Deuteronomy 34:9-12: Moses’ Place in Redemptive History

Verse 9:  And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the (Is. 11:2; Dan. 6:3) spirit of wisdom; for (Num. 27:18, 23) Moses had laid his hands upon him:  and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

[Joshua was full]  In the place of, had been filled (Bonfrerius).

The spirit of wisdom; and other gifts and graces too, as appears from the history; but wisdom is mentioned as being most necessary for the government, to which he was now called.

[Because Moses laid]  In the place of, had laid (Bonfrerius, Menochius), or, since he had imposed (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  See Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 31:7, 23 (Malvenda).

Moses had laid his hands upon him; which God had appointed as a sign to Moses, and Joshua, and the Israelites, that this was the person whom he had appointed and qualified for his great work.  See Numbers 27:18, etc.  Compare Genesis 48:10; Numbers 8:10.


Verse 10:  And there (see Deut. 18:15, 18) arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, (Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:6, 8; Deut. 5:4) whom the LORD knew face to face…

[Not…like Moses]  Not similar with respect to the following things (Menochius, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals):  namely, familiarity with God (Estius, Menochius, Bonfrerius, Lapide), and portents (Lapide).

Like unto Moses, in the privileges here following.

[Whom the Lord know face to face, אֲשֶׁר֙ יְדָע֣וֹ יְהוָ֔ה]  Whom He knew, etc., that is, who thus familiarly conversed and spoke with Jehovah (Vatablus).  Almost all translate it, whom the Lord knew (Dieu).  I refer it to Moses:  which exposition the following verse requires (Piscator).  But because it is not at all exceptional that God knew someone familiarly, but it is especially exceptional that someone in this life knew God familiarly, neither, as far as I know, is it in Scripture ever attributed to God with respect to us, but always to us with respect to God, whose face, it is promised, we are at length going to see; we are not afraid to profess that it is able to be translated, who knew God [Oleaster similarly translates it]; so that the object suffix on יְדָעוֹ, he knew him, is referred to the following substantive יְהוָה/Jehovah, and is pleonastic:  which in the Chaldean and Syriac is very common, and not unusual in Scripture; as in Exodus 2:6, וַתִּרְאֵ֣הוּ אֶת־הַיֶּ֔לֶד, and she saw him, the child, where the הוּ/him is superfluous, and is referred to the following substantive; in Numbers 23:18, בְּנ֥וֹ צִפֹּֽר׃, the son of him, Zippor; in Deuteronomy 32:43, וְכִפֶּ֥ר אַדְמָת֖וֹ עַמּֽוֹ׃, and He will be merciful to the land of it, His people; Psalm 64:9, וַיַּכְשִׁיל֣וּהוּ עָלֵ֣ימוֹ לְשׁוֹנָ֑ם, and they shall cause to fall it, their tongue, upon themselves.  And on this place Onkelos reads, to whom the Lord was revealed, that is, who saw the Lord (Dieu).

Whom the Lord knew face to face, i.e. whom God did so freely, and familiarly, and frequently converse with.  See on Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 5:4.


Verse 11:  In all (Deut. 4:34; 7:19) the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land…

In all the signs:  this is to be joined, either, 1.  With the words immediately foregoing, as an eminent instance wherein God did know or acknowledge and own or converse so familiarly with Moses, namely, in the working of all his signs and wonders in Egypt, where God spake to him so oft, and sometimes even in Pharaoh’s presence, and answered his requests so particularly and punctually, whether he called for vengeance or for deliverance.  Or, 2.  With the more remote words, there was none like unto Moses in regard of all the signs, etc., the words, whom the Lord knew face to face, coming in by way of parenthesis.


Verse 12:  And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

[A mighty hand]  That is, Works done by a mighty hand (Ainsworth).  He understands those things that were done in the exodus from Egypt, and in the Red Sea (Vatablus).

[וּלְכֹ֖ל הַמּוֹרָ֣א[1]In all marvels (Septuagint, Chaldean); in every great vision (Samaritan Text, similarly the Syriac); in all terror (Arabic, Montanus, Oleaster, Ainsworth), or, terrible works (Junius and Tremellius).  Either, 1.  in the giving of the Law (Vatablus); or, 2.  whereby He terrified the Egyptians (Oleaster), and the Israelites, Numbers 16; 25 (Lapide).

[1] מוֹרָא may be related to the verbal root יָרֵא, to fear, or to רָאָה, to see.

Deuteronomy 34:5-8: The Death and Burial of Moses

Verse 5:  (Deut. 32:50; Josh 1:1, 2) So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.

[And Moses died, etc.]  This was written, either, 1.  by Moses, prophetically (Josephus and Philo in Bonfrerius, Malvenda):  or, 2.  by Eleazar,[1] who added both this, and that concerning the death of Joshua, Joshua 24 (Estius):  or, 3.  by Ezra (certain interpreters in Menochius):  or, 4.  by Joshua (Menochius, Bonfrerius, Tirinus, Munster); and that some years after the death of Moses, because it says, unto this day[2] (Munster).

[The servant of the Lord]  Thus he is called, because, even while dying, he performed the commands of God, as a servant, namely, he went up, etc. (Ibn Ezra in Muis).  He was not called the Servant of the Lord until he passed from this life.  By this title is designated the highest excellence of status obtained.  For a servant lives continually with his master, enters upon his more private chambers, and is always ready at his command.  Without any fear of contradiction they said, THE FATHERS ARE RIGHTEOUS IN DEATH, AS IN LIFE (Bechai in Muis).  With (his) soul separated from his body, he ascends to the ministry on High; and therefore he is called THE SERVANT OF THE LORD with respect to the coming age, as he obtained as a faithful servant (Abarbanel in Muis).

[In the land of Moab]  That is, which the Israelites had seized from the Amorites, which formerly had been a region of Moab (Tirinus).

In the land of Moab:  i.e. In the land which Israel took from the Amorites, which anciently was the land of Moab.

[With the Lord appointing[3]]  Hebrew:  according to (or, upon [Montanus, Malvenda]) the mouth (Tigurinus, Ainsworth), or, speech, of the Lord (Pagnine).  Either, 1.  according to the foreordination of Jehovah (certain interpreters in Malvenda):  or, 2.  as the Lord had often foretold to him[4] (Malvenda):  or perhaps, 3.  according to the royal edict (that is, of death) brought against the first man on account of sin (Muis).


Verse 6:  And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor:  but (see Jude 9) no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

[And he buried]  Who?  Understand, God, or an Angel (Vatablus).  God by the ministry of Angels (Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius, likewise the Septuagint and Philo in Tirinus, Grotius).  Whose prince was Michael (Grotius).  Jehovah, or Michael,[5] that is, Christ:  With this signifying that it belongs to Christ alone to abolish the Law of Moses (Ainsworth).  Others:  And he buried himself, that is, he entered into a narrow cave, where he exhaled his spirit (certain Hebrews in Munster).  Others maintain that the third person, preterite, active, is taken passively, or impersonally, after the manner of the Hebrews, and he buried, in the place of, and he was buried (Malvenda, Vatablus).

He, i.e. the Lord, last mentioned, buried him either immediately, or by the ministry of angels, whereof Michael was the chief or prince, Jude 9.

[In a valley[6]]  Or, in Gai (Septuagint, Vatablus), so that it might a name of mount Nebo, by which he has regard to Moab (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  See Numbers 21:20 (Vatablus).  He died on the mountain; he was buried in the valley (Ainsworth).

