Deuteronomy 33:20
And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
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(20) Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad.—The mountains of Gilead shut him in.

He dwelleth as a lion.—See 1Chronicles 12:8, for eleven Gadites, “whose faces were as the faces of lions.”

Deuteronomy 33:20. Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad — That bringeth him out of his straits and troubles, which he was often engaged in, because he was encompassed with potent enemies. As a lion — Safe and secure from his enemies, and terrible to them when they rouse and molest him. Teareth the arm — Utterly destroys his enemies, both the head, the seat of the crown, their dignity and principality, and the arm, the subject of strength and instrument of action; both chief princes, and their subjects.

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.i. e., Blessed be God who shall grant to Gad a spacious territory. Compare the blessing of Shem Genesis 9:26.

With the crown - Rather, yea, the crown. The warlike character of this tribe is shown by their leading the van in the long campaigns of Joshua (compare Joshua 4:12-13; Joshua 22:1-4). Compare also 1 Chronicles 5:18-22; 1 Chronicles 12:8 ff, and the acts of Jehu, the Gadite, in 2 Kings 9; 10.

20, 21. of Gad he said—Its possessions were larger than they would have been had they lain west of Jordan; and this tribe had the honor of being settled by Moses himself in the first portion of land conquered. In the forest region, south of the Jabbok, "he dwelt as a lion" (compare Ge 30:11; 49:19). Notwithstanding, they faithfully kept their engagement to join the "heads of the people" [De 33:21] in the invasion of Canaan. By praising God for enlarging Gad he supposeth the ground of these praises, that God would enlarge Gad, i.e. either.

1. Enlarge his territories; which seems needless, because they had a very large portion now when Moses uttered these words. Or,

2. Bring him out of his straits and troubles, which he was likely to be oft engaged in, because he was encompassed with potent enemies. And in this sense the phrase is used Psalm 4:1: compare Psalm 31:8 118:5. One instance of the fulfilling hereof we have Jud 11.

He dwelleth as a lion, i.e. safe and secure from his enemies, and terrible to them when they rouse and molest him. See 1 Chronicles 5:18, &c.; 1 Chronicles 12:8.

Teareth the arm with the crown of the head, i.e. utterly destroys his enemies; both the head, the seat of the crown, their dignity and principality, and the arm, the subject of strength and instrument of action; both chief princes, and their instruments and subjects.

And of Gad he said,.... The tribe of Gad, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem:

blessed be he that enlargeth Gad; that is, the Lord, to whom the praise and glory were to be given, who had appointed to Gad a large inheritance on the other side Jordan, and had settled him in it, and which became larger by the conquest of the Hagarites, and others, 1 Chronicles 5:18,

he dwelleth as a lion; bold and courageous, secure, and without fear of any of his enemies, though near him, on his borders, as the Moabites and Ammonites were; of the same spirit and temper were the men of the tribe of Gad in the times of David, 1 Chronicles 12:8,

and teareth the arm with the crown of the head, at once, just as a lion tears its prey; which figurative phrases are expressive of this tribe conquering and destroying strong and mighty men, signified by the "arm", in which the strength of a man lies, and of kings and governors, pointed at by the "crown of the head"; as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; which was done in the times of Joshua, when with and under him they subdued and destroyed the kings and princes of the land of Canaan.

And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
20. foreigner] See on Deuteronomy 15:3.

that the Lord thy God … thine hand unto] See on Deuteronomy 12:7.

the land whither thou goest in, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 7:1, Deuteronomy 8:1.

20 And of Gad he said:

Blessed be the Broadener of Gad,

Like a lion he haunts

And tears the arm, yea the scalp.

21 And he saw to the best for himself,

[For there was the lot of the leader (?)]

Yet he went with the heads of the people,

He wrought the just will of the Lord,

And his judgements along with Israel.

On Gad’s territory see Deuteronomy 3:16 f. (mingled with that of Reuben); and Joshua 13:24-28, where he extends from Aroer on Arnon northward through Moab and all the cities of Gilead to Lidebir (just S. of the Yarmûk) unto the uttermost part of the sea of Chinnereth: truly the broadest of the tribal territories, the lot of the leader(?), as this oracle describes it. On the obscure oracle upon Gad in Genesis 49:19, little more than a play upon his name, see Ryle’s notes in this series. It is not possible to deduce a date from this oracle; see on Deuteronomy 33:20.

20. he that enlargeth, etc.] Jehovah. The reference is usually interpreted of the recovery of Gad’s territory from the Syrians, 2 Kings 14:25 f., and as proof of a date for the poem between that and the conquest by Tiglath Pileser (1 Chronicles 5:26). But it may as well be a reference to the original allotment of so vast a territory to Gad, Joshua 13:24 ff.

dwelleth] So Sam. Haunts is more appropriate. LXX ἀνεπαύσατο.

as a lioness] Cp. 1 Chronicles 12:8 : Gadites … whose faces were like the faces of lions.

