Deuteronomy - Lesson 34

Moses’ Farewell Benediction - Deut. 32.48-49 - 33.1-29

At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

Daniel Block
Lesson 34
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Moses’ Farewell Benediction - Deut. 32.48-49 - 33.1-29

Moses’ Farewell Benediction (32:48-49, 33:1-29)

I. Context of Moses’ Farewell Benedictions

II. Structure and design

III. Comparison With Genesis 49

A. Similarities

B. Differences

C. Center of gravity

IV. Date Written

V. Relationship to the Rest of Deuteronomy

VI. Content

A. Exordium

1. Definition of blessing

2. Features of blessings in Genesis

3. Moses described as the man of God

4. Beneficiary

5. Arrival of the divine king

6. The King and his people

7. Celebration of YHWH’s Kingship

8. Progressive revelation of YHWH's Kingship

B. Coda

1. Incomparable God

2. God's privileged people

  • Understand that Deuteronomy, viewed as the Gospel according to Moses, is a theological, instructional book emphasizing covenant relationship and grace, aligning with New Testament teachings and offering life-giving messages rather than strict legal mandates.
  • Learn about Deuteronomy as a covenant document, its historical context, covenant categories, and the significance of covenantal rituals, gaining insight into its structure and covenantal vocabulary.
  • Gain insight into the process of how Deuteronomy texts were preserved, recognized as canonical, and the role of Moses and the Levitical priests in maintaining and transmitting these sacred writings.
  • Moses begins by recalling events that happened during their wandering in the wilderness, then recent events as they have gotten closer to entering the promises land from the east. Moses is idealized in the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians. You get a different picture when you read his first address. It shows Moses as faithful but flawed.

  • The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

  • With the privilege of salvation and covenant relationship comes the call for a righteous response, demonstrated in joyful obedience to the Savior and Lord. A covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, formalizes, governs a relationship that does not exist naturally or a natural relationship that has disintegrated.

  • God’s people are a privileged people; they have been graciously redeemed, and set apart as his special treasure, his holy covenant people. God acts graciously to undeserving people and they respond joyfully with obedience. The is the end of the first speech of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

  • The Decalogue is the bill of rights of the people of ancient Israel. It is the ten principles of covenant relationship. It creates a picture of covenant righteousness and provides a foundation for later revelation. The Decalogue contains the features of a typical covenant and conditional and unconditional laws. The addressee is the head of the household because they can be a threat to others.

  • When Moses recites the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5, there are parts that are similar to the passage in Exodus, and there are some significant differences. He begins with getting the attention of the people of Israel and appealing for covenant fidelity, restates the Decalogue, then ends with a document clause, using covenant language.

  • The Shema is a call for whole-hearted, full-bodied commitment. This passage is a theological exposition and pastoral proclamation to impress on the minds of the people of Israel the special relationship they enjoyed with YHWH. The grace God showed them must be embraced with grateful and unreserved devotion to their redeemer and covenant Lord.

  • God chooses the covenant partner, sets the terms, declares the goal, identifies the sign and determines the consequences of disobedience of the covenant. After Moses explains the purpose of the Law, he explains to the children how the Law was given and that learning it and putting it into practice will bring them life.

  • Moses talks to the people of Israel as they are entering the land, about how they will respond to the external test of confronting and dispossessing the surrounding nations. He reminds them of their special status with God and the covenant that he offers them unconditionally. He challenges them with the theological, ethical and missional significance of the test.

  • How can you worship a God that asks the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites? The reason for Israel taking the land is so the people of Israel as a holy people will be preserved so the world will be preserved. God is fundamentally compassionate and gracious, he does what is right and God offers us grace and mercy.

  • When everything goes right, what do you do then? The message of this passage is, “don’t forget.” YHWH provided manna in the wilderness to feed the people of Israel. God was also teaching them in the wilderness that life comes from every word of the mouth of God, not just by eating physical food. Moses challenges the people to respond to prosperity by praising God, not by taking the credit themselves.

  • The enemies in the Promised Land are formidable. God promises to defeat them. Moses warns that people to acknowledge that God is responsible. Even though the Canaanites do not follow God, the reason God chose the people is not because they are morally superior to the Canaanites.

  • Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

  • “What does YHWH ask of you?” Moses answers this question, then gives a doxology to confirm it and an application to illustrate it. God wants you to have a soft heart toward him, to live in an attitude of trusting awe and to act in a way that honors the covenant that God has established with you.

  • Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

  • As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

  • The Levites represent a barometer on where the people of Israel are in their ethical religion. They are not given land as an inheritance so it is the responsibility of people in the other tribes to support them. Moses presents a theology of worship but doesn’t go into detail.

  • This is a warning to the people of Israel to not imitate the materialistic preoccupation and the brutal rituals associated with the worship practices of the surrounding nations when they worship YHWH. There are warnings against following false prophets, someone in your family or people in your community if they are promoting seditious religious practices. The apostle Paul uses similar language in the New Testament when warning people about following people who teach heresies.