[And no one knew his sepulchre]  The reason was so that the Israelites, inclined to idolatry, might not worship him as God (Menochius, Bonfrerius, Lapide, Malvenda, Estius, Lyra).  Lest they should offer superstitious worship to the relics of such a man (Grotius).  Concerning this was the contention of Michael with the Devil:  see Jude 9.  In a perverse imitation of Moses, the Heathen appear to have feigned the rapture of their legislators; as of Romulus,[7] and of Apollonius of Tyana[8] in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana[9] 8:12 (Malvenda).

No man knoweth of his sepulchre, i.e. of the particular place of the valley where he was buried; which God hid from the Israelites, to prevent their superstition and idolatry, to which he knew their great proneness.  And for this very reason the devil endeavoured to have it known, and contended with Michael about it, Jude 9.  And seeing God would not endure the worship of the relics or tomb of so eminent a person as Moses was, it is ridiculous to think God would permit this honour to be given to any of the succeeding saints, who were so far inferior to him.


[1451 BC]  Verse 7:  (Deut. 31:2) And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died:  (see Gen. 27:1; 48:10; Josh. 14:10, 11) his eye was not dim, nor his natural force (Heb. moisture[10]) abated (Heb. fled[11]).

[An hundred and twenty years]  Trebellius Pollio in “Claudius” 11, The most learned of the Mathematicians judge that one hundred and twenty years have been given to man in order to live, and they do not mention that anything more was conceded to anyone; even adding that Moses alone, as the books of the Jews say, the intimate of God, lived one hundred and twenty-five [indeed, only one hundred and twenty] years; who, when he complained that he died as a young man, they brought a response to him from an uncertain God (by which this Gentile writers imprudently indicates the passage in Genesis 6:3), No one is going to live more (Malvenda, Gataker).

[His eye was not dark (thus the Septuagint, Chaldean, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Ainsworth), as in Genesis 27:1[12] (Ainsworth), לֹֽא־כָהֲתָ֥ה עֵינ֖וֹ]  His eye did not restrict itself; that is, his sight was not diminished (Oleaster).  It was not heavy (Syriac); it was not contracted into wrinkles (Oleaster).  Or thus, his face was not contracted into wrinklesEye is taken for color, etc., Exodus 10:5;[13] Numbers 11:7.[14]  Chizkuni explains it of the splendor of his face, Exodus 34:30 (Ainsworth).

[Nor his teeth wanting, וְלֹא־נָ֥ס לֵחֹֽה׃]  Neither did flee (or, had begun to lose vigor [Samaritan Text]) his verdure (Oleaster, Malvenda, Syriac, Montanus, Ainsworth), that is, robustness, or vivacity of color (Oleaster).  Vigor (Pagnine, Munster, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals); innate moisture, or, radical humor (Ainsworth).  Neither did his moisture depart (Arabic).  Neither had he withered, faded; that is to say, his face was always full of sap.  For old age is wont to be dry (Vatablus).  Neither did his cheek, or jaw, fade (When Augustus was about to die…he ordered his falling cheeks to be set right, Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelves Cæsars 99 [Malvenda]).  Thus the Syriac and Arabic Manuscripts and the Septuagint (χελώνια αὐτοῦ, his lips).  They read לחיו, his jaw (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:45:506:21).  Neither did his cheeks contract wrinkles (Syriac).  The splendor of the rays (concerning which, Exodus 34) never vanished or ebbed (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Neither did the splendor of the glory of his face change (Chaldean).

His eye was not dim, etc.:  By a miraculous work of God in mercy to his church and people.


Verse 8:  And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab (see Gen. 50:3, 10; Num. 20:29; Ecclus. 38:16, 17[15]) thirty days:  so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

[Thirty days]  As they did for Aaron, Numbers 20:28, 29 (Ainsworth, Grotius), and Miriam, as Josephus testifies.  In mourning over men of the common sort, seven days sufficed:  Ecclesiasticus 22:12;[16] Josephus’ Jewish Antinquities 6 at the end; Ammianus Marcellinus’[17] Matters Conducted[18] 19 (Grotius).

Thirty days was the usual time of mourning for persons of high place and eminency.  See Genesis 50:3, 10; Numbers 20:29.  For others seven days sufficed.

[1] See Deuteronomy 10:6.

[2] Verse 6.

[3] Hebrew:  עַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָֽה׃.

[4] Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:26, 27; 32:49, 50.

[5] Michael means who is like God?

[6] Hebrew:  בַגַּיְ.

[7] Romulus and Remus, twins, were the mythical founders of Rome.

[8] Apollonius of Tyana (first century AD) was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from Tyana, in the province of Cappadocia.  He was known for practicing divination, alchemy, and magic, and working miracles.

[9] Very little is known about Philostratus “the Athenian” (c. 170-247).  His Life of Apollonius Tyana describes the life and travels of Apollonius of Tyana.

[10] Hebrew:  לֵחֹה.

[11] Hebrew:  נָס.

[12] Genesis 27:1a:  “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim (וַתִּכְהֶ֥יןָ עֵינָ֖יו), so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son…”

[13] Exodus 10:5a:  “And they shall cover the face (עֵין/eye) of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth…”

[14] Numbers 11:7:  “And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof (וְעֵינוֹ, and the eye thereof) as the colour of bdellium.”

[15] Ecclesiasticus 38:16, 17:  “My son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial.  Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of:  and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness.”

[16] Ecclesiasticus 22:12:  “Seven days do men mourn for him that is dead; but for a fool and an ungodly man all the days of his life.”

[17] Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 330-c. 390) was Roman noble, soldier, and historian.

[18] Res Gestæ.

Deuteronomy 34:1-4: Moses’ View of the Promised Land

Verse 1:  And Moses went up from the plains of Moab (Num. 27:12; 33:47; Deut. 32:49) unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah (or, the hill[1]), that is over against Jericho.  And the LORD (Deut. 3:27; 2 Mac. 2:4[2]) shewed him all the land of Gilead, (Gen. 14:14) unto Dan…

Moses went up, in compliance with God’s will, that he should then and there resign up his soul to God.

[From the plains of Moab, מֵעַרְבֹת[3]From the conjunctions, or borders, of Moab, that is, where the borders of diverse kingdoms came together (Oleaster).

[Upon mount Nebo, unto the peak of Pisgah[4] (thus the Septuagint, Samaritan Text, Vatablus)]  Mount Nebo was the tallest of the mountains of AbarimPisgah was the highest peak of mount Nebo (Menochius, Lyra).

[רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה[5]Unto, or toward, the peak of the hill (Chaldean, Syriac), or, of the cliff (Arabic), or, of the overlook (Samaritan Version).  See Numbers 21:20 (and 27:12 [Bonfrerius]); Deuteronomy 3:27 (Malvenda).

Of the mountain of Nebo, see Numbers 27:12; 32:38; Deuteronomy 32:49.

[The land of Gilead, אֶת־כָּל־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֶת־הַגִּלְעָ֖ד]  They translate it, 1.  from Gilead (Junius and Tremellius, Hebrews in Ainsworth).  They take אֶת[6] for מִן/from; for it was not needful that he regard that which he had subdued (Ainsworth).  Gilead, vulgarly Galaad, was the name of the mountain situated on the other side of the Jordan, toward the East, from a comparison of Numbers 32 verse 1 and verse 19 (Piscator).  2.  Gilead, that is, taken broadly, or the land of the two and a half Tribes (Menochius).  He shows this in its entirety, because Moses had not visited the whole, neither had he perceived its pleasantness with his eyes.  God appears to strengthen the eyes of Moses, so that he might better regard things at a distance (Bonfrerius).

