And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let Asher be blessed with children.—It can be translated “more blessed than all sons.” Rashi quotes an old saying, “You will not find among all the tribes one so blest with children as Asher, and I cannot say why.”
Let him be acceptable to his brethren, and . . . dip his foot in oil.—The fertility of Asher’s inheritance is probably alluded to. There is no tribe of which so little is recorded in history. The happiest lives are sometimes the least eventful.Deuteronomy 33:24. Let Asher — Who carries blessedness in his very name; be blessed with children — He shall have numerous, strong, and healthful children. Acceptable to his brethren — By his sweet disposition and winning carriage. In oil — He shall have such plenty of oil that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also in it. This prophetic blessing was remarkably fulfilled; for Asher’s portion abounded with the best and most remarkable oil, which was the most famed of all Canaan’s productions. Compare Job 29:6, and Genesis 49:20.
dip his foot in oil—These words allude either to the process of extracting the oil by foot presses, or to his district as particularly fertile and adapted to the culture of the olive.shall be blessed or praised of or above the sons, i.e. the other sons of Israel, or his brethren, as it here follows, i.e. his portion shall fall in an excellent part, where he may have the benefits both of his own fat soil, and of the sea, by his neighbours Tyrus and Sidon.
Acceptable to his brethren; by his sweet disposition and winning carriage, and communication of his excellent commodities to his brethren, he shall gain their affections.
Let him dip his foot in oil; he shall have such plenty of oil, that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also, in it. Or, the fatness and fertility of his country may be expressed by oil, as Job 29:6. And so it agrees with Jacob’s blessing of him, Genesis 49:20.
let Asher be blessed with children; with large numbers, as it appears this tribe was, having in it 53,400 men of war, Numbers 26:47. It was esteemed a great blessing to have many children, Psalm 128:3; or "above the children"; above or more than the rest of the children of Jacob; see Luke 2:36; Jarchi observes, that he had seen, in a book called Siphri, that there was none in all the tribes blessed with children as Asher, but not known how:
let him be acceptable to his brethren; either for his excellent bread, and royal dainties, Genesis 49:20; or for the goodness of his olives and oil, and for the brass and iron found in this tribe, as follows; or, as some say, because of his children, his daughters being very beautiful:
and let him dip his foot in oil; have such plenty of it, that if he would he might dip or wash his feet in it; and it was usual not only to anoint the head, but the feet (f) also, with oil, Luke 7:46.And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. at thine own pleasure] or appetite, Deuteronomy 12:20, Deuteronomy 14:26. Thy fill, which in Heb. follows this clause, may be a gloss on it.
vessel] Heb. keli (Deuteronomy 22:5 garment), a sack (Genesis 43:11, 1 Samuel 17:40) or pot.
24 And of Asher he said:
Blessed above sons be Ashér,
Be the favoured of his brethren,
And be dipping his foot in oil.
25 Iron and brass be thy bars,
And thy strength as thy days.
Asher lay W. of Naphtali on the same range and enjoyed similar fertility, cp. Genesis 49:20 : ‘I know not if there be in all antiquity a more finished picture’ (Geddes).
24. Blessed above sons be Asher] As in R.V. marg., cp. Jdg 5:24.
in oil] All the Galilean highlands were famous for their olives. ‘It is easier to raise a legion of olives in Galilee than to bring up a child in Palestine’ (Bereshith Rabba, 20).Verses 24, 25. - Asher, the prosperous one, as his name implies, was to be rich, and honored, and strong, and peaceful. Blessed with children; rather, blessed among the sons; i.e. either blessed more than the rest of the sons, or blessed by the sons who were to reap benefit from him. From what follows, the latter explanation seems the one to be preferred. The preposition מִן is constantly used as indicating the source whence anything proceeds, or the agent by whom anything is done. Let him be acceptable to his brethren; "iis e tetras suae proventibus res optimas suppeditaturus; cf. Genesis 49:20" (Rosenmüller). This tribe should find itself in so advantageous and luxurious a condition that the ether tribes should have delight and pleasure in it" (Knobel). Others render, "favored among his brethren;" favored, that is, by the Lord more than his brethren (Keil). But the former seems preferable. And let him dip his foot in oil. This points to a land abounding in olives, and generally richly fertile, a fat land and yielding rich dainties, such as Jacob promised to Asher (Genesis 49:20). Thy shoes shall be iron and brass. The word rendered "shoes" (מִנְעָל) occurs only here. It is a derivative from נָעַל, to bolt or shut fast, and is to be taken in the sense of a fastness or fortress, a place securely closed: iron and brass shall be thy fortress; i.e. his dwelling should be strong and impregnable. The rendering" shoes" is from a supposed derivation of the word from נַעַל, a shoe. As thy days, so shall thy strength be; literally, as thy days, thy rest; i.e. as long as thou livest, so long shalt thou have rest and quiet. The noun rendered "strength" (דֹבֵא) in the Authorized Version. occurs only here, unless it be found in the proper name מֶידְבָא (Me-deba), and has no Cognate in Hebrew; but the Arabic supplies a root for it in (deba), to rest. Furst connects it with זָב, and the Targum with דְּוָא, to flow, and translates by "riches." Genesis 49:13, places Zebulun the younger first. He first of all confirms the blessing which Jacob pronounced through simply interpreting their names as omnia, by calling upon them to rejoice in their undertakings abroad and at home. "At thy tents" corresponds to "at thy going out" (tents being used poetically for dwellings, as in Deuteronomy 16:7); like "sitting" to "going out and coming in" in 2 