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DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 33
The majesty of God, Deuteronomy 33:1-5.
Blessings prophesied of the twelve tribes, Deuteronomy 33:6-25.
The excellency of Israel, Deuteronomy 33:26-29.
He is said to bless them ministerially, partly by praying to God with faith for his blessing upon them; partly by foretelling the blessings which God would confer upon them, for the prophets are oft said to do what they foretell should be done, as Genesis 49:7; Jeremiah 1:10; Ezekiel 43:3; Hosea 6:5. And Moses calls himself here
the man of God, i.e. the servant, or prophet, or minister of God, as this phrase signifies, 1 Samuel 9:6,1 Samuel 9:7; 1 Timothy 6:11, to acquaint them that the following prophecies were not his own inventions, but Divine inspirations.
The children of Israel, i.e. the several tribes; only Simeon is omitted, either,
1. In detestation of their parent Simeon’s bloody and wicked carriage, for which Jacob also gives that tribe a curse rather than a blessing, in Genesis 49:0. But as for Levi, who is joined with him in that censure and curse, Genesis 49:5-7, he is here separated from him, and exempted from that curse, and blessed with an eminent blessing for a singular and valuable reason expressed here, Deuteronomy 33:8,Deuteronomy 33:9; whereas Simeon’s tribe had been so far from expiating their father’s crime, that they added new ones, their prince being guilty of another notorious crime, Numbers 25:6,Numbers 25:14, and his tribe too much concurring with him in such actions, as interpreters gather from the great diminution of the numbers of that tribe, which were 59,300 in Numbers 1:23, and but 22,200 in Numbers 26:14, which was near forty years after. Or,
2. Because that tribe had no distinct inheritance, but was to have his portion in the tribe of Judah, as he had, Joshua 19:1, and therefore must needs partake with them in their blessing.
The Lord came, to wit, to the Israelites, i.e. manifested graciously and gloriously among them.
From Sinai, i.e. beginning at Sinai, where the first and most glorious appearance of God was, and so going on with them to Seir and Paran. Or, to Sinai, the particle mem oft signifying to, as is evident by comparing Isaiah 59:20, with Romans 11:26; 1 Kings 8:30, with 2 Chronicles 6:21; 2 Samuel 6:2, with 1 Chronicles 13:6. See also Genesis 2:8; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 13:11; 1 Samuel 14:15. Or, in Sinai; mem being put for beth, in, as Exodus 25:18; Deuteronomy 15:1; Job 19:26; Psalms 68:29; Psalms 72:16.
Rose up; he appeared or showed himself, as the sun doth when it riseth.
From Seir, i.e. from the mountain or land of Edom, which is called Seir, Genesis 32:3; Genesis 36:8; Deuteronomy 2:4, to which place the Israelites came, Numbers 20:14, &c.; and from thence God led them on towards the Land of Promise, and then gloriously appeared for them in subduing Sihon and Og before them, and giving their countries unto them; which glorious work of God’s is particularly celebrated Judges 5:4. But because the land of Seir or Edom is sometimes taken more largely, and so reacheth even to the Red Sea, as appears from 1 Kings 9:26, and therefore Mount Sinai was near to it; and because Paran, which here follows, was also near Sinai, as being the next station into which they came from the wilderness of Sinai, Numbers 10:12; all this verse may belong to God’s appearance in Mount Sinai, where that glorious light which shone upon Mount-Sinai directly did in all probability scatter its beams into adjacent parts, such as Seir and Paean were; and so this is only a poetical and prophetical variation of the phrase and expression of the same thing in divers words, and God coming, or rising, or shining from or to or in Sinai, and Sear, and Paran note one and the same illustrious action of God appearing there with
ten thousands of his saints or holy angels, and there giving
a fiery law to them, as it here follows. And this interpretation may receive some strength from Habakkuk 3:3, where this glorious march of God before his people is remembered; only teman, which signifies the south, is put for Seir, which is here, possibly to signify that that Seir which is here mentioned was to be understood of the southern part of the country of Seir or Edom, which was that part adjoining to the Red Sea. Others refer this of Seir to the brazen serpent, that eminent type of Christ, which was erected in this place.
