“May [the tribe of] Reuben live and not die out,
[a]But let his men be few.”
7 And [Moses said] this of [b]Judah:
“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah,
And bring him to his people.
With his hands he contended for them,
And may You be a help against his enemies.”
8 Of Levi he said,
- Deuteronomy 33:6 Or Nor. The Hebrew can be taken either way, though the parallelism of thought slightly favors “nor let.” However, some argue for the wording “but let” due to the fact that Reuben had committed the grave offense of fornication with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Gen 49:3, 4; also see note Gen 22:24). It is maintained that Moses’ blessing for Reuben is somewhat mixed, asking that the tribe not become extinct, but that it always be few in number.
- Deuteronomy 33:7 The tribe of Judah later absorbed the tribe of Simeon (Josh 19:1-9), therefore, a specific blessing for Simeon is omitted from this passage.
- Deuteronomy 33:8 I.e. unspecified articles used like lots when the high priest asked God’s counsel for Israel.