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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 33

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-29

3. The Blessing of Moses

CHAPTERS 32:44-33:29

1. Introduction (Deuteronomy 32:44-52 )

2. Jehovah’s manifestation (Deuteronomy 33:1-5 )

3. The blessing of Reuben, Judah and Levi (Deuteronomy 33:6-11 )

4. The blessing of Benjamin and Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:12-17 )

5. The blessing of Zebulon and Issachar (Deuteronomy 33:18-19 )

6. The blessing of Gad, Dan, Nephtali and Asher (Deuteronomy 33:20-25 )

7. Happy art thou, O Israel! (Deuteronomy 33:26-29 )

Moses and Joshua (same as Hoshea) spoke the song in the ears of the people. They had to learn it. He exhorts them once more to set their hearts to do all these words. “It is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life.” But they could not keep the law and therefore could not obtain life and the blessing promised to them. The law cannot bestow life and blessing. It can only curse. But grace gives life. To illustrate this very fact, that the law is for condemnation, the death of Moses is once more announced by Jehovah, as well as his sin at Meribah-Kadesh. He could see the land from afar, but could not enter in. The great man through whom the law was given, the humble Moses, the self-sacrificing, faithful servant of Jehovah, on account of the one transgression, was excluded from the possession of the land.

In the foreground of Moses’ prophetic blessing of the tribes stands a description of the manifestation of Jehovah in His glory. This theophany is more than a description of how Jehovah came from Sinai. It is a prophetic picture of how He will come again. Compare this with Habakkuk 3:0 . The blessing of the tribes is different from the blessing which Jacob put upon his sons when they gathered about him (Genesis 49:0 ). Jacob foresaw the entire history of his offspring. (The reader is referred to the section on Genesis, where the different periods of the nation are given as indicated in Jacob’s prophecy.) The blessing of Moses describes the blessing, which the people Israel will enjoy, when the Lord has been manifested. For this reason it is correct to say (a fact seldom mentioned by exposition), the blessing of Moses is an inspired expansion of the last verse of his song. That verse (32:43) speaks of the Lord’s people rejoicing and the Gentiles rejoicing with them.

What Israel will possess and enjoy during the millennium are the contents of these last utterances of Moses. As a closer exposition of these blessings is beyond the scope of these annotations, we confine ourselves to a few hints which will show the way to a deeper study of this remarkable closing section of Deuteronomy. Reuben’s, Judah’s and Levi’s blessings reveal the salvation of the Lord that Israel will enjoy in that coming age of blessing. Benjamin’s and Joseph’s blessings picture most beautifully the things which the sacred nation will enjoy during the millennium. This section is a most precious one. Zebulun’s and Issachar’s blessings make known the fact, that the nation will enjoy the abundance of the seas (the Gentiles). The correct translation of verse 19 is “they shall call the peoples (Gentiles) to the mountain.” The mountain is Mount Zion and the Lord’s house, which will be a house of prayer for all nations. The nations will go there to worship (Isaiah 2:14 ). We have therefore a prophetic description of the blessings which Gentiles receive through a saved Israel. The blessings of Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher, speak of the full blessing and supremacy the converted and restored nation will enjoy.

Simeon is left out. We shall not give the different explanations which are offered, nor burden our pages with the unworthy theories of higher criticism. 3

We quote the beautiful ending of this chapter in a revised metrical version:

There is none like the God of Jeshurum (upright), Who rideth on the heavens for thy help, And in His majesty, upon clouds. The eternal God is thy home And underneath, the everlasting arms. And He shall drive out the enemy from before thee, And shall say: Destroy! Then Israel shall dwell in safety alone, The fountain of Jacob, In a land of corn and new wine, His heavens also shall drop down dew. Happy thou, O Israel! Who is like thee, people saved by Jehovah, The shield of thy help, And the sword of thy excellency! Surely thine enemies shall crouch before thee, And thou shalt tread upon their high places.

And the same Jehovah is our Lord. May we know Him more fully as our home, with the everlasting arms underneath and taste the happiness of our salvation, till we shall see Him face to face.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/deuteronomy-33.html. 1913-1922.
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