The Scriptorium

Blessing the People of God (3)

These blessings for God's people are for us, too. Deuteronomy 33.12-17

The Final Works of Moses: Deuteronomy 33, 34 (4)

Opening Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.29-31
Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their latter end!
How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the LORD had surrendered them?
For their rock is not like our Rock,
Even our enemies themselves being judges.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.29-31
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
Let now the people all be wise, and know that God is their Rock and Lord.
Let them no longer His ways despise, but turn and follow in His Word.
In Him is victory full and free; no god like Him could ever be.
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 33.12-17

1. What blessing did God promise the tribe of Benjamin?

2. Who are the tribe of Joseph?

The tribe of Benjamin, being last born, is here imaged as a child, carried on the Father’s back (v. 12). Why this assurance of shelter and special carrying should be offered here was probably not immediately evident, except for the fact that Benjamin was the youngest tribe. But this blessing would become a prophesy at the end of the book of Judges, when only as the rest of the tribes regained their sense of conscience was the tribe of Benjamin spared annihilation.

The blessing of Joseph – the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh – is profuse, perhaps because this was the largest tribe, and the two half-tribes together would occupy the largest territory in the land (vv. 13-17). The blessing includes lands, produce, “precious things of the earth”, and favor and glory from God. It almost sounds like the Joseph tribes are the preferred tribes of Israel. They are promised wealth and power (v. 17) extending to the far reaches of the earth. Would they be disappointed when the line of kings was chosen from Judah rather than them (Ps. 78.67-72)? And would that disappointment explain why the tribe of Ephraim, foretold by the prophet Abijah, would rush to establish a kingdom separate from that of David and his line (1 Kg. 11.26-39; 12.20)?

Joseph’s wealth and power should have made them servants to God’s people, like their forefather was. Down the road, their position of prominence would lead to rebellion on the part of ten tribes.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Joseph and Benjamin. The two loved sons of Rachel.

And Rachel was the beloved wife of Jacob. Love.

The love and blessings seem to overflow for these two tribes.

We may poignantly note that love does not always foster good behavior. People are God’s beloved creation.

And just look what we have done with that! Whether it is God’s love for humanity, or our love for our own children, neither guarantees a positive response.

But Jesus, God’s dear Son, carried the blessings on His back and in His heart for us. Look at the way He gave
Peter a chance to redeem himself after his massive failure and denial of Christ (Jn. 21.15-20). And then look at the Benjamin love expressed toward John: “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (Jn 21.22). No particular reason. He just loved him, and that is a love to snuggle into. We, too, are recipients of that same love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave…” (Jn. 3.16) We can experience the same undeserved love and blessings that God offered to Benjamin and Joseph. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to help us accept and live in this love. However, we must not let “our position of prominence lead to rebellion.”

1. How do these blessings to the tribes of God’s people apply to us as God’s people?
2. Meditate on Genesis 12.1-3. Why does God bless us?

3. How does the love God has for us reach our neighbors?

he declares that what he had prophesied of Joseph should be common to the two families of Ephraim and Manasseh. At the same time he confirms the declaration of Jacob, whereby he had preferred Ephraim the younger to the elder. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 33.17

Thank You, Lord, for all my daily blessings. Help me to…

Closing Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.22-28
Ask the Lord to search your heart, that He might bring to light any hardness against Him, show you any sins harboring in your soul, and lead you to repentance and renewal.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.22-28
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
Then is the wrath of God inflamed; He brings disasters, blight, and woes,
Judging the people who bear His Name, and counting them among His foes.
Dangers without and terrors within shall strike His people for their sin.
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

But for the boasting of His foes, the Lord would dash and destroy His own;
He would abandon them to their woes, and leave them to struggle all alone.
For they His counsel have despised and turned from Him to live in lies.
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here. And check out our current ReVision series on encouragement.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore