Deuteronomy 33:23
And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.
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Deuteronomy 33:23. Satisfied with favour — With the favour of God. That only is the favour that satisfies the soul. They are happy indeed that have the favour of God; and they shall have it that place their satisfaction in it. And full with the blessing of the Lord — Not only with corn, wine, and oil, the fruit of the blessing, but with the blessing itself, the grace of God, according to his promise and covenant. Possess thou the west and the south — Or, the sea and the south, as the Hebrew word is; not the midland sea, and the south of Canaan. For, according to Josephus, with whom all the Jewish writers agree, this tribe possessed the east and the north of the country, in Upper Galilee; but the sea of Gennesaret, or Tiberias, which was its border on one side, and the south from the last-mentioned tribe, namely, that of Dan.

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.Satisfied with favor - Compare Genesis 49:21 and note.

The west and the south - i. e., taking the words as referring not to geographical position but to natural characteristics, "the sea and the sunny district." The possession of Naphtali included nearly the whole west coast of the Sea of Galilee, the Lake of Merom, the modern Bahr el Hulch, and the well watered district near the springs of Jordan. It contained some of the grandest scenery and some of the most fertile land in Palestine. Josephus speaks of the shore of Gennesaret as "an earthly paradise;" and Porter describes it as "the garden of Palestine." The modern name for this district, "land of good tidings," is significant.

23. of Naphtali he said—The pleasant and fertile territory of this tribe lay to "the west," on the borders of lakes Merom and Chinnereth, and to "the south" of the northern Danites. With favour; either,

1. With God’s favour, as it follows; or,

2. With men’s favour or good-will, his carriage being peaceable, courteous, and obliging, as is intimated, Genesis 49:21, according to the common translation: see the notes there.

Full with the blessing of the Lord, i.e. seated in a pleasant, and fertile, and happy soil; such as Galilee (in which their share lay) eminently was, as Josephus and others report.

The west and the south, or, the sea and the south. This is not to be understood of the places, that his lot should fall there, for he was rather in the east and north of the land; but of the pleasures and commodities of the west, or of the sea, which were conveyed to him from his neighbour Zebulun; and of the south, i.e. from the southern tribes and parts of Canaan, which were brought to him down the river Jordan, and both sorts of commodities were given him in exchange for the fruits of his rich soil, which he had in great abundance.

And of Naphtali he said,.... The tribe of Naphtali, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem:

O Naphtali, satisfied with favour; with the favour of men, which to have is a great blessing; and as he gave goodly words to others, he had the good word of others, Genesis 49:21; and with the favour of God, as the next clause shows; which is the greatest blessing of all, and is special and peculiar, free and sovereign, and the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; and to be full of this, and satisfied of an interest in it, is the highest of enjoyments; and nothing is of a more satisfying nature, it is a feast of itself; see Psalm 63:3,

and full with the blessing of the Lord; as such must needs be who are full of and satisfied with the your, good will, and love of God; for they are filled with all spiritual blessings, with all the blessings of grace, which spring from his free favour, as pardon of sin, a justifying righteousness, adoption, sanctifying grace, a right and title to eternal life. This may have respect to the temporal happiness of this tribe, which had a remarkable share in the favour and good will of God, and in the blessings of his goodness. Strabo (a), an Heathen writer, speaking of this part of the land of Judea, says it was a happy and fruitful country, bearing all manner of fruit; in this tribe was the fruitful country of Gennesaret, full of delightful gardens and fields, which lay along by a lake of that name, frequently mentioned in the New Testament; which country, Josephus says (b), one may call the ambition of nature; and the Targum of Jonathan has it,"ye shall be full of the fruits of the valley of Gennesaret;''and particularly this country was favoured with the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; see Matthew 4:13,

possess thou the west and the south; not the west and south of the land of Israel; for, according to Josephus (c), this tribe lay to the east and north of it, just the reverse; and it is plain from Joshua 19:34; that it had Asher on the west, and Zebulun on the south; wherefore some understand this of the commodities this tribe was supplied with, as through the tribe of Asher on the west, on which those trading cities Tyre and Sidon bordered; and through Zebulun on the south, which was near the sea, and was given to navigation and trade: though it should be observed that the word for "west" signifies the "sea" (d); and intends not the Mediterranean sea, which this tribe did not reach; but the sea of Tiberias and Gennesaret, as all the Targums explain it; and Bochart (e) observes, that the portion of Naphtali reached from the south of the city of Dan to the sea of Tiberias; so that the south is observed with respect to Dan last mentioned, and the west or sea to the sea of Tiberias.

