1Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.2‘Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.3‘Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honour, excelling in power.4Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.5‘Simeon and Levi are brothers – their swords are weapons of violence.6Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.7Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.8‘Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you.9You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse him?10The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.11He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.12His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.13‘Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend towards Sidon.14‘Issachar is a scrawny donkey lying down among the sheepfolds.15When he sees how good is his resting-place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labour.16‘Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel.17Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backwards.18‘I look for your deliverance, Lord.19‘Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.20‘Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.21‘Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.22‘Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.23With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility.24But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed supple, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,25because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.26Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.27‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.’28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
The death of Jacob
29Then he gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite,30the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah.32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.’33When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.