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.

Deuteronomy 33:18, 19: The Blessing of Zebulun and Issachar

Verse 18:  And of Zebulun he said, (Gen. 49:13-15) Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.

[And to Zebulun he says]  To whom Issachar, his brother by Leah,[1] is joined (Ainsworth):  and their lots shall be neighboring (Lyra).

[Rejoice]  That is to say, God shall give to thee a reason to rejoice (Ainsworth).  Thou shalt have a successful outcome (Munster).

[In thy going out]  Either, 1.  to war (thus the Chaldean in Vatablus, Malvenda).  It signifies this in Genesis 14:17, 18; 2 Samuel 11:1.  Compare Judges 5:18 (Ainworth).  Or, 2.  to business (thus Munster, Ainsworth, Castalio, Junius).  In going out, that is, in the exporting and importing of merchandise; for he was near to the sea (Tirinus, Menochius, Lyra, Bonfrerius).  See Genesis 49:13 (Ainsworth).  That Tribe was inhabiting maritime places near the sea of Gennesaret, and not far from the Mediterranean Sea (Bonfrerius).  The Zebulonites were dwelling near Carmel and Ptolemais,[2] not far from Tyre and Sidon (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:5:9:710:53).  In thy journeys (Arabic).

Rejoice, etc.:  Thou shalt prosper; and have cause of rejoicing.  In thy going out; either, 1.  To war, as this phrase is oft used, as Genesis 14:17, which was in part verified, Judges 5:18.  Or, 2.  To sea, in way of traffic, because their portion lay near the sea.  Or both may be joined; and in both respects his course is opposite to that of Issachar, who was a lover of peace and pasturage.  See Genesis 49:14, 15.  Issachar is here joined with Zebulun, both because they were brethren by father and mother too, and because their possessions lay near together.

[And Issachar in thy tents]  Understand, rejoice (Vatablus, Ainsworth), that is, leading the life of farmers and shepherds (Menochius, Bonfrerius).  Thou shalt be a lover of peace and quiet (Vatablus, Munster).  Thou shalt pass thy time quietly (Tirinus, Malvenda, Ainsworth).  Be thou content in thy land:  Genesis 49:14, 15 (Junius).  Thou shalt remain at home:  it is set over against going forth to war, or to business, or to trade, Genesis 25:27; Joshua 22:4; Judges 5:24; 7:8 (Ainsworth).  He will be a lover of religion (Vatablus):  he will give himself to the study of the Law (Munster).

In thy tents, i.e. thou shalt give thyself to the management of land and cattle, living quietly in thy own possessions, disliking the troubles of war and of merchandise.  So the phrase is used Genesis 25:27; Joshua 22:4; Judges 5:24; 7:8.


Verse 19:  They shall (Is. 2:3) call the people unto the mountain; there (Ps. 4:5) they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness:  for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

[The peoples]  The other Tribes (Vatablus, Tirinus, Bonfrerius, the Chaldean in Ainsworth); and foreigners (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Castalio):  who, having trade and intercourse with them, shall be drawn (Castalio, Ainsworth).

[They shall callLet them call (Ainsworth); let them invite (Junius and Tremellius), or, they shall invite (Tigurinus), namely, the Tribes (Tigurinus).  Either, 1.  by his example he shall go before others (Grotius, Malvenda, Tirinus):  although they were very remote from the Temple (Malvenda out of Junius).  Or, 2.  by making caledars, and by indicating the stated times of the feasts to the others, according to 1 Chronicles 12:32 (Tirinus, the Chaldean and Rabbi Salomon in Ainsworth).

They; either, 1.  Zebulun and Issachar.  Or rather, 2.  Zebulun only, as the following matter shows; and it was Zebulun that Moses takes more special notice of, verse 18, bringing in Issachar only by the by, in conjunction with him, or in opposition to him.  And so having despatched Issachar in two words, he returns to Zebulun, a more active tribe.  The people, i.e. the Gentiles; either those of Galilee, which was called Galilee of the Gentiles,[3] who were their neighbours; or people of other nations, with whom they had commerce, which they endeavoured to improve in persuading them to the true God, and his worship and service.

[Unto the mount]  Zion, or Moriah (Malvenda); on which Moses foresaw by the Spirit that the Temple was to be constructed (Ainsworth).  Happy and eager, since they abound in riches and the fruits of the earth, they shall ascend there (Menochius).

Unto the mountain, i.e. to the temple, which Moses knew was to be seated upon a mountain.

[The sacrifices of righteousness]  That is, those prescribed by the Law (Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius, Malvenda, Castalio).  Other sacred rites are impious and unrighteous (Castalio).  Right sacrifices, as the way of righteousness, Matthew 21:32, is the right way (Ainsworth).  He admonishes them not to sacrifice from robbery, or things ill gotten,[4] because they were merchants (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Thanksgiving sacrifices, which the Law and right require (Malvenda, Bonfrerius).

