Deuteronomy 33

Moses Blesses the Tribes

1 This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death.
2 He said: “The LORD came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with[a] myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes.[b]
3 Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction,
4 the law that Moses gave us, the possession of the assembly of Jacob.
5 He was king over Jeshurun[c] when the leaders of the people assembled, along with the tribes of Israel.
6 “Let Reuben live and not die, nor[d] his people be few.”
7 And this he said about Judah: “Hear, LORD, the cry of Judah; bring him to his people. With his own hands he defends his cause. Oh, be his help against his foes!”
8 About Levi he said: “Your Thummim and Urim belong to your faithful servant. You tested him at Massah; you contended with him at the waters of Meribah.
9 He said of his father and mother, ‘I have no regard for them.’ He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant.
10 He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel. He offers incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
11 Bless all his skills, LORD, and be pleased with the work of his hands. Strike down those who rise against him, his foes till they rise no more.”
12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
13 About Joseph he said: “May the LORD bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below;
14 with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield;
15 with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills;
16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among[e] his brothers.
17 In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox. With them he will gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth. Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim; such are the thousands of Manasseh.”
18 About Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, and you, Issachar, in your tents.
19 They will summon peoples to the mountain and there offer the sacrifices of the righteous; they will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasures hidden in the sand.”
20 About Gad he said: “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad’s domain! Gad lives there like a lion, tearing at arm or head.
21 He chose the best land for himself; the leader’s portion was kept for him. When the heads of the people assembled, he carried out the LORD’s righteous will, and his judgments concerning Israel.”
22 About Dan he said: “Dan is a lion’s cub, springing out of Bashan.”
23 About Naphtali he said: “Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the LORDand is full of his blessing; he will inherit southward to the lake.”
24 About Asher he said: “Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil.
25 The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.
26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety; Jacob will dwell[f] secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.
29 Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights.”

Deuteronomy 33 Commentary

Chapter 33

The glorious majesty of God. (1-5) The blessings of the twelve tribes. (6-23) Strength to believers. (24,25) The excellency of Israel. (26-29)

Verses 1-5 To all his precepts, warnings, and prophecies, Moses added a solemn blessing. He begins with a description of the glorious appearances of God, in giving the law. His law works like fire. If received, it is melting, warming, purifying, and burns up the dross of corruption; if rejected, it hardens, sears, pains, and destroys. The Holy Spirit came down in cloven tongues, as of fire; for the gospel also is a fiery law. The law of God written in the heart, is a certain proof of the love of God shed abroad there: we must reckon His law one of the gifts of his grace.

Verses 6-23 The order in which the tribes are here blessed, is not the same as is observed elsewhere. The blessing of Judah may refer to the whole tribe in general, or to David as a type of Christ. Moses largely blesses the tribe of Levi. Acceptance with God is what we should all aim at, and desire, in all our devotions, ( 2 Corinthians. 5:9 ) prophecy, that God will keep up a ministry in his church to the end of time. The tribe of Benjamin had their inheritance close to mount Zion. To be situated near the ordinances, is a precious gift from the Lord, a privilege not to be exchanged for any worldly advantage, or indulgence. We should thankfully receive the earthly blessings sent to us, through the successive seasons. But those good gifts which come down from the Father of lights, through the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and the pouring out of his Spirit like the rain which makes fruitful, are infinitely more precious, as the tokens of his special love. The precious things here prayed for, are figures of spiritual blessing in heavenly things by Christ, the gifts, graces, and comforts of the Spirit. When Moses prays for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush, he refers to the covenant, on which all our hopes of God's favour must be founded. The providence of God appoints men's habitations, and wisely disposes men to different employments for the public good. Whatever our place and business are, it is our wisdom and duty to apply thereto; and it is happiness to be well pleased therewith. We should not only invite others to the service of God, but abound in it. The blessing of Naphtali. The favour of God is the only favour satisfying to the soul. Those are happy indeed, who have the favour of God; and those shall have it, who reckon that in having it they have enough, and desire no more.

