Now we come to the last Torah portion called “V’zot ha Berachah” meaning “This is the Blessing.” It goes from Deut 33.1 to 34.12. Moses will shift his focus again to the blessing, which is a good way to end any teaching. Moses has assembled with all the tribes at Mount Nebo and they will form a procession line, and he walks up to the mountain. As he proceeds, he is rendering a blessing unto all of the tribes, a series of goodbyes. At the end of Genesis Jacob did the same thing with his sons (the tribes). When he gets up on the mountain he turns and he can see the promised land. Moses will die before he finishes what he began, and this will be the same for us.
We have all had “mountain top” experiences that got through to us. But our assignment will not be fully accomplished until the next generation, or even after. What we have been a part of is multi-generational and can’t be accomplished alone. Nothing that is worth doing can be accomplished in our lifetime. So, with that said, we are going to go through Deut 33.1-29 and try to bring out what Moses is saying here.
There will be an eschatological aspect to what is being said here. This portion (33.1-34.12) is read in Simchat Torah (rejoicing in the Torah). We will give the verse and our commentary will be in parenthesis. This will make it easier to understand as we go through. This will not be an exhaustive commentary, but will it will help us understand what is being said here.
Deut 33.2…And he said, “Yehovah came from Sinai (Hab 3.3) and dawned (with the light of understanding) on them from Seir (Edom). He shone forth from Mount Paran (Edom-Isa 63.1; Hab 3.3-7) and he came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones (angels-Psa 68.17; Jude 14; Zech 14.5; Rev 1.7-8). At his right hand there was a flashing lightning (a fiery law-Deut 4.6, 5.22-23; Matt 24.27; Hab 3.3-4) for them (their benefit).”
Deut 33.3-4…Indeed, he loves the people, all thy holy ones are in thy hand (John 10.28), and they followed in thy steps (sat down at his feet to learn-Acts 22.3); everyone receives of thy words. Moses charged us with a law (Torah was called “Moses” because the Lord gave it through him (John 1.17, 5.39-47), a possession for the assembly (the kehilat, congregation) of Jacob.”
Deut 33.5…And he was king in Yeshuran (meaning “upright one” and a term for Israel, until Israel wanted another king in 1 Sam 8.7. It is a form of “Yeshua”), when the heads of the people were gathered, the tribes of Israel together.”
Deut 33.6…”May Reuben (“see, a son”) live and not die (continue, not be extinct) nor his men few (he was the first-born but lost that status to Joseph).”
Deut 33.7…And this regarding Judah (“praise”), so he (Moses) said “Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah (when he goes to battle in prayer and praise. They were the first to undertake the conquest of the unconquered part of Canaan), and bring him to his people (after a battle) with his hands be contended for them (in war); and may you be a help against his adversaries.” As a side note, Simeon’s blessing is included with Judah’s (Josh 19.1-9; 2 Sam 19.43).”
Deut 33.8…And of Levi (“to join”) he said, “Let thy Thummim (perfections) and thy Urim (lights) belong to thy godly man (the High Priest), whom you did prove at Masseh, with whom you did contend at the waters of Meribah (Exo 17.1-7; Num 20.1-13-The people murmured against Aaron in particular).”
Deut 33.9…Who said of his father and his mother, I did not consider them and he did not acknowledge his brothers; nor regard his own sons (he was impartial in judgment), for they observed thy words and kept thy covenant.”
Deut 33.10…They shall teach thine ordinances to Jacob and thy law to Israel (they were the teachers-Lev 10.11; Num 8.24-26; 2 Chr 17.9, 31.4; Ezek 44.23). They shall put incense before you, and whole burnt offerings on thy altar.”
Deut 33.11…O Lord, bless his substance (which came from tithes, first fruits, etc) and accept the work of his hands (in offering incense, korbanot and whatever administrations they do); shatter the loins of them that rise up against him (like Korah, Dathan and Abiram did), and those who hate him, so that they may not rise again (the enemies of the priests and Levites are the enemies of God).”
Deut 33.12…Of Benjamin (“son of the latter days or right hand”) he said, “May the beloved of the Lord (the first king was from them) dwell in security by him (the Temple was in his territory), who shields him all the day, and he dwells between his shoulders (supported by the Lord).”
