Deuteronomy 33:10
They shall teach Jacob your judgments, and Israel your law: they shall put incense before you, and whole burnt sacrifice on your altar.
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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.33:6-23 The order in which the tribes are here blessed, is not the same as is observed elsewhere. The blessing of Judah may refer to the whole tribe in general, or to David as a type of Christ. Moses largely blesses the tribe of Levi. Acceptance with God is what we should all aim at, and desire, in all our devotions, whether men accept us or not, 2Co 5:9. This prayer is a prophecy, that God will keep up a ministry in his church to the end of time. The tribe of Benjamin had their inheritance close to mount Zion. To be situated near the ordinances, is a precious gift from the Lord, a privilege not to be exchanged for any worldly advantage, or indulgence. We should thankfully receive the earthly blessings sent to us, through the successive seasons. But those good gifts which come down from the Father of lights, through the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and the pouring out of his Spirit like the rain which makes fruitful, are infinitely more precious, as the tokens of his special love. The precious things here prayed for, are figures of spiritual blessing in heavenly things by Christ, the gifts, graces, and comforts of the Spirit. When Moses prays for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush, he refers to the covenant, on which all our hopes of God's favour must be founded. The providence of God appoints men's habitations, and wisely disposes men to different employments for the public good. Whatever our place and business are, it is our wisdom and duty to apply thereto; and it is happiness to be well pleased therewith. We should not only invite others to the service of God, but abound in it. The blessing of Naphtali. The favour of God is the only favour satisfying to the soul. Those are happy indeed, who have the favour of God; and those shall have it, who reckon that in having it they have enough, and desire no more.Who said unto his father and to his mother - Compare Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26. 8-10. of Levi he said—The burden of this blessing is the appointment of the Levites to the dignified and sacred office of the priesthood (Le 10:11; De 22:8; 17:8-11), a reward for their zeal in supporting the cause of God, and their unsparing severity in chastising even their nearest and dearest relatives who had participated in the idolatry of the molten calf (Ex 32:25-28; compare Mal 2:4-6). They, i.e. the priests and Levites.

Before thee, i.e. upon thine altar of incense, which stood before the ark, the place of God’s special presence. They shall teach Jacob thy statutes, and Israel thy law,.... The priests and Levites, being dispersed among each of the tribes, having cities in them allotted to them, taught the people the laws, statutes, and ordinances of the Lord, moral, civil, and ceremonial, see Malachi 2:6,

they shall put incense before thee; upon the altar of incense, which none but a priest might do, as the case of Uzziah shows; and which, the Jews say (k), he might do but once: the same priest might not offer incense twice; a new priest was always employed: in this they, were typical of Christ, the only Intercessor who is always at the golden altar, to offer up the prayers of all saints with his much incense, Revelation 8:3,

and whole burnt offerings upon thine altar; the altar of burnt offering, typical of Christ, who is both altar, sacrifice, and priest.

(k) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 26. 1.

They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
10. among you] Lit. in thee.

which chanceth him by night] See Leviticus 15:16; and above on Deuteronomy 20:7.

10. judgements … law] Heb. Mishpaṭim … Torah cp. Deuteronomy 17:9 ff. The earlier priest was a teacher and judge (Hosea 4:6, Micah 3:11); and of his functions these also come first here, and are followed by his offices in the ritual of expiation.

incense] Rather smoke of sacrifice; for in the earlier Heb. literature, Isaiah 1:13, 1 Samuel 2:16, Amos 4:5, Hosea 4:13; Hosea 11:2, the noun ḳeṭôreth (here ḳeṭôrah) and the vb ḳiṭṭer refer always to such smoke and not to incense.

Of the use of incense in Israel’s worship there is no evidence before the 7th cent. b.c.; Jeremiah 6:20 appears to regard frankincense as an innovation. At Ta‘anach Sellin unearthed an incense altar which he dates about 700 b.c. (Tell Ta‘annek, 75 ff., 109 f.) and at Gezer Macalister found another in rubbish of 1000–600 b.c. (PEFQ, 1908, 211). See further Jerusalem i. 333, ii. 63 n. 2, 307 f., etc. The smoke from the altar conveyed to the Deity in an ethereal form the portion of the sacrificial feast reserved for Him. This seems to have been the primitive idea of the process, and a trace of it survives here in the anthropomorphic phrase in thy nostrils (R.V. marg.), cp. Genesis 8:21, 1 Samuel 26:19, etc. But later the burnt-offering came more and more to have a piacular force; and its smoke symbolised to Israel the confession of their sin and their surrender of the lives He was pleased to accept in place of their guilty and forfeit selves. No sacrament could be more adequate than this, which proved at once the death deserved by the guilty, the blackness and bitterness of their sin, and its disappearance in the infinite purity of the skies, the unfathomable mercy of Heaven. It is this piacular meaning which is behind the LXX rendering ἐν ὀργῇ σον, ‘in thy wrath,’ for in thy nostrils.

whole burnt offering] See Deuteronomy 13:16 (17)."Moses appointed us a law, a possession of the congregation of Jacob. And He became King in righteous-nation (Jeshurun); there the heads of the people assembled, in crowds the tribes of Israel." The God who met Israel at Sinai in terrible majesty, out of the myriads of holy angels, who embraces all nations in love, and has all the holy angels in His power, so that they lie at His feet and rise up at His word, gave the law through Moses to the congregation of Jacob as a precious possession, and became King in Israel. This was the object of the glorious manifestation of His holy majesty upon Sinai. Instead of saying, "He gave the law to the tribes of Israel through my mediation," Moses personates the listening nation, and not only speaks of himself in the third person, but does so by identifying his own person with the nation, because he wished the people to repeat his words from thorough conviction, and because the law which he gave in the name of the Lord was given to himself as well, and was as binding upon him as upon every other member of the congregation. In a similar manner the prophet Habakkuk identifies himself with the nation in ch. 3, and says in Habakkuk 3:19, out of the heart of the nation, "The Lord is my strength,...who maketh me to walk upon mine high places," - an expression which did not apply to himself, but to the nation as a whole. So again in Psalm 20:1-9 and Psalm 21:1-13, which David composed as the prayers of the nation for its king, he not only speaks of himself as the anointed of the Lord, but addresses such prayers to the Lord for himself as could only be offered by the nation for its king. "A possession for the congregation of Jacob." "Israel was distinguished above all other nations by the possession of the divinely revealed law (Deuteronomy 4:5-8); that was its most glorious possession, and therefore is called its true κειμήλιον" (Knobel). The subject in Deuteronomy 33:5 is not Moses but Jehovah, who became King in Jeshurun (see at Deuteronomy 32:15 and Exodus 15:18). "Were gathered together;" this refers to the assembling of the nation around Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:10.; cf. Exodus 19:17.), to the day of assembly (Deuteronomy 9:10; Deuteronomy 10:4; Deuteronomy 18:16).
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