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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.

26. There is none like unto the God. Moses proceeds from the parts to the whole, and now comes to speak of the whole body, which consisted of the twelve families. All that he says tends to the same end, viz., that the people of Israel were happy as being taken by God under this faithful guardianship: for nothing is more to be desired with regard to our best interests, than that our welfare should be intrusted to the hand of God. But, since this inestimable blessing of being protected by the care of God is often but lightly prized, Moses exclaims in admiration, that there is none to be compared to the God of Israel. We know that all nations had their tutelary gods or patrons, and foolishly gloried in their respective idols; although they often found from experience, that whatever confidence they placed in them was vain and frivolous. Moses, therefore, separates from this imaginary multitude of false gods the God of Israel, like whom, he says, none can be anywhere found. He also extols His power, because He rides gloriously on the heavens and clouds, which is tantamount to all high things being subject to His dominion. But, whereas it would be of little profit to reflect on his infinite power except; in its connection with ourselves, Moses expressly reminds us that God is not strong for Himself, but in order that He may help His people.

27. The eternal God is thy refuge. This is just as if he had said that the Israelites were protected from above by the help of God, and also based, as it were, upon Him. The beginning of the prayer corresponds with that other in Psalm 90:1, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.” The sum is, that although the Israelites might be exposed to many injuries, still there was secure repose for them under the shadow of God’s wings; and assuredly unless the hand of God had been like a roof to protect them, they would have perished a thousand times over. But, inasmuch as it would not be sufficient for our heads to be in safety, the other point is also added, viz., that God’s arms should be stretched forth to sustain them from beneath. He calls them “everlasting,” because the security of the pious, who rely upon God, is never shaken: it is, therefore, just as though he represented God to be at the same time the foundation, and the roof, of their abode. Others translate it less correctly, “Thou shalt live under the arms of the Everlasting;” for an elegant distinction is drawn, 326326     This sentence is omitted in the Latin edition of 1563 though given in substance in the French of 1564. which, however, tends to the same point, when God it called קדם, kedem, and His arms עלם, gnolam, the first of which words has reference to the past, whilst in the other there is allusion to the future; as if he had said of God, that He was from the beginning, and that His power would endure unto the end.

He adduces experimental evidence of the above statements, inasmuch as God had 327327     It will be seen that C. translates the verbs here in the past tense; A. V. in the future: “he shall thrust out, etc.” miraculously destroyed the enemies of His people; at the same time he specifies the manner in which this was done, viz., that He had said, Destroy, or blot out, or dissipate. And by this word he signifies that, although God had made use of the agency of the Israelites, still He only was the conqueror; since the Israelites prevailed not except at His bidding, and by His will.

28. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone. 328328     Lat., “Israel hath dwelt,” etc. The beginning of the verse is by no means obscure, for Moses promises in it to the elect people what all have naturally a great desire for, viz., peace or tranquillity; for he is said to dwell confidently alone, who: fears no danger, whom no care harasses, and who needs no garrison, or defense. This, indeed, God never vouchsafed altogether to the Israelites, that they should inhabit their land in security and without the fear of enemies, inasmuch as their ingratitude did not allow of it; and therefore the prophets, in enumerating the blessings of Christ’s kingdom, declare that every one should “dwell beneath his own vine, and his own fig-tree.”

For “the fountain of Jacob,” some have the word eye, 329329     עין. A spring, or an eye (from its weeping.) The V. with S.M. have taken it to mean an eye here. Luther, Diodati, and A.V. a fountain. C. saw in the notes of S.M. that Kimchi and the Chaldee paraphrast had taken the word literally to be the eye, and, by metaphor, the vision of Jacob. — W and suppose it to be used metaphorically for his vision; as though it were said, that the quiet and peaceful habitation referred to was to be expected by the people from the vision of their father Jacob. Others, however, more correctly read the words “fountain of Jacob,” in apposition (with Israel,) inasmuch as all the tribes derived their origin from that one father. In this way the “fountain” will not be only the actual source; but the rivulet, or stream, which flows down from it.

In conclusion, Moses promises that the very sky of the Holy Land should be propitious, and benignant.

29 Happy art thou, O Israel. He again exclaims that happy is the people, whose salvation is in God; and surely this is the only true happiness; for unless we ascend to the first cause of Salvation, all salvations, so to speak, are but transitory. And, since God had honored the Israelites alone with this privilege, their condition is here distinguished from the common lot of the whole human race. By the words shield and sword is meant a perfect defense, as much as to say, that no part of their armor was to be sought elsewhere.

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