Deuteronomy 33:18
And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and, Issachar, in your tents.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Zebulun . . . and Issachar were united with Judah, in the leading division of Israel in the wilderness. The warlike character of the first of these two, and the more peaceful wisdom of the second, are illustrated by Judges 5:18 and 1Chronicles 12:32-33. (Comp Jacob’s blessing of Issachar in Genesis 49:14-15.)

Deuteronomy 33:18. Rejoice, Zebulun — Thou shalt prosper, and have cause of rejoicing. In thy going out — 1st, To war, as this phrase is often used. 2d, To sea, in the way of traffic, because their portion lay near the sea. And in both respects his course is opposite to that of Issachar, who was a lover of peace and pasturage. He is here joined with Zebulun, both because they were brethren by father and mother too, and because their possessions lay near together. In thy tents — Thou shalt give thyself to the management of land and cattle, living quietly in thy own possessions.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.Zebulun possessed a commodious sea-shore and the fisheries of the Lake of Tiberias: and was therefore to thrive by commerce, and to rejoice in his "going out," i. e., in his mercantile enterprises. Issachar possessed a fertile inland district, and would therefore dwell at home and prosper in agriculture. Both tribes distinguished themselves in the contest with Jabin (compare Judges 5:14-15, Judges 5:18): and of Zebulun it is particularly noted that it produced the officers and tacticians who led and marshalled the host which vanquished Sisera (see Judges 5:14, and compare 1 Chronicles 12:33).18, 19. Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out—on commercial enterprises and voyages by sea.

and, Issachar in thy tents—preferring to reside in their maritime towns.

Thou shalt prosper; and have cause of rejoicing.

In thy going out; either,

1. To war, as this phrase is oft used, as Genesis 14:17, which was in part verified, Judges 5:18. Or,

2. To sea, in way of traffic, because their portion lay near the sea. Or both may be joined; and in both respects his course is opposite to that of Issachar, who was a lover of peace and pasturage. See Genesis 49:14,15.

Issachar is here joined with

Zebulun, both because they were brethren by father and mother too, and because their possessions lay near together.

In thy tents, i.e. thou shalt give thyself to the management of land and cattle, living quietly in thy own possessions, disliking the troubles of war and of merchandise. So the phrase is used Genesis 25:27 Joshua 22:4 Judges 5:24 7:8. And of Zebulun he said,.... The tribe of Zebulun, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, with whom Issachar is joined, they being brethren, and of the same mother as well as father; though Zebulun the youngest is set before Issachar the older, as in Jacob's blessing, Genesis 49:13,

rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; in their going out to sea, to merchandise, to traffic in foreign parts, it being a maritime tribe, see Genesis 49:13; and so are called upon to rejoice and be thankful for their safe preservation on the seas, and success in trade; and to this sense are the paraphrases of Jonathan and Jerusalem: though Onkelos interprets it of their going out to war against their enemies, and certain it is that they were also a warlike as well as a seafaring tribe; see Judges 5:18,

and Issachar, in thy tents; being a tribe that stayed at home, and attended to husbandry, and dwelt in tents, to take care of and feed their cattle; in doing which they should be prosperous, and have occasion to rejoice, and be thankful to the Lord: though the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem carry it to a different sense, to their schools, in which they dwelt: this tribe being, as supposed, a learned tribe, studious, in the law; which is gathered from 1 Chronicles 12:32.

And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy {m} going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.

(m) In thy prosperous voyages on the sea, Ge 49:13.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. hire of a harlot] Both of the consecrated and common prostitute, cp. Hosea 9:1, Micah 1:7, Isaiah 23:17 f., Ezekiel 16:34. Mövers (op. cit.) shows that in Phoenicia this hire was brought to the temple.

wages of a dog] Heb. meḥîr, wage, Micah 3:11, elsewhere price or payment, e.g. 2 Samuel 24:24, 1 Kings 10:28. Dog, keleb; the official name of the ḳadesh; cp. Phoen. inscription from Larnaca in CIS. i. 97, Revelation 22:15 and the Greek κύναιδος; in Ass. possibly also a general name for priests (above, p. 23, n. 1). See further W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 274.

house of Jehovah thy God] In Deut. only here, but cp. E, Exodus 23:19, J, Exodus 34:26, Joshua 6:24, Jdg 19:18, and frequently in Kings.

abomination] See on Deuteronomy 7:25.

19, 20 (20, 21). Of Interest; forbidden on loans to fellow-Israelites, but allowed on loans to foreigners.—In the Sg. address, with brother (not neighbour) and other of D’s phrases; Deuteronomy 33:19 is parallel to E, Exodus 22:25 (24) and H, Leviticus 25:35-37, which forbid taking interest from poor Israelites. In these cases it is clear that we have to do with charitable, not commercial, loans, on the latter of which in later days interest was expected (Matthew 25:27). Deuteronomy 33:20 on loans to foreigners deals with commercial loans, see Driver’s note on Exodus 22:25. It is peculiar to D; there is no reason for regarding it (with Steuern.) as secondary. It is the proof, with several others, of the extension of Israel’s foreign trade by the time of D. See above on Deuteronomy 15:6 and § 54 of the present writer’s art. ‘Trade, etc.,’ in E.B.

Similarly among other Semites. Where poverty prevails and loans are for its relief and there is little trade, no interest is exacted, as among the Arabs (Doughty, Ar. Des. i. 318). In early Babylonian history ‘advances of all sorts were freely made both with and without interest,’ and ‘most of the loans were evidently contracted to meet temporary embarrassment’ (Johns, Bab. and Ass. Laws, etc., 250 f.). But a very complicated system including advances of money and kind by private persons, the temple treasuries and the king’s (cp. Matthew 25:14 ff., Luke 19:12 ff.) with various rates of interest and regulations, gradually developed in Babylonia (op. cit. ch. xxiii.), and we find a number of prescriptions already in the Code of Ḫammurabi (§§ 48–52, 100–107).

