Context: When Jacob, also called Israel, was 130 years old, he, his sons and their families, because of a great famine, went from their home in Canaan to Egypt. Jacob's son, Joseph, who presumably had been killed many years before but who actually had been sold into Egypt by his brothers, now the Viceroy of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, welcomed his people and settled them in the easterly frontier of Egypt. After seventeen years in Egypt, realizing that his end was approaching, Jacob summoned his sons to him to tell them what "should befall them in the last days." Aware of their destiny as a people to fulfill the partriarchial covenant, to multiply and to occupy the Promised Land, they assemble for their father's sacred blessing. In a prophetic trance he predicts the fortunes of each respectively. To Judah, the fourth son, goes a portion of the blessing of the firstborn, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi having proved unworthy. For Joseph are prophesied the daily blessings conducive to a rewarding, successful life. The extent of this blessing is indicated when Jacob says:
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 hand of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.