Of the land of Gilead Moses had as yet seen and enjoyed but a small part.  Of this land, see Genesis 31:21; Numbers 32:1, 19, etc.

[Unto Dan]  The name of a city occupied by the Danites, previously called Leshem, or Laish.  See Joshua 19:47 (Piscator).

Unto Dan; to that city which after Moses’s death was called Dan, Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29.  So that here is an anticipation.  But it seems most probable, and is commonly believed, that this chapter was not written by Moses, but by Eleazar, or Joshua, or Ezra, or some other man of God, directed herein by the Holy Ghost; this being no more impeachment to the Divine authority of this chapter, that the penman is unknown, which also is the lot of some other books of Scripture, than it is to the authority of the acts of the king or parliament, that they are written or printed by some unknown person.


Verse 2:  And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, (Deut. 11:24) unto the utmost sea…

All Naphtali, i.e. the land of Naphtali, which, together with Dan, was in the north of Canaan, as Ephraim and Manasseh were in the midland parts, and Judah on the south, and the sea on the west.  So these parts lying in the several quarters are put for all the rest.  He stood in the east, and saw also Gilead, which was in the eastern part of the land, and thence he saw the north, and south, and west.

[Unto the utmost sea, עַ֖ד הַיָּ֥ם הָאַחֲרֽוֹן׃]  The hindmost (Samaritan Text, Ainsworth, Malvenda, Montanus, similarly the Chaldean, Junius and Tremellius), or, extreme (Ainsworth), see Deuteronomy 11:24[7] (Vatablus), farthest (Syriac), last (Septuagint).  Namely, the Western (Ainsworth, Bonfrerius, Arabic), as it is evident, inasmuch as everywhere the utmost sea is opposed to the Eastern, which is the sea of Gennesaret, Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8 (Bonfrerius).

The utmost sea, i.e. the midland sea, which was the utmost bound of the Land of Promise on the west.


Verse 3:  And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, (Judg. 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chron. 28:15) the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.


And the south, etc.:  i.e. The south quarter of thee land of Judah, which is towards the Salt Sea, which is described Numbers 34:3-5; Joshua 15:1-4, as the western quarter of Judah was described in the words next foregoing.

[The breadth of the plain of Jericho, וְֽאֶת־הַכִּכָּ֞ר בִּקְעַ֧ת יְרֵח֛וֹ[8]]  They translate it, and the plain of the valley (or, the plain, the valley [Pagnine], that plain, the ravine [Junius and Tremellius], the plain of the field [Chaldean], or, the level plain [Munster, Tigurinus]) of Jericho (Montanus, Ainworth).  The portion of the rupture, or division, of Jericho:  that is, the southern part, which Jericho divides; or, the ruptures that Jordan makes, or, the torrents in the land of Jericho (Oleaster).  And the plain of the valley (or the valley, by apposition [Vatablus, Malvenda]) of Jericho (Ainsworth).  The plain, the plain, I say, of the valley, in which is Jericho (Vatablus, similarly Piscator).

The plain of the valley of Jericho; or, in which lies Jericho; which was in the tribe of Benjamin.

[The city of palms]  They refer it, 1.  to Engedi, a city famous for palm-groves.  See Genesis 14:17; Judges 1:16.  So that it might be asyndeton, and the city of palms (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  2.  To Jericho, which is thus called, Judges 1:16 (and 3:13 [Ainsworth]); 2 Chronicles 28:15 (Malvenda, Ainsworth).  The same is affirmed by Pliny in his Natural History 5:14, Jericho, planted with palm-groves, and Diodorus Siculus in his Historical Library 2:93, and Strabo in his Geography 16:763, and Josephus in his Jewish Wars 5:4 (Malvenda).  From these and the balsam, etc. growing there Jericho had its name; that is to say, Odoriferous.[9]  What Moses last saw was both the closest to him, and the most pleasant of the whole land (see Genesis 13:10), and the first occupied by the Israelites (Ainsworth).

The city of palm trees, i.e. Jericho, so called both here and Judges 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15, from the multitude of palm trees which were in those parts, as Josephus and Strabo write; from whence and the balm there growing it was called Jericho, which signifies odoriferous, or sweet-smelling.


Verse 4:  And the LORD said unto him, (Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 26:3; 28:13) This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed:  (Deut. 3:27; 32:52) I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

With thine eyes, to wit, by a miraculous power strengthening thy sight, or making a clear representation of all these parts to thy view.

[1] Hebrew:  הַפִּסְגָּה.

[2] 2 Maccabees 2:4:  “It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.”

[3] עֲרָבָה, desert-plain, is derived from the verbal root ערב, to be arid.  ערב can also signify to mix.

[4] Hebrew:  אֶל־הַ֣ר נְב֔וֹ רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה.

[5] פִּסְגָּה/Pisgah may be derived from the verbal root פָּסַג, to split.

[6] The direct object marker.

[7] Deuteronomy 11:24:  “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours:  from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea (וְעַד֙ הַיָּ֣ם הָֽאַחֲר֔וֹן) shall your coast be.”

[8] כִּכָּר, a round district, is derived from the verbal root כָּרַר, to move around; בִּקְעָה/ valley, from the verbal root בָּקַע, to cleave.

[9] יְרִיחוֹ/Jericho may be related to רָוַח, a fragrant land.

Deuteronomy 34 Outline

Moses from Mount Nebo vieweth the land, 1-4.  He dieth there, 5.  His burial, 6.  His age, 7.  Thirty days’ mourning for him, 8.  Joshua succeedeth him, 9.  The praises of Moses, 10-12.


The Hebrews say that this chapter was written by Joshua, by the prophetic spirit (Vatablus).

Deuteronomy 33:28, 29: The Blessedness of Israel, Part 2

Verse 28:  (Num. 23:9; Jer. 23:6; 33:16) Israel then shall dwell in safety alone:  (Deut. 8:7, 8) the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his (Gen. 27:28; Deut. 11:11) heavens shall drop down dew.

[Israel shall dwell confidently and alone]  Even alone, without any protection, he shall be safe (Menochius, Lyra):  as in Jeremiah 49:31.  Or, alone, that is, not mixed with other nations (Vatablus):  as in Numbers 23:9 (Ainsworth).

Alone; either, 1.  Though they be alone, and have no confederates to defend them, but have all the world against them, yet my single protection shall be sufficient for them.  Or, 2.  Distinct and separated from all other nations, with whom I will not have them to mingle themselves.  See Numbers 23:9; Ezra 9:1, 2.

[The eye of Jacob, etc., עֵ֣ין יַעֲקֹ֔ב אֶל־אֶ֖רֶץ דָּגָ֣ן וְתִיר֑וֹשׁ]  [They vary.]  The eye of Jacob toward, or upon, a land of crops, etc. (Samaritan Text, Munster, Dutch, Montanus, Tigurinus, Oleaster, Malvenda), supply, shall be (Dutch), or, aspires, or regards, because they were not yet possessing it (Oleaster).  He shall cast an eye toward toward a land fertileTo see here is in the place of to take possession of (Castalio).  They shall consider the land given to them (Menochius, Tirinus).  Others:  the fountain of Jacob in the land (Syriac), or, upon the land (Ainsworth).  And shall dwell Israel, the fountain of Jacob, in the land (Pagnine).  The fountain, Jacob (Ainsworth, Vatablus), by apposition; that is to say, the People of Israel, which is, as it were, a stream derived from Jacob, who is the fountain, shall dwell alone (Vatablus, Ainsworth).  Waters signify peoples, Revelation 17:15.  And fountain here is taken in the place of a stream from a fountain, as in Psalm 104:10 (Ainsworth).

