In blessing his children, Jacob appoints the future leader of the Jewish people:
And Jacob called his sons and said, “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.
Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob; Hearken to Israel your father:
Reuben, you are my first-born, My might and first fruit of my vigor, Exceeding in rank And exceeding in honor.
Unstable as water, you shall excel no longer; For when you mounted your father’s bed, You brought disgrace—my couch he mounted!
Simeon and Levi are a pair; Their weapons are tools of lawlessness.
Let not my person be included in their council, Let not my being be counted in their assembly. For when angry they slay men, And when pleased they maim oxen.
Cursed be their anger so fierce, And their wrath so relentless. I will divide them in Jacob, Scatter them in Israel.
You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the nape of your foes; Your father’s sons shall bow low to you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp; On prey, my son, have you grown. He crouches, lies down like a lion, Like the king of beasts—who dare rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet; So that tribute shall come to him And the homage of peoples be his.
He tethers his ass to a vine, His ass’s foal to a choice vine; He washes his garment in wine, His robe in blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine; His teeth are whiter than milk.
Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore; He shall be a haven for ships, And his flank shall rest on Sidon.
Issachar is a strong-boned ass, Crouching among the sheepfolds.
When he saw how good was security, And how pleasant was the country, He bent his shoulder to the burden, And became a toiling serf.
Dan shall govern his people, As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the road, A viper by the path, That bites the horse’s heels So that his rider is thrown backward.
I wait for Your deliverance, O LORD!
Gad shall be raided by raiders, But he shall raid at their heels.
Asher’s bread shall be rich, And he shall yield royal dainties.
Naphtali is a hind let loose, Which yields lovely fawns.
Joseph is a wild ass, A wild ass by a spring —Wild colts on a hillside.
Archers bitterly assailed him; They shot at him and harried him.
Yet his bow stayed taut, And his arms were made firm By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob— There, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel—
The God of your father who helps you, And Shaddai who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that couches below, Blessings of the breast and womb.
The blessings of your father Surpass the blessings of my ancestors, To the utmost bounds of the eternal hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, On the brow of the elect of his brothers.
Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he consumes the foe, And in the evening he divides the spoil.”
All these were the tribes of Israel, twelve in number, and this is what their father said to them as he bade them farewell, addressing to each a parting word appropriate to him.
Then he instructed them, saying to them, “I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
the cave which is in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site—
there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah—
the field and the cave in it, bought from the Hittites.”
When Jacob finished his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his people.