Verses 20, 21. - As in the blessing of Shem by Noah, God is praised for Shem's prosperity (Genesis 9:26), so here God is praised for the enlargement of the warlike tribe of Gad (cf. Genesis 49:19). He dwelleth as a lion; rather, as a lioness. Though the noun לָבִיא has a masc. termination, usage shows that it was the female and not the male that was thereby designated (see e.g., Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9, where it can hardly, be a mere synonym; and Job 4:11; Job 38:39, where the reference to the young of the animal accords better with the lioness than with the lion, Gesenius). Deuteronomy 33:20Gad. - "Blessed be He that enlargeth Gad: like a lioness he lieth down, and teareth the arm, yea, the crown of the head. And he chose his first-fruit territory, for there was the leader's portion kept; and he came to the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his rights with Israel." Just as in the blessing of Noah (Genesis 9:26) the God of Shem is praised, to point out the salvation appointed by God for Shem, so here Moses praises the Lord, who enlarged Gad, i.e., who not only gave him a broad territory in the conquered kingdom of Sihon, but furnished generally an unlimited space for his development (vid., Genesis 26:22), so that he might unfold his lion-like nature in conflict with his foes. On the figure of a lioness, see Genesis 49:9; and on the warlike character of the Gadites, the remarks on the blessing of Jacob upon Gad (Genesis 49:19). The second part of the blessing treats of the inheritance which Gad obtained from Moses at his own request beyond Jordan. ראה, with an accusative and ל, signifies to look out something for oneself (Genesis 22:8; 1 Samuel 16:17). The "first-fruit" refers here to the first portion of the land which Israel received for a possession; this is evident from the reason assigned, חלקת שׁם כּי, whilst the statement that Gad chose the hereditary possession is in harmony with Numbers 32:2, Numbers 32:6, Numbers 32:25., where the children of Gad are described as being at the head of the tribes, who came before Moses to ask for the conquered land as their possession. The meaning of the next clause, of which very different explanations have been given, can only be, that Gad chose such a territory for its inheritance as became a leader of the tribes. מחקק, he who determines, commands, organizes; hence both a commander and also a leader in war. It is in the latter sense that it occurs both here and in Judges 5:14. מחקק חלקת, the field, or territory of the leader, may either be the territory appointed or assigned by the lawgiver, or the territory falling to the lot of the leader. According to the former view, Moses would be the mechokek. But the thought, that Moses appointed or assigned him his inheritance, could be no reason why Gad should choose it for himself. Consequently מחקק חלקת can only mean the possession which the mechokek chose for himself, as befitting him, or specially adapted for him. Consequently the mechokek was not Moses, but the tribe of Gad, which was so called because it unfolded such activity and bravery at the head of the tribes in connection with the conquest of the land, that it could be regarded as their leaders. This peculiar prominence on the part of the Gadites may be inferred from the fact, that they distinguished themselves above the Reubenites in the fortification of the conquered land (Numbers 32:34.). ספוּן, from ספן, to cover, hide, preserve, is a predicate, and construed as a noun, "a thing preserved." - On the other hand, the opinion has been very widely spread, from the time of Onkelos down to Baumgarten and Ewald, that this hemistich refers to Moses: "there is the portion of the lawgiver hidden," or "the field of the hidden leader," and that it contains an allusion to the fact that the grave of Moses was hidden in the inheritance of Gad. But this is not only at variance with the circumstance, that a prophetic allusion to the grave of Moses such as Baumgarten assumes is apparently inconceivable, from the simple fact that we cannot imagine the Gadites to have foreseen the situation of Moses' grave at the time when they selected their territory, but also with the fact that, according to Joshua 13:20, the spot where this grave was situated (Deuteronomy 34:5) was not allotted to the tribe of Gad, but to that of Reuben; and lastly, with the use of the word chelkah, which does not signify a burial-ground or grave. - But although Gad chose out an inheritance for himself, he still went before his brethren, i.e., along with the rest of the tribes, into Canaan, to perform in connection with them, what the Lord demanded of His people as a right. This is the meaning of the second half of the verse. The clause, "he came to the heads of the people," does not refer to the fact that the Gadites came to Moses and the heads of the congregation, to ask for the conquered land as a possession (Numbers 32:2), but expressed the thought that Gad joined the heads of the people to go at the head of the tribes of Israel (comp. Joshua 1:14; Joshua 4:12, with Numbers 32:17, Numbers 32:21, Numbers 32:32), to conquer Canaan with the whole nation, and root out the Canaanites. The Gadites had promised this to Moses and the heads of the people; and this promise Moses regarded as an accomplished act, and praised in these words with prophetic foresight as having been already performed, and that not merely as one single manifestation of their obedience towards the word of the Lord, but rather as a pledge that Gad would always manifest the same disposition. "To do the righteousness of Jehovah," i.e., to do what Jehovah requires of His people as righteousness - namely, to fulfil the commandments of God, in which the righteousness of Israel was to consist (Deuteronomy 6:25). יתא, imperfect Kal for יאהת or יאתּה; see Ges. 76, 2, c., and Ewald, 142, c. "With Israel:" in fellowship with (the rest of) Israel.
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