Summary of passage: Moses takes one tribe at a time and blesses them. Let Reuben live and grow. Judah help with his foes. Levi bless him and his skills and strike his foes. Benjamin rest in Him. Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) bless him in all ways. Zebulun and Issachar rejoice for they will prosper. Blessed is Gad. Dan is a lion’s cub. Naphtali is blessed. Asher is blessed.
5) Simeon is missing in Moses’s blessings. Moses’s blessings is out of birth order.
6) Let Reuben live and grow. Judah help with his foes. Levi bless him and his skills and strike his foes. Benjamin rest in Him. Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) bless him in all ways. Zebulun and Issachar rejoice for they will prosper. They will feast on the abundance of the seas and on the treasures hidden in the sand. Blessed is Gad. Dan is a lion’s cub. Naphtali is blessed. Asher is blessed.
7) Personal Question. My answer: I’d take any blessings to be quite honest especially if they were pronounced by Moses. I liked Levi’s to have his skills blessed and for the Lord to be pleased with his work. I liked Benjamin’s to rest secure in Him. Peace is hard to come by in this world. And I want to do the Lord’s work in this world and I constantly wonder if I am or not. That is what I want for my family as well–to do His will and not theirs. That is so very hard in today’s culture. Fighting selfishness.
Conclusions: I liked BSF brought in the Genesis 49 passage. Interesting to see God’s love for his people.
End Notes: Verses 6-25 is the blessing of the 12 Tribes.
Reuben: Jacob said “you shall not excel” (Genesis 49:4). This blessing is similar. Reuben produced no leaders nor anything beyond the normal.
Judah: The name Judah means “praise”. Moses prays God hears the cry of praise. Moses knew the Messiah would come from Judah (Genesis 49:10) and prays for them to survive.
Levi (and Simeon not mentioned here): Moses recounts the favored status of the Levites. Genesis 49:7 says the tribe will be scattered. Levi’s was a blessing–they spread the Good News. Simeon was a curse–they disappeared as indicated here when they are not mentioned (although they are given a portion of the promised land–this prophecy was still many centuries to come).
Scholars debate whether Simeon was originally mentioned here or not. Some ancient manuscripts have Simeon here; some don’t, which say “Let Judah live and not die and let the men of Simeon be few.” Recall Simeon lost the most men in the second census (63%), which seems to support the idea Simeon was mentioned here.
Benjamin: As the only surviving son of Rachel when Jacob thought Joseph had died, he was sheltered, protected, and favored. This is echoed here when he is called “the beloved of the Lord”. Benjamin was blessed with the city of Jerusalem as their inheritance, which became the center of the nation. Genesis 49:27 called them “a ravenous wolf”. They were fierce and loved.
Joseph: Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which received a double inheritance when Jacob adopted both as his own in Genesis 48 were the most numerous tribes. This was Jacob’s prophecy as well in Genesis 49:22.
“Him who dwelt in the burning bush” refers to the covenant God made with Moses.
Zebulun and Issachar: They were given land by the Sea of Galilee and thus became fishermen. Jacob said this as well in Genesis 49:13.
Gad: Gad turns into a war-like tribe with many soldiers. 1 Chronicles 12:14 says they have many good soldiers. Genesis 49:14 says Gad will attack.
Dan: Bashan is in northern Israel but if you look at a map of where the tribes ended up, Dan is in the South. Judges 18 tells us that the tribe immigrated to the North centuries later.
Dan was a troublesome tribe. They were the tribe to introduce idolatry into Israel (Judges 18:30). Jeroboam set up an idolatrous golden calf in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-30). Dan became a center of idol worship in Israel (Amos 8:14). Jacob predicts this of Dan in Genesis 49:17, “Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backwards.”
Naphtali: Naphtali was also given land around the Sea of Galilee. Here Jesus would do a lot of his teachings. Jacob describes Naphtali as “a doe set free, bearing beautiful fawns”(Genesis 49:21) as we were set free by Jesus.
Asher: Jacob describes Asher in Genesis 49:20 as “food will be rich and he will provide delicacies fit for a king”. Moses echoes this saying his feet shall be bathed in oil–something reserved for the rich of the time.
Map of 12 Tribes of Israel: http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/large-map-of-division-promised-land-to-israel.jpg