Genesis 49:1-2 Jacob is now going to prophesy to his sons and let them know what will happen to them in the future.
Genesis 49:3-4 Though Reuben was Jacob’s first-born, with all Jacob’s youth, strength, might, dignity, and power, does not guarantee that those qualities will pass on to the child. Reuben sinned with Jacob’s maidservant and his tribe will come to nothing.
Genesis 49:5-7 Simeon and Levi: The Lord will divide and scatter them in the land of Israel for the sin they committed by their anger, killing those in Shechem.
Notes: Simeon `became the smallest tribe in the second census of Moses (Num. 26:14); Levi gaining no land of their own, but 48 cities in all of Israel as Priests, and Simeon absorbed into Judah would prevent their aggressive dominant behavior to affect the rest of the nation.
Genesis 49:8-12 Judah will receive praise. He will be fierce in battle. His tribe will receive the kingly line and ultimately the Messiah (Jesus) will come from them.
Notes: Jacob predicts the great empire of David, and the greater kingdom of Christ, the second David. This sets the tone for the chief aspect of messianic expectation in the OT: the way that Abraham’s blessing will come to the Gentiles will be by the ultimate heir of David reigning and incorporating the Gentiles into his benevolent empire.
Genesis 49:13 Zebulun will dwell on the coast.
Genesis 49:14-15 Although Jacob’s blessing of Issachar emphasizes the strength of his descendants, it also indicates that like a donkey they will be forced to work for others
Genesis 49:16-18 Dan will be aggressive tribe judging others, but would not be known for moral stature or religious faithfulness.
Genesis 49:19 Gad shall be constantly raided by the enemy, but at their heels. In other words, they will become skillful fighters.
Genesis 49:20 Asher will settle in fertile lands and be prosperous.
Genesis 49:21 Naphtali, with a deer-like speed and agility marked their military prowess. They will flourish.
Genesis 49:26 Joseph produced much fruit by his righteousness. Though attacked, he did not retaliate (Like Christ). Through Joseph’s persecution, God made him useful and blessed him abundantly.
Notes: Joseph and Judah outshine the other ten brothers.
Genesis 49:27 Benjamin is compared to a wolf. They will be aggressive warriors. The first king, King Saul, was fierce in battle and was of the tribe of Benjamin.
Genesis 49:28-33 Jacob commanded that when he died that his body be carried out of Egypt and buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah, and his wife Leah. Jacob died.
Notes: Honor was finally accorded to Leah in death and in Jacob’s request to be buried alongside his wife, as were his father's. Burial alongside Rachel, the beloved wife, was not requested..