33 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the Israelites before his death.
2 He said, The Lord came from Sinai and beamed upon us from Seir; He flashed forth from Mount Paran, from among ten thousands of holy ones, a flaming fire, a law, at His right hand.
3 Yes, He loves [the tribes] His people; all those consecrated to Him are in Your hand. They followed in Your steps; they [accepted Your word and] received direction from You,
4 When Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
5 [The Lord] was King in Jeshurun (Israel) when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.
6 Let [the tribe of] Reuben live and not die out, but [a]let his men be few.
7 And this he [Moses] said of Judah: Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people! With his hands he contended for himself; but may You be a help against his enemies.
8 And of Levi he said: Your Thummim and Your Urim [by which the priest sought God’s will for the nation] are for Your pious one [Aaron on behalf of the tribe], whom You tried and proved at Massah, with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah;(A)
9 [Aaron] who [b]said of his father and mother, I do not regard them; nor did he acknowledge his brothers or openly recognize his own children. For the priests observed Your word and kept Your covenant [as to their limitations].
10 [The priests] shall teach Jacob Your ordinances and Israel Your law. They shall put incense before You and whole burnt offerings upon Your altar.
11 Bless, O Lord, [Levi’s] substance, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, and of those who hate him, that they arise no more.
12 Of Benjamin he said: The beloved of the Lord shall [c]dwell in safety by Him; He covers him all the day long, and makes His dwelling between his shoulders.
13 And of Joseph he said: Blessed by the Lord be his land, with the precious gifts of heaven from the dew and from the deep that couches beneath,
14 With the precious things of the fruits of the sun and with the precious yield of the months,
15 With the chief products of the ancient mountains and with the precious things of the everlasting hills,
16 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, upon the crown of the head of him who was separate and prince among his brothers.(B)
17 Like a firstling young bull his majesty is, and his horns like the horns of the wild ox; with them he shall push the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth. And they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
18 And of Zebulun he said: [d]Rejoice, Zebulun, in your interests abroad, and you, Issachar, in your tents [at home].
19 They shall call the people unto Mount [Carmel]; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness, for [e]they shall suck the abundance of the seas and the treasures hid in the sand.
20 And of Gad he said: Blessed is He Who enlarges Gad! Gad lurks like a lioness, and tears the arm, yes, the crown of the head.
21 He selected the best land for himself, for there was the leader’s portion reserved; yet he came with the chiefs of the nation, and the righteous will of the Lord he performed, and His ordinances with Israel.(C)
22 Of Dan he said: Dan is a lion’s whelp that leaps forth from Bashan.
23 Of Naphtali he said: O Naphtali, [f]satisfied with favor and full of the blessing of the Lord, possess the Sea [of Galilee] and [its warm, sunny climate like] the south.
24 Of Asher he said: Blessed above sons is Asher; let him be acceptable to his brothers, and [g]let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Your castles and strongholds shall have bars of iron and bronze, and as your day, so shall your strength, your rest and security, be.
26 There is none like God, O Jeshurun [Israel], Who rides through the heavens to your help and in His majestic glory through the skies.
27 The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He drove the enemy before you and thrust them out, saying, Destroy!
28 And Israel dwells in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone in a land of grain and new wine; yes, His heavens drop dew.
29 Happy are you, O Israel, and blessing is yours! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the Shield of your help, the Sword that exalts you! Your enemies shall come fawning and cringing, and submit feigned obedience to you, and you shall march on their high places.
- Deuteronomy 33:6 The earlier Bible translators could not believe that Moses meant to say of Reuben, “let his men be few,” so they put “not” in italics: “let not his men be few.” But Reuben had committed a grave offense (Gen. 49:3, 4) which cancelled his birthright, and God meant exactly what He directed Moses to say, as continuous fulfillment of the prophecy proves. “In Judg. 5:16 the tribe [of Reuben] is scorned for its failure to join the others against the Canaanites, and except for I Chron. 5:3-20 it does not again appear in Israel’s history. Nor does Misha of Moab, ninth century, b.c., name it” (The Cambridge Bible). Furthermore, by a.d. 1951 no Jew was permitted to enter the territory once allotted to the tribe of Reuben. “The whole territory, which is... quite capable of cultivation, is now deserted by its settled inhabitants” (John D. Davis, A Dictionary of the Bible). It was then being restored not by Israelites but by Arabs.
- 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 no kin to him (Lev. 21:10-12). This throws light on Christ’s attitude toward His mother and brothers in Matt. 12:46-50 (see also Heb. 3:1-3; 8:1-6).
- 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 sees it as a symbol of the Lord’s presence covering Benjamin continually.
- 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.
- Deuteronomy 33:19 The great oil pipeline path across Palestine was first opened in 1935. Until then this prophecy fell far short of fulfillment. But 3,400 years before, Moses sent out the inspired headlines, “Zebulun... Issachar... shall suck the abundance of the seas, and the treasures hid in the sand.” Our omnipotent God was “declaring the end and the result from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand” (Isa. 46:10).
- Deuteronomy 33:23 For many centuries much of the territory of upper Naphtali was little more than a miasmic swamp, unfit for man or beast. But when the Jews returned to Palestine, they drained and redeemed the area, and by 1940 it was dotted over with thriving colonies, as Moses had foretold, “satisfied with favor and full of the blessing of the Lord.”
- Deuteronomy 33:24 The maps of the territory of Asher sometimes suggest the shape of the sole of a foot, sometimes that of a leg and foot; but in either case the Great International Iraq-Petroleum Enterprise, opened in 1935, crossed the area just at the toe of Asher’s “foot.” Oil brought nearly 1,000 miles across the sands from Mesopotamia began pouring through pipes into the Haifa harbor, a million gallons of oil a day. Jacob had prophesied about Asher, “... his bread shall be fat” (Gen. 49:20 kjv), and here Moses says of Asher, “Let him dip his foot in oil”!