Deuteronomy 33

Deuteronomy 33

Moses’ Final Blessing on Israel

33 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,

  “The LORD came from Sinai
    and dawned from Seir upon us;
    he shone forth from Mount Paran;
  he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
    with flaming fire at his right hand.
  Yes, he loved his people,
    all his holy ones were in his hand;
  so they followed in your steps,
    receiving direction from you,
  when Moses commanded us a law,
    as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
  Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun,
    when the heads of the people were gathered,
    all the tribes of Israel together.
  “Let Reuben live, and not die,
    but let his men be few.”

And this he said of Judah:

  “Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah,
    and bring him in to his people.
  With your hands contend for him,
    and be a help against his adversaries.”

And of Levi he said,

  “Give to Levi your Thummim,
    and your Urim to your godly one,
  whom you tested at Massah,
    with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;
  who said of his father and mother,
    ‘I regard them not’;
  he disowned his brothers
    and ignored his children.
  For they observed your word
    and kept your covenant.
  They shall teach Jacob your rules
    and Israel your law;
  they shall put incense before you
    and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
  Bless, O LORD, his substance,
    and accept the work of his hands;
  crush the loins of his adversaries,
    of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

Of Benjamin he said,

  “The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
  The High God surrounds him all day long,
    and dwells between his shoulders.”

And of Joseph he said,

  “Blessed by the LORD be his land,
    with the choicest gifts of heaven above,
    and of the deep that crouches beneath,
  with the choicest fruits of the sun
    and the rich yield of the months,
  with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
    and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
  with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
    and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.
  May these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.
  A firstborn bull—he has majesty,
    and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
  with them he shall gore the peoples,
    all of them, to the ends of the earth;
  they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
    and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

And of Zebulun he said,

  “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
    and Issachar, in your tents.
  They shall call peoples to their mountain;
    there they offer right sacrifices;
  for they draw from the abundance of the seas
    and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

And of Gad he said,

  “Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
    Gad crouches like a lion;
    he tears off arm and scalp.
  He chose the best of the land for himself,
    for there a commander’s portion was reserved;
  and he came with the heads of the people,
    with Israel he executed the justice of the LORD,
    and his judgments for Israel.”

And of Dan he said,

  “Dan is a lion’s cub
    that leaps from Bashan.”

And of Naphtali he said,

  “O Naphtali, sated with favor,
    and full of the blessing of the LORD,
    possess the lake and the south.”

And of Asher he said,

  “Most blessed of sons be Asher;
    let him be the favorite of his brothers,
    and let him dip his foot in oil.
  Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
    and as your days, so shall your strength be.
  “There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
    who rides through the heavens to your help,
    through the skies in his majesty.
  The eternal God is your dwelling place,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
  And he thrust out the enemy before you
    and said, ‘Destroy.’
  So Israel lived in safety,
    Jacob lived alone,
  in a land of grain and wine,
    whose heavens drop down dew.
  Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
    a people saved by the LORD,
  the shield of your help,
    and the sword of your triumph!
  Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
    and you shall tread upon their backs.”


Deuteronomy 33 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Moses gives his final blessings to the tribes of Israel. I was drawn to the guidance given to the Levites.

About the tribe of Levi he said: “You, LORD, reveal your will by the Urim and Thummim Through your faithful servants, the Levites; You put them to the test at Massah And proved them true at the waters of Meribah. 9 They showed greater loyalty to you Than to parents, brothers, or children. They obeyed your commands And were faithful to your covenant. 10 They will teach your people to obey your Law; They will offer sacrifices on your altar. 11 LORD, help their tribe to grow strong; Be pleased with what they do. Crush all their enemies; Let them never rise again.”

Deuteronomy 33:8-11 GNB

First question… what does Moses mean by Urim and Thummim? offers an accurate, concise definition.

“The Urim (“lights”) and Thummim (“perfections”) were gemstones that were carried by the high priest of Israel on the ephod/priestly garments. They were used by the high priest to determine God’s will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. Others propose that the Urim and Thummim were kept in a pouch and were engraved with symbols identifying yes/no and true/false.

No one knows the precise nature of the Urim and Thummim or exactly how they were used. The Bible simply does not give us enough information.”

The main point to consider is that Moses was praying for wisdom and discernment to be revealed through God’s servants. We pray the same thing today when we ask the Holy Spirit to give insight to a believer. The Levites were also to have an educational role in the interpretation and application of God’s law. They were responsible for Israel’s formal system of worship. So, consider what all this means for us today. The Levites would have functioned in a similar role as today’s pastors and teachers. They led the people in worship and taught the Word. They were also held to a stricter standard (v. 9).

It is so fascinating to consider what Moses prays for them at the end of their blessing.

LORD, help their tribe to grow strong; Be pleased with what they do. Crush all their enemies; Let them never rise again.”

Deuteronomy 33:11 GNB

The focus is on strength and protection. Many today are well aware of the fact that strong leaders produce strong churches. Leaders with selfish motives will have an unhealthy body. This is nothing new. However, I find it fascinating that out of everything Moses could have prayed for these Levites, he chose to focus on strength and protection. This assumes that in such a position, these leaders would experience weakness and discouragement at some point. It also assumes that they would square off against people who were hell-bent on destruction. Moses simply refers to these people as “enemies,” but he is confident that God will prevail.

His prayer is directed with a laser focus at struggles that are often overlooked. When I entered ministry, I didn’t envision myself becoming a target of the enemies of God. Maybe I was ignorant, but I never attended a class or seminar entitled, “Enemy Defense 101.” I went into ministry to spread the Good News of Jesus to lost souls. Years ago, this prayer of Moses would have seemed a bit strange to me. Today, it resonates so deeply.

Jesus took the prayers of Moses and defined them. In His Kingdom, those who lead with humility are considered strong. Those who crush their enemies do so by praying for them. Those who please God do so by starting with faith, not by starting with works. We need strong leaders today who allow God to fight for them. We need rock-solid, humble, prayer warriors who trust God so relentlessly that they will never give up. Lord, humble us that we might be made strong. Give us Your Spirit that produces righteousness. Give us an attitude like our Savior Jesus who prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

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