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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 33

 

 

Verse 1

Deuteronomy 33:1. The blessing wherewith Moses blessed Israel — He is said to bless them, by praying to God with faith for his blessing upon them; and by foretelling the blessings which God would confer upon them. And Moses calls himself the man of God, that is, the servant or prophet of God, to acquaint them that the following prophecies were not his own inventions, but divine inspirations.


Verse 2

Deuteronomy 33:2. The Lord came — Namely, to the Israelites; manifested himself graciously and gloriously among them. He begins with this, that he may, in the first place, make them sensible of that most signal blessing which God had bestowed upon them, in choosing them to be his peculiar people. From Sinai — Beginning at Sinai, where the first appearance of God was. And rose up from Seir unto them, &c. — The plain meaning of the word is, that the same divine presence which was manifested to them on mount Sinai, accompanied them through all their journeys and encampments, especially about mount Seir and Paran, the principal places of their abode, till they came to the plains of Moab, where they were now encamped. Rose up from Seir — Namely, when, upon the removal of the cloud of glory, they marched from the neighbourhood of Idumea, in which is mount Seir. The original word signifies that his presence rose upon them like the sun from the mount, (Malachi 4:2,) and spread abroad his beams upon them from Paran, namely, when they encamped below that mount, whither they came from the wilderness of Sinai, Numbers 10:12; Numbers 13:1-3. Here God eminently manifested his presence and goodness, both in giving the people flesh, which they desired, and in appointing the seventy elders, and pouring forth his Spirit upon them. He came with ten thousands of his saints — Or holy ones, that is, angels, who attended him at the giving of the law, Psalms 68:17; see also Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19, and Hebrews 2:2. From his right hand — An allusion to the manner of men, who ordinarily both write and give gifts with their right hands. Thus God both wrote and gave the law. A fiery law — The law is termed fiery, because, like fire, it is of a searching, purging, and enflaming nature; because it inflicts fiery wrath on sinners for the violation of it, and principally, because it was delivered out of the midst of fire.


Verse 3

Deuteronomy 33:3. He loved the people — The tribes of Israel. The sense is, this law, though delivered with fire, and smoke, and thunder, which might seem to portend nothing but hatred and terror, yet in truth was given to Israel in great love, as being the great mean of their temporal and eternal salvation. Yea, he embraced the people, and laid them in his bosom! So the word signifies, which speaks not only the dearest love, but the most tender and careful protection. All God’s saints or holy ones, that is, his people, were in thy hand, that is, under God’s care, to protect, direct, and govern them. These words are spoken to God; the change of persons, his and thy, is most frequent in the Hebrew tongue. This clause may further signify God’s kindness to Israel, in upholding them when the fiery law was delivered, which was done with so much terror that not only the people were ready to sink under it, but even Moses did exceedingly fear and quake. But God sustained both Moses and the people, in or by his hand, whereby he, in a manner, covered them, that no harm might come to them. At thy feet — Like scholars, to receive instructions. He alludes to the place where the people waited when the law was delivered, which was at the foot of the mount. Every one — Of the people will receive or submit to thy instructions and commands. This may respect either the people’s promise when they heard the law, that they would hear and do all that was commanded; or, their duty to do so.


Verse 4

Deuteronomy 33:4. Moses commanded us a law — Moses has been thought by some to speak this of himself, in the third person, because he intended the contents of this chapter, like the preceding song, to be learned by the Israelites, and repealed in their own persons. They are therefore supposed to say, Moses commanded us a law, &c. The inheritance of the congregation — The law is called their inheritance. because the obligation to observe it was hereditary, passing from parents to their children, and because this was the best part of their inheritance, the greatest of all those gifts which God bestowed upon them. So the psalmist thought, “Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever,” Psalms 119:111.


