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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 33

Verses 1-29

  1. BEGINNING PRAISES (33:1-5)
    1. Moses began & ended his blessing on Israel by offering praise to God.
    2. Bless and blessing occur some 415 x’s in the OT, showing the importance of this concept in biblical times.
      1. To bless means “to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity/ fruitful, longevity, etc.” The person who is “blessed” is given some gift which will lead to a rich and abundant life.
      2. It was common for superiors to bless children or subordinates, as Moses here spoke God’s blessing on the tribes of Israel.
    3. (2) His praise of God began with a description of the Lord’s appearance at Sinai when He gave the Law to the people through Moses. A major event in Israel’s history.
      1. To become a nation it was necessary to have: a common people (5); a common constitution (the Law, 4); and a common land.
      2. He compared God’s revelation at Mount Sinai to a brilliant desert sunrise. i.e. dawned
  2. BLESSINGS (6-25)
    1. ​​​​​​​Intro: Jacob had blessed his sons, the ancestors of the 12 tribes, in Gen.49.
      1. Yet, many of Jacob’s blessings were more like curses, where here, all of Moses were favorable.
      2. Earlier, he was so mad at this people he struck the rock. Now, older, about to die, lessons learned, heart softer...It’s about Love.
    2. Reuben (6) Let the tribe of Reuben live and not die out, even though their tribe is small.
    3. Judah (7) Give them strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies.
    4. Levi (8-11) Now let them teach your regulations to Jacob/Israel. Bless their spiritual ministry to the nation.
    5. Benjamin (12) The people of Benjamin are loved by the Lord and live in safety beside him.
      1. Between his shoulders - that is, on His sides or borders.
      2. Mount Zion, on which stood the city of Jerusalem, belonged to Judah; but Mount Moriah, the site of the sacred Tabernacle, would be in Benjamin’s borders.
    6. Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh) (13-17) May their land be blessed by the Lord with the choice gift of rain from the heavens…with the finest crops of the ancient mountains.
    7. Zebulun (18-19) May the people of Zebulun prosper in their expeditions abroad.
    8. Issachar (18-19) May the people of Issachar prosper at home in their tents.
    9. Gad (20–21) Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad’s territory.
    10. Dan (22) Dan is a lion’s cub, leaping out from Bashan.
    11. Naphtali (23) You are rich in favor and full of the Lord’s blessings; may you possess the west and the south.
    12. Asher (24-25) May he be esteemed by his brothers; may he bathe his feet in olive oil. May the bolts of your gates be of iron and bronze; may your strength match the length of your days.
    13. (25) As your days, so shall your strength be –
      1. God never gives His strength in advance.
      2. D.L.Moody said, “A man can no more take a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God’s store of grace(or strength) from day to day as we need it.”
      3. Don’t try to bear tomorrow’s burdens with today’s grace.
  3. ENDING PRAISE (26-29)
    1. ​​​​​​​(26) Jeshurun - a poetical name for the people of Israel, used in token of affection, meaning, “the dear upright people”.
    2. Who rides the heavens to help you - Instant responses anywhere!
    3. (27) And underneath are the everlasting arms - An old song written by Ada Habershon said, “When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast; when the tempter would prevail, He can hold me fast.”
      1. Why are we as children of God afraid to fall? Where would we fall to?...but into His everlasting arms. Fall to them but you can never fall through them.
    4. (29) Thrice happy is the people whose God is the Lord:
      1. They are in His hand (3); at His feet(3); at His side(12); between His shoulders (12); in His arms (27); behind His shield (29), and fitted with His sword (29).
        1. What a privilege it is to be a child of God.
    5. End: At age 16 Andor Foldes was already a skilled pianist, but he was experiencing a troubled year. In the midst of the young Hungarian’s personal struggles, one of the most renowned pianists of the day came to Budapest. Emil von Sauer was famous not only for his abilities; he was also the last surviving pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Von Sauer requested that Foldes play for him. Foldes obliged with some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann.
      1. ​​​​​​​When he finished, von Sauer walked over to him and kissed him on the forehead. “My son,” he said, “when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, ‘Take good care of this kiss - it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play. ‘ I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, but now I feel you deserve it.”
      2. Is there someone you can kiss on the forehead? Bless? Encourage? Disciple? Challenge? Cheer? Inspire? Motivate?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/deuteronomy-33.html. 2017.