The fountain of Jacob, i.e. the posterity of Jacob, which flowed from him as waters from a fountain, in great abundance.  Compare Psalm 68:26; Isaiah 48:1.  The fountain is here put for the river or streams which flow from it, as Psalm 104:10; as the root is put for the branch, 2 Chronicles 22:10; Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 5:5; and as Jacob or Israel, who is the fountain, is oft put for the children of Israel.  Or, the eye (for so the Hebrew word oft signifies) of Jacob, i.e. of the people of Israel; and so the sense is, They who now only hear of the land of promise shall shortly see it, which I am not suffered to do, and shall enjoy it, which is oft signified by seeing, as Psalm 4:6; 27:13; 34:12; Ecclesiastes 2:1;[1] 3:13.[2]  His heavens, i.e. those heavens or that air which hangs over his land.


Verse 29:  (Ps. 144:15) Happy art thou, O Israel:  (2 Sam. 7:23) who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, (Ps. 115:9-11) the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies (2 Sam. 22:45; Ps. 18:44; 66:3; 81:15) shall be found liars (or, shall be subdued[3]) unto thee; and (Deut. 32:13) thou shalt tread upon their high places.

[Blessed art thou]  Understand:  On account of this thou art blessed, etc. (Vatablus).

[Who art saved in the Lord? the shield,[4] etc.]  Who art saved by Jehovah? (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Pagnine).

[The shield of thy help (thus Ainsworth)]  That is, by whom thou art helped (Vatablus).

Saved by the Lord, the giver and preserver of all that excellency, that glory, safety, and happiness, which thou hast above all other people, which thou dost not obtain either by or for thy own wisdom, or strength, or goodness.

[And the sword of thy glory[5]Of thy excellency; a Hebraism, by which glory is furnished for thee (Vatablus).  Or, of thy elevation.  That is to say, He is the shield by which thou art protected, and the elevated sword with which thou smites thine enemies (Oleaster, Menochius).  The sword of thy glorying (Munster, Tigurinus).  Whose sword is thy excellency, in which thou art able safely to glory/ boast; Psalm 44:3, 6 (Ainsworth).  Who is the sword of thy elevation; that is, who exalted thee by His protection unto that dignity (Castalio).

The sword of thy excellency, or, thy most excellent sword, i.e. thy strength and the author of all this, past or approaching victories.

[They shall refuse thee, וְיִכָּחֲשׁוּ[6]]  [They render it variously.]  They shall lie to thee (Montanus, Grotius, Chaldean, Samaritan Text, Syriac, Tigurinus).  That is, If the subjugated people break faith, thou shalt conquer them (Grotius).  They shall feign themselves to be thy friends, as the Gibeonites did (Ainsworth out of Rabbi Salomon).  Let them be render abject (Junius and Tremellius); they shall submit unwillingly (Castalio); they shall be humbled (Pagnine); they shall be made subject to thee (Arabic); they shall refuse thee (Oleaster); falsely they shall refuse thee (Ainsworth).  They shall be made thin, from Psalm 109:24[7] (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  They shall be made liars; they shall defraud; in vain shall they evade their vows and obligations (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  They shall fail (Oleaster, Malvenda).  To lie is in the place of to fail, 1 Kings 13:18;[8] Psalm 109 (Oleaster); likewise Hosea 9:2;[9] Habakkuk 3:17.[10]  Thus also Horace, spem mentita seges, the crop deceived hope[11] (Malvenda).

Shall be found liars unto thee, i.e. shall be deceived, as to all their vain hopes and confidences of destroying thee or saving themselves, whether grounded upon their own numbers, and valour, and strong holds, or upon old prophecies and predictions of success, or upon their idols.  Or, shall lie unto thee, i.e. shall submit themselves to thee, though it be done but feignedly and by constraint, as this phrase is used, Psalm 18:44;[12] 66:3;[13] 81:15.[14]  Possibly this may design the lies and frauds which the Gibeonites would use to deceive them, Joshua 9:4.

[Their necks, עַל־בָּמוֹתֵימוֹ]  Upon their high places (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster).  Either, 1.  upon the necks of enemy Kings shalt thou tread (Vatablus, Lyra, the Chaldean in Ainsworth, Munster); Joshua 10:24 (Malvenda).  Upon princes (Arabic).  Or, 2.  upon their fortified places (Oleaster, Malvenda, Ainsworth).  See Deuteronomy 32:13 (Ainsworth).

Thou shalt tread upon their high places, i.e. thou shalt subdue their greatest princes, and their strongest holds, Deuteronomy 32:13, and their idols, temples, and worship.

[1] Ecclesiastes 2:1:  “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy (וּרְאֵה, therefore see) pleasure : and, behold, this also is vanity.”

[2] Ecclesiastes 3:13:  “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy (וְרָאָה) the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

[3] Hebrew:  וְיִכָּחֲשׁוּ.

[4] Hebrew:  עַ֚ם נוֹשַׁ֣ע בַּֽיהוָ֔ה מָגֵ֣ן.

[5] Hebrew:  חֶ֖רֶב גַּאֲוָתֶ֑ךָ.  גַּאֲוָה/excellency is derived from the verbal root גָּאָה, to rise up.

[6] כָּחַשׁ can signify to fail, to grow lean, or to deceive.

[7] Psalm 109:24:  “My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth (כָּחַשׁ) of fatness.”

[8] 1 Kings 13:18:  “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.  But he lied (כִּחֵשׁ) unto him.”

[9] Hosea 9:2:  “The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail (יְכַחֶשׁ) in her.”

[10] Habakkuk 3:17:  “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail (כִּחֵשׁ), and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls…”

[11] Epistles 1:1:7:87.

[12] Psalm 18:44:  “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me:  the strangers shall submit themselves (יְכַחֲשׁוּ) unto me.”

[13] Psalm 66:3:  “Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves (יְכַחֲשׁוּ) unto thee.”

[14] Psalm 81:15:  “The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves (יְכַחֲשׁוּ) unto him:  but their time should have endured for ever.”

Deuteronomy 33:26, 27: The Blessedness of Israel, Part 1

Verse 26:  There is (Ex. 15:11; Ps. 86:8; Jer. 10:6) none like unto the God of (Deut. 32:15) Jeshurun, (Ps. 68:4, 33, 34; 104:3; Hab. 3:8) who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.

[The rider of heaven, רֹכֵ֤ב שָׁמַ֙יִם֙]  The one riding the heaven (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster, Ainsworth); or, the one sitting upon the heavens (Oleaster).  Riding is a sign both of honor, and of one hastening to help, Psal. 68:33, 34 (Ainsworth).  That is to say, thy God dwelleth in heaven; in the revelation of His majesty He sits upon the clouds or the heavens, whence He hastens to bring help to thee (Vatablus).

Upon the heaven, i.e. upon the clouds, to succour thee from thence, by sending thunder and lightning upon thine enemies.  See Psalm 18:7; 68:34, etc.

[Thy helper]  Hebrew:  in thy help[1] (Ainsworth), or, unto the help of thee (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Oleaster).

