Assemble and Listen, Sons of Jacob,
Listen to Your Father Isra'el

49: 2

Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Isra’el. Ya’akov speaks in the third person (He switches to first person in the next verse when he addresses an individual son). He refers to himself as Ya’akov and as your father Isra’el, and appears like the wise father of Proverbs who counsels his children to hear his instruction. Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction. Pay attention and gain understanding, and do not turn aside from what I say because those who keep my ways are blessed (Proverbs 4:1, 5:7b and 8:32b).

First, the order of the sons as he prophesies to them is not the same as found in 29:31 to 30:25, 35:16-18 except for the first four. He begins with the sons of Leah, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun and Issachar. Then he deals with Bilhah’s son Dan, and then with Zilpah’s two sons Gad and Asher, then back to Bilhah’s other son Naphtali. He then deals with the sons of Rachel, Yosef and Benjamin. Ephraim and Manasseh were also standing by Jacob’s deathbed. Just as the blessing of the sons became the blessing of the father, the prophecy of the father became the prophecy of the sons. Therefore, Ephraim and Manasseh were prophesied to, as you might say, through Joseph.

This was no ordinary conversation. Anything a man says on his deathbed is important because generally, if he ever tells the truth, he tells it on his deathbed. Ya’akov spoke poetically and with great imagery. His very tone suggests that he was speaking in the Spirit. He was in full possession of his faculties, even though he was close to death. Because he was speaking in poetical language, the sons could hardly fail to recognize the importance of their father’s words. Almost instinctively, as they entered the room, they gathered by their own subfamily groupings, in a circular position around the bed. The net result was that fourteen sons gathered around the deathbed of their father Isra’el. As Jacob’s dim eyes gradually recognized them, he proceeded to speak to each one in turn, around the circle.760

 

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