(a) Geograph. l. 16. p. 519. (b) De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 9. sect. 8. (c) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 22. (d) "mare", Montanus, V. L. Cocceius. (e) Heirozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 18. col. 898.

And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou {p} the west and the south.

(p) Meaning, near the sea.

23. as thou hast freely vowed unto the Lord thy God] LXX to God.

which thou hast promised, etc.] Attached awkwardly to preceding, and probably a gloss.

24, 25 (25, 26). Of Use at Need of Others’ Corn and Fruits. Grapes may be eaten on the spot but none carried away; ears of corn may be plucked with the hand but no sickle shall be used.—Sg. with neighbour (not brother). LXX transposes the two vv. Peculiar to D; cp. Deuteronomy 24:19-21. The Pharisees flagrantly contradicted not only the spirit of this law, but its very letter, by interpreting plucking as reaping, and because this was work (Deuteronomy 33:13) they held it unlawful on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1 ff., Mark 2:23 f., Luke 6:1 ff.).—The licence sanctioned here is frequently taken in Syria to-day, and the refusal to grant it regarded as impiety; for Arabia see Doughty, Ar. Des. i. 520 f., ii. 152.

23 And of Naphtali he said:

Naphtali sated with favour,

And full of the blessing of the Lord,

Sea and South shall he hold.

23. The first two lines reflect the extraordinary fertility of mount Naphtali (Joshua 20:7) i.e. Upper Galilee between the Lake on the E. and the territory of Asher on the W., ‘an undulating tableland arable and everywhere tilled, with swelling hills … covered with shrubs and trees’ (Robinson); along with the still more exuberantly fertile plain of Gennesaret (HGHL, 417–421, 446 f. with citations in proof from Josephus, etc.).

satisfied with favour] Cp. Psalm 145:16.

the sea] Not the Mediterranean (Sam. the West) but the sea of Kinnéreth, Deuteronomy 3:17.

the south] Heb. Darom (so Sam.), a late poetic word, Ezekiel 40:27 f., Job 37:17, LXX λιβά, the S.W. wind, a happy conjecture, for no wind brings more moisture to Mount Naphtali. Geddes: South because Naphtali’s land lay S. of that of Dan; Graf and Dillm. the hot land in the deep trench of the Jordan valley and upon the Lake where the vegetation is tropical. Driver: ‘so styled it seems partly in contrast to the main possessions of the tribe (which were farther N.), partly with allusion to the sunny warmth which prevails there’; Berth. emends, ‘the sea and the way of the sea’ (derek yam), cp. Isa. 8:23.

hold thou] So Heb. Sam. LXX read he shall hold.

Verse 23. - In Jacob's blessing, Naphtali appears invested with the attributes of freedom, gracefulness, and graciousness; here Moses assures that tribe of the Divine grace and blessing, and promises to it prosperity and felicity. Possess thou the west and the south. The word rendered "west" here (ָֻם) properly means sea, and came to signify "west" from the fact of the Mediterranean, or Great Sea, lying to the west of Palestine. The proper meaning of the word is to be retained here. As the territory of Naphtali lay in the north of Canaan, and was far from the sea, the blessing here pronounced upon him must be understood generally of prosperity and felicity. He was to possess riches as of the sea, and genial and fructifying warmth as of the south. Deuteronomy 33:23Naphtali. - "O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full of the blessing of Jehovah; of sea and south shall he take possession." If the gracefulness of Naphtali is set forth in the blessing of Jacob, by comparing it to a gazelle, here Moses assures the same tribe of satisfaction with the favour and blessing of God, and promises it the possession of the sea and of the south, i.e., an inheritance which should combine the advantages of the sea - a healthy sea-breeze - with the grateful warmth of the south. This blessing is expressed in far too general terms for it to be possible to interpret it historically, as relating to the natural characteristics of the inheritance of the Naphtalites in Canaan, or to regard it as based upon them, apart altogether from the fact, that the territory of Naphtali was situated in the north-east of Canaan, and reached as far as the sea of Galilee, and that it was for the most part mountainous, though it was a very fertile hill-country (Joshua 19:32-39). ירשׁה is a very unique form of the imperative, though this does not warrant an alteration of the text.
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