[From His magnificence, וּבְגַאֲוָת֖וֹ שְׁחָקִֽים׃[2]And in His excellency (Ainsworth, Malvenda) (elevation [Oleaster], or, height [Cajetan]) the heavens (Oleaster, Pagnine, Cajetan), or, the clouds (Vulgate, Samaritan Text).  Understand, either He rides upon the clouds (Ainsworth), or, He sits upon (Oleaster); or, the clouds rush off (Vulgate in Bonfrerius).  Or, unto His magnificence, namely, for the manifestation of His glory (Ainsworth).  In His magnificence; I repeat, He rides:  πρόζευγμα/prozeugma[3] (Piscator).

In his excellency, or, in his magnificence, i.e. magnificently, gloriously, and with great majesty as well as power.


Verse 27:  The eternal God is thy (Ps. 90:1) refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:  and (Deut. 9:3-5) he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

[His dwelling-place is on high, מְעֹנָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵי קֶ֔דֶם[4]]  [They refer it, 1.  to the clouds.]  Which (that is, ether, or the heaven) already of old (from the beginning [Chaldean], from eternity [Syriac]) is the dwelling-place of God (Tigurinus, thus Pagnine, Munster, Chaldean, Syriac, Oleaster).  [2.  To God.]  The dwelling-place (Montanus, Vatablus, Ainsworth), or refuge, of him (Grotius), or of thee (Munster, Ainsworth) (supply, is, or shall be [Ainsworth], or may it be [Ainsworth, Piscator]:  See Psalm 90:1 [Ainsworth]) the eternal God (Grotius, Munster, Ainsworth, Vatablus).  I pray to God, that He would protect thee, O Israel (Piscator).  קֶדֶם is πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, before eternity, Psalm 55:19.[5]  For the Hebrews do not have a special word by which they express eternity, and so they make use of translation and circumlocution.  Thus God is said to be the Ancient of days, Daniel 7 (Grotius).  Others:  the God of antiquity, or, the ancient God (Ainsworth).  The God of antecedence, of the ages (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Or, the God in advance, that is, He protects him beyond, above (Malvenda).  That is to say, God will be the protection of Israel, just as a cottage defends its inhabitants from injury by the heavens.  מְעֹנָה signifies that little cottage that is made in the field or vineyards (Vatablus).  Well do the Greeks render it σκεπάσει σε, it will cover thee.  The Seputagint adds, Θεοῦ ἀρχὴ, the principate of God.[6]  But perhaps they wrote Θεὸς ἀρχῆς, the God of the beginning[7] (Grotius).

[And beneath are the everlasting arms, וּמִתַּ֖חַת זְרֹעֹ֣ת עוֹלָ֑ם]  And from underneath, or beneath (supply, are [Ainsworth]) the arms of eternity, or the eternal arms (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Vatablus); that is, Under Israel are the indefatigable arms, which hold him:  that is to say, From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot the Lord diligently keeps all Israel (Vatablus).  Under the arms of God, which shall support thee, thou shalt be forever; or, under the arms of eternity thou shalt be safe (Munster).  Others thus:  Heaven is His habitation, and yet beneath, in the world, He stretches forth His arms, that is, exerts His power (Onkelos in Munster, Tigurinus).  Or, He extends His arms beneath, He is so immense (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Although He dwells in the heavens, yet He does not despise earthly things, but sends forth His arms into the earth, so that He might be near to Israel (Castalio).  Under His arm forever (Samaritan Text).  Below Him are the Kings of the world (Arabic).  And beneath He shall sow the earth (Syriac).

Thy refuge, or, thy dwelling-place.  Compare Psalm 91:1.  Underneath, i.e. under thy arms to hold thee up, as my hands were once held up by Aaron and Hur.[8]  He will support and defend thee.  Or the meaning is, Though he dwelleth on high, yet he comes down to the earth beneath to assist and deliver thee.

[And He shall say, Be thou brought to nought[9]Destroy thou (Pagnine, Piscator), that is, thy enemy (Piscator).  He shall say, etc., that is, He will equip thee with a mandate and might to destroy him (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Vatablus).

Shall say, Destroy them, i.e. shall give thee not only command and commission, but also power, to destroy them; for God’s saying is doing, his word comes with power.

[1] Hebrew:  בְעֶזְרֶךָ.

[2] גַּאֲוָה/excellency is derived from the verbal root גָּאָה, to rise up; שַׁחַק, dust or cloud, from שָׁחַק, to rub away or beat fine.

[3] That is, the verb is borrowed from the preceding clause.

[4] קֶדֶם can signify front, east, or aforetime.

[5] Psalm 55:19:  “God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old (וְיֹ֤שֵׁ֥ב קֶ֗דֶם; ὁ ὑπάρχων πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, in the Septuagint).  Selah.  Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.”

[6] That is, the principate of God will cover/protect thee.

[7] That is, the God of the beginning will cover/protect thee.

[8] Exodus 17:12.

[9] Hebrew:  וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַשְׁמֵֽד׃.

Deuteronomy 33:24, 25: The Blessing of Asher

Verse 24:  And of Asher he said, (Gen. 49:20) Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him (see Job 29:6) dip his foot in oil.

[Blessed in children, מִבָּנִים]  On account of, or because of, children (Tigurinus, Ainsworth, Munster, Samaritan Text, Piscator); or, from children (Piscator), in the name of (or, from the part of) the children; or, on account of descendants (Vatablus), or, with children (Ainsworth), with the blessing of children (the Chaldean in Ainsworth).  Because of offspring, both abundant and handsome, so that because of their beauty their young men and virgins are the favorites of all (Bonfrerius, Tirinus).  Others:  before the children (Oleaster, Montanus, Pagnine), that is, before the abundance of children; or, before the other tribes; or, from the children (Septuagint, Syriac), that is, by the remaining children of Israel, to whom they shall supply the best things from their own land (Malvenda out of Junius).

Let Asher be blessed with children:  He shall have numerous, and those strong, and healthful, and comely, children.  Or, shall be blessed or praised of or above the sons, i.e. the other sons of Israel, or his brethren, as it here follows, i.e. his portion shall fall in an excellent part, where he may have the benefits both of his own fat soil, and of the sea, by his neighbours Tyrus and Sidon.  Acceptable to his brethren; by his sweet disposition and winning carriage, and communication of his excellent commodities to his brethren, he shall gain their affections.

[Let him dip in oil, etc.]  That is, He shall so abound in oil that he is able to wash his feet in it.  See Genesis 49:20 (Vatablus, Oleaster, Ainsworth, Malvenda).

Let him dip his foot in oil; he shall have such plenty of oil, that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also, in it.  Or, the fatness and fertility of his country may be expressed by oil, as Job 29:6.  And so it agrees with Jacob’s blessing of him, Genesis 49:20.


