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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 33

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


The man of GOD here finisheth the whole of his ministry with Israel. Nothing remained after the Song but to bless Israel in the LORD'S name; and this he doth partly in a spirit of prophecy, in telling each tribe of Israel of some of the most remarkable events which would follow them; and partly in a spirit of prayer; of what he hoped the LORD would bless them with. He concludes the Chapter with a most animated apostrophe, both of the blessedness of the GOD of Israel, and of the Israel of GOD.

Deuteronomy 33:1

I beg the Reader in the opening of this Chapter, finally, and fully to remember once more the motto to be kept in view through all Moses' writings, Moses wrote of CHRIST. And while I request the Reader to be looking out for the LORD JESUS in every verse; I desire him no less to remark with me, the superiority of the LORD JESUS over his servant Moses. The man of GOD closes his life and ministry, with praying for the blessing of the people. JESUS commands it. His language is, FATHER I will. John 17:24 . Reader! take a leisurely, and close survey of the man of GOD, closing his ministry, and figure to yourself if you can, anything more interesting. Such should be the close of all faithful ministers! What can be more sweet and endearing, than to behold a faithful pastor, in such a spirit and frame of mind, taking a last farewell, in looking up to his great Head, and looking round upon the people, pouring out praise and prayer. Reader! do not forget to look at the ever blessed JESUS, as represented, Luke 24:50-51 .

Verse 2

Moses begins his blessing, with looking first at him that blesseth. What begins in GOD, will end in GOD. Mount Seir, and Mount Paran, were two mountains some little distance from Mount Sinai. And it is probable, that when the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, the reflection of the glory shined upon those two mountains. The first giving of the law was accompanied with splendor, and the retinue of angels: for the law is said to be given by the disposition of angels. Acts 7:53 ; Galatians 3:19 ; Hebrews 2:2 . The second revelation of the fulfilled law by the Son of GOD, when he shall come again without sin unto salvation, it is said, will be accompanied with angels. Jude 1:14-15 . The law is called a fiery law, because, it was given out of the midst of the fire of Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy 4:33 . And is it not equally a fiery law now, under the gospel, when it is brought home to the sinner's heart, in a way of conviction, by the Spirit of judgment, and the Spirit of burning. Compare, Isaiah 4:4 with John 16:8 .

Verse 3

Sweet and beautiful expression, to denote GOD'S love and care of his people. They are within his grasp; they are held, and upheld by him. And tell me, my brother, if you and I are of his people, and in his hand, who, or what shall unclasp the arms of omnipotency? Romans 8:35 . Oh! precious, precious thought! LORD enable me to live more upon it.

Verses 4-5

If Moses be meant here as the king of Jeshurun, we may admire the modesty of the man. He never assumed the title himself; he did not affect to be called so; and seemed to be not anxious to preserve his name in the earth. For we never hear of the sons of Moses, but we do of the sons of Aaron.

Verse 6

It is remarkable that Moses begins with Israel's eldest son. By birthright, no doubt, this was his privilege. Yet he had forfeited it. See Genesis 49:3-4 . It is hardly possible to consider the family of the Reubenites, taking up their rest on this side Canaan, without finding the soul going forth in prayer to GOD, LORD grant that I may not, like Reuben, sit down short of JESUS'S kingdom! Hebrews 11:14-16 .

Verse 7

Observe, Simeon is passed over, whose turn by right of heirship, in the line of Jacob's sons it was. But perhaps as this tribe was in after ages incorporated with that of Judah; and Moses, by the spirit of prophecy, knowing this would be the case, meant to include both. Or whether, because the father, Jacob himself had marked his son Simeon with disgrace, Moses omitted him, I do not presume to say. Genesis 49:5 . But of Judah there is much to say. The tribe of Judah is honored above all others, because our LORD sprang out of Judah, according to the flesh. Hebrews 7:14 . The blessing is very peculiar, that the LORD would hear his voice, alluding perhaps to the very person of the LORD JESUS, in his office of intercessor. And that he would bring him to his people, perhaps referring to the time of JESUS appearing upon earth, for the salvation of his people. And that he would be an help to him from his enemies: probably the conquest of the spiritual Judah in view, in his destruction of sin, Satan, and death! These scriptures are express in point, if so; John 11:42 ; Genesis 49:10 and Psalms 89:20 .

Verses 8-11

Moses dwells much upon the tribe of Levi, But it is remarkable, that though he himself was of that tribe, yet he never once mentions his relationship. It is precious to remark the humility of Moses. And yet more so, when we connect with it the grace of the LORD in him, from whom that humility originated. The prayer of Moses for the blessing of Levi in the priesthood is striking. The Urim and the Thummim, signified lights and perfections, qualities eminently necessary to be joined to the priesthood. But where among the sons of Levi, must we look for them? With thee only, blessed JESUS, who art indeed the holy one, and the only holy one of JEHOVAH: can we find these things, and with thee, they are forever. The waters of Meribah, and Massah, were monuments of the fallibility of human priesthood. Perhaps the period alluded to, of Levi's faithfulness, was as related. Exodus 32:27-28 .

