Genesis 49:1
And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK


(1) That which shall befall you.—This dying song of Jacob has been regarded alike by Jews and Christians as a prophetic hymn spoken by the patriarch under the influence of the Holy Spirit. By many modern commentators, however, it has been placed in David’s time, and even ascribed to Nathan, partly on the ground that it is too spirited to have been the composition of one lying in the last decrepitude of old age, but chiefly because, in the description given of Judah, it is supposed to refer to the elevation of David to the royal dignity. But if it was thus written by a member of David’s court, we should reasonably expect an exact knowledge of the state of things in David’s time. For this, in fact, is the argument upon which these critics depend, that the internal evidence shows that it belongs to David’s reign. Now, so far is this from being true, that not only is the whole exceedingly general, containing scarcely more than faint and dim hopes and anticipations, but, except in the matter of Judah’s pre-eminence, there is no knowledge whatsoever of the arrangements of David’s time. Thus, for instance, there is no word about Levi’s priestly functions, and his dispersion in Israel is described as a punishment, and put upon exactly the same level as that of Simeon It is said in answer that it was David who established the priesthood, and set the Levites apart for their duties. If so, this was the very reason why Nathan, a seer of his court, should have put into Jacob’s mouth some allusion to so important an event, in order to justify so strong a proceeding as the depriving of a tribe of its lands and political importance, the seizure of towns in every other tribe for the abode of its members, and the bestowal upon them of priestly functions. If however David, by an act of despotic power, was able to effect so violent a subversion of all tribal rights, it is strange that no reference is ever made to it: and, moreover, both the Pentateuch and the Books of Joshua (Joshua 3:3; Joshua 8:33, &c), of Judges (Judges 17:9-13), and of Samuel (1Samuel 2:13; 1Samuel 2:27-28; 1Samuel 6:15, &c.) must be of a date so modern as for all remembrance of David’s act to have passed away, and for the national traditions to have created for themselves a setting modelled upon a state of things that never existed, and which was contradictory to the most glorious age of the nation’s history. But national traditions precede the historical period of a people’s annals, and from the time of David careful records of all events in Judah and Israel were kept, and the history of Judah and Israel was one of the chief subjects of instruction given to the youth of the nation in the prophetic schools. But let us take another instance. At the settlement of the tribes in Canaan, it was Asher and not Zebulun to which the sea-coast upon the north fell by lot; south of Asher was the half-tribe of Manasseh, and south of this was Dan. (Comp. Judges 5:17.) Zebulun was an inland tribe, and did not “dwell at the haven of the sea.” It is unnecessary to continue this examination, but generally we may affirm that the sole argument for Jacob’s blessing having been written in historic times is the position given to Judah. Everything besides negatives this view; and we may reasonably ascribe the high rank of Judah to the fact that after the setting aside of Reuben, Simeon and Levi, he became the firstborn.

In the last days.—Heb., in the after part of days. The phrase is often opposed to “the beginning of days,” and is constantly used of the times of the Messiah. Here these after days” apparently commence with the conquest of Canaan, but look onward to the advent of Christ.

Genesis 49:1. Gather yourselves together — It was his will that they should all be sent for to see their father die, and to hear his dying words. It would be a comfort to him, who had sometimes thought himself bereaved, to see all his children about him when he was dying, and he hoped it would be a blessing to them to attend him in his last moments, and witness his confidence and hope in God, the serenity and peace of mind in which he could quit this world and all its concerns, to enter the invisible and eternal state. It appears that what he said to each he said in the audience of all the rest, for we may profit by the reproofs, counsels, and encouragements which are principally intended for others. In the last days — Or following times, when they should be settled in the land of promise. Hereby he signified that he was about to speak of things which concerned their posterity rather than themselves. “It is an opinion of great antiquity,” says Bishop Newton, on the Prophecies, “that the nearer men approach to their dissolution, their souls grow more divine, and discern more of futurity.

And what I conceive might principally give rise to this opinion, was the tradition of some of the patriarchs being divinely inspired in their last moments, to foretel the state and condition of the people descended from them; as Jacob summoned his sons together, that he might inform them of what should befall them in the latter days.” — Vol. 1. p. 85, second edition. We cannot tell our children what shall befall them or their families in this world; but we can tell them, from the word of God, what shall befall them in the last day of all, according as they conduct themselves in this world.

