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.”

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