Verse 25:  Thy shoes shall be (Deut. 8:9) iron and brass (or, under thy shoes shall be iron and brass[1]); and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

[Iron and brass shall be his shoe, מִנְעָלֶיךָ[2]]  They vary.  Iron and brass shall be under thy shoes (Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, Bochart, Grotius), or, shall be thy feet (Ainsworth, Oleaster, Vatablus, Montanus).  Thy shoes, that is, thy treading; the instrument in the place of the action:  that is to say, Whatever ye tread upon will be iron and brass (Vatablus).  That is, In thy region there shall be mines of iron and brass (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Oleaster).  See Deuteronomy 8:9 (Malvenda).  Sarepta, between Tyre and Sidon, has its name from the casting of brass and iron.[3]  To this pertains that saying of Eumæus[4] in Homer, Odyssey ο´:425, Ἐκ μὲν Σιδῶνος πολυχάλκου εὔχομαι εἶναι, that is, from bronze-bearing Sidon, etc.  There is no reason why interpreters would draw the words of the Poet to another sense (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 4:34:343, Drusius).  I might believe that the Asherites because of the abundance of these metals were wont to sole their shoes with iron and brass nails, as was the manner of peasants, soldiers, and other travelers among the Romans and Syrians (Bonfrerius, Tirinus).  There shall be such an abundance of brass and iron that thou mightest be able to make shoes from it (Oleaster, Tirinus).  This does not satisfy; for מִנְעָל in this form no where occurs as shoe (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 898).  Others:  Strong as brass and iron shall be thy habitation (Chaldean).  His land shall be as fortified, as if it were enclosed with brass walls, etcTheir mighty men were dwelling in coastal cities, to which they were prohibiting access, lest an enemy be able to enter, as if they were enclosed bars and bolts of iron and brass (Rabbi Salomon in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:6:16:885).  Iron and brass shall be thine enclosure, that is, this lot shall be highly fortified (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Others:  thy shackles shall be of brass and iron (the Samaritan Text in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 885, similarly Masius).  He understands Foreigners in Galilee of the Gentiles,[5] who oppressed the Asherites that an iron shoe, that is, shackles, presses their foot (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 885).  Others translate מִנְעָלֶיךָ, thy bars (Samaritan Version, Arabic), thy bolt (Munster), thine enclosures (Castalio).  This is able to signify his strength, by which he would tread upon enemies; as Christ’s feet were of brass, Revelation 1:15 (Ainsworth).

Thy shoes shall be iron and brass:  this may note either, 1.  Their great strength, by which they should be able to tread down and crush their enemies, as Christ’s feet for this very reason are said to be of brass, Revelation 1:15.  Or, 2.  The mines of iron and copper, which were in their portion, whence Sidon their neighbour was famous among the heathens for its plenty of brass and iron, and Sarepta is thought to have its name from the brass and iron, which were melted there in great quantity.  Compare Deuteronomy 8:9.  Or, 3.  The strength of its situation; and so some ancients and moderns render the words, thy habitation or thy enclosure shall be iron and brass, i.e. fortified as it were with walls and gates of iron and brass, being defended by the sea on one side, by their brethren on other sides, as also by mountains and rivers.

[As the days of youth, so also thine old age, וּכְיָמֶ֖יךָ דָּבְאֶֽךָ׃]  [They vary.]  And as thy days (or, according to thy days [Oleaster], as the days of youth [Chaldean]) thy strength (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster, Ainsworth, Grotius out of the Septuagint, Montanus, similarly the Syriac).  However long thou mayest live, thou shalt be strong (Vatablus).  The longer that Tribe endures, the stronger it shall become (Grotius).  Strength in proportion to age (Castalio, similarly Pagnine).  As thy days, that is, of youth (who are of a florid and placid land, and thus they obtain to come unto the reckoning of their days), thine old age (Forster in Bonfrerius).  Old age shall be vigorous and youthful (Menochius, Lyra).  [The Vulgate] took דּוֹבֶא for זוֹבֶא, from זוּב, to flow:  days of flowing are old age (Grotius).  Or they derived it from דָּאַב, to be debilitated (Chizkuni in Ainsworth).  As thy days, thy fame (others in Grotius).  They read דְּבָרֶיךָ, thy fame (Grotius).  According to thy days let thy fame be; that is, As long as thou shalt be a people, so long mayest thou be celebrated in the speeches of men (Piscator).  They derive it from דָּבַב, to speak.  May thou always be celebrated on account of the goodness of thy soil (Malvenda).  And as long as thy days shall endure, let speeches be made concerning thee (Junius and Tremellius).  Others:  according to thy (good) days, thy anguish (Munster).  And as many as thy days, just so many are thine troubles; that is to say, to thee there is going to be a perpetual struggle with the old inhabitants (certain interpreters in Malvenda).

So shall thy strength be, i.e. thy strength shall not be diminished with thine age, but thou shalt have the rigour of youth even in thine old age; thy tribe shall grow stronger and stronger.

[1] Hebrew:  בַּרְזֶ֥ל וּנְחֹ֖שֶׁת מִנְעָלֶ֑יךָ.

[2] נָעַל signifies a bar or bolt; נַעַל, a shoe.

[3] Luke 4:26:  “But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta (Σάρεπτα), a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.”  Σάρεπτα/Sarepta is a Greek form of the Hebrew צָרְפַת /Zarephath, 1 Kings 17:9, 10, from the verbal root צָרַף, to smelt.

[4] Eumæus was Odysseus’ swineherd and loyal friend.  Eumæus father had been the king of an island called Syria, but Phœnicians kidnapped him, and sold him into slavery.

[5] Matthew 4:15.

Deuteronomy 33:23: The Blessing of Naphtali

Verse 23:  And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, (Gen. 49:21) satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD:  (see Josh. 19:32, etc.) possess thou the west and the south.

[Naphtali shall enjoy abundance, שְׂבַ֣ע רָצ֔וֹן]  Sated (supply, he is [Samaritan Text, Munster, Tigurinus]) with goodwill (Montanus), approval (Malvenda, Munster, Tigurinus), understanding, divine (Munster, Tigurinus), favor (Syriac); sated and accepted (Samaritan Text); he shall be satisfied with pleasure (Chaldean, Vatablus, Ainsworth).  Fullness of will (Pagnine, Oleaster); that is, They shall be men of their own will, or, as free, they shall do as they please.  There is an allusion to Genesis 49, as a hind let loose (Oleaster).  Or, they shall have from the Lord whatever they will (certain interpreters in Oleaster).  Sated with benevolence, namely, of Jehovah:  which word is joined to the following member through hypozeugma[1] (Piscator).  They shall have satiety of things agreeable and pleasing (the Septuagint in Ainsworth).  He understands the best fruits.  Satiety of goodwill (Symmachus in Drusius).  See Matthew 4:13, etc.; 9:1 (Ainsworth).  It is the same as that which follows, full of blessing.  The Hebrews love to set forth an abundance of words in their language, which is relatively poor in vocabulary (Grotius).  Galilee (a great part of which had fallen to Naphtali) is a land fat, and fertile, and cultivated, says Josephus, Jewish Wars 3:2 (and 3:18:  See also Numbers 34:10 [Malvenda]).  In that place were two hundred and four cities, or villages:  The same in Josephus’ Life 1017 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:3:18:879).

