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De 33:1-28. THE MAJESTY OF GOD.
1. Moses the man of God--This was a common designation of a prophet (1Sa 2:27; 9:6), and it is here applied to Moses, when, like Jacob, he was about to deliver ministerially before his death, a prophetic benediction to Israel.
2-4. The Lord came--Under a beautiful metaphor, borrowed from the dawn
and progressive splendor of the sun, the Majesty of God is sublimely
described as a divine light which appeared in Sinai and scattered its
beams on all the adjoining region in directing Israel's march to
Canaan. In these descriptions of a theophania, God is represented as
coming from the south, and the allusion is in general to the
thunderings and lightnings of Sinai; but other mountains in the same
direction are mentioned with it. The location of Seir was on the east
of the Ghor; mount Paran was either the chain on the west of the Ghor,
or rather the mountains on the southern border of the desert towards
the peninsula [ROBINSON].
Jud 5:4, 5;
Ps 68:7, 8;
6. Let Reuben live, and not die--Although deprived of the honor and privileges of primogeniture, he was still to hold rank as one of the tribes of Israel. He was more numerous than several other tribes (Nu 1:21; 2:11). Yet gradually he sank into a mere nomadic tribe, which had enough to do merely "to live and not die." Many eminent biblical scholars, resting on the most ancient and approved manuscripts of the Septuagint, consider the latter clause as referring to Simeon; "and Simeon, let his men be few," a reading of the text which is in harmony with other statements of Scripture respecting this tribe (Nu 25:6-14; 1:23; 26:14; Jos 19:1).
8-10. of Levi he said--The burden of this blessing is the appointment of the Levites to the dignified and sacred office of the priesthood (Le 10:11; De 22:8; 17:8-11), a reward for their zeal in supporting the cause of God, and their unsparing severity in chastising even their nearest and dearest relatives who had participated in the idolatry of the molten calf (Ex 32:25-28; compare Mal 2:4-6).
12. of Benjamin he said--A distinguishing favor was conferred on this
tribe in having its portion assigned near the temple of God.
13-17. of Joseph he said--The territory of this tribe, diversified by hill and dale, wood and water, would be rich in all the productions--olives, grapes, figs, &c., which are reared in a mountainous region, as well as in the grain and herbs that grow in the level fields. "The firstling of the bullock and the horns of the unicorn" (rhinoceros), indicate glory and strength, and it is supposed that under these emblems were shadowed forth the triumphs of Joshua and the new kingdom of Jeroboam, both of whom were of Ephraim (compare Ge 48:20).
19. shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand--Both tribes should traffic with the Phœnicians in gold and silver, pearl and coral, especially in murex, the shellfish that yielded the famous Tyrian dye, and in glass, which was manufactured from the sand of the river Belus, in their immediate neighborhood.
20, 21. of Gad he said--Its possessions were larger than they would have been had they lain west of Jordan; and this tribe had the honor of being settled by Moses himself in the first portion of land conquered. In the forest region, south of the Jabbok, "he dwelt as a lion" (compare Ge 30:11; 49:19). Notwithstanding, they faithfully kept their engagement to join the "heads of the people" [De 33:21] in the invasion of Canaan.
22. Dan is a lion's whelp--His proper settlement in the south of Canaan being too small, he by a sudden and successful irruption, established a colony in the northern extremity of the land. This might well be described as the leap of a young lion from the hills of Bashan.
23. of Naphtali he said--The pleasant and fertile territory of this tribe lay to "the west," on the borders of lakes Merom and Chinnereth, and to "the south" of the northern Danites.
24, 25. of Asher he said--The condition of this tribe is described as
combining all the elements of earthly felicity.
25. shoes of iron and brass--These shoes suited his rocky coast from Carmel to Sidon. Country people as well as ancient warriors had their lower extremities protected by metallic greaves (1Sa 17:6; Eph 6:15) and iron-soled shoes.
26-29. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun--The chapter
concludes with a congratulatory address to Israel on their peculiar
happiness and privilege in having Jehovah for their God and protector.
28. the fountain of Jacob--The posterity of Israel shall dwell in a blessed and favored land.