Deuteronomy 33-34

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 3, 2011


Marriage Mini-retreat this Saturday…

The name Deuteronomy means “second law”. It’s God’s “review” for the people to make sure they understand His ways before they go into the land.

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Deuteronomy 33

33:1-5 Introduction to a Blessing

:1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.

:1 the blessing

Jacob was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. When Jacob was about to die, he called his twelve sons together and put a blessing on them, 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 dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.

:2 Seir … 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 with ten thousands of saints

The Hebrew is a little unclear. One translation has:

(Dt 33:2 NLT) …and came from Meribah-kadesh with flaming fire at his right hand.

Most translations have the same as NKJV

The saints here may be a reference to the nation of Israel, or it could refer to angels. “Saints” simply means “holy ones”.

:3 Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words.

:4 Moses commanded a law for us, A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.

:5 And He was King in Jeshurun, When the leaders of the people were gathered, All the tribes of Israel together.

:5 King in Jeshurun – “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.

Up through the time of Samuel, God was considered to be the King over Israel.

(1 Sa 8:4–7 NKJV) —4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
God knew there would be a day when the people would want a king (Deut 17) and He would allow it.
The first king, Saul, was not a good thing.
The bigger issue has always been this – What role do you want God to play in your life?

Life is at its best when God is King.

33:6-29 The Blessing

:6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, Nor let his men be few.”

:6 Reuben – he was the oldest son of Jacob.

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.
Reuben had lacked self control. He was an immoral man.  As a result, he lost the place normally reserved for him as the first born.

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.
Perhaps Moses is now praying that they don’t just waste away.

:7 And this he said of Judah: “Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, And bring him to his people; Let his hands be sufficient for him, And may You be a help against his enemies.”

:7 Judah

(Dt 33:7 NLT) O Lord, hear the cry of Judah and bring them together as a people. Give them strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies!

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 Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one, Whom You tested at Massah, And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah,

:8 Levi

Keep in mind that Moses was from the tribe of Levi. Levi was the tribe of the priests.

:8 Your Thummim and Your Urim

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 priest’s breast piece to help determine God’s will.

Some have suggested they may have been a black stone and a white stone, and if God’s answer was “yes”, then the white stone was pulled out, if “no”, then the black stone.

:8 Massah … Meribah

Massah and Meribah were places where Israel complained about lack of water (Ex. 17). God gave the people water from a Rock.

It was at Meribah (Num. 20) where Moses disobeyed the Lord, striking the Rock, which ended up keeping him from the Promised Land.

Moses is asking God to keep His anointing on the priesthood, that they would still continue to be used by God for the nation.

:9 Who says of his father and mother, ‘I have not seen them’; Nor did he acknowledge his brothers, Or know his own children; For they have observed Your word And kept Your covenant.

:9 who says of his father and mother

(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.


God priorities

This could be a reference to the golden calf incident when the Levites stood with Moses to bring judgment on Israel:
(Ex 32:26–28 NKJV) —26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” 28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.
Jesus said,
(Lk 14:26–27 NLT) —26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Don’t get this wrong. We also need to love our families.

Play “Mamas Babies Pastors”

We do need some balance here.  Don’t ignore your family.

But as important as families are, it is more important that we follow God. Sometimes our families can lead us away from God.

:10 They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, And Israel Your law. They shall put incense before You, And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar.

:10 teach … incense … sacrifice

These are some of the duties of the tribe of Levi.

They taught the people God’s Word.
They burnt incense – they prayed.
They performed sacrifices – atoning for sins.

Some good things to consider if you want to be a person that God uses.

Teach people God’s Word.
Pray for them.
Show them what Jesus has done on the cross for them, dying for their sins.

:11 Bless his substance, LORD, And accept the work of his hands; Strike the loins of those who rise against him, And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

This was Moses’ tribe.

:12 Of Benjamin he said: “The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by Him, Who shelters him all the day long; And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”

:12 Benjamin

:12 the beloved of the LORD – might refer to Benjamin’s place as the youngest, a favored son of Jacob. Could be a reference to Jerusalem…

:12 between his shoulders – might 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 is his land, With the precious things of heaven, with the dew, And the deep lying beneath,

:13 Joseph

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 Joseph’s double portion.

