James
Genesis 49:28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel as the sons were blessed by their father.
Revelation 7:1–8 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

Why was his burial place important to Jacob?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:29–32 “I will die soon,” Jacob said, “You must bury me in the cave that’s in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave near Mamre in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought the field for a burial place. 31 Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there, also Isaac and his wife Rebekah. And I buried Leah there. 32 The field and the cave were bought from the Hittite people.”
King James
Genesis 49:29–32 And 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, in 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. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.

Why did Jacob die right after speaking to his sons, and not the day before or after?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 49:33 As soon as Jacob finished instructing his sons, he pulled his feet up into bed, took his last breath, and joined his people who had died before him.
King James
Genesis 49:33 And 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.