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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.

Deuteronomy 33:15Joseph. - Deuteronomy 33:13. "Blessed of the Lord be his land, of (in) the most precious things of heaven, the dew, and of the flood which lies beneath, (Deuteronomy 33:14) and of the most precious of the produce of the sun, and of the most precious of the growth of the moons, (Deuteronomy 33:15) and of the head of the mountains of olden time, and of the most precious thing of the everlasting hills, (Deuteronomy 33:16) and of the most precious thing of the earth, and of its fulness, and the good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush: let it come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of him that is illustrious among his brethren." What Jacob desired and solicited for his son Joseph, Moses also desires for this tribe, namely, the greatest possible abundance of earthly blessing, and a vigorous manifestation of power in conflict with the nations. But however unmistakeable may be the connection between these words and the blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:22.), not only in the things desired, but even in particular expression, there is an important difference which equally strikes us, namely, that in the case of Jacob the main point of the blessing is the growth of Joseph into a powerful tribe, whereas with Moses it is the development of power on the part of this tribe in the land of its inheritance, in perfect harmony with the different times at which the blessings were pronounced. Jacob described the growth of Joseph under the figure of the luxuriant branch of a fruit-tree planted by the water; whilst Moses fixes his eye primarily upon the land of Joseph, and desires for him the richest productions. "May his land be blessed by Jehovah from (מן of the cause of the blessing, whose author was Jehovah; vid., Psalm 28:7; Psalm 104:3) the most precious thing of the heaven." מגד, which only occurs again in the Sol 4:13, Sol 4:16, and Sol 7:13, is applied to precious fruits. The most precious fruit which the heaven yields to the land is the dew. The "productions of the sun," and גּרשׁ, ἅπ. λεγ. from גּרשׁ, "the produce of the moons," are the fruits of the earth, which are matured by the influence of the sun and moon, by their light, their warmth. At the same time, we can hardly so distinguish the one from the other as to understand by the former the fruits which ripen only once a year, and by the latter those which grow several times and in difference months; and Ezekiel 47:12 and Revelation 22:2 cannot be adduced as proofs of this. The plural "moons" in parallelism with the sun does not mean months, as in Exodus 2:2, but the different phases which the moon shows in its revolution round the earth. מראשׁ (from the head), in Deuteronomy 33:15, is a contracted expression signifying "from the most precious things of the head." The most precious things of the head of the mountains of old and the eternal hills, are the crops and forests with which the tops of the mountains and hills are covered. Moses sums up the whole in the words, "the earth, and the fulness thereof:" everything in the form of costly good that the earth and its productions can supply. - To the blessings of the heaven and earth there are to be added the good-will of the Lord, who appeared to Moses in the thorn-bush to redeem His people out of the bondage and oppression of Egypt and bring it into the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:2.). The expression "that dwells in the bush" is to be explained from the significance of this manifestation of God as shown at Exodus 3, which shadowed forth a permanent relation between the Lord and His people. The spiritual blessing of the covenant grace is very suitably added to the blessings of nature; and there is something no less suitable in the way in which the construction commencing with וּרצון is dropped, so that an anakolouthon ensues. This word cannot be taken as an accusative of more precise definition, as Schultz supposes; nor is מן to be supplied before it, as Knobel suggests. Grammatically considered, it is a nominative to which the verb תּבואתה properly belongs, although, as a matter of fact, not only the good-will, but the natural blessings, of the Lord were also to come upon the head of Joseph. Consequently we have not יבוא (masc.), which רצון would require, but the lengthened poetical feminine form תּבואתה (vid., Ewald, 191, c.), used in a neuter sense. It, i.e., everything mentioned before, shall come upon Joseph. On the expression, "illustrious among his brethren," see at Genesis 49:26. In the strength of this blessing, the tribe of Joseph would attain to such a development of power, that it would be able to tread down all nations.
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