"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."
49:29-33 "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 buringplace. 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. 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."
After Jacob finished blessing Joseph and his sons, he called his other eleven sons in to be
blessed. These "blessings" revealed the future of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob blessed the
sons of Leah first, starting with the oldest son.
Reubin held the most honored position, being Jacobs first born son but he dishonored his father
by sleeping with Rachel's handmaid, Bilhah, whom had been given to Jacob to bear his children.
(Gen.35:22) Thus, he was pronounced "thou shalt not excel." Reubin's tribe is seldom
mentioned in Israel in the rest of the Old Testament.
SIMEON & LEVI
These two brothers were called "instruments of cruelty" because of what they did to the
Shechemites in Gen. 34. They would be divided and scattered in Israel. The Levites were
divided when given no land of possession but, rather, cities scattered throughout all the
tribes to live in because they were chosen as the priestly tribe. (Joshua 21) Simeon's portion
of inheritance was taken within the cities and villages inherited by Judah so their
tribe was actually swallowed up by another tribe. ( See Joshua 19)
Judah's blessing was a place of honor in Israel. He would be praised by his brothers and
victorious over his enemies. He would assume the position of leadership in Israel because of
the sins of his three older brothers. The reference in verse 10 "the scepter shall not
depart from Judah until Shiloh come" probably refers to his kingly descendents all the way
to Christ which was, of course, the final King descending from the tribe of Judah. The final
2 verses, 11 & 12, simply imply that Judah would prosper greatly in their assigned land in
Zebulun was to live near the sea and be traders. Though their land did not directly border a
sea, it was close enough to the Mediterranean for them to use the waterway for merchandising.
But we do not know if they did for sure.
Issachar is pronounced to be a strong but lazy beast which would become a servant to tribute.
This prophesy came true as they did not seize their alloted land from the Canaanites but chose
to live wherever they could find a place instead.
DAN (Son of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid.)
Dan is said to be like a serpent and an adder and to judge his people. This could be refering
to Judges 18 where the tribe of Dan had not received all their inheritance and found a city and
GAD (Son of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid.)
Jacob predicted that Gad would be overcome by a troop but that he would overcome at the last.
Because of their possession on the other side of the Jordan (Joshua 22), the Gadites
were invaded by desert tribes and had to fight many times to keep their land.
( See Chronicles 5:18 & 12:8)
ASHER (Son of Zelpah.)
The reference to Asher's bread being fat and yielding royal dainties probably came true when
the tribe settled along the fertile banks of the Mediterranean.
NAPHTALI (Son of Bilhah.)
The reference here to a "hind let loose" may be seen in Naphtali's ability in warfare
(Judges 4), and the "goodly words" could refer to the songs sung by Deborah and Barak in
JOSEPH (Son of Jacob's beloved Rachel.)
Joseph's blessing is seen in the tribes decended from his son's Ephraim and Manasseh. The
fruitfulness is mainly a reference to Ephraim, whose name means fruitful and whose descendants
became a leading tribe of Israel. The mention of archers probably refers to what all happened
to Joseph when he was sold into slavery and falsely accused and imprisoned but through all
these trials his "hands were made strong" by God. Joseph would continue to be blessed by the
blessings of his father before him.
BENJAMIN (Jacob's youngest; son of Rachel.)
Benjamin was described as "ravin as a wolf." The tribe of Benjamin had some famous fighters
to which this may have been a futuristic reference. (Judges 20:16, 20-25 I Chronicles 12:2)
After blessing his sons, Jacob gives instructions for his burial. He wanted to be buried in
the same cave in Machpelah where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah were already buried.
It seems he had gathered all his remaining strength for the blessings, for after this he
"yielded up the ghost" and died.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Do you think God put the words of these blessings into Jacob's mouth? Why do you think we do
not have blessings from our elders today when they become old and ready to die?
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