Deuteronomy 34:1-12 (You Shall Not Cross Over There)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
You Shall Not Cross Over There

When I worked at Florida Cities Water Company, a company no longer in existence, I was the Lead Operator of the Gulf Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, just a couple of miles from here – also no longer in existence. The company handled all the water and wastewater for the entire Gulf Gate area.

Included in this was the big blue water tower just behind the church on Mall Drive, between us and the shopping center where Publix is. On the top of this tower and others like it are lights encased in thick red glass which gives them (and airport towers and the like) their distinctive appearance and which serve as a warning to aircraft.

I took care of those lights and always enjoyed climbing up the tower to scan pretty much everything from north of Tampa, all the way to south of Fort Myers, to way out in the Gulf of Mexico, and to the middle of the state. Trips up the tower were my own version of spying out the land.

Today, Moses will get his last view from the tower, so to speak, though his will be from a mountaintop. He will look over the land of promise, but alas, he will not make it there himself. He, typological of the law, cannot attain to the inheritance of the promise. He can only see it from a distance, but the law has no part or share in it.

Text Verse: “For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:3-6

Moses was introduced into the biblical narrative in Exodus 2:1. He has steadily been with us ever since. But he has actually been with us since Genesis 1:1. This is because it is he who received the five books of the Torah from the Lord, also known as the Pentateuch.

The amount of information that is contained in this law is far beyond anything that we could ever remember or even imagine. Unfortunately, we hardly touched the surface of what is contained in these books. And yet, Moses was only a servant in God’s house.

Jesus, on the other hand, is a Son over His own house. Everything that Moses penned was inspired by the Word of God, Jesus. It is an amazing and glorious thing to consider. It is all about Him. Moses looked at the inheritance from the eastern side of the Jordan. Jesus did, too. Moses died outside of the inheritance. Jesus did too. There is a difference, however. Jesus resurrected and entered into His glory. And because He did, Moses could too. Despite being the servant of the Lord, he was not the Servant of the Lord.

Thank God for Jesus Christ who fulfills that which Moses only hinted at as a mere shadow and type. Yes, Moses penned these books, but they ultimately have come from the mind of God and through the Word of God. Amazing, wonderfully amazing things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. You Shall Not Cross Over There (verses 1-4)

Chapter 32 contained the Song of Moses and the admonition for it to be adhered to. After that, the Lord said this to Moses –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, saying: 49 ‘Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; 50 and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; 51 because you trespassed against Me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin, because you did not hallow Me in the midst of the children of Israel. 52 Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel.’” Deuteronomy 32:48-52

With that stated, Chapter 33 gave us the blessings of Moses upon the tribes. From there, and in compliance with the word of the Lord, Moses now obediently adheres to what the Lord had said…

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab

v’yaal Mosheh mearvot moav – “and ascended Moses from plains Moab.” The word “plain” in Hebrew is aravah. It comes from the word arav, meaning to become evening or grow dark. This is identical to arav, meaning to take or give on pledge. The name Moab means “From Father.” It is from this place, where Moses has carefully instructed Israel, that he ascends…

1 (con’t) to Mount Nebo,

As we saw in Chapter 32, the name Nebo is most likely derived from navi, or prophet. Thus, it means something like Prophet, Interpreter, Spokesperson, or Foreteller.

However, another word it is connected to is navah, meaning high or prominent. It is to the high places that people would go in order to get “nearer” to God and to receive a word from Him or sacrifice to Him. A secondary name is Height.

Therefore, it would be a high place where someone would go to receive a word, a vision, a prophecy, and so on. That is most certainly fitting for this occasion. The account next says…

1 (con’t) to the top of Pisgah,

Rosh ha’pisgah – “top the Pisgah.” Pisgah signifies a cleft. Thus, it is The Cleft. It comes from the word pasag, meaning to pass between. That, in turn, comes from a root signifying to cut up. Thus, pasag figuratively means, “to consider” or “to contemplate.”

1 (con’t) which is across from Jericho.

asher al pene Yerekho – “which upon face Jericho.” The meaning is “facing Jericho.” When on the mountain, the immediate sight would be the city. Jericho, or Yerekho, (with various spellings) has a dual significance. It means City of the Moon, and it also means Place of Fragrance. Of Moses standing in this place, it next says…

1 (con’t) And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan,

vayarehu Yehovah eth kal ha’arets eth ha’gilad ad dan – “And showed him Yehovah all the land, the Gilead as far as Dan.” Gilead means “Perpetual Fountain.” Dan means “Judge.” It is to be noted again that the land to the extreme north is known as Dan. It does not say that Dan is a part of Gilead (which it is not) but that Moses sees the land of Gilead and his view extends as far as Dan which borders Gilead on its north.

And yet, the allotment for their land in Joshua will be to the west of Canaan, along the sea. Despite this, Dan will eventually settle in this extreme northern portion of Canaan, and it will become known as the territory of Dan. This is already predetermined by Lord.

But the name Dan has already been noted as early as Genesis 14 –

“Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” Genesis 14:14

Obviously, it is claimed by some that these words must have been written much later, or that this is a different place named Dan, but why should it be so? First, the land is described by tribes in the next verse, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah. But these allocations will not be decided until the book of Joshua. Secondly, the Lord told Abraham that the land would be possessed by his descendants, and here it is coming to pass.

The Lord also tells us in the word that the Messiah would come, through what tribe He would come, where He would be born, and so on. And it came to pass. The Lord is telling us a pictorial story as the words are given to and through Moses. There is no reason to not assume that “Dan” here is the tribal land of the future. After looking north, the eyes of Moses will scan southward leading to the middle section of the land…

all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh,

Naphtali (My Wrestling) reaches north to the southern border of Dan. Ephraim (Twice Fruitful) is south of Manasseh (Forgetting). From there, Moses’ eyes continue south and west…

2 (con’t) all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea,

Judah means Praise. They are the southernmost tribe, and their western border is the Mediterranean Sea, here called ha’yam ha’akheron, or literally, “the sea, the after,” but meaning “west.” East is considered “before,” while west is considered “after.”

It is based on the rising and setting of the sun, but more especially, the alignment of the temple which is in an east/west manner. From there, Moses’ eyes look to…

the South,

v’eth ha’negev – “And the Negev.” The word comes from a root meaning “parched.” This is the most southern area of Canaan that was included within the tribe of Judah. However, it was then given as the possession of Simeon because, as it says –

“The inheritance of the children of Simeon was included in the share of the children of Judah, for the share of the children of Judah was too much for them. Therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of that people.” Joshua 19:10

Being parched does not mean without life. It means life that must be obtained by bringing it up, as in a well, such as Beer Sheba. After this, Moses looks closer to his own position again…

3 (con’t) and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees,

v’eth ha’kikar biqat yerekho ir ha’temarim – “and the circuit valley Jericho, city the palms.” The word kikar, or “circuit,” comes from karar, to dance. The word translated as “valley” signifies a split, as between mountains. Thus, this is an area in which is a valley forming a circuit. Jericho means “Place of Fragrance.” Palms are a symbol of uprightness. This extends…

3 (con’t) as far as Zoar.

It is debated if Zoar is at the north or south end of the Dead Sea. This verse reveals that it is at the north end. The valley of Jericho extends down to that area, and Jericho is just west of where Moses now stands. The only way Zoar could be at the south end of the Dead Sea would be if the description of the “circuit of the valley of Jericho” included all of the Dead Sea, which seems unlikely. The name Zoar means Small and signifies insignificance.

Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

The question is, “Did Moses actually see all of what is described, or did he merely look over that which is described?” In other words, was he given a vision that extends beyond normal perception? We can’t be dogmatic, but just as I could see very far into the distance from the top of a tower that is only about 130 feet tall, Moses – on a very clear day – could have seen a long, long way into the distance.

No matter what, he was given a bird’s eye view of the land of promise that was sworn to Abraham –

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’” Genesis 13:14-17

To Isaac –

“Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:3-5

And to Jacob –

“And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” Genesis 28:13-14

This is important because it excludes any claim to the land for anyone outside of this line. One must be of this line to receive the inheritance. This is seen again in the next words…

4 (con’t) saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

l’mor l’zarakha etenenah – “to say to your seed I will give it.” There is the promise of the land, and there is the promise of what the land signifies. Either way, it is through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that this promise is made – none other.

4 (con’t) I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Moses will not enter the promise. But both Moses and the land are typical of something else. The object lesson for Israel is now being made perfectly clear.

The description of the land has been in a sweeping panorama, starting in the east of Canaan as Moses looked north, the east to his right side (Gilead to Dan), it then spanned across the north as his eyes moved to the left (over Naphtali), eventually reaching the middle area (Ephraim and Manasseh), then further to the left spanning over Judah with the Mediterranean Sea straight ahead of him. Further left, he saw the Negev (south), and then he came all the way left where the western border of Canaan would be at his left side, circling back up to Jericho, just across the Jordan from where he was. Hence, he viewed all of the land.

Before we continue on with the passage, a quick study on the typology of what is presented here would be in line. Moses, or He Who Draws Out, is about to die. Jesus is the One who draws out the will of the Father, as is recorded in the law.

Moses ascended from the plains of Moab. The word plains, aravoth, is derived from the same root as arav, pledge. Moab means “From Father.” The plains of Moab typologically mean “the pledge from Father.” It refers to the Spirit, the pledge (arrabon – from the Hebrew eravon) of Ephesians 1:13, 14 –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

There he goes to Pisgah, the Cleft – a place to contemplate – across from Jericho, the Place of Fragrance – a type of Eden Restored, heaven. There the Lord showed him the land. It includes:

Gilead, the Perpetual Fountain – the unceasing flow of the Spirit.
Dan, the Judge of man who had judged him innocent.
Naphtali, My Wrestlings, which made access possible.
Ephraim, Twice Fruitful, having brought in both Jew and Gentile.
Manasseh, Forgetting, where sadness and pains shall be forgotten.
Judah, Praise. Christ is the Praise of God and the Praise of His people.
The Western Sea, The place of “After,” even for eternal days.
The Negev. The Parched from which comes life by effort; Christ’s effort.
The Plain of the Valley of Jericho, The dance of the breach of the Place of Fragrance. Joyful entrance through the gates into heaven.
The City of Palms, The city of the righteous.
Zoar, Insignificant. Explained by 1 Corinthians 1:27-29. Your study for today.

The area described by what Moses saw is a typological anticipation of the glory of Christ and what He offers to those who come to Him. For Moses, despite this, the Jordan before Him was like an impassible wall. He would never enter through its life-giving waters, but would die outside of the inheritance…

Our guide has died; nailed to a cross
And now we have a new direction to go
We cannot count what happened as loss
Something new has come – astonishingly so

In that act, the divine erasure came out
It wiped out the handwriting that directed us
Requirements we could not meet, strong and stout
Have been annulled through the death of Jesus!

Moses served his role, and his law did too
Together they led us to knowledge sublime
They were a tutor to show what God would do
When had come the fullness of time

Jesus! Jesus! Thank God for Jesus!
Praise God for what He has done for us!

II. And the Children of Israel Wept (verses 5-8)

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab,

Moses died no later than the 7th day of the 12th month of the 40th year (possibly earlier) in the year 2554 Anno Mundi, or from the creation of the world.

The words now are stated as a matter of fact, but they give high regard to the man, calling him eved Yehovah – “servant of Yehovah.” As our text verse noted, Moses was faithful as a servant in the Lord’s house, but he still died because of sin.

The law said that the man who did the things of the law would live. Moses, the Lord’s lawgiver, failed to live up to the standard of the law that he gave. Moses had to wait for Someone more perfect than he before he could finally enter into the true inheritance.

5 (con’t) according to the word of the Lord.

al pi Yehovah – “upon mouth Yehovah.” This is a common statement, used again and again in Scripture, meaning just as it is translated – “according to the word of the Lord.” However, Jewish commentators have spiced it up to mean, “At the kiss of the Lord.” There is nothing to suggest this and everything to argue against it.

The Lord spoke of the circumstances concerning this in advance and now the words have come to pass. For all we know, Moses may have seen the stunning beauty of the land and keeled over from a heart attack, knowing he would never enter into such marvelous beauty. And this would not be an improbable guess.

According to Joshua 4:19, Israel will enter into the land on the 10th day of the first month. Moses died about 35 days earlier. This would be at the time when Israel is at its most beautiful – filled with green grass and cool temperatures.

February through April is the greenest time of the year in Israel. It is the time when the rains have fallen during their season, and everything is vibrant and alive. No matter what actually brought his life to an end, it did end. The beauty of Canaan was just out of his reach.

And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab,

There are all kinds of aberrant teachings that people hold onto. One of them is that Moses never actually died. Moses died, and Moses was buried. It is inexcusable to say otherwise. But there is typology here as well.

Moses died and was buried in Moab. Jesus, the fulfillment of the law died and was buried. Thus, the law is gone in His death and burial. Deuteronomy says it is in the land of Moab, or “From Father.” The symbolism is clear. God the Father sent Jesus to die in order to end the law.

Israel will not enter into the promise until after Moses dies. And Israel will not enter into the true inheritance until after they have buried the law –

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:11-14

In this clause, a different word is translated as “valley,” gai. It comes from the word gevah, meaning pride. That comes from gaah, meaning exalted. The idea is that the surrounding areas are lofty and exalted above the land within. One can almost sense the reason for Moses’ death through the choice of location.

Moses and Aaron pridefully claimed they would draw water from the rock. They struck it twice with a rod instead of speaking to it as they were instructed. Hence, instead of being lifted up, or exalted, as his last moments of life on the top of the mountain would have one expect, he is laid low in this valley.

One can either live by faith in what Christ has done, or he can live by personal pride in attempting to merit God’s favor through the law. Moses himself shows us the difference between the two. The law cannot enter into the inheritance. It can only lead to abasement. If we think of the typology, it all becomes clear –

* Yehovah, sinless and pure, buried Moses (the law), whereas sinful men buried Jesus (the Lord).

* The Lord Jesus (Yehovah incarnate), sinless and pure, buried the law when the sinful men buried Jesus (the embodiment of the law).

And Moses was buried…

6 (con’t) opposite Beth Peor;

Beth Peor means “House of Peor.” Peor comes from the verb paar, meaning “to open.” Thus, it is the House of the Opening. It was a place known for a temple to the Moabite god known as Peor.

This word, paar, is used in Isaiah 5 when speaking of Sheol, the pit of death, opening its mouth beyond measure to receive those who reject the Lord. When under law – whether trusting in the law for righteousness, or in rejecting the law and satisfying one’s own desires – the inevitable outcome is death.

No matter which way one goes, man under law is condemned and will die outside of the promise. It is only through coming to Christ who fulfilled the law, and who embodies it on our behalf, that we can be made right before God. Moses is being used as an object lesson concerning this fact. As for the location itself…

6 (con’t) but no one knows his grave to this day.

