Deuteronomy 33-34

Sunday Evening Bible Study

February 14, 1999


The name Deuteronomy means "second law". It is Mosesí final address to the people. It covers the last 1 Ĺ months of Mosesí life. Heís 120 years old. Itís Godís "review" for the people to make sure they understand His ways before they go into the land.

Deuteronomy 33

:1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.

When Jacob was about to die, he called his twelve sons together and put a blessing on them, one which was actually more like a prophecy than a blessing. Moses is about to die, and now he gives the same kind of blessing/prophecy on the twelve tribes.

:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran

Referring to God taking His people through the wilderness from Mount Sinai. Seir is another term for Edom. Paran is a desert area south of Israel.

:2 and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.

The saints here may be a reference to angels. "Saints" simply means "holy ones".

:3 Yea, he loved the people;

God loves His people.

:3 all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

Here the word "saints" probably refers to the Israelites.

:5 And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.

Jeshurun Ė "upright one", a term of endearment, another name used for Israel.

The "king" referred to here is the Lord, not Moses. God is the King over Israel. As we saw this morning (Isaiah 6), the mercy seat in the holy of holies was to be a picture of Godís throne.

:6 Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

This almost seems like a prayer for Reuben to survive in the midst of a tough time.

Reuben would settle on the eastern side of the Jordan, and would face troubles from the neighboring Moabites. See map.

When Jacob prophesied over him, he said,

(Gen 49:4 NIV) Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it.

Perhaps Moses is now praying that they donít just waste away.

The Septuagint has the last phrase being given to Simeon, who is otherwise excluded from these blessings. Why is Simeon excluded? Some think because he would receive his inheritance completely within the borders of the tribe of Judah. See map.

Map of Israel and itís tribes

: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.

(Deu 33:7 NIV) And this he said about Judah: "Hear, O LORD, the cry of Judah; bring him to his people. With his own hands he defends his cause. Oh, be his help against his foes!"

Since Judah was the tribe that marched at the front of the army, it was first in battle. This is a prayer for victory over 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;

Levi was the tribe of the priests.

The Urim and Thummim were probably (to the best of our knowledge) some kind of precious stones that were used in conjunction with the high priestís breastpiece to help determine Godís will. Some have suggested they may have been a black stone and a white stone, and if Godís answer was "yes", then the white stone was pulled out, if "no", then the black stone.

Massah and Meribah was when when Israel complained about lack of water (Ex. 17), and Moses struck the Rock to bring forth water. Moses was of the tribe of Levi, and counted "faithful" at Massah.

: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.

(Deu 33:9 NLT) The Levites obeyed your word and guarded your covenant. They were more loyal to you than to their parents, relatives, and children.

This could be a reference to the golden calf incident when the Levites stood with Moses to bring judgment on Israel:

(Exo 32:26-28 KJV) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. {27} And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. {28} And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

:10 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.

These are some of the duties of the tribe of Levi. The priests were to teach Israel Godís Law. They were the ones who performed the sacrifices, burning incense, etc.

: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.

the beloved of the LORD might refer to Benjaminís place as the youngest, favored son of Jacob.

he shall dwell would refer to the future location of the temple, in Jerusalem. Though Jerusalem was also a part of Judah, it is listed as a part of Benjamin as well.

: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,

Joseph is sometimes not mentioned among the twelve tribes because he received a "double portion" blessing from his father Jacob. Usually Joseph is represented by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who each received the same portion as the other complete tribes, hence Josephís double portion.

:14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,

Material blessings.

:15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,

Ephraim and Manasseh would get some of the choicest land.

:16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will 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.

him that dwelt in the bush Ė the burning bush, referring to the Lord.

: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.

the mountain Ė possibly Mount Tabor, which was located between the two tribes.

abundance of the seas Ė sea trade

treasures hid in the sand Ė who knows? This may be one of those references where Iíve heard of people finding oil in the Middle East through some of these prophecies.

: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.

(Deu 33:20-21 NLT) Moses said this about the tribe of Gad: "Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad's territory! Gad is poised there like a lion to tear off an arm or a head. {21} The people of Gad took the best land for themselves; a leader's share was assigned to them. When the leaders of the people were assembled, they carried out the Lord's justice and obeyed his regulations for Israel."

The translation here is apparently a little difficult to make. Some have suggested itís talking about Gad helping the other tribes in the conquering of their territories.

:22 And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

lionís whelp Ė or "lion cub", perhaps possessing potential for great power. Bashan is the land in the north. Though Dan was originally given land in the south, they took a portion of land in the north as well.

: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.

(Deu 33:23 NIV) About Naphtali he said: "Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the LORD and is full of his blessing; he will inherit southward to the lake."

This may be talking about Naphtaliís geographical position around the Sea of Galilee.

: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.

oil Ė olive oil, referring to the great abundance in their crops. Itís one thing to anoint a personís foot with oil, but Asherís feet would be bathed in it.

:25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

shoes Ė or, "bolts of your gates", referring to their ability to protect themselves. They would be strong and secure.

:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:


Find rest in His arms.

When you think youíve hit bottom, youíve only hit Godís arms.

Why would we be worried if weíre in His arms?

(Isa 40:11-12 KJV) He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. {12} Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

: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.

God would give Israel every possible opportunity to succeed.

Deuteronomy 34

:1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,

Pisgah Ė is sometimes identified with Mount Nebo (Deut. 34:1). Here it may refer to the range of mountains that extend toward the NE corner of the Dead Sea, of which Nebo is the highest peak.

Moses looks at the land starting in the Northeast (Gilead), then sweeps counterclockwise to the south (Judah)

:3 unto Zoar.

South of the Dead Sea.

:4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

Even though Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land, God was still going to take the people in.

:5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.

If Moses is dead, then who wrote these verses? Probably Joshua did.

:6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

Who buried Moses?

Itís kind of vague here. It could be meaning that God buried him. It wouldnít seem that any human was involved since no one knew where he was buried. It could have been angels involved:

(Jude 1:9 KJV) Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Was Mosesí body lost forever?


(Mat 17:1-3 KJV) And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, {2} And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. {3} And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

:7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

He didnít die of old age. God just pulled his plug.

:10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses,

At least that is, until Jesus.

:10 whom the LORD knew face to face,

(Exo 33:11 NIV) The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Joshua, in contrast, would need the help of the priests to understand Godís will:

(Num 27:21 KJV) And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.