  • In contrast to worship with the purpose of satisfying the gods, YHWH delights in fellowship with his people and for them to celebrate in his presence. YHWH encourages his people to eat in his presence and with other people. His guidelines about which foods are acceptable to eat set the people of Israel apart from other nations.

  • A main purpose of the national festivals was to keep alive the memory of God’s grace and maintain their faith in god and their covenant with him.

  • Moses describes the key offices and roles that keep the society going by providing political and spiritual structure. The primary concern is righteousness. The king is to be the embodiment of Torah righteousness. Moses outlines specific steps to achieve this and describes what it will look like.

  • Moses, in his role as prophet, is the commissioned envoy of righteousness to the people of Israel. Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. He warned the people of Israel about false prophets and the danger of adopting the worship practices of the surrounding nations.

  • Moses provides a picture of covenant life and godliness in a way that you can apply it to every situation in life. It’s important to care for the poor and the resident alien and to show justice to them. The resident aliens were invited to participate in the feasts and covenant life.

  • The ideal for the people of Israel was a patricentric society but in often the reality was a patriarchal society. In a patricentric society, the male head of the clan will provide resources and security in a way that gives his family and the community opportunities to flourish. The vision for women in Deuteronomy is different than the world that is described in Israelite narratives.

  • Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

  • Some people view the curses in Deuteronomy 28 as a stumbling block to accepting the Old Testament as Christian Scripture because they say it represents God as vengeful. However, this was a common way of writing covenants in the Ancient Near East, they follow a list of extraordinary blessings, they serve a pastoral function and there are similar curses articulated in the New Testament.

  • Deuteronomy 29 begins with Moses recounting how YHWH brought the people out of Egypt and gave them victory in the land east of the Jordan River. Then he describes the curses they will experience when they turn away from the Lord. Chapter 30 describes the eschatological restoration. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to the mystery of divine grace. (The movie and book series that Dr. Block is referring to is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The prequel to this series is The Hobbit.)

  • This is the final altar call of Moses to the people of Israel to appeal to them to choose life by living in covenant relationship with YHWH. The revelation of YHWH given through Moses is to be memorized, recited and used as a guide for conduct. It is understandable and doable.

  • The Torah that Moses has been preaching was written down. This is the introduction to the song of Moses and contains the commissioning of Joshua, who will take over after Moses dies. Part of the book of Deuteronomy is the death narrative of Moses.

  • This passage is a poetic witness to the people of Israel of the faithfulness of YHWH and the faithlessness of Israel. Moses was told to teach it to the people of Israel so they could pass it on to their descendants. People could sing it throughout the day and it could be presented as a musical drama at national celebrations.

  • At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

  • This is the last narrative story about Moses in the Old Testament. God tells him to go up on Mt. Nebo where he is able to see the land. Joshua takes over as the leader of the people. There is a eulogy for Moses at the end.  

The Gospel according to Moses. This is a collection of sermons of Moses as the people of Israel are poised to enter the promised land after being in the wilderness for 40 years. Deuteronomy is a special book, calling God’s people to celebrate his grace and demonstrate covenant love for him with action that glorifies his name. Until we recognize the gospel in this book, we will not read this book. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same mountain. They are used interchangeably)

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Moses’ Farewell Benediction - Deut. 32.48-49 - 33.1-29

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] As is customary in many of our worship services, Moses ends this extended protracted worship service with a benediction. The blessing of the congregation. Only he does it by tribe. Let's remind ourselves where we are in the plot of this. We have reached the last couple of frames. The benedictions come just before the account of the death of Moses in chapter 34. In fact, I imagine I may comment on this later. I imagine that after having taught the song as Moses is going up the mountain in Nebo, the Lord has said, Come up to me at the end of Chapter 32. As he's walking up, he turns around and sees the camp there below him. And working his way around. He has a blessing for each of the tribes. That's the the the image I have in mind. Of course, this is in very soft led pencil and don't know if it says much about the message, but in any case, it does give realism to the picture. So let's talk about the context of Moses farewell benedictions in Deuteronomy 33 after the blessing. I mean, after the national anthem of Chapter 32, the narrator has in inserted a few verses of narrative which conclude that segment, but then it shifts from the narrative conclusion. Uh, actually, we could have had it on here from a narrative conclusion at the bottom of the song 3244 to 47, without a signal, it shifts into an introduction to the next section. The chapter division is obviously unfortunate. It breaks up what is actually happening. So in 30 to 40 8 to 33 A we have the Lord's announcement to Moses. It's over. And now you have a chronological note that very day. Yeah. We spoke to Moses. Go up this mountain of Amorim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and View the land of Kanan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for possession and die on the mountain, which you go up and be gathered to your people as Aaron, your brother died in Mount Ha and was gathered to his people because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Mirabai Kadesh in the wilderness of sin.