The reason for these words now is certainly that Moses’ grave would never be used as a place of idolatry. The attention is to be on the Lord, not on Moses. However, again, there is typology in what we are seeing.

Moses (the law) can no longer be found. It is perfectly described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19–

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

The words, “not imputing their trespasses,” mean “not under law.” It is by law that sin is imputed. For those who are in Christ, not only is the law gone, but it is gone forever. Not only does the law die in Christ, but it can never be found again.

Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died.

The Hebrew is beautifully expressive: u-mosheh ben meah v’esrim shanah b’moto – “And Moses was a son of one hundred and twenty years in his dying.” Moses’ life was divided up into three periods of forty years.

He was in Egypt until he was forty. He went to Midian and was there forty years until his calling. He then led Israel forty years (Acts 7:22, 30 & 36). Bullinger notes that the number one hundred and twenty “is made up of three forties (3×40=120). Applied to time therefore it signifies a divinely appointed period of probation.”

As Moses is typical of the law, the record of his years is given to show that the law is a time of probation. Until one is no longer under law (coming to Jesus), he remains under that set probation. Israel remains in that state to this day. Of Moses, it next says…

7 (con’t) His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.

lo kahatah eno v’lo nas lekhoh – “No dim his eyes and no abated his vigor.” This is a noun found only here in Scripture, leakh. It signifies moisture or freshness, and it comes from the same root as the adjective lakh, or moist. It speaks of his inner force, including his virility. This is saying that Moses was functioning perfectly until the moment he died. When he did, only then, did this cease.

Again, the typology is flawlessly clear and can be understood easily by what is stated in Ezekiel 22, where the adjective form, lakh, is used when referring to the coming Messiah –

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.’” Ezekiel 17:22-24

Moses maintained his ability to perceive (his undimmed eyes) and his power to continue producing (his natural vigor) until the moment he died. Likewise, the power of the law allows that no transgressors go unnoticed, and it has the power to continue producing on its own until it is ended. Only in the ending of the law will those things also end.

With the death of Moses, it next says…

And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.

Bullinger defines the number thirty, saying, “Thirty being 3 x 10, denotes in a higher degree the perfection of Divine order, as marking the right moment.” The right moment has come.

The record of what occurs is spiritually what pertains to any who come to Christ, but the story refers specifically to Israel. From their departure from the Lord in Numbers 14, to their sentence to wander for forty years, to them finally leaving the law behind, it has been a prophetic look into their future.

As we noted earlier, the words “the plains of Moab” typologically mean “the pledge from Father.” It refers to the Spirit, the pledge noted in Ephesians 1:13, 14. The weeping of Israel at the death of the law (meaning the death of Christ who fulfilled the law) and the giving of the Spirit is seen in Zechariah 12:10-14 –

 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.”

The law will die in Israel when Israel comes to Christ…

8 (con’t) So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.

As Solomon says, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. The time of Israel’s mourning will end, and it will be replaced with joy.

This is truly the Prophet of whom Moses foretold
He is the Prophet to come into the world
His words are purer than the finest gold
Through them, the mysteries are unfurled

This is He of whom Moses spoke
It is He who has lifted the burden from us
No more is the pall dark like smoke
Since the coming of this Man, Jesus

A Prophet is He like none other
One who even is greater than Moses, so we see
This One rose among us, He is our Brother
And yet He is higher than Moses – even infinitely

*III. In the Sight of All Israel (verses 9-12)

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him;

Joshua was inaugurated as is recorded in Numbers 27 and as is also recorded in Deuteronomy 31. The laying of hands on him is specifically referred to in Numbers 27:23. He, as we have seen before, is typical of Christ.

Joshua means “The Lord is Salvation.” His father’s name being included anticipates Christ also. Nun is from the verb nun, to propagate, or increase. This is what Christ would do, increasing the family of God through His completed work.

He is said to be filled with the spirit of wisdom, something explicitly said of the Messiah – using the same words ruakh khakmah, spirit of wisdom – in Isaiah 11:2. The law confirmed Jesus’ ministry because it spoke of Him, anticipated Him, was fulfilled by Him, and was ended through Him. As such…

9 (con’t) so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Israel’s obedience to Joshua by obeying the law is what this speaks of. However, it also anticipates obedience by Israel to Moses by heeding Jesus. But it is something that must be considered carefully.

Of this, Charles Ellicott asks, “Is it not true that when the Israel of God hearken to the true Joshua, they must needs do as the Lord commanded Moses?” The answer is, “Yes.” But it is not, “Yes, you must observe the Law of Moses.” Rather, it is to do as Christ Jesus Himself said –

“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:38-40

This is what is being pictured right now in this verse concerning Joshua. It is the final anticipation of the time of the law. Israel will come to Christ, heed Him, and be saved by Him. In heeding Jesus, the people will then, and only then, be obedient to Moses in the truest sense. With this understood, it next says…

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

The words now speak of the greatness of Moses in all of his house, meaning the time of the law. Moses acted as priest in the establishment of the law. He acted as the first prophet of the law. He served as the ruler of the people during the time of the law. And so on. He served in each of these capacities – something no other person had done.

But the specific point of note is that he was a prophet asher yadao Yehovah panim el panim – “whom knew him, Yehovah, face to face.”

It is assumed that this must have been written much later to include these words. If they were written at the time of Moses, it supposedly would have no meaning.

However, the word of the Lord is eternal. If He said this through Moses’ hand, and the law continues until the ending of the law – whenever that may be – then it is a true statement during all of that time. As such, there is no need to read this in any other light.

If it was written later, that might be fine to someone. But if it wasn’t written by Moses, and it was actually penned, say at the time of Jeremiah, then it could mean that after the time of Jeremiah, someone may arise to make the statement null and void.

Rather, only in the coming of Christ, and in the ending of the law, can this statement no longer be considered true. As such, I would argue that even this statement is from the Lord, through Moses. The account next explains what the ministry of Moses encompassed…

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,

The prepositions read “to” – “To all the signs and the wonders which sent him, Yehovah, to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land” (CG). The preposition can mean “before,” but these things were not just done before them. Instead, they were done to them.

And Jesus didn’t just perform before Satan, before his demons, and before their domain. Rather, He directly attacked them. He did this through the law, not around it. Satan used the law to destroy man’s fellowship with God (and thus destroy man). Jesus used the law to destroy the power of Satan and to restore man’s fellowship with God.

As for Moses, the narrative, the chapter, and the book of Deuteronomy conclude with the words…

*12 (fin) and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

The words are really superlative: u-l’kol ha’yad ha’khazaqah u-l’kol ha’mora ha’gadol asher asah mosheh l’ene kal Yisrael – “And to all the hand the mighty, and to all the terror, the great, which did Moses to eyes all Israel!”

This is literally true of the work of Moses, as the record of Exodus testifies. However, it is also true of the work of Jesus, both in His work under the law and of His coming work on behalf of Israel before they come to Him. The book of Revelation details those things, but they are spoken of by Peter in Acts –

“I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.” Acts 2:19-21

In the end, what is recorded about Moses is given specifically to reveal Christ to us. If you had told me on 23 October 2011 that we would still be plugging along in the books of Moses in 2022, I would not have believed it.

But more, I never considered – in my wildest imagination – the enormity of the task that was begun on that day, or the magnitude of the detail that we would uncover as we progressed through these five books.

I rushed far too fast through Genesis, and I have made many errors in the analysis as we have progressed – each of which overwhelmed me with grief. And yet, I can say that I have done my very best to present to you an accurate and faithful examination of what the Lord has intended for us to see in the most marvelous masterpiece of literature.

I have made many new friends. For those of you who have been here a while, you have as well, and we have also lost some friends along the way. And yet, the word of God continues, and it shall continue until the time of the end.

We have much more to search out until that day, whenever it may be, and so I will press on, hoping you will come along as well. With Moses ended, a new section of literature – the historical writings, also known as the former prophets – will enter into the ongoing narrative and the unfolding story of redemptive history.

Just like almost eleven years ago, I cannot even imagine what treasures lie ahead. With each new sermon, a new Monday of wonder and delight will open up, and hopefully, a new Sunday of anticipation and blessing will follow for you.

For those who have been with us, and for those who are willing to stay as Scripture continues to unfold, I say, “Thank you.” And I would be remiss if I didn’t exhort you to take upon yourselves your own daily study of this word.

If there is no other lesson, outside of direct teaching to you, that I could impart, it would be for you to keep this word near, read it daily, think on it always, and cherish it with all your heart. It is the word of God, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is the basis of our knowledge of Him. As He is the basis of our faith, I can do no less than implore you to read this word.

Above all, I thank the Lord, Jesus, for having found something suitable in me – no matter how small it is – to allow me the honor of presenting this word to you each week. This alone, if nothing else, tells me of the immensity of our God. If he can use someone as unworthy as me for this highest of honors, it truly demonstrates the magnitude of his greatness.

All I want to do for You, Lord
is because I love You,
not as a tithe, not as a chore,
but because of Your love,

All I want to do for You, Lord,
is to serve You,
not because I must,
but because I trust You, Lord.

All I want to do for You, Lord
is to adore You,
because I’m free to worship You,
my Kings of Kings!

You broke my chains,
You saved my soul,
You broke my bonds
that drowned me, Lord.
You fished me out
from the pool of sins,
and raised me up
that I could live.

So I was freed
when I chose Your Grace
to abound in me,
when You took my place.

And I want to Love,
I want to serve,
because of the Cross,
because of Your Grace!

I want to serve You,
not because of guilt,
not because it’s a chore,
or a quota I must fill.

Not as a deposit
on blessings from You,
but because I want to, Lord,
to love You!

My peace and joy
comes not from what I do,
but from the love
that comes from You!

Izabela Bednara 5 April 2022

Closing Verse: “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

Next Week: Acts 26:6 We will be in Acts 26 for a span, I hope no one this bothers... (The Promise Made by God to Our Fathers)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

You Shall Not Cross Over There

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, so far north he could see
All Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh
All the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea

The South, and the plain
Of the Valley of Jericho
The city of palm trees
As far as Zoar, the Lord to him did show

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 –
———-a land of blessing and so much more

I have caused you to see it with your eyes
But you shall not cross over there, so to you I apprise

So Moses the servant of the Lord
Died there to await his reward
In the land of Moab
According to the word of the Lord

And He buried him in a valley
In the land of Moab, hiding his body away
There opposite Beth Peor
But no one knows his grave to this day

Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died
So his days were finished
His eyes were not dim
Nor his natural vigor diminished

And the children of Israel
Wept for Moses until those days were expended
In the plains of Moab thirty days
So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom
For Moses had laid his hands on him when the situation demanded
So the children of Israel heeded him
And did as the LORD had Moses commanded

But since then there has not arisen
A prophet like Moses in Israel
Whom the LORD knew face to face
In all the signs, and in all the wonders as well

Which the Lord sent him to do
In the land of Egypt, by the Lord’s hand
Before Pharaoh, before all his servants
And in all his land

And by all that mighty power
And all the great terror as well
Which Moses performed
In the sight of all Israel

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

And Lord God, thank you for this wonderful book
Deuteronomy! What a marvel to have studied it
Into every detail possible we took a look
And to You our thanks and praise we now submit!

Hallelujah to Christ our Lord!
Hallelujah for Deuteronomy, a marvelous part of Your superior word!

Hallelujah and Amen!
Indeed, Hallelujah and Amen…












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, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 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.”

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. 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.

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.



Deuteronomy 33:23-29 (Moses Blesses Israel, Part IV)

Deuteronomy 33:23-29
Moses Blesses Israel, Part IV

For many years of my life, I would go to Massachusetts during the summer for a vacation with the family. I haven’t been in several years because there just isn’t time for me to tend to the church and take the time off that I used to take.

In fact, I’m in what I would call a “comfortable rut.” Every Monday is pretty much exactly like every other Monday. The same is true with Tuesday and so on. The less change I have, the happier I am. And the more I am doing things for the church, the more content I am.

But I remember one year while in Massachusetts, I was reading and found a newspaper commentary from the 1800s. In it, there was a survey of all of the favorite verses from the Bible as submitted to the paper by vote that year.

I was curious which verse it would be… John 3:16? Something from the psalms? Philippians 4:5-7? John 16:33? Romans 8:28. I could have sat there and thought up 100 verses that might have been the favorite verse to get people through their day and ground them in their spiritual lives. My first 100 guesses would have been wrong. So would my next hundred guesses.

Text Verse: “The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

Well, there you go. The most cherished verse from the Bible in the mid-1800s. Who would have thought? It is not a verse that I have ever heard on any list of favorite verses at any time. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone quote it, ever, until Berk did in a Bible study a week ago.

But after that day in Massachusetts, I have always cherished it as a favorite. It is a wonderful set of words in the English, which more or less paraphrase the Hebrew. In fact, I put the verse on one of my favorite sunrise photos and have it hanging in the back kitchen.

It is a verse I have patiently waited to include in a sermon for over ten years now. It carries the weight in my mind of knowing it has impacted so many lives in our history. That means a lot to me.

The Bible is simply filled with beauty and with verses that cause us to dig deeply to mine out precious treasure. What a treasure we have been given in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessing to Naphtali and Asher (verses 23-25)

23 And of Naphtali he said:

u-l’naphtali amar – “And to Naphtali he said.” Naphtali is the second son born to Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah and sixth son born to Jacob. His older brother born to Bilhah, Dan, has already received his blessing, and his land is at the headwaters of the Jordan River, just north of Naphtali.

The record of Naphtali’s birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.” Genesis 30:7, 8

Naphtali means “My Wrestling.” Naphtali’s inheritance is located on the west side of the Jordan including all of the Sea of Galilee. It extends all the way to the northern border of Canaan, and it is to the east of the inheritance of Asher the final son to be named in these blessings. He is bordered on the south by Issachar and Zebulun.

As such, the continued pattern from the east to the west and from the south to the north of Jerusalem continues in the blessing upon Naphtali.

It cannot be that this pattern was known to Moses at the time because the division of the land will not be completed until Joshua 19, and so either these blessings were written long after it is claimed they were, by someone other than Moses, or they are divinely inspired by God and through Moses to reflect this carefully revealed order. To Naphtali, Moses next says…

23 (con’t) “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor,

Naphtali seva ratson – “Naphtali sated favor.” It is as if he sits down to an enormous meal of God’s favor and becomes plump, filled with the goodness bestowed upon him. The hand of the Lord will bless the land, even to overflowing, with goodness. Of this land, and before Israel had resettled it, Robinson said that it is “an undulating tableland arable and everywhere tilled, with swelling hills … covered with shrubs and trees.”