Sacrifices of righteousness, i.e. such as God requires and righteousness obligeth them to offer.  Their trafficking abroad with heathen nations shall not make them forget or neglect their duty at home, nor shall their distance from the place of sacrifice hinder them from coming to it to discharge that duty.

[The inundation of the sea…they shall suck]  Hebrew:  the abundance (riches [Septuagint]) of the seas[5] (Malvenda, Pagnine, Vatablus); that is, they shall abound in marine merchandise (Vatablus, Menochius, Tirinus, Castalio).  They shall grow rich from the abundance of the sea (Grotius).  The riches of the people (Chaldean, Arabic).  He takes seas figuratively for peoples, as in Isaiah 60:5 and elsewhere (Ainsworth).  The riches of the sea shall suckle thee (Septuagint).

They shall suck of the abundance of the seas; they shall grow rich by the traffic of the sea; and their riches shall not make them the worse, as they do others, but they shall consecrate themselves and their riches to the service of God.

[And the hidden riches of the sands, וּשְׂפוּנֵ֖י טְמ֥וּנֵי חֽוֹל׃]  Governor is here added to governor; two passive participles (Malvenda).  They translate it, things covered, hidden, of the sand (Montanus); things hidden, that is, treasures, of the sand (Junius and Tremellius), that is, of the sea, the shores of which are full of sand (Piscator).  Hidden treasures of the sand (Samaritan Text, Tigurinus, Ainsworth, Munster).  And the hidden treasures in the sand shall be revealed to them (Chaldean); and the markets of those dwelling on the coast (Septuagint); and things secret and hidden in the sand (Persic) [in which a ו/and is wanting before טְמוּנֵי, things hidden].  And treasures hidden in the sand, supply, shall be to them (Vatablus), or, they shall suck treasures, etc. (Ainsworth).  [But the Syriac translates it, ships hidden on the shore.]  They explain it, either, 1.  They shall be very wealthy, to such a degree that they hide treasures in the sand (Vatablus out of Munster).  Or, 2.  they refer to those things that sea are wont to vomit up (Vatablus).  Or, 3.  to gold mines, either their own, or of others.  They shall have many mines of gold and silver (certain interpreters in Bonfrerius).  They shall mine from sandy earth gold, etc. (certain interpreters in Vatablus).  Or rather, they shall have treasures and gems brought by foreigners, which are wont to be extracted and gathered from the earth or sands (Menochius out of Bonfrerius).

Treasures hid in the sand; such precious things as either, 1.  Are contained in the sand of the sea and rivers, in which sometimes there is mixed a considerable quantity of gold and silver.  Or, 2.  Such as grow in the sea, or are fetched from the sandy bottom of it, as pearls, coral, ambergris,[6] etc.  Or, 3.  Such as being east into the sea by shipwreck are cast upon the shore by the workings of the sea, and thence taken either by merchants, or by the people that live upon the sea-coast.

[1] Genesis 30:18, 20.

[2] That is, Acre.

[3] Matthew 4:15.

[4] See, for example, Deuteronomy 23:18.

[5] Hebrew:  שֶׁ֤פַע יַמִּים֙.

[6] Ambergris is a waxy substance, produced in the digestive system of the sperm whale.  It was used in the production of some perfumes.

Deuteronomy 33:17: The Blessing of Joseph, Part 2

Verse 17:  His glory is like the (1 Chron. 5:1) firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like (Num. 23:22; Ps. 92:10) the horns of unicorns (Heb. an unicorn[1]):  with them (1 Kings 22:11; Ps. 44:5) he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth:  and (Gen. 48:19) they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