Mount Paran; a place where God eminently manifested his presence and goodness, both in giving the people flesh which they desired, and in appointing the seventy elders, and pouring forth his Spirit upon them, Numbers 11:0; though the exposition mentioned in the foregoing branch may seem more probable. With
ten thousands of saints, i.e. with a a great company of holy angels, Psalms 68:17; Daniel 7:10, which attended upon him in this great and glorious work of giving the law, as may be gathered from Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 12:22.
From his right hand; which both wrote the law and gave it to men; an allusion to men, who ordinarily write and give gifts with their right, and not with their left hand.
A fiery law. The law is called fiery, partly, because it is of a fiery nature, purging, and searching, and inflaming, for which reasons God’s word is compared to fire, Jeremiah 23:29; partly, to signify that fiery wrath and curse which it inflicteth upon sinners for the violation of it, 2 Corinthians 3:7,2 Corinthians 3:9; and principally, because it was delivered out of the midst of the fire, Exodus 19:16,Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22,Deuteronomy 5:23.
The people, i.e. the tribes of Israel, which are called people, Genesis 48:19; Judges 5:14; Acts 4:27. The sense is, This law, though delivered with fire, and smoke, and thunder, which might seem to portend nothing but hatred and terror, yet in truth it was given to Israel in great love, as being the great mean of their temporal and eternal salvation. And although God shows a general and common kindness to all men, yet he loved this people in a singular and peculiar manner.
All his saints; all God’s saints or holy ones, i.e. his people, as they are now called, the people of Israel, who are all called holy, Exodus 19:6; Numbers 16:3; Deuteronomy 7:6; Daniel 7:25; Daniel 8:24; Daniel 12:7, because they all professed to be so, and were obliged to be so, and many of them were such; though some appropriate this to the true saints in Israel.
Are in thy hand, or, were in thy hand, i.e. under God’s care, to protect, and direct, and govern them, as that phrase signifies, Numbers 4:28,Numbers 4:33; John 10:28,John 10:29. These words are spoken to God; and for the change of persons, his and thy, that is most frequent in the Hebrew tongue. See Daniel 9:4. This clause may further note God’s kindness to Israel in upholding and preserving them when the fiery law was delivered, which was done with so much dread and terror, that not only the people trembled and were ready to sink under it, Exodus 20:18,Exodus 20:19, but even Moses himself did exceedingly fear and quake, Hebrews 12:21. But in this fright God sustained both Moses and the people in or by his hand, whereby he in a manner hid and covered them, that no harm might come to them by this terrible apparition.
They sat down at thy feet, like scholars, to receive instructions and counsels from thee. He alludes either,
1. To the manner of disciples among the Jews, who used to sit at their masters’ feet, Luke 10:39; Acts 22:3. See also Genesis 49:10; 2 Kings 4:38. But it is doubtful whether this custom was so ancient as Moses. Or,
2. To the place where the people waited when the law was delivered, which was at the foot of the mount.
Shall receive of thy words; the people, easily understood from the foregoing words, did or will receive or submit to thy instructions and commands. This may respect either,
1. The people’s promise when they heard the law, that they would hear and do all that was commanded, Deuteronomy 5:27. Or,
2. The people’s duty to do so.
3. The people’s privilege, that they were admitted to receive so great a privilege as the words and laws of God were.
Moses speaks this of himself in the third person, which is very usual in the Hebrew language. The law is called their
inheritance, partly because the obligation of it was hereditary, passing from parents to their children, and partly because this was the best part of all their inheritance and possessions, the greatest of all those gifts and favours which God bestowed upon them.
Moses was their king, not in title, but in reality, being under God their supreme and uncontrollable governor and lawgiver: though the word oft signifies only a prince or chief ruler, as Judges 19:1; Jeremiah 19:3; Jeremiah 46:25.