[00:03:27] And because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. Indeed, you may see the land before you. That's what you asked for. Have a look. But you may not go there into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel. Well, that's the background to this. And then the next thing we hear now, this is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Sons of Israel. There isn't actually a transition, but it's a sudden shift. And that's when where I imagine Moses turns around, he's Mark, he's climbing up and he looks over the the, the over the plane of Moab and sees the Israelites down below. Below. Well, the structure of the benedictions themselves are very clear. You have a narrative preamble. 33 one Then you have like we had for the national anthem, a hymn. Nick exhorting them, then the tribal benedictions one after the other, beginning with Reuben and ending with a share, and then a hymn. Nick Coda Now if we put the hymn, Nick exhorted them and the code together, they're virtually the same length. One is 43 words, the other one is 45 words. They read like one continuous text. Yahweh came from Sinai and dawned upon them from Seer. He shone forth from Mt. Paran, accompanied by myriads of holy ones and fire emanating from his right. All you who love the people's, all you who holy ones were in his hand and holy ones were in your hand. So they followed in your steps receiving direction from you. Moses charged us with the Torah as a possession of the assembly of Jacob. Thus he became king injection. When the heads of the peoples were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together, skipping through 26.


[00:05:45] There is no one like the God of gesture Rowan, who rides on the heavens to help you, and on the clouds in His Majesty, the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are His everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you saying destroy him. So Israel will live in safety alone. Jacob's Spring is secure and a land of grain and new wine where the heavens drop due. How privileged you are. Traditionally blessed are you. But this is Asher, not Baruch. How privileged you are. Oh, Israel. Who was like you? People saved. By our way, He is your shield and helper, your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you and you will trample down their high places. When we read the blessings themselves, we'll come back. We'll come back to the exorcism and to the cold again. But when we read the blessings themselves, our first impulse is to compare this with Genesis 49, where Jacob blesses his sons as sons. Here, Moses is blessing Jacob's sons as tribes. And that's the difference. Both blessings. Benedictions are embedded in death narratives. It's the story of Jacob's death here. It's the story of Moses that both are cast in poetic form, both the old serially with the descendants of Jacob, both use imaginative figures of spirits. This is poetry. Those are the similarities, but the differences are also quite remarkable. Whereas the prose preamble to Genesis nine in ten intentionally sets the con. Text for the blessing of Jacob. The preamble to Deuteronomy 33 simply declares the fact that Moses pronounced the blessing prior to his death without formally declaring that he had assembled the people before him. Well, I think we've actually assumed that because the whole book is about the assembly before him.


[00:08:11] So we don't need that. And if anything, it's on his departure from the assembly that we have this second. Whereas Genesis 49 obviously deals with the future of Jacob's descendants, the respect of blessings, concerned individuals, sons, all occasionally alluding to the personal experiences of the characters in the Jacob Ones. You'll have references to Reuben misbehaving and stuff like that. Well, the blessings of Deuteronomy 33 are addressed to the tribes far removed from what we call the patronymic, the men who gave the tribes their names. So there's nothing personal here. Third, whereas the blessings in Genesis 49 tend to be cast as predictions of the future, they're virtual Oracles prophecies. The Blessings of Deuteronomy 333 sound more like Prayers for the future or wishes. They are cast in just sea of form rather than in indicative form. These are Moses wishes for the future. They are called blessings in verse one. Or is it verse two? But they are not cast as traditional blessings for whereas Genesis 49 arranges the blessings more or less in birth order. Deuteronomy 33 is based either on a post settlement geography. How do we know this, Dan is associated with northern tribes or sociopolitical significance in Moses time? So here I've got the two in the order that they appear and we have Reuben is first in both. He is the oldest, and then we have Simeon and Levi. Deuteronomy fronts Judah ahead of Levi. Then we have the first grouping of three of the same. Then we have Judah. And after that they really change. Deuteronomy 33 doesn't have separate blessings for Zebulon and is the car. They are combined here put together. Dan is in a different order. Gad is immediately opposite, but the order of this is actually quite different.


[00:11:06] If you look at the Genesis one, you notice we have Leah people at the front end and we have Joseph and Benjamin, the Rachel people at the back end. And in between are the sons of the handmaidens of Rachel and Leah. Whereas that doesn't seem to be so much of an issue on the right hand side. I think it's a reflection of the personal stories of these people. Benjamin is brought right very high up and in Deuteronomy, as opposed to way down at the bottom, as is Joseph. So the Rachel tribes, we've got three Leah tribes and then two Rachel tribes, and then the Handmaid tribes are at the end. Well, how do we look at this then, in this map, with the numbers I impose on it, you will see the order in which in which they appear. So we begin with Reuben and then Judah. And then I have three Levi. Levi doesn't actually have any territory. So that that's where the temple is. And then for Benjamin, and then five is Ephraim, and six is is Sekhar and Gad, and then down here and then Naftali. Share is number ten, five is Manasa. There isn't a separate one for the half tribe of Manassa on the other side. That's an interesting approach to this text. The arrangement of the tribes in Deuteronomy 33. Well, let's then. I mean, what is Dan doing yet? Number eight. Here next to number nine and number ten. Well, of course, by then we know later on the Danish never did get this. They moved north. In fact, the Danish stole property from Naftali. The town of Dan Lot ish is enough to light territory. And actually, after this, the tribe of Dan never plays a role in anything.


