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Deuteronomy 33





SCRIPTURE:  Deuteronomy 33

By: Jeremy Witt

Our chapter today takes us to something that is foreign to the majority of us today, the spoken blessing.  When a father was nearing death, it was customary for the father to bless his children beginning with the oldest.  We see Jacob doing this in Genesis 49.  Moses essentially was the earthly “father” to Israel as he lead them out of Egypt and spoke the covenant with God at Mt. Sinai to them. 

Some of you like our little sidenotes.  A Bible trivia question comes to us in verse 2.  The question is, “where did God come from?”  The answer is in verse 2.  I argued as a child with the writers of the game to this question as many of you may as well.  What the Hebrew experts tell us is that the Hebrew and its “slang” or rare terms so there are several difficulties in the translation of this chapter.  We see that the tribe of Simeon is left out in this chapter which would later be absorbed into the tribe of Judah in Joshua 19:1-9.  The tribe of Levi is omitted in several other places throughout the Old Testament.

Here is an outline of the breakdown of the chapter.  Some cross references may be added to show fulfillment or help understand the blessing.

Verse 2-5 - Praise of the LORD

Verse 6 – Reuben.  The wish is for Reuben to live as Moses was foreshadowing adversity for the tribe, so that it would continue.  Read Judges 5;15-16 and Jacob’s forecast in Genesis 49:4.

Verse 7 – Judah.  First in battle (Numbers 2:9) a prayer for help from God in victory.

Verses 8-11 – Levi.  References to the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:30, Lev 8:8, Num 27:21, 1 Sam 28:6, Ezra 2:63, Neh 7:65.  The portion referring to Massah or Meribah comes from Ex 17:17.  This tribe is to be the priests to the nation as the nation is designed to be priests to the rest of the world.

Verse 12 – Benjamin. The youngest and a prayer for protection

Verses 13-17 - Joseph.  Prosperity was prayed for first and then military success.  This tribe would later be divided into Manasseh and Ephraim.

Verses 18-19 - Zebulon and Issachar.  The two are also mentioned together in Jacob’s blessing in Gen 49:13-15 and Deborah’s song in Judges.

Verses 20-21 – Gad.  uncertain

Verse 22 – Dan.  – tie to Jacob’s blessing in 49:17 referring to potentially strength as a lion’s cub but timid before a snake or serpent.

Verse 23 – Naphtali. Blessing to enjoy the Lord’s favor and blessing

Verses 24-25 – Asher. Name means blessed or happy, so a blessing for abundance when referring to bathing one’s feet in oil rather than simply water.

Verses 26-29 Jeshuran means the “upright one” and was a name for Israel.  These verses point the nation to praise the LORD and stay with Him.  Remember how blessed they are and have been because of the LORD. 



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Deuteronomy 32





SCRIPTURE:  Deuteronomy 32

By: Jeremy Witt

If we see the majority of Deuteronomy as a sermon as Moses taught the people, chapter 32 shows that Moses was also a worship leader.  Moses was a preacher and now we see how he was a worship leader.  Holy cow, (pun intended) that man was talented.  So why would he write a song for the people?  Music and poems are easier to remember than the spoken word for most people.  Moses singing a song would make memorizing it easier to pass down to future generations.  This song was a story of history of the people and how the LORD had provided and watched over them.

Sidenote:  the majority of the world in Moses day, and even today prefer story and song over the spoken word.  When we hear a good story, it captures our attention.  When put to a song, they are burned into our brains.  Think about some of the patriotic songs of the US that tell of our history.  The Star Spangled Banner, and one song that sticks in my brain that I am not sure of the title starts with, “In 1814, we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp.  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we met the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.”  Do you remember that one too? 

Another example would come from country music (not this pop music stuff) that attracts so many to it.  Think about George Strait (The Chair) or Garth Brooks (The Dance) are some of their biggest hits.  They are stories in song.  Moses is doing this in chapter 32.  His song gives a brief history of Israel reminding them of their mistakes, warns of repeating those mistakes, and the hope of trusting God. 

Notice in verse 10 and following.  Moses points to how God chose this people out of the wasteland or wilderness and how God watched over them and protected them.  God was their provider and gave them the best.  In verse 15 and following, we see what prosperity does to people.  We get fat and greedy.  Rather than being grateful, they became expectant and demanding.  Their focus soon changed from worshipping God to paying attention to their neighbors and the gods they were worshipping.  Because of this God’s jealousy grew and God was provoked to anger and ultimately judgment as we read in verses 19-27.

After the conclusion of the song, Moses urged the people to pass this along to their children and grandchildren so that they would follow God and not make the mistakes of their forefathers.  Ultimately that is our role as parents and grandparents today.  Our first job is to teach our kids of the LORD.  This is God’s intention for the family.  Our worship and teaching of God’s word to our children is ours as parents. 

Verses 48-52 speak to Moses’ death and why he would not enter the Promised Land.  This is an area I must admit I have struggled with.  Moses’ simply lost his temper.  Why is that so bad?  Why would God punish him so severely?  What I am learning about sacredness may be the answer.  God is pure and holy.  God’s Word must be obeyed completely and fully.  When God speaks, it is sacred and must be honored.  Even in our emotions, we must be obedient to Him.  Even when people push my buttons and I lose my cool, I must honor the LORD.  God’s ways are not my ways or this world’s ways.  He is pure and holy.  We do not understand this today.  Or at least I do not.  Sacred is something we (I) are not around today.  Nothing is sacred in our culture today.  Yet God is.  His Word is.  I fear that our failure to understand this may place us in the same situation as Moses if we are not careful. 

May we handle the LORD and His Word as sacred.  Help us LORD.

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