Jacob’s Blessings Over Reuben, Simeon, And Levi.

Genesis 49:1-4

“1 And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you IN THE LAST DAYS: 2 Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, And listen to Israel your father.  3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. 4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel, Because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it—He went up to my couch.”

Within these blessing of Jacob over his 12 sons are prophecies, first and foremost, concerning our Messiah.  But he also plainly states that he is going to foretell of things that will happen “IN THE LAST DAYS.”  Church, that is our times.

Bear in mind now that these are supposed to be “Blessings.”  But some of them sound more than a little strange. 🤨 His sons may have been scratching their heads, wondering what it all meant.


Jacob was about to die and be gathered to his fathers.  So, he called his sons to himself to speak a blessing over each one, which are recorded for us in Genesis 49. Notice the name change from Jacob, which means, “Supplanter,” to Israel, his covenant name, which means, “Prince.”  This name was given to him by Jesus in one of His pre-incarnate appearances.  We’re going to discuss the significance of that later on..

Rachael was loved, but Leah was not.

Jacob had 12 sons by 4 different women.  Two were wives: Leah and Rebecca, and two were concubines: Bilhah and Zilpah.  He married Leah first, though he was really in love with Rebecca, her younger sister.  How did that happen?

Well, he thought he was marrying Rebecca on his wedding night, having worked to pay her dowery for seven years.  But his father-in-law, Laban, had a different idea.  Ok, he tricked him; deceived Jacob into marrying his eldest daughter, Leah, first., claiming it was the custom of his people to marry the eldest daughter off first.

Slick old Laban brought Leah in to Jacob after the wedding feast instead of Rachael, with whom he pledged his vows, keeping the veil over her face so Jacob couldn’t tell who it really was. 😠 Because of his deceitful tactic, today grooms now UNveil their brides before marrying them.  

Poor Jacob! He was no doubt angry and upset at his father-in-law’s subterfuge. He had to work another seven years to pay Rebecca’s dowery so he could finally marry her. 😳


This time of Jacob blessing his sons should have been a joyful one for all of them, especially Reuben who was first born.  Per the custom of that day, the mantle of priesthood and kingship should have been given to him plus a double portion of blessing.  Sadly, it ended up being a painful reminder of something terrible he had done earlier in his life. 😢

You see, Reuben had done a very shameful thing.  He went in to one of his father’s concubines and had sex with her.  He thought he’d successfully hidden the deed from his dad.  Unbeknownst to him, however, Jacob was well aware of it. 🧐 As a result, instead of being given the office of priest, kingship, and a double-portion blessing, as first born, the mantle of priesthood was given to Levi, the crown of kingship went to Judah, and the first born blessing…..in other words…..the double portion, was given to Joseph!


Simeon, his second son, was no angel either.  Look at the blessing over him: “Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.”

Simeon was stripped of his blessing also because of the heinous crime he committed along with his brother, Levi.  Though he was in on the plot, he was probably conscripted by his brother.  He was given the priesthood blessing probably because he didn’t plan it, even though he went along with it.  Below is the story of what these two did.

Well that all sounds pretty ominous.  Looks like they both really blew it!  What in the world did they do? 😮

Dinah attacked and raped by Shechem.

Reuben And Simeon’s Offense In Defending Dinah.

Dinah, their sister, had been attacked and violated by a young Hivite of Shechem who had fallen madly in love with her.  Simeon and Levi were outraged and took matters into their own hands.  They went against their father’s wishes to live in peace with the people of that city.  The brothers pretended to be agreeable to the lad marrying their sister on one condition: All the men of their town had to get circumcised in order for them to be part of their family.

Now, it’s one thing to circumcise an 8-day-old infant. It’s quite another to undergo such a procedure as an adult male! Horribly painful, as you can imagine! Reuben and Simeon waited until they were all helplessly recovering from their procedure so the young rapist could marry their sister. They attacked the unsuspecting inhabitants and killed all the men in their anger. As if that weren’t heinous enough, they went and hamstrung their oxen as they pleased. 😮

Reuben And Simeon Replaced.

Knowing all that, it’s not too surprising that Jacob replaced Reuben and Simeon, his first and second born, with his two grandsons:  Ephraim and Manasseh, adopting them as his own.  Though he still loved his sons, the blessings that would have been theirs were given to the two young boys, sons of Joseph who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers.

Types And Shadows.

What does all of this mean and what can we learn from it today?  Reuben’s name means, “See the Son,” or Behold, a Son.”  It’s a reference to Jesus, THE BELOVED SON!  He is a picture of natural Israel who had the chance to “See the Son, Jesus” in person in His first coming, though they did not recognize Him.  For 2,000 years, they have been in partial blindness as to the truth about their Messia.

Simon comes from the root word “shemá,” which means “hear.”  For 2,000 years the Jewish people were deaf to the gospel.

Reuben was rejected, as you read above, because he committed adultery with Bilhah, his father’s concubine.  Her name means, “fear,” in Hebrew.  The Holy Spirit is saying that when we turn our eyes away from “The Son” and “embrace fear,” we sink beneath the waves like Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus.

365 times throughout the Bible, God tells us to “Fear not; don’t be afraid;” or words to that effect.  “Fear not” and keep your eyes on Jesus, one for every day of the year.  There is great benefit to keeping our eyes on Jesus.

All throughout the Bible you see this kind of thing happening where the firstborn blessing went to the younger son.  Jacob and Esau are one example where Esau sold his birth right. Isaac and Ishmael are another:  Isaac was born of his wife, Sarah, Ishmael of Hagar, her Egyptian slave.  The blessing went to the younger son, Isaac. Ephraim and Manasseh are another example of the younger receiving the blessing of the firstborn.  In their case, Jacob crossed his hands and blessed the younger son with the first-born blessing.

All of these are all pictures of our Lord Jesus, THE FIRST BORN, Who was rejected.  All His blessings have benefited us, the Church; the younger sons who came afterward!  HALLELUJAH!  He became nothing so He could give us everything! 🥰

He became sin so that we could be made righteous.
He became poor so we could become rich.
He took on Himself all our sicknesses an diseases so that we could be made whole.
His cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” so that we could one day say, “My Father, My Father, why have you so blessed me?”  Jesus was forsaken on the cross so we would NEVER BE! 

Thank you, Jesus, for sending the Holy Spirit to bless us and teach us how best conduct our lives.  He does so by drawing beautiful pictures of Jesus in stories like Jacob’s blessing over Reuben, Simeon, and Levi.

Below is a link to another of Jacob’s blessings over his sons:

2 thoughts on “Jacob’s Blessings Over Reuben, Simeon, And Levi.

    1. Technically, they all did because the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Mannaseh, though they ultimately settled on the East side of the Jordan, the men of fighting age from those three groups spearheaded the battles for their fellow Israelites until they received their inheritances.

      Liked by 1 person

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