Deuteronomy 33:17
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.—Rashi refers this to the ten thousands slain by Joshua, the Ephraimite leader, and the thousands slain by Gideon, who was of the tribe of Manasseh. He expounds nearly the whole of the verse in reference to Joshua and the conquest of Canaan. There is an obvious similarity in the song of the Israelitish women after the defeat of the Philistines, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” The people “pushed to the ends of the earth” are taken to be the thousands and ten thousands of conquered Canaanites and Midianites. For a similar metaphor, see 1Kings 22:11. Otherwise the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh would be the two-horned power of Joseph. (Comp. Daniel 8:3; Daniel 8:20 for a simile of the same kind.)

Deuteronomy 33:17. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock — Or the prime and fairest bullock of the herd. For things that excel in their kind are called firstborn in Scripture. The beauty and strength of this tribe are compared to this stately creature, and a bullock being the best emblem of power among the beasts of the pasture, it seems to be here used to denote the superior honour and dignity of the house of Joseph above the rest of the tribes of Israel. Indeed, a bullock, as Bochart shows, was formerly used as an image of kingly power and dignity, and therefore seems here to denote the kingdom which Ephraim should obtain in Jeroboam and his successors. His horns are like the horns of unicorns — A horn is a common Scripture emblem of power and force. So this is a further description of the house of Joseph. With them he shall push the people together — That is, throw down all that oppose him, particularly the Canaanites; to the ends of the earth — That is, of the land of Canaan. The ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh — Or, such are, &c.; that is, these blessings belong to the two numerous branches of the house of Joseph. Here he ascribes to Ephraim ten thousands, and to Manasseh only thousands; thus foreshowing, that Ephraim the younger was to be the more numerous of the two, as Jacob had before prophesied of them.33:6-23 The order in which the tribes are here blessed, is not the same as is observed elsewhere. The blessing of Judah may refer to the whole tribe in general, or to David as a type of Christ. Moses largely blesses the tribe of Levi. Acceptance with God is what we should all aim at, and desire, in all our devotions, whether men accept us or not, 2Co 5:9. This prayer is a prophecy, that God will keep up a ministry in his church to the end of time. The tribe of Benjamin had their inheritance close to mount Zion. To be situated near the ordinances, is a precious gift from the Lord, a privilege not to be exchanged for any worldly advantage, or indulgence. We should thankfully receive the earthly blessings sent to us, through the successive seasons. But those good gifts which come down from the Father of lights, through the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and the pouring out of his Spirit like the rain which makes fruitful, are infinitely more precious, as the tokens of his special love. The precious things here prayed for, are figures of spiritual blessing in heavenly things by Christ, the gifts, graces, and comforts of the Spirit. When Moses prays for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush, he refers to the covenant, on which all our hopes of God's favour must be founded. The providence of God appoints men's habitations, and wisely disposes men to different employments for the public good. Whatever our place and business are, it is our wisdom and duty to apply thereto; and it is happiness to be well pleased therewith. We should not only invite others to the service of God, but abound in it. The blessing of Naphtali. The favour of God is the only favour satisfying to the soul. Those are happy indeed, who have the favour of God; and those shall have it, who reckon that in having it they have enough, and desire no more.Rather: "The first-born of his" (i. e. Joseph's) "bullock is his glory": the reference being to Ephraim, who was raised by Jacob to the honors of the firstborn (Genesis 48:20, and is here likened to the firstling of Joseph's oxen, i. e., of Joseph's offspring. The ox is a common emblem of power and strength. 13-17. of Joseph he said—The territory of this tribe, diversified by hill and dale, wood and water, would be rich in all the productions—olives, grapes, figs, &c., which are reared in a mountainous region, as well as in the grain and herbs that grow in the level fields. "The firstling of the bullock and the horns of the unicorn" (rhinoceros), indicate glory and strength, and it is supposed that under these emblems were shadowed forth the triumphs of Joshua and the new kingdom of Jeroboam, both of whom were of Ephraim (compare Ge 48:20). The firstling of his bullock; in whose countenance there is a kind of awful majesty and comely generosity, as Tully, Aelian, &c. observe. This seems to note the kingdom which Ephraim should obtain in Jeroboam and his successors.

His horns are like the horns of unicorns; his strength and power shall be very great.

He shall push the people, i.e. all that shall oppose him, and particularly the Canaanites.

To the ends of the earth, i.e. of the land of Canaan.

