Deuteronomy 33:23

23 Naphtali: "Naphtali brims with blessings, spills over with God's blessings As he takes possession of the sea and southland."

Deuteronomy 33:23 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 33:23

And of Naphtali he said
The tribe of Naphtali, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem:

O Naphtali, satisfied with favour;
with the favour of men, which to have is a great blessing; and as he gave goodly words to others, he had the good word of others, ( Genesis 49:21 ) ; and with the favour of God, as the next clause shows; which is the greatest blessing of all, and is special and peculiar, free and sovereign, and the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; and to be full of this, and satisfied of an interest in it, is the highest of enjoyments; and nothing is of a more satisfying nature, it is a feast of itself; see ( Psalms 63:3 Psalms 63:5 ) ;

and full with the blessing of the Lord;
as such must needs be who are full of and satisfied with the your, good will, and love of God; for they are filled with all spiritual blessings, with all the blessings of grace, which spring from his free favour, as pardon of sin, a justifying righteousness, adoption, sanctifying grace, a right and title to eternal life. This may have respect to the temporal happiness of this tribe, which had a remarkable share in the favour and good will of God, and in the blessings of his goodness. Strabo F1, an Heathen writer, speaking of this part of the land of Judea, says it was a happy and fruitful country, bearing all manner of fruit; in this tribe was the fruitful country of Gennesaret, full of delightful gardens and fields, which lay along by a lake of that name, frequently mentioned in the New Testament; which country, Josephus says F2, one may call the ambition of nature; and the Targum of Jonathan has it,

``ye shall be full of the fruits of the valley of Gennesaret;''

and particularly this country was favoured with the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; see ( Matthew 4:13-15 ) ( 9:1 ) ( 11:23 ) ;

possess thou the west and the south;
not the west and south of the land of Israel; for, according to Josephus F3, this tribe lay to the east and north of it, just the reverse; and it is plain from ( Joshua 19:34 ) ; that it had Asher on the west, and Zebulun on the south; wherefore some understand this of the commodities this tribe was supplied with, as through the tribe of Asher on the west, on which those trading cities Tyre and Sidon bordered; and through Zebulun on the south, which was near the sea, and was given to navigation and trade: though it should be observed that the word for "west" signifies the "sea" F4; and intends not the Mediterranean sea, which this tribe did not reach; but the sea of Tiberias and Gennesaret, as all the Targums explain it; and Bochart F5 observes, that the portion of Naphtali reached from the south of the city of Dan to the sea of Tiberias; so that the south is observed with respect to Dan last mentioned, and the west or sea to the sea of Tiberias.


F1 Geograph. l. 16. p. 519.
F2 De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 9. sect. 8.
F3 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 22.
F4 (My) "mare", Montanus, V. L. Cocceius.
F5 Heirozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 18. col. 898.

Deuteronomy 33:23 In-Context

21 He took one look and grabbed the best place for himself, the portion just made for someone in charge. He took his place at the head, carried out God's right ways and his rules for life in Israel."
22 Dan: "Dan is a lion's cub leaping out of Bashan."
23 Naphtali: "Naphtali brims with blessings, spills over with God's blessings As he takes possession of the sea and southland."
24 Asher: "Asher, best blessed of the sons! May he be the favorite of his brothers, his feet massaged in oil.
25 Safe behind iron-clad doors and gates, your strength like iron as long as you live."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.