Genesis 49: Patriarchal Blessings for Israel's Sons

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 40–41

Genesis 49 contains the blessings given by the prophet and patriarch Jacob (Israel) to his twelve sons before he died. Especially notice the blessings given to Judah, whose descendants include Jesus Christ, and the blessings given to Joseph, whose descendants are the people of the Book of Mormon and most Church members since the Restoration.To better understand this chapter, it is helpful to know that it was written in poetry in the original Hebrew. The poetic form most often used in the scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, is called “parallelism.” In this form, the writer, or speaker, says something and then repeats it using different words. Note the two phrases at the end of verse 11:
  • “He washed his garments in wine.”

  • “[He washed] his clothes in the blood of grapes.”

Understanding the Scriptures

Genesis 49

Befall (v. 1)Happen to 
The excellency of (v. 3)The highest in 
Dignity (v. 3)Honor 
Unstable (v. 4)Reckless 
Excel (v. 4)Be great 
Defiledst (v. 4)Made unclean (see Genesis 35:22) 
Couch (v. 4)Bed 
Instruments of cruelty (v. 5)Weapons of violence 
Habitations (v. 5)Place where one lives 
Selfwill (v. 6)Selfishness, lack of control of one’s emotions 
Whelp (v. 9)Offspring 
Prey (vv. 9, 27)Victim, conquered and taken by force to be eaten 
Couched (vv. 9, 14)Laid down 
Rouse him up (v. 9)Awake him 
Sceptre (v. 10)Right or authority to rule 
Binding (v. 11)Tying 
Foal (v. 11)Young donkey 
Haven (v. 13)Harbor, safe place 
Bear (v. 15)Carry 
Tribute (v. 15)Forced labor 
Adder (v. 17)Snake 
Royal dainties (v. 20)Rare things given to kings 
Hind (v. 21)Female deer 
Bough (v. 22)Large branch 
Sorely grieved (v. 23)Greatly humbled 
Abode in strength (v. 24)Stayed strong 
Have prevailed (v. 26)Are greater 
Progenitors (v. 26)Ancestors 
Utmost (v. 26)Farthest 
Ravin (v. 27)Eat greedily, take food by violence and force 
Devour (v. 27)Eat up 
Spoil (v. 27)Things taken by force 
Charged (v. 29)Commanded 
Yielded up the ghost (v. 33)Died 

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Genesis 49.

Activity A iconIdentify the Blessings

Underline the names of the twelve sons of Israel in your scriptures so that you can quickly see where to find each son’s blessing. Write about the special things promised to Judah and Joseph; two blessings seem to stand out above the others.

Activity B iconPatriarchal Blessings

The blessings given in Genesis 49 are like patriarchal blessings. Explain what your patriarchal blessing means to you.


Explain why we receive a patriarchal blessing and what the requirements are to receive one.

Activity C iconHow Was This Prophecy Fulfilled?

Explain what verse 22 in Genesis 49 means. To help you, read 1 Nephi 5:14–16 and Jacob 2:25, which tell which tribe the Book of Mormon people are from. Also keep in mind that Elder LeGrand Richards said that the “everlasting hills” in Genesis 49:26 refer to the Americas (see Conference Report, Apr. 1967, 20).