Verse 5

Deuteronomy 33:5. And — Or, for, he was king — Not indeed in title, but, in reality, being under God their supreme governor and lawgiver; and therefore, by his authority, required them to observe these laws. When the tribes were gathered together — When the princes and people met together, for the management of public affairs, Moses was owned by them as their king and lawgiver. Le Clerc, however, and many others, think that God, and not Moses, is here intended, he being indeed the king and lawgiver of the Jews especially, and not Moses. Moses elsewhere sufficiently intimates that he was not their king, Deuteronomy 17:14. And so does Samuel, who acted in a character similar to that of Moses, 1 Samuel 8:7.


Verse 6

Deuteronomy 33:6. Let Reuben live, and not die — Though Reuben deserve to be cut off, or greatly diminished and obscured, according to Jacob’s prediction, (Genesis 49:4,) yet God will spare them, and give them a name and portion among the tribes of Israel. All the ancient paraphrasts refer this to the other world, so far were they from expecting temporal blessings only. “Let Reuben live in life eternal,” says Onkelos, “and not die the second death.” “Let Reuben live in this world,” so Jonathan and the Jerusalem Targum, “and not die that death which the wicked die in the world to come.” Let not his men be few — As the word not is wanting in the Hebrew, we may render the clause more properly, Though his men be few. This best agrees with Jacob’s prophecy, (Genesis 49:4,) that he should not excel, and yet live, that is, should still subsist, and be in some measure a flourishing tribe, though less numerous than some others. Le Clerc renders it, Let his dead men ( מתיו, methaiv, mortales ejus) be few. Which prayer, he thinks, Moses put up for them, because this tribe appear to have been greatly diminished in the wilderness, see on Numbers 26:7 . Here is no mention of Simeon; but this tribe is thought by some to be included in the blessing of Reuben, to whom Simeon was next in birth, and who stood most in need of the same blessing, for no tribe was more impaired in the wilderness than Simeon’s. See on Numbers 26:14. Others think that tribe is included in the blessing of Judah, with whose possessions theirs were mixed, Joshua 19:1. And what makes this the more probable, is, that he was joined with Judah in those wars against the Canaanites, in which the divine aid is implored for Judah. But the Alexandrian MS. of the Septuagint reads this verse thus, Let Reuben live, and not die, and let the men of Simeon be many, or not few.


Verse 7

Deuteronomy 33:7. And this is the blessing of Judah — As these words are used of none of the rest, so they seem to denote that Judah’s blessing was more remarkable than the rest. Judah is here put before Levi, because it was to be the royal tribe. This benediction, as Bishop Sherlock argues, cannot relate to the time when it was given: for then Judah’s hands were very sufficient for him, this tribe being by much the greatest of the twelve tribes, as appears by two different accounts of the forces of Israel in the book of Numbers, Numbers 1:26 : and there was more reason to put up this petition for several other tribes than for Judah. Besides, what is the meaning of bringing Judah to his people? How were he and his people at this time separate? What means, likewise, the other part of the petition, Be thou a help to him from his enemies? This petition supposes a state of distress; yet what distress was Judah in at this time, at least what greater distress than the other tribes? The ancient Targums, and some old versions, understand the first petition of bringing Judah back to his people, to be only a request in his behalf, for safe return from the day of battle; but was there not the same reason for the same petition in behalf of every tribe? Nay, how much better would it have suited Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, who left their people and their settlements on the other side of Jordan, and passed over the river in the very front of the battle, to assist their brethren? Joshua 4:12.

