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Moses’ Final Blessing on Israel

33

This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death. 2He said:

The Lord came from Sinai,

and dawned from Seir upon us;

he shone forth from Mount Paran.

With him were myriads of holy ones;

at his right, a host of his own.

3

Indeed, O favorite among peoples,

all his holy ones were in your charge;

they marched at your heels,

accepted direction from you.

4

Moses charged us with the law,

as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.

5

There arose a king in Jeshurun,

when the leaders of the people assembled—

the united tribes of Israel.

 

6

May Reuben live, and not die out,

even though his numbers are few.

 

7 And this he said of Judah:

O Lord, give heed to Judah,

and bring him to his people;

strengthen his hands for him,

and be a help against his adversaries.

 

8 And of Levi he said:

Give to Levi your Thummim,

and your Urim to your loyal one,

whom you tested at Massah,

with whom you contended at the waters of Meribah;

9

who said of his father and mother,

“I regard them not”;

he ignored his kin,

and did not acknowledge his children.

For they observed your word,

and kept your covenant.

10

They teach Jacob your ordinances,

and Israel your law;

they place incense before you,

and whole burnt offerings on your altar.

11

Bless, O Lord, his substance,

and accept the work of his hands;

crush the loins of his adversaries,

of those that hate him, so that they do not rise again.

 

12 Of Benjamin he said:

The beloved of the Lord rests in safety—

the High God surrounds him all day long—

the beloved rests between his shoulders.

 

13 And of Joseph he said:

Blessed by the Lord be his land,

with the choice gifts of heaven above,

and of the deep that lies beneath;

14

with the choice fruits of the sun,

and the rich yield of the months;

15

with the finest produce of the ancient mountains,

and the abundance of the everlasting hills;

16

with the choice gifts of the earth and its fullness,

and the favor of the one who dwells on Sinai.

Let these come on the head of Joseph,

on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

17

A firstborn bull—majesty is his!

His horns are the horns of a wild ox;

with them he gores the peoples,

driving them to the ends of the earth;

such are the myriads of Ephraim,

such the thousands of Manasseh.

 

18 And of Zebulun he said:

Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out;

and Issachar, in your tents.

19

They call peoples to the mountain;

there they offer the right sacrifices;

for they suck the affluence of the seas

and the hidden treasures of the sand.

 

20 And of Gad he said:

Blessed be the enlargement of Gad!

Gad lives like a lion;

he tears at arm and scalp.

21

He chose the best for himself,

for there a commander’s allotment was reserved;

he came at the head of the people,

he executed the justice of the Lord,

and his ordinances for Israel.

 

22 And of Dan he said:

Dan is a lion’s whelp

that leaps forth from Bashan.

 

23 And of Naphtali he said:

O Naphtali, sated with favor,

full of the blessing of the Lord,

possess the west and the south.

 

24 And of Asher he said:

Most blessed of sons be Asher;

may he be the favorite of his brothers,

and may he dip his foot in oil.

25

Your bars are iron and bronze;

and as your days, so is your strength.

 

26

There is none like God, O Jeshurun,

who rides through the heavens to your help,

majestic through the skies.

27

He subdues the ancient gods,

shatters the forces of old;

he drove out the enemy before you,

and said, “Destroy!”

28

So Israel lives in safety,

untroubled is Jacob’s abode

in a land of grain and wine,

where the heavens drop down dew.

29

Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,

a people saved by the Lord,

the shield of your help,

and the sword of your triumph!

Your enemies shall come fawning to you,

and you shall tread on their backs.


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De 33:1-28. The Majesty of God.

1. Moses the man of God—This was a common designation of a prophet (1Sa 2:27; 9:6), and it is here applied to Moses, when, like Jacob, he was about to deliver ministerially before his death, a prophetic benediction to Israel.

2-4. The Lord came—Under a beautiful metaphor, borrowed from the dawn and progressive splendor of the sun, the Majesty of God is sublimely described as a divine light which appeared in Sinai and scattered its beams on all the adjoining region in directing Israel's march to Canaan. In these descriptions of a theophania, God is represented as coming from the south, and the allusion is in general to the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai; but other mountains in the same direction are mentioned with it. The location of Seir was on the east of the Ghor; mount Paran was either the chain on the west of the Ghor, or rather the mountains on the southern border of the desert towards the peninsula [Robinson]. (Compare Jud 5:4, 5; Ps 68:7, 8; Hab 3:3).

ten thousands of saints—rendered by some, "with the ten thousand of Kadesh," or perhaps better still, "from Meribah" [Ewald].

a fiery law—so called both because of the thunder and lightning which accompanied its promulgation (Ex 19:16-18; De 4:11), and the fierce, unrelenting curse denounced against the violation of its precepts (2Co 3:7-9). Notwithstanding those awe-inspiring symbols of Majesty that were displayed on Sinai, the law was really given in kindness and love (De 33:3), as a means of promoting both the temporal and eternal welfare of the people. And it was "the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob," not only from the hereditary obligation under which that people were laid to observe it, but from its being the grand distinction, the peculiar privilege of the nation.