The words of Moses continue with a parallel thought to increase the wonder of what he will receive…

23 (con’t) And full of the blessing of the Lord,

u-male birkat Yehovah– “And full blessing Yehovah.” The words turn the previous clause into a superlative. Not only is Naphtali to be sated with favor, but that sating will be because of the blessing of the Lord.

One could not imagine a more pleasant and jam-packed description of the abundance of goodness that will come upon him. And more, he shall…

23 (con’t) Possess the west and the south.”

yam v’darom yerasha – “West and south he shall inherit.” The word yam has two specific meanings. First, it means “sea,” as in the Sea of Galilee or the Mediterranean Sea. Secondly, it means “west” because the west of Canaan is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea.

The layout of the land itself provides the secondary meanings of the directions of the compass. And this is because of the layout of the temple which is from east to west. As the Most Holy Place is to the west, it is the direction of the sea in relation to Canaan.

And so, the translation of yam as either “sea” or “west” must be determined based on the designation of the inheritance. As noted, the eastern border of Naphtali rests upon the west bank of the Jordan River, including the entire western bank of the Sea of Galilee.

Thus, this could be speaking of the “west” in reference to the sea itself. Or it could be speaking of the “sea” because the word yam, or sea is used elsewhere to describe the Sea of Galilee, and they shall possess the western side of it. As such, it is hard to tell which meaning is being referred to.

The next word, darom, or south, is now introduced into Scripture. It is seen four times in poetic verses and then 13 times in Ezekiel, especially in relation to the future temple he envisions. It is from the same root as deror, which signifies release or liberty. The root means “to move rapidly.”

I don’t want to press the meaning too much, but it could be that this then refers to the north end of the inheritance which is the south end of Dan’s which was the previous blessing given by Moses. That is where the Jordan River issues forth from.

And more, it could mean the south end of Naphtali’s inheritance that borders the Jordan, which is where the river continues to move south, as the waters release from the Sea of Galilee. As such, inheriting the “south” would speak of both – the south of Dan and the south of the Sea of Galilee.

As the Jordan is the border of Canaan proper, it appears that the word yam may be a pun to convey both “sea” and “west,” meaning the “west” bank of the Sea of Galilee and the west bank of the Jordan River. Hence, it is not speaking of the western border of Naphtali, but the eastern border of it, which is the western bank of the sea and river.

The reason for all the detail is because it is in this area that Jesus accomplished a large part of His ministry. It would then explain the ultimate meaning for the words “sated” and “full.” It may have been true that the land provided many material blessings which filled the tribe, but ultimately, the inheritance of this tribe received the greatest of all blessings when Christ came and ministered in this region –

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

15 ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.’” Matthew 4:12-16

As it is assumed that many of the apostles found their home in Naphtali, possessing the west and the south takes on an entirely different connotation. They went throughout the land of Israel, generally to the west and the south sharing the gospel and bringing those who heeded to be a part of the possession of the Lord.

And to Naphtali he said:
(a) Naphtali *sated favor
(a) And *full blessing Yehovah
(b) West and south he shall inherit

With this blessing complete, we come to the final blessing of Moses upon the tribes of Israel, that of Asher…

24 And of Asher he said:

u-l’asher amar – “And to Asher he said.” Asher is the second son born to Leah’s handmaid Zilpah and the eighth son born to Jacob. His older brother born to Bilhah, Gad, has already received his blessing, and his land is east of the Jordan River.

The record of Asher’s birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.” So she called his name Asher.” Genesis 30:12, 13

Asher means Happy (Blessed). Asher’s inheritance is located to the very northeast border of the land of Canaan. His eastern border is along the side of Naphtali and extends down to the border of Zebulun. His southern border merges with Zebulun and the western tribe of Manasseh. His northern border is the northern border of Canaan. His western border is the Mediterranean Sea. To Asher, Moses next says…

24 (con’t) “Asher is most blessed of sons;

barukh mibanim Asher – “Blessed from sons Asher.” The meaning is either “Asher is blessed with children,” “Asher is blessed by the sons (of Israel),” or “Asher is blessed above the sons (of Israel).” The only other time that the term mibanim, or “from sons,” is seen in Scripture in Isaiah –

“Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 56:5

That is a comparative statement, and so, I would conclude that Moses is saying he will be blessed above the other sons of Israel. Next…

24 (con’t) Let him be favored by his brothers,

Apart from the words to Reuben, the only jussive in the entire chapter is seen in these words: yehi retsui ekhav – “May he be accepted his brothers.” Being a jussive, it is an indirect command – “MAY he be…”

It is hard to imagine why he would say this as a type of command unless it is because Asher’s allotment will be so far north and west from where the temple will ultimately be located that he could otherwise be ignored by the other tribes. For this, or some other reason, Moses directs the other sons in showing favor to him.

24 (con’t) And let him dip his foot in oil.

v’tovel ba’shemen raglo – “And let him dip in the oil his foot.” The oil being referred to is that of the olive. The area where Asher settled would have a remarkable abundance of olives.

When olive oil is abundant, it would be used to anoint oneself, especially upon the head. But Moses calls for such a blessing upon Asher that he would have enough oil to even anoint his foot. It is a way of saying, “Let him be blessed with such abundance, even from head to toe.”

Having said this, it is because of this verse that Zion Oil and Gas is not only drilling elsewhere in Israel, but also in the area of Asher. The owner believes that this could be a prophetic picture of immense reserves of oil under the foot of Asher’s land.

25 Your sandals shall be iron and bronze;

There are two vying translations of these words: barzel u-nekhoshet minalekha – “Iron and bronze your sandals,” or “Iron and bronze your bars.” The word minal is found only here in Scripture. It comes from naal, to bar, bolt, or lock.

However, it is not that simple because the word is also translated as “shoe” (implying a sandal). That is found, for example, in 2 Chronicles 28 –

“Then the men who were designated by name rose up and took the captives, and from the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them, dressed them and gave them sandals, gave them food and drink, and anointed them; and they let all the feeble ones ride on donkeys. So they brought them to their brethren at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.” 2 Chronicles 28:15

One might originally think that “bars” would make more sense. It would imply security to have bars of iron and bronze. However, the verse is probably parallel to the previous clause. He set his foot in oil and he has sandals of iron and bronze.

Of these metals, iron represents strength, be it in binding together, in government, in hard service, or in bondage. Bronze represents judgment. Thus, this is a way of saying that he will walk with strength and in a circumspect manner.

25 (con’t) As your days, so shall your strength be.

This is one tough set of words: u-keyamekha dabeekha – “And according to your days, your saunter.” Here is a word found only once in the Bible, dove. It is from an unused root, but it is akin davav, to glide or to move gently. From that word comes the word dov, or bear, because when he walks, he glides easily over the terrain.

Because of the difficulty of the word, almost all translations go with the Greek translation and say “strength.” My guess is the Greek translators had no idea what to say and just said strength. The NASB departed from strength and said, “your leisurely walk.” That is probably closer to the intent, but it is somewhat of a paraphrase. To match the thought, but also the simplicity of the Hebrew, I say “saunter.”

In other words, the entire verse is one united thought –

Iron and bronze your sandals.
And according to your days, your saunter.

Asher will saunter through life (his days) with strength and in a circumspect manner. I am convinced enough of this to tell you that you can pen it into the margin of your Bible with a note that this is probably the true intent of Moses’ words.

And to Asher he said:
(a) Blessed from sons Asher.
(a) May he be accepted his brothers.
(b) And let him dip in the oil +his foot.

(a) Iron and bronze +your sandals.
(b) And according to your days, your saunter.

With that now complete, so are the blessings upon the tribes. From there Moses will next complete his words to Israel. The next four verses are the last words recorded from him…

There is none like the God, our God
He rides upon the heavens to help us
He protects us in every place that we trod
He is our Lord, the Christ, Jesus

Who is like Him with the everlasting arms?
And who causes us to in safety dwell?
He keeps us from troubles, and He saves us from harms
He has rescued us from the pit of eternal hell

There is none like the God, our God
A place of trust and hope He is for us
To His excellent majesty we shout and applaud
He is our Lord, our Savior, our Joy – He is Jesus!

II. Underneath Are the Everlasting Arms (verses 26-29)

26 There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,

This is not simply a statement of fact about the Lord, but a statement about “the God” which is directed to Israel: aiyn ka’el Yeshurun – “None according to the God, O Yeshurun.” Moses is telling Israel that Yehovah is THE GOD and that there is none like (according to) Him.

His nature and His being are completely unique. Moses is appealing for them to hear this, to grasp it, and to accept it for their own gaining of understanding and wisdom. It is He alone…

26 (con’t) Who rides the heavens to help you,

rokev shamayim b’ezrekha – “Rides heavens in your help.” It is an expression that has been seen, such as in the pillar of cloud and fire, and it is an expression that will continue to be seen, such as in the chariots of the Lord that are mentioned repeatedly in various ways and contexts in the Old Testament.

It is also an expression of the comings and goings of the Lord as He ascends and descends in both testaments of Scripture, culminating in the greatest expression of this on Israel’s behalf –

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” Revelation 19:11-14

26 (con’t) And in His excellency on the clouds.

u-b’gaavato sekhaqim – “And in His exaltation clouds.” Here are two new words. The first is gaavah. It is from gaah, to rise up. Hence, it speaks of His state of majesty or grandeur.

The next word is shakhaq, meaning dust or cloud. It comes from a verb of the same spelling which means to pulverize. As such, it is more than just the skies, but billowing of particles in them, as clouds. Probably the best mental image of these words now would be John’s words which describe the coming of Christ –

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7

In His riding through the heavens, it is as if clouds billow around His splendor and majesty. What Moses has done with the speaking of this verse is to unite it with the opening words of the chapter –

(v5) And He was in Jeshurun King.
In gathering leaders people together.
Tribes Israel.

(v26) None according to the God, O Yeshurun.
Rides heavens in your help.
And in His exaltation clouds.

The blessing upon the individual tribes has to be considered in relation to what leads into them and what follows them. Without the Lord, there would be no blessing. But because He is the Lord, and because Israel is His people, He will never utterly forsake them. Rather…

27 The eternal God is your refuge,

meonah elohe qedem – “Dwelling God ancient.” It is a phrase filled with mental images. There is another new word, meonah – it is the feminine form of maon, or “habitation,” and it carries the same meaning. A habitation is a place of dwelling, rest, refuge, and so on.

Along with that, Moses describes the Lord with the word qedem. It means “east,” and it signifies aforetime because the sun rises in the east, coming from seemingly nowhere. Hence, it refers to that which is out of sight and unknowable – eternity past.

It is similar to the term Daniel uses when he calls Him the Ancient of Days. What Moses is saying is that the Lord, the God of Old, is a habitation. He has always been there, and He is a place of safety, security, and rest. To complement that, he next says…

27 (con’t) And underneath are the everlasting arms;

u-mi’takhat zeroth olam – “And from under arms everlasting.” To our minds, the Lord is seen to have come from seemingly nowhere. He has always been there, even to the most ancient time, and in this indescribable existence, there is support with arms that continue on until a point that cannot be mentally grasped.

The word olam does not necessarily mean everlasting, but to a point which is concealed and unknowable. In the case of God, it thus must mean “everlasting.” There is no beginning to the support and there is no end to it. The arms are there, never failing to provide security to His people. And with those arms…

27 (con’t) He will thrust out the enemy from before you,

v’garesh mi’panekha oyev – “And He casts out from your face enemy.” The arm symbolizes power and exertion, but also reach. The Lord has the power to support His people, but He also extends that power to remove the enemies of His people, casting those enemies out of their presence.

Everything about what is said anticipates total assurance for His people, Israel. He will protect them, but against His enemies, there will be no hope…

27 (con’t) And will say, ‘Destroy!’

vayomer hashmed – “And says, ‘Destroy!’” Both the word of the previous clause, “enemy,” and the verb here are singular. It may be that this is referring to any enemy at any time. But it could be what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians.

I would think that this must ultimately be referring to death, the enemy that has been here since the beginning, and who will continue until the time of the end. He is the final enemy to be destroyed –

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:22-26

28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety,

vayishkon Yisrael betakh – “And shall dwell Israel security.” The conjunction is “and” not “then.” There is no reason to assume that what is said here is a consequence of the previous verse, although that would certainly be the case.

Rather, Moses is stating what will be for the tribes of Israel. They will dwell in safety. But it can only be referring to when they are right with Him. There is a state of confidence and safety that will exist because of their relationship with Him. It is an ideal set forth.

It is a goal that was attained at the time of Solomon, and it is one that will be realized in the millennium. When they are in a right standing with the Lord, this is the anticipated result. They will be in the land in safety…

28 (con’t) The fountain of Jacob alone,

badad en yaaqov – “Alone fountain Jacob.” The word badad, or “alone,” is placed by some with the preceding clause and by some with this one –

And Israel shall dwell in security alone
The fountain of Jacob / In a land of…

And Israel shall dwell in security
Alone the fountain of Jacob / In a land of…

I would think the latter is correct. Thus, the two clauses would be in parallel –

(a) And *Israel shall dwell ^in security
(a) ^Alone *the fountain of Jacob / In a land of…

Either way, the thought is that of Jacob not being pestered by those who would do him harm. The term, “the fountain of Jacob,” is a reference to those who issue from him.

As such, it is saying that he will be as a spring that goes forth, unmixed with, and without the taint of, other people groups. Israel the people is the fountain of Jacob. They will live alone…

28 (con’t) In a land of grain and new wine;

el erets dagan v’tirosh – “Unto land grain and new wine.” The words speak of both abundance and consistency. There must be rain for these things to come, and so there is consistency of rain. But new wine speaks to that which is constant as well.

If it is a land being described as one of new wine, then there must always be wine that is new. Hence, there is a continuous stream of it coming forth. It would then be considered a place of constant blessing.

28 (con’t) His heavens shall also drop dew.

aph shama yaarphu tal – “Yea, his heavens shall drop dew.” The word “heavens” is third person masculine singular – “his heavens.” But who is this referring to? The entire verse has been about Israel. As such, it is speaking of Israel, not the Lord.

The meaning is that the heavens above his land are his heavens. The heavens above Israel are destined to drop dew upon him, even if the heavens elsewhere do not drop dew upon those inhabitants. That is actually anticipated in the book of Zechariah when referring to the millennial reign of Christ –

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16-19

Israel’s heavens will never fail to provide that which brings abundance and constant newness to the land, meaning the drop of the dew. Moses introduced the word araph, or drop, in verse 32:2. He now retires the word as well, this being the second and last time it is found in the Bible.

With the many promised blessings noted upon both the individual tribes and the nation as a whole, Moses now begins the last verse containing his words in Scripture…

29 Happy are you, O Israel!

ashrekha Yisrael – “Happy you, Israel.” It is a new word in Scripture, esher. It is from the same root as the name Asher. It signifies both “happy,” and “blessed.”

