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, 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.
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 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.
Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him.
Then Joseph told his morticians to embalm the body.
The embalming process took forty days, and there was a period of national mourning for seventy days.
When the period of mourning was over, Joseph approached Pharaoh's advisers and asked them to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf.
He told them, "Tell Pharaoh that my father made me swear an oath. He said to me, 'I am about to die; take my body back to the land of Canaan, and bury me in our family's burial cave.' Now I need to go and bury my father. After his burial is complete, I will return without delay."
Pharaoh agreed to Joseph's request. "Go and bury your father, as you promised," he said.
So Joseph went, with a great number of Pharaoh's counselors and advisers -- all the senior officers of Egypt.
Joseph also took his brothers and the entire household of Jacob. But they left their little children and flocks and herds in the land of Goshen.
So a great number of chariots, cavalry, and people accompanied Joseph.
When they arrived at the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan River, they held a very great and solemn funeral, with a seven-day period of mourning for Joseph's father.
The local residents, the Canaanites, renamed the place Abel-mizraim, for they said, "This is a place of very deep mourning for these Egyptians."
So Jacob's sons did as he had commanded them.
They carried his body to the land of Canaan and buried it there in the cave of Machpelah. This is the cave that Abraham had bought for a permanent burial place in the field of Ephron the Hittite, near Mamre.
Then Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father's funeral.
But now that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers became afraid. "Now Joseph will pay us back for all the evil we did to him," they said.
So they sent this message to Joseph: "Before your father died, he instructed us
to say to you: 'Forgive your brothers for the great evil they did to you.' So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive us." When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept.
Then his brothers came and bowed low before him. "We are your slaves," they said.
But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you?
As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people.
No, don't be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families." And he spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them.
So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph was 110 years old when he died.
He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim and the children of Manasseh's son Makir, who were treated as if they were his own.
"Soon I will die," Joseph told his brothers, "but God will surely come for you, to lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he vowed to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, "When God comes to lead us back to Canaan, you must take my body back with you."
So Joseph died at the age of 110. They embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Here is another illustration Jesus used: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants and grows into a tree where birds can come and find shelter in its branches."33
Jesus also used this illustration: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough."34
Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.
This fulfilled the prophecy that said, "I will speak to you in parables. I will explain mysteries hidden since the creation of the world."
Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, "Please explain the story of the weeds in the field."
37"All right," he said. "I, the Son of Man, am the farmer who plants the good seed. 38The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.40"Just as the weeds are separated out and burned, so it will be at the end of the world. 41I, the Son of Man, will send my angels, and they will remove from my Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, 42and they will throw them into the furnace and burn them. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!44"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field -- and to get the treasure, too!45"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!47"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that is thrown into the water and gathers fish of every kind. 48When the net is full, they drag it up onto the shore, sit down, sort the good fish into crates, and throw the bad ones away. 49That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly, 50throwing the wicked into the fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51Do you understand?" "Yes," they said, "we do."
Then he added, "Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old."53
When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he left that part of the country.
He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was astonished and said, "Where does he get his wisdom and his miracles?
He's just a carpenter's son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers -- James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.
All his sisters live right here among us. What makes him so great?"
And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family." 58
And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
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)