What does Genesis 49:13 mean?
ESV: “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.
NIV: Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon.
NASB: 'Zebulun will reside at the seashore; And he shall be a harbor for ships, And his flank shall be toward Sidon.
CSB: Zebulun will live by the seashore and will be a harbor for ships, and his territory will be next to Sidon.
NLT: 'Zebulun will settle by the seashore and will be a harbor for ships; his borders will extend to Sidon.
KJV: Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
NKJV: “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; He shall become a haven for ships, And his border shall adjoin Sidon.
Verse Commentary:
Jacob is pronouncing a prophetic, poetic oracle about each of his twelve sons. In the previous passage, description of Judah's people was lengthy. Zebulun (Genesis 30:19–20) gets a single short comment.

The prophetic statement here points to a time when the people of Zebulun would be associated with sea trade. The border of his lands would be near the Phoenician city of Sidon. It is unclear what time, exactly, this refers to; Zebulun's actual settlement will not be on the seashore (Joshua 19:10–11). Some scholars suggest Zebulun may have settled along the seashore temporarily before making their permanent home elsewhere or that the people benefited from trade which was directly tied to sea traffic. Parts of Jacob's prophecy look far into the future, at the earthly reign of the Messiah (Revelation 20:4), which may see this fulfilled more directly and literally.
Verse Context:
Genesis 49:13–21 records Jacob's deathbed predictions, this time regarding six of his sons: Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali. These are relatively brief, and not entirely positive. While Jacob addresses the first four (Genesis 49:3–12) and last two (Genesis 49:22–27) of his sons in birth order, there is no obvious ranking in his comments here. As compared to other tribes, these would play lesser roles in Israel's future.
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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