But if you refer this prophecy to the prophecy of Jacob, (Genesis 49:10,) and to the continuance of the sceptre of Judah after the destruction of the other tribes, every expression is natural and proper, and suited to the occasion. Do but suppose Moses, in the spirit of prophecy, to have a sight of the state of affairs, when all the people were in captivity, and you will see how this prophetic prayer answers to that state. All the tribes were in captivity, the ten tribes in Assyria, and Judah in Babylon; but it was implied in Jacob’s prophecy, that Judah should retain the sceptre, and return again: for Judah only, therefore, does Moses pray that he may come to his people again. Let his hands be sufficient for him — Good reason was there for this petition, for scarcely were his hands sufficient at the return from Babylon. The tribe of Judah, (Numbers 26:22,) in Moses’s time, consisted of seventy-six thousand five hundred, reckoning only those of twenty years old and upward. But upon the return from Babylon, Judah, with Benjamin, the Levites, and the remnant of Israel, made only forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, (Ezra 2:64,) and in so weak a state they were, that Sanballat, in great scorn, said, “What do these feeble Jews?” Nehemiah 4:2. Be thou a help to him from his enemies — The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are convincing proofs of the great difficulties and oppositions which the Jews found in setting up their temple and city. Once their enemies had so prevailed, that orders came from the court of Persia, to stop all their proceedings: and, even at last, when Nehemiah came to their assistance, with a new commission from Artaxerxes, they were so beset with enemies, that the men employed in building the wall, every one, with one of his hands, wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon, Nehemiah 4:17.

Lay these two prophecies now together, and they will explain each other. Jacob foretels that Judah’s sceptre should continue till Shiloh came: which is, in effect, foretelling that the sceptres of the other tribes should not continue so long. Moses, in the spirit of prophecy, sees the desolation of all the tribes; he sees the tribes of the kingdom of Israel carried away by the Assyrians, the people of Judah by the Babylonians; he sees that Judah should again return weak, harassed, and scarcely able to maintain himself in his own country: for them, therefore, he conceives this prophetic prayer: Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, &c.


Verse 8

Deuteronomy 33:8. Of Levi he said — Said to God in prayer. Let thy Thummim, &c. — That is, the Thummim and Urim which are thine, O Lord, by special institution and consecration, (understanding thereby the ephod, in which they were put, the high-priesthood to which they were appropriated, and withal the gifts and graces signified by them, and necessary for the discharge of that high office,) be with thy holy one — That is, with that priest whom thou hast consecrated to thyself, and who is holy in a more peculiar manner than the people are. He means let the family of Aaron perpetually retain the priesthood, and be endued with that uprightness in the discharge of their duty and that light and knowledge in divine things which are signified by the Thummim and Urim. Notwithstanding this blessing, the Urim and Thummim were lost in the captivity, and never restored under the second temple. But they have their full accomplishment in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy One, and our great High-Priest, of whom Aaron was but a type. With him, who had lain in the Father’s bosom from eternity, the Urim and Thummim shall ever remain, for he is the wonderful and everlasting Counsellor. Whom thou didst prove at Massah — That is, try and rebuke, but yet didst not take away the priesthood from him. With whom thou didst strive — Whom thou didst reprove and chastise. Le Clerc, however, refers these words to the people. Whom thou, O Israel, didst prove or tempt at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive, &c. — Which happened twice. See Exodus 17:2, and Numbers 20:2. In both these places, it appears that Aaron was tempted, and tried, and strove against, by the people no less than Moses.


Verse 9

Deuteronomy 33:9. Who said to his father, &c., I have not seen him — That is, I have no respect unto them in comparison of God and my duty. The meaning is, Who followed God and his command fully, and executed the judgment enjoined without any respect of persons. It appears to refer to the whole tribe of Levi, who, fired with a holy zeal for God and his worship, performed impartial execution on the worshippers of the golden calf, not excepting even their nearest relations that were concerned in that wickedness: see Exodus 32:26-29. They kept thy covenant — When the rest broke their covenant with God by the foul sin of idolatry, that tribe kept themselves pure from that infection, and adhered to God and his worship. Some also include herein their impartiality in the administration of justice, that they had not accepted, nor should accept the persons of any, not even their relations. To which we may add that the office of the priests and Levites, which engaged their constant attendance, at least by turns, at God’s altar, laid them under a necessity of being frequently absent from their families, which they could neither take such care of nor make such provision for, as other Israelites might. This constant self-denial they submitted to, that they might observe God’s word, and keep the covenant of priesthood. And all those, even under the gospel, who are called to minister in holy things, should remember that it is their duty to sit loose to the relations and interests which are dearest to them in this world, and prefer the fulfilling of their ministry before the gratifying the best friend they have, Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13. Our Lord Jesus knew not his mother and his brethren, when they would have taken him from his work, Matthew 12:48.


