Just before Jacob died, he called his twelve sons and said, “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come” (Genesis 49:1). The chapter then shares Jacob’s prophecies regarding many of his sons. A brief look at each prediction reveals that they were fulfilled.
Reuben: He was the firstborn, but he gave up his birthright by his evil actions. The birthright then moved to Joseph, who received a double portion as the oldest son of Jacob’s wife Rachel.
Simeon and Levi: These two brothers were mentioned together as being violent (Genesis 49:3–4). Their land would be divided. This did occur later, as Simeon was given only a few cities in Israel, and the Levites were the priestly tribe that received no land inheritance.
Judah: Judah was like a lion and would be a leader of the other tribes (Genesis 49:8–12). His tribe would later produce a line of kings, beginning with King David and, much later, Jesus Christ.
Zebulun: This son would later be given the land between the Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Galilee (Genesis 49:13). Zebulun will also have land that extends to the sea in the future Millennial Kingdom (Ezekiel 48:1–8, 23–27).
Issachar: Verses 14–15 state Issachar’s land would be agricultural. True to the prophecy, his tribe later inherited the rich farmland of the Valley of Jezreel in Galilee.
Dan: Verses 16–18 note Dan would become a judge in Israel. Samson, one of the greatest judges, came from this tribe. Yet many of Dan’s leaders worshiped idols (as in Judges 18) and brought God’s judgment.
Gad: Verse 19 simply notes Gad would be effective in military struggles. It is difficult to link this to any direct fulfillment due to the brevity of the prophecy. Some have seen a fulfillment of this prediction in the great number of troops who served King David from the tribe of Gad (1 Chronicles 12).
Asher: Verse 20 states Asher would enjoy good soil. Asher’s tribe later inherited the very fertile land of Carmel along the seacoast.
Naphtali: Verse 21 mentions that the other tribes would admire him. The meaning of this prophecy is unclear, though it may indicate his tribe would have an easier life than the other tribes.
Joseph: Joseph received many blessings in verses 22–26, including a double portion. His two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, each became the founder of a tribe of Israel.
Benjamin: Jacob’s youngest son would be a warrior, producing many of Israel’s military leaders, such as Ehud, Saul, and Jonathan. His tribe would be known for its warring characteristics (Judges 5:14; 20:16; 1 Chronicles 8:40).
Jacob’s blessings and predictions provide further evidence of God’s supernatural power to foretell the future of His people and to reveal it to whom He desires.