The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Deuteronomy 33

Deu 33:2

THE LORD CAME FROM SINAI: To Moses, Sinai was the place of God's revelation to His people; he knew no other. The deliverance from Egypt and the wilderness trek were the focal points of his life. Therefore, when he speaks his final blessing upon the people, it is certainly fitting that "the Lord came from Sinai... with ten thousands of saints (certainly angels and not saints in this context! cp Psa 68:17)... and (with) a fiery law." This same thing Yahweh has done before (Exo 19:16-19)! So there are two reasonable interpretations of Deu 33:2,3: either (a) Moses is remembering what has already happened, or (b) the last revelation of God to Moses follows the patterns of the previous ones: ie, God coming out of the great fiery cloud atop Sinai. Even assuming that, as some say, "the context calls for this to be a future blessing" -- meaning, it is supposed, the distant future (from Moses' day) of Christ's return... then, since the words are addressed to the twelve tribes (just as are Deu 28; 29; etc), is not the LD fulfillment (if there is to be one) most likely to be a re-enactment of the Exodus and the giving of the Law for the remnant of the nation of Israel, imprisoned again in Egypt? To this Isa 11:11,15; 19:1,18-20; 63:11-19; and Mic 7:15 may well ref. See Lesson, Judgment seat at Jerusalem.

Deu 33:3

Sitting: for rest (Luk 8:35); for communion (Song 2:3), as disciples (Deu 33:3), in worship (2Sa 7:18-27), in resurrection (Eph 2:6), in glory (Rev 3:21).

Deu 33:6

See Lesson, Double negative, Hebrew.

LET REUBEN LIVE: Moses as the mediator for weak, unstable (Gen 49:3,4) Reuben.

Deu 33:7

BE HIS HELP AGAINST HIS FOES: Impl a rift between Judah and the other tribes. Judah seems to have been set apart almost from beginning.

Deu 33:8

MASSAH: Moses himself (a Levite) was tested at Massah.

MERIBAH: But God strove with Moses and Aaron (Levites) at Meribah, because they did not give God the glory: "Must we..?"

Notable Levites: Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, Samuel, Jehoiada, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist.

Deu 33:9

Exo 32: The Levites rallied to Moses' side in the great sin of the golden calf.

HE DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIS BROTHERS... CHILDREN: There is no tie so strong as that of God's covenant.

Deu 33:12

BELOVED OF THE LORD: "Jedidiah" (2Sa 12:25).

BETWEEN HIS SHOULDERS: That is, the mountains: Jerusalem, on border of Benjamin, chosen as God's dwelling (Dawn 42:185). (Ref to a hammock-like arrangement by which mothers carry small children: Str Scr 21.)

Deu 33:15

ANCIENT MOUNTAINS: The mountains of Jerusalem: Psa 48:1,2; 125:1,2; Isa 2:2,3; 11:9.

Deu 33:17

BULL: Joseph associated with bull. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic pictures Joseph as a bull calf with a sheaf of corn above his head (cp Exo 32:4n).

Deu 33:18

"The Gentiles in darkness there saw a great light" (Isa 9:1,2).

Deu 33:22

A possible reference to the route the men of Dan followed in their conquest of Laish, in the far north (Jdg 18). "From this it may be inferred that from Ephraim the migrants crossed Jordan and travelled north round the east side of Galilee. Their target Laish means 'a lion', so there is fair likelihood that it was an understanding of Moses' prophecy which led them to this remote place in the north" (WJR).

Deu 33:23

Christ, the blessing of the LORD, preached most in Galilee (Isa 9:1).

Deu 33:24

BATHE HIS FEET IN OIL: Asher received territory in the fertile lowlands near Zidon. This led to apathy and ease (Jdg 1:31,32).

Deu 33:25

YOUR STRENGTH WILL EQUAL YOUR DAYS: "One secret of a happy Christian life is living by the day. It's the long stretches that tire us. But really, there are no long stretches. Life does not come to us all at once. Tomorrow is not ours; but when it does come, God will supply both daily bread and daily strength."

Deu 33:27

THE ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR REFUGE: "The word 'refuge' may be translated 'abiding-place,' which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we 'fear no evil.' He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life's conflict, we turn to Him. At home, also, we let our hearts loose; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued. So when we are with God we can commune freely with Him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the 'secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him,' the secrets of them that fear Him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord. Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: and it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in Him which far surpasses all other joy. It is also for home that we work and labour. The thought of it gives strength to bear the daily burden, and quickens the fingers to perform the task; and in this sense we may also say that God is our home. Love to Him strengthens us. We think of Him in the person of His dear Son; and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer constrains us to labour in his cause. We feel that we must work, for we have brethren yet to be saved, and we have our Father's heart to make glad by bringing home His wandering sons; we would fill with holy mirth the sacred family among whom we dwell. Happy are those who have thus the God of Jacob for their refuge!" (CHS).

UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS: See Lesson, Eagle and its young, the.

"God -- the eternal God -- is Himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet 'underneath' thee 'are everlasting arms.' Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ's great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as 'the uttermost'; and to the uttermost He saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are 'the everlasting arms.' He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the 'everlasting arms' " (CHS).

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