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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 33


This is the blessing which Moses, the man of God, pronounced upon the Israelites before he died.


1 He said: "The LORD came from Sinai and dawned on his people from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran and advanced from Meribath-kadesh, While at his right hand a fire blazed forth and his wrath devastated the nations.


2 But all his holy ones were in his hand; they followed at his feet and he bore them up on his pinions.


A law he gave to us; he made the community of Jacob his domain,


3 and he became king of his darling. When the chiefs of the people assembled and the tribes of Israel came together.


4 "May Reuben live and not die out, but let his men be few."


5 The following is for Judah. He said: "The LORD hears the cry of Judah; you will bring him to his people. His own hands defend his cause and you will be his help against his foes."


6 Of Levi he said: "To Levi belong your Thummim, to the man of your favor your Urim; For you put him to the test at Massah and you contended with him at the waters of Meribah.


7 He said of his father, 'I regard him not'; his brothers he would not acknowledge, and his own children he refused to recognize. Thus the Levites keep your words, and your covenant they uphold.


They promulgate your decisions to Jacob and your law to Israel. They bring the smoke of sacrifice to your nostrils, and burnt offerings to your altar.


Bless, O LORD, his possessions and accept the ministry of his hands. Break the backs of his adversaries and of his foes, that they may not rise."


Of Benjamin he said: "Benjamin is the beloved of the LORD, who shelters him all the day, while he abides securely at his breast."


Of Joseph he said: "Blessed by the LORD is his land with the best of the skies above and of the abyss crouching beneath;


With the best of the produce of the year, and the choicest sheaves of the months;


With the finest gifts of the age-old mountains and the best from the timeless hills;


8 With the best of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of him who dwells in the bush. These shall come upon the head of Joseph and upon the brow of the prince among his brothers,


The majestic bull, his father's first-born, whose horns are those of the wild ox With which to gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth." (These are the myriads of Ephraim, and these the thousands of Manasseh.)


Of Zebulun he said: "Rejoice, O Zebulun, in your pursuits, and you, Issachar, in your tents!


9 You who invite the tribes to the mountains where feasts are duly held, Because you suck up the abundance of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand."


Of Gad he said: "Blessed be he who has made Gad so vast! He lies there like a lion that has seized the arm and head of the prey.


10 He saw that the best should be his when the princely portion was assigned, while the heads of the people were gathered. He carried out the justice of the LORD and his decrees respecting Israel."


11 Of Dan he said: "Dan is a lion's whelp, that springs forth from Bashan!"


12 Of Naphtali he said: "Naphtali is enriched with favors and filled with the blessings of the LORD; The lake and south of it are his possession!"


13 Of Asher he said: "More blessed than the other sons be Asher! May he be the favorite among his brothers, as the oil of his olive trees runs over his feet!


May your bolts be of iron and bronze; may your strength endure through all your days!"


"There is no god like the God of the darling, who rides the heavens in his power, and rides the skies in his majesty;


He spread out the primeval tent; he extended the ancient canopy. He drove the enemy out of your way and the Amorite he destroyed.


Israel has dwelt securely, and the fountain of Jacob has been undisturbed In a land of grain and wine, where the heavens drip with dew.


How fortunate you are, O Israel! Where else is a nation victorious in the LORD? The LORD is your saving shield, and his sword is your glory. Your enemies fawn upon you, as you stride upon their heights."


1 [2-5,26-29] These verses seem to form an independent hymn describing, in the form of a theophany, the conquest of Canaan. The first section of this hymn ( Deut 33:2-5) serves here as an introduction to the various "blessings"; the second section ( Deut 33:26-29), as their conclusion.

2 [3] His holy ones were in his hand: the Israelites were protected by the Lord.

3 [5,26] The darling: see note on Deut 32:15.

4 [6] In keeping with the other blessings, probably this verse was once introduced by the phrase, "Of Reuben he said." It is to be noted that there is no blessing here for Simeon.

5 [7] Bring him to his people: this probably refers to the isolated position of the tribe of Judah during the conquest of the Promised Land (cf Judges 1:17-19); according to some commentators the reference is to the divided kingdom.

6 [8] Thummim . . . Urim: see note on Exodus 28:30.

7 [9] The reference is probably to the Levites' slaughter of their brethren after the affair of the golden calf in the desert; cf Exodus 32:27-29.

8 [16] Him who dwells in the bush: a title given to the Lord because of his appearance to Moses in the burning bush; cf Exodus 3.

9 [19] The abundance of the seas: perhaps the wealth that comes from sea-borne trade or from fishing. The hidden treasures of the sand: possibly an allusion to the valuable purple dye extracted from certain marine shells found on the coast of northern Palestine.

10 [21] The princely portion: Moses gave the tribe of Gad their land on the east of the Jordan only on condition that they would help the other tribes conquer the land west of the river; cf Numbers 32; Joshua 22.

11 [22] The sense is, "May he leap up like a lion of Bashan"; the heavily wooded hills of Bashan were notorious for their lions, but the tribe of Dan was not settled in this region.

12 [23] The lake: the Lake of Gennesaret on which the land of this tribe bordered.

13 [24] The land of the tribe of Asher was covered with olive groves.

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