[00:13:36] You have the city of Dan. And Naftali all around. So it's the city of Dan remains significant for good and for ill. But it's interesting what happens to that, which suggests to me that whoever put this text together did it after judges 18. Were the nights move north. We'll talk about the implications of that for authorship in a moment. Well, the center of gravity, if you look at the center of gravity, is reflected in the attention devoted to the respective tribes. And here is my list of the tribes. A graph of the tribes. How many verses are devoted? Or is this word count? I've forgotten. But the respective lengths of each of the blessings in Genesis, in Red and in Deuteronomy. In this instance, the center of gravity is clearly Levi and Joseph. Why do Levi and Joseph get more attention than the others? Not even Judah. I have a theory. It relates to who are the people at the helm here? Moses. And by now Phinnaeus probably their Levites. Whoop. Where's Joseph in this picture? That's Joshua. Joshua is an E for might, and it could well be that as he's going up the hill, Moses has a special soft spot for these two. I don't know. It's just hypothetical. Center of gravity in Levi and Joseph rather than Judah and Joseph. In Genesis 49, God recognizes Judah. The scepter shall not depart from Judah. That's the anchor text. But the second one is again Joseph, which has a long. But of course, at that point Jacob is especially happy to have re renewed his connection with Joseph and he blesses Joseph profusely. Date and provenance. What when was this document produced? And so I suppose we have to distinguish between the date of the blessings and the date of the document.


[00:16:18] The collection of blessing. Probably two different things. A couple of clues here. One, the archaic language continues that we saw in chapter three. It's poetry. So it's got old fashioned language, which suggests to many scholars, including critical scholars, that this text is an ancient text, one of the oldest texts in all of scripture. Even whether or not you believe in Moses because the language is old. Second, the picture of Israel as a nation. It's as an assembly of tribes united by work, by worship of Yahweh. There is no hint here of the division in 1931, which, in my view, rolls out most critical scholar theory that pushes everything way back there your way into the future. So I think that has to have been even put together before 931. The picture of the individual tribes does not match larger images of what we had, for instance, after the book. Yeah, there's limited attention to Judah. Even if this document was produced under David and David's time, that is the book of Deuteronomy. As as a book, the speeches are all authentically mosaic. The song is Mosaic, the blessings are mosaic. But put together like this, you would think that if it was after David, whoever put this thing together would give Judah more space, because by then Judah is number one. So Levi's access to Tom and Karim, I use the T rather than T-H intentionally, because in Hebrew, at the beginning of a word, the T letter is never soft in the middle or end of a word after a vowel. Bath daughter house by Yes, but you never start a word with t h in Hebrew. So it should be Tom and Yuri. And usually we have agreement on them. But in any case, Levi has access to the told me, mentor him elsewhere.


[00:18:55] He's always associated with the high priest who who has the stones in his breastplate. There isn't a hint of that in Deuteronomy, which suggests in some significant circles that this happened before the competition between the groups of priests. They're working together. There's a positive view of Benjamin, a very positive view of Benjamin in this one. After judges 1920 and 21. You could never say this about Benjamin, and for sure, not after Saul. So that points to an early date, the emphasis on fertility rather than political power for Joseph. Later, Ephraim becomes the dominant political power in the North, already under Joshua. Actually, he's a need for Mike. So, Ephraim, be. It's Judah and Ephraim. Are become the names of the two kingdoms. But there's no hint of Ephraim might political power. There's a positive personal perspective on Dan a positive view of Zebulon and is car. All of this points to a time of composition and I think creation of the document before everything went south. So an early date. Well, how about the rest of Deuteronomy? The relationship, the struggle against idolatry is reflected in the exorcism and in the coda, but not so much in the actual blessings of the tribes. So you've got idolatry, the way usurping the titles and characteristics of Caden ideas. His he is ale, he is rider of the clouds. He is the eternal one. These names come out of ancient Canaanite mythology. You have the gods have these titles, El Rider of the Clouds and the Eternal one. That is those are epithets attributed to Yahweh. So it's at a time when we are still wrestling with that we haven't caved in. With regard to the centralization of the cult here, the Levites burn incense on the altar.


[00:21:25] What I thought all the Arrow Knights did. But here is Levites. But note Zebulon and Issa car leading worship on Mount Tabor. Really? I have no idea where that happened. When that happened. If that happened, what kind of event this text is anticipating. But perhaps because Mount Tabor is this impressive mountain up there up north, they're expecting that somewhere in the future. Zebulon And is a car will be leading Orthodox work right through sacrifices. Look at verse 19. They will call the peoples to the mountain. There they will offer righteous sacrifices. How does that work? So we have an issue The vocabulary of salvation, references to ordinances and the Torah clearly reflect a Deuteronomy view of the covenant and the characterization of Israel as holy, warns the kid. Those seem verse three. This is very Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy. Fourth, the incompatibility of Yahweh in the coda at the end certainly accords with the monotheistic perspectives of the book. Who is a God like Yahya Way and who is a people like Israel because they have a God like Yahweh. This fits the book five Jacqui's appearance from Sinai and the portrayal of Moses as a mediator through whom the ordinances were given to Israel in verse five, I think it is. And the one who charged the Levites to teach Torah. These all allude to the covenant. We have been talking about in this. And finally, the role of the land in the triangular nation relationship, especially as the basis for Israel's prosperity. And this emphasis is right in sync with the pictures we have in chapters eight and 11. But note. There is no reference here to fulfillment of prophecy. Apart from the rim and Tommy in the hands of the Levites, Moses doesn't talk about prophets will come in fulfillment of any words that is absent.


