Some Notes:

The English language has no gender-neutral pronouns. So when the words man, he, him, etc are used, they mean "Generic human being" unless the context specifically says otherwise. Only women get words devoted just to them.

Thou, Thee, and Thine are singular pronouns. You and Your are plural in the 16th Century English the King James Bible was translated into. This actually makes the message clearer than our habit of using "you" as both a singular and a plural.

In many scriptures I have changed the King James (English) spelling to American spelling (labour=labor, for example. I understand those in England still spell it with a u). Also, in some scriptures I have changed the "-eth" to a simple "s." Spelling standards weren't set in English until the mid 1800's, well after the translating of the KJV. So I see no problem with making these simple changes that don't affect the meaning of the scripture but make it easier for our modern mouths and ears to deal with.

Genesis 49- Jacob Blesses His Sons

1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in the last days.

He is not speaking of some time 3500 years in the future, but of the end of their lives and what will become of their descendants. It’s THEIR last days.

2 “Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and listen unto Israel your father.

3 “Reuben, thou are my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:

4 “Unstable as water, thou shall not excel; because thou went up to thy father's bed; then defiled thou it: he went up to my couch.

Reuben had an affair with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine. This act forfeited his right to the firstborn’s inheritance. He still inherits, just not the firstborn’s portion.

Water always seeks the lowest point and conforms to the shape of its surroundings. You simply can’t build on it.

No persons of importance are known from the tribe of Reuben. He and his tribe never excelled in leadership as a firstborn should have.


5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.

6 “O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they tore down a wall.

7 “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Simeon and Levi were next in birth order. They had deceived Shechem and killed him and his city. Jacob objected at the time to their behavior and is evidently still upset.

The tribes of Levi and Simeon were split up in the nation Israel. Levi was assigned the temple service and was not allowed to own land as a tribe but was required to serve all over the nation. Simeon’s land was straight and narrow and lent itself to natural disbursement.


8 “Judah, thou are he whom thy brothers shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.

The firstborn’s blessing falls on Judah, his fourth child. The tribe of Judah led the children of Israel in their travels in the wilderness and was often the leader in the battles of conquest of Canaan. King David was a descendant of Judah as were all successive kings of Judah. Christ Himself was also from this lineage.

9 “Judah is a lion's cub: from the prey, my son, thou are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

Not only will Judah be so successful he will be like a lion, but the Lion of Judah will be through his descendants.

10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.

Shiloh means “tranquility” and Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This is Christ. He still has the royal scepter and it will never depart from Him.

11 “Binding his foal unto the vine, and his donkey's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:

12 “His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Judah’s grapes will be so strong you can tie a donkey to them, and wine and milk will be so plentiful that eyes will be bright and healthy. Judah became the richest of all the tribes.


13 “Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.

Joshua 19:11 tells us that the God-directed lot for property in Canaan along the sea coast fell to Zebulun.


14 “Issachar is a strong donkey couching down between two burdens:

15 “And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

Issachar became a tribe of successful farmers. They worked hard and it brought rest for them.


16 “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

17 “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that bites the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

Remember, Dan means Judge.

Samson was from the tribe of Dan. He judged Israel and defeated their enemies by deceit (like a snake) instead of out-and-out front-line war.

18 “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

This was Jacob calling for strength to finish his blessings.


19 “Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Gad means “a troop comes.”

The tribe of Gad was located on the other side of the Jordon which put them in front of the attacking enemies. King Saul finally wiped these enemies out.


20 “Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

Asher became a prosperous dealer in luxury items.


21 “Naphtali is a hind let loose: he gives goodly words.

Sounds like a nice guy.


22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:

Even though in captivity most of his life, Joseph was strong in God as well as political position. He is also now a rich man.

23 “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:

His brothers, though it’s iffy whether Jacob realized the full extent of the role his other sons played in Joseph’s disappearance. This would also be speaking of the “fiery darts of temptation” that Potiphar’s wife hurled at him.

Jewish legend says that Esau shot actual arrows at Jacob while they were growing up, and its possible Joseph's brothers, just in playing of course, shot actual arrows at him too, though the metaphor of "arrows" being his many trials and temptations is certainly appropriate. 

24 “But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

Joseph is now the provider for the entire family because God helped him to stay strong.

25 “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:

Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Mannasah became the two biggest tribes in Israel. They were certainly blessed in the areas of childbearing.

Joshua was a descendant of Joseph.

26 “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my ancestors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.

Joseph has achieved more than all his ancestors. Joseph gets the biggest blessing now.


27 “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.”

Judge Ehud, King Saul, Queen Esther, Mordecai, and the Apostle Paul were all from Benjamin. These were all people fierce in their determination who won in the end.


28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.

29 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,

30 “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 burying place.

31 “There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.

Rachael, his favorite wife, died too far away to be buried in the family plot. Leah, being his first wife, was the legitimate wife that deserved this place of honor.

32 “The purchase of the field and of the cave that is in it was from the children of Heth.”

33 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.

He died.