Genesis 49:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 49:3, NIV: "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power."

Genesis 49:3, ESV: "“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power."

Genesis 49:3, KJV: "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:"

Genesis 49:3, NASB: "'Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power."

Genesis 49:3, NLT: "'Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first in rank and first in power."

Genesis 49:3, CSB: "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength and the firstfruits of my virility, excelling in prominence, excelling in power."

What does Genesis 49:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Genesis 49 is a formal oracle: the last words of Jacob regarding his twelve immediate sons (Genesis 35:23–26). It serves primarily as prophecy, describing his children's offspring far into the future of the nation of Israel (Genesis 35:10–11).

Jacob begins with his oldest son Reuben (Genesis 29:32), describing the privilege that comes with being the firstborn. The eldest male child was often seen as the primary example of a man's virility and strength. As is still the case in many cultures today, the firstborn son is often treated as the crown jewel of the family, the leader of his siblings, and the hope for the future. Firstborn sons often received a double portion of the inheritance and the final word in family decisions after the parents were gone.

Under normal circumstances, Reuben would be the most honored and powerful of his brothers. However, this privilege will be negated (Genesis 49:4). A moment of rebellious immorality cost him this position (Genesis 35:22).