Verse 12

The tribes-are not mentioned regularly, according to the priority of birthright; but perhaps Moses was directed by the HOLY GHOST. I would have the Reader take particular notice of the title of Benjamin, the beloved of the LORD. Benjamin was the beloved Son of his Father Jacob. But the beloved of the LORD infinitely surpasseth the highest love of men. Doth not the Reader behold in this, somewhat typical of him, who is the only begotten and beloved SON, who lay in the bosom of the FATHER before all worlds? Compare Isaiah 42:1 with Matthew 3:17 .

Verses 13-17

The blessing of Joseph is very striking, and deserves the closest attention, from the interest all true believers in CHRIST have in it. It is true, Joseph was separated from his brethren when sold into Egypt, and separated from his Father's home: but the spiritual illustration of this, and the typical reference it had to the person of the LORD JESUS, in all which Joseph was as an eminent a type of JESUS as almost any one character in the scripture, demands, that we should look much beyond Joseph the Son of Israel, for the real, spiritual meaning of this blessing of the man of GOD. Joseph, as the head of a tribe of Israel, was indeed much blessed with the precious things of heaven, and the precious things put forth by the sun, and by the moon: but it was the good will of him that dwelt in the bush, (even JESUS, who appeared to Moses at the bush), which sanctified and crowned the whole. But what I would more particularly desire the Reader to take notice of in this blessing of the man of GOD that he prayed all those mercies might be in the lot of Joseph, on account of his dweller in the bush. The words might be rendered, and perhaps ought strictly to have been so rendered, for the good will of him, my dweller in the bush. As if Moses meant to say, my dweller is him that dwelt there, when first he manifested himself to me, as my covenant head and Savior, who had undertaken, and in the fulness of time, would appear for the accomplishment of salvation. Hence the man of GOD, when in the full prospect of death, dwells so sweetly upon it, and seeks all blessings upon the head of Joseph, on this sole account. Here Reader! is the great secret of religion. If the good will of JESUS be in our mercies, this puts a sweetness, and gives an enjoyment to all. But if this be wanting, it is not all the precious things brought forth by the sun, or the precious things put forth by the moon, can give real comfort to the soul. Reader! pray be diligent in your seeking for this coronet mercy, to crown the whole in your experience.

Verse 18

Zebulun, and Issachar, were the sons of Jacob, by Leah; hence Moses hath included both under one blessing. If we interpret the prophecy according to gospel terms, perhaps it will be found that the going out, and abiding in the tents, implies both the propagating the gospel abroad, and rejoicing in it at home. See Isaiah 9:1-2 .

Verse 19

This verse throws a further light upon the former. The mountain of the LORD, hath always been considered in scripture terms, as referring to the gospel of JESUS. Isaiah 25:6-8 ; Micah 4:1-2 .

Verse 20

It was said of Gad, by Jacob his Father, that a troop should overcome him, but that he should overcome at the last. Genesis 49:19 . And is not Gad, a figure of all GOD'S people, who are variously exercised: and as it should seem frequently overcome by troops of sins, troops of oppressors, troops of enemies from the world, the flesh, and the devil? but yet, concerning whom, victory is not doubtful, for they shall certainly at last overcome every foe, by the blood of the LAMB. Revelation 12:11 .

Verse 21

The seat here spoken of, probably referred to the situation of Gad, on the other side Jordan Deuteronomy 4:43 . Joshua dismissed the Gadites with a blessing after the war was over; see Joshua. Joshua 4:12 with Joshua 22:7-8 .

Verse 22

Taking this blessing in a temporal sense, perhaps it might refer to the victories of Samson, who sprung from this tribe; or to the tribe itself, whose exploits are rehearsed. Judges 18:0 . But if we read the promise, with an eye to spiritual blessings in CHRIST JESUS, to leap from Bashan, may imply the victory believers obtain over all their foes, when coming from Zion, the hill of JEHOVAH. JESUS complained in his unequalled sufferings, that the strong bulls of Bashan, had beset him around; meaning no doubt, the chief priests and elders of GOD'S house. See Psalms 22:12 compared with Psalms 68:15-16 .

Verse 23

There is much of gospel in this blessing of Naphtali. And no doubt, Moses had an eye to spiritual things in his prophecy of it. And what is it to be full with the blessing of JEHOVAH, but, in his three-fold character of Person, to enjoy the FATHER's love, the Redeemer's grace, and the HOLY GHOST's fellowship? Reader! may it be your portion and mine, to have this fulness, and we shall then possess a Naphtali's portion. It may not be unacceptable to the Reader, to add, that Capernaum, of which we hear so much in our LORD'S days, belonged to Naphtali.