18 And of Zebulun he said:

Rejoice, Zebulún, in thine outgoing,

And in thy tents, Issachár!

19 Peoples they call to the mountain (?),

There slay they the sacrifices due.

For the affluence of seas do they suck

And the hidden hoards of the sand.

The territory of Zebulun in Joshua 19:10-16 runs seaward or westward, but apparently without reaching the sea. But in Genesis 49:13 the tribe dwells on the sea-beach, a beach for ships, with his border by Sidon (Tyre is nearer, but at the date of the poem Sidon must have been suzerain of the Phoenician confederacy) therefore favourably placed for commerce. Similarly here. Issachar, Joshua 19:17-23, lay further inland, on Esdraelon under Tabor and Gilboa and down towards Jordan; described in Genesis 49:14 f. as a big-boned ass content to lie between the sheepfolds (or panniers?), the servant of others. Here he is congratulated, not scorned, because of his home-keeping habits, a contrast to Zebulun’s. It is remarkable that nothing is said of the heroism of these tribes, as celebrated by Deborah, Jdg 5:15; Jdg 5:18, cp. Jdg 4:6; Jdg 4:10. On Genesis 49:13-15 Skinner remarks that that ‘lends colour to the view that this part of the poem is of older date than the Song of Deborah.’ This is by no means conclusive.

18. going out] Either the tribe’s outlet seaward, Genesis 49:13; or more probably their (foreign) trade; on the Heb. vb as = doing business see above, Deuteronomy 13:13 (14), Deuteronomy 28:6.

Issachar, in thy tents] According to Joshua 19:17-23 Issachar had a number of towns, some important, but all (either by name or situation) agricultural with very fertile suburbs on the Plain. Tents, then, is used either poetically for homes (cp. to thy tents O Israel!) or refers to the custom (seen to-day among the townsfolk of Moab) of resorting to tents in summer for the herding of flocks or the tillage of fields at a distance from the towns. Such was the scope of their energies. LXX his tents.Verses 18, 19. - Zebulun and Issachar, the two last sons of Leah, are taken together by Moses; and Zebulun, though the younger son, is placed first, in accordance with Genesis 49:13. Success in enterprise, and felicity at home, are assured to both. "Although 'going out' (enterprise, labor) is attributed to Zebulun, and 'remaining in tents' (the comfortable enjoyment of life) to Issachar, in accordance with the delineation of their respective characters in the blessing of Jacob, this is to be attributed to the poetic parallelism of the clauses, and the whole is to be understood as applying to both in the sense suggested by Graf, 'Rejoice, Zebulun and Issachar, in your labor and your rest'" (Keil). They shall call the people unto the mountain; rather, they shall call nations to the mountain, i.e. the mountain of the Lord's inheritance (Exodus 15:17), the place of his sanctuary. Sacrifices of righteousness; i.e. sacrifices offered according to God's Law, and in a manner and a spirit well pleasing to him (Psalm 4:6; 51:21). They shall suck of the abundance of the seas, etc. The treasures of both sea and land should be theirs. The Targumist Jonathan Ben Uzziel explains this as referring especially to the obtaining of the rich purple dye from the shell of the oyster (murex Syrius), and the producing of mirrors and glass vases from the sand. The existence of vitreous sand on the coast of Zebulun is attested both by Strabo (lib. 16. p. 757) and Pliny ('Nat. Hist.,' lib. 36. c. 286). Benjamin. - "The beloved of the Lord will dwell safely with Him; He shelters him at all times, and he dwells between His shoulders." Benjamin, the son of prosperity, and beloved of his father (Genesis 35:18; Genesis 44:20), should bear his name with right. He would be the beloved of the Lord, and as such would dwell in safety with the Lord (עליו, lit., founded upon Him). The Lord would shelter him continually. The participle expresses the permanence of the relation: is his shelterer. In the third clause Benjamin is the subject once more; he dwells between the shoulders of Jehovah. "Between the shoulders" is equivalent to "upon the back" (vid., 1 Samuel 17:6). The expression is founded upon the figure of a father carrying his son (Deuteronomy 1:29). This figure is by no means so bold as that of the eagle's wings, upon which the Lord had carried His people, and brought them to Himself (Exodus 19:4; vid., Deuteronomy 32:11). There is nothing strange in the change of subject in all three clauses, since it is met with repeatedly even in plain prose (e.g., 2 Samuel 11:13); and here it follows simply enough from the thoughts contained in the different clauses, whilst the suffix in all three clauses refers to the same noun, i.e., to Jehovah.

(Note: "To dwell upon God and between His shoulders is the same as to repose upon Him: the simile being taken from fathers who carry their sons while delicate and young" (Calvin).)

There are some who regard Jehovah as the subject in the third clause, and explain the unheard-of figure which they thus obtain, viz., that of Jehovah dwelling between the shoulders of Benjamin, as referring to the historical fact that God dwelt in the temple at Jerusalem, which was situated upon the border of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. To this application of the words Knobel has properly objected, that God did not dwell between ridges ( equals shoulders) of mountains there, but upon the top of Moriah; but, on the other hand, he has set up the much more untenable hypothesis, that the expression refers to Gibeon, where the tabernacle stood after the destruction of Nob by Saul. - Moreover, the whole nation participated in the blessing which Moses desired for Benjamin; and this applies to the blessings of the other tribes also. All Israel was, like Benjamin, the beloved of the Lord (vid., Jeremiah 11:15; Psalm 60:7), and dwelt with Him in safety (vid., Deuteronomy 33:28).

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