Morning Light – Deuteronomy 33

[Deuteronomy 33] The Blessing of Moses. In the previous chapter, we have the song of Moses charging the people to remain faithful. In this chapter, we find the blessing of Moses over the people. Interestingly enough, several tribes are left out of this blessing, and the birth order of the tribes is completely rearranged. Is this a mistake or something specific God has done to reveal New Covenant mysteries to us? God doesn’t do things according to our idea of fairness or our rationale. As there is a blessing in this passage for Israel by her tribes, so there is a blessing to you in your spiritual tribe.

[Deu 33:1-29 KJV] 1 And this [is] the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand [went] a fiery law for them. 3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints [are] in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; [every one] shall receive of thy words. 4 Moses commanded us a law, [even] the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob. 5 And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people [and] the tribes of Israel were gathered together. 6 Let Reuben live, and not die; and let [not] his men be few. 7 And this [is the blessing] of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help [to him] from his enemies. 8 And of Levi he said, [Let] thy Thummim and thy Urim [be] with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, [and with] whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; 9 Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. 10 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar. 11 Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again. 12 [And] of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; [and the LORD] shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders. 13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD [be] his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, 14 And for the precious fruits [brought forth] by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, 15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, 16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and [for] the goodwill of him that dwelt in the bush: let [the blessing] come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him [that was] separated from his brethren. 17 His glory [is like] the firstling of his bullock, and his horns [are like] the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they [are] the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they [are] the thousands of Manasseh. 18 And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. 19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck [of] the abundance of the seas, and [of] treasures hid in the sand. 20 And of Gad he said, Blessed [be] he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. 21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, [in] a portion of the lawgiver, [was he] seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel. 22 And of Dan he said, Dan [is] a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan. 23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south. 24 And of Asher he said, [Let] Asher [be] blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Thy shoes [shall be] iron and brass; and as thy days, [so shall] thy strength [be]. 26 [There is] none like unto the God of Jeshurun, [who] rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. 27 The eternal God [is thy] refuge, and underneath [are] the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy [them]. 28 Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob [shall be] upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. 29 Happy [art] thou, O Israel: who [is] like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who [is] the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.

In reading this passage, you will notice the awkwardness of the references to Moses and the references to God. In researching this specific chapter, you will see scholars suggest this is in their thinking a collection of sayings attributed to Moses but, in reality, was added to the text of Deuteronomy at a much later time. The theological suggestion along this line is as follows:

“[Both] Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33 are thought to contain individual sayings, written at different times and places by different authors. The sayings originally circulated in oral form as folk literature and were then gathered in collections. “We may assume,” writes Frank Cross in his book Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry, “that groups of blessings, ascribed to Jacob and Moses, and perhaps others, circulated orally in the period of the Judges.”

Where do scholars get these ideas, and by what authority do they cut up the scriptures piecemeal and call their integrity in question? During the age of enlightenment, so-called schools of higher criticism came to be that reject the authority of scriptures and giving those that think this way the so-called right to question the unquestioned word of God and deny its inspiration altogether. As Christians, we reject this thinking.

In v. 1, we see that Moses is called “the man of God,” a common designation of a prophet in those days. In the New Covenant, we are all men and women of God. The difference is that we have God IN US taking up His habitation in our hearts. In those times, God only visited men and rested upon them by His Spirit but did not live in their hearts through the New Birth. The mention of the Lord coming from Sinai is a metaphor for the Lord coming to the people in the same way that the sun rises. John the Baptist refers to this very passage in Luke 1:78 when he declares Jesus as the Dayspring from on high that visits us.

Verse 2 speaks of the Lord comes with 10,000 of His saints. In this case, Moses is quoting the book of Enoch. Jude and several other authors in scripture quote from the book of Enoch as well. Regardless Enoch is not accepted in the canon of scripture. An alternate reading of this phrase in De. 33 is that the Lord comes from “Meribah,” which means “contention” and “combat,” implying that the Lord comes to fight for us as He did with Pharaoh in delivering the people of Egypt.