In Jeshurun, i.e. in Israel, so called Deuteronomy 32:15.
When the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together: when the princes and people met together for the management of public affairs, Moses was owned by them as their king and lawgiver, and he directed and ruled them as their superior. This he saith to show that the people approved and consented to the authority and law of Moses.
Though Reuben deserve to be cut off, or greatly diminished and obscured, according to Jacob’s prediction, Genesis 49:4; yet God will spare them, and give them a name and portion among the tribes of Israel, and bless them with increase of their numbers.
Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, i.e. God will hear his prayer for the accomplishment of those great things promised to that tribe, Genesis 49:8-11. This implies the delays and difficulties Judah would meet with herein, which would drive him to his prayers, and that those prayers should be crowned with success.
Bring him unto his people; either,
1. When he shall go forth to battle against God’s and his enemies, and shall fall fiercely upon them, as was foretold Genesis 49:8,Genesis 49:9,
bring him back with honour, and victory, and safety to his people, i.e. either to the rest of his tribe, who were left at home when their brethren went to battle, or to his brethren the other tribes of Israel. Or,
2. When that tribe shall go into captivity, let them not always be kept in captivity, as the ten tribes are like to be, but do thou bring him again to his people. Or,
3. As thou hast promised the gathering of the people to him, even to the Shiloh, who was to come out of his loins, Genesis 49:10; so do thou bring him, i.e. the Messias, who may be understood out of that parallel prophecy, and who may be here called
Judah, because he was to come from him, as he is for that reason called David in divers places, to his people, i. e. to that people which thou hast given to him. Or,
4. Bring him in, to wit, as a prince and governor, as thou hast promised, Genesis 49:0, to his people, i.e. to thy people of Israel, now to be reckoned as his people, because of their subjection to him. Or rather,
5. Bring him in to his people, to that people which thou hast promised and given to him, i.e. to that portion of land which thou hast allotted to him, settle him in his possession; the people or inhabitants being here put for the land inhabited by them, as the Israelites are told they should possess the nations or people of Canaan, Deuteronomy 11:23; Deuteronomy 12:2, i.e. their land, as it is explained, Deuteronomy 17:14; Deuteronomy 30:18; for the people they were not to possess, but to dispossess, and to root out.
Let his hands be sufficient for him: this tribe shall be so numerous, and potent, and valiant, that it shall suffice to defend itself without any aid, either from foreign nations or from other tribes; as appeared when this tribe alone was able to grapple with nine or ten of the other tribes.
Be thou an help to him from his enemies; thou wilt preserve this tribe in a special manner, so as his enemies shall not be able to ruin it, as they will do other tribes, and that for the sake of Messias, who shall spring out of it.
Thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one; the Thummim and the Urim, which are thine, O Lord, by special institution and consecration; by which he understands the ephod, in which they were put, Exodus 28:30, by a synecdoche, and the high priesthood, to which they were appropriated, by a metonymy; and withal the gifts and graces signified by the Urim and Thummim, and necessary for the discharge of that high office, shall be with thy holy one, i.e. with that Levite, that priest, which thou hast consecrated to thyself, and which is holy in a more peculiar manner than all the people were, i.e. the priesthood shall be confined to and continued in Aaron’s family.
Whom thou didst prove: this seems added by way of anticipation; although thou didst try him, and rebuke him, and shut him out of Canaan for his miscarriage about fetching water out of the rock, yet thou didst not therefore take away the priesthood from him.
At Massah; not at that Massah mentioned Exodus 17:0, which is also called
Meribah, where neither Moses nor Aaron are reproved, nor is Aaron so much as named, but at that other Meribah, Numbers 20:0, where this is expressed, which as it is called by one of the names of that place, Exodus 17:0, to wit, Meribah, Numbers 20:0, so it may be here called by its other name, Massah; and well may the same names be given to those two places, because the occasion of them was in a great measure one and the same. Though this place may be otherwise rendered, whom thou didst try in trying, or with trial, i.e. whom thou didst exactly and thoroughly try, such repetitions being very frequent and elegant in the Hebrew language. And it may be observed, that in the Hebrew text here are two several prepositions, though the English translation render them both by at, here beth, in or with, and in the next branch al, at, or near, or concerning the waters of Meribah; which may seem to intimate that the former is not the name of the place, as the latter is: why else should they not have been expressed by the same preposition?