[His excellence is like that of a firstling bullock, בּכ֙וֹר שׁוֹר֜וֹ הָדָ֣ר ל֗וֹ[2]]  Verbatim:  His firstborn ox is his ornament (Montanus).  His ornament is like that of a firstling ox (Tigurinus).  Let his glory be as of a firstling ox (Ainsworth).  The elegance of his firstling ox is to him (Junius and Tremellius).  Jerome translates it best, and Pagnine with equal excellence:  he has the elegance of a firstling ox.  Thus Luther and Calvin:  his beauty is as of the choicest oxen.  Thus בְּכוֹר/firstling is genitive, and the וֹ on שׁוֹרוֹ/bullock is not an affix,[3] but paragogic; just as elsewhere we read בְּנוֹ[4] and חַיְתוֹ,[5] in the place of בֵּן/son and חַיָה, living creature (that which, not noticed by Ibn Ezra, Munster, Castalio, Oleaster, Malvenda, and others, was deceit to them, that they might interpret the passage improperly).  Hence the Greeks and Syrians rightly translate it, πρωτότοκος ταύρου, firstling of the bull.  Now, he calls him the firstborn, because he was persuaded that to the Hebrews the firstborn of whatever animal exceeds the rest in strength (Boot’s Observations 3:1:6).  The elegance or majesty, belonging to him, of the firstling ox.  In the bull a certain nobility of aspect is especially shown; …the noble dignity of the savage Forehead.  And King Mnevis of the Egyptians willed the bull to be worshipped, since he believed that it was the most finely formed of all; Ælian’s History of Animals 2:10.  And Cotta,[6] in Cicero’s Concerning the Nature of the Gods 1, says, I do not dare to say that I am more beautiful than that bull was that carried Europa[7] (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:9:288).  He has glory after the likeness of his firstling ox (Ainsworth).  His firstling ox’s elegance belongs to him; that is, he is preeminent in two dignities, that he is the firstborn, 1 Chronicles 5:1, and the ox of God:  For Joseph discharged the office of an ox by sustaining his father’s family (Malvenda).  The firstborn of his ox is elegance to him (Vatablus, certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Of the ox, that is, the Tribe (certain interpreters in Vatablus).  Of which the firstborn, that is, the principal and Prince, was Joshua, noble and renowned (Menochius, Hebrews in Vatablus).  But it is rather to be understood of Ephraim, as it is said a little afterwards (Vatablus).  So that it might be a prophecy of the preferring of Ephraim to Manasseh (Malvenda).  In these word, the glory and strength of the Israelite kingdom, which would have its principal seat in the tribe of Ephraim (and the Kings of which were from the tribe of Ephraim, even especially Jeroboam[8] [Bonfrerius]), is described (Menochius, Bonfrerius).  The bull presents a symbol of the Kingdom and the King (Bonferius, Menochius).  A laurel, or crown (for thus הָדָר signifies in Psalm 8:5;[9] 21:5;[10] Isaiah 45[11]) shall be to his firstling of the ox, that is, of the strong Tribe; namely, to Jeroboam.  Thus he foretells Royal dignity.  Or, the Laurel, that is, of victory, shall be to his firstling:  or, his Ox, that is, Tribe, shall be firstborn; Ephraim shall be preferred to Manasseh.

The firstling of his bullock; in whose countenance there is a kind of awful majesty and comely generosity, as Tully, Ælian, etc. observe.  This seems to note the kingdom which Ephraim should obtain in Jeroboam and his successors.

[The horns of a rhinoceros, וְקַרְנֵ֤י רְאֵם֙ קַרְנָ֔יו]  The horns unicornis,of an unicorn, are his horns (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Munster, Oleaster).  Monocerotis, of an unicorn (which differs from the rhinoceros, Pliny’s Natural History 8:9:  The horn of the Monoceros projects two cubits from the midst of the forehead, Pliny’s Natural History 8:21[12]) (the Greeks, Syriac, and the Arabic in Grotius).  The Ox was the emblem of Joseph, Genesis 49:26.[13]  But the ox is so powerful that each one of his horns equals the horn of a monoceros (Grotius).  You will say, The rhinoceros (and also the monoceros) has one horn; how, therefore, does he here say horns?  Response 1:  It is an Enallage of number, the plural in the place of the singular (Bonfrerius).  This does not satisfy; for it follows, with these (that is, two horns) he shall push the peoples, and with two horns the two Tribes agree (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:3:27:957).  Unicorn, in the place of unicorns (Ainsworth).  Response 2:  The two horns here are not ascribed to the rhinoceros, but to the kingdom; that is to say, Horns shall be to it, of which sort the horns of rhinoceroses are wont to be (Bonfrerius).  3.  [Others, for this and other reasons, deny that the רְאֵם is either a monoceros, or a rhinoceros; but they make it a certain animal related to the ox:  either a Wild Ox, concerning which see Boot’s Sacred Observations 3:1; or a Antilope, or a sort of two-horned wild she-goat, concerning which see what things we selected out of Bochart on Numbers 23:22.]

His horns are like the horns of unicorns; his strength and power shall be very great.

[He shall wave, יְנַגַּח[14]With his horn he shall attack (Vatablus, Pagnine, Oleaster, Malvenda, Ainsworth), shall rush upon (Syriac), shall take possession of (Arabic), shall knock down (Munster, Tigurinus), shall kill (the Chaldean in Ainsworth); that is, By his strength he shall take possession of the peoples, and shall extend his kingdom unto the ends of the earth (Vatablus); namely, of the land of Canaan, all which Joshua subdued (Ainsworth).

He shall push the people, i.e. all that shall oppose him, and particularly the Canaanites.  To the ends of the earth, i.e. of the land of Canaan.

