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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 33

Verses 1-29


The blessing of Moses (32:48-33:29)

As God had announced earlier, the time for Moses to die had come (48-52; see Numbers 27:12-14). The prophetic blessings that he gave Israel before he died foresaw the favours that God would give the various tribes. But first Moses recalled the giving of the law at Sinai. God appeared in flaming majesty, bursting forth in glory brighter than the rising sun. Accompanying him were multitudes of heavenly servants who carry out God’s purposes in the lives of individuals and nations. This one, Israel’s King, was the one who gave his law to his assembled people (33:1-5).

The tribe of Reuben, though it had lost the rights of the firstborn, was not to allow itself to become weak (6; cf. 1 Chronicles 5:1). Judah was the most powerful tribe, but besides protecting itself from enemies, it was to help other tribes when they were in trouble. (Simeon, not mentioned here, became absorbed into the tribe of Judah) (7). Levi, the tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged, had responsibility for religious services and the teaching of the law. Men of this tribe had passed God’s test at Massah and proved their covenant faithfulness at Sinai, but had rebelled at Meribah (8-11; cf. Exodus 17:1-7; Exodus 32:25-29; Numbers 20:10-13). (For the Urim and Thummim see notes on Exodus 28:15-30.)

Benjamin had its special blessing when the temple in Jerusalem was later built in its territory, though the rest of Jerusalem was in Judah’s territory (12). The Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, were to inherit the best part of Canaan. The God who once appeared in the burning bush would give them special power, so that they would become the leading tribes in the northern kingdom (13-17).

Zebulun and Issachar would prosper through the commercial activity and agricultural richness that characterized their region (18-19). The people of Gad chose their land east of Jordan, but they kept their promise to help other tribes conquer Canaan. They were fierce fighters (20-21). Dan would prove to be a treacherous tribe (e.g. Judges 18:1-31), but Naphtali would be content with a quiet life in the fertile highlands around the Lake of Galilee. Asher would live in a well protected fertile area that would become famous for its olives and the high quality oil they produced (22-25). Protected and blessed by God, all Israel would enjoy victory, prosperity and happiness (26-29).


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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/deuteronomy-33.html. 2005.