49:1,2 All Jacob's sons were living. His calling them together was a precept for them to unite in love, not to mingle with the Egyptians; and foretold that they should not be separated, as Abraham's sons and Isaac's were, but should all make one people. We are not to consider this address as the expression of private feelings of affection, resentment, or partiality; but as the language of the Holy Ghost, declaring the purpose of God respecting the character, circumstances, and situation of the tribes which descended from the sons of Jacob, and which may be traced in their histories.And Jacob called his sons - This is done by messengers going to their various dwellings and pasture-grounds, and summoning them to his presence. And he said. These words introduce his dying address. "Gather yourselves together." Though there is to be a special address to each, yet it is to be in the audience of all the rest, for the instruction of the whole family. "That which shall befall you in the after days." The after days are the times intervening between the speaker and the end of the human race. The beginning of man was at the sixth day of the last creation. The end of his race will be at the dissolution of the heavens and the earth then called into being, and the new creation which we are taught will be consequent thereupon. To this interval prophecy has reference in general, though it occasionally penetrates beyond the veil that separates the present from the future creation.

The prophet has his mind filled with the objects and events of the present and the past, and from these he must draw his images for the future, and express them in the current language of his day. To interpret his words, therefore, we must ascend to his day, examine his usage of speech, distinguish the transient forms in which truth may appear, and hold fast by the constant essence which belongs to all ages. "Hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken to Israel your father." This is a specimen of the synthetic or synonymous parallel. It affords a good example of the equivalence, and at the same time the distinction, of Jacob and Israel. They both apply to the same person, and to the race of which he is the head. The one refers to the natural, the other to the spiritual. The distinction is similar to that between Elohim and Yahweh: the former of which designates the eternal God, antecedent to all creation, and therefore, equally related to the whole universe; the latter, the self-existent God, subsequent to the creation of intelligent beings, and especially related to them, as the moral Governor, the Keeper of covenant, and the Performer of promise.


Ge 49:1-33. Patriarchal Blessing.

1. Jacob called unto his sons—It is not to the sayings of the dying saint, so much as of the inspired prophet, that attention is called in this chapter. Under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit he pronounced his prophetic benediction and described the condition of their respective descendants in the last days, or future times.Jacob calls his sons to bless them before his death, Genesis 49:1. Bespeaks their attention, Genesis 49:2. Condemns Reuben’s incest, Genesis 49:3,4; Simeon’s and Levi’s cruelty, Genesis 49:5-7. Extols Judah; prophesieth of Christ, and the calling of the Gentiles, Genesis 49:9-12. Of Zebulun, Genesis 49:13; Issachar, Genesis 49:14,15; Dan, Genesis 49:16,17. Expresses his faith on God’s salvation, Genesis 49:18. Of Gad, Genesis 49:19; Asher, Genesis 49:20; Naphtali, Genesis 49:21. Joseph’s peculiar blessing, Genesis 49:22-26. Of Benjamin, Genesis 49:27. His charge eoncerning his burial and death, Genesis 49:28-33.

Or, in the following times, or latter days, when you shall enter into and be settled in the Land of Promise. Hereby he signifies, that he speaks here of things which concern not so much their persons as their posterity.

And Jacob called upon his sons,.... Who either were near at hand, and within call at the time Joseph came to visit him, or if at a distance, and at another time, he sent a messenger or messengers to them to come unto him:

and said, gather yourselves together; his will was, that they should attend him all together at the same time, that he might deliver what he had to say to them in the hearing of them all; for what he after declares was not said to them singly and alone, but when they were all before him:

that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days; not their persons merely, but their posterity chiefly, from that time forward to the coming of the Messiah, who is spoken of in this prophecy, and the time of his coming; some things are said relating to temporals, others to spirituals; some are blessings or prophecies of good things to them, others curses, or foretell evil, but all are predictions delivered out by Jacob under a spirit of prophecy; some things had their accomplishment when the tribes of Israel were placed in the land of Canaan, others in the times of the judges, and in later times; and some in the times of the Messiah, to which this prophecy reaches, whose coming was in the last days, Hebrews 1:1 and Nachmanides says, according to the sense of all their writers, the last days here are the days of the Messiah; and in an ancient writing of the Jews it is said (x), that Jacob called his sons, because he had a mind to reveal the end of the Messiah, i.e. the time of his coming; and Abraham Seba (y) observes, that this section is the seal and key of the whole law, and of all the prophets prophesied of, unto the days of the Messiah.