Verse 10

Deuteronomy 33:10. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law — And that both as preachers in their religious assemblies, reading and expounding the law, (Nehemiah 7:7-8,) and as judges determining doubtful and difficult cases that should be brought before them, 2 Chronicles 17:8-9. The priests’ lips were to keep this knowledge for the use of the people, who were to ask the law at their mouths, Malachi 2:7. Even Haggai, a prophet, consulted the priests in a case of conscience, Haggai 2:12. They shall put incense before thee — They shall be the sole ministers at the altar.


Verse 11

Deuteronomy 33:11. Bless, Lord, his substance — Because he hath no inheritance of his own, and therefore wholly depends upon thy blessing. The work of his hands — All his holy administrations, which he fitly calls the work of his hands, because a great part of the service of the Levites and priests was done by the labour of their hand and body, whereas the service of evangelical ministers is more spiritual and heavenly. Smite — He prays thus earnestly for them, because he foresaw they who were to teach and reprove, and chastise others, would have many enemies, and because they were, under God, the great preservers and upholders of religion, and their enemies were the enemies of religion itself.


Verse 12

Deuteronomy 33:12. Of Benjamin — Benjamin is put next to Levi, because the temple, where the work of the Levites lay, was upon the edge of the lot of this tribe. And it is put before Joseph, because of the dignity of Jerusalem (part of which was in this lot) above Samaria, which was in the tribe of Ephraim; likewise because Benjamin adhered to the house of David, and to the temple of God, when the rest of the tribes deserted both. The beloved of the Lord — So called in allusion to their father Benjamin, who was the beloved of his father Jacob; and because of the kindness of God to this tribe, which appeared both in this, that they dwelt in the best part of the land, as Josephus affirms, and in the following privilege. Shall dwell in safety by him — Shall have his lot nigh to God’s temple, which was both a singular comfort and safeguard to him. Shall cover — Shall protect that tribe continually while they cleave to him. He — The Lord; shall dwell — That is, his temple shall be placed; between his shoulders — That is, in his portion, or between his borders, as the word rendered shoulder is often used: see Numbers 24:11. And this was truly the situation of the temple, on both sides whereof was Benjamin’s portion. And though mount Sion was in the tribe of Judah, yet mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, was in the tribe of Benjamin.


Verses 13-15

Deuteronomy 33:13-15. And of Joseph — Including both Ephraim and Manasseh. In Jacob’s blessing, that of Joseph is the largest; and so it is here. His land — His portion, shall be endowed with choice blessings from God. Of heaven — That is, the precious fruits of the earth brought forth by the influences of heaven, the warmth of the sun, and the rain, which God will send from heaven. The deep — The springs of water bubbling out of the earth: perhaps it may likewise refer to the great deep, the abyss of waters, which is supposed to be contained in the earth. By the sun — Which opens and warms the earth, cherishes and improves, and in due time ripens, the seeds and fruits of it. The moon — Which by its moisture refreshes and promotes them. Hebrew, Of the moons, or months, that is, which it bringeth forth in the several mouths or seasons of the year. The chief things — That is, the excellent fruits, growing upon the mountains, as grapes, olives, figs, &c., or the precious minerals, contained in them; ancient and lasting — That is, such as have been from the beginning of the world, and are likely to continue till the end of it, in opposition to those hills or mounts which have been cast up by man.


Verse 16

Deuteronomy 33:16. And for the precious things of the earth — And in general for all the choice fruits which the land produceth in all parts of it, whether hills or valleys. Fulness thereof — That is, the plants, and cattle, and all creatures that grow, increase, and flourish in it. The good-will — For all other effects of the good-will and kindness of God, who not long since did for a time dwell or appear in the bush to me, in order to the relief of his people, Exodus 3:2. Of Joseph — That is, of Joseph’s posterity. Him that was separated from his brethren — His brethren separated him from them by making him a slave, and God distinguished him from them by making him a prince. The preceding words might be rendered, My dweller in the bush. That was an appearance of the divine majesty to Moses only, in token of his particular favour. Many a time had God appeared to Moses; but now he is just dying, he seems to have the most pleasing remembrance of the first time that he saw the visions of the Almighty. It was here God declared himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so confirmed the promise made to the fathers, that promise which our Lord shows reaches as far as the resurrection and eternal life.


Verse 17

Deuteronomy 33:17. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock — Or the prime and fairest bullock of the herd. For things that excel in their kind are called firstborn in Scripture. The beauty and strength of this tribe are compared to this stately creature, and a bullock being the best emblem of power among the beasts of the pasture, it seems to be here used to denote the superior honour and dignity of the house of Joseph above the rest of the tribes of Israel. Indeed, a bullock, as Bochart shows, was formerly used as an image of kingly power and dignity, and therefore seems here to denote the kingdom which Ephraim should obtain in Jeroboam and his successors. His horns are like the horns of unicorns — A horn is a common Scripture emblem of power and force. So this is a further description of the house of Joseph. With them he shall push the people together — That is, throw down all that oppose him, particularly the Canaanites; to the ends of the earth — That is, of the land of Canaan. The ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh — Or, such are, &c.; that is, these blessings belong to the two numerous branches of the house of Joseph. Here he ascribes to Ephraim ten thousands, and to Manasseh only thousands; thus foreshowing, that Ephraim the younger was to be the more numerous of the two, as Jacob had before prophesied of them.


Verse 18

Deuteronomy 33:18. Rejoice, Zebulun — Thou shalt prosper, and have cause of rejoicing. In thy going out — 1st, To war, as this phrase is often used. 2d, To sea, in the way of traffic, because their portion lay near the sea. And in both respects his course is opposite to that of Issachar, who was a lover of peace and pasturage. He is here joined with Zebulun, both because they were brethren by father and mother too, and because their possessions lay near together. In thy tents — Thou shalt give thyself to the management of land and cattle, living quietly in thy own possessions.


Verse 19

Deuteronomy 33:19. They — Zebulun, of whom Moses takes more special notice. And so having despatched Issachar in two words, he returns to Zebulun. Shall call the people — The Gentiles, either those of Galilee, which was called Galilee of the Gentiles, who were their neighbours; or people of other nations with whom they had commerce, which they endeavoured to improve, in persuading them to worship the true God. The mountain — That is, to the temple, which Moses knew was to be seated upon a mountain. Sacrifices of righteousness — Such as God requires. Their trafficking abroad with heathen nations shall not make them forget their duty at home, nor shall their distance from the place of sacrifice hinder them from coming to it to discharge that duty. Of the abundance of the sea — They shall grow rich by the traffic of the sea, and shall consecrate themselves and their riches to God. Hid in the sand — Such precious things as either, 1st, Are contained in the sand of the sea and rivers, in which sometimes there is mixed a considerable quantity of gold and silver.

Or, 2d, Such as grow in the sea, or are fetched from the sandy bottom of it, as pearls, coral, ambergris. Or, 3d, Such as, being cast into the sea by shipwrecks, are cast upon the shore by the workings of the sea. This, however, Le Clerc refers, with Jonathan, to their enriching themselves by making glass of a kind of sand found upon their coasts. For the river Belus, famous for its glassy sands, of which alone glass was for a long time manufactured, was in the territories of the Zebulunites. These glassy sands are mentioned by several authors. But treasures hid in the sand, may import the same as sucking of the abundance of the seas — That is, enriching themselves by naval commerce.


Verse 20

Deuteronomy 33:20. Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad — That bringeth him out of his straits and troubles, which he was often engaged in, because he was encompassed with potent enemies. As a lion — Safe and secure from his enemies, and terrible to them when they rouse and molest him. Teareth the arm — Utterly destroys his enemies, both the head, the seat of the crown, their dignity and principality, and the arm, the subject of strength and instrument of action; both chief princes, and their subjects.


