The Blessing of Moses
33 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God [a]blessed the sons of Israel before his death. 2 He said,
“The Lord came from Sinai,
And dawned on them from Seir;
He shone forth from Mount Paran,
And He came from among ten thousand holy ones;
At His right hand was a [b]flaming fire, a law, for them.
“Indeed, He loves His people;
All [c]Your holy ones are in Your hand.
They followed in Your steps;
They accept and receive direction from You.
“Moses commanded us with a law,
As a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
“The Lord was King in Jeshurun (Israel),
When the heads of the people were gathered,
The tribes of Israel together.
“May [the tribe of] Reuben live and not die out,
[d]But let his men be few.”
7 And [Moses said] this of [e]Judah:
“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah,
And bring him to his people.
With his hands he contended for them,
And may You be a help against his enemies.”
8 Of Levi he said,
“Your [f]Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man [Aaron],
Whom You tested and proved at Massah,
With whom You contended at the waters of Meribah;(A)
Who [g]said of his father and mother,
‘I did not consider them’;
Nor did he acknowledge his brothers,
Nor did he regard his own sons,
For the priests observed Your word,
And kept Your covenant.
“The priests shall teach Your ordinances (judgments) to Jacob,
And Your law to Israel.
They shall put incense [h]before You,
And whole burnt offerings on Your altar.
“O Lord, bless Levi’s substance (ability),
And accept and take pleasure in the work of his hands;
Crush and shatter the loins of those who rise up against him,
And of those who hate him, so that they do not rise again.”
12 Of Benjamin he said,
“May the beloved of the Lord [i]dwell in safety by Him;
He shields and covers him all the day long,
And he dwells between His shoulders.”
13 And of [j]Joseph he said,
“Blessed by the Lord be his land,
With the precious things of heaven, with the dew,
And from the deep water that lies beneath,
With the precious fruits of the sun,
And with the precious produce of the months.
“With the best things of the ancient mountains,
And with the precious things of the everlasting hills,
With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,
And the favor and goodwill of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Let these blessings come upon the head of Joseph,
And upon the crown of the head of him who was distinguished [as a prince] among his brothers.(B)
“His majesty is like a firstborn young bull,
And his horns like the horns of the wild ox;
With them he will gore the peoples,
All of them together, to the ends of the earth.
And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
And those are the thousands of Manasseh.”
18 Of Zebulun he said,
“[k]Rejoice, Zebulun, in your interests abroad,
And, Issachar, in your tents [at home].
“They will call the peoples to the mountain (Mount Carmel);
There they will offer sacrifices of righteousness;
For they will draw out the abundance of the seas,
And the hidden treasures of the sand.”
20 Of Gad he said,
“Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad;
He lurks like a lioness,
And tears the arm and the crown of the head.
“He selected the best [land] for himself,
For there the leader’s portion was reserved;
Yet he came with the leaders of the people;
He carried out the justice (righteous will) of the Lord,
And His ordinances (judgments) with Israel.”(C)
22 Of Dan he said,
“Dan is a lion’s cub,
That leaps forth from Bashan.”
23 Of Naphtali he said,
“O Naphtali, satisfied with favor,
And full of the blessing of the Lord,
Take possession of the sea [of Galilee] and the south.”
24 Of Asher he said,
“More blessed than sons is Asher;
May he be favored by his brothers,
And may he dip his foot in oil.
“Your strongholds will be iron and bronze,
And as your days are, so will your strength, your rest and security be.
“There is none like the God of Jeshurun (Israel),
Who rides the heavens to your help,
And through the skies in His majestic glory.
“The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He drove out the enemy from before you,
And said, ‘Destroy!’
“So Israel dwells in safety and security,
The fountain of Jacob alone and secluded,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens also drop down dew.
“Happy and blessed are you, O Israel;
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord,
The Shield of your help,
And the Sword of your majesty!
Your enemies will cringe before you,
And you will tread on their high places [tramping down their idolatrous altars].”
- Deuteronomy 33:1 Jacob’s (Israel’s) blessing on his twelve sons is recorded in Gen 49:1-27.
- Deuteronomy 33:2 Or fiery law.
- Deuteronomy 33:3 Lit His.
- Deuteronomy 33:6 Or Nor. The Hebrew can be taken either way, though the parallelism of thought slightly favors “nor let.” However, some argue for the wording “but let” due to the fact that Reuben had committed the grave offense of fornication with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Gen 49:3, 4; also see note Gen 22:24). It is maintained that Moses’ blessing for Reuben is somewhat mixed, asking that the tribe not become extinct, but that it always be few in number.
- Deuteronomy 33:7 The tribe of Judah later absorbed the tribe of Simeon (Josh 19:1-9), therefore, a specific blessing for Simeon is omitted from this passage.
- Deuteronomy 33:8 I.e. unspecified articles used like lots when the high priest asked God’s counsel for Israel.
- Deuteronomy 33:9 The law required that the high priest act just as impartially when one of his immediate family died, as if the departed were not related to him (Lev 21:10-12); however, another application may be intended—referring to the events at the foot of Sinai, when the Levites killed other Israelites as Moses directed them (Ex 32:26-28).
- Deuteronomy 33:10 Lit in Your nose.
- Deuteronomy 33:12 The temple in Jerusalem was located almost between the ridges of the territory of Benjamin, suggesting “between his shoulders” (see also Josh 15:8). Moses saw it as a symbol of the Lord’s presence covering Benjamin continually.
- Deuteronomy 33:13 Because of Reuben’s sin with Bilhah, Joseph received the double blessing of the firstborn. The descendants of Joseph became the tribes established by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (see v 17).
- Deuteronomy 33:18 Not until 1934 was this prophecy notably in process of fulfillment, when Haifa’s bay became one of the great harbors of the Mediterranean Sea, with commerce affecting the whole world.