Translated by Victor Alexander ©2003 (posted July 6, 2003)
1. And Jacob called his sons and he said to them, "Gather around and let me regale you with what will befall you in your final days,
Gather around and listen, O, sons of Jacob, listen to your father Israel.
2. "Reuel my heir, you, my vigor and the first fruit of my vine,*
the beginning of my manifold acquisitions,
and the beginning of my getting ruined,
3. "You will disappear like water and remain not in one place,
4. "As you climbed into your father's night bed,
you truly besmirched my cot and alighted.
5. "Simeon and Levi, brothers,
vessels of wrath in holding a grudge.
6. "My soul did not enter their cedar
and their crowd did not descend from my root,
because they killed the men in anger
and in their wrath they dug up the wall.
7. "Cursed is their anger, because it seethed
and their wrath because it hardened,
they divided* Jacob and scattered* Israel.
8. "Judah, it is you that your brothers shall celebrate,
your hand shall be upon your enemies' neck,
there shall worship you your father's sons.
9. "O, lion's cub Judah,
you wanted nothing to do with my son's murder,
your son and your pride like the lions and the lions cub,
who shall stand against them?
10. "No clan shall take advantage* of Judah,
or benefit from the effort of his legs,*
unless it is allowed by him,
and the nations shall persecute him,
11. "They shall chain down his foals to the grapevine,
and his colts to the marketplaces,
he shall die his attire in wine,
and his cloak with the blood of the grapes;
12. "His eyes shall glow from the wine,
and his teeth shall turn white from the milk.
13. "Zebulun shall embark on many days' journey,
and he will be known for the beauty of his ships,
and his district shall stretch to Sidon.
14. "Issachar shall become a giant of a man,
who will nurture great paths,
15. "Who sees that his settlement is beautiful,
and his land is good and he shall commit his energy
toward service and progress.
16. "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel,
17. "Dan will be like the snake on the road,
an obstacle on the highways,
who strikes the horse's heel and throws the rider behind her.
18. "The Lord shall be your only salvation.*
19. "Gad shall make his exodus with an army,
and he shall save his heel.
20. "Asher's land shall be a good one,
and he shall provide satiety for the kings.
21. "Naphtali shall be a small representative,
who shall convey* the beautiful message.*
22. "Son of Enlightenment,* Joseph, Son of Enlightenment,
the spring that rises to the top of the palace buildings,*
that does not forget its origins.*
23. "And it grows and crisscrosses,
climbing the walls of the palace,*
24. "And his bow returned with bounty,
and his hands shepherded the flocks,*
and from his hands the children of Jacob ate their fill,
and from heaven a shepherd for the Rock of Israel.
25. "May the God of your father help you,
and Eil-Shaddai* bless you the blessings of heaven from above,
and the blessings of the guarded* abyss from below,
and the blessings of the nursing breasts and of kinship.
26. "The blessings of your father,
nourished by the blessings of my birthright,
until the coming of the universe's highest hope,
may these blessings be upon the head of Joseph,
the apex of his brother's wreath.
27. "Benjamin is the golden raider,
in the daytime he devours the quarry,
and in the nighttime he divides the spoils."
28. These are all the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father Jacob told them, he said it to them and blessed them, each person according to their fortune.
29. He blessed them and commanded them, then their father said to them, "I will return to my people; bury me with my father,
30. "In the inheritance in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave in the field that lies before Mamre in the land of Canaan, bought as an inheritance for a burial ground.
31. "There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, and there they buried Isaac and Rebecca his wife, and there I buried Leiah.
32. "The field that was bought, and the inheritance that was in it, bought from the children of the Hittites."
33. And as Jacob concluded his instructions to his sons, he extended his legs on the bed and was taken ill, then he died and was taken to his people.
*49:2 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: "Head of the budding grape vine."
*49:7.1 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: "Put Jacob in a state of turmoil."
*49:7.2 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: "Caused Israel to scatter their flight."
*49:10 Lit. Ar. id.: "Benefit from."
*49:10 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: "From betwixt his legs," or: profit from him.
*49:18 All the names of the sons of Jacob turn out prophetically to be their destinies; the names mean what they ended up doing and what they represented in their lives, as we shall see.
*49:21.1 Lit. Ar. id.: "Indicate."
*49:21.2 Lit. Ar. id.: "Sentence."
*49:22.1 Lit. Ar. id.: Refined, well-educated, well-bred.