With whom thou didst strive, or, contend, i.e. whom thou didst reprove and chastise, as that phrase signifies, Isaiah 49:25; Jeremiah 2:9.
I have not seen him, i.e. I have no respect unto them, for so knowledge is oft used, as Job 9:21; Proverbs 12:10,Proverbs 12:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:12. The sense is, who followed God and his command fully, and executed the judgment enjoined by God without any respect of persons, Exodus 32:26,Exodus 32:27. This seems better than to refer it either to their not mourning for their next kindred, for that was allowed to all but the high priest in case of the death of father or mother, and that was only a ceremonial rite, and no matter of great commendation; or to their impartiality in executing the judgments committed to them, Deuteronomy 17:9, of which they had as yet given no considerable proof.
Kept thy covenant, i.e. when the rest broke their covenant with God by that foul sin of idolatry with the calf, that tribe kept themselves more pure from that infection, and adhered to God and his worship and service, as appears from Exodus 32:26,Exodus 32:28. Compare Malachi 2:6,Malachi 2:7.
They, i.e. the priests and Levites.
Before thee, i.e. upon thine altar of incense, which stood before the ark, the place of God’s special presence.
His substance, i.e. his outward estate, as Deuteronomy 8:18, because he hath no inheritance of his own, and therefore wholly depends upon thy blessing. Or, his host or army, as the word is used Ezekiel 37:10. The priests that attended upon God’s service in the tabernacle or temple are oft compared to an host or army in regard of their exquisite order and courses and constant watches there. See Numbers 4:3.
The work of his hands, i.e. all his holy administrations, which he fitly calls the works of his hands; either more largely, the hand, one great instrument of action being put for all the rest; or because a great part of the service of the Levites and priests was done by the labour of their hand and body, whereas the service of evangelical ministers is more spiritual and heavenly.
Smite through the loins of them that rise against him: he prays thus earnestly for them, partly because he foresaw they who were to teach, and admonish, and reprove, and chastise others would have many enemies, Jeremiah 15:10; Amos 5:10; and partly because they were, under God, the great preservers and upholders of religion, and their enemies were the enemies of religion itself; as is evident from the history of the Old Testament.
The beloved of the Lord, i.e. this beloved tribe: so called partly in allusion to their father Benjamin, who was the beloved of his father Jacob; and partly because of the love and kindness of God towards this tribe, which appeared both in this, that they dwelt in the fattest and best part of the land, as Josephus affirms and especially in the following privilege.
Shall dwell in safety by him, i.e. shall have his lot nigh unto God’s temple, which was both a singular comfort and safeguard to him.
The Lord may well be understood here, because he was expressed in the former member.
Shall cover him all the day long; shall protect that tribe continually while they cleave to him.
He shall dwell between his shoulders; the Lord shall dwell, i.e. his temple shall be placed, between his shoulders, i.e. in his portion, or between his borders, or sides, as the word shoulder is oft used, as Exodus 28:7; Numbers 34:11; Joshua 15:8,Joshua 15:10; Ezekiel 47:1,Ezekiel 47:2. And this was truly the situation of the temple, on both sides whereof was Benjamin’s portion; and though Mount Sion was in the tribe of Judah, yet Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, was in the tribe of Benjamin.
His portion shall be excellent, and endowed with choice blessings from God, as it here follows.
For the precious things of heaven, i.e. the precious fruits of the earth brought forth by the influences of heaven, the warmth of the sun, and the rain which God will send from heaven.
For the deep that coucheth beneath; the springs of water bubbling out of the earth.