6. Let Reuben live, and not die—Although deprived of the honor and privileges of primogeniture, he was still to hold rank as one of the tribes of Israel. He was more numerous than several other tribes (Nu 1:21; 2:11). Yet gradually he sank into a mere nomadic tribe, which had enough to do merely "to live and not die." Many eminent biblical scholars, resting on the most ancient and approved manuscripts of the Septuagint, consider the latter clause as referring to Simeon; "and Simeon, let his men be few," a reading of the text which is in harmony with other statements of Scripture respecting this tribe (Nu 25:6-14; 1:23; 26:14; Jos 19:1).

7. this is the blessing of Judah—Its general purport points to the great power and independence of Judah, as well as its taking the lead in all military expeditions.

8-10. of Levi he said—The burden of this blessing is the appointment of the Levites to the dignified and sacred office of the priesthood (Le 10:11; De 22:8; 17:8-11), a reward for their zeal in supporting the cause of God, and their unsparing severity in chastising even their nearest and dearest relatives who had participated in the idolatry of the molten calf (Ex 32:25-28; compare Mal 2:4-6).

12. of Benjamin he said—A distinguishing favor was conferred on this tribe in having its portion assigned near the temple of God.

between his shoulders—that is, on his sides or borders. Mount Zion, on which stood the city of Jerusalem, belonged to Judah; but Mount Moriah, the site of the sacred edifice, lay in the confines of Benjamin.

13-17. of Joseph he said—The territory of this tribe, diversified by hill and dale, wood and water, would be rich in all the productions—olives, grapes, figs, &c., which are reared in a mountainous region, as well as in the grain and herbs that grow in the level fields. "The firstling of the bullock and the horns of the unicorn" (rhinoceros), indicate glory and strength, and it is supposed that under these emblems were shadowed forth the triumphs of Joshua and the new kingdom of Jeroboam, both of whom were of Ephraim (compare Ge 48:20).

18, 19. Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out—on commercial enterprises and voyages by sea.

and, Issachar in thy tents—preferring to reside in their maritime towns.

19. shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand—Both tribes should traffic with the Phœnicians in gold and silver, pearl and coral, especially in murex, the shellfish that yielded the famous Tyrian dye, and in glass, which was manufactured from the sand of the river Belus, in their immediate neighborhood.

20, 21. of Gad he said—Its possessions were larger than they would have been had they lain west of Jordan; and this tribe had the honor of being settled by Moses himself in the first portion of land conquered. In the forest region, south of the Jabbok, "he dwelt as a lion" (compare Ge 30:11; 49:19). Notwithstanding, they faithfully kept their engagement to join the "heads of the people" [De 33:21] in the invasion of Canaan.

22. Dan is a lion's whelp—His proper settlement in the south of Canaan being too small, he by a sudden and successful irruption, established a colony in the northern extremity of the land. This might well be described as the leap of a young lion from the hills of Bashan.

23. of Naphtali he said—The pleasant and fertile territory of this tribe lay to "the west," on the borders of lakes Merom and Chinnereth, and to "the south" of the northern Danites.

24, 25. of Asher he said—The condition of this tribe is described as combining all the elements of earthly felicity.

dip his foot in oil—These words allude either to the process of extracting the oil by foot presses, or to his district as particularly fertile and adapted to the culture of the olive.

25. shoes of iron and brass—These shoes suited his rocky coast from Carmel to Sidon. Country people as well as ancient warriors had their lower extremities protected by metallic greaves (1Sa 17:6; Eph 6:15) and iron-soled shoes.

26-29. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun—The chapter concludes with a congratulatory address to Israel on their peculiar happiness and privilege in having Jehovah for their God and protector.

who rideth upon the heaven in thy help—an evident allusion to the pillar of cloud and fire, which was both the guide and shelter of Israel.

28. the fountain of Jacob—The posterity of Israel shall dwell in a blessed and favored land.




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