And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days.”
When we think of prophets in the Bible, we think of individuals like Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. We typically don’t think of the patriarchs. But at times the patriarchs did act as prophets, receiving prophetic revelation under the inspiration of God.
Genesis 49:1 begins a long, detailed prophecy spoken by Jacob. We are told that shortly before his death, he gathered his 12 sons together and prophesied what would “befall you in the last days” (verse 1). In the Bible “last days” refers to the time prior to Jesus Christ’s return.
This tells us two very important things:
- The descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons would continue to exist in distinct entities—nations. Many believe the descendants of all 12 sons exist today as part of the Jewish people. In reality, the Jews only represent three sons of Jacob (Judah, Levi and Benjamin).
- The descendants of the 12 sons would exist during the time prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This shows that they must exist today. In fact, Revelation 7:4-8 also shows these distinct tribes would exist during the end times.
The prophecy shows specific national characteristics and future challenges that would distinguish the descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons. This chapter provides key traits and characteristics to help us identify the descendants of Jacob’s sons today. Many of the characteristics lead us to believe that descendants of these tribes are found in France, Israel, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Some of the tribes were to be scattered throughout the other tribes—making them harder to identify nationally (Genesis 49:7).
The descendants of Joseph (verses 22-26) are primarily found in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
View the map on our page “12 Tribes of Israel” for a visual representation of the descendants of the 12 brothers today.
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “Prophecies for Joseph’s Descendants.”