If it were in another form, I would say that “blessed” would convey the idea better. However, Moses is using it as an interjection.

As such, it is as if he is speaking in elation rather than merely as a statement of fact. You can almost see the joy exuding from him as he raises his hands and says, “HAPPY you, Israel!” With that exclamation, he then asks a question that begs a negative response…

29 (con’t) Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord,

mi kamokha am novosha b’Yehovah – “Who like you, people saved in Yehovah?” Moses calls forth the words and was probably hoping to hear every voice around him say, “NOBODY!”

There is none like the God of Israel, and because Israel is His people, there is also none like him. With that understood, Moses notes that he is a people saved not merely by the Lord, but in Him. This signifies a salvation that is both intimate and eternal.

It is the term Paul uses again and again to describe the position of those “in Christ.” They are saved by Him so that they are saved in Him. Christ did the work, bringing us into Himself. It is both an intimate and an eternal salvation.

29 (con’t) The shield of your help

magen ezrekha – “Shield your help.” The shield is a defensive weapon. The meaning, then, is that the Lord is there to defend Israel.

As all of the words are in the second person, this does not mean that the Lord is a shield to everyone of Israel, but He is a shield for Israel. The people, as a collective, will never be overrun and destroyed because the Lord is there to defend them. Also…

29 (con’t) And the sword of your majesty!

v’asher kherev gaavatekha – “And who sword your exultation.” It is the same word introduced in verse 26. There it spoke of the exaltation of the Lord. Now the same word refers to the Lord as the sword of Israel’s exultation. He is to be Israel’s place of boasting, his Source of pride, and his place of highest rejoicing because the Lord is the sword of Israel’s exultation.

Because of this shield and sword…

29 (con’t) Your enemies shall submit to you,

v’yikahashu oyevekha lak – “And shall yield your enemies to you.” Whether through death or subservience, the enemies of Israel will be unable to stand against him because the Lord is with him. There will be a complete yielding of themselves before the rushing onslaught. Moses says that it shall be so, and then he utters his final words of the Torah…

*29 (fin) And you shall tread down their high places.”

v’atah al bamotemo tidrok – “And you upon their high places shall tread.” The high places speak of the commanding positions, the strongholds, and the temples. It signifies the complete ruin of the enemy, including their high places of idolatry and false worship.

Ultimately, this then speaks not only of Israel who will occupy Canaan, but of the true Israel, Jesus. What they will failingly do in Canaan is what Christ will do entirely. He will bring to an end all authority, all power, and all dissent against God, even to the master of all those things, Satan. As Paul says in Romans, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20).

These words complete all spoken utterances from Moses. Chapter 34 will detail his end, but there will be no words from him. His first words came in Exodus 2 when he was forty years old. After another forty years, he was called by the Lord to lead Israel out of bondage and into the land of promise.

However, that will not come to pass. Instead, his successor, Joshua, will be the one to bring them in. There is a lesson in that for Israel, and there is a lesson in that for us as well. The law, pictured by Moses, cannot enter the inheritance, nor can it lead anyone into it.

It was given as a stepping-stone to Israel and as a lesson for us. What we need is something greater than the law can give to fallen, fallible man. We need the perfection of God. The law cannot provide that. It can only show us that we do not possess it, nor can we attain it through our own effort.

But the perfection of the law can be bestowed upon us if we accept what the giving of the law was intended for us to learn. Moses will be taken to the top of a mountain, and he will see the land of promise before him, but he will not go in.

We have a choice: will we follow in the example of Moses, trust in our own efforts, and die outside of the promise, or will we trust in God who alone can bring us in? He sent Jesus from Himself. Christ came, He lived under the law, He fulfilled the law, and He entered into His glory.

And He offers us Himself so that we can also enter into His glory. Moses accomplished his duties, and he will receive his reward, but as a typological representation of the law, he provides us with the warning – “Don’t trust in me. Trust in the Lord! He can bring you in, and He will bring you in, if you just have faith.” The words of Moses are ended. The word of the Lord and the Word of God are eternal.

Closing Verse: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5

The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. Let us be sure to get our theological boxes straight. It’s important.

Next Week: Deuteronomy 34:1-12 Moses will die in Moab and be buried without any fanfare. As for Canaan, Moses… (You Shall Not Cross Over There) (104th and final Deuteronomy sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Moses Blesses Israel, Part IV

And of Naphtali he said:
“O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, delights in your mouth
And full of the blessing of the Lord
Possess the west and the south

And of Asher he said:
Asher is most blessed of sons
Happy is he with his spoil
Let him be favored by his brothers
And let him dip his foot in oil

Your sandals shall be iron and bronze, strong and mighty
As your days, so shall your strength be

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun
Who rides the heavens to help you
And in His excellency on the clouds
He is faithful and He is true

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! To them shall come many harms

Then Israel shall dwell in safety
The fountain of Jacob alone, it is true
In a land of grain and new wine
His heavens shall also drop dew

Happy are you, O Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
The shield of your help
And of your majesty the sword!

Your enemies shall submit to you, when they see your faces
And you shall tread down their high places

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…










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.”

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.

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!’
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.”





Deuteronomy 33:18-22 (Moses Blesses Israel, Part III)

Deuteronomy 33:18-22
Moses Blesses Israel, Part III

The blessings of the individual tribes continue now with four more short blessings. The first two finish up the tribes of Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel. They then move to the sons of the handmaids, two of which will be seen today, and the other two will be in the final sermon of the chapter

Other than falling into the order of the sons of the wives and then the handmaids, the order seems rather obscure. The actual birth order goes Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (Manasseh, Ephraim), Benjamin.

The order of blessing now lists the sons in order of wives and then handmaids, but not necessarily in birth order.

Reuben (1)
Judah (4) (inclusive of Simeon (2))
Levi (3)
Benjamin (12)
Joseph (11) (Ephraim and Manasseh are reversed)
Zebulun (10)

Gad (7)
Dan (5)
Naphtali (6)
Asher (8)

As such, the order doesn’t really make much numerical sense. But as I have said, the layout closely matches a somewhat circular pattern around Jerusalem where the temple is located. The progression is generally from east to west and south to north, but it also considers which tribe is of the wives and which are of the handmaids.

The order goes first to land outside of Canaan with the son of the wives (namely Leah). Then it essentially goes from south to north with the sons of the wives. Manasseh (a son of Joseph whose mother is Rachel), however, has land on both sides of the Jorden River which is dealt with together. When the sons of the wives are completed, it then goes east of the Jordan again to pick up the first of the sons of the handmaids.

From there, Dan is named, but Dan is said by Moses to “leap from Bashan.” That is all the way to the very north of Israel, and so one might wonder why he is mentioned next. It is because he was first allocated land to the west of Canaan, midway up the land near Benjamin and Ephraim.

However, the land he acquires in the north is situated where the Jordan issues from. As such, naming him before the other two tribes who descend from the handmaids makes complete sense. From there, the final two sons of the handmaids are the furthest north and west.

And so, the pattern essentially follows both a geographic surrounding of Jerusalem while also accounting for who was born to a wife of Jacob and who was born to a handmaid. It really is a unique and interesting pattern to consider, which only came to me while typing these sermons.

Other than being interesting and definitely a pattern in how it comes about, if you accept predictive prophecy, it shows that Moses’ blessing is inspired by the Lord. This is because Moses only knew where the division of land for the three tribes east of the Jordan would be.

Nothing else was known to him because the other divisions would only come after the land was occupied by Israel.

Text Verse: “And He brought them to His holy border,
This mountain which His right hand had acquired.
55 He also drove out the nations before them,
Allotted them an inheritance by survey,
And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.” Psalm 78:54, 54

Other than being a definite pattern, and that it was laid out by Moses before it came about, I’m not personally sure what to make of it. But the fact that the tribes are laid out in this way based on the blessing of Moses inspires me, as do so many other curiosities in Scripture.

There may be a deeper meaning. For example, the directions in the Bible each have meaning. The east is that which is before in time, like the rising of the sun which comes first. The west is that which is after, as in the place where the setting of the sun is.

The east is also the place of exile. Man was cast out of the garden with cherubim placed at the east. That matches the layout of the temple which is laid out east to west and which must be accessed from the east. Outside of the most holy place, cherubim were woven into the veil, on the east and facing east.

The west is where the Lord dwells. It is that which is arrived at last. As such, the tabernacle is a picture of the way one goes – from east, outside of God’s favor (before), to west, union with the Lord (after). It is a journey where one returns to the presence of the Lord. It is the consummation of the trek man has been on since the fall, and it is one that is realized in the coming of Christ.

Because Jerusalem is north of the equator, the south – which is the right hand and that which is greater – is more illuminated. The left is that which is north, and which is increasingly dark and obscure. As such, one can see that Judah (Praise), which encompasses the land to the south (right) of the temple, is at the prominent position, the right hand.

This is the tribe Jesus came from. He who is the Praise of God now sits at the right hand, the position of prominence and authority of God. And yet, Benjamin, whose name means “Son of the Right Hand,” is to the north side of the temple area.

Thus, the idea of the right hand – that which is prominent and possesses authority – literally encompasses the area of the temple. These things are all a part of how God laid out the tribes through the blessing of Moses upon them.

To fully flesh out all the meaning that could be derived from these individual placements would be an immense and hugely rewarding study. There is just too much evidence for these things to be coincidence. There is marvelous beauty in everything seen, and it was all prophesied to be as it is even before Israel entered the land.

Many great things such as these are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessings to Zebulun and Issachar (verses 18 & 19)

18 And of Zebulun he said:

v’lizvulun amar – “And to Zebulun he said.” Zebulun is the sixth and final son born to Jacob’s wife Leah and the tenth born to Jacob. He has another brother, Issachar, who was born to Leah before he was. And yet, both Jacob and Moses first bless Zebulun before Issachar.

The record of Zebulun’s birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. And Leah said, ‘God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.’ So she called his name Zebulun.” Genesis 30:19, 20

Zebulun means Glorious Dwelling Place, and so Leah’s words at his birth, and the words of Jacob when he blessed him in Genesis 49, both make a play on his name. Using the thought of dwelling, Jacob said, “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea.”

Zebulun’s inheritance is located north of the tribe of those of Manasseh who are situated within the borders of Canaan. As such, the pattern of the order of the tribes surrounding Jerusalem in a somewhat discernible manner continues.

However, as noted in the introduction, because of Manasseh and Dan occupying more than one plot of land, this is not a hard and fast pattern, but it is surprising that the order of blessing continues, so far, to come as the tribes are further from the location of Jerusalem. To Zebulun Moses proclaims…

18 (con’t) “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,

It is exactingly translated: semakh zevulun b’tsetekha – “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out.” The meaning of this is a blessing of trade and commerce and of skill and ability in war, both of which are used concerning the word yatsa, or “going out,” elsewhere.

The original borders of Zebulun, according to the division of land recorded in Joshua 19, does not include any sea borders. And yet, when Jacob blessed him, he said –

“Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;
He shall become a haven for ships,
And his border shall adjoin Sidon.” Genesis 49:13

In those words, the word “sea” is plural. Literally, it says zebulun lekhoph yammim yishkon – “Zebulun at the shore of the seas shall dwell.” What it implies is that this tribe would fill the land between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea, or at least they would have access to them.

In the next clause, the Hebrew literally says, “And he to a shore of ships.” Even if he had no direct access to a shore, his inheritance included access to a shore where ships are unloaded. Actually, this is twofold in nature. The first is seen in Issachar’s coming blessing.

Because Zebulun is blessed before his older brother Issachar, it implies that the land of Issachar is jointly used by Zebulun who has been given priority over Issachar. This is the case in both the blessing of Jacob and of Moses.

This explains the reason for the blessing of both Jacob and Moses upon Zebulun before Issachar, even though Issachar was born first. Zebulun could gain access to the Sea of Galilee by traveling through the inheritance of Issachar.

However, he not only had access there, but also through Sidon, the land to the north, outside of Canaan. Sidon was the firstborn of Canaan. His territory was at the northerly end of the land of Canaan and is known for its prominent cities of Tyre and Sidon, cities still known and occupied at Jesus’ time. The city of Sidon was at the extreme northern border between Canaan and Lebanon, quite a long way from Zebulun.

But the larger territory was known for the city. This is just like the city of Tokyo in the prefecture of Tokyo. Tokyo city is just a small place, but the prefecture is large. The use of the name of the city for the larger territory is seen in the gospel of Luke –

“But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:25, 26

The name Sidon means “catching fish” or “plenty of fish.” Because the name Sidon was also given in Jacob’s prophecy, the Bible confirms that Zebulun will have a portion of coastal territory for its use. But, as noted a minute ago, the term “goings out” is also used in referring to warfare.

Zebulun is noted for its skill in warfare in Judges 4 and 5, especially as is recorded in the Song of Deborah. As such, Moses prophesies over Zebulun and blesses him in this manner. Next…

18 (con’t) And Issachar in your tents!

Again, the translation is correct: v’yisakar b’ohalekha – “And Issachar in your tents!” Issachar is the fifth son born to Leah and the ninth born to Jacob.

Issachar’s land is just to the east of Zebulun and a little closer to Jerusalem, but that doesn’t really harm the pattern of the tribes encircling the temple. Rather, it actually highlights it because of their situation in relation to Gad who will next be named. The record of Issachar’s birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’
15 But she said to her, ‘Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?’
And Rachel said, ‘Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.’
16 When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, ‘You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ And he lay with her that night.
17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, ‘God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.’” Genesis 30:14-18

His name means “He is Wages.” As for Moses’ blessing, dwelling in one’s tent gives the sense of peace, quietude, and contentment. The sentiment of Moses is not unlike portions of the blessing of Jacob upon this fifth son of Leah –

“Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between two burdens;
15 He saw that rest was good,
And that the land was pleasant;
He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden,
And became a band of slaves.” Genesis 49:14, 15

In the blessing of these two sons, one can see the contrasting parallel –

(a) *+Zebulun, in your going out,
(a) *And -Issachar in your tents!

The rejoicing applies to both. For Zebulun, it is the bustle of commercial life, trade, shipping, warfare, and so on. For Issachar, it is the quiet pursuit of agriculture and home life. For both, Moses continues…

19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain;

amim har yiqrau– “Peoples mountain they call.” The idea of these words is that from this area, there shall be a call to the sacred mountain, the mountain of the Lord. This is literally fulfilled in the words of Isaiah concerning the ministry of Christ –

“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:1, 2

This is cited in Matthew 4 as a direct reference to the ministry of the gospel going forth in this area. Because Issachar is blessed with Zebulun, they are, therefore, implicitly included in what is said by Isaiah.

