Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, "Gather around me, and I will tell you what is going to happen to you in the days to come.
"Come and listen, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father.
"Reuben, you are my oldest son, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first on the list in rank and honor.
But you are as unruly as the waves of the sea, and you will be first no longer. For you slept with one of my wives; you dishonored me in my own bed.
"Simeon and Levi are two of a kind -- men of violence.
O my soul, stay away from them. May I never be a party to their wicked plans. For in their anger they murdered men, and they crippled oxen just for sport.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; cursed be their wrath, for it is cruel. Therefore, I will scatter their descendants throughout the nation of Israel.
"Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will defeat your enemies. All your relatives will bow before you.
Judah is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness -- who will dare to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, a the one whom all nations will obey.
He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine because his harvest is so plentiful.
His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.
"Zebulun will settle on the shores of the sea and will be a harbor for ships; his borders will extend to Sidon.
"Issachar is a strong beast of burden, resting among the sheepfolds. b15
When he sees how good the countryside is, how pleasant the land, he will bend his shoulder to the task and submit to forced labor.
"Dan will govern his people like any other tribe in Israel.
He will be a snake beside the road, a poisonous viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so the rider is thrown off.
I trust in you for salvation, O LORD!
"Gad will be plundered by marauding bands, but he will turn and plunder them.
"Asher will produce rich foods, food fit for kings.
"Naphtali is a deer let loose, producing magnificent fawns.
"Joseph is a fruitful tree, a fruitful tree beside a fountain. His branches reach over the wall.
He has been attacked by archers, who shot at him and harassed him.
But his bow remained strong, and his arms were strengthened by the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
May the God of your ancestors help you; may the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the earth beneath, and blessings of the breasts and womb.
May the blessings of your ancestors be greater than the blessings of the eternal mountains, reaching to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. These blessings will fall on the head of Joseph, who is a prince among his brothers.
"Benjamin is a wolf that prowls. He devours his enemies in the morning, and in the evening he divides the plunder."
These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and these are the blessings with which Jacob c blessed his twelve sons. Each received a blessing that was appropriate to him.
Then Jacob told them, "Soon I will die. Bury me with my father and grandfather in the cave in Ephron's field.
This is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a permanent burial place.
There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried. There Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, are buried. And there I buried Leah.
It is the cave that my grandfather Abraham bought from the Hittites."
Then when Jacob had finished this charge to his sons, he lay back in the bed, breathed his last, and died.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)