By the sun, which opens and warms the earth, cherisheth and improveth, and in due time ripeneth the seeds and fruits of the earth.
By the moon, which by its moisture refreshes and promotes them Heb. of the moons, or months, i.e. which it bringeth forth in the several months or seasons of the year.
i.e. The excellent fruits, as grapes, olives, figs, &c., which delight in mountains, growing upon, or the precious minerals contained in, their mountains and hills, called ancient and lasting, i.e. such as have been from the beginning of the world, and likely to continue to the end of it, in opposition to those hills or mounts which have been cast up by the wit of man.
For the precious things of the earth; and in general for all the choice fruits which the land produceth in all the parts of it, whether hills or valleys.
Fulness thereof, i.e. the plants and cattle, and all creatures that grow, increase, and flourish in it.
For the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; for all other effects of the good will and kindness of God, who not long since did for a time dwell or appear in the bush to me in order to the relief of his people, Exodus 3:2.
Of Joseph, i.e. of Joseph’s posterity.
The firstling of his bullock; in whose countenance there is a kind of awful majesty and comely generosity, as Tully, Aelian, &c. observe. This seems to note the kingdom which Ephraim should obtain in Jeroboam and his successors.
His horns are like the horns of unicorns; his strength and power shall be very great.
He shall push the people, i.e. all that shall oppose him, and particularly the Canaanites.
To the ends of the earth, i.e. of the land of Canaan.
They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh; though Manasseh be now more numerous, yet Ephraim shall shortly outstrip him, as was foretold, Genesis 48:19.
Thou shalt prosper; and have cause of rejoicing.
In thy going out; either,
1. To war, as this phrase is oft used, as Genesis 14:17, which was in part verified, Judges 5:18. Or,
2. To sea, in way of traffic, because their portion lay near the sea. Or both may be joined; and in both respects his course is opposite to that of Issachar, who was a lover of peace and pasturage. See Genesis 49:14,Genesis 49:15.
Issachar is here joined with
Zebulun, both because they were brethren by father and mother too, and because their possessions lay near together.
In thy tents, i.e. thou shalt give thyself to the management of land and cattle, living quietly in thy own possessions, disliking the troubles of war and of merchandise. So the phrase is used Genesis 25:27; Joshua 22:4; Judges 5:24; Judges 7:8.
1. Zebulun and Issachar. Or rather,
2. Zebulun only, as the following matter shows; and it was Zebulun that Moses takes more special notice of, Deuteronomy 33:18, bringing in Issachar only by the by, in conjunction with him, or in opposition to him. And so having despatched Issachar in two words, he returns to Zebulun, a more active tribe.
The people, i.e. the Gentiles; either those of Galilee, which was called Galilee of the Gentiles, who were their neighbours; or people of other nations, with whom they had commerce, which they endeavoured to improve in persuading them to the true God, and his worship and service.
Unto the mountain, i.e. to the temple, which Moses knew was to be seated upon a mountain.
Sacrifices of righteousness, i.e. such as God requires and righteousness obligeth them to offer. Their trafficking abroad with heathen nations shall not make them forget or neglect their duty at home, nor shall their distance from the place of sacrifice hinder them from coming to it to discharge that duty.
They shall suck of the abundance of the seas; they shall grow rich by the traffic of the sea; and their riches shall not make them the worse, as they do others, but they shall consecrate themselves and their riches to the service of God.
Treasures hid in the sand; such precious things as either,
1. Are contained in the sand of the sea and rivers, in which sometimes there is mixed a considerable quantity of gold and silver. Or,
2. Such as grow in the sea, or are fetched from the sandy bottom of it, as pearls, coral, ambergris, &c. Or,
3. Such as being east into the sea by shipwreck are cast upon the shore by the workings of the sea, and thence taken either by merchants, or by the people that live upon the sea-coast.
By praising God for enlarging Gad he supposeth the ground of these praises, that God would enlarge Gad, i.e. either.
