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“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

The summary of the entire Torah is as simple as this:
Love what HaShem loves; hate what HaShem hates. All else is commentary.

Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

WARNING: The text used for my commentary is my own paraphrase and must not be
considered “a translation” or authorative in any way. It is, in fact, simply my commentary.

Maps, when used, are from Created using BibleMapper 3.0.
Additional data from
Source of Dates Used

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית • B'resheet
(“In Beginning” or “At First”)
The First Book of Moses,
Commonly Called


~ 49 ~

Parashah 12: Vayechi (continued)
“He lived” • 47:28–50:26
(Small Roman numerals in the text indicate each 'aliyah.)

(iv) 1Ya'akov called for his sons and said:

 “Gather around, so that I may tell you
what will happen to you in the days to come.
2Gather around, you sons of Ya'akov, and listen.
Listen to Isra'el, your father.[2]
3“Re’uven, you are my firstborn, my strength,
and the firstfruits of my virility,
excelling in dignity,[3] and excelling in power.
4Uncontrolled[4a] as water, you shall no longer have preeminence,
because you went up to your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.[4b]
5“Shim‘on and Levi are brothers,
their swords are weapons of violence.[5]
6My soul, don’t come into their council.
My glory, don’t be united to their assembly;
for in their anger they killed men;
in their self-will they hamstrung cattle.
7Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
and their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them throughout Ya'akov,
and scatter them throughout Isra'el.
8“Y’hudah, your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies.
Your father’s sons will bow down before you.
9Y’hudah is a lion’s cub.
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down, he crouched as a lion,
as a lioness.
Who will rouse him up?
10The scepter will not depart from Y’hudah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until ShilohHe Whose right it is comes,
and the allegiance of the nations will be to Him.[10]
11He ties his donkey to the vine,
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he washes his garments in wine,
and his robes in the blood of grapes.[11]
12His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.[12]
13“Z’vulun will live at the seashore,
with ships anchoring at his coast,
and his border will extend to Tzidon. [MAP]
14“Yissakhar is a strong donkey,
lying down between the saddlebagsperhaps sheepfolds, the meaning is not certain.
15He saw that his resting place was good,
and that his land was pleasant.
so he leans his shoulder into his burden
and becomes a servant doing forced labor.[15]
16“Dan will judgeprovide justice for his people,
as one of the tribes of Isra'el.
17Dan will be a serpent by the road,
a viper beside the path,
that bites the horse’s heels,
so that his rider falls backward.[17]
18I wait for your salvation, Yehovah.[GN]

(v) 19Gadגָּ֖ד (gāḏ), troop will be attacked by raidersגְּד֣וּד (gə·ḏūḏ), a troop,
but he will attack their heels.
20“Asher’s food will be rich.
He will produce royal delicacies.
21“Naftali is a doe set free,
who bears beautiful fawns.
22“Yosef is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine by a spring
whose branches climb over the wall.
23The archers attacked him with bitterness,
shot at him in hostility,
24But his bow remained steady.
His strong arms were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Ya'akov,
in the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Isra'el,
25by the God of your father Who helps you,
by El Shaddaithe Almighty Who blesses you
with blessings of the heavens above,
blessings of the deep that lies below,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26Your father’s blessings have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
more than the bounty of the ancient hills.
May they rest on the head of Yosef,
on the crown on the head the prince of his brothers.


(vi) 27“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf.
In the morning he will devour the prey.
At evening he will divide the plunder.”

28All these are the twelve tribes of Isra'el, and this is what their father spoke to them, and blessed them. He blessed each one witn a suitable blessing. 29Then he instructed them, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is near Mamre in the land of Kena'an, the field which Avraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. 31Avraham and his wife Sarah are buried there, with Yitz’chak and his wife Rivkah, and I buried Leah there: 32the field and the cave in it that was purchased from the children of Het.”

[Ya'akov Dies in Egypt, 1660 BCE]

33When Ya'akov had finished charging his sons, he drew his legs up into the bed, breathed his last breath, and was gathered to his people.

