What does Genesis 49:28 mean?
ESV: All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.
NIV: All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
NASB: All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.
CSB: These are the tribes of Israel, twelve in all, and this is what their father said to them. He blessed them, and he blessed each one with a suitable blessing.
NLT: These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he told his sons good-bye. He blessed each one with an appropriate message.
KJV: All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
NKJV: All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.
Verse Commentary:
Jacob's deathbed oracle about the future of his sons' descendants has concluded (Genesis 49:1–2). This verse clarifies that the prophecies were Jacob's "blessing" on each of his sons. Of course, not all these words were positive. In this context, the "blessing" of a patriarch is more about prediction than about good will. The intent is to show what will become of the "blessed" son, more so than to confer some benefit.

In that sense, Jacob blessed some of his sons in the same way his father Isaac "blessed" his brother Esau (Genesis 27:38–40). Jacob delivered to each son exactly what was appropriate for each; that was not necessarily what those sons wanted.

This verse also marks the first time, in Genesis, where Jacob's sons and their offspring are described as the "twelve tribes of Israel" (Genesis 35:10–11).
Verse Context:
Genesis 49:28–33 contains Jacob's last words before his death. He commands his sons to see that his body is buried in Canaan in the family tomb. It is one of the few pieces of property the family owns outright in the Promised Land. Abraham bought it from the Hittites. He and Sarah are buried there, as are Jacob's parents Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob's first wife Leah. His sons must take his body there to lay it to rest with the others. After saying this, the man God renamed "Israel" (Genesis 35:10–1) dies in the presence of his extended family.
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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