Jacob now sets out to bless his own sons. He wishes to tell them what will befall them in the End of Days.
To Reuben, Simeon and Levi, Jacob offers only chastisement for their earlier actions. Reuben, for interfering with Jacob’s marital bed (see Genesis 35:22), and Simeon and Levi for their rash attack on the people of Shechem (see Genesis 34:25-26). In fact, Jacob goes so far as to curse Simeon and Levi’s rage, scattering their future descendants among the other tribes.
With Judah, Jacob begins offering blessings in earnest. Jacob blesses him with lion’s strength, prosperity, and wise and powerful descendants. Zebulun he blesses with success on the seas. To Issachar he gives the strength to bear labor. He blesses Dan to be the avenger of his people. Gad he blesses with military might.He offers Asher richness of bread and delicacies. He notes Naphtali for his swiftness and wise sayings. To Joseph, he bequeaths blessings of the earth and the womb, greater than any Jacob himself received. Finally, Jacob likens Benjamin to a wolf, catching prey by morning and dividing spoils by evening.
Blessings complete, Jacob asks his sons again to bury him in Israel, in the Cave of Machpelah, with his wife, parents and grandparents. His final words imparted, Jacob passes.
The Israel Bible notes that the coastal inheritance bequeathed by Jacob to Zebulun enables the tribe later to enter into a special partnership with the tribe of Issachar; the former used their seafaring success to support the latter in Torah study, thus earning a share in their merit.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think Jacob chose to bless his sons by telling them “that which shall be befall you in the End of Days”?