*49:22.2 A reference to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon of later periods (as the Scriptures were recorded in Babylon several centuries later.) The water for the irrigation of the multi-tiered gardens was brought up by an ingenious system of aqueducts and wheels that the spring waters and the rivers churn, with attached buckets that raise the water and empty it into progressively higher levels of reservoirs and aqueducts.
*49:22.3 Lit. Ar. id.: Or: "recalls his people."
*49:23.1 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: "Weaved the lords of the walls."
*49:23.2 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: "And there scattered the shepherdings of his hands."
*49:25.1 Lit. Aramaic name retained: "The Almighty Eil."
*49:25.2 Lit. Ar. id.: "Controlled from above."
1. And Joseph fell upon his father's face and cried over him, and he kissed him.
2. And Joseph ordered his servants the physicians to embalm his father, and they physicians embalmed Israel.
3. And the process took forty days, because that is how are concluded the days of the embalmed, and the Egyptians cried over him seventy days.
4. And the days of their crying passed, and Joseph said to the house of Pharaoh, "If I find favor in your eyes, say it before the Pharaoh,
5. "That my father made me swear and said to me, 'Behold, I am about to die -- in my tomb purchased for me in the land of Canaan, that is where you shall bury me,' so now I am going up to bury my father and then I shall return."
6. And the Pharaoh said, "Go up and bring your father according to your earth."
7. And Joseph went up to bury his father, and there went with him all the servants of the Pharaoh and the elders* of the land of Egypt,
8. And all the household of Joseph and his brothers and the household of his father went up with him too, except of course their livestock and their oxen, these they left in the land of Geshan;
9. And there went up with him also the chariots and the attendants, and a great encampment of warriors.
10. And they came up to the Mill of Attar, at the crossing of the Jordan River, there they broke down and began writhing and they commenced the great dance of sorrow and lamentation,* and [Joseph] wept for his father seven days.
11. And the settlers of the land of Canaan saw the wailing at the Mill of Attar, and they said, "This was a great deal of wailing for the Egyptians," that is why they called the [name of the town] The Wailing of Egypt* at the Crossing of the Jordan.
12. And so his sons did for their [father] as he had commanded them.
13. And they took him and carried him off to the land of Canaan, and they buried him in the cave at the field of inheritance that Abraham had purchased as an inheritance for burial from Ephron the Hittite, which stands before Mamre.
14. And after he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt together with his brothers, and everyone that went up with him to bury his father.
15. And the brothers of Joseph saw that their father died and they became fearful, and they said, "Will not Joseph deal with us now and repay us back for everything we did to him?"
16. And so they approached Joseph and said to him, "Your father commanded us before his death and said that,
17. "This is what you shall say to Joseph, 'Forgive the foolish arrogation of your brothers and their sins against you, the evil that they performed against you, now then forgive this foolishness of the servants of your father's God." Joseph wept when they told him.
18. And so finally his brothers went up and fell before him, and they said to him, "Behold, we are your servants."
19. And Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, because I am under God.
20. "You intended evil against me, but God intended it as a blessing; He gave us our daily bread and made us into a great nation.
21. "So now fear not, I shall satiate you, and your livestock too," and he encouraged them and uplifted their hearts.*
22. Thus Joseph settled in Egypt, together with his father's entire household. Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.
23. And Joseph got to see Aprim's sons to the third generation; also the sons of Makhar, the son of Menasheh, grew up on Joseph's knees.*
24. And Joseph said to his brothers, "I will die, but God will never forget you; He shall recall you,* and He will take you up from this land to the land that He declared in His covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
25. And Joseph made the children of Israel take an oath and said, "God will never forget you, but shall recall you; take up my bones with you when you go from here."
26. And so Joseph died after one hundred and ten years, and they embalmed him and consecrated him to a temporary place in Egypt.*
*50:7 Lit. Ar. id.: "Old men."
*50:10 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: "They danced there the great dance of the deeply-felt," -- holding hands and writhing in a circle, counter clockwise, while singing the lamentations, perhaps the origin of circle dancing.
*50:11 Lit. Aramaic: "Ebel Myssrayim," or "Egyptian Lament."
*50:21 Lit. Ar. expression: "Filled their hearts."
*50:23 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: "Were born on Joseph's knees."
*50:24 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: "Rememberingly will remember you."
*50:26 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: "Placed him beside Egypt."
Friday, June 27th, 2003 ©Victor N. Alexander
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