Deut 33.13…And of Joseph (“he will add”) he said, “Blessed of the Lord be his land (he got the birthright of the first born) with the choice things of heaven, with the dew (influence of heaven in favor and goodness) and from the deep lying beneath (wells of water will make the land flourish and be fruitful), and with the choice yield of the sun (needed for growth and would make the land valuable), and with the choice produced from the months (the moon, and the good things produced every month)”
Deut 33.15…and with the best of things of the ancient mountains (vines, figs and olives)”
Deut 33.16…and with the choice things of the earth and its fullness (corn, grass and the cattle that feed on it, oak trees of Bashan) and the favor of him who dwelt in the bush (the shekinah of God), let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers (sold into Egypt but had the status of first born).”
Deut 33.17… As the first born of his ox (comely and majestic), majesty is his and his horns (the power and strength of the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) are the horns of the wild ox (they push and destroy those who hurt them) and with them he shall push the people, all at once to the ends of the earth (they will spread their dominion to the ends of Canaan), and those are the ten thousands of Ephraim and those are the ten thousands of Manasseh.”
Deut 33.18…And of Zebulon (“to dwell”) he said, “Rejoice, Zebulon, in your going forth (out to sea to do business in foreign parts), and Issachar (“my hiring”) in your tents (they stayed home and were involved in farming, taking care of the animals, etc).”
Deut 33.19…They shall call peoples (both Jewish and non-Jewish) to the mountain (to the Temple on Mount Moriah. They are joined together here because they had the same mother. Zebulon is the youngest of the two, but mentioned first); there they shall offer righteous sacrifices; for they shall draw out the abundance of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand (produced glass at Acre, pearls, corrals, gold, silver and metal).”
Deut 33.20…And of Gad (“troop, invading”) he said, “Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad (Yehovah); he lies down as a lion (bold, secure) and tears the arm (the power of the enemy), also the crown of the head (the king of the enemy).”
Deut 33.21…Then he provided the first part for himself (the portions of Sihon and Og were conquered first), for there the rulers portion was reserved (Moses set it aside for them), and he came with the leaders of the people (to ask for his portion on the east side of the Jordan, but would cross over to assist his brothers in the conquest of Canaan); he executed the justice of the Lord and his ordinances with Israel (he did what he promised and he carried out the righteous judgment of God on the Canaanites).”
Deut 33.22…And of Dan he said, “Dan (“judge”) is a lion’s welp (bold, strong) that leaps forth from Bashan (Bashan was a mountain area where lions lived. They had to be because the Danites were the first ones that enemies encountered when coming from the north).”
Deut 33.23…And of Naphtali he said, “O Naphtali (“my wrestling”), satisfied with favor (of men and God) and full of the blessing of the Lord, take possession of the sea (of Galilee) and to the south (of Dan).”
Deut 33.24…And of Asher (“happy”) he said, “More blessed with sons is Asher (large numbers), may he be favored by his brothers and may he dip his foot in oil (have plenty of oil to not only anoint the head, but the feet).”
Deut 33.25…Your locks shall be iron and bronze (their land yielded much of this) and according to your days, so shall your leisurely walk be (as easy when you are old as it was when you were young).”
Deut 33.26…There is none like the God of Yeshuran (Israel-Deut 32.15, 33.5), who rides the heavens to your help through the skies in his majesty (like with hail, thunder and lightning upon the Egyptians, etc).”
Deut 33.27…The eternal God is a dwelling place (refuge) and underneath is the everlasting arms (God supporting his people); he drove out the enemy from before you (Canaanites) and said, “Destroy” (Deut 7.1-2).”
Deut 33.28…So Israel dwells in security (with the Canaanites being cast out they should be safe), the fountain of Jacob (the Israelites who sprang from Jacob) secluded in a land of grain and new wine (Canaan was a land of abundant with grain and wine), his heavens also drop down dew (to water the fields and make it plentiful).”
Deut 33.29…Blessed (happy) are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the Lord (and redeemed by him out of Egypt), who is the shield (the magen and protector-Prov 30.5-6) of your help, and the sword of your majesty (to destroy your enemies)! Your enemies shall cringe (to save themselves from fear) before you, and you shall tread upon their high places (their cities, fortresses, temples, altars and necks of their enemies).”
We will pick up here in the conclusion.