[00:24:01] There's no reference to a future king, let alone a Davidic dynasty. Which in my mind points the blessings themselves pre-game. They have to be. Because after David, we all know there is a king already. Conclusion. In my mind, the exhaustive and coda have been conformed, composed very early as a separate doc, so logical him. So the first five verses, I think it's the first five and the last 1 to 3 verses four verses. These were once together as a single hymn. The blessing fragments appear to have been collected. Larger headings were added to identify each fragment with a tribe. No, we have no idea If Moses uttered these words as he was walking up the mountain. Some scribe. Was probably president, probably a Levite. There were other literate people around who may have written down each of these blessings on a three by five card. Of course we are now. We are now talking metaphorically. It could have been on shirts. Or on a fragment of parchment. And that, I imagine, perchance may have been most likely written on a part shared. And then they're all put into a box or into a container. And we've got a collection of Moses blessings. These are the words of Moses. And this collection has no shape in that bag. The shape is given to it later so that the content is early. But the order in which the editor can we talk in those terms? The order in which the editor arranges them reflects the editors time. Hence, Dan is up north. So really, the blessings are early, but the text as we have it comes. This is theory. The collections of blessings was inserted into the preexisting hymn, breaking it up into identical length and sodium and coda.


[00:26:45] The poetic product was inserted and integrated into the book of Deuteronomy and verse one, composed by the final author of the book, if not the final author of The Pentateuch. I know I don't know how the Pentateuch was produced in its final form. The Bible never says Moses wrote the Pentateuch. We shouldn't die in battle over or over. Absence of evidence that the Pentateuch says Moses wrote down these speeches that I'll die for. But did he write Deuteronomy? Did he utter these blessings? I'll say yes. The text tells me whatever the text says, I'll accept. But I will not make it seem more than a set than it says. Well, let's begin our reflections on what we actually have. I am not going to take time to look at each of the tribes separately. That's a complicated picture. And we can do that on our own. They're all little fragments. Each one deserves a little bit of comment. But most of my comments will be on that, which really inspires, namely the beginning and the end. The the blessings are cast as prayers for a localized audience. The exorcism. This is the blessing that Moses, the man of God, pronounced on the Israelites before his death. That's a prosaic statement. Notice it identifies the genre of the text. If Chapter 32 was a song here, this is a blessing. But the word blessing never Pierce. But the author calls it a blessing. And it's not the traditional form of a blessing. They really turn out to be. These are Moses prayers, wishes, expressions of passion for the future of each tribe. Moses here is called the Man of God, which could mean the godly man. But I don't think necessarily so. It probably means the commissioned man of God Mao arc and and on voice of God, he pronounced on behalf of God the realities of the Israelites before his death.


[00:29:28] And then he said, Yahweh came from Sinai and dawned upon them from Caesar. He shone forth from Mount Paran. He came from the place of myriads of holiness with fire emanating from his right, or you who love the peoples, and all his holy ones were in your hand. So they followed in your steps, receiving direction from you. When Yahweh charged us this Torah as a possession for the Assembly of Jacob, thus he became king in gesture rune, when the heads of the people were gathered together. All the tribes of Israel together. Well, we already talked about the nature of these utterances, the path as a blessing. But now we use the word loosely. A blessing is fundamentally a pronouncement of good will and an invocation of divine favor by one person on another, usually as superior to an inferior. But blessings play a very important role in the book of Genesis there all over the place of all sorts, but especially by heads of families on their children. When they're dying, they pronounce a blessing upon the children. You remember Jacob wants to bless Joseph's two sons even before he goes, and you remember the story of how his arms crossed in order that he might bless the younger with a right hand and give him grant him supremacy over. So, Ephraim, the younger becomes the right hand person, the virtual firstborn. Firstborn. The notion of firstborn doesn't have necessarily to do with birth order it. It's a sociological character of first in rank. Rubin is the first born, but by the time the story's over, he's definitely light first in rank. That goes either to Levi or to Judah or. I think once they're in Egypt, Jacob treats Joseph as the first in rank.


