Deuteronomy 33:1
And this is the blessing, with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
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(1) Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel.—The title man of God is here used for the first time. Its counterpart is to be found in Deuteronomy 34:5 : “Moses the servant of Jehovah died.” The more any man is a “servant to Jehovah,” the more is he a “man of Elohim” to his fellow-men. After Moses, Elijah and Elisha are more especially described by this title (“man of God “) in the Old Testament.

Blessed . . . Israel before his death.—“And if not then, when should he?” (Rashi.)

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.33:1-5 To all his precepts, warnings, and prophecies, Moses added a solemn blessing. He begins with a description of the glorious appearances of God, in giving the law. His law works like fire. If received, it is melting, warming, purifying, and burns up the dross of corruption; if rejected, it hardens, sears, pains, and destroys. The Holy Spirit came down in cloven tongues, as of fire; for the gospel also is a fiery law. The law of God written in the heart, is a certain proof of the love of God shed abroad there: we must reckon His law one of the gifts of his grace.The title "the man of God" in the Old Testament is one who is favored with direct revelations, but not necessarily an official prophet. The occurrence of the title here is no doubt a token that the Blessing was not, as was the Song, transcribed by Moses himself. Compare Deuteronomy 31:27. CHAPTER 33

De 33:1-28. The Majesty of God.

1. Moses the man of God—This was a common designation of a prophet (1Sa 2:27; 9:6), and it is here applied to Moses, when, like Jacob, he was about to deliver ministerially before his death, a prophetic benediction to Israel.The majesty of God, Deu 33:1-5. Blessings prophesied of the twelve tribes, Deu 33:6-25. The excellency of Israel, Deu 33:26-29.

He is said to bless them ministerially, partly by praying to God with faith for his blessing upon them; partly by foretelling the blessings which God would confer upon them, for the prophets are oft said to do what they foretell should be done, as Genesis 49:7 Jeremiah 1:10 Ezekiel 43:3 Hosea 6:5. And Moses calls himself here

the man of God, i.e. the servant, or prophet, or minister of God, as this phrase signifies, 1 Samuel 9:6,7 1 Timothy 6:11, to acquaint them that the following prophecies were not his own inventions, but Divine inspirations.

The children of Israel, i.e. the several tribes; only Simeon is omitted, either,

1. In detestation of their parent Simeon’s bloody and wicked carriage, for which Jacob also gives that tribe a curse rather than a blessing, in Ge 49. But as for Levi, who is joined with him in that censure and curse, Genesis 49:5-7, he is here separated from him, and exempted from that curse, and blessed with an eminent blessing for a singular and valuable reason expressed here, Deu 33:8,9; whereas Simeon’s tribe had been so far from expiating their father’s crime, that they added new ones, their prince being guilty of another notorious crime, Numbers 25:6,14, and his tribe too much concurring with him in such actions, as interpreters gather from the great diminution of the numbers of that tribe, which were 59,300 in Numbers 1:23, and but 22,200 in Numbers 26:14, which was near forty years after. Or,

2. Because that tribe had no distinct inheritance, but was to have his portion in the tribe of Judah, as he had, Joshua 19:1, and therefore must needs partake with them in their blessing.

And this is the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. Namely, what is related in the following verses, this being the general title to the chapter: Moses is called "the man of God", being raised up of God, and eminently qualified by him with gifts for the work he was called unto, and by whom he was inspired to say what is after expressed: it is a title given to prophets, 1 Samuel 9:6; and so Onkelos here paraphrases it,"Moses the prophet of the Lord,''and Aben Ezra observes, that this is said to show that he blessed Israel by a spirit of prophecy, and which he did a little before his death, when very near it; and, as the same writer says, on the very day of his death. And this is the {a} blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.

(a) This blessing contains not only a simple prayer, but an assurance of the effect of it.

1 (2). The Mutilated shall not Enter the Congregation. The reason is either the general one, which may well have been primitive, that a blemished man was ritually unfit for a community, formed like all ancient communities on a religious basis (cp. H, Leviticus 21:20, for the priests alone); or the particular one that such unsexed persons often served heathen deities (Deuteronomy 14:1, Deuteronomy 23:17 f. (18 f.)). Also the employment of eunuchs was part of the foreign ḥareem system introduced by Solomon. There is therefore no reason to doubt the possibility of an early date for this law.

On its use of ḳahal for the congregation of Israel see below. Berth. argues that the rigorous exclusion of eunuchs implies a date later than the exilic or post-exilic passage Isaiah 56:3 ff., which promises the childless eunuch, sarîs, a lasting name in Israel, better than sons or daughters, if he keeps Jehovah’s covenant. But this promise, in its connection with a similar one to the son of the foreigner, reads as the grant, under the influence of a more spiritual and generous piety (cp. on Deuteronomy 33:6), of privileges hitherto denied to the physical eunuch by custom or law. Or has sarîs here the same symbolic meaning which it bears in Matthew 19:12? Nor does Berth.’s appeal to Jeremiah 34:19 carry weight, for the sarîsîm mentioned there can hardly, because of their ranking with princes and priests, be physical eunuchs but are rather chamberlains or other high officials. Jensen derives the word from Ass. sha reshi ‘he who is chief’ (Z. A. vii. 174); cp. Genesis 39:1, where the married Potiphar is a sarîs of Pharaoh, and note that no Heb. code calls the physical eunuch sarîs. On eunuchs as guardians of the mosques at Medinah and Mecca see Burton, Pilgrimage, etc., i. 371.

wounded in the stones] Lit. wounded by crushing (the testes), cp. H, Leviticus 21:20; this and the other operation here described are both practised in the East.

the assembly] or congregation. For the Heb. ḳahal see on Deuteronomy 5:22. The earlier instances of the term cited there shew that its use here cannot be taken as proof of an exilic or post-exilic date. This in answer to Berth. Not used in this meaning elsewhere by D; its presence here may be due to D’s employment of an earlier law (cp. Dillm.). But cp. Deuteronomy 33:4.

1. An editor’s introduction; note children of Israel, not D’s all Israel.

the blessing … blessed] This title is not given to the less hopeful oracles assigned to Jacob in Genesis 49. Great sanctity was ascribed to the words of a dying father or leader on the fortunes of his sons or followers, for such a blessing was before Jehovah; Genesis 27:7; Genesis 27:23; Genesis 27:27 ff., Gen 48:9, 20, 49, cp. Joshua 14:13.

man of God] Frequently of prophets: Moses, Joshua 14:6 (deut.), Psalms 90. (title); Samuel, 1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Samuel 9:10; Elijah, 1 Kings 17:18; Elisha, 2 Kings 4:7; 2 Kings 4:9; 2 Kings 4:15; 2 Kings 4:22; 2 Kings 4:25; 2 Kings 4:27; a nameless prophet, 1 Kings 13.

(2–9). Four Laws: Of Right to Enter the Congregation

There shall not enter any eunuch (Deuteronomy 33:1); nor the son of an unlawful marriage, nor descendants (Deuteronomy 33:2); nor Ammonite, nor Moabite, nor descendants (Deuteronomy 33:3-6); but the third generation of Edomite or Egyptian may enter (Deuteronomy 33:7 f.).—These laws have negative openings like the preceding and like the series which follow in Deuteronomy 33:15-20 (Deuteronomy 33:16-21) after the interrupting law, Deuteronomy 33:9-14 (Deuteronomy 33:10-15); hence possibly their position just here. The form of address to Israel does not appear till Deuteronomy 33:4 a (Deuteronomy 33:5 a) where it is Pl., but in Deuteronomy 33:4-7 Sg. Other features are the use of ḳahal, congregation, for the commonwealth of Israel, not elsewhere in D, the difference of Deuteronomy 33:4 a (Deuteronomy 33:5 a) from Deuteronomy 2:29, the introduction of Balaam not mentioned in chs. 1–3, and the favourable treatment of Egyptians. Such data raise questions of the origin and structure of these laws as difficult as any we have met, and perhaps incapable of solution.

Some take Deuteronomy 33:4-6 (Deuteronomy 33:5-7) as secondary, and the rest as original to D. But it is nearly as plausible to reckon part or all of Deuteronomy 33:4-6 as D’s addition to earlier laws and to argue for the primitive origin of these (see below). Berth. holds that all Deuteronomy 33:1-8 (Deuteronomy 33:2-9) is secondary, Deuteronomy 33:1-6 being from the time of Ezra and perhaps inserted by Ezra himself to correct the religious confusions which he found in Jerusalem. As there is nothing at that time to explain Deuteronomy 33:7 f. (Deuteronomy 33:8 f.) he boldly suggests the origin of this in the Maccabean period (Stellung d. Isr. zu d. Fremden, 142 ff., and his note on this passage). For answers to him see below.Verse 1. - Moses the man of God. This appellation is applied to Moses only here and in Joshua 14:6 and the heading of Psalm 90. The phrase, "man of God," indicates one favored with Divine communications, and employed as God's messenger to men (cf. 1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Kings 12:22). In this heading, the author of the blessing is clearly distinguished from the person by whom it was inserted in this place. In Deuteronomy 32:44-47 it is stated that Moses, with Joshua, spake the song to the people; and on finishing this rehearsal, once more impressed upon the hearts of the people the importance of observing all the commandments of God. This account proceeds from the author of the supplement to the Thorah of Moses, who inserted the song in the book of the law. This explains the name Hoshea, instead of Jehoshuah (Joshua), which Moses had given to his servant (Numbers 13:8, Numbers 13:16), and invariably uses (compare Deuteronomy 31:3, Deuteronomy 31:7, Deuteronomy 31:14, Deuteronomy 31:23, with Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:21, Deuteronomy 3:28, and the exposition of Numbers 13:16). - On Deuteronomy 32:46, vid., Deuteronomy 6:7 and Deuteronomy 11:19; and on Deuteronomy 32:47, vid., Deuteronomy 30:20.
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