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Genesis (Bereishit) Chapter 49
From the 1985 JPS Tanach
Gen 49:1 And Jacob called his sons and said, “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.
Gen 49:2 Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob; Hearken to Israel your father:
Gen 49:3 Reuben, you are my first-born, My might and first fruit of my vigor, Exceeding in rank And exceeding in honor.
Gen 49:4 Unstable as water, you shall excel no longer; For when you mounted your father’s bed, You brought disgrace — my couch he mounted!
Gen 49:5 Simeon and Levi are a pair; Their weapons are tools of lawlessness.
Gen 49:6 Let not my person be included in their council, Let not my being be counted in their assembly. For when angry they slay men, And when pleased they maim oxen.
Gen 49:7 Cursed be their anger so fierce, And their wrath so relentless. I will divide them in Jacob, Scatter them in Israel.
Gen 49:8 You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the nape of your foes; Your father’s sons shall bow low to you.
Gen 49:9 Judah is a lion’s whelp; On prey, my son, have you grown. He crouches, lies down like a lion, Like the king of beasts — who dare rouse him?
Gen 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet; So that tribute shall come to him And the homage of peoples be his.
Gen 49:11 He tethers his ass to a vine, His ass’s foal to a choice vine; He washes his garment in wine, His robe in blood of grapes.
Gen 49:12 His eyes are darker than wine; His teeth are whiter than milk.
Gen 49:13 Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore; He shall be a haven for ships, And his flank shall rest on Sidon.
Gen 49:14 Issachar is a strong-boned ass, Crouching among the sheepfolds.
Gen 49:15 When he saw how good was security, And how pleasant was the country, He bent his shoulder to the burden, And became a toiling serf.
Gen 49:16 Dan shall govern his people, As one of the tribes of Israel.
Gen 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the road, A viper by the path, That bites the horse’s heels So that his rider is thrown backward.
Gen 49:18 I wait for Your deliverance, O LORD!
Gen 49:19 Gad shall be raided by raiders, But he shall raid at their heels.
Gen 49:20 Asher’s bread shall be rich, And he shall yield royal dainties.
Gen 49:21 Naphtali is a hind let loose, Which yields lovely fawns.
Gen 49:22 Joseph is a wild ass, A wild ass by a spring — Wild colts on a hillside.
Gen 49:23 Archers bitterly assailed him; They shot at him and harried him.
Gen 49:24 Yet his bow stayed taut, And his arms were made firm By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob — There, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel –
Gen 49:25 The God of your father who helps you, And Shaddai who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that couches below, Blessings of the breast and womb.
Gen 49:26 The blessings of your father Surpass the blessings of my ancestors, To the utmost bounds of the eternal hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, On the brow of the elect of his brothers.
Gen 49:27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he consumes the foe, And in the evening he divides the spoil.”
Gen 49:28 All these were the tribes of Israel, twelve in number, and this is what their father said to them as he bade them farewell, addressing to each a parting word appropriate to him.
Gen 49:29 Then he instructed them, saying to them, “I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
Gen 49:30 the cave which is in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site –
Gen 49:31 there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah –
Gen 49:32 the field and the cave in it, bought from the Hittites.”
Gen 49:33 When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his people.
1. Does the opening sentence indicate a “blessing” or a prediction?
2. What of Reuben’s life does Jacob recall and what does he predict?
3. In verse 4 is “mishkevei avikha” singular or plural?
4. What of Simeon and Levi’s life is recalled – and what is to become of them (verses 6 – 7)?
5. In verse 8, Judah is described as the leader, but in verse 9 what is meant by “you went up from the tearing apart of my son”? Is this a reference to
the Joseph/pit/sale story? (Other translations vary – mentioning that “from tearing prey you arose, my son”.)
6. And in verse 10, is this a reflection on Judah and Shelah (vide: the Tamar story)?
7. Who are the “sons” in verse 11 and does this relate to Tamar again?
8. Are twins referred to in verse 12 (note play on the word “shina’yim”)?
9. If the prior passages refer to history (Rueben, Simeon, Levi) – does this constitute a prediction (especially as some interpret verse 16)?
10. Does the text re: Zebulun and Isaacher relate in any way to their being herders/shepherds?
11. Why the text in verse 18 following the description of Dan in the previous verse?
12. Verse 22 through 26 deal with Joseph. Is there a specific blessing (see verse 25) and in verse 26 how is Joseph designated in terms of all of the tribes
13. In the summary verse 28, the foregoing is described as “berakhot” – blessings. Do they so read?
14. In verse 31, who is not included?
15. The text notes that (33) “when Jacob finished instructing his children he died”. Aside from the historical reference – any message?