These are the Twelve Tribes of Isra'el,
This is What He said as He Blessed Them

49: 28

Therefore, the prophecy section ends with this concluding summary: All these are the twelve tribes of Isra’el, so the prophecies go beyond the sons to the tribes. And this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

Even though some of the predictions hardly sounded like blessings, they were intended indirectly to serve as such, through warning his sons and their children of those traits and tendencies against which they needed to especially guard. The children and descendants of Isra’el must have read and meditated on these sayings of Jacob many times during the following centuries, particularly during their bondage in Egypt and their wanderings in the wilderness. So His words proved very helpful to them.803

These prophecies serve a purpose in the book similar to that of Noah’s prophecies about his sons (9:24-27). Both look ahead prophetically to the destinies of the sons at the end of their respective ages – Noah in the primeval days and Ya’akov in the patriarchal days. This is the first time that the phrase the twelve tribes of Isra'el is mentioned in the Bible and is the third of Jacob’s blessings. The first was on Pharaoh (47:1-10), the second on Ephraim and Manasseh (48:1-20), and the last on Jacob’s sons (48:3-27).804

 

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