TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11
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.