Beginning in v. 6, Moses addresses each tribe by name but not in the original birth order. When you see the tribes mentioned, always look at birth order. Reuben was the oldest, but Judah was the fourth born. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi were all denied their birthrights for different reasons leaving Judah to inherit the promise of the firstborn and thereby become the bloodline out of which Jesus was born. You will notice that Moses does not bless the tribe of Simeon in this passage. Remember that Simeon and Levi were rejected from the birthright because of an act of cruelty by which they brought defamation on Jacob, their father. History tells us that the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribe of Judah and disappears from history. Levi also was not given inheritance in Israel but rather the “Lord was their portion,” and they were scattered throughout Israel to serve as a caste of priests. This tells us that in the original transgression, Levi must have truly repented because Simeon is eventually eliminated, but Levi, while facing consequences nonetheless in the midst of those consequences, was given the opportunity to serve. This shows us that God chose the Levites to serve and produce a high priest not because they were the most qualified but because they were the least qualified.

Next come Joseph and Benjamin, again completely out of the original birth order. Joseph and Benjamin were the children of Rachel. Benjamin was the son that consoled Jacob over the loss of Joseph. Joseph is a type of Jesus, and Benjamin being the little brother represents you and I coming after Jesus, who is our Joseph as it were. Remember when Benjamin was born it was after his brothers sold Joseph into slavery. Benjamin then was an affront to the cruelty of his half-brothers born of Leah; thereby, they would have been ashamed of him and ashamed to call him their brother. This is what Hebrews 2:11 refers to Jesus saying:

[Heb 2:11 KJV] 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

We are not merely legally adopted into the family of God or mere half-brothers or brothers in name only. We are the genuine and valid siblings of Jesus through His death, burial, and resurrection. The implication is that because of the New Birth, His connection to us is deeper than His Jewish roots. This is an interesting question – was Jesus a Jew? Throughout Hebrew history up until two hundred years before Jesus, the lineage was determined by the Father. Then two hundred years before Jesus in a Mishnah claiming to originate from Ezra’s time states that one’s “Jewish-ness” originates with the mother or is in fact matrilineal. So, a Jewish person is Jewish through the bloodline of the mother, but it wasn’t always so. Our place in God’s promises to Abraham is established through our Father God in the new birth in the shed blood of Jesus.

In v. 17 regarding Benjamin, there is mentioned the connection between God’s visible glory and the appearance of horns. The light that came out of Moses’ face did not look like an omnidirectional light bulb shining in all directions. The descriptions of the glory in Moses’ face was more like beams or horns of light coming out of his temples. This is interesting since the devil chose to see to it that he is depicted with horns of flesh instead of light. In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul refers to this (2 Cor. 11:18) that many want to glory after the flesh (a flesh horn) but that (1 Cor. 1:29) no flesh should glory in God’s presence (the light, or effulgence of God – the outraying of the divine).

In v. 22, we come to the tribe of Dan. The name of Dan means judgment. Dan is described here as coming from Bashan. There is a Messianic reference to the “strong bulls of Bashan” gaping on Jesus with their mouth. In the previous chapter, the enemies of Israel are described as judges. When we judge, we are numbering ourselves with the enemies of God. In fact, we are an enemy of God when we judge others or see them in a light other than God saw them when He sent Jesus to redeem mankind. When we “mouth” on one another in judgment, we are like the “bulls of Bashan” gaping upon Christ. This speaks of the brutality that God sees in judgmentalism.

We then come to Asher. The reference to Asher dipping his foot in oil has fueled much oil speculation regarding the territory given to this tribe in the Promised Land. In the ’90s, an oil speculator financed by a Texas oil firm with no Arab ties discovered vast and profitable natural gas reserves that have put Israel on target to become a net exporter of oil instead of having only to import it for their needs.

God’s promise in verse 28 is that Israel shall dwell in safety. We are promised a fountain named the Fountain of Jacob. That fountain is Jesus, and He is our safety. When the New Testament speaks of being saved, the word is “sozo,” which means made safe, rendered safe, whole, healed, brought to a place and position of needs supplied, vulnerabilities shored up, kept and held securely in the Father’s arms. That applies to natural Israel and also to the church. No matter what is happening on the world scene, we are not to be alarmed. The sky isn’t falling; the kingdom is coming, and in the end, the Government of God is our hope and trust and mainstay.

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