Even though Jesus’ earthly ministry was specifically only to the people of Israel, it extended to Gentiles at times, and eventually, the New Covenant went out to all peoples. This is certainly the reference here. As such…

19 (con’t) There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness;

sham yizbekhu zivkhe tsedeq – “There they offer sacrifices righteous.” The sacrifices of the righteous are not simply sacrifices upon the altar. David, Isaiah, and others confirm this –

“Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.” Psalm 51:14-19

Only when the heart is right are sacrifices considered righteous. If the previous clause is referring to the ministry of Christ, this one – which is set in parallel – must as well. It is what Paul refers to in several ways, such as –

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1

The “great light” of Isaiah 9, the spreading of the gospel in Galilee of the Gentiles, leads to the righteous sacrifices being acceptable to God as they are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Next, Moses notes…

19 (con’t) For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas

ki shepha yamim yinaqu – “For abundance seas they suck.” The word shepha, or abundance, is found only here in Scripture. It is from an unused root meaning to abound. It is referring to the two seas which lay on either side, Galilee and the Mediterranean.

Due to their closeness, they would benefit from that which is derived from them. The word yanaq means “to suck,” but it is consistently used of nursing a child, as when babes are suckled.

Because the seas in both directions lead to interaction with Gentiles, I would say this continues to refer to the ministry of Christ expanding to them, something that occurred in the gospels, and which has continued for millennia. Further…

19 (con’t) And of treasures hidden in the sand.”

It is a very complicated clause, maybe the most complicated. The first two words are plural verbs forming a play on words: u-sephune temune khol – “And concealed hidden sand.” Another unique word is seen here, saphan. It comes from a root meaning to conceal, and so it refers to hiding.

Next, the word “and” is tied to the thought, “For they suck.” Thus, it is saying that they will partake of that thing which is hidden and concealed in the sand. But even the word “sand” is to be taken in connection with the words hidden and concealed.

As such, the whole thought reads something like: “And they will suck of the most hidden things.” And so, this is a direct reference to the words of Jesus, and of the continued words of the apostles –

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’” Luke 10:21, 22


“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

(a) Peoples mountain they call.
(a) There they offer sacrifices righteous.
(b) For *abundance seas they suck.
(b) And *concealed hidden sand.

Apart from the teachings of the Lord, including the gospel, the words have such a dubious meaning that they could mean almost anything. But in light of the gospel, they make complete sense. Especially when Jesus compares those who receive His words to babes. Next, we will see Gad and Dan…

When I bless you, you shall be blessed
And upon you shall come the blessings I state
When it is for comfort, you shall not be hard pressed
And when it is for love, there shall be no hate

With My blessing you will be blessed
You shall abound in the good things I proclaim
You need do nothing to receive it, you need take no test
My blessing is grace that stems from My name

Listen to My blessing and know it is true
It shall come pass, the words that I proclaim
The blessings I state shall come upon you
Because My blessing is grace that stems from My name

II. The Blessings to Gad and Dan (verses 20-22)

20 And of Gad he said:

u-l’gad amar – “And to Gad he said.” Gad is the first son born to Leah’s handmaid Zilpah and the seventh born to Jacob. Gad is east of Issachar and also east of the Jordan. The land extends from the Sea of Galilee almost to the Dead Sea, across from Benjamin. As such, it provides a buffer to the east for Jerusalem.

The record of his birth is noted in Genesis 30 –

“When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, ‘A troop comes!” So she called his name Gad.” Genesis 30:9-11

Gad can mean “A Troop,” but it also means “Good Fortune.” Of him, Moses says…

20 (con’t) “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad;

barukh markhiv gad – “Blessed he enlarges Gad.” Gad settled east of the Jordan and in a very large parcel. The thought of saying, “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad,” is referring to what has already happened, even though it is stated as if it is ongoing. The Lord provided a great expanse for Gad, and so Gad is enlarged into the future as he fills that expanse, continuing to subdue it.

20 (con’t) He dwells as a lion,

kelaviy shaken – “As lion he dwells.” This is referring to his residence in the land given to him. Despite it being already apportioned out to him by the Lord, it still had inhabitants in it from the nations who had settled it long before.

Therefore, to dwell as a lion means that he is ready to pounce, taking dominion over that which belongs to him. That then leads to the next thought…

20 (con’t) And tears the arm and the crown of his head.

v’taraph zeroa aph qadeqod – “And has torn arm, yea, crown of head.” The arm is the symbol of strength. The crown of the head symbolizes leadership and command. The symbolism, then, is that of Gad dwelling in his land, ever ready to enlarge his dominion over the area that he has already been provided.

Blessed he enlarges Gad. (The ultimate Force behind Gad’s enlargement. He is the Enlarger)
(a) *As lion +he dwells.
(a) *And +he has torn arm, yea, crown of head.

Though this speaks of Gad and his dominion, it ultimately surely anticipates Christ who is equated to a lion (even if from Judah) who destroyed the strength and the authority of the devil.

21 He provided the first part for himself,

v’yar reshit lo – “And he saw first to himself.” To “see” signifies to attend to, as in “See to it yourself.” Hence, this is referring to the land that was subdued east of the Jordan, even before entering Canaan.

When it was seen, Gad wanted it and determined to have it for his possession. This is what is being referred to. Next…

21 (con’t) Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there.

khelqat mekhoqeq saphun – “Portion lawgiver covered.” Here is a new word, saphan. It signifies to cover, such as in paneling a house. It is the root of the unique word saphan just introduced in verse 19. It is assumed here that the lawgiver is Moses. As such, it would then mean that the portion of land granted by Moses to Gad is preserved for Gad.

21 (con’t) He came with the heads of the people;

v’yete rashe am – “And he comes heads people.” This is referring to the agreement made allowing Gad and the other tribes to remain in the land east of the Jordan –

“So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel. 29 And Moses said to them: ‘If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben cross over the Jordan with you, every man armed for battle before the Lord, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead as a possession. 30 But if they do not cross over armed with you, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.’” Numbers 32:28-30

The conditions were agreed upon, and thus Gad, named first in regard to these tribes, was to lead the people in the conquest of Canaan.

21 (con’t) He administered the justice of the Lord,

sidqat Yehovah asah – “Justice Yehovah he has done.” The thought is to be considered with the next clause…

21 (con’t) And His judgments with Israel.”

u-mishpata im Yisrael – “And His judgments with Israel.” This and the previous clause could mean one of two things. Either he executed the justice and judgments of the Lord upon Canaan, or he complied with the justice and judgments of the Lord that were set in the conditions for him to return to his land.

Either way, the two clauses are referring to Gad’s obedience in going forth with Israel in order to secure their own possession in the land east of the Jordan.

(a) And he saw first to himself
(a) Portion lawgiver covered

(a) And he comes heads people
(b) +Justice Yehovah *he has done
(b) *And +His judgments with Israel

22 And of Dan he said:

u-l’dan amar – “And to Dan he said.” Dan is the first son born to Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah and the fifth born to Jacob. Dan’s allotment was originally West of Ephraim, and so it would seem that the pattern of the tribes encircling the area of Jerusalem is disturbed in his placement, but that would be incorrect.

Rather, Dan fills in the area westward, even to the Mediterranean Sea, but Dan eventually moved to the extreme north of the land in an area where the Jordan River begins, just below Mount Hermon. It straddles that, and so it meets together with the half-tribe of Manasseh to the east and Naphtali to the west.

As such, it is fitting that Dan is now mentioned, rather than where it was originally allocated land as noted in Joshua.

The record of his birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’
And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’
So she said, ‘Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.’ Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, ‘God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.’ Therefore she called his name Dan.’” Genesis 30:1-6

Dan means “Judge.” Of him, Moses says…

22 (con’t) “Dan is a lion’s whelp;

dan gur aryeh – “Dan whelp lion.” There is a play on words in this that is not yet evident. Moses is equating Dan with a lion, prophetically indicating both where and how he would settle. And this, despite the allocation for land originally given in Joshua. That is next seen with the words..

22 (con’t)He shall leap from Bashan.”


yezaneq min ha’bashan – “He leaps from the Bashan.” Here is a word found only this once in the Bible, zanaq. It comes from a root meaning to draw together the feet as an animal would when it is about to dart upon prey. Hence, it means to spring forward.

Moses identifies Dan with the Bashan, the area to the extreme north of the land, and – as I noted – it straddles the area that leads into the Jordan River. But more, when Moses goes to view the land before he dies, this is recorded there –

“And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan.” Deuteronomy 34:1

Despite the lot for Dan being drawn in a completely different area, it was already known that Dan would settle to the far north, even beyond the land of Gilead. The lengthy record of the events of them moving to this area is found in Judges 18. Toward the end of the chapter, it says –

“So they took the things Micah had made, and the priest who had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no ties with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth Rehob. So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. 29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel. However, the name of the city formerly was Laish.” Judges 18:27-29

The name Laish means “Lion.” Dan sprang forth upon Laish (Lion), just as a lion springs forth. Hence, Moses is making a prophetic pun upon what would occur in the future as Dan took its place to the far north.

With the short blessing complete, one can see the simple a/b structure of it –

(a) Dan whelp lion.
(b) He leaps from the Bashan.

Because of the obvious fulfillment of the words of Moses, liberal scholars take this – along with many other words of the blessings – as having been written many generations later. That is completely dismissive of the idea that God could inspire his prophets to proclaim the future.

As such, it is dismissive of the fact that this is God’s word. If these things were written later, then they would be the writings of man without God’s inspiration. And if this is so, then the Bible is simply a collection of man’s writings without any spiritual value at all, because man is – after all – a corrupt, fallen being.

But the writings here in Deuteronomy are God’s inspired words. I have personally never seen any study on the layout of these tribes as I mentioned them to you at the beginning of the sermon, and yet they form a definite and distinct pattern.

Therefore, it is its own confirmation that these are the words of Moses as inspired by the Lord. They were not written later in order to fulfill some sort of pre-set, or man-determined pattern. If they were, the pattern would have been noted and everyone would know about it.

And this is the same with dozens of other patterns that we have drawn out from the text as we have proceeded through the books of Moses. Whether they are geographical, ancestorial, numerical, word-based (such as chiasms), or other types of patterns, we have come across so many that have never been seen before that it is beyond credulity that they came about by mere chance.

And yet, as far as I know, there is no historical record of them having been noted by anyone else. This means that they were probably never seen before by anyone. And yet, they are there, and they are unmistakable.

And because many of them overlap with other things that also form patterns, they could not have been inserted later. They had to be there all along. Chiasms, for example, may overlap many verses that are prophetic in nature. If those prophetic verses were inserted later, as scholars who deny prophecy claim, then the chiasm would not exist.

Understanding these things, we have to either accept that this is truly the word of God, telling in advance what will come to pass before it happens, or this book is the greatest aberration in the history of the universe, because things that could not otherwise exist in it do, in fact, exist.

Where will you place your faith? If this book is not the word of God, then everything it says about Jesus – everything – is false. This is because Jesus Himself clearly stated that this is, in fact, the word of God and that it testifies to who He is.

One cannot logically say, “I accept the premise of the New Testament and I believe in Jesus and yet I do not accept as inspired the words of the Old Testament.” The thinking is confused, erratic, and clearly unclear.

It is no different than someone saying, I believe in Jesus and yet I do not believe that He is the only way to be reconciled to God. That is a logical contradiction because Jesus Himself said that He is the only way to be reconciled to God.

If you don’t believe what He says, then you don’t believe Him. And if He is a liar, then why – tell me why! – you would want to believe in Him. If you want to follow a god who lies to you, I can direct you to lots of other gods. You can pick any of them and you will get exactly what you are looking for.

But if you want to follow the God who is truthful because He is the Truth, I can only direct you to one God. He is the God of the Bible, and He is the embodiment of truth. And because Scripture is given by Him and tells us about Him, you can be fully confident that Scripture is absolute truth.

Be sound in your thinking, be confident in your theology, and be right in your doctrine. Come to the Source of all wisdom and truth. Come to Jesus, the Word of God.

Closing Verse: “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:44, 45

Next Week: Deuteronomy 33:23-29 Moses is almost through blessing, but there is still a little more… (Moses Blesses Israel, Part IV) (103rd Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Moses Blesses Israel, Part III

And of Zebulun he said:
Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out
And Issachar in your tents! Give a shout!

They shall call the peoples to the mountain
There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness in the land
For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas
And of treasures hidden in the sand

And of Gad he said:
“Blessed is he who enlarges Gad
He dwells as a lion in his spread
And tears the arm
And the crown of his head

He provided the first part for himself
Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there
He came with the heads of the people, so to you I tell
He administered the justice of the LORD
And His judgments with Israel

And of Dan he said:
“Dan is a lion’s whelp going on and on
He shall leap from Bashan

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…














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.”

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.”

22 And of Dan he said:

“Dan is a lion’s whelp;
He shall leap from Bashan.”




Deuteronomy 33:12-17 (Moses Blesses Israel, Part II)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

Deuteronomy 33:12-17
Moses Blesses Israel, Part II

This may seem like a curiosity to you but right now there is an American oil company in Israel, that is drilling for oil in the area referred to in Moses’ words today, and the owner is basing his reasoning on verses from Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33, both from the blessings spoken over Joseph –

“By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.” Genesis 49:25, 26


“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,
14 With the precious fruits of the sun,
With the precious produce of the months,
15 With the best things of the ancient mountains,
With the precious things of the everlasting hills,
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,” Deuteronomy 33:13-16

Whether you agree with his reasoning or not, the land spoken of by both Jacob and Moses is still there, it is identifiable through historical records, and the company – Zion Oil and Gas – is there drilling wells.

Text Verse: “I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10

Whether you agree with his insights into the prophecies of Jacob and Moses, one thing is for sure: their words, and all the other prophetic oracles of God that are found in the Bible are true and they ultimately lead us to Jesus or at least an understanding of what He has done, is doing, or will do.

We will see more of that in our verses today. As far as Zion Oil and Gas, they put out occasional updates on the status of things. At the time I typed this sermon, their most recent update was as of February 16 –

Dear Zion Supporters and Shareholders,
2022 has kicked off to a fast and exciting start for Zion and its operations team as we prepare to continue developing and testing the MJ-02 well.
We are pleased to announce that all necessary services for completing the well, along with enhancement and reservoir testing, have been secured.
Zion has partnered with some of the leading Petro physicists and stimulation experts in the United States to plan the next phase of the operation.
As Zion continues to navigate manufacturing and logistical delays, the plan is to resume operations in quarter one.
These operations will start with necessary re-certifications and inspection of the rig while also upgrading critical systems that will benefit this operation and allow for enhanced drilling operations in the future.
Upon completing the inspections, upgrades, and rigging up, the crew will complete the final casing and tubular run before moving on to the enhancement and reservoir testing phase.
We continually give thanks to God and our loyal shareholders and supporters who make all this possible.
We will continue to provide material updates when we have relevant information to share with the public.