1. Enlarge his territories; which seems needless, because they had a very large portion now when Moses uttered these words. Or,
2. Bring him out of his straits and troubles, which he was likely to be oft engaged in, because he was encompassed with potent enemies. And in this sense the phrase is used Psalms 4:1; compare Psalms 31:8; Psalms 118:5. One instance of the fulfilling hereof we have Judges 11:0.
He dwelleth as a lion, i.e. safe and secure from his enemies, and terrible to them when they rouse and molest him. See 1 Chronicles 5:18, &c.; 1 Chronicles 12:8.
Teareth the arm with the crown of the head, i.e. utterly destroys his enemies; both the head, the seat of the crown, their dignity and principality, and the arm, the subject of strength and instrument of action; both chief princes, and their instruments and subjects.
The first part; the first-fruits of the Land of Promise, the country of Sihon, which was first conquered, which he is said to provide for himself, because he desired and so obtained it of Moses, Numbers 32:0.
A portion of the lawgiver, i.e. of Moses, whose portion this is called, either because this part of the land beyond Jordan was the only part of the land which Moses was permitted to enter upon; or because it was given to him by Moses; whereas the portions beyond Jordan were given to the several tribes by Joshua, according to the direction of the lot.
Was he seated, Heb. hid or protected; for their wives and children were secured in their cities, whilst many of their men went over to the war in Canaan.
He came with the heads of the people, i.e. he went, or he will go, (the preter tense being put for the future, after the manner of the prophets,) to wit, to the war in Canaan, with the princes, or captains, or rulers of the people of Israel, i.e. under their command and conduct, as indeed they did; or with the first of the people; or, in the front of the people, as the Syriac renders it; for this tribe and their brethren, whose lot fell beyond Jordan, were to march, and did march, into Canaan before their brethren, as it is expressed, Joshua 1:14. And the Hebrew word rosch oft signifies the beginning or first of a thing.
He executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel, i.e. he did or will execute the just judgment of God against the Canaanites, as the rest of the Israelites did; he will join in the war against them, as he promised to do, Numbers 32:27, and actually did, Joshua 1:14.
Lion’s whelp, i.e. courageous, and generous, and strong, and successful against his enemies.
He shall leap from Bashan, or, which leapeth from Bashan; for this clause seems not to belong to the tribe of Dan, which was at a great distance from Bashan, even at the other end of the land, and therefore this seems too great a leap for him; and if he did leap so far, he should rather be said to take his leap from his own lot in the south of Canaan, and thence to leap not from Bashan, but to Bashan, to fall upon his enemies there: but it rather is a continuation of the metaphor, and belongs to the lion, which is said to leap from Bashan, because there were many and fierce lions in those parts; see Judges 14:5; whence they used to come forth to prey, and their manner was to leap upon the prey.
With favour; either,
1. With God’s favour, as it follows; or,
2. With men’s favour or good-will, his carriage being peaceable, courteous, and obliging, as is intimated, Genesis 49:21, according to the common translation: see the notes there.
Full with the blessing of the Lord, i.e. seated in a pleasant, and fertile, and happy soil; such as Galilee (in which their share lay) eminently was, as Josephus and others report.
The west and the south, or, the sea and the south. This is not to be understood of the places, that his lot should fall there, for he was rather in the east and north of the land; but of the pleasures and commodities of the west, or of the sea, which were conveyed to him from his neighbour Zebulun; and of the south, i.e. from the southern tribes and parts of Canaan, which were brought to him down the river Jordan, and both sorts of commodities were given him in exchange for the fruits of his rich soil, which he had in great abundance.
He shall have numerous, and those strong, and healthful, and comely, children. Or, shall be blessed or praised of or above the sons, i.e. the other sons of Israel, or his brethren, as it here follows, i.e. his portion shall fall in an excellent part, where he may have the benefits both of his own fat soil, and of the sea, by his neighbours Tyrus and Sidon.
Acceptable to his brethren; by his sweet disposition and winning carriage, and communication of his excellent commodities to his brethren, he shall gain their affections.