Verses 24-25 All shall be sanctified to true believers; if their way be rough, their feet shall be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. As thy days, so shall thy strength be. The "day" is often in Scripture put for the events of the day; it is a promise that God would graciously and constantly support under trials and troubles, whatever they were. It is a promise sure to all the spiritual seed of Abraham. Have they work allotted? They shall have strength to do it. Have they burdens appointed? They shall have strength, and never be tempted above what they are able to bear.

Verses 26-29 None had such a God as Israel. There is no people like the Israel of God. What is here said of the church of Israel is to be applied to the spiritual church. Never were people so well seated and sheltered. Those who make God their habitation, shall have all the comforts and benefits of a habitation in him, Ps. 91:1 . Never were people so well supported and borne up. How low soever the people of God are at any time brought, everlasting arms are underneath them, to keep the spirit from sinking, from fainting, and their faith from failing. Divine grace is ( 2 Corinthians. 12:9 ) commanded. Thus believers are more than conquerors over their spiritual enemies, through Christ that loved them. Never were people so well secured and protected. Israel shall dwell in safety alone. All who keep close to God, shall be kept safe by him. Never were people so well provided for. Every true Israelite looks with faith to the better country, the heavenly Canaan, which is filled with better things than corn and wine. Never were people so well helped. If in danger of any harm, or in want of any good, they had an eternal God to go to. Nothing could hurt those whom God helped, nor was it possible the people should perish who were saved by the Lord. Never were people so well armed. Those in whose hearts is the excellency of holiness, are defended by the whole armour of God, ( Ephesians 6 ) . Never were people so well assured of victory over their enemies. Thus shall the God of peace tread Satan under the feet of all believers, and shall do it shortly, ( Romans 16:20 ) . May God help us to seek and to set our affections on the things above; and to turn our souls from earthly perishing objects; that we may not have our lot with Israel's foes in the regions of darkness and despair, but with the Israel of God, in the realms of love and eternal happiness.

