What does Genesis 49:1 mean?
ESV: Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.
NIV: Then Jacob called for his sons and said: 'Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
NASB: Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, 'Assemble yourselves, so that I may tell you what will happen to you in the days to come.
CSB: Then Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather around, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the days to come.
NLT: Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, 'Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:
Verse Commentary:
The prior chapter described how Jacob gave the primary family blessing to Joseph's two oldest sons: Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:5–6). Now Jacob will address each of this other sons in turn. While this section is often labelled as Jacob's "blessing" of his sons, what follows are more prophecy than anything else. Not all the predictions are positive. Jacob's main point is to explain what will happen to the tribes descending from each of these twelve sons.

On his deathbed (Genesis 48:1), Jacob summons them all together to speak about "days to come." Most of the details given in Jacob's oracle will not be fulfilled for several centuries. Then, when the nation is resettled in the Promised Land of Canaan. The book of Judges records some of these outcomes, while others are reserved for later events in the Old Testament.
Verse Context:
Genesis 49:1–7 begins Jacob's prophetic remarks about his sons, beginning with Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. These are in the context of a family "blessing," though not all the predictions are positive. The main blessing has already been bestowed on the two oldest sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:5–6). Here, the three oldest sons of Jacob are punished for their prior sins. Reuben loses his firstborn rights. Jacob predicts that Levi and Simeon will be largely absorbed into the other tribes.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 49 contains Jacob's dying prophetic remarks. In the form of poetry, Jacob pronounces positive and negative "blessings" about each of his 12 sons and the people who will come from them. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are each held to account for their past sins. Judah is described as a lion; the kingly line will come from his people. Joseph and his descendants are lavished with blessings. Once the oracle is completed, Jacob commands his sons to bury him with his fathers in Canaan. Then, the man God named "Israel" (Genesis 35:10–11) dies.
Chapter Context:
After a life of struggle and controversy, Jacob's family has securely settled in Egypt. Genesis 48 told of Jacob's blessing on Joseph's two oldest sons: Ephraim and Manasseh. In Genesis 49, Jacob gives both positive and negative predictions to each of his sons, in turn. Jacob then commands his sons to bury him in Canaan, then dies. The final chapter of Genesis describes the family's mourning and Joseph's death. The opening verses of Exodus race forward some 400 years, as the nation of Israel falls into harsh slavery under new Egyptian rulers (Exodus 1:8–14).
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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