With favour; either, 1.  With God’s favour, as it follows; or, 2.  With men’s favour or goodwill, 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 sea and the south he shall possess]  They translate יָם as sea (Montanus, Samaritan Text, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals, Ainsworth).  [All the other interpreters translate it, the west and the south.]  Question:  How was this true?  Rather he was inhabiting the East and the North, Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities 5:1 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals, Bonfrerius).  Hamath, a city of Naphtali, Joshua 19:35, was in the North, as it is evident out of Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 8:65; Ezekiel 47:17; 48:1 (Bonfrerius).  They were not near the sea, that is, the great and western sea, which only is wont in Scripture to be called the Sea absolutely.  Moreover, Asher was to the West of him.  Responses:  The Sea here mentioned in the lake of Gennesaret (thus Rabbi Salomon and the Chaldean in Ainsworth, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  But to others this sea is the Mediterranean, beyond Sidon (Malvenda, similarly Piscator).  2.  To possess the sea and the south here is not to obtain the maritime and southern region, but to enjoy the delicacies and wealth which are brought to them, either from the sea (whether through the tribe of Asher [to their West], which was bordering Tyre and Sidon; or through the tribe of Zebulun [to their south], which was given to navigation, Deuteronomy 33:18), or from the Southern tribes by the Jordan, of which Naphtali was possessing a very long tract (Bonfrerius).  They maintain that this was said, because the Naphtalites were able easily to acquire this merchandise from their Phœnician neighbors.  But this is trifling:  Thus they would have no less possessed the West and the North.  Moreover, the Naphtalites were not bording Phœnicia, but three other tribes, namely, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun; and therefore this would rather have agreed with those tribes (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 897).  3.  Moses foretells that this is going to be, not with respect to the entire land of Canaan, but only with respect to those Danites, who, having advanced from one extreme of the land to the other, as if by a leap, after the likeness of a lion’s whelp, had occupied Laish, which they called Dan;[2] from the south of which city unto the sea of Tiberias was extended the portion of the Naphtalites (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 893).

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.

[1] That is, both of the clauses descriptive of Naphtali are modified by the word placed last, namely, of the Lord.

[2] See Judges 18.

Deuteronomy 33:22: The Blessing of Dan

Verse 22:  And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp:  (Josh. 19:47; Judg. 18:27) he shall leap from Bashan.

[Dan is a lion’s whelp]  With respect to fortitude and daring (Tirinus, Ainsworth); strength and ease of success (Malvenda).  Nobler than a lion (Castalio).

Lion’s whelp, i.e. courageous, and generous, and strong, and successful against his enemies.

[He shall flow in abundance from Bashan, יְזַנֵּ֖ק מִן־הַבָּשָֽׁן׃]  יְזַנֵּק is a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, hapax legomenon[1] (Malvenda, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  [Hence they vary.]  He shall flow in abundance, that is, he shall supply a most plentiful river to the Holy Land.  For from this Tribe at the roots of Libanus[2] Jor and Dan, the two fountains of the Jordan, spring; which (namely, Jordan) nevertheless flows from Bashan, because thence through subterranean passages it comes, namely, from the Phiala spring or lake;[3] as by experiment Philip the Tetrarch[4] discovered, with chaff cast into that lake, and afterwards discovered in the fount of Dan, as testify Josephus, Hegesippus, Adrichomius, and others (Tirinus, Bonfrerius).  The Lot of the Tribe of Dan was to the south of Judah; but a certain part of it sought for itself another seat, namely, toward the North and near Libanus, where the city of Dan was (Menochius).  And it is true that זָנַק in the Talmud everywhere signifies to flow.  The Chaldean refers this to the streams by which the land of Dan is irrigated, which it says flow from Bashan.  But this is false (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:738).  Others:  who sucks milk (the Syriac and Arabic Manuscripts in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  This is favored by the language of whelp, that is, suckling (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:738).  Others:  he shall leap (Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Malvenda, Oleaster, Ainsworth).  The future in the place of the present (Vatablus).  Who leaps, or jumps (Vatablus, Samaritan Text, Septuagint), or, springs forth (Malvenda, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals, Junius and Tremellius), or, springs upon (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals), or, by leaping it goes forth from Bashan (Vatablus).  There the best pastures were; there herds were fattened (Munster), and the strongest lions (Vatablus, Malvenda).  It refers to the lions leaping from Bashan (Ainsworth).  Thus it is translated by Ibn Ezra, Kimchi, and Aquinas[5] in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals, and by more recent interpreters with great agreement (Malvenda, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  It is natural to lions, that they leap upon their prey; Aristotle’s History of Animals 9:44, Pliny’s Natural History 8:16, Pollux’s[6] Onomasticon 5:14 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:3:2:739).  The Danites are compared to a lion, either, 1.  with respect to fortitude (Ainsworth); or, 2.  cunning, just as lion in the land of Bashan leap out of hiding places upon those passing by.  There is an allusion to Genesis 49:17 (Oleaster).  Or, 3.  because they, having progressed from one extreme of Judah to the other as if by a leap, invaded Laish, Judges 18 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:3:2:739).

He shall leap from Bashan, or, which leapeth from Bashan; for this clause seems not to belong to the tribe of Dan, which was at a great distance from Bashan, even at the other end of the land, and therefore this seems too great a leap for him; and if he did leap so far, he should rather be said to take his leap from his own lot in the south of Canaan, and thence to leap not from Bashan, but to Bashan, to fall upon his enemies there:  but it rather is a continuation of the metaphor, and belongs to the lion, which is said to leap from Bashan, because there were many and fierce lions in those parts; see Judges 14:5; whence they used to come forth to prey, and their manner was to leap upon the prey.

[1] That is, it is only used once in the Hebrew Bible; consequently, it is difficult to define.

[2] The Libanus and Antilibanus are parallel mountain ranges, running north-south through Syria.

[3] Located in the north-eastern part of the Golan Heights.

[4] Philip the Tetrarch was a son of Herod the Great by Cleopatra of Jerusalem.  He inherited the north-eastern portion of his father’s kingdom.

[5] Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-1274) was perhaps the greatest of the mediæval scholastic theologians.

[6] Julius Pollux (second century AD) was a Greek grammarian and rhetorician.  Only his Onomasticon, a dictionary of Attic phrases and an invaluable source of information concerning classical antiquity, survives.

Deuteronomy 33:20, 21: The Blessing of Gad

Verse 20:  And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that (see Josh. 13:10, etc.; 1 Chron. 12:8, etc.) enlargeth Gad:  he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.

[Blessed be Gad in his breadth]  That is, because of the broad and spacious region that he obtained on the other side of Jordan (Menochius and Tirinus out of Bonfrerius, Munster).  Or, breadth here is prosperity (Tirinus, Bonfrerius).

[בָּר֖וּךְ מַרְחִ֣יב גָּ֑ד[1]Blessed (be [Arabic, Ainsworth]) the one enlarging, or, making to enlarge, Gad (Pagnine, Septuagint, Ainsworth, Malvenda, Oleaster, Chaldean); who enlarged the region for him (Arabic), namely, God who enlarged, etcThanks be to the one extending Gad, or to the one enlarging his borders (Castalio).  It is able to be understood, either, 1.  concerning the inheritance of Gad, which God promises that He is going to enlarge (Ainsworth).  Who yielded the place to him, and would not resist him enlarging his borders (Vatablus, Malvenda).  Or, 2.  concerning the person of Gad; and then to enlarge is to free from straits, as in Psalm 4:1.  Compare Genesis 49:19; Judges 11 (Ainsworth).  Who brings it to pass that Gad dwells comfortably.  His lot was bordering foreigners (Malvenda).  Who furnishes a broad space for him for escape, when he is surrounded by enemies.  Thus Psalm 4:1, in straits thou hast enlarged me.[2]  Before גָּד/Gad the ל is missing.  The fulfillment see in Judges 11, where the Gadites were rescued from the Ammonites, etc. (Piscator).

Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad:  By praising God for enlarging Gad he supposeth the ground of these praises, that God would enlarge Gad, i.e. either, 1.  Enlarge his territories; which seems needless, because they had a very large portion now when Moses uttered these words.  Or, 2.  Bring him out of his straits and troubles, which he was likely to be oft engaged in, because he was encompassed with potent enemies.  And in this sense the phrase is used Psalm 4:1:  compare Psalm 31:8; 118:5.  One instance of the fulfilling hereof we have Judges 11.

[As a lion]  That is, to his neighbors and the formidable nations surrounding (Malvenda).  Secure, and not fearing enemies (Menochius, Tirinus).  See 1 Chronicles 5:18, etc. (Grotius); 12:8 (Ainsworth).

[The arm and the crown]  That is, he will kill Kings and Princes (Vatablus, Malvenda, Chaldean).  That is to say, after the likeness of a lion, in one assault he tears away the arm and head of his prey (Tirinus out of Bonfrerius).  The arm denotes strength; the crown, government (Ainsworth).  Strong adversaries and their Kings (Menochius, Bonfrerius).  The arm and the ruler (Septuagint).

He dwelleth as a lion, i.e. safe and secure from his enemies, and terrible to them when they rouse and molest him.  See 1 Chronicles 5:18, etc.; 12:8.  Teareth the arm with the crown of the head, i.e. utterly destroys his enemies; both the head, the seat of the crown, their dignity and principality, and the arm, the subject of strength and instrument of action; both chief princes, and their instruments and subjects.


Verse 21:  And (Num. 32:16, 17, etc.) he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated (Heb. cieled[3]); and (Josh. 4:12) he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.

[And he saw his principate[4]]  Or, his prerogative (Samaritan Text).  That is, he recognized a certain excellence of his own above the other tribes, and he rejoiced in it (Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius).  רֵאשִׁית signifies principate, here and in Numbers 24:20[5] (Malvenda).

[וַיַּ֤רְא רֵאשִׁית֙ ל֔וֹ]  And he saw the beginning (the first-fruits [Vatablus, the Septuagint in Ainsworth]) to himself (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster, Malvenda, Montanus).  That is, he has already asked from me the first-fruits of the Promised Land, namely, the land of Sihon, etc. (Rabbi Salomon in Ainsworth, Malvenda, Vatablus).  He provided first for himself (Syriac, thus Tigurinus).  And thus he looked first for himself (Munster).  He provided the first part (or, in the beginning) for himself (Ainsworth, Munster), understanding, Gad; or, God provided for him.  Or, he saw, that is, received, as the Chaldean has it, his own part first; that is, he enjoyed it (Ainsworth).  He saw in the beginning a habitation for himself.  See Numbers 32.  In the beginning, that is, of the war undertaken and waged against their enemies (Piscator).

The first part; the first-fruits of the Land of Promise, the country of Sihon, which was first conquered, which he is said to provide for himself, because he desired and so obtained it of Moses, Numbers 32.

[That in his portion the Teacher would be laid]  That is, that there Moses was to be buried (thus the Chaldean, Rabbi Salomon in Munster, Hebrews in Malvenda, Lyra, Menochius).  That is to say, out of the love of religion he chose that land (Malvenda).

[כִּי־שָׁ֛ם חֶלְקַ֥ת מְחֹקֵ֖ק סָפ֑וּן[6]]  [They vary.]  Because there in the portion of the lawgiver (that is, which portion God through Moses as Lawgiver gave to him, Numbers 32) he was covered (Junius and Tremellius, Ainsworth).  That is, in the cities his children and wives were protected, while they went forth to war (Ainsworth).  That there the part, or portion, of the lawgiver (of the expositor [Syriac]) was covered, concealed, hidden (Samaritan Text, Syriac, similarly Tigurinus, Pagnine).  Even that there the portion would be for the hiding of the lawgiver (Munster).  סָפוּן/covered is masculine, and חֶלְקַת/portion is feminine; they say, therefore, that agreement is retained with a synonym of it, חֵלֶק/portion,[7] or חֶבֶל/territory[8] (Malvenda).  Lawgiver here is put in the place of Lawgivers and Princes.  And the sense is that there he (Gad) saw many citadels covered with costly material; for the palaces of Princes were there (Vatablus).  It indicates the fortified and opulent cities of the Amorites (Malvenda).

A portion of the lawgiver, i.e. of Moses, whose portion this is called, either because this part of the land beyond Jordan was the only part of the land which Moses was permitted to enter upon; or because it was given to him by Moses; whereas the portions beyond Jordan were given to the several tribes by Joshua, according to the direction of the lot.  Was he seated, Heb. hid or protected; for their wives and children were secured in their cities, whilst many of their men went over to the war in Canaan.

[Who was with the princes of the people]  They refer this to Moses; that is to say, who through the wilderness was the companion of the other Princes of the people, and who ruled the people justly (Menochius, Bonfrerius)

[But the Hebrew words are:  וַיֵּתֵא֙ רָ֣אשֵׁי עָ֔ם]  They translate it, and he came the heads of the people[9] (Malvenda), that is, unto the Princes, as one about to ask their land of them, Numbers 32; Joshua 1:14 (certain interpreters in Ainsworth).  Or, with the princes, or heads, of the people (Samaritan Text, Pagnine, Ainsworth, Malvenda, Munster, Oleaster, similarly the Septuagint), namely, to war, Joshua 1:14 (Ainsworth, similarly Oleaster, Piscator).  Or, but shall come the princes of the people, namely, of Gad himself (Vatablus).  He shall come, in the place of, they shall come, namely, with the rest to subdue the land (Malvenda).  And the princes of the people came (Arabic).  Who went in the front of the people (Syriac).

He came with the heads of the people, i.e. he went, or he will go, (the preter tense being put for the future, after the manner of the prophets,) to wit, to the war in Canaan, with the princes, or captains, or rulers of the people of Israel, i.e. under their command and conduct, as indeed they did; or with the first of the people; or, in the front of the people, as the Syriac renders it; for this tribe and their brethren, whose lot fell beyond Jordan, were to march, and did march, into Canaan before their brethren, as it is expressed, Joshua 1:14.  And the Hebrew word רֹאשׁ/rosch oft signifies the beginning or first of a thing.

[And he did righteousness, etc.]  That is, Gad did what God had commanded him, and what he had received he was going to do, Numbers 32:27 (Vatablus).  See Joshua 1:12; 4:12 (Malvenda).  He executed the just judgments of God against the Canaanites (Ainsworth, Malvenda, Junius).  It is able to be referred to the judgments which both Jehu, 2 Kings 9; 10, and Elijah, 1 Kings 18, would inflict (Ainsworth).

He executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel, i.e. he did or will execute the just judgment of God against the Canaanites, as the rest of the Israelites did; he will join in the war against them, as he promised to do, Numbers 32:27, and actually did, Joshua 1:14.

[1] רָחַב, to be large, in the Hiphil carries a causative sense, that is, to enlarge.

[2] Psalm 4:1:  “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness:  thou hast enlarged me (הִרְחַ֣בְתָּ לִּ֑י, with the ל indicating the person thus enlarged) when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”

[3] Hebrew:  סָפוּן.

[4] Deuteronomy 33:21a:  “And he provided the first part for himself (וַיַּ֤רְא רֵאשִׁית֙ ל֔וֹ), because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated…”

[5] Numbers 24:20b:  “…Amalek was the first of the nations (רֵאשִׁ֤ית גּוֹיִם֙); but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.”

[6] סָפַן signifies to cover or panel.

[7] In the masculine gender.

[8] In the masculine gender.

[9] A woodenly literalistic rendering.