Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather around. I want to tell you what you can expect in the days to come."
Come together, listen sons of Jacob, listen to Israel your father.
Reuben, you're my firstborn, my strength, first proof of my manhood, at the top in honor and at the top in power,
But like a bucket of water spilled, you'll be at the top no more, Because you climbed into your father's marriage bed, mounting that couch, and you defiled it.
Simeon and Levi are two of a kind, ready to fight at the drop of a hat.
I don't want anything to do with their vendettas, want no part in their bitter feuds; They kill men in fits of temper, slash oxen on a whim.
A curse on their uncontrolled anger, on their indiscriminate wrath. I'll throw them out with the trash; I'll shred and scatter them like confetti throughout Israel.
You, Judah, your brothers will praise you: Your fingers on your enemies' throat, while your brothers honor you.
You're a lion's cub, Judah, home fresh from the kill, my son. Look at him, crouched like a lion, king of beasts; who dares mess with him?
The scepter shall not leave Judah; he'll keep a firm grip on the command staff Until the ultimate ruler comes and the nations obey him.
He'll tie up his donkey to the grapevine, his purebred prize to a sturdy branch. He will wash his shirt in wine and his cloak in the blood of grapes,
His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.
Zebulun settles down on the seashore; he's a safe harbor for ships, right alongside Sidon.
Issachar is one tough donkey crouching between the corrals;
When he saw how good the place was, how pleasant the country, He gave up his freedom and went to work as a slave.
Dan will handle matters of justice for his people; he will hold his own just fine among the tribes of Israel.
Dan is only a small snake in the grass, a lethal serpent in ambush by the road When he strikes a horse in the heel, and brings its huge rider crashing down.
I wait in hope for your salvation, God.
Gad will be attacked by bandits, but he will trip them up.
Asher will become famous for rich foods, candies and sweets fit for kings.
Naphtali is a deer running free that gives birth to lovely fawns.
Joseph is a wild donkey, a wild donkey by a spring, spirited donkeys on a hill.
The archers with malice attacked, shooting their hate-tipped arrows;
But he held steady under fire, his bow firm, his arms limber, With the backing of the Champion of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
The God of your father - may he help you! And may The Strong God - may he give you his blessings, Blessings tumbling out of the skies, blessings bursting up from the Earth - blessings of breasts and womb.
May the blessings of your father exceed the blessings of the ancient mountains, surpass the delights of the eternal hills; May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the one consecrated among his brothers.
Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; all morning he gorges on his kill, at evening divides up what's left over.
All these are the tribes of Israel, the twelve tribes. And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing.
Then he instructed them: "I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre in the land of Canaan, the field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial plot.
Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there; Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there; I also buried Leah there.
The field and the cave were bought from the Hittites."
Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)