Chapter 50

 2. “The use of these proper names concurrently is frequent in Isra'elite poetry. Here it is evidence of the somewhat formal poetical prelude to the main song. Cf. Psalm 105:23. The names emphasize the national character of the oracle, which is put into the mouth of the patriarch, and has reference to the fortunes of the twelve tribes.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) [BACK]

 3. Dignity: Hebrew שְׂאֵ֖ת (śə·’êṯ), honor, prominance, elevation, exaltation, swelling, uprising. [BACK]

4a. Uncontrolled: Hebrew פַּ֤חַז (pa·ḥaz), unstable, turbulent, unruly, reckless, wanton, unbridled license. [BACK]

4b. Genesis 35:22 [BACK]

 5. Genesis 34:25-30 [BACK]

 7. “This sentence of the patriarch was so fulfilled when Canaan was conquered, that on the second numbering under Moses, Simeon had become the weakest of all the tribes (Numbers 26:14); in Moses' blessing (Deuteronomy 33) it was entirely passed over; and it received no separate assignment of territory as an inheritance, but merely a number of cities within the limits of Y’hudah (Joshua 19:1-9). Its possessions, therefore, became an insignificant appendage to those of Y’hudah, into which they were eventually absorbed, as most of the families of Simeon increased but little (1 Chronicles 4:27); and those which increased the most emigrated in two detachments, and sought out settlements for themselves and pasture for their cattle outside the limits of the promised land (1 Chronicles 4:38-43). Levi also received no separate inheritance in the land, but merely a number of cities to dwell in, scattered throughout the possessions of his brethren (Joshua 21:1-40). But the scattering of Levi in Isra'el was changed into a blessing for the other tribes through its election to the priesthood. Of this transformation of the curse into a blessing, there is not the slightest intimation in Ya'akov's address; and in this we have a strong proof of its genuineness. After this honourable change had taken place under Moses, it would never have occurred to any one to cast such a reproach upon the forefather of the Levites. How different is the blessing pronounced by Moses upon Levi! (Deuteronomy 33:8) But though Ya'akov withdrew the rights of primogeniture from Reuben, and pronounced a curse upon the crime of Simeon and Levi, he deprived none of them of their share in the promised inheritance. They were merely put into the background because of their sins, but they were not excluded from the fellowship and call of Isra'el, and did not lose the blessing of Abraham, so that their father's utterances with regard to them might still be regarded as the bestowal of a blessing (Genesis 49:28).” (Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament) [BACK]

10. “The prayer book (siddur) shows this: ‘The scepter shall not depart from Y'hudah, nor a scholar from among his descendants, until Shiloh arrives and his will be an assemblage of the nations.’ Rashi notes that this phrase ‘until Shiloh arrives’ is in reference to the coming Messiah tp whom the kingdom of Adonai belongs.” (The Complete Jewish Study Bible) From the time of King Saul until the arrival of King Messiah (a direct descendant of Y’hudah), the legitimate ruler of the entire nation of Isra'el has always been from the Tribe of Y’hudah, even during the period of the divided kingdom, the two periods of exile, and the period when Rome’s puppet kings were over the nation. Even now King Yeshua reigns as the legitimate, though physically absent, King of Isra'el. When Yeshua returns to reign physically over the entire world, it will be from His throne in Jerusalem, and the allegiance of all the people of all the nations will be to Him alone. [BACK]

11. Ya'akov here prophecies about the prosperity of the tribe of Y’hudah, that their land will be so rich that whever they tie their donkey it will be to a rich vine, and they will be rich enough to wash their clothes in expensive wine rather than in water (though they wouldn’t literally do that). [BACK]

12. “The words do not refer to Y’hudah’s person, but describe the prosperity of his descendants, whose temporal welfare will show itself in their bright and healthy countenances.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) [BACK]

15. “Issachar is reproached for being ready to undertake forced labour, and so to acknowledge the Canaanites as his overlords.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) Perhaps his father is chastising him for having a servant mentality. [BACK]

17. Dan, whose name means “a judge,” will defend not only his own tribe, but all of Isra'el, by ambush, secret raids, and guerilla warfare. [BACK]

Other commentaries on Genesis 49
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Pulpit Commentary
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Page originally posted on Shabbat, 16 October 2021

Page last updated on Monday, 02 October 2023 12:52 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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