Deuteronomy Chapter 33

At this point in the story of Moses and the Israelites, Moses has completed his sermons to the people and is preparing to go up into the Mount to die. Throughout the scriptures, we have records of what the prophets have done when they know they are about to leave their mortal life. It seems that quite often, they take the time to leave a blessing upon the people or upon their families. In this chapter Moses leaves a blessing upon the tribes of Israel. (This is just my simple understanding of what the words of Moses mean, and I know I do not have a perfect grasp of all the words spoken). It begins as follows:

1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
2 And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
4 Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
5 And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.

Moses was a man, who led the saints of his day under the had of the Lord. The people were loved by the Lord, and He gave them His word in the Law of Moses, as well as a promised inheritance.

We have a prophet today, who leads the saints of God now. He is a man called of God, and serves under the direction of God. In modern revelation it tells us how our prophet should be like Moses. In Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 107, we read the following:

91 And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses—
92 Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.

6 Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

Moses blessed the tribe of Reuben, that they would not die, but would be great in number. They still did not hold any greater blessing even though they were the tribe of the firstborn, because those blessings were given to Joseph and his posterity. However, being blessed to have numbers, was a great blessing for their tribe.

7 And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

The tribe of Judah was blessed that they would have sufficient for their needs and aid when faced with enemies or other nations they would need to drive out of the land.

8 And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;
9 Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
11 Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.

The tribe of Levi was blessed to have directions from the Lord, to teach the children of Israel all the Lord’s judgments, or ordinances, and the law. This was the duty of their priesthood, which only they held among all the Israelites. They were blessed to continue in their service to the Lord with incense and sacrifices. They were also blessed to have their work and service accepted by the Lord, and to be protected from any enemies.

12 And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.

The people of Benjamin were blessed with safety and protection provided by the Lord, and the presence of the Lord to be with them.

13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,
14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,
15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

The tribes of Joseph, meaning Ephraim and Manasseh, were given a blessing on the land and all around them. They were blessed with glory and the power to push people together. This is the greatest blessing of the tribes, and draws attention to the calling that these people have for gathering the house of Israel in the latter days. As mentioned earlier, they received the greater blessing, because they still maintained the birthright of the tribes of Israel.

18 And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.
19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

The tribe of Zebulun received a blessing over their travels, I think. This tribe was already blessed with what sounds like the ports of the sea (Genesis 49:13), where they would be able to work for their good and be blessed by the “abundance of the seas”. The tribe of Issachar was given a blessing in their homeland, and what sounds like blessings of treasure in the land. These tribes would bring people to the house of the Lord to offer righteous sacrifices.

20 And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.

I think that the tribe of Gad was blessed to be enlarged and have strength. They had already been blessed to gain the land of their inheritance, which was right by the Lord. I think they may have been blessed to be judges in Israel.

22 And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

The tribe of Dan was blessed with being like a lion’s cub, I think in the hand of the Lord. They would be protected as a cub is protected by it’s father. I think they would have an inheritance of rich soil, as well.

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.

The tribe of Naphtali was blessed with favor and blessing of the Lord. They were blessed to posses land in the west and south of the land of promise. The footnote indicates that this means the sea of Galilee was an inheritance to this tribe.

24 And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

The tribe of Asher was blessed with children, and to be accepted by others. They were also blessed with strength.

26 There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
28 Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.
29 Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.

In this blessing, Moses again reminds the people that there is no other God as the God of the Israelites, who is the God of the righteous. God was the only one who would give help and be a refuge and defense for the Israelites. If they stayed a righteous people of God, they would be blessed to stay in his safety and he would destroy and scatter their enemies. The land would be blessed for them, as well. In all things, Israel was blessed to triumph with God on their side.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the fullness of the priesthood has been restored, which allows men today, to be called as patriarchs and give amazing blessings to the saints. I have received my own patriarchal blessing, which tells me that I am a covenant member of the tribe of Ephraim. That means that these blessings apply to me as well, if I choose to live faithfully. Likewise, it means that I have a duty to serve in these latter days, in the gathering of Israel. My life is greatly blessed by God, and I know that this comes through my faithful living of the commandments of God.

It is interesting to learn the importance of blessings in life. Why do we give and receive blessings? It would have been easy for men of God to leave this earth without pronouncing blessings on their people and posterity, but it seems a rite of passage in a man’s life to do so. It is a natural desire for men to leave something behind for their children. Some men choose only to leave the physical possessions of this life, but men of God, choose to leave words of wisdom, guidance, and love. With the addition of the priesthood, men are able to leave blessings of God upon others as the spirit directs them to do so. These blessings may help others to live in a way that is more righteous or will help them to go further in their mortal progression. Overall, these blessings show me that true men of God desire the best for their children. As they desire to be more like their Father in Heaven, they give their love through their words to their family. I am so grateful for the words of righteous men and women in my own life and for the great words of the prophets of old.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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