They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh; though Manasseh be now more numerous, yet Ephraim shall shortly outstrip him, as was foretold, Genesis 48:19. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock,.... Such as were in Bashan, a country possessed by the posterity of Joseph, see Psalm 22:12; and so might be called "his" bullock, or a young bull, was reckoned both comely and majestic; so Menis or Mnevis, king of Egypt, preferred a bull above all animals to be worshipped, because the most beautiful of all, as Aelianus (w) relates; and Astarte, according to Sanchoniatho (x), put a bull's head upon her own, as a sign of royalty or kingly power. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem refer this to the birthright which belonged to Reuben, and was taken from him, and given to Joseph, see 1 Chronicles 5:2. Some will have Joshua intended by the firstling of his bullock, so Jarchi; who was of the tribe of Ephraim, and so famous for his strength and courage, his warlike exploits and victories, and the glory, honour, and renown he obtained; and who was a type of Christ, the first and only begotten Son of God, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; this is applied to the Messiah in some ancient Jewish writings (y):

and his horns are like the horns of unicorns; of the monoceros or rhinoceros; and as the strength of these creatures, as of others, lies in their horns, these are figures of the power and strength of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph; see Numbers 23:22,

with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth; not to the ends of the world, as if the posterity of Joseph should carry their conquests and spread their dominion over all people to the ends of the world, as the Targum of Jonathan suggests; but to the ends of the land of Canaan, which was done by Joshua, when he smote the thirty one kings of that country. The word "push" is used in allusion to the horns of creatures, with which they push, drive away from them, or hurt and destroy those that annoy them:

and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh; though Manasseh was the eldest son of Joseph, fewer are ascribed to him than to Ephraim the younger, according to Jacob's prediction, Genesis 48:19. This has been in a spiritual sense verified in Christ, the antitype of Joseph, the horn of salvation, who by his great strength has vanquished all his, and the enemies of his people, and even spoiled principalities and powers.

(w) Hist. Animal. l. 11. c. 10. (x) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 1. p. 38. (y) Zohar in Numb. fol. 103. 4. & in Deut. fol. 117. 3. & 118. 3. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 66. 2.

His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. For these two hierodules the Heb. is ḳadesh (masc.) and ḳedeshah (fem.) and means simply set apari, consecrated (cp. above, pp. 108 ff.), the former being probably the unsexed man referred to in Deuteronomy 22:5, Deuteronomy 23:1.

17. The firstling of his bullock] Ephraim, Genesis 48:13 ff.

wild-ox] Heb. re’em, Ar. ri’m = the white antelope, leucoryx (see on Deuteronomy 14:5), but the descriptions in the O.T. prove that the Heb. re’em was rather the Ass. rimu, a gigantic species of ox (‘Bos primigenius’) now extinct, though its teeth have been found in the valley of the Nahr el-Kelb, in the district where Tiglath Pileser i. (b.c. 1120 ff.) hunted the rimu (Tristr. Nat. Hist. of the Bible, 146 ff., Houghton, Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch. v. 33, 326 ff.; see more fully Driver’s note).

These be] So (without and) Sam. LXX, etc.In these temptations Levi had proved itself "a holy one," although in the latter Moses and Aaron stumbled, since the Levites had risen up in defence of the honour of the Lord and had kept His covenant, even with the denial of father, mother, brethren, and children (Matthew 10:37; Matthew 19:29). The words, "who says to his father," etc., relate to the event narrated in Exodus 32:26-29, where the Levites draw their swords against the Israelites their brethren, at the command of Moses, after the worship of the golden calf, and execute judgment upon the nation without respect of person. To this we may add Numbers 25:8, where Phinehas interposes with his sword in defence of the honour of the Lord against the shameless prostitution with the daughters of Moab. On these occasions the Levites manifested the spirit which Moses predicates here of all the tribe. By the interposition at Sinai especially, they devoted themselves with such self-denial to the service of the Lord, that the dignity of the priesthood was conferred upon their tribe in consequence. - In Deuteronomy 33:10 and Deuteronomy 33:11, Moses celebrates this vocation: "They will teach Jacob Thy rights, and Israel Thy law; bring incense to Thy nose, and whole-offering upon Thine altar. Bless, Lord, his strength, and let the work of his hands be well-pleasing to Thee: smite his adversaries and his haters upon the hips, that they may not rise!" The tribe of Levi had received the high and glorious calling to instruct Israel in the rights and commandments of God (Leviticus 10:11), and to present the sacrifices of the people to the Lord, viz., incense in the holy place, whole-offering in the court. "Whole-offering," a term applied to the burnt-offering, which is mentioned instar omnium as being the leading sacrifice. The priests alone were actually entrusted with the instruction of the people in the law and the sacrificial worship; but as the rest of the Levites were given them as assistants in their service, this service might very properly be ascribed to the whole tribe; and no greater blessing could be desired for it than that the Lord should give them power to discharge the duties of their office, should accept their service with favour, and make their opponents powerless. The enemies and haters of Levi were not only envious persons, like Korah and his company (Numbers 16:1), but all opponents of the priests and Levites. The loins are the seat of strength (Psalm 69:24; Job 40:16; Job 31:1; 17). This is the only place in which מן is used before a finite verb, whereas it often stands before the infinitive (e.g., Genesis 27:1; Genesis 31:29).
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