Genesis 49:9

ESV Judah is a lion 's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
NIV You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
NASB Judah is a lion’s cub; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares to stir him up?
CSB Judah is a young lion — my son, you return from the kill. He crouches; he lies down like a lion or a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
NLT Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness — who dares to rouse him?
KJV Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
NKJV Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

What does Genesis 49:9 mean?

As he lays on his deathbed, Jacob is delivering a prophetic oracle about the future of his sons. This explains the fate of the people who will come from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 35:10–11, 23–26). Jacob's eldest sons—Reuben, Levi, and Simeon—were punished for their crimes and lost their dominant positions within the family. The previous verse began the blessing of Jacob's fourth son, Judah (Genesis 49:8).

Lions are often mentioned symbolically in the Old Testament. Jacob refers to Judah as a lion: first as a cub, then a lion, and finally a lioness. The picture is of a lion who has taken down his prey and now crouches over it, defying anyone to take it from him. In other words, Judah will be mighty and victorious and dangerous to his enemies. To even dare to challenge his dominance would be an act of bravery. This blessing points to the time when King David, of the tribe of Judah (1 Samuel 17:12), would conquer all the enemies of Israel and become the strongest power in the region. The lion would become the symbol of Judah's people.

Finally, Jesus the Messiah, who will also descend from this tribe (Micah 5:2), will carry the title of the Lion of Judah. Revelation 5:5 says this about Him: "The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." The next verse makes an explicit prophecy about the permanence of Jesus' throne (Genesis 49:10).
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