[00:31:43] But in any case, typically the favors involved involved revolve around fertility status, peace and security. It's all about the triangle. And what Moses will do in these blessings is wish upon the people these four things fertility status, peace and security in blessings and Genesis as they were conferred in the presence of Yahweh. Genesis 27 seven, the time at which blessings were pronounced on children were festive occasions. Remember Joel Jacob, who's going blind, says to Esau, think, he says to Esau, Make a nice meal like we've enjoyed all week here because I want to bless you. And so they get ready for the festival occasion and and he blesses Jacob to be blessed, does the opposite of being curse naturally. The contract, the blessed content of blessing can be inspired by the senses of the person. Sometimes the blessed sour smells, the person Isaac smelled something on Jacob and the blessing reflects the smell. That happens. The senses are alive. The blessings could be multidimensional. They could include material prosperity, social dominance, divine protection. Interesting. Or once it's been pronounced, it cannot be revoked. It's irrevocable. And I think this leads to one of the other things will say whether or not the speaker is blessing the person he thinks he is blessing. Turns out to be irrelevant in our courts of law. Authorial instead, which would rule. He thought he was blessing Esau and he gave him the star. But he was blessing Jacob. And then Isaiah comes in and oh, he can't retract yet. The benediction of a patriarch took precedence over natural and customary rights. That's Ephraim and Manasa at that. At at the time of the final blessing, the patriarch was considered to have prophetic ability to see and predict the future.


[00:34:15] The inspiration of blessings involved derived from a variety of sources sometimes. Case of Reuben, Simeon and Levi. What you've done in the past. I'm taking it out on you here. Sometimes they play on the person's name, sometimes the father's feelings toward the son. But they are accompanied by final instructions regarding the deposition of the deceased Patriarch's body. 49 at the time of the blessing. Then there's there are also instructions about I'm about to leave and what you do with me now. The fact that the person being blessed with someone other than the one pronouncing the blessing thought he was is immaterial. Thinking he was Esau, Isaac blessed Jacob and you couldn't pull it back. That is a problem. But they fought with all their lives after that. Well, I want to skip ahead to a couple of other topics we need to talk about here. Moses was called here the man of God. This is used of prophets in half a dozen other texts. There are lots of titles for prophets around seer, visionary Nabi and one called of God. And here he is called The Man of God, which I think is a man who has access to the counsel of God in that sense. Well, who is the beneficiary? It's the descendants of Israel. Of the great nations standing in front. These are the family of Jacob and Moses in this blessing. Stands as the patriarch before the whole group. This is an extended family in contrast to God, who in Exodus 32 had said, Leave me alone so my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. I will make you, Moses, into a great nation. Here Moses stands up, and he could have said, You are the people of Moshe.


[00:36:33] But they're not the people of Malta. They're the descendants of Israel. They're not more Shi'ites. There is actually an interesting moment. There are a couple of other thematic things I want to talk about now. Notice in this like sodium, the issue is about the arrival of the great king. Yahweh showed up. But look at the source, the origin. He came from Sinai, not to Sinai. He came from here. He came from Mount Paran, from the place of the myriads of Holy, holy ones. And fire emanating like this is obviously a reference from a reference to the Sea of funny, I should say, audience at Mount Sinai, but that he should come from sea or come from Sinai. Come from Mount Paran. I think this already reflects the Israelites have been on the move and wherever they have gone, have have gone. Starting with Sinai, Yahweh has marched with them in the Tabernacle, you know, as the fire and the cloud, and taken them to where he where they are supposed to rest every night. He led them to their resting places. But he is the great king. He is Yahweh who comes from these mountains. And if you want to see where we are, we can do this on the map. He comes from seer. I, I am a traditionalist and the local in the location of Mount Sinai down here, Jabal Mousa. I'm not a geographer, so I will not live or die on that one. But that the image is he comes from Mount Sinai. This is the only place in the book where the word Sinai occurs. Everywhere else, it's Horeb everywhere else. Which reminds us that Moses is referring to this in a matter of Horeb represents something to Moses. We can't be quite sure.


[00:38:51] It comes from the same root as the word for wasteland. And I have a private theory that, too, Moses Sinai was a disaster. It's a wasteland. Most people died. And. It's not with you. God made the covenant. But I mean, it's not with your father's. God made the covenant, but with us. I have a feeling that. But here in the poem, he's got to stick with the script and he can change it. So he came from Sinai. He came from the wilderness of Paran. He came from sea here. These are the mountains east of the Arava here. This is the heartland of Edam. But God is associated with the south, the mountains, the the desert. And he comes from there coming with his holy ones. This is a picture of Israel on the march. He comes in glory. He. He dons all the expressions. He shines forth. It's a brilliant place in this image. Sinai is not so much the place of the law. As the place of God's glorious presence. And of course, I think this reminds us of Exodus 19 4 to 6. You've seen what I did to the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle swings and brought you to myself. It's all about God. It's all about Yahweh. Some of these lines are extremely difficult. He came from them from the place of myriads of holy ones. Who are those myriads of holy ones? There is ambiguity here. Sometimes the holy ones are the sons of God, the courtiers of God in Heaven, Council of holy ones. But the the the referent will change in this text. In a little while. We will see. The Israelites have become the holy ones. He came from the place of the holy ones.


