Here we are, at the end of Moses’ life. We have seen him challenge the people to remember the law throughout their days, and now we see him proclaim a blessing on the people. Dueteronomy 33 records these words, and this is the last Moses will speak. The following chapter will be added to conclude the Pentateuch.
Each tribe is mentioned in the 28-verse poem, though some have more said of them than others. It is also important to note that much of the blessing is praise of YHWH, God of Israel. The idea is that one cannot bless the people of God without praising God Himself.
Rather than grabbing a particular tribe’s blessing to discuss, take a look at the Deuteronomy 33:29. From a “quotes” perspective, these are truly Moses’ last words. That is, except for telling Joshua, “I’m headed up the mountain. Later, dude.” Or whatever he says on the way out of camp in the next chapter.
He proclaims that the people of Israel are blessed. This is not because they have been amazing—looking back through the chapter, Moses is *still* reminding them of their failures at places like Meribah.
Instead, they are blessed because God has saved them. Because of this blessing, they are to remember what YHWH has done for them, and to trust Him as their shield and helper. He has saved them already, and they should trust Him to secure them throughout.
Of course, we are in possession of the whole story. We know that Israel will turn their back on God. They will walk away, seeking help and safety from the gods of the land they conquer. They forget God’s grace in saving them and the results are terrible.
We should keep in mind a few things about ourselves as we read this. First and foremost, we’re no better than Israel at the time. God has not saved anyone because that person was needed by God for any purpose. God saves out of His love and His grace.
If we start from that point, then we can move on to a few others. Like Israel listening to Moses here, we do not know how our story ends. Will we be faithful? Will we hold to the God who saved us? Or will we walk away?
We also need to consider the transitions in life ahead of us. Old generations pass on, new generations come. Are we prepared for that? Are we ready to hand off to the next generation, passing on the blessing of salvation to them?
Or do we hoard the blessing of God? He is the Eternal God, our dwelling place for all time. Let us rest in that.
Jeshurun. Jeshurun? And it gets worse if you compare Deuteronomy 33:26 in NASB and ESV. Who is Jeshurun? It’s a Hebrew title that means “upright one.” It’s used of Israel in 32:15, 33:5, and Isaiah 44:2. There are some suppositions that the “Book of Jashar” reference in Joshua 10 is related to the name as well.
It appears to be a drop-in name that replaces Israel, used for the people. But that’s hard to nail down. We need to remember that cultural norms and everyday life in the time of Moses is far from clear to us. Most of what we “know” truly counts as surmised and assumed, not as definitely proven. We don’t see life then as we see life now. It’s not possible.
So we take some conclusions about how things worked, and go from there. Always remember to keep those conclusions in perspective, because evidence could arise that shows we need to redo them!
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