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Moses’ Final Blessing on Israel


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

The L ord 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.


Indeed, O favorite among peoples,

all his holy ones were in your charge;

they marched at your heels,

accepted direction from you.


Moses charged us with the law,

as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.


There arose a king in Jeshurun,

when the leaders of the people assembled—

the united tribes of Israel.



May Reuben live, and not die out,

even though his numbers are few.


7 And this he said of Judah:

O L ord, 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;


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.


They teach Jacob your ordinances,

and Israel your law;

they place incense before you,

and whole burnt offerings on your altar.


Bless, O L ord, 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 L ord 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 L ord be his land,

with the choice gifts of heaven above,

and of the deep that lies beneath;


with the choice fruits of the sun,

and the rich yield of the months;


with the finest produce of the ancient mountains,

and the abundance of the everlasting hills;


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.


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.


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.


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 L ord,

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 L ord,

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.


Your bars are iron and bronze;

and as your days, so is your strength.



There is none like God, O Jeshurun,

who rides through the heavens to your help,

majestic through the skies.


He subdues the ancient gods,

shatters the forces of old;

he drove out the enemy before you,

and said, “Destroy!”


So Israel lives in safety,

untroubled is Jacob’s abode

in a land of grain and wine,

where the heavens drop down dew.


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

a people saved by the L ord,

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.

23. And of Naphtali he said. He predicts that God would deal bountifully towards these two tribes; for to the first a fertile district would be allotted towards “the west and the south.” What he declares respecting the tribe of Asher is not free from ambiguity; for he is said to be blessed, מבנים, mibanim, i.e., either with children, or above children. If we prefer the former meaning, his prolificness (πολυτεκνία) is celebrated, as though it were said, Asher shall be blessed with a numerous progeny. There may, however, be a comparison between this tribe and the others; and this might justly be made to its advantage, because it had a very fertile district allotted to it, and abounding in wheat of the best quality, as the blessing of Jacob testifies,

“Out of Asher shall bread be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.” (Genesis 49:20.)

He adds that “Asher shall be acceptable to his brethren;” from whence we gather that his tribe should be of a placid disposition: and afterwards figuratively celebrates the abundance of his oil, and iron, and brass. For to “dip his foot in oil,” is as much as to say that he should collect an abundant supply of oil; and that “his shoes should be iron and brass,” is nothing more than that he should tread upon a soil full of these metals. It is to be readily inferred from hence, as from preceding passages, that the blessings, which are now mentioned, are not so much wishes or prayers, as prophecies; since without the spirit of prophecy Moses could never have divined what, or what sort of, territory was to be bestowed on the several tribes.

Commentators vary as to the latter words; for some render the word דבא, daba, old age, or, grief, as if there were a transposition of the letters, 325325     דבא, a word whose root does not occur in Hebrew. The LXX., and the Chaldee paraphrast, and the Syriac, are unanimous in rendering it strength; but the V. has old age, and those critics, who maintain this to be its meaning, are driven to suppose that it is formed irregularly from דאבW and thus restrict the meaning of the word “days” to youth; but others more correctly suppose, that Asher was to be strong and vigorous through the whole course of his life. Since, therefore, years gradually debilitate men, Moses promises to the posterity of Asher that their rigor should be retained to the very end of life.

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