[These are, וְהֵם[15]They are (Malvenda, Oleaster, Ainsworth).  Supply, either, the aforementioned horns (Ainsworth out of Chizkuni); or, with which these blessings agree (Bonfrerius, Menochius).  [The Arabic supplies, and let them remember that those are the ten thousands, etc.]

[The multitudes of Ephraim[16]The myriads (Vatablus), that is, more than Manasseh, according to Genesis 48:19 (Vatablus, Malvenda, Bonfrerius), although they were presently fewer, Numbers 26:34, 37.  The myriads of Ephraim refer to Joshua and his soldiers, and the chiliads of Manasseh to Gideon and his (Rabbi Salomon in Ainsworth).

They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh; though Manasseh be now more numerous, yet Ephraim shall shortly outstrip him, as was foretold, Genesis 48:19.

[1] Hebrew:  רְאֵם.

[2] הָדָר signifies ornament, splendor, or honor.

[3] That is, not the pronominal possessive suffix his.

[4] For example, Numbers 23:18:  “And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son (בְּנוֹ) of Zippor…”

[5] For example, Genesis 1:24:  “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth (וְחַיְתוֹ־אֶרֶץ) after his kind:  and it was so.”  Again, Psalm 50:10:  “For every beast of the forest (כָל־חַיְתוֹ־יָעַר) is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. ”

[6] Gaius Aurelius Cotta (c. 124-73 BC) was a Roman stateman, regarded by Cicero as one of the great orators of his age.

[7] According to the myth, Zeus set his desire and affection upon Europa, a high-born Phoenician woman.  Desiring to possess her, he transformed himself into a white bull, mingling in with her family’s herds.  Taking an interest in the bull, Europa climbed upon his back.  Having his prize, the Zeus-bull made off with her.

[8] 1 Kings 11:26.

[9] Psalm 8:5:  “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour (וְהָדָר).”

[10] Psalm 21:5:  “His glory is great in thy salvation:  honour and majesty (וְהָדָר) hast thou laid upon him.”

[11] Psalm 45:3, 4 may be intended:  “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty (וַהֲדָרֶךָ).  And in thy majesty (וַהֲדָרְךָ) ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.”

[12] Pliny’s monoceros was a native of India.  It had the head of a stag (with the single horn), the body of a horse, the feet of an elephant, and the tail of a boar.

[13] Genesis 49:26:  “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors (הוֹרַי) unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:  they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”

[14] נָגַח signifies to push or gore.

[15] Deuteronomy 33:17b:  “…and they are (וְהֵם) the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

[16] Hebrew:  רִבְב֣וֹת אֶפְרַ֔יִם.

Deuteronomy 33:13-16: The Blessing of Joseph, Part 1

Verse 13: And of Joseph he said, (Gen. 49:25) Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for (Gen. 27:28) the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath…

[To Joseph]  Whom he next blesses, because his was the primogeniture, 1 Chronicles 5:2 (Ainsworth).

[וּלְיוֹסֵף] Unto Joseph, or, concerning Joseph (Vatablus, Ainsworth).

[From the blessing]  Hebrew: Blessed of Jehovah is his land[1] (Malvenda), that is, he has the favor of Jehovah (Castalio).  This was best among all the lots (Rabbi Salomon in Ainsworth).

Blessed of the LORD be his land: His portion shall be excellent, and endowed with choice blessings from God, as it here follows.

[From the fruits of heaven, מִמֶּ֤גֶד שָׁמַ֙יִם֙] From the fine things (Pagnine, Oleaster), luxuries (Montanus), excellence of heaven (Malvenda); the precious (Oleaster); from the precious things (Ainsworth, Junius and Tremellius); with the sweetest and best fruits (Tigurinus, Ainsworth, Munster).  See on Genesis 24:53[2] (Ainsworth). On account of the precious fruits (Samaritan Text).  מֶגֶד signifies everything precious and best among fruits, or among jewelry, clothing, etc., whence it is to be translated according to context (Vatablus). Others:  from the best rain of heaven, that is, which does not harm, but is beneficial.  Others: from the aroma, or scent, of heaven (Malvenda).  He next expresses himself, on account of dew, etc. (Vatablus).  The aspect of heaven greatly help fertility (Munster).

[From the dew]  And on account of the dew (Vatablus, Ainsworth), or, from the dew and rain, by which the earth is made fertile.  See Genesis 27:28; 2 Samuel 1:21 (Ainsworth).  Or, by the dew may thy land be blessed (Oleaster).

For the precious things of heaven, i.e. the precious fruits of the earth brought forth by the influences of heaven, the warmth of the sun, and the rain which God will send from heaven.