Verses 24-25

Asher's blessing, is one of the general blessings of all the spiritual seed of Israel. As the day of GOD'S people is, so shall be their strength. Once known, and they must be acceptable to the brethren of the LORD JESUS, for they are accepted of the FATHER, in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 . And what could be more suited, as a general close to the blessing of the tribes of Israel, than a general assurance to all Israel, of favor and acceptance, both with GOD and man and grace suited to every occasion. Gracious GOD! let these blessings be the portion of both writer and Reader, and let JESUS to crown the whole be ours, and all will be well!

Verse 26

It is remarkable, how holy men of old, when under the SPIRIT of the LORD, break out in the midst of their office of blessing his people, with blessing the GOD of his people. Thus dying Jacob, in the midst of blessing his children, cries out, I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD. Genesis 49:18 . And here Moses breaks out in a commendation of the GOD of Jeshurun. Reader! observe with me how very sweet and striking this, and the following three last verses of Moses are, in praising the GOD of Israel, and in commending the Israel of GOD. They are the last word's of this great man, and the last words of great men, are always particularly to be attended to. In this verse, he pours out his praises upon Israel's GOD. There is none like him, saith Moses. And he instanceth this, in those two grand distinctions of character, his sovereignty, and his glory. How sweet, how very sweet and dear are those perfections to the contemplation of his people. By the one, they are secured in his power, and by the other, in his love. Oh! that you and I, Reader, may know our covenant GOD in CHRIST, in both.

Verses 27-29

The man of GOD, having poured out his praises on Israel's GOD, now bestows his commendation on Israel. They have the eternal GOD for their refuge. JEHOVAH is engaged in all his covenant relations for their defense. He will protect, and govern, and bless, and rejoice over them; nay, he will not only protect, and govern, and bless them, but he will destroy their enemies. And when he hath thrust out all before them, they shall dwell securely in their GOD; they shalt abound with a fulness of all blessings; corn and wine shall be their sustenance, and their heavens shall drop down dew. If we read these things as temporal mercies, we must read them with certain limitations. It is sad to consider how Israel, in after ages, forfeited these things by their disobedience and ingratitude. But if we read them spiritually, and with an eye to the gospel church of the LORD JESUS, (and which no doubt, is the chief sense of the words), to what a degree of greatness and sublimity do the blessings then rise to our view? Reader! look at the gospel church of the LORD JESUS; and see the Israel of GOD in him! Here indeed, the eternal GOD is the refuge of his people; for in the Covenant of redemption, in the blood and righteousness of JESUS, all the perfections of the GODHEAD are made over in an everlasting covenant, which cannot be broken, for the eternal security of his people. And GOD is not only the support and security of his people; but he is their refuge, their hiding place, their everlasting, and eternal home. Hence one of old, calls the LORD his hiding place, and bids his soul to return to his rest. See Psa_46:1; Psa_32:7; Psa_90:1; Psa_116:7 . And how is the church of the LORD JESUS provided for? Every individual believer of it, hath the charter of all these blessings secured to him, in the blood of the covenant. GOD the FATHER is his, in all his covenant relations. JESUS, in his person, offices, and character; and the HOLY GHOST, with all his gracious influences. These mercies are the fountain of Jacob here spoken of, because they are fountain mercies indeed, which send off streams innumerable, to make glad the city of GOD. These are the heavens which drop down their dew upon the church, and every individual believer of it, to refresh, to comfort, to enlarge, and make fruitful. Well might the man of GOD, in a review of these things, and well may everyone interested in them, echo to the same, and cry out, as he did, Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the LORD!

Verse 29


PAUSE, My soul, over the perusal of this most delightful Chapter, and while the man of GOD is pronouncing these blessings over the people of Israel: see, whether you can now, by virtue of an union with the true spiritual LORD of Israel, claim an interest in these mercies, and call yourself by the name of Jacob, and surname yourself by the name of Israel.

Israel of old, was a chosen generation, for GOD the FATHER chose them in CHRIST JESUS before the foundation of the world. And if I belong to Israel now, have I not been chosen in him, and ordained by him to be of the chosen generation, an holy nation, a peculiar people, to show forth the praises of him who hath called me out of darkness into his marvellous light. My soul! is it so with thee? Am I the purchase of JESUS' blood, the subject of the HOLY GHOST's fellowship: and do I enjoy communion with the FATHER, and with his Son JESUS CHRIST? Then shall I, as Israel, dwell in safety. My GOD will thrust out the enemy from before me, and will say, destroy them. The eternal GOD is my refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/deuteronomy-33.html. 1828.
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