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Moses Blesses the Tribes of Israel

33 Moses was a prophet, and before he died, he blessed the tribes of Israel by saying:

The Lord came from Mount Sinai.
From Edom, he gave light
    to his people,
and his glory was shining
    from Mount Paran.
Thousands of his warriors
were with him,
and fire
    was at his right hand.[a]
The Lord loves the tribes
of Israel,[b]
    and he protects his people.
They listen to his words
    and worship at his feet.
I called a meeting
of the tribes of Israel[c]
    and gave you God’s Law.
Then you and your leaders
    made the Lord your king.

Tribe of Reuben, you will live,
even though your tribe
    will always be small.[d]

The Lord will listen to you,
tribe of Judah,
as you beg
    to come safely home.
You fought your enemies alone;[e]
    now the Lord will help you.

At Massah and Meribah Spring,[f]
the Lord tested you,
    tribe of Levi.
You were faithful,[g]
and so the priesthood[h] belongs
    to the Levi tribe.
Protecting Israel’s agreement
    with the Lord
was more important to you
than the life of your father
    or mother,
or brothers or sisters,
    or your own children.[i]

10 You teach God’s laws to Israel,[j]
    and at the place of worship
you offer sacrifices
    and burn incense.
11 I pray that the Lord will bless
    everything you do,
and make you strong enough
    to crush your enemies.

12 The Lord Most High[k] loves you,
    tribe of Benjamin.
He will live among your hills
    and protect you.

13 Descendants of Joseph,
    the Lord will bless you
with precious water
from deep wells
    and with dew from the sky.
14 Month by month, your fruit
    will ripen in the sunshine.
15 You will have a rich harvest
from the slopes
    of the ancient hills.
16 The Lord who appeared
    in the burning bush
wants to give you the best
    the land can produce,
and it will be a princely crown
    on Joseph’s head.

17 The armies of Ephraim
    and Manasseh
are majestic and fierce
    like a bull or a wild ox.
They will run their spears
    through faraway nations.

18 Be happy, Zebulun,
    as your boats set sail;
be happy, Issachar,
    in your tents.
19 The sea will make you wealthy,
and from the sandy beach
    you will get treasure.[l]
So invite the other tribes[m]
to celebrate with you
    and offer sacrifices to God.

20 Tribe of Gad,
the Lord will bless you
    with more land.
So shout his praises!
Your tribe is like a lion
    ripping up its victim.
21 Your leaders met together
and chose the best land
    for your tribe,
but you obeyed the Lord
    and helped the other tribes.[n]

22 Tribe of Dan,
you are like a lion cub,
    startled by a snake.[o]

23 The Lord is pleased with you,
    people of Naphtali.
He will bless you
and give you the land
    to the west and the south.[p]

24 The Lord’s greatest blessing
    is for you, tribe of Asher.
You will be the favorite
    of all the other tribes.
You will be rich with olive oil
25 and have strong town gates
    with bronze and iron bolts.
Your people will be powerful
    for as long as they live.

26 Israel,[q] no other god
    is like ours—
the clouds are his chariot
as he rides across the skies
    to come and help us.
27 The eternal God
is our hiding place;
    he carries us in his arms.
When God tells you
to destroy your enemies,
    he will make them run.
28 Israel, you will live in safety;
    your enemies will be gone.[r]
The dew will fall from the sky,
and you will have plenty
    of grain and wine.
29 The Lord has rescued you
and given you more blessings
    than any other nation.
He protects you like a shield
    and is your majestic sword.
Your enemies will bow in fear,
and you will trample
    on their backs.

Footnotes

  1. 33.2 Thousands. . . right hand: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 33.3 the tribes of Israel: Or “the nations.”
  3. 33.4 Israel: The Hebrew text also uses the name “Jeshurun,” a rare name for “Israel.”
  4. 33.6 even though. . . small: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 33.7 beg. . . alone: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  6. 33.8 Massah and Meribah Spring: See Exodus 17.1-7; Numbers 20.1-13.
  7. 33.8 the Lord tested you, tribe of Levi. You were faithful: Or “the Lord tested me. I was faithful” or “the Lord tested Aaron and me. We were faithful.”
  8. 33.8 priesthood: The Hebrew text has “your thummim and your urim,” objects that were used by priests to get answers from God.
  9. 33.9 Protecting Israel’s agreement. . . your own children: See Exodus 32.25-29.
  10. 33.10 Israel: See the note at 32.9.
  11. 33.12 Most High: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  12. 33.19 sandy beach. . . treasure: Possibly a reference to glass made from sand; glass was rare and very valuable.
  13. 33.19 other tribes: Or “nations.”
  14. 33.21 tribes: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 21. The Gad tribe asked for some of the land east of the Jordan River, but promised that their warriors would cross the Jordan and help the other tribes take over the land west of the Jordan (see Numbers 32.1-33; Joshua 4.10-13).
  15. 33.22 startled by a snake: Or “jumping out from the forest of Bashan.”
  16. 33.23 land to the west and the south: Or “land south as far as Lake Galilee.”
  17. 33.26 Israel: See the note at 33.4.
  18. 33.28 your enemies will be gone: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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