Verse 21

Deuteronomy 33:21. He provideth the first part for himself — The first-fruits of the land of promise, the country of Sion, which was first conquered, and which he is said to provide for himself, because he asked and obtained it of Moses, and was the first who viewed his portion in the promised land. There, in a portion of the lawgiver, &c. — This is obscurely expressed, but the meaning seems to be, he was there settled in a portion or settlement allotted him by Moses the Jewish legislator himself, whereas the portions beyond Jordan were given to the several tribes by Joshua, according to the direction of the lot. Or perhaps this part of the land is termed a portion of the lawgiver, because, lying beyond Jordan, it was the only part which Moses was permitted to enter upon. Was he seated — Hebrew, ספון, sapun, covered, or protected: for their wives and children were secured in their cities, while many of the men went over to the war in Canaan. He came with the heads of the people, &c. — Or with the princes, captains, or rulers of the people; that is, under their command and conduct. Or, as ראשׁי, roshee, may be understood, with the first, or in the front of the people, as the Syriac renders it; for this tribe and their brethren, whose lot fell beyond Jordan, were to march into Canaan before their brethren. Thus, again, he speaks, in the prophetic style, of a thing as already done, because he foresaw it would be done. He executed the justice of the Lord — Or his just judgment against the Canaanites, as the rest of the Israelites did.


Verse 22

Deuteronomy 33:22. A lion’s whelp — Courageous, and generous, and strong, and successful against his enemies. Which leapeth from Bashan — Because there were many and fierce lions in those parts, whence they used to come forth and leap upon the prey. Or this may refer either to the particular victories obtained by Samson, who was of the tribe of Dan, or to a more general achievement of that tribe, when a party of them surprised Laish, which lay in the furthest part of the land of Canaan from them. And the mountain of Bashan lying not far from that city, from whence they probably made their descent upon it, thus leaping from Bashan.


Verse 23

Deuteronomy 33:23. Satisfied with favour — With the favour of God. That only is the favour that satisfies the soul. They are happy indeed that have the favour of God; and they shall have it that place their satisfaction in it. And full with the blessing of the Lord — Not only with corn, wine, and oil, the fruit of the blessing, but with the blessing itself, the grace of God, according to his promise and covenant. Possess thou the west and the south — Or, the sea and the south, as the Hebrew word is; not the midland sea, and the south of Canaan. For, according to Josephus, with whom all the Jewish writers agree, this tribe possessed the east and the north of the country, in Upper Galilee; but the sea of Gennesaret, or Tiberias, which was its border on one side, and the south from the last-mentioned tribe, namely, that of Dan.


Verse 24

Deuteronomy 33:24. Let Asher — Who carries blessedness in his very name; be blessed with children — He shall have numerous, strong, and healthful children. Acceptable to his brethren — By his sweet disposition and winning carriage. In oil — He shall have such plenty of oil that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also in it. This prophetic blessing was remarkably fulfilled; for Asher’s portion abounded with the best and most remarkable oil, which was the most famed of all Canaan’s productions. Compare Job 29:6, and Genesis 49:20.


Verse 25

Deuteronomy 33:25. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass — They must have had great plenty of both these metals before they could make, or rather adorn their shoes with them, as was the custom among some nations. But we may render the words, Under thy feet shall be iron and brass, namely, mines of those metals; or, thy bolts, or bars, shall be iron and brass, for so the word here rendered shoes is translated, Song of Solomon 5:5; Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 3:6; Nehemiah 3:13-15. Sidon, which was famous among the heathen for its plenty of brass, was in the tribe of Asher; and Sarepta is thought to have had its name from the brass and iron which were melted there in great quantities. As thy days, thy strength shall be — Thy strength shall not be diminished with age, but thou shalt have the vigour of youth even in thy old age; thy tribe shall grow stronger and stronger. Or the words may mean, that, during their continuance as a tribe, they should not meet with any remarkable disasters, or be brought low, but continue in their full strength.