:14 With the precious fruits of the sun, With the precious produce of the months,

Material blessings.

:15 With the best things of the ancient mountains, With the precious things of the everlasting hills,

Ephraim and Manasseh would get some of the choicest land.

:16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness, And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’

:16 Him who dwelt in the bush

The burning bush, referring to the Lord.

:17 His glory is like a firstborn bull, And his horns like the horns of the wild ox; Together with them He shall push the peoples To the ends of the earth; They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

:17 ten thousands … thousands

When Jacob was about to die, he gave a special blessing to each of the sons of Joseph. Even though Manasseh was the elder son, Jacob saw that God was going to bless Ephraim greater and he would be considered the “first born” (Gen. 48).

(Ge 48:19 NKJV) …and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

:18 And of Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, And Issachar in your tents!

:19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain; There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas And of treasures hidden in the sand.”

:18 Zebulun … Issachar

The two tribes are mentioned together as they are in Jacob’s blessing (Gen. 49)

:19 to the mountain

Probably Mount Tabor, which was located between the two tribes.

:19 abundance of the seas – sea trade

Neither tribe was on the ocean, but Issachar was near the Sea of Galilee and Zebulun was close to the Mediterranean.  There is a trade route that goes through Zebulun called the “Via Maris”, the “Way of the Sea”.

Both tribes would traffic with the Phoenicians 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.

:19 treasures hid in the sand

Some have suggested that the recent discovery of the massive natural gas field out in the Mediterranean might be linked to this.

:20 And of Gad he said: “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad; He dwells as a lion, And tears the arm and the crown of his head.

:21 He provided the first part for himself, Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there. He came with the heads of the people; He administered the justice of the LORD, And His judgments with Israel.”

:20 Gad

(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."

Gad was one of the tribes that settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River. They took of the “first part”, the part conquered from Sihon and Og.

But they didn’t stop there, they kept their promise and helped the other tribes on the western side of the Jordan to conquer their territory as well.

:22 And of Dan he said: “Dan is a lion’s whelp; He shall leap from Bashan.”

:22 Dan … lion’s whelp – 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 favor, And full of the blessing of the LORD, Possess the west and the south.”

:23 Naphtali

(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 Naphtali’s geographical position around the Sea of Galilee. They had a fertile land.

:24 And of Asher he said: “Asher is most blessed of sons; Let him be favored by his brothers, And let him dip his foot in oil.

:25 Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; As your days, so shall your strength be.

:24 Asher

His name means “happy”, and one concept of “blessed” is that of “happiness”

:24 oil – olive oil, referring to the great abundance in their crops. It’s one thing to anoint a person’s foot with oil, but Asher’s feet would be bathed in it.

:25 sandals

(Dt 33:25 NLT) May the bolts of your gates be of iron and bronze; may you be secure all your days.”

Might refer to their ability to protect themselves. They would be strong and secure.

:25 days … strength

As long as you’re alive you’ll be strong.

Some people use this phrase as a blessing, kind of like saying, “May you thrive”

:26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds.

:27 The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, ‘Destroy!’

:27 the everlasting arms

Arms that do not grow tired.


God never tires of holding you

(Is 40:11 NKJV) He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.
Isaiah paints the picture of a Shepherd picking up a fragile little lamb and tucking the little creature under his arm, inside his coat. A little lamb won’t have to be afraid of a cold night when it is lying in the bosom of the shepherd.
The mother sheepsies needed to go a little slower than the rest of the flock because they needed to stop and nurse the lambs. The Shepherd doesn’t beat them or yell at them to go faster. He gently guides them and leads them from one place of rest to the next.

You can trust in His strong arms.


Years ago a military officer and his wife were aboard a ship that was caught in a raging ocean storm. Seeing the frantic look in her eyes, the man tried unsuccessfully to calm her fears. Suddenly she grasped his sleeve and cried, “How can you be so calm?” He stepped back a few feet and drew his sword. Pointing it at her heart, he said, “Are you afraid of this?” Without hesitation she answered, “Of course not!” “Why not?” he inquired. “Because it’s in your hand, and you love me too much to hurt me.” To this he replied, “I know the One who holds the winds and the waters in the hollow of His hand, and He will surely care for us!” The officer was not disturbed because he had put his trust in the Lord.

