Richard Agee

Deuteronomy 33-34: Last days of Moshe; final blessings for the 12 tribes

The last two chapters of Deuteronomy contain Moses’ final blessings and prophecies for the 12 tribes of Israel then a description of his death, a passage he didn’t write.

The text alternates between Moshe (Moses) speaking to the people, Moshe speaking for God and Moshe speaking to the people on behalf of God. The changes from first to third person can be a little confusing. 

Moshe goes on to give blessings to each of the 12 tribes. There are no curses here. God, through Moshe, is uplifting the people. 

The first tribe mentioned is Reuben (Deut. 33:6). Moshe says that they will live and be a blessing, even though the tribe will not be the largest of the tribe. It doesn’t seem like a great blessing but it is because Moshe says, “May Reuben live and not die” (Deut. 33:6). Even though Reuben had committed a crime against his father worthy of death, Reuben was allowed to live and his descendants will live too. 

The tribe of Yehudah (Judah), descended from the forth son of Jacob, is mentioned second in the line of blessings.

“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, And bring him to his people” (Deut. 33:7).

In other words, they were sent in to exile but God will bring them back and will conquer their enemies when they trust in God, and the descendants of Yehudah will be the ones to bring the other tribes back too. 

The blessings for Levi (Deut. 33:6–11) includes access to the Urim and Thummim. They would be allowed access to God’s light and His integrity. The “holy one” mentioned in His blessing is the high priest. That office would always be given to the descendants of Levi and Aaron. God did not pick Ya’akov (Jacob) and Leah for this role, He picked Aaron to be holy before Him. 

Levi is to be the teacher of the people and to brings the prayers of the people to God. 

The tribe of Ben-Yamin (Benjamin) would be safe and shielded by God (Deut. 33:12). They would sit on God’s shoulders. God would carry them. 

The tribe of Yosef (Joseph) was given many blessings (Deut. 33:13–17), the best of what comes from the mountains, the hills and the sun, which implies the blessings of abundant water, sunshine, food. Yosef would also have the strength of the ox, and be a hard worker. Both of Yosef’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, will also have the largest number of people. They will be the largest tribes, they may even outnumber the other 10 tribes. 

The blessing given to the tribes of Zebulun and Issachar is very fascinating (Deut. 33:18–19). Moshe says that they will call the people to righteousness. Because of their contact with the Gentiles, they would help bring many people to truth. We see in Matt. 4:15–16 that Yeshua blessed this region with much of His teaching during his ministry on earth. 

The tribe of Gad‘s blessing (Deut. 33:20–21) includes given the blessing of being good at the art of war as soldiers and commanders. The blessing “Then he provided the first part for himself” might seem selfish on its face. But just as airlines tell passengers that if oxygen is needed, adults are to take care of themselves first and then take care of their children, Gadites is given a special portion to take care of themselves so they can then be a blessing to the rest. 

The tribe of Dan was given the blessing of  being able to conquer the land, as lions lay in wait to conquer territory. 

The tribe of Naphtali was blessed this way:

“O Naphtali, sated with favor, And full of the blessing of the Lord, Take possession of the sea and the south” (Deut. 33:23).

They received the full blessing of the Lord when Yeshua came and visited their land as prophesied in Matthew 4. 

The tribe of Asher was blessed (Deut. 33:24–25) with many children the ability to live in harmony with the other tribes, who often did not want to live in harmony. Asher also given a blessing of abundance and comfort. 

Moshe tells all of Israel that God will be their refuge (Deut. 33:26–29), not just for particular tribes but for all of them. God will destroy their enemies and give them a secure foundation. God is with those who are upright. 

How many people can claim to have been saved by the Lord Himself? The Israelites were told that God would put fear into their enemies and the Israelites were to tear down the evil high places. 

God does not do any of this because they deserve it but because of His promise to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. 

When God gives us a blessing and we don’t recognize it, He takes it back. Then we wonder what we put our confidence and trust in. 

Worship is not just a performance or a show. It’s what or who you give over your body and mind.

Death of Moshe

When Moshe went up to Mount Nebo to meet God for the last time and die, God showed him all the land of Israel (Deut. 34:1–4). God showed him were each of the tribes would end up, not necessarily where they were supposed to go. For example, Danites were supposed to take the land in the middle of the country, but they gave it up and went north instead. 

Moshe was one of the most special servants of God, yet it was God who buried him. Jude records that the angel Michael and Satan fought over the body of Moshe (Jude 1:9). God did not send Moshe up to heaven. He is still resting in the grave on Mt. Nebo in the land of Moab “to this day.”

The obituary of Moshe concludes:

“Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,  for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.” (Deut. 33:10–12)

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.


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