Jacob prophesied what would happen to his sons and their descendants
1 Jacob summoned all his sons, and said to them,
2 “Gather around me in order that I can tell you what will happen in the future.
My sons, come and listen to me.
I am your father, Jacob, whom God named Israel.
3 Reuben, you are my oldest son.
You were born when I was young and energetic/strong.
You are prouder and stronger than all the rest of my sons.
4 But you were as uncontrollable as a flood [SIM].
So now you will not be my most important son,
because you climbed up onto my bed,
and had sex with [MTY] my ◄concubine/slave who had become one of my wives►.
Your doing that caused me, your father, to have great shame.
5 Simeon and Levi, you have both acted like criminals.
You use your swords to act violently.
6 I do not want to be with you when you make evil plans [DOU].
I do not want to join you in your meetings,
because you killed people when you became very angry,
and you ◄hamstrung/cut the tendons in the legs of► oxen just to ◄have fun/see them suffer►.
7 God says, ‘I will ◄curse/cause bad things to happen to► them for being very angry,
for acting very cruelly when they were very furious.
I will scatter their descendants [MTY] throughout Israel land.’
8 Judah, your older and younger brothers will praise you.
They will bow down before you,
because you will thoroughly defeat [MTY] your enemies.
9 Judah is like a young lion [SIM] that has returned to its den satisfied
after eating the animals that it has killed.
He is like a lion that lies down and stretches out after eating;
no one would dare to disturb it [RHQ].
10 There will always be a ruler [MTY] from the descendants of Judah [MTY].
Each one will hold a scepter/staff to show that he has authority as a king.
He will do that until the one to whom the scepter belongs comes,
the one to whom the nations will bring tribute
and show that they will obey him.
11 The grapevines of Judah's descendants will produce grapes very abundantly.
As a result, they will not object to tying their young donkeys to the grapevines
in order that the donkeys can eat the leaves of the grapevines.
Wine will be very plentiful, with the result that
they could wash their cloaks in wine that is as red as blood [MET].
12 Their eyes will be red because of drinking too much wine,
but their teeth will be very white because of drinking much milk from the cows.
13 Zebulun, your descendants will live by the seashore
where there will be a safe harbor for ships.
Their land will extend north as far as Sidon city.
14 Issachar, your descendants will be like strong donkeys
that are lying down on the ground between their loads,
so tired that they cannot get up!
15 They will see that their resting place is good,
and that the land pleases them very much.
But they will bend their backs to carry heavy loads
and be forced to work for others.
16 Dan, although your tribe will be small,
their leaders will rule their people just like the leaders of other tribes of Israel will rule their people.
17 Your descendants will be like snakes at the side of a road,
like poisonous snakes lying beside a path.
They will strike the heels of horses that pass by,
causing the riders to fall backwards as the horses rear up on their hind legs.”
18 Then Jacob prayed, “Yahweh, I am waiting for you to rescue me from my enemies.”
19 Then Jacob continued telling his sons what would happen in the future. He said,
“Gad, your tribe/descendants will be attacked by a group of bandits,
but your tribe/descendants will pursue and attack them [MTY].
20 Asher, your descendants will eat good-tasting food;
they will produce food that is delicious enough for kings to eat.
21 Naphtali, your descendants will be like deer [MET] that are ◄free to/not tied down and can► run wherever they wish.
They will give birth to children who are good-looking like ◄fawns/baby deer► [MET].
22 Joseph, you will have many descendants [MET].
Their children will be as many as the fruit on a vine near a spring of water,
whose branches extend over a wall.
23 Their enemies will attack them fiercely,
and shoot at them with bows and arrows and pursue them.
24 But they will hold their bows steady and their arms will remain strong,
because of the power [MTY] of my mighty God,
because of Yahweh who guides and provides for me [MET]
like a shepherd guides and provides for his sheep.
The people of Israel will ask Yahweh to protect them,
like people hide under a huge overhanging rock to be protected.
25 God, the one whom I worship, will help your descendants.
God Almighty will bless them
by sending them rain from the sky
and by giving them water from deep/far below the ground.
He will give them many cattle and children [MET] (OR, and their cattle will have many offspring).
26 The blessings that I want God to give you are great ones.
They are greater than the blessings that come from the eternal mountains,
greater than the ones that come from the everlasting hills.
Joseph, I pray that these blessings will ◄be given to you/come upon your head►,
because you are the leader of your older brothers and younger brother.
27 Benjamin, your descendants will be like [MET] vicious/fierce wolves:
In the morning they will kill their enemies
like a wolf devours ◄its prey/the animals that it has killed►,
and in the evening they will divide among their warriors the spoils that they seized from their enemies.”
28 Those twelve sons are the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel. That is what their father said to them as he blessed them, telling to each one words that were appropriate for him.
29 Then Jacob said to his sons, “I will soon die. Bury my body where some of my ancestors are buried, in the cave that is in the field that was bought from Ephron, who belonged to the Heth people-group. 30 That field is in the Machpelah area, east of Mamre town, in Canaan. My grandfather Abraham bought it from Ephron to use as a burial place. 31 That is where they buried him and his wife Sarah. That is where they buried my father Isaac and his wife Rebekah. And that is where I buried my wife Leah. 32 That field and the cave in it were bought from the Heth people-group; so that is where I want you to bury me.”
33 When Jacob finished giving those instructions to his sons, he lay down on his bed again. Then he died [IDM].