[And the deep beneath]  That is, on account of the fountains gushing up and bursting forth from the earth (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Malvenda).

For the deep that coucheth beneath; the springs of water bubbling out of the earth.


Verse 14: And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth (Heb. thrust forth[3]) by the moon (Heb. moons[4])…

[From the fruits of the produce of the sun and moon]  The beginnings of generation:  The Sun, with respect to heat; the Moon, with respect to moisture (Grotius, Ainsworth).  The moon by night supplies moisture; the Sun by the heat of the day dries up the moisture (Menochius out of Bonfrerius).  This portion of the land was open to the Sun (Rabbi Salomon in Ainsworth).  Hebrew: on account of the delicacies of the fruits, or products, of the sun,[5] that is, which are wont to come forth with the help of the Sun (Vatablus). On account of the precious things, the products of the Sun (Ainsworth).

[And of the moon, וּמִמֶּ֖גֶד גֶּ֥רֶשׁ יְרָחִֽים׃] And from the fine, ripe fruits of the moon (Pagnine); from the excellent, or, precious, of the thrusting forth of moons (Montanus, Oleaster, Malvenda); from the precious things, the protrusions of moons (Ainsworth), or, of monthly products (Samaritan Text). On account of the dainties of the influence of the moon, or, rather, of moons; that is, because of the fruit thrust forth by revolutions, or Moons; that is, which and what things the Moon thrusts forth (Junius, Ainsworth, Malvenda).  In one month, they were gathering the summer fruits; in another, the olives; in a third, the dates (Chizkuni in Ainsworth).  The lunar, or monthly, fruits are cucumbers and gourds, which the earth in those parts puts forth in each month (Gerhard in Munster, Rabbi Salomon in Ainsworth).  Because of the fruits, the ripening of which is helped by the Moon, which is renewed each month (Vatablus).  The power of the Moon is manifest in fruits. With the Moon waxing, the crops grow, says Pliny in his Natural History 18:30 (Malvenda).

By the sun, which opens and warms the earth, cherisheth and improveth, and in due time ripeneth the seeds and fruits of the earth. By the moon, which by its moisture refreshes and promotes them.  Heb. of the moons, or months, i.e. which it bringeth forth in the several months or seasons of the year.


Verse 15: And for the chief things of (Gen. 49:26) the ancient mountains, and for the precious things (Hab. 3:6) of the lasting hills…

[And from the peak of the ancient mountains, וּמֵרֹ֖אשׁ הַרְרֵי־קֶ֑דֶם] From the peak (Septuagint); from the heads (Tigurinus); from the summit (Syriac); because of the summits (Samaritan Text); on account of the dainties of the summit (Pagnine), understanding מֶגֶד, excellence or choice fruit[6] (Vatablus).  [But the Arabic has, from the roots.] And from the head (Montanus), that is, the choice things, of the mountains (Ainworth, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator).  Thus head is taken in Exodus 30:23[7] (Malvenda out of Junius). Because of the firstfruits of the mountains (Chaldean, Munster).  They translate הַרְרֵי־קֶדֶם, of the mountains ancient (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Ainsworth), or, of the beginning (Septuagint), of priority (Ainsworth, Malvenda), that is, which were from the beginning (Vatablus, Ainsworth); created with the earth (Menochius, Malvenda, Bonfrerius).  Or, of mountains everlasting (Castalio), or, eternal (Ainsworth), that is, unmovable (Castalio, Ainsworth).  Spoken in a poetic manner (Castalio).  And enduring unto the end of the world, or bearing fruit perpetually.  Thus Habakkuk 3:6 (Castalio).  Others:  of the mountains of the east, or eastern (Pagnine, Samaritan Text, Syriac, Montanus, Tigurinus, Oleaster), that is, as fertile as the mountains of the East; on account of their fertility almost boasted of in a proverb (Malvenda, Oleaster).  Compare Genesis 49:26.  In this portion, there were many fertile mountains:  Ephraim, Judges 17:1; and Samaria, Amos 3:9; 4:1; 6:1 (Ainsworth).  He praise the fruit for its singular goodness:  for those are better which spring forth on the sloping hills, than those which spring forth on the plain (Menochius).

[From the fruits of the eternal hills, וּמִמֶּ֖גֶד גִּבְע֥וֹת עוֹלָֽם׃] Of the hills of eternity (Montanus, Samaritan Text), or, eternal (Septuagint, Arabic, Syriac), or, perpetual (Pagnine), which pass not away (Chaldean), which were already of old (Tigurinus); because of the fruits which the hills produce forever (Munster).

The chief things, etc.: i.e. The excellent fruits, as grapes, olives, figs, etc., which delight in mountains, growing upon, or the precious minerals contained in, their mountains and hills, called ancient and lasting, i.e. such as have been from the beginning of the world, and likely to continue to the end of it, in opposition to those hills or mounts which have been cast up by the wit of man.