Rob Dunn

The company is registered with the SEC, it has stocks for purchase, and who knows if they will ever hit the big time. If they do, the stock will probably be worth a lot, but it may not last long. If large amounts of oil show up in Israel, the nations will suddenly find a reason to go in and take things over.

That is always a possibility based on other very clear passages of Scripture. Amazing things such as this possible prophecy of oil in the land of Joseph are based on verses found in God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessing to Benjamin (verse 12)

In the previous sermon, Judah – the fourth son of Jacob and Leah – was blessed before Levi, the third son. Simeon was left out of a blessing, probably because he was eventually dispersed in, and assimilated into, Judah.

Now, the two sons of Jacob and his beloved Rachel will be blessed, and they are again out of birth order. Moses first blesses Benjamin and only then will he bless Joseph.

Because Benjamin is blessed before Joseph, critical scholars try to say that this order, and thus the blessing, actually dates to the time of the kings where Benjamin was the tribe of the first king of Israel, Saul. But there is no reason to assume this at all. Judah was already blessed before Levi, and Simeon has been left out of a blessing.

There is more reason to believe that God’s foreknowledge of future events superintends over the blessings given by Moses than that the blessings are some sort of later fabrication.

As for an immediate reason why the blessings are noted as Judah / Levi / Benjamin, it cannot go without notice that the future temple of the Lord will be in Jerusalem.

This then forms a sort of geographical prophecy where Judah is to the south, the temple is in Jerusalem that is on Judah’s northern border, and then Benjamin is on the north of that.

As the temple is identified with those who ministered in it, meaning the priests and the Levites, we can see the pattern found in Moses’ order of blessing from south to north – Judah / Levi / Benjamin.

Later, Judges 1:8 says, “Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire.” And yet, in the same chapter, it says, “But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day” (Judges 1:21).

Throughout the time of the kings, Jerusalem is said to be in Judah, and yet, again and again, people both from Judah and Benjamin are noted as being in Jerusalem. Further, the geographical overlapping of the two is also noted, even after the exile, such as in Ezra 1 –

“Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:5

But more, I would argue that the entire set of blessings upon the tribes – from Reuben to Asher – form an interesting pattern, a sort of circle around the temple in Jerusalem, in the order in which they are pronounced.

So far, Reuben is east of Jerusalem and outside of Canaan proper. Then it went south to Judah, which is inclusive of Simeon. This would explain why Simeon had no blessing. If the blessings are based upon situation in relation to the temple, and because Simeon is within the boundaries of Judah, then there was no need to give a separate blessing to them.

After Judah, it then went to Levi, emblematic of the temple, then it will next go to Benjamin, the land bordering the north of where the temple is. As such, the next blessing, the blessing of Benjamin, begins with…

12 Of Benjamin he said:

l’binyamin amar – “To Benjamin he said.” Benjamin is the younger of the two sons of Rachel and the twelfth son born to Jacob. Upon him, Moses pronounces that he is…

12  (con’t) “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,

yedid Yehovah yishkon lavetakh alav – “Beloved Yehovah shall dwell to security upon Him.” The blessing of Benjamin speaks of his geographical situation. The words are difficult and highly debated, but it appears that this is, in fact, referring to Benjamin’s future placement in relation to the House of God. He thus dwells “upon” the Lord.

Lange says it cannot be speaking of this because the words Moses pronounces speak of the state (how) he lives rather than the location (where) he lives. But both can be true at the same time. The where, meaning in relation to the temple, leads to the how, meaning its safety and continuance.

The layout of the tribes provided a sort of buffer around where the temple is located, both in physical geography and in spiritual affiliation.

In his words now, Moses introduces the word yadid. It is an adjective that will be seen nine times, always in poetry. It is from the same root as dod, the noun meaning “beloved.” Benjamin is the beloved of Yehovah.

Benjamin means, “Son of the Right Hand.” As such, there is a definite hint of Jesus who is the Son at the right hand of the Father and who is the Beloved of the Lord. It is He who rests securely upon Him. Next, Moses says of him…

12  (con’t) Who shelters him all the day long;

khopheph alav kal ha’yom – “Covering him all the day.” This is a most rare word, found only here, khaphaph. It is related to yakheph, or barefoot. The foot is uncovered. Here, however, the word is speaking of being covered.

The word itself is closely connected to the word khuppah, which is a canopy for protection and a bridal chamber. Benjamin would be covered at all times in his dwelling. The sentiment of these words appears to be reflected extending into the future of Jerusalem where the word khuppah, or covering is explicitly used when referring to it –

“In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped.
And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering [khuppah]. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.” Isaiah 4:2-6

With this understood, Moses speaks on…

12  (con’t) And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”

u-ben kethepha shaken – “And between His shoulders dwells.” Between the shoulders would signify to ride upon the back, and thus to be carried along. Metaphorically, the shoulders are referring to mountain slopes.

As this is speaking of Benjamin, this is taken by many scholars to refer to the two mountain peaks, Zion belonging to Judah, and Moriah in the land of Benjamin. However, that seems to be coopting that which is intended for Judah.

As such, I would think it just as likely, or more so, to be referring to Mount Moriah on the south and Bethel on the north. Mount Moriah is where the temple, the house of God, was erected –

“Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.” 2 Chronicles 3:1, 2

Bethel, on the north, means “House of God.” Thus, the “shoulders” of Benjamin would then be referring to these two locations which include, or which are called, the “House of God.” When looked at on a map, the two locations literally look like the two shoulders of the land. Thus, the blessing is that of a realtor’s dream: location, location, location –

To Benjamin he said.
Beloved Yehovah shall dwell to security upon Him.
Covering him all the day.
And between His shoulder dwells.

The entire prophecy of Benjamin looks to the future concerning Jesus, the Son at God’s right hand, the beloved of the Lord who rests safely upon the Lord, covered by Him, and dwelling in the House of God. Next, Moses turns to Benjamin’s older brother…

I will bless you with a blessing
And you shall be blessed as My words convey
There will be no doubt; there will be no guessing
Things will come to pass just as I say

The future is known because I am already there
If you could understand this, things would go well
I tell in advance because I care
If My words you dismiss, you will pave a path to hell

But if you listen to My words, including this blessing
You will find the way to heaven is opened to you
There will be no doubt and there will be no guessing
Listen to My words which are faithful and true

II. The Blessing to Joseph (verses 13-17)

If you set the blessing of Jacob upon Joseph side by side with the one now from Moses, you will see how closely they parallel one another. I won’t highlight that for you, but if you have the time and motivation, it would be a short and fun project for you to do. With that, we now turn to Moses’ words to this son of Israel…

13 And of Joseph he said:

u-l’yoseph amar – “And to Joseph he said.” Joseph is the older of the two sons of Rachel and the eleventh son born to Jacob. Joseph is actually divided into the tribes of his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.

Ephraim is next north of Benjamin, and Manasseh is both north and then northeast of Ephraim, being divided into two sections that rest on both sides of the Jordan. Thus, the pattern of the order of the tribes surrounding Jerusalem in a somewhat discernible fashion continues with this tribe divided into two tribes. For now, upon Joseph, Moses pronounces that…

13 (con’t) “Blessed of the Lord is his land,

meboreket Yehovah artso – “Blessed Yehovah his land.” The blessing of Joseph pertains predominantly to the land. It is a land that would abound in productivity, and this has been noted as true concerning the areas where Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph who were adopted by Jacob, settled. The land is promised to be blessed…

13 (con’t) With the precious things of heaven, with the dew,

mi’meged shemayim mital – “From preciousness heavens, from dew.” Another new word, meged, is used. It is a noun that will be seen five times in the blessing upon Joseph, and then only three more times, all in the Song of Solomon.

The meaning of it is obscure, but James Strong places it as coming from a root probably meaning “eminent.” As such it is a distinguished thing or something valuable. That which is precious from heaven would be the rains, favorable climate, and so on.

The next word, mital, means “from dew.” However, some manuscripts have one letter changed, making it to say meal, or “from above.” Thus, some translations say this instead.

Either way, the thought is similar, but I would go with “from the dew.” As such, it would then be a separate category. One can see this when is the two are placed side by side –

Blessed Yehovah his land.
From preciousness heavens, from dew. (separate category)
Blessed Yehovah his land.
From preciousness heavens, from above. (second explains first)

Dew comes less from heaven than from the interaction between the immediate ground and the surrounding air as moisture condenses. When taken with the next clause, it being a separate category would then follow through more logically…

13 (con’t) And the deep lying beneath,

u’mi’tehom rovetseth takhath – “And from deep crouching underneath.” The tehom is a void or an abyss. As such, it is where water flows up from underground. Here Moses poetically portrays it as a recumbent animal that crouches below. Combining this with the previous clauses, one can see why I feel “from dew” is the correct meaning –

Blessed Yehovah his land.
From preciousness heavens (water from above), from dew (water from ground level).
And from deep crouching underneath (water from below).

Without water, life dries up and dies. But with water, everything is fruitful and abundant. That is what Moses will confirm concerning the land of Joseph in the next beautifully painted words…

14 With the precious fruits of the sun,

u-mi’meged tevuoth shamesh – “And from preciousness increases sun.” The sun is that which rises from day to day. Throughout the Bible, it is reflective of that state. Thus, it speaks of life being lived one day at a time as each day is “the day.” There is tomorrow, but when it comes, it becomes “the day.”

Each day, the sun will bless Joseph where he will receive abundance in the increases (produce, fruits, crops, etc.) of the day. The words speak of abundance arising from the events of the day…

14 (con’t) With the precious produce of the months,

u-mi’meged geresh yerakhim – “And from preciousness [the] casting moons.” Here is a word found only once in Scripture, geresh. It is a noun coming from the common verb garash which refers to casting out or driving out (such as an enemy), divorcing, and so on. Hence, one can think of expatriating.

The moon here speaks of the months. Each moon is one month, and thus, it speaks of the cycle of the year as it passes. As the various crops produce their fruit, they are said to cast them off. The contrasting parallelism between the clauses is evident –

And from preciousness increases sun. (daily cycle)
And from preciousness [the] casting moons. (monthly cycle)

One can see the workings of the Lord in this where Jesus speaks of each day being sufficient for its own trouble, meaning relying on the produce of the day as each day produces. And yet, He also speaks of the fields being white for harvest, which is a cyclical thing that comes as the months pass.

And more, Jesus is the fulfillment of both the daily sacrifices at the temple as well as each sacrifice that occurs during the months of the year. Now, with the marvelous words of this verse complete, Moses speaks on…

15 With the best things of the ancient mountains,

u-me’rosh harerei qedem – “And from excellency mountains ancient.” Translations will vary widely on this because the words can have several meanings. The word rosh means “head.” As such, it can signify the first, the top, the best, and so on.

The word “ancient” is qedem, which literally means “east,” but east in Scripture also signifies that which is before. The sun rises there. And because it comes from seemingly nowhere, it then speaks of the unknown past – that which is in antiquity, is ancient, is eternal.

I translate it as “excellency” because it is a singular noun, but the word “mountains” is plural. Also, I say “ancient” rather than “east,” otherwise, one might say “top of the mountains of the east,” signifying the mountains of Gilead and Bashan where some of Joseph settled. But more, using excellency will also maintain parallelism with the next clause.

The words now speak of what is derived from these higher areas, be it grasslands for flocks and herds, trees, vines, olives, minerals, and so on. Whatever these elevations uniquely provide, that is the excellency derived from them. Also…

15 (con’t) With the precious things of the everlasting hills,

u-mi’meged givoth olam – “And from preciousness hills antiquity.” It is the same word used three times already in the past two verses, meged, or preciousness. The word givah is a hill, and here it is plural, givoth. And the word olam signifies “to the vanishing point.” Thus, it is an indeterminate amount of time.

In other words, the clause is perfectly parallel to the previous clause –

And from excellency mountains ancient.
And from preciousness hills antiquity.

As for typology, I would say these words look beyond the hills and mountains, here termed Ancient and Antiquity. Though they are old, they didn’t create themselves. Rather, they came from the wisdom of God in creation. If there is an ancient hill, there is One more ancient that created it, meaning He was there before the hill.

As such, it is reflective of the words of James concerning God –

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:16, 17

It is Christ who came from God and who is described with both the word qedem and olam in Micah –

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2

As for Joseph, the high places – the mountains and hills that were founded in the primeval past – will yield that which is excellent and precious for Joseph. And more…

16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,

u-mi’meged erets u-meloah – “And from preciousness land and its fullness.” This speaks of the overall favor of the land, whether on mountain, hill, valley, or plain. Where Joseph would settle, in its fullness, there would be abundance. But more…

16 (con’t) And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.

u-retson shokeni seneh – “And favor Him dwells bush.” Moses returns to his time of calling on Mount Sinai where he met the Lord God who called to him from the bush. It was there that Moses was told that the promise to the fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – would be realized from Him through Moses.

Just as Israel had received His favor, and just as Moses has been bestowed the good pleasure of the Lord, so this same Source of blessing is now pronounced to come upon Joseph. The clauses are parallel –

And from preciousness land and its fullness.
And favor Him dwells bush.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, and the Lord dwells in the bush that is on the earth. Moses pronounces that the blessing would come up from the land possessed by the Lord, and out from the Lord of the bush…

16 (con’t) Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph,

tabothah l’rosh Yoseph – “Let come to head Joseph.” The verb is cohortative. Thus, it is like saying, “Let everything come upon the head of Joseph that has just been pronounced.” To have it come upon the head is its own blessing. An example of this is found in the 133rd Psalm –

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.” Psalm 133

A blessing upon the head is one that will then continue down the whole body and even to the feet. The clause is then set parallel to the next one…

16 (con’t) And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’

u-l’qadeqod nezir ekhav – “And to crown of head Nazirite his brothers.” The nazir signifies someone consecrated, devoted, and so on.

What this seems to be saying is that his brothers devoted him or consecrated him to taking on the bonds of a slave. As such, he was set apart to that. Despite this state, however, Moses asks for all of the blessings pronounced to come upon the very crown of his head.

The clauses form somewhat of a pun and a contrasting parallel. Joseph, or Yoseph, means “He shall add.” And yet, the brothers separated him from themselves –

Let come to head Joseph.
And to crown head Nazirite his brothers.

The four clauses anticipate Christ who is the One to receive the ultimate blessing of the inheritance of the earth from the Lord who dwells in the bush. Further, Joseph anticipates Christ in the meaning of his name.

Yoseph, or “He shall Add” speaks of the One who adds (yasaph) to the people of God through His ministry. But the name is also based on the word asaph, to take away. He is the One who takes away the reproach of His people.

At the same time, He was separated from His brothers being set apart to the bondage of the law in order to free His brothers from it. The totality of Moses’ words speaks of Joseph, but they anticipate Christ. Moses next says…

17 His glory is like a firstborn bull,

bekor shoro hadar lo – “Firstborn his bull magnificence to him.” The object of the words is his (Joseph’s) seed, not Joseph. Some say that this is referring to Ephraim as his firstborn bull.

This is because though not the firstborn, Jacob blessed Ephraim as such, placing him above his brother, Manasseh. When Joseph told Jacob he was blessing the wrong son, Jacob corrected him –

“I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, 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.” Genesis 49:19

Ephraim was the one who grew into the most powerful of the sons and who was called melo ha’goyim, or “fullness the nations,” by Jacob. However, I would argue that this bull is referring to both sons – Manasseh, the firstborn, and Ephraim, the second, the one placed as firstborn.

I think this will be evident as we go on. It is the collective, Ephraim and Manasseh, that Moses is saying would be magnificence to Joseph. He next says…

17 (con’t) And his horns like the horns of the wild ox;

v’qarne ra’em qarna – “And horns [wild] ox His horns.” The horn is a symbol of power. It is saying that this bull’s power would be like the horns of the reem, or wild ox. The symbolism is both majestic and terrible.

As a side note for all KJV-only readers, the words here show a mistranslation and a contradiction in that translation. They say, “and his horns are like the horns of unicorns.”

The word “unicorns” is decidedly incorrect. First, there are no such things. But even if the old English word speaks of a rhino or something else with one horn, the Hebrew word is singular – “unicorn.”

And so, no matter what, the translation is wrong because a unicorn has only one horn. Therefore, this is another of the innumerable errors found in that translation. It is just a ridiculously funny one.

As for the words, the two clauses are parallel –

Firstborn his bull magnificence to him.
And horns [wild] ox His horns.

The bull is magnificent, and the horns stand out prominently, further revealing his magnificence. But a bull with two horns is a two-horned bull. The horns then represent the tribes of the two sons…

17 (con’t) Together with the

bahem – “In them.” Despite the division by the NKJV, this word should be a part of the next words. As such…

17 (con’t) He shall push the peoples

bahem amim yenagakh – “In them peoples he butts.” It is referring to the horns of the wild ox. In these two horns, Joseph’s seed would butt the peoples. It is a butting bull, pushing and goring as he goes, constantly moving the peoples back as he progresses, even…

17 (con’t) To the ends of the earth;

yakhdav aphse arets – “Together ends land.” The word “together” is referring to both horns working as one, pushing and thrusting the people to the ends of the land of Canaan. Again, the clauses are parallel –

In them peoples he butts.
Together ends land.

The horn pushes the people, and the horns work together to do so. The bull is the seed of Jacob, the horns represent the divisions, Ephraim and Manasseh working as one to clear the land. From there, the blessing now speaks of the two horns, naming them individually…

17 (con’t) They are the ten thousands of Ephraim,

v’hem rivoth Ephraim – “And they myriads Ephraim.” It refers to the immense size of the tribe. He has grown into a family of giant proportions, filling the land. Next, the second horn is named…

17 (con’t) And they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

v’hem alphe menasheh – “And they thousands Manasseh.” Though smaller by a factor of maybe ten or more, the tribe will be large and strong. Together, the two tribes form from one bull which is the magnificence to Joseph.

Ephraim means, “twice fruitful,” but it also means “ashes.” He pictures Jesus. He is twice fruitful in the land of His affliction, prevailing over the law and thus becoming the Savior of Jew and Gentile, but his work also meant that sin was judged in Him; thus the ashes, a sign of judgment.

Both names have a dual meaning, just as for Joseph. Manasseh means “to forget” but it also means “from a debt.” He pictures Christ who replaces Adam the man who owes a debt but whose debt is forgotten in Christ.

The two together then anticipate the explosive growth of the gospel as it pushes out further and further, even to the ends of the earth. There is both a literal and a symbolic meaning to the blessings of Moses. Each can be seen to anticipate what Christ would do –

Firstborn his bull magnificence to him.
And horns [wild] ox His horns.
In them peoples he butts.
Together ends land.
And they myriads Ephraim.
And they thousands Manasseh.
And to Joseph he said.
Blessed Yehovah his land.
From preciousness heavens, from dew.
And from deep crouching underneath.
And from preciousness increases sun.
And from preciousness casting moons.
And from excellency mountains ancient.
And from preciousness hills antiquity.
And from preciousness land and its fullness.”
And favor Him dwells bush.
Let come to head Joseph.
And to crown of head Nazirite his brothers.
Firstborn his bull magnificence to him.
And horns [wild] ox His horns.
In them peoples he butts.
Together ends land.
And they myriads Ephraim.
And they thousands Manasseh.

Typology is the kind of thing that one must be careful with, and it can be stretched too far if we aren’t careful. In the evaluation of these blessings, I have tried to be conservative in what is presented in this regard.

The literal is obvious. Moses is blessing these tribes in prophetic utterances that will literally take place. He is also doing it in a manner that makes a rather interesting pattern of the tribes around where the temple in Jerusalem is.

But more, the words are certainly anticipating the coming of Christ. Some of the typology is rather obvious. Some of it is a bit more difficult. But in the end, Moses is setting the tribes in their locations and in their circumstances which will continue on for well over a thousand years before Christ comes.

The land will continue to be occupied by Israel until He comes, even if it is ruled by outsiders. And when He came, it was to these twelve tribes. Paul makes this obvious when he spoke to King Agrippa in Acts –

“To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” Acts 26:7, 8

His words are in the present tense. Twelve tribes were serving God in hopes of attaining the promise. Though they had been jumbled around, dispersed among the nations, and bullied by those around them, the tribes remained, and the hope remained as well.

Christ, the fulfillment of that hope, came, and yet they missed Him. But the promise remains for them, and it will come to its fulfillment when they call out to Him. Until that day, the message – this wonderful message of hope – continues on in the world.

Let us be wise and check out whether it is true. I honestly believe that if you are willing to put in the effort and check, you will come to the conclusion that countless souls around the world have also come to. The hope of Israel, and the blessings they are promised, are realized in Christ.

And for any who will come to Him, he too will share in the commonwealth of Israel. Come to Christ and share in this wonderful state of blessing that the Lord has pronounced in His precious and sacred word.

Closing Verse: “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!
Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
Stir up Your strength,
And come and save us!” Psalm 80:1, 2

Next Week: Deuteronomy 33:18-22 Moses continues to bless, as you will see... (Moses Blesses Israel, Part III) (102nd Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Moses Blesses Israel, Part II

Of Benjamin he said:
The beloved of the LORD
Shall dwell in safety by Him as well
Who shelters him all the day long
And he shall between His shoulders dwell

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 too

With the precious fruits of the sun
With the precious produce of the months, as the Lord wills
With the best things of the ancient mountains
With the precious things of the everlasting hills

With the precious things of the earth and its fullness
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush
———-according to His druthers
Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph
And on the crown of the head of him who was
———-separate from his brothers

His glory is like a firstborn bull
And his horns like the horns of the wild ox, such their worth
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, what a team!

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

























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.”

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,
14 With the precious fruits of the sun,
With the precious produce of the months,
15 With the best things of the ancient mountains,
With the precious things of the everlasting hills,
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.’
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.”

Deuteronomy 33:1-5 (The Lord Came From Sinai)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson.

Deuteronomy 33:1-5
The Lord Came From Sinai

Despite very difficult Hebrew at times, there are unmistakable anticipations of Christ in our first three verses today. But the Hebrew is also beautiful in how it portrays the Lord even from a simple reading without looking at the finer details of what is presented.

What is rather interesting is that Moses says that the Lord came from Sinai, but some people conduct their lives as if He never left there. Instead, it is as if He is still there to this day, issuing out commands and prophecies.

At least, this is the substance behind their theology. Sinai was chosen to reveal things about what Jesus would do. It was also chosen to be a point of reference for the law itself and how the law fit into the greater picture of redemptive history.

It is not that the Lord came from Sinai and keeps coming from Sinai, but that Sinai is a point of reference for us to understand what He would do, what He did do, and what that means for our walk before the Lord.

Paul shows us this in the book of Galatians through a simple explanation of the metaphorical nature of what the word of the Lord has presented in three separate things –

1) the account of Abraham, his wife, his bondwoman, and the children that issued from them;
2) the giving of the law at Sinai; and
3) the administration of that law in Jerusalem, or the administration of the New Covenant from heaven.

His words form our text verse today…

Text Verse: “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:21-26

Abraham was given a promise. The promise cannot be later annulled by some other event. It stands between the Lord and him regardless of the introduction or fulfillment of any other thing.

In awaiting the continuance of that promise, which we later find out is a son through his wife (the freewoman) Sarah, Abraham had a child through Sarah’s servant (the bondwoman), Hagar.

Paul tells us that God used those events to symbolically tell us a greater story. The child of the bondwoman, Ishmael, came in the normal way children come, according to the flesh. If you don’t know about that yet, ask your mom. The point is that the son was born through a bondwoman.

The child of the freewoman, however, came according to a promise. As this is so, even if the child was conceived and born in the typical way, the fact that he came by a promise from God was not.

With this understood, Paul tells us that the birth of these sons symbolically anticipated what God would do through His covenants. The first covenant, the one at Sinai, brings forth sons born into bondage because the covenant itself is one of bondage.

This covenant, the one initiated at Sinai, was administered in Jerusalem, at the temple. It is a covenant of bondage. This is because sin is bondage. The law is what makes sin possible, and in violating the law, sin comes about. There is nothing free about the law. The law is bondage because it leads to sin. As this is so, those who are under the law are in bondage.

On the other hand, there is another covenant, the Christ Covenant that came through His work in fulfillment of the law. Being sinless, he had nothing binding Him. He was free, and He remained free.

In His death, He brought the law of bondage to an end for all who believe. As Paul says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). This is the covenant of promise, and it corresponds to Sarah’s giving birth to Abraham’s son Isaac, which came by promise.

This covenant is administered in the heavenly Jerusalem. And as Sarah was free, so is the Jerusalem in heaven. Thus, the sons of this covenant are free. There is no bondage because there is no sin that comes from or through the administration of this covenant.

As this is so, one must decide where he will hang his hat. It is not a matter to be taken lightly. It is the most important decision one who is presented with the two covenants can make. The Jews, to this day, have made their choice to follow Moses and the covenant made at Sinai.

Many supposed Christians have made the same choice as the Jews. One cannot have one foot in the law and one foot in Christ. It is one or the other, and if the law is a part of either, then the law – by default – takes precedence (see Galatians 5:3).

And then, there are those who have come to Christ alone in order to find their peace with God. They are free because Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). Without law, there is no sin (Romans 5:13). Without sin, there is no bondage. Thus, in Christ, we are free.

This is an important point to understand because our verses today deal with it. It is great and glorious what Jesus Christ has done. The marvel of it is to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. He Hides the Peoples (verses 1-3)

Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed

The Hebrew bears an article overlooked by all translations: v’zoth ha’berakah asher berakh mosheh ish ha’elohim – “And this the blessing which blessed Moses, man THE God.”

Out of about twenty-six hundred uses of the word Elohim, or God, the definite article is used with it less than four hundred times. It is always purposeful, and it is used when referring to man’s relationship, or interactions, with the true God.

Moses is not just a man of God, but he is a man of THE God. His life was, and continues to be, noted as one that is fully in line with the intents, purposes, and goals of the one true God. This is the first time the title “man of the God” is found in Scripture. It will be a term used frequently of Elijah and Elisha in the books of Kings.

But more than even this, the statement indicates that his words – as recorded in the books that are credited to him – are the words of the true God as well. His words are divine communications being conveyed through him. This includes the final words of his that are recorded in this chapter of Deuteronomy.

The inclusion of the article sets off Moses the man, and his words, as being aligned wholly and completely with Yehovah, the one true God. The blessing given is one by which Moses blessed…

1 (con’t) the children of Israel

eth bene Yisrael – “sons Israel.” The words speak of the sons of Israel by their names, Reuben, Judah, and the other remaining ones as well. However, the idea obviously extends to those who issue from them. The whole is accounted as Israel, but then there is a division that separates the whole into individual, set, and specific lines by which the people are designated.

Saying the term “children” as many translations do is not inappropriate. They are sons, but the people who issue from the sons are young and old, male and female, etc. But more to the point, they are “children” under the law. Paul explains this theological point in Galatians 4 –

“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:1-7

As this is so, translating this as “sons” or as “children” are both acceptable, depending on what reference point is being spoken of. It is to this body of people, Israel, and specifically to the individual tribes that issue from him, that Moses will now bless the people…

1 (con’t) before his death.

The act of blessing here is one that was seen in the lives of both Isaac, who is the father of Israel, and of Israel, from whom these lines issue forth –

“Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son.’
And he answered him, ‘Here I am.’
Then he said, ‘Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.’” Genesis 27:1-4


“And Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:’” … “And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.” Genesis 49:1 & 33

Isaac had intended to bless Esau, but through cunning and trickery Jacob had received the blessing. Just prior to his own demise, Jacob likewise gave forth his blessing upon his sons. As for Moses, he is the leader of the people and their lawgiver.

As they are a people under this law, they are as children united in a family relationship who are awaiting the promise which they alone are the heirs of – that of the promised coming of Messiah. It is to this group of people, waiting to be adopted as true sons of God through Him, that the blessing of their lawgiver will now come forth…

And he said:

va’yomar – “And he said.” Because of the words “man of the God” in the previous verse, and now “And he said” here, many scholars say that this introduction was penned later. This would mean that Moses decided to bless the tribes, what he said was recorded as he spoke it out (possibly by Joshua), and that the one who recorded the blessings explained what happened.

But just as likely is that Moses, knowing that he would die, wrote out these words in advance, including the words “man of the God.” As such, it is a claim that the words are God’s, that they came through Moses, and that God approved them.

We can’t be sure either way, but I would personally lean to Moses being the author in any such debatable section. No matter what, his words of blessing now begin with…

2 (con’t) “The Lord came from Sinai,

Yehovah mi’sinay ba – “Yehovah from Sinai came.” As an introductory note, this is the last time that Sinai (Horeb) is mentioned in the books of Moses.

As for the words themselves, they are poetic, and they speak of the Lord as if coming forth like the sunrise, illuminating the land. In this case, the Lord first manifested Himself to Israel by coming to Moses at the burning bush as is recorded in Exodus 3.

There Moses was told that he would be used to deliver the people. As an assurance of that, the Lord spoke clearly to Moses –

“So He said, ‘I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’” Exodus 3:12

The Lord came forth from Sinai (Bush of the Thorn/Bush of the Lord), and He displayed His glory at Sinai, radiating out His majesty from there.

When the name Sinai is used instead of Horeb, it is given in connection with the redemptive workings of God in Christ and in anticipation of His cross. Moses next says…

2 (con’t) And dawned on them from Seir;

v’zarakh mi’Seir la’mo – “And irradiated from Seir to them.” The word zarakh gives the sense of shooting forth beams as the day dawns, even while the sun is rising, but before it has actually arisen.