(x) Zohar in Gen. fol. 126. 1.((y) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 57. 4. & 58. 1.

And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the (a) last days.

(a) When God will bring you out of Egypt, and because he speaks of the Messiah, he calls it the last days.

1–27. The Blessing of Jacob

1. And Jacob called] It is possible that this first clause may be from P, and is continued in the last clause of Genesis 49:28. Notice that the name “Israel,” used eight times in the course of the previous 15 verses (Genesis 48:8-22), here makes way for “Jacob.”

in the latter days] Lit. “in the after part of days,” denoting the period which is present to the vision of the Prophet. Cf. Numbers 24:14, “I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days”; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1. See Deuteronomy 4:30; Deuteronomy 31:29; Jeremiah 23:20; Hosea 3:5; Daniel 2:28; Daniel 10:14. Cf. Hebrews 1:2, “at the end of these days”; 1 Peter 1:20, “at the end of the times”; 2Es 2:34, “at the end of the world.”

Verse 1. - And Jacob (having closed his interview with Joseph and his two sons) called (by means of messengers) unto his sons (i.e. the others who were then absent), and said, Gather yourselves together, - the prophet's last utterance must be a public one - that I may tell you - literally, and I will tell you - that which shall befall you - קָרָא, in the sense of happening or occurring to any one, is here equivalent to קָרָה (cf. Genesis 42:4, 38) - in the last days - literally, in the end of the days, not simply in future time (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Kalisch), or in the times intervening between the speaker and the end of the human race (Murphy), but in the last age, the closing period of time, the era of fulfillment (Kurtz, Hengstenberg), which era, however, must be judged from the standpoint of the speaker (Baumgarten). Hence the period must not be restricted to exclusively Messianic times (Rabbi Nachmanides), ἐπ ἐσχάτῶν τῶν ἡμερῶν (LXX.), in diebus novissimis (Vulgate), but must commence with what to Jacob was the era of consummation, the days of the conquest (Baumgarten, Hengstenberg); while, on the other hand, it can as little be limited to these, but must be held as extending over totum tempus ab exitu AEgypti ad Christi regnum (Calvin), and even as reaching, though unconsciously to Jacob, to the very terminus of human history (Keil, Lange). Genesis 49:1The Blessing. - Genesis 49:1, Genesis 49:2. When Jacob had adopted and blessed the two sons of Joseph, he called his twelve sons, to make known to them his spiritual bequest. In an elevated and solemn tone he said, "Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you (יקרא for יקרה, as in Genesis 42:4, Genesis 42:38) at the end of the days! Gather yourselves together and hear, ye sons of Jacob, and hearken unto Israel your father!" The last address of Jacob-Israel to his twelve sons, which these words introduce, is designated by the historian (Genesis 49:28) "the blessing," with which "their father blessed them, every one according to his blessing." This blessing is at the same time a prophecy. "Every superior and significant life becomes prophetic at its close" (Ziegler). But this was especially the case with the lives of the patriarchs, which were filled and sustained by the promises and revelations of God. As Isaac in his blessing (Genesis 27) pointed out prophetically to his two sons, by virtue of divine illumination, the future history of their families; "so Jacob, while blessing the twelve, pictured in grand outlines the lineamenta of the future history of the future nation" (Ziegler). The groundwork of his prophecy was supplied partly by the natural character of his twelve sons, and partly by the divine promise which had been given by the Lord to him and to his fathers Abraham and Isaac, and that not merely in these two points, the numerous increase of their seed and the possession of Canaan, but in its entire scope, by which Israel had been appointed to be the recipient and medium of salvation for all nations. On this foundation the Spirit of God revealed to the dying patriarch Israel the future history of his seed, so that he discerned in the characters of his sons the future development of the tribes proceeding from them, and with prophetic clearness assigned to each of them its position and importance in the nation into which they were to expand in the promised inheritance. Thus he predicted to the sons what would happen to them "in the last days," lit., "at the end of the days" (ἐπ ̓ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν, lxx), and not merely at some future time. אחרית, the opposite of ראשׁית, signifies the end in contrast with the beginning (Deuteronomy 11:12; Isaiah 46:10); hence הימים אחרית in prophetic language denoted, not the future generally, but the last future (see Hengstenberg's History of Balaam, pp. 465-467, transl.), the Messianic age of consummation (Isaiah 2:2; Ezekiel 38:8, Ezekiel 38:16; Jeremiah 30:24; Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:39, etc.: so also Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30), like ἐπ ̓ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν (2 Peter 3:3; Hebrews 1:2), or ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1). But we must not restrict "the end of the days" to the extreme point of the time of completion of the Messianic kingdom; it embraces "the whole history of the completion which underlies the present period of growth," or "the future as bringing the work of God to its ultimate completion, though modified according to the particular stage to which the work of God had advanced in any particular age, the range of vision opened to that age, and the consequent horizon of the prophet, which, though not absolutely dependent upon it, was to a certain extent regulated by it" (Delitzsch).