Verse 16: And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of (Ex. 3:2, 4; Acts 7:30, 35) him that dwelt in the bush:  let the blessing (Gen. 49:26) come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.

[And from the fruits of the earth, וּמִמֶּ֗גֶד אֶ֚רֶץ] And on account of the dainties of the earth, understanding, arable (Vatablus).

For the precious things of the earth; and in general for all the choice fruits which the land produceth in all the parts of it, whether hills or valleys.

[And from its fullness]  That is, from all the creatures filling it, Psalm 24:1 (Ainsworth).

Fulness thereof, i.e. the plants and cattle, and all creatures that grow, increase, and flourish in it.

[The blessing of Him, etc., וּרְצ֥וֹן שֹׁכְנִ֖י סְנֶ֑ה] And from the good will (or favor [Vatablus, Tigurinus], approval [Junius and Tremellius]) of him that dwelt in the bramble (Montanus, Oleaster), or, of my God inhabiting the bramble (Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Ainworth), who dwelt there, Exodus 3:2 (Ainworth), who first appeared to me in the bramble (Malvenda).  Or the י is paragogic; on account of the mystery of that extraordinary apparition (Vatablus).

For the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; for all other effects of the good will and kindness of God, who not long since did for a time dwell or appear in the bush to me in order to the relief of his people, Exodus 3:2.

[Let it come, תָּבוֹאתָה] In the place of תָּבוֹא; there is a twofold paragoge, ה and ת, for emphasis: that is to say, let it come, let it come most certainly and abundantly (Malvenda), understanding, this blessing[8] (Vatablus).

Of Joseph, i.e. of Joseph’s posterity.

[And upon the crown[9]]  That is to say, let them be poured out openly and abundantly.  See Psalm 7:16[10] (Ainsworth).

[Of the Nazarite among his brethren, נְזִ֥יר אֶחָֽיו׃[11]] Of the one separated of brethren, as in Genesis 49:26[12] (Malvenda). Of the lovelier among his brethren:  Lamentations 4:7, the Nazarites were purer than snow, etc. (Oleaster). Of the one glorified (the Septuagint in Ainsworth), separated, or removed, that he might be the principal (Ainsworth). Of the one separated from his brethren.  Who was sold by his brethren, and carried off into Egypt.[13]  Would that, because of the favor of God, this blessing might come upon Joseph, etc. (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: מְבֹרֶ֥כֶת יְהֹוָ֖ה אַרְצ֑וֹ.

[2] Genesis 24:53:  “And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah:  and precious things (וּמִגְדָּנֹת) he gave to her brother and to her mother.”

[3] Hebrew: גֶּרֶשׁ.

[4] Hebrew: יְרָחִים.

[5] Hebrew:  וּמִמֶּ֖גֶד תְּבוּאֹ֣ת שָׁ֑מֶשׁ.

[6] Out of the preceding verse.

[7] Exodus 30:23a:  “Take thou also unto thee principal spices (בּשָׂמִ֣ים רֹאשׁ֒, spices of the head), of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels…”

[8] That is, let this blessing come.

[9] Deuteronomy 33:16b:  “…let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head (וּלְקָדְקֹד) of him that was separated from his brethren.”

[10] Psalm 7:16:  “His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate (קָדְקֳדוֹ).”

[11] נָזִיר signifies consecrated, devoted, or even separated.

[12] Genesis 49:26:  “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:  they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren (וּלְקָדְקֹ֖ד נְזִ֥יר אֶחָֽיו׃).”

[13] Genesis 37.

Deuteronomy 33:12: The Blessing of Benjamin

Verse 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.

[And to Benjamin he says]  Whom he blesses after Levi, whose was the priesthood, because in the lot of the former was the Temple (Lapide, Ainsworth); and before Joseph, because his lot was between Judah and Joseph; and because, with the rest of the tribes falling, this tribe, with Judah, remained in the truth (Ainsworth).

[Most beloved of the Lord] Beloved of the Lord, or to the Lord [thus most interpreters:  But the Samaritan Text has hand,[1] the hand of the Lord caused him to dwell, etc.]  Indeed, most dear to the Lord (Grotius, Septuagint, Ainsworth), as formerly to his father, Genesis 44 (Ainsworth, Malvenda, Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus).  This love was quite evident, 1.  inasmuch as from this Tribe was the first King;[2] 2.  and in it was the Temple (Menochius, Tirinus); 3.  and he received the most fertile region of the entire Promised Land, as Josephus testifies in Jewish Antiquities 5:1 (Bonfrerius, Tirinus).

