Search Engine

Provide a keyword or phrase below to find blog entries relevant to your search:

Results For

No Results


< Return to List


Chapter 33:1-17 (ESV)

Posted on April 19, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 33:1-17 (ESV) - This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,

“The LORD came from Sinai
    and dawned from Seir upon us;
    he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
    with flaming fire at his right hand.
Yes, he loved his people,
    all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
    receiving direction from you,
when Moses commanded us a law,
    as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun,
    when the heads of the people were gathered,
    all the tribes of Israel together.

“Let Reuben live, and not die,
    but let his men be few.”

And this he said of Judah:

“Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah,
    and bring him in to his people.
With your hands contend for him,
    and be a help against his adversaries.”

And of Levi he said,

“Give to Levi your Thummim,
    and your Urim to your godly one,
whom you tested at Massah,
    with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;
who said of his father and mother,
    ‘I regard them not’;
he disowned his brothers
    and ignored his children.
For they observed your word
    and kept your covenant.
They shall teach Jacob your rules
    and Israel your law;
they shall put incense before you
    and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
Bless, O LORD, his substance,
    and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
    of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

Of Benjamin he said,

“The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
    and dwells between his shoulders.”

And of Joseph he said,

“Blessed by the LORD be his land,
    with the choicest gifts of heaven above,
    and of the deep that crouches beneath,
with the choicest fruits of the sun
    and the rich yield of the months,
with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
    and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
    and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.
May these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.
A firstborn bull—he has majesty,
    and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
with them he shall gore the peoples,
    all of them, to the ends of the earth;
they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
    and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

Question to consider: Why does Moses give the same fatherly blessing upon the people as their father, Jacob, did before he died?

In Genesis 49, Jacob gave a blessing over the twelve tribes before he died. Moses also blesses the tribes, not as a father to the twelve children of Israel but as a father to the nation of Israel who was about to enter into the promised land. Moses opened and closed his blessing with a recognition that the true king of Israel was the LORD, and all of these blessings would be made possible by Him.

The blessing to the tribe of Reuben was in line with the one given to the man. Reuben was the first born of Israel and was a man of power, but he missed out on the rights and privileges of the first born because he slept with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. Even though his tribe survived, it never produced any judges, prophets or kings.

Moses would have known from Jacob’s prophecy that Judah was to always have the scepter. The name Judah means “praise” so Moses prayed that the LORD would hear “the voice of praise” and bless them in battle. When we think of “kings”, we may have an image of someone who oversees battle from afar, but the kings of Judah were known for leading the armies into battle and trusting in the LORD for victory.

Levi was actually called by Jacob to be scattered among Israel because of his anger and told not to be around Simeon because together they were men of violence. However, Moses was from the line of Levi, and the priests were descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. They remained faithful during times of testing, and so Moses made the tribe of Levi the keeper of the covenant for Israel, and though God did not give them an inheritance in the land, He made them His own possession and used them as ministers to the people. In this way they were indeed scattered throughout the land, but their scattering was used by the LORD as a blessing. The Urim and Thummim were stones kept in the breastplate of the high priest. The Latter Day Saints put forth the idea that they were seer stones used by Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. However, the high priest did not look into the stones to see visions like a crystal ball. The stones were likely used similar to lots to make a binary decision. 

Benjamin was the treasured son of Jacob after Joseph was thought to have died. Dwelling between the shoulders was a reference to the tribe’s land inheritance which contained both Mount Zion and Mount Moriah as well as the holy city of Jerusalem. (see Joshua 18:11-28)

While Judah may have received the scepter, Joseph received the material blessing. It is not a surprise that their land inheritance would be of the most fruitful lands, for Jacob pronounced that, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall.” (Genesis 49:22) The “branches” referred to his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, both of which had many descendants.


Dear heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your blessing, we praise You for lavishing it upon us with Your grace and mercy. May we not look to an earthly inheritance but that which has been eternally preserved for us in heaven. Amen.