Verse 26

Deuteronomy 33:26. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun — These are the last words that ever Moses wrote, perhaps the greatest writer that ever lived upon the earth. And this man of God, who had as much reason to know both as ever any mere man had, with his last breath magnifies both the God of Israel, and the Israel of God. Having blessed every particular tribe, he concludes with declaring the happiness of the whole nation, especially in this, that their God was not like the vain and foolish gods of other nations, but that eternal and infinite Being, who is matchless and inimitable in all perfections, and who had undertaken to be their protector, provider, and saviour, notwithstanding and in defiance of all their enemies. Who rideth upon the heavens in, or to, thy help — Who, in sending thee help, rides upon the heavens with the greatest state and magnificence, and makes them subservient to his will, by employing thunder, lightning, hail- stones, and all the artillery of the skies in thy behalf. His riding on the heavens denotes the greatness and glory in which he manifests himself to the upper world, and the use he makes of the influences of heaven and the products of the clouds, in bringing to pass his own counsels in this lower world. All these he manages and directs, as a man doth the horse he rides on. In his excellency on the sky — Or, In his magnificence on the clouds; that is, when he is pleased to display his grandeur and awful majesty in thy behalf, he rides upon the clouds, raises such storms and tempests as demonstrate those parts of nature to be entirely under his power and control.


Verse 27

Deuteronomy 33:27. The eternal God — He who was before all worlds, and will be when time shall be no more; is thy refuge — Or, thy habitation, or mansion-house, (so the word signifies,) in whom thou art safe, and easy, and at rest, as a man in his own house. Every true Israelite is at home in God: the soul returns to him, and reposes in him. And they that make him their habitation shall have all the comforts and benefits of a habitation in him. And underneath are the everlasting arms — The almighty power and infinite goodness of God, which protects and comforts all that trust in him, in their greatest straits and distresses. He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee — He shall expel the Canaanites, and make room for you in their country. And shall say, Destroy them — That is, shall give you power, as well as authority, to root them out. For to say is to command, and what he commands he gives power to execute. And has he not commanded believers to destroy, in themselves, all sin; all evil tempers and corrupt inclinations, as well as all sinful words and actions; and will he not give them power so to do, if they apply to him for it?


Verse 28

Deuteronomy 33:28. Israel shall dwell in safety alone — Either, 1st, In safety, although they be alone, and have no confederates to defend them, but have all the world against them, yet my single protection shall be sufficient for them. Or, 2d, Distinct and separated from all other nations, with whom I will not have them to mingle themselves. The fountain — That is, the posterity of Jacob, which flowed from him as waters from a copious fountain, in great abundance. So the expression is used Psalms 68:26. The fountain is here put for the river, or streams which flow from it, as Jacob, or Israel, who is the fountain, is often put for the children of Israel. The Hebrew word, however, which we render fountain, often signifies an eye, and the sense here may be, The eye of Jacob shall look upon a land of corn, &c. Also his heavens shall drop down dew — That is, those heavens, or that air which hangs over his land, shall water it with refreshing dews, and render it fruitful in corn, wine, and other products of a most fertile country. Thus Moses confirms to Jacob’s seed the blessing which Isaac gave to Jacob himself, Genesis 27:28.


Verse 29

Deuteronomy 33:29. Happy art thou, O Israel — Wanting words sufficiently to express their happiness, he breaks out into admiration of it. Who is like unto thee? — So highly favoured as thou art? O people, saved of the Lord — Preserved, protected, and provided for by Omnipotence. Surely this is a privilege of which no nation can boast but yourselves. The shield of thy help — By whom thou art sufficiently guarded against all assailants; and the sword of thy excellency — Or, thy most excellent sword; that is, thy strength, and the author of all thy past or approaching victories. Those in whose hearts is the excellence of holiness, have God himself for their shield and sword. They are defended by the whole armour of God: his word is their sword, and faith their shield. And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee — Who said they would destroy thee: or, at least, that they would never submit: and thou shalt tread upon their high places — Their strongholds, palaces, and temples. Thus shall the God of peace tread Satan under the feet of all believers, and that shortly.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-33.html. 1857.

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