The beloved of the Lord, i.e. this beloved tribe: so called partly in allusion to their father Benjamin, who was the beloved of his father Jacob; and partly because of the love and kindness of God towards this tribe, which appeared both in this, that they dwelt in the fattest and best part of the land, as Josephus affirms and especially in the following privilege.

[He shall dwell confidently on him, יִשְׁכֹּ֥ן לָבֶ֖טַח עָלָ֑יו] He shall dwell…(or, let him dwell [Vatablus, Ainsworth, Junius and Tremellius], that it might be a petition [Ainsworth]) upon, or near, him (Montanus, Munster, Oleaster, Ainsworth Pagnine), or, with him (Junius and Tremellius), or, on him (Arabic), near him, namely, the Lord (Menochius, Malvenda, Bonfrerius, Vatablus).  With Jehovah, as formerly with his father (Malvenda out of Junius).  Let the Lord dwell in the midst of Benjamin (Vatablus).  It signifies the firm habitation of Benjamin, that is, Jerusalem, and the Sanctuary in his portion.  See Genesis 49:27 (Grotius). In his land the majesty of the Lord shall dwell (Chaldean). The hand of the Lord cause him to dwell confidently (Samaritan Text).

Shall dwell in safety by him, i.e. shall have his lot nigh unto God’s temple, which was both a singular comfort and safeguard to him.

[He shall remain in the bedchamber all the day:  It reads, not חֹפֵף/covering/ enclosing, but חֻפָּה (Grotius): [which signifies chamber], חֹפֵ֤ף עָלָיו֙ כָּל־הַיּ֔וֹם] Covering, or protecting, him (Chaldean, Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, Oleaster, Munster, Ainsworth). He shall brood (He move His wings [Samaritan Version]) over him (Syriac); He shall surround him (Arabic); He shall overshadow him (Tigurinus, the Greeks and the Masoretes in Grotius).  Or, let Him cover him (Ainsworth), that is let the Lord cover Benjamin (Ainsworth, thus Vatablus, Munster, Oleaster, the Greek versions in Grotius, Malvenda).

The Lord may well be understood here, because he was expressed in the former member. Shall cover him all the day long; shall protect that tribe continually while they cleave to him.

[And between his shoulders he shall rest[3]]  That is, God shall rest (Septuagint, Chaldean, Munster, Vatablus, Menochius, Tirinus, Oleaster, Malvenda, Ainsworth).  That is, in the lot, or in borders (shoulder signifies this, Numbers 34:11[4]), of Benjamin the Temple shall be built (Ainsworth).  This he desires (Vatablus):  indeed, this he foretells (Castalio, Ainsworth).  Which also was fulfilled (Vatablus, Castalio). To dwell between the shoulders is a Hebraism, for to dwell in the midst; for what is between the shoulders is in the midst (Vatablus, Lapide). Upon the shoulders, that is, upon a high mount, where he might stand out, as a head upon shoulders (Menochius).  The entire possession of Benjamin is compared with a body, and the capital with a head set upon shoulders.  Thus Isaiah 8:8 (Junius, Piscator).  Although Jerusalem’s upper, Southern part, where mount Zion was, was pertaining to the tribe of Judah; the lower and Northern part, with the intermediate mount Moriah, on which the Temple was built, had regard to the tribe of Benjamin (Tirinus out of Bonfrerius).  Which is to be proven at greater length in Joshua 15 (Bonfrerius).  Objection:  The Temple is said to be on mount Zion.  Response:  This is done, because mount Zion is not rarely taken synecdochically for the entire city; and because, with the chasm of Millo leveled by Solomon,[5] which was lying between mounts Zion and Moriah, both mountains were able to appear as one, with the greater sharing its name with the lesser (Tirinus out of Bonfrerius).  It is the opinion of nearly all from this passage that the Temple was in the tribe of Benjamin (Bonfrerius).  Nevertheless, this is able to be referred to Benjamin, namely, that he dwelt between the shoulders of the Lord, that is, on both sides of the Temple (Oleaster).

He shall dwell between his shoulders; the Lord shall dwell, i.e. his temple shall be placed, between his shoulders, i.e. in his portion, or between his borders, or sides, as the word shoulder is oft used, as Exodus 28:7; Numbers 34:11; Joshua 15:8,[6] 10;[7] Ezekiel 47:1, 2.[8] And this was truly the situation of the temple, on both sides whereof was Benjamin’s portion; and though Mount Sion was in the tribe of Judah, yet Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, was in the tribe of Benjamin.

[1] There is a similarity in spelling between יָדִיד/beloved and יָד/hand.

[2] Namely, Saul.

[3] Hebrew: וּבֵ֥ין כְּתֵיפָ֖יו שָׁכֵֽן׃.

[4] Numbers 34:11:  “And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side (עַל־כֶּתֶף) of the sea of Chinnereth eastward…”

[5] See 1 Kings 9.