[00:41:11] They have heavenly the Court. But. But now He is marching on with a new band of holy ones. Later on. Then he talks about not only Sinai Seer, Mt. Paran, but from the midst of 10,000 holy ones that could be Kaddish. Holy ones. So some think that there's a reference to Kadesh Barnea in that one. But that's a text problem. There are lots of text problems with him with this from his right. Angels came. How they got angels out of this world is anybody's guess, because it's not the word for angels. But this is a very critical issue in later interpretation. There are no references to angels with that kind of language in this passage in the Hebrew. But this reading underlies a larger tradition reflected in a variety of sources that angels served as mediators when the law was given that Sinai. If there is a biblical source for that tradition, this is it. This is it. Josephus The Israelites learned the noblest of their doctrines and the holiest of their laws through messengers sent by God. There isn't a hint of this in the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch has God speaking the Decalogue directly to the people. All the rest. He speaks directly to Moses, and Moses passes it on. No hint of intermediaries. Acts 753 Stephen speaks of his own people as those who receive the law by angels under God's direction. Where does that come from? Galatians three. Paul speaks of the laws having been put into effect through angels by a mediator. Hebrews two two, alluding to the Heavenly host, refers to the law as binding, a binding word spoken by angels. It's not here. Makes you wonder what New Testament authors are reading. Septuagint versions, other versions of this text.


[00:43:48] But at least four times you have this one plus Josephus and others. Well, the important thing I think, for us to notice is how God is portrayed here. He's the king. This is the only place in Deuteronomy where he is actually called the king in the curses. They will talk about the king whom you have chosen, who will be punished. But Yahweh as king, explicit. It's implicit in the whole book. He is the royal one. He is enthroned. He speaks. Israel is his vassal. This is royal. But here he's the king. He is the king. He is the lover of the peoples. I love some of these expressions. It's a strange word. Whole wave. I mean, a lover of the peoples. The one who holds his people in his hands. On the other hand, the people are the people's plural. I thought they were one people. My people, Israel. But now I think he's talking tribes. Each of the tribes is a people. This is a very general cat. The beloved, obviously the holy ones. Lots of important one that my holy one. They are submissive to Yahweh. They follow in his steps, they receive his direction. The Israelites have become God's holy entourage as he marches from Sinai to power, run to sea or to Kaddish. Badia The Israelites are his royal entourage. Versus wanting to paint a picture of the Lord's Universal Authority, sensitively balancing authority over a heavenly host with his authority over Israel. This statement highlights Israel's role in the Lords earthly agenda, what the Angels are to cosmic administration, the Israelites are to the earthly. They are his agents. They are the people of his court. Joshua Berman, a fine Jewish scholar, Orthodox Jewish scholar, and very friendly to evangelicals.


[00:46:18] And when we gather for discussions about the composition of the Pentateuch, rethinking the composition, that's the name of a colloquium we are part of, he's always there. And he says, I feel more at home among you people than my own people because you take the scriptures seriously. What they say. And so even Jewish scholars, they they tear it apart and do all kinds of analytical stuff of it that he does not. But he argues in one of his books in in in Israel, every individual Israelite is a vassal of God as an individual. As well as the collective vassal of God. These are people who are part of God's heavenly court. Of course, this is an idealized picture of your holy ones. The Israelites don't function so wholly, wholly, very often. But we have to remember the context. The Divine King is about to lead his forces across the Jordan, and then in a campaign claimed the land he promised. This is an army on the march. We're finally ready to go. And the Divine King is at the head of the battle. I think this is why once they cross the Jordan River, the first thing Joshua experienced is the captain of the Lord shows up. Just as a reminder, I'm here. I'm going ahead of you, and let's all go. This sets the context for the blessings that follow. But then he adds, Curiously, when Moses charged us with the Torah as a possession for the assembly of Jacob, thus he became king in gesture Rune. He became king and just Sharon at this moment? Well, I think actually what we've got now, what's happened on the plains of Moab. Is the equivalent of what happened at Sinai. But this title, Gesture Ruin, applies to this generation.


[00:48:33] Jess. Sharon is the pet name of God for Israel. After the covenant relationship is established. From this point on your way is the officially recognized as the divine king of this population. That has not been a dominant motif until this point. And so I think that's what's happening here. As Moses is going up to God about to be buried by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, he looks back and he says, Look, these are the people, the people of the Lord. They're marching out in battle with the king in front of them. And it's also a signal you people on the other side of the Jordan, watch out. Look who's coming. The king and all his holy ones. The emphasis on holy ones is is is profound here, which is a reminder that this is not just a secular thing that's happening here. It's not simply one nation taking over the territory of a bunch of little petty tribes. A some grand moment in the scheme of redemption is about to happen. Holy God, bringing our holy people to our Holy Land. That's what we've got to preserve. And that's the mission and the passion of of Moses in this. Well, this is a grand story of Sinai, not only of Sinai, but of the sequel to Sinai, where Yahweh becomes the king of this generation. They are formally adopted as his sons. Now we learn they have a new name and a new vision ready to go. Well, there's lots more we can say about this. Yahoo's kingship has been developed slowly up to this point in association with the exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea. You have a passing reference to Yahweh as king through his victory over the animal like case.


