About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 33

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Moses Blesses The Tribes (ch. 33:1 - 29)


Moses is about to die, but before he does, he pronounces blessings, which in many cases are actually prophecies concerning each of the tribes of Israe.  There is a lot in this chapter, much of which is beyond my understanding, and the understanding of most, at least from a prophetic standpoint.  I will not comment on every verse in this section. 


Note in verse 4 we see the term "the assembly of Jacob".  Obviously that's Israel.  I mention this because what Moses does here, Jacob did in Genesis 49.  Just before Jacob died, he blessed, or prophesied things to his twelve sons that became the twelve tribes of Israel. 


The first tribe Moses blesses in verse 6 is Rueben, the oldest of the twelve sons of Jacob.  "Let Rueben live and not die" is the blessings.  The reason for this is because the tribe of Rueben was actually in decline.  They were getting smaller.   In Numbers chanter 1 and 26 are lists of the tribes with their population.  You can see the decline in numbers. 


Verse 7 states the blessing to Judah.  It is accepted by all conservative Bible scholars, because it's plainly stated throughout the Bible, that the Messiah, that's Jesus, is associated with the tribe of Judah.  He is often called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah".  You can see how verse 7 is Messianic in nature.  "Hear, O Lord, (Yahweh) the cry of Judah, bring him to his people".  That would be the cry of Jesus' heart as He began His earthly ministry.  His job while on earth was to come to His people Israel.  That indeed was the cry of His heart, and "cry" it is.  Just before His death, Jesus wept over the fate of the city of Jerusalem.


"With His own hands he defends his cause.  Oh, be his help against his foes".  Clearly, Jesus walked the road to the cross alone.  Yes, there were others with Him, but they were of little help.  Jesus stood before the Jewish leaders alone.  He stood before Pilate alone.  His job that culminated in the cross, had to be done alone. He had no real human support,  of course, Yahweh was with Him every step of the way.


From verse 8 to 11 we see the blessings to Levi.  One thing to note here is that Moses himself was of the tribe of Levi.  He was the teacher of the Law as we see in this passage. 


Note in verse 8 the words "thummim and urim".  These are religious objects, not just associated with Israel, but with pagan societies too, that priests use to determine the will of God.   It' always puzzled me and others why these objects were used in Israel.  They appear to be more pagan than anything else, but in some instances, we do know that Yahweh used these to show His will to Israel.


I will not comment on every phrase here but you will notice the "guarding of the covenant" in verse 9.  Levites were to be the priests of Israel.  Part of their job was to guard the covenant, both in a literal sense and in a spiritual sense.  You see the priestly job of the Levites in verses 10 and 11. 


Verse 12 concerns Benjamin.  As you go through the Old Testament, the men of the tribe of Benjamin were fighters, heroes, and tough guys.  King Saul came from this tribe.  The apostle Paul also came from the tribe of Benjamin, as stated in Philippians 3.  Maybe for this reason we see the prayer of protection and shielding to be on the tribe of Benjamin.


In verses 13 to 17 we see the blessings of Joseph.  One thing to note is that Joshua came from the tribe of Joseph.  Also note in verse 17 the names Manasseh and Ephraim.  These were the two sons of Moses. 


The blessings of verses 13 through 15 suggests to me the good things that will come about with the leadership of Joshua when they enter the land of Canaan, also known as "the land flowing with milk and honey". 


Verses 16 and 17 are clearly historic of the life of Joseph


Verses 20 and 21 concerns the tribe of Gad.  Gad lived in the north east portion of the land of Canaan and they were the first tribe to be conquered by the Assyrians.     


The blessings of Zebulun are found in verses 18 through 20.  Zebulun did end up in Canaan by the sea, thus the reference to the sea in this passage.  It is interesting that 11 of the 12 apostles came from Zebulun      


Issachar is mentioned in verse 18.  They were a tribe that did grow in numbers.  Verse 21 might be suggestive of some things that will happen at the end of this age, but there is much uncertainty about that.    


Verse 22 concerns the tribe of Dan.  From Genesis 49 on, Dan seems to be ignored a lot in Scripture, which includes the twelve tribes listed in Revelation 7 .  Dan over the years has always got himself in trouble.  In Judges 18:30 and elsewhere, we see that idolatry first came into Israel through Dan.  God's judgment might well have been on Dan for a very long time.  He truly was a "lion's cub". 


Verse 23 concerns Naphtali.  Naphtali actually had more daughters than sons.  Not a lot is said here about Naphtali other than where he will be positioned in the land.  Jesus spent most of His time and did most of His teaching in the area of Naphtali.  Naphtali is truly abound with favour".


Verse 24 concerns Asher.  The priest named Simeon in Luke 2 was in the tribe of Asher. 


I believe the rest of this chapter describes Israel in the days to come when God will make them the nation they were always meant to be.  In these last few verses we note the relationship between God and Israel .  He is their protector and provider.  He is the centre to all of Israel 's future success.

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