Richard Agee

Genesis 49:13-33: Yisra’el blesses his 12 sons: Zebulun through Ben-Yamin

Richard AgeeSome Christians think references to “the latter days” in the Bible refer to the coming of Messiah, destruction of Babylon and messianic reign. Some connect the blessings for each of the 12 sons in Genesis 49 to particular nation groups that are supposed to exist at the end of time. When I read the chapter, I see Ya’akob (Jacob) only addressing his 12 sons, who would become the 12 tribes of Yisra’el (Israel), in their “end times,” not in those of some modern nation.

Nowhere in his statements does he speak of the multimaterial image or the four beasts of Daniel, the first coming of the Messiah, the subject matter of Yeshua’s apocalyptic prophecies in Matthew 24, the tribulation, the terrifying beasts described in Revelation

He is addressing the end days of each of these tribes. When you get into the prophets, it’s amazing that even in Deuteronomy, when Moses speaks about “the last days,” that’s different from the wording in Genesis 49. 

There are two “end times,” one in relation to what Ya’akob said and one which is what the prophets and Yeshua said. I’ve read all sorts of theories and ideas, some of them even sound logical, but God hasn’t given me that to see. 

I have had a hard time explaining this dilemma. Most people when they read Genesis 49, they see all these Messianic references, but I don’t. 

God told Abraham to look at the stars and discern their language. God told us through Moses to live through every word that comes from the mouth of God. Do I want to see something different in Genesis 49? Do I want to see something different from others have seen? Yes. 

I can’t say that Genesis 49 is about the end of the world, because I can’t put something there that isn’t written there. This is not the end of all time, which is the focus of the prophets, but the end of these particular tribes.

Zebulun (Gen. 49:13)

Ya’akob says that Zebulun will be a “haven for ships.” The word haven in Hebrew is חוֹף choph (Strong’s lexicon No. H2348), which comes from the word חָפַף chaphaph (H2653), which means to surround or cover. Historically, the tribe of Zebulun did not inhabit the land near the Mediterranean. Sidon is a city in Lebanon on the coast of the Mediterranean and is also one of the sons of Canaan. 

Issachar (Gen. 49:14–15)

He is referred to as a “strong donkey” who lays down between two stalls. This strong donkey is trapped. That is the burden, not that he is carrying something in his shoulders but that he can’t move to the left or the right. 

The resting place is a peaceful place. He is at peace in a beautiful, delightful place, yet be becomes a slave of forced labor. The forced labor is taxation. 

Dan (Gen. 49:16–18)

He is the judge of the other tribes of Israel, not the nations. The judge can judge against you or for you against someone else. He is the serpent who is in the way, who blocks the way of the ride, biting the horses heel. It’s a deadly bite. 

When the rider falls off, he is killed. This word for bite is also the word for usury. God is referenced in the Song of Moses as the one who kills the horse and the rider (Ex. 15:1-18). This ends the war. 

The last statement of Dan’s prophesy, Ya’akob said:

“For Your salvation [יְשׁוּעָה yeshu’a] I wait, O LORD.” (Gen. 49:18)

Gad (Gen. 49:19)

Gad’s name means “troop.” The prophesy says in English, “raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels.” The word raiders here is גְּדוּד gedud (Strong’s H1416). The word is a variation on Gad’s own name. Gad is attacked by the raiders in a surprise, sneak attack yet Gad triumphs. 

Asher (Gen. 49:20)

“His food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties.”

People will place this verse on whatever European nation makes fine foods, whether it’s Belgian chocolates or Danish pastries. Will Asher be the Messiah’s personal baker? Who knows?

Napthali (Gen. 49:21)

His prophesy is a free doe, who gives good, beautiful words. 

Yosef (Gen. 49:22–26)

Everyone wants to be related to Yosef (Joseph). This doesn’t mention his sons Ephraim and Manasseh at all. Gen. 49:22 literally says that Yosef is a fruitful son by a stream and his daughters run over the wall. They overflow. 

The words for archers are בַּעֲלֵי חִצִּים ba’al chetz (Strong’s H1167 and H2671), or the lord/master of arrows. They shoot at him because they hate and are hostile towards Yosef. But his Yosef’s bow will remain firm perennially because of the Mighty One of Israel, who is God. No one can fight against Yosef and win. 

Yosef receives more blessing than his brothers and even more than his ancestors received. He is also a נָזִיר nazir (Num. 6:2, 12–13, 18–21; Judges 13:5, 7; 16:17; Amos 2:11–12), separated and consecrated above his brothers. 

Ben-Yamin (Gen. 49:27)

Ben-Yamin (Benjamin) is a “ravenous wolf” in the morning and in the evening separates and divides the spoil. When a wolf comes into a pack of sheep, the sheep run and scatter but the wolf is very good at getting the particular sheep he wants. 


These prophesies are about the tribes of Israel. God’s hand is involved in every one of these tribes, whether He praises them with wonderful words or with rebukes. To impose the prophesies of Moses on the 12 tribes to interpret Genesis 49 doesn’t fit.

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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