From the coming forth of the Lord from Sinai, the glory of the Lord is seen to irradiate from Seir (Hairy). The name Hairy is because of the appearance of the mountain, being covered with low bushes thus giving it a hairy appearance. But hair in the Bible signifies an awareness of things, especially in relation to sin.

2 (con’t) He shone forth from Mount Paran,

hophia me’har Paran – “He shone forth from Mount Paran.” It is a new word, yapha. It signifies to shine forth, but not as the rising of the sun shoots forth. Rather, it is to be light itself; it is a causing of light to shine forth. A good example of this word is found in Psalm 50 which parallels the previous clauses as well –

“The Mighty One, God the Lord,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.” Psalm 50:1, 2

For now, Paran means Glorious. The word is used quite a few times in the Old Testament, but it is only affixed to the word “Mount” twice – here and in a similarly worded passage in Habakkuk 3 –

“God came from Teman,
The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His glory covered the heavens,
And the earth was full of His praise.
His brightness was like the light;
He had rays flashing from His hand,
And there His power was hidden.
Before Him went pestilence,
And fever followed at His feet.” Habakkuk 3:3-5

As such, this refers to the Mount of Glory, or the Glorious Mount. Of the resplendent Lord, it next says…

2 (con’t) And He came with ten thousands of saints;

The translation is incorrect. It says “from,” not “with,” and the word “saints” is not right. It is a masculine singular noun: v’athah m’rivot qodesh – “And He came from myriads of holiness.”

The word translated as “came” is athah. It is a new word signifying “to come.” It is only used in words set off in a poetic manner, never in a general discourse. Because of this, it calls special attention to the coming, as if a herald is making a distinctive proclamation. Isaiah uses it ten times in his book, more than any other book in Scripture.

What is being said here is that the Lord has come from the place where the holy angels dwell. It is reflective of what is said of Him in Daniel 7 –

“A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.” Daniel 7:10

The Lord left the glory of heaven to come and allow His light to shine upon Israel. At this time…

2 (con’t) From His right hand

mi’mino – “From His right hand.” The right hand is a symbol of power and authority. It is from this…

2 (con’t) Came a fiery law for them.

esh dath la’mo – “Fire-law for them.” This is the only time this expression is found in Scripture. Fire burns. In this it consumes, and purifies. What occurs is based on the substance that it interacts with. In the translation and its explanation, one can see anticipatory references to the coming of Christ –

*Yehovah from Sinai came.
The Lord Jesus came from the place of the thorn, the cross.

*And irradiated from Seir to them.
He illuminated the awareness of sin in man, becoming sin who knew no sin.

*He shone forth from Mount Paran.
He shone forth from the Glorious Mount – where He was crucified.

*And He came from myriads of holiness.
Having left heaven and the company of innumerable angels.

*From His right hand…
He is at the right hand of God, and He bears the power and authority of the Lord. It is from this position that came…

*Fire-law for them.He is both the Giver of the law and the embodiment of it. He is the standard of God by which all are judged. They (if unsaved), or their deeds (if saved), will either be consumed or purified –

“And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12-15 (The unsaved).

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (The saved).

As long as the reference is understood in whatever dispensation of time is being addressed, the parallels are clearly seen.

Yes, He loves the people;

It is plural: aph khovev ammim – “Also He hides the peoples.” Here is a word, khavav, found only this one time and translated as “loves.” It comes from a root meaning “to hide.” To say, “He hides (or secrets away) the peoples,” is not incorrect. But the meaning would be obscure.

Therefore, one can think of them being hidden away in the bosom, and thus there being a sense of cherishing, affection, and love. However, despite all other translations, my use of the word “hide” conveys the typology of Christ better.

3 (con’t) All His saints are in Your hand;

It is an adjective, not a noun: kal qedosav b’yadekha – “All His holies in Your hand.” It is referring to the saints, but they are being described by their characteristic, which is that they are holy.

If you noticed, it goes from the third person to the second person, but the context surely demands that this is speaking of the Lord in each word (His and Your), and yet it is showing a definite distinction in how the Lord is being presented.

Next, referring to the holies (the saints), it says…

3 (con’t) They sit down at Your feet;

v’hem tuku l’raglekha – “And they gather to Your feet.” Another unique word is seen here, takah. It is unclear what it means. It comes from a primitive root meaning “to strew.” Thus “gather” seems to make good sense. The Greek translation says, “they are under thee.” That is somewhat of a paraphrase.

We can think of the peoples that the Lord loves gathered to the place of His feet. Thus, He is elevated as if on a throne with His people before Him. There…

3 (con’t) Everyone receives Your words.

yisa mi’daberotekha – “Lifts up Him from Your words.” Here is another unique word, a noun, dabarah. It is an intensive, coming from the verb meaning “to speak.” The verb itself is imperfect, and it is third person singular. It means to lift up or to carry. Being imperfect, it is “lifts up” or “carries.”

There are as many opinions on this verse and what its meaning is as can be imagined. Translations are all over the place and more often than not, they stray from the precision of what Moses says in order to try to make the words convey some sort of sense.

But the Lord is working through Moses to reveal Christ: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46). Israel will receive the blessings, but Christ is the Subject and the Object of what he is now conveying. So, with the most literal translation possible, it says –

*Also He hides the peoples.
The word “peoples” is telling. It does not use a word signifying “tribes” as would be expected if speaking of Israel. Hence, it is referring to any peoples. Those who are in Christ, from any people group, are hidden (and thus beloved) in Christ –

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:3, 4

*All His holies in Your hand.
The holies, those holy to the Lord (Yehovah, “His”) because of Christ are in “Your” (meaning Christ’s) hand. They are under His control, power, and authority. They are the Lord’s because they are Christ’s. The change in person only makes sense when the Subject is properly understood.

*And they gather to Your feet.
Just a couple of the many references will show what this refers to. First, the gathering –

“For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.” Isaiah 66:18

“…he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” John 11:51, 52

And next, that it will be at Christ’s feet –

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

The “judgment seat” is an elevated seat known as the béma. The people will be gathered, and they will come before Him. The symbolism refers to Christ.

*Lifts up Him from Your words.
The change in person and the way the words are presented are so striking that it is hard to imagine how they can point to anything but the Lord.

There are scholars who have come up with inventive interpretations, such as Yehovah rising up when Israel (singular) speaks to Him, but such a thought means anything can mean anything and it does not fit with the previous clauses.

What is being said is that the Lord (Jesus) lifts up (carries) the words of Moses, which are the Lord’s (Yehovah’s) words. This is absolutely something He did. He quoted the words of law to the people, lifting them up as a witness both to them and against them.

It is the words of the Lord through Moses that speak of Jesus, that He lived by, that He instructed by, and which He fulfilled. And as He is the Prophet like Moses, referred to in Chapter 18, this clause actually anticipates Christ’s words continuing into the New Covenant as He continues to lift up the words of Yehovah.

The glorious Lord who came from Sinai
Also went to Calvary’s cross
As the years of the law passed by
There was only continued death and tragic loss

As His light dawned on them from Seir
It was destined that someday He would die
Time marched on from year to year
And the people experienced loss and wondered why

The Lord shone forth from Mount Paran
And He rose again from the darkened grave
And now His light shines eternally on
He is the Lord our God, mighty to save

II. King in Jeshurun (verses 4 & 5)

Moses commanded a law for us,

The words are definitive: torah tsivah lanu Moshe – “Law he commanded to us, Moses.” The change to the first person plural, “to us,” is noteworthy.

So much is this the case, that Cambridge naturally considers it a later insertion. As they say, “The change to 1st pers. plur. … the introduction of Moses’ name, and the fact that the line is an odd one, raise the suspicion that it is a gloss.”

That is their excuse for everything. “We can’t figure this out, so it must be a later insertion” is the explanation for what is presented. John Lange does agree with this. He says that Joshua used the same words as Moses, but then included the people of Israel in what is said –

torah tsivah eth Moshe – “Law He commanded to Moses.”
torah tsivah lanu Moshe – “Law he commanded to us, Moses.”

In other words, the subject is the Lord. He commanded the law to Moses who spoke out the words as in the first line. The scribe then repeated what is said, including Israel as the recipients because the law came from the Lord, through Moses.

The problem with this is that it then changes what Moses says. The words are complicated, and it is hard to definitively place them, but I think they were spoken just as they are written down.

The poem is about to enter into the blessings of the tribes. The law was given to them, and the blessings are likewise pronounced upon them.

The fact that the previous verses include the “peoples” doesn’t negate that the law was only for Israel. The result of what the Lord did, in relation to the law, is for all people. But Israel is the one who is given the schooling that is to lead to Jesus.

The lesson can be learned by all, but they are the ones who will live it out. Moses is of Israel, and so he is included in the address personally and as a part of the people. That explains why the words are given as they are – “Law he commanded to us, Moses.”

Ultimately, the law is from the Lord, and so He is the Subject, even if it is not stated directly. Hence, the words “to us” are inclusive of Moses, even if they came through Moses. He is not exempt from them. This is especially highlighted because it is he who will die outside of the land of promise.

4 (con’t) A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.

morashah qehilath yaaqov – “Possession assembly Jacob.” The word being translated as “congregation” is incorrect. It should be “assembly.” The form of it used here is a feminine form of a more common word, and it is found in Scripture only here and in Nehemiah 5:7.

The words are speaking of the law. It is considered as a heritage, or possession, of the “assembly of Jacob,” meaning the tribes that issue from him. This is absolutely true. The law is not a heritage (or possession) of anyone else. It was given to Israel, it was to be lived out by Israel, and it awaited its fulfillment from within Israel.

Crossing the lines of who the law was given to, or who is required to observe it, forms the greatest controversy of the book of Acts, and it is the main subject of Paul’s earliest written epistle, Galatians.

It was a heritage of the assembly of Jacob, and it belongs to no other group of people, except as it is fulfilled in Christ who then annulled it through His death and instituted a New Covenant at the same time. With this understood, the words continue…

And He was King in Jeshurun,

vayhi bishurun melek – “And He was in Jeshurun King.” The subject here is clearly the Lord, thus demonstrating that the analysis of the previous verse is at least correct in the intent of what is said. Moses may have given the law to Israel (“to us”), but it is the Lord who gave it through Moses.

There are two reasons why some ascribe these words as referring to Moses though. The first is to alleviate the difficulty of the previous verse by making him the only subject. The second is that he was the ruler over the people in the capacity of a king.

Both of these thoughts are incorrect. The issue with the previous verse has been explained. Also, Moses clearly disassociated himself from the idea of him being a king in Chapter 17 –

“When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” Deuteronomy 17:14, 15

The idea of a king did not exist in Moses, and it continued to not exist until the time of Saul where the Lord said –

“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.’” 1 Samuel 8:7

The words now refer to the Lord as King. The unusual nature of how Moses said what he said in the previous verse was certainly to highlight this fact. As such, the Lord, who gave the law through Moses, is said to be King in Jeshurun, or “Upright.” It is a proper noun used when referring to Israel.

As far as translating these words now as, “And He was King,” that is fine, but it must be understood what is being said. It is not saying, “He once was.” Rather, it is saying that at a certain point “He became the King.” There was a time when He was not the King of Jeshurun, and then at a particular point in time, He was. That point in time was…

5 (con’t) When the leaders of the people were gathered,

b’hitaseph rashe am – “In gathering leaders people.” This is referring to what was stated in Exodus 19 –

“So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him.” Exodus 19:7

At this time, the proposition was set forth by the Lord –

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:5, 6

The words, “a kingdom of priests,” implies there is a King by which they become a kingdom. It was at Sinai, mentioned in verse 2, that Moses now refers to the Lord becoming the King. This is again testified to with the final words of the day…

*5 (fin) All the tribes of Israel together.

yakhad shivte Yisrael – “together tribes Israel.” This continues to refer to the time at Sinai –

“Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.” Exodus 19:8

The leaders spoke for the tribes. Thus, when they accepted the words of the Lord, their answer stood for all of those under them. It was at this time that He was King in Jeshurun. Hence, the law was given to them, and they became the people of His kingdom.

As was seen, there are anticipations of Christ in the first verses of the passage today, but the law itself is a possession only of Israel. It has no part in what occurred in the Gentile world before the coming of Christ, and it has no part in the life of the people of God since Christ came, except as it is fulfilled in Him.

Unfortunately, this fact is either obscured or it is ignored because of faulty doctrine that has arisen within the church. There are those who say that the church has replaced Israel. The problem with this is that they will openly avow that the curses of the law have been, and continue to be, realized in Israel.

In this, there is an obvious disconnect in their thinking. If the law is finished and obsolete, and if the church has replaced Israel, then it cannot be that the curses of the law still belong to Israel. Or, if the law is not through, then the curses of Israel would then belong to the church. The thinking is unclear, unsound, and wrong.

Others claim that the precepts of the law are still binding on the church. But again, in this passage, as has been consistently seen, the law was given to Israel and to no other group. If the law is binding upon us today, it would mean that the church had, in fact, replaced or become a part of Israel.

As such, the curses would belong to this body, inclusive of those who had come to Christ. But this is completely contrary to the words of the epistles. An example is found in Galatians 3 –

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13, 14

Again, the thinking is unclear, unsound, and just plain wrong. We must keep our theological boxes straight, or we will fall into great error. In this, those who are taught that the church replaced Israel will never know the true Jesus who is presented in Scripture, nor will they accept the true gospel message which God has presented to the world.

The law anticipated Christ, and it awaited His coming. It was then fully lived out through His life’s actions, and it was annulled in the shedding of His blood. This is what we must remember as we contemplate what is presented by Moses. He wrote of Christ, and it is only in Him that this law finds its true purpose and value.

Our futile attempts at living it out, as if we are bound by it, do not glorify Him at all. Rather, they diminish what Jesus has done, and they bring a curse upon us. That is all the law can do with fallen man. Let us trust in Christ who took this great and terrible burden from us. In this, God will be pleased with our lives as we live them out before Him.

Closing Verse: “Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation! Selah
20 Our God is the God of salvation;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.” Psalm 68:19, 20

Next Week: Deuteronomy 33:6-11 Moses will bless until the blessing is done… (Moses Blesses Israel, Part I) (100th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Lord Came From Sinai

Now this is the blessing
With which Moses the man of God, as we have read
Blessed the children of Israel
Before his death. 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 there

From His right hand like a diadem
Came a fiery law for them

Yes, He loves the people
All His saints are in Your hand
They sit down at Your feet
Everyone receives Your words, words so grand

Moses commanded a law for us
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob
———-And He was King in Jeshurun
When the leaders of the people were gathered
All the tribes of Israel together as one

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…















Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 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.
Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
Everyone receives Your words.
Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
And He was King in Jeshurun,
When the leaders of the people were gathered,
All the tribes of Israel together.