Let him dip his foot in oil; he shall have such plenty of oil, that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also, in it. Or, the fatness and fertility of his country may be expressed by oil, as Job 29:6. And so it agrees with Jacob’s blessing of him, Genesis 49:20.
Thy shoes shall be iron and brass: this may note either,
1. Their great strength, by which they should be able to tread down and crush their enemies, as Christ’s feet for this very reason are said to be of brass, Revelation 1:15. Or,
2. The mines of iron and copper, which were in their portion, whence Sidon their neighbour was famous among the heathens for its plenty of brass and iron, and Sarepta is thought to have its name from the brass and iron, which were melted there in great quantity. Compare Deuteronomy 8:9. Or,
3. The strength of its situation; and so some ancients and modems render the words, thy habitation or thy enclosure shall be iron and brass, i.e. fortified as it were with walls and gates of iron and brass, being defended by the sea on one side, by their brethren on other sides, as also by mountains and rivers.
So shall thy strength be, i.e. thy strength shall not be diminished with thine age, but thou shalt have the rigour of youth even in thine old age; thy tribe shall grow stronger and stronger.
Upon the heaven, i. e. upon the clouds, to succour thee from thence, by sending thunder and lightning upon thine enemies. See Psalms 18:7; Psalms 68:34, &c.
In his excellency, or,
in his magnificence, i.e. magnificently, gloriously, and with great majesty as well as power.
Thy refuge, or, thy dwelling-place. Compare Psalms 91:1.
Underneath, i.e. under thy arms to hold thee up, as my hands were once held up by Aaron and Hur. He will support and defend thee. Or the meaning is, Though he dwelleth on high, yet he comes down to the earth beneath to assist and deliver thee.
Shall say, Destroy them, i.e. shall give thee not only command and commission, but also power, to destroy them; for God’s saying is doing, his word comes with power.
1. Though they be alone, and have no confederates to defend them, but have all the world against them, yet my single protection shall be sufficient for them. Or,
2. Distinct and separated from all other nations, with whom I will not have them to mingle themselves. See Numbers 23:9; Ezra 9:1,Ezra 9:2.
The fountain of Jacob, i.e. the posterity of Jacob, which flowed from him its waters from a fountain, in great abundance. Compare Psalms 68:26; Isaiah 48:1. The fountain is here put for the river or streams which flow from it, as Psalms 94:10; as the root is put for the branch, 2 Chronicles 22:10; Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 5:5; and as Jacob or Israel, who is the fountain, is oft put for the children of Israel. Or, the eye (for so the Hebrew word oft signifies)
of Jacob, i.e. of the people of Israel; and so the sense is, They who now only hear of the land of promise shall shortly see it, which I am not suffered to do, and shall enjoy it, which is oft signified by seeing, as Psalms 4:6; Psalms 27:13; Psalms 34:12; Ecclesiastes 2:1; Ecclesiastes 3:13.
His heavens, i.e. those heavens or that air which hangs over his land.
Saved by the Lord, the giver and preserver of all that excellency, that glory, safety, and happiness, which thou hast above all other people, which thou dost not obtain either by or for thy own wisdom, or strength, or goodness.
The sword of thy excellency, or, thy most excellent sword, i.e. thy strength and the author of all this, past or approaching victories.
Shall be found liars unto thee, i.e. shall be deceived, as to all their vain hopes and confidences of destroying thee or saving themselves, whether grounded upon their own numbers, and valour, and strong holds, or upon old prophecies and predictions of success, or upon their idols. Or, shall lie unto thee, i.e. shall submit themselves to thee, though it be done but feignedly and by constraint, as this phrase is used, Psalms 18:44; Psalms 66:3; Psalms 81:15. Possibly this may design the lies and frauds which the Gibeonites would use to deceive them, Joshua 9:4.
Thou shalt tread upon their high places, i.e. thou shalt subdue their greatest princes, and their strongest holds, Deuteronomy 32:13, and their idols, temples, and worship.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26