KJV Gen 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gen 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. Gen 49:3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Gen 49:4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch. Gen 49:5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. Gen 49:6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Gen 49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Gen 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Gen 49:9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? Gen 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Gen 49:11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: Gen 49:12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. Gen 49:13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon. Gen 49:14 Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: Gen 49:15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute. Gen 49:16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Gen 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. Gen 49:18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD. Gen 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. Gen 49:20 Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. Gen 49:21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words. Gen 49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: Gen 49:23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: Gen 49:24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Gen 49:25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: Gen 49:26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren. Gen 49:27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
The passage is introduced with Jacob saying he will show "what will befall" his sons "in the last days" though some translate as "in the future" and the like.
Is Jacob predicting what each tribe will be like in general or is his prediction focused on their demise?
I highlighted Reuben as a representative son for analysis. Hopefully the passage can be analyzed in such a way that it can serve to illuminate a proper hermeneutic of the rest of the sons as well.
It might be helpful to know that the reason I ask is that I recently heard this passage expounded as describing the "character" of each of the tribes rather than particulars of their final days. I think the introduction makes it sound like it is about the end of days but I have trouble reading the predictions (or some of them) in that way.