Cross References 76

  • 1. S Genesis 27:4
  • 2. Joshua 14:6; 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Kings 13:1; 2 Kings 1:9-13; 2 Kings 5:8; Jeremiah 35:4
  • 3. Exodus 19:18; Psalms 68:8
  • 4. Joshua 11:17; Judges 5:4
  • 5. Psalms 50:2; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 94:1
  • 6. S Numbers 10:12; Habakkuk 3:3
  • 7. Psalms 89:7; Daniel 4:13; Daniel 7:10; Daniel 8:13; Zechariah 14:5; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Revelation 5:11
  • 8. S Deuteronomy 4:37; Hosea 11:1
  • 9. Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2
  • 10. Luke 10:39; Revelation 4:10
  • 11. Deuteronomy 4:2; John 1:17; John 7:19
  • 12. Psalms 119:111
  • 13. S Exodus 16:8; 1 Samuel 10:19; Psalms 10:16; Psalms 149:2
  • 14. S Numbers 23:21; S Deuteronomy 32:15
  • 15. S Genesis 34:5
  • 16. S Genesis 49:10
  • 17. S Genesis 29:34
  • 18. Exodus 28:30
  • 19. Psalms 106:16
  • 20. S Numbers 14:22
  • 21. S Exodus 17:7
  • 22. Exodus 32:26-29
  • 23. Psalms 61:5; Malachi 2:5
  • 24. Ezra 7:10; Nehemiah 8:18; Psalms 119:151; Jeremiah 23:22; Malachi 2:6
  • 25. S Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:8-11; Deuteronomy 31:9-13
  • 26. S Exodus 30:7; Leviticus 16:12-13
  • 27. Psalms 51:19
  • 28. 2 Samuel 24:23; Psalms 20:3; Psalms 51:19
  • 29. S Genesis 35:18
  • 30. Deuteronomy 4:37-38; Deuteronomy 12:10; S Deuteronomy 32:8
  • 31. S Exodus 19:4
  • 32. Psalms 60:5; Psalms 127:2; Isaiah 5:1
  • 33. S Exodus 28:12
  • 34. S Genesis 30:24; Genesis 49:25
  • 35. Genesis 27:28; Psalms 148:7
  • 36. Habakkuk 3:6
  • 37. S Exodus 3:2
  • 38. S Genesis 37:8
  • 39. 1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 22:3; Ezekiel 34:21
  • 40. S Numbers 23:22
  • 41. 1 Kings 22:11; Psalms 44:5
  • 42. S Genesis 41:52
  • 43. S Genesis 41:51
  • 44. S Genesis 30:20; Genesis 49:13-15
  • 45. S Genesis 30:18
  • 46. S Exodus 15:17; Psalms 48:1; Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 65:11; Isaiah 66:20; Jeremiah 31:6
  • 47. Psalms 4:5; Psalms 51:19
  • 48. Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 23:18; Isaiah 45:14; Isaiah 60:5,11; Isaiah 61:6; Haggai 2:7; Zechariah 14:14
  • 49. Genesis 30:11; Genesis 49:19
  • 50. Deuteronomy 3:12-17
  • 51. Nu 32:1-5,31-32
  • 52. S Numbers 34:14
  • 53. Joshua 4:12; Joshua 22:1-3
  • 54. Genesis 49:16; S Numbers 1:38
  • 55. S Genesis 30:8
  • 56. S Genesis 30:13; Genesis 49:21
  • 57. S Genesis 49:20; S Deuteronomy 32:13; Job 29:6
  • 58. Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 7:3; Psalms 147:13
  • 59. S Deuteronomy 32:47">Dt Deuteronomy 32:47; Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 32:47
  • 60. S Deuteronomy 32:15; Exodus 15:11
  • 61. Psalms 18:10; Psalms 68:33
  • 62. S Deuteronomy 10:14; S Psalms 104:3
  • 63. 2 Samuel 22:10; Psalms 18:9; Psalms 68:4; Daniel 7:13
  • 64. S Exodus 15:7
  • 65. Exodus 15:18; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 57:15
  • 66. Psalms 9:9; Psalms 84:1; Psalms 90:1; Psalms 91:9
  • 67. S Genesis 21:33
  • 68. Exodus 34:11; Joshua 24:18
  • 69. S Deuteronomy 7:2
  • 70. S Exodus 33:16; S Leviticus 25:18; S Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalms 16:9; Proverbs 1:33; Isaiah 14:30; Numbers 23:9; Jeremiah 23:6
  • 71. ver 13; Genesis 27:28
  • 72. Psalms 1:1; Psalms 32:1-2; Psalms 144:15
  • 73. 2 Samuel 22:45; Psalms 18:44; Psalms 66:3; Psalms 81:15
  • 74. Deuteronomy 4:7; 2 Samuel 7:23
  • 75. Genesis 15:1; Exodus 18:4; Psalms 10:14; Psalms 18:1; Psalms 27:1,9; Psalms 30:10; Psalms 54:4; Psalms 70:5; Psalms 115:9-11; Psalms 118:7; Isaiah 45:24; Hosea 13:9; Habakkuk 3:19
  • 76. S Numbers 33:52; S Deuteronomy 32:13

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or "from"
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  • [c]. "Jeshurun" means "the upright one," that is, Israel; also in verse 26.
  • [d]. Or "but let"
  • [e]. Or "of the one separated from"
  • [f]. Septuagint; Hebrew "Jacob’s spring is"

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates the blessings Moses pronounced upon the people of Israel a little before his death; first, in general, on account of their having a law given them in so glorious a manner, De 33:1-5; then, in particular, each of the tribes distinctly is blessed, Reuben, De 33:6; Judah, De 33:7; Levi, De 33:8-11; Benjamin, De 33:12; Joseph, De 33:13-17; Zebulun and Issachar, De 33:18,19; Gad, De 33:20,21; Dan, De 33:22; Naphtali, De 33:23; Asher, De 33:24,25; and the chapter is concluded with some strong intimations of what God was unto the people of Israel in general, and of what he had done and would do for them; all which are expressive of their great happiness, De 33:26-29.

Deuteronomy 33 Commentaries

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