For the patriarch, who, with his pilgrim-life, had been obliged in the very evening of his days to leave the soil of the promised land and seek a refuge for himself and his house in Egypt, the final future, with its realization of the promises of God, commenced as soon as the promised land was in the possession of the twelve tribes descended from his sons. He had already before his eyes, in his twelve sons with their children and children's children, the first beginnings of the multiplication of his seed into a great nation. Moreover, on his departure from Canaan he had received the promise, that the God of his fathers would make him into a great nation, and lead him up again to Canaan (Genesis 46:3-4). The fulfilment of this promise his thoughts and hopes, his longings and wishes, were all directed. This constituted the firm foundation, though by no means the sole and exclusive purport, of his words of blessing. The fact was not, as Baumgarten and Kurtz suppose, that Jacob regarded the time of Joshua as that of the completion; that for him the end was nothing more than the possession of the promised land by his seed as the promised nation, so that all the promises pointed to this, and nothing beyond it was either affirmed or hinted at. Not a single utterance announces the capture of the promised land; not a single one points specially to the time of Joshua. On the contrary, Jacob presupposes not only the increase of his sons into powerful tribes, but also the conquest of Canaan, as already fulfilled; foretells to his sons, whom he sees in spirit as populous tribes, growth and prosperity on the soil in their possession; and dilates upon their relation to one another in Canaan and to the nations round about, even to the time of their final subjection to the peaceful sway of Him, from whom the sceptre of Judah shall never depart. The ultimate future of the patriarchal blessing, therefore, extends to the ultimate fulfilment of the divine promises-that is to say, to the completion of the kingdom of God. The enlightened seer's-eye of the patriarch surveyed, "as though upon a canvas painted without perspective," the entire development of Israel from its first foundation as the nation and kingdom of God till its completion under the rule of the Prince of Peace, whom the nations would serve in willing obedience; and beheld the twelve tribes spreading themselves out, each in his inheritance, successfully resisting their enemies, and finding rest and full satisfaction in the enjoyment of the blessings of Canaan.

It is in this vision of the future condition of his sons as grown into tribes that the prophetic character of the blessing consists; not in the prediction of particular historical events, all of which, on the contrary, with the exception of the prophecy of Shiloh, fall into the background behind the purely ideal portraiture of the peculiarities of the different tribes. The blessing gives, in short sayings full of bold and thoroughly original pictures, only general outlines of a prophetic character, which are to receive their definite concrete form from the historical development of the tribes in the future; and throughout it possesses both in form and substance a certain antique stamp, in which its genuineness is unmistakeably apparent. Every attack upon its genuineness has really proceeded from an a priori denial of all supernatural prophecies, and has been sustained by such misinterpretations as the introduction of special historical allusions, for the purpose of stamping it as a vaticinia ex eventu, and by other untenable assertions and assumptions; such, for example, as that people do not make poetry at so advanced an age or in the immediate prospect of death, or that the transmission of such an oration word for word down to the time of Moses is utterly inconceivable-objections the emptiness of which has been demonstrated in Hengstenberg's Christology i. p. 76 (transl.) by copious citations from the history of the early Arabic poetry.

Genesis 49:1 Interlinear
Genesis 49:1 Parallel Texts

Genesis 49:1 NIV
Genesis 49:1 NLT
Genesis 49:1 ESV
Genesis 49:1 NASB
Genesis 49:1 KJV

Genesis 49:1 Bible Apps
Genesis 49:1 Parallel
Genesis 49:1 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 49:1 Chinese Bible
Genesis 49:1 French Bible
Genesis 49:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

Genesis 48:22
Top of Page
Top of Page