[6] Joshua 15:8a:  “And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side (כֶּתֶף) of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem…”

[7] Joshua 15:10a:  “And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side (כֶּתֶף) of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side…”

[8] Ezekiel 47:1, 2:  “Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward:  for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house (מִכֶּ֤תֶף הַבַּ֙יִת֙ הַיְמָנִ֔ית), at the south side of the altar.  Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side (מִן־הַכָּתֵ֖ף הַיְמָנִֽית׃).”

Deuteronomy 33:11: The Blessing of Levi, Part 3

Verse 11: Bless, LORD, his substance, and (2 Sam. 24:23; Ps. 20:3; Ezek. 20:40, 41; 43:27) 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.

[Bless his strength (thus the Septuagint, Samaritan Text), חֵילוֹ[1]] They vary. His exertions, or, robustness (Syriac, Malvenda).  They refer it to the exceedingly mighty Maccabean priests (Menochius, Bonfrerius, Rabbi Salomon in Lyra).  Others: his substance (Pagnine, Chaldean, Oleaster), that is, wealth, as in Deuteronomy 8:18[2] (thus the Chaldean in Ainsworth).  This he asks for them, because they had no inheritance beyond the things offered to God (Ainsworth). His first-fruits (Munster).  חַיִל is the robustness and strength of the earth, which it puts forth in the generation of fruit.  Now, the first-fruits and tithes of the crops were owed to the Levites (Munster).  Others: his virtue (Montanus, Malvenda).  Increase thy favors in him (Vatablus).  Others: his army (Oleaster, Arabic), as in Ezekiel 37:10[3] (Ainsworth out of Maimonides).  See Numbers 4:3, etc. (Ainsworth). His holy army, in which in the Temple they were doing military service to the Lord (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  They were coming to minister after the likeness of an army (Oleaster).

His substance, i.e. his outward estate, as Deuteronomy 8:18, because he hath no inheritance of his own, and therefore wholly depends upon thy blessing.  Or, his host or army, as the word is used Ezekiel 37:10.  The priests that attended upon God’s service in the tabernacle or temple are oft compared to an host or army in regard of their exquisite order and courses and constant watches there.  See Numbers 4:3.

[And the works of his hands]  That is, all his ministrations.  Compare Ezekiel 43:27 (Ainsworth).

[Accept]  Hold as acceptable (Vatablus); thou shalt accept (Malvenda).

The work of his hands, i.e. all his holy administrations, which he fitly calls the works of his hands; either more largely, the hand, one great instrument of action being put for all the rest; or because a great part of the service of the Levites and priests was done by the labour of their hand and body, whereas the service of evangelical ministers is more spiritual and heavenly.

[Smite the backs:  this is done in flight; that is to say, let them flee (Bonfrerius), מְחַ֙ץ מָתְנַ֧יִם] Pierce through the loins (Pagnine, Oleaster); wound in the loins (Vatablus).  So He did to Korah, etc.[4] (Ainsworth).

[Of his enemies (Chaldean, similarly the Syriac, Arabic), קָמָיו] Those rising up of him (Montanus), or, against him (Septuagint, Samaritan Text, Junius and Tremellius).

[Let them not rise, מִן־יְקוּמוּן] That they rise not, or, rise not against (Montanus, Ainsworth, Dutch, similarly the Chaldean, Syriac); let them rise not again (Septuagint, Ainsworth); from those rising against (Oleaster); ever since which they rose up against (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator); so that they might be no means resist him (Arabic).  [But the Samaritan Text joins it to the preceding in this manner, Then of those that hate him who shall rise against him?]  מ prefixed before an infinitive forms a gerund in the ablative, and is generally taken negatively, and is explained by פֶּן/lest/not; as in Genesis 31:29, מִדַּבֵּר, from speaking,[5] in the place of פֶּן תְּדַבֵּר, that thou speak not.  Now, in this place the entire word, מִן, in this signification is joined with the future, which is special (Glassius’ “Grammar” 655).

Smite through the loins of them that rise against him: he prays thus earnestly for them, partly because he foresaw they who were to teach, and admonish, and reprove, and chastise others would have many enemies, Jeremiah 15:10; Amos 5:10; and partly because they were, under God, the great preservers and upholders of religion, and their enemies were the enemies of religion itself; as is evident from the history of the Old Testament.

[1] חַיִל signifies strength, ability, or wealth.

[2] Deuteronomy 8:18:  “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God:  for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth (חָיִל), that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”

[3] Ezekiel 37:10:  “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army (חַיִל).”

[4] Numbers 16.

[5] Genesis 31:29b:  “…but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not (מִדַּבֵּר) to Jacob either good or bad.”