You may feel that you are at a point in your life when you are hitting bottom.

If “underneath” are the “everlasting arms”, it’s very possible that you are in the safest of all places.

:28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew.

:29 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 majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places.”

:29 high places

Typically idols and pagan temples were built on the tops of hills, presumable to be closer to God.

Israel would have victory not only over other nations, but over their “gods”.

:29 Happy are you



I am often challenged and impressed by the various figures in the Bible and how they would “bless” their children or the nation.
Because of who these people are, there was often a prophetic element in these blessings – a message from God.
I know that I want to be faithful to speak into the lives of my family.
I want to be sure to leave the right kind of legacy to my family.  I’m hoping my babies will grow up like this one…

Play “Baby Worship”

Okay… maybe that was a little over the top.  I kind of get the feeling that this baby is only mimicking what mommy does instead of worshipping on her own…

1. Speak Truth
We may not be speaking prophetically of their future, but we can be sure to speak the truth.
(Eph 4:14–15 NLT) —14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
2. Speak of God
It’s not up to the pastor or the Sunday School teacher to tell them about God, it’s up to each of us.
Tell them of God’s everlasting arms.
He is where the real blessing is. Keep pointing to Him.

Deuteronomy 34

34:1-12 Moses Dies

:1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan,

:2 all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea,

:3 the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.

:1 Nebo … Pisgah – usually considered to be the same place. Moses is on the eastern side of the Jordan River, up in the hills behind the people camped out in the Plains of Moab, looking toward the west, to the Promised Land.

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

:3 the city of palm trees – Jericho

:3 Zoar – the city that Lot fled to, south of the Dead Sea

:4 Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Even though Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land, he still got a peek at it.

: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, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.

:6 He buried him

Who buried Moses?

It’s kind of vague here. It could be meaning that God buried him. It wouldn’t seem that any human was involved since no one knew where he was buried. It could have been angels involved:
(Jude 9 NKJV) Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Was Moses’ body lost forever?

(Mt 17:1–3 NKJV) —1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

:7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.

:7 His eyes were not dim


A bald, wizened little man was rocking in a chair on his porch, smiling happily. A passerby, charmed by his smile, came up to him and said, “I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look. What’s your secret for a long happy life?” “I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day,” he said with a toothless grin. “I drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fast food, and never exercise.” “No way! How old are you?” “Twenty-six.”

Moses may have been old, but he apparently didn’t show it…

Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a State police officer sees a car puttering along at 22 MPH. He thinks to himself, “This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!” So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over. Approaching the car, he notices that there are five old ladies—two in the front seat and three in the back—wide-eyed and white as ghosts. The driver, obviously confused, says to him, “Officer, I don’t understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?” “Ma’am,” the officer replies, “you weren’t speeding, but you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers.” “Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly 22 miles an hour!” the old woman says a bit proudly. The officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to her that “22” was the highway number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error. “But before I let you go, ma’am, I have to ask, is everyone in this car okay? These women seem awfully shaken and they haven’t muttered a single peep this whole time,” the officer asks. “Oh, they’ll be all right in a minute officer. We just got off Highway 119.”
These gals were showing their age…

We saw last week that Moses was claiming to be getting up in years…

(Dt 31:2 NKJV) —2 And he said to them: “I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in. Also the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’

Yet in reality, Moses didn’t die of old age. God just pulled his plug.

:8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.

:9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.

:10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

:11 in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land,

:12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

:10 a prophet like Moses … 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 God’s will:

(Nu 27:21 NKJV) He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the LORD for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.”

There was none like Moses … at least that is, until Jesus.

He is the exact image of God.
(Col 1:15 NKJV) —15 He is the image of the invisible God
When we get close to Jesus, we find that a little like Moses, we have come face with God.
(Jn 14:5–9 NKJV) —5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you want to really know God?  You need to know Jesus.