Israel was an old man one hundred forty-seven years of age. He sensed after seventeen years in Egypt, that his life would soon end. Jacob asked Joseph to vow that he would take his body out of Egypt and bury it with his fathers in Canaan. Joseph swore that he would heed his father’s request.
As has been stated earlier, the first-born son was to receive the greatest blessings or inheritance from his father. Jacob accepted Joseph’s sons as equals to his own sons and blessed them after he had blessed their father. Joseph expected his older son, Manasseh to receive the primary blessing. Jacob had other ideas and blessed the younger Ephraim first.
Jacob’s blessings of his twelve sons were delivered partially as obscure prophesies. Reuben, through his sin of adultery with Bilhah had forfeited his birthright. Simeon and Levi were cursed instead of blessed because of their quick temper and anger.
Hidden in Judah’s blessings is a hint of the coming Messiah through his lineage. Jacob’s prophesies concerning his other sons are borne out as one studies the history of the Israelites in the Old Testament.
“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.”