Jacob's Prophetic Blessings (Part 2)
Jacob, on his death bed, has already spoken to his first four sons. He now continues to address the other eight - "Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon" (Gen. 49:13). Only his dwelling place is told and assured by Jacob. His tribe did in fact receive land by the sea.

"Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens; he saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; he bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves" (Gen. 49:14,15). Issachar was strong physically and willing to work hard for others.

"Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider shall fall backward" (Gen. 49:16,17). He will be able to handle judgment within his own tribe. Like a serpent, he will defeat those who would use him (e.g., Samson - cf. Judges 13-16).

"I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!" (Gen. 49:18). This verse appears to be an interjection. Jacob either senses his death is imminent or is perhaps offering a prayer for his descendants and the continued unfolding of God's promises to Abraham. "Bread from Asher shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties" (Gen. 49:20). He would receive the best lands between Mt. Carmel and the seashore.

"Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words" (Gen. 49:21; cf. Barak - Jud. 4:6; chapter 5). To say that he is a "deer let loose" means he is not hemmed in; his tribe would receive land on the far north.

"Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you, with the blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breast and of the womb. The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers" (Gen. 49:22-26).

Joseph was and will continue to be fruitful, even when he is attacked and hated, because his strength is in God. He had been separated in his youth to preserve all his family.

"Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil" (Gen. 49:27). Ravenous men such as Ehud (cf. Jud. 3:15-30), Saul (cf. I Sam. 9:1,2), Jonathan (cf. I Sam. 14:4-17), and Paul (cf. Rom. 11:1; Acts 8:3; 9:1) all descended from Benjamin.

After he spoke these words he reiterated his desire to be buried with his fathers, not in Egypt. "And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people" (Gen. 49:33). Jacob had evidently been sitting on his bed while addressing his sons. He pulled his feet up into the bed in order to lie down. He then died, departing his earthly life without a struggle.