[00:50:50] Exodus 1716. Yahweh is king at Mount Sinai. The King Vassal relationship was formally established through the design of the Tabernacle. A throne for the Divine King was created first. Samuel for for Yahweh Sabbah all sits enthroned above the cherubim. That's the throne of the K through the Oracle of Belem. You've had allusions to the kingship of God, and now in the proclamation of the Torah and the supervision of the covenant renewal on the plains of Moab, this generation has become the people of the King. King Yahweh. He is the one who goes ahead. And of course, you know, the image from Isaiah six in the year of the King is desired. I saw the Lord High and lifted up. And it's train fill the temple, and all the attendees were singing. Shadows, shadows, shadows. Holy, holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is literally the fullness of His glory. It's not. The whole Earth is full of his glory. It's not just the container. The heavens declare the glory of God. Not as if they're talking about something else out there, but in their very being. They declare the glory of God. The whole Earth is the fullness of His glory. Similar to Isaiah's vision of Yahweh sheeted on the lofty throne attended by fiery heavenly courtiers. Seraphim. What are Seraphim? Those are serpents with wings. Quite common in Egyptian iconography, Sarah. They're not common. A seraph is a poisonous seraphim. Elsewhere, these are poisonous, venomous serpents. But here they stand as guardians of the one enthroned. This coda paints a picture of the exalted and triumphant Lord of the universe, Lord of the Heavens, who is also the King. Eternal king of Israel. This is important because in the face of Moses, imminent death like Isaiah in the year that Kudzai died, I saw the Lord and I was worried all stressed out.


[00:53:28] And he goes to the temple issue. He gets this reassuring. It's okay, it's okay. The Lord sits enthroned. And that's what we have here. In the face of Moses imminent death. It was important to Moses to if to affirm publicly that although their human leader is leaving the Israelites needing fear for they are the objects of Yahweh, his affection three or four different words for that they have a clear understanding of his character. They know his will therefore cross the Jordan confidently, knowing that Yahweh, your king, leads the way into enemy territory. That will be a challenge. That will be a test. Well, I think I'm going to leave it at that for now. We could, with great benefit, look at each of the blessings. But I leave that to you. I have a brief conversation about that in my commentary on Deuteronomy. We can find some of it there. That's a grand opening and closing the ending. I should make a few comments on on the coda. A few more comments. There is none like and it's in two parallel texts. The incompatibility of the God of Israel leads to a discussion of the incompatibility of Israel. There's none like the God, like God or just Sharon. And now Moses turns around and Moses calls Israel Jeff. Sharon, who rides the heavens through the heavens to Europe. That's a bail metaphor. Bale is called The Writer of the Clouds in Canaanite Literature. That's his title. He's riding the storm clouds. What's he saying? I've just taken over Bales territory. It's a magnificent anti idolatry motif through the skies in His Majesty. And of course, the comparison of that to a chariot is precipitated by the thunder that happens in rain, in rainstorms, because it's like the sound of chariot wheels on a cobblestone road.


[00:55:55] He rides the heavens. That's a sign of his presence. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the arms of the eternal one. And He thrust out the enemy before them and said, Destroy. I love this passage because in moments of stress and grief and tension and worry. Pain. Death. What comfort? What comfort? We lost a member of the family a short time ago, and this is the text that became very precious to us. He writes the heavens to your help. He's above you. Underneath are the everlasting arms. And he goes before you saying, Destroy. He's all around you. He watches over you. He carries you, dare we say, on his chariot. How privileged are you? Oh, Israel. Who is like people rescued, by your way. You don't talk about what the gospel is and do jarana me. That's it. Here's the summary of the gospel. But this is not only gospel, it's also mission. Saved for a purpose. You are the agents proclaiming the glory of God and governing, showing the world what life with God is like. Rescued. He's the shield of your help. The sword of your triumph. Your enemies will come fawning over you. And you shall tread the pack. You shall tread upon their backs. Of course, that's a metaphor from what you do to a conquered enemy. You put your foot on the shoe, on the neck of the conquered person. This is a message of hope for the Israelites. But you notice what's happening here. On the one hand, you have a picture of God. What a great God. On the other hand, you have a picture of Israel, what a privileged people is. And then you have the consequence. So is religion safety. Jacob lives alone.


[00:58:08] That that means unthreatened. It doesn't mean hermitage. In a land of grain and wine whose heavens dropped down to that comes from National anthem. We just heard this is a completion of the picture at the end of all the blessings. And now as you go through the blessings, you will see that this is about life. Life lived in the presence of God. And as the agents of God. And for each of these tribes, Moses wishes the best. The amazing thing is he had such a. He's been so bitter with his folks, but he has it within him, even as God said, Moses, you're not going over there. And he tells them exactly why. Because you didn't defend My Holiness. I've forgotten the exact expression here. You're not going over. Even so. Most of us can turn around and say, The Lord bless you, the Lord keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you. The Lord be gracious to you and the Lord give you peace. This is the message of a pastor on the way out. If only it were always that way. Well, if only Moses had always felt this way. But it is it. It is a brilliant closing scene on the drama. Of Israel's story. This is the end of the Pentateuch. And of Moses personal biography. I am happy the author found it within him, even as he is true to the tradition. Moses, you blew it. He maintains this disposition toward more toward Moses here. And he can let him do this. He can let him do. He doesn't spoil it for us. It's a great piece. All right. With that relief, the blessing of composers.