Deuteronomy 33:15
And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
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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.Comparing the words of Moses with those of Jacob, it will be seen that the patriarch dwells with emphasis on the severe conflicts which Joseph, i. e., Ephraim and Manasseh, would undergo (compare Genesis 49:23-24); while the lawgiver seems to look beyond, and to behold the two triumphant and established in their power.13-17. of Joseph he said—The territory of this tribe, diversified by hill and dale, wood and water, would be rich in all the productions—olives, grapes, figs, &c., which are reared in a mountainous region, as well as in the grain and herbs that grow in the level fields. "The firstling of the bullock and the horns of the unicorn" (rhinoceros), indicate glory and strength, and it is supposed that under these emblems were shadowed forth the triumphs of Joshua and the new kingdom of Jeroboam, both of whom were of Ephraim (compare Ge 48:20). i.e. The excellent fruits, as grapes, olives, figs, &c., which delight in mountains, growing upon, or the precious minerals contained in, their mountains and hills, called ancient and lasting, i.e. such as have been from the beginning of the world, and likely to continue to the end of it, in opposition to those hills or mounts which have been cast up by the wit of man. And for the chief things of the ancient mountains,.... Which were from the beginning of the world, and for which the land, possessed by the children of Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim, were famous; as the mountains of Gilead and Bashan, inherited by the former, and Mount Ephraim, and the mountains of Samaria, by the latter; which produced, besides great quantities of grass and corn, also vines, figs, olives, &c.

and for the precious things of the lasting hills; which will endure as long as the world, the same as before in other words; and which precious things may be emblems of the spiritual blessings of grace, provided in an everlasting covenant, and given to Christ for his people before the world began, or any mountains and hills were formed, and which are as lasting and as immovable as they are; see Proverbs 8:22, Isaiah 54:10.

And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
15. deliver] i.e. under arrest; cp. Joshua 20:5 (deut.), 1 Samuel 23:11 f.

a servant] slave or bondman, as elsewhere, e.g. Deuteronomy 5:14.

15. chief things] Heb. rôsh (collect.) tops or rather headlands, see on Deuteronomy 3:27 and small print under Deuteronomy 12:2. Some conjecture reshîth the best (fruit) of the hills. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:13 increase of the mountains.

15, 16 (16, 17). Of a Runaway Slave. If such escape to thee—apparently Israel as a whole (cp. Deuteronomy 5:16), and therefore the slave, though not necessarily a Hebrew slave1[145] (Marti), is one who has escaped from a foreign master—thou shalt not send him back, he shall dwell with thee, where he chooses and unoppressed.—Peculiar to D. That slaves sometimes fled abroad is seen from the flight of Shimei’s to Achish of Gath, who gave them back, apparently as a matter of course (1 Kings 2:39). If this was the usual practice D’s law marks a humane advance upon it. For slaves who flee from native owners no Hebrew laws are extant. On slavery see further on Deuteronomy 15:12 ff.

[145] Had this been so it would have been stated as in Deuteronomy 15:12.

Ḫammurabi decrees that he who induces a slave to flee or harbours the runaway shall die (§§ 15 f., 19) and that runaways shall be restored (§§ 18, 20), the reward for each being two silver shekels (§ 17). The slaves of Arabs seldom run away. If one is harshly treated and escapes, he is sheltered by another man of the tribe till his owner promises to treat him better (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 225).

15–25 (16–26). Five Laws—Various

The subjects of these are not related. As to form, all are in the Sg. address (Steuern.’s reasons for dividing them between his Sg. and Pl. authors are again inconclusive); and the first three (Deuteronomy 33:15-20) have negative openings similar to those of the group in Deuteronomy 33:1-8 (from which they are abruptly separated by Deuteronomy 33:9-14). In D or D’s source they may have originally followed that group, in the feeling that as all three treat of relations with foreigners or foreign practices they had affinity with it. Steuern. thinks that Deuteronomy 33:15 f. fit Deuteronomy 22:8 in the code of his Sg. author. In addition to the negative openings there are possibly some cue-words. Escaped in Deuteronomy 33:15 is the same Heb. vb (but passive) as deliver in Deuteronomy 33:14; and vow in Deuteronomy 33:18 is soon followed by vows in Deuteronomy 33:21-23.In these temptations Levi had proved itself "a holy one," although in the latter Moses and Aaron stumbled, since the Levites had risen up in defence of the honour of the Lord and had kept His covenant, even with the denial of father, mother, brethren, and children (Matthew 10:37; Matthew 19:29). The words, "who says to his father," etc., relate to the event narrated in Exodus 32:26-29, where the Levites draw their swords against the Israelites their brethren, at the command of Moses, after the worship of the golden calf, and execute judgment upon the nation without respect of person. To this we may add Numbers 25:8, where Phinehas interposes with his sword in defence of the honour of the Lord against the shameless prostitution with the daughters of Moab. On these occasions the Levites manifested the spirit which Moses predicates here of all the tribe. By the interposition at Sinai especially, they devoted themselves with such self-denial to the service of the Lord, that the dignity of the priesthood was conferred upon their tribe in consequence. - In Deuteronomy 33:10 and Deuteronomy 33:11, Moses celebrates this vocation: "They will teach Jacob Thy rights, and Israel Thy law; bring incense to Thy nose, and whole-offering upon Thine altar. Bless, Lord, his strength, and let the work of his hands be well-pleasing to Thee: smite his adversaries and his haters upon the hips, that they may not rise!" The tribe of Levi had received the high and glorious calling to instruct Israel in the rights and commandments of God (Leviticus 10:11), and to present the sacrifices of the people to the Lord, viz., incense in the holy place, whole-offering in the court. "Whole-offering," a term applied to the burnt-offering, which is mentioned instar omnium as being the leading sacrifice. The priests alone were actually entrusted with the instruction of the people in the law and the sacrificial worship; but as the rest of the Levites were given them as assistants in their service, this service might very properly be ascribed to the whole tribe; and no greater blessing could be desired for it than that the Lord should give them power to discharge the duties of their office, should accept their service with favour, and make their opponents powerless. The enemies and haters of Levi were not only envious persons, like Korah and his company (Numbers 16:1), but all opponents of the priests and Levites. The loins are the seat of strength (Psalm 69:24; Job 40:16; Job 31:1; 17). This is the only place in which מן is used before a finite verb, whereas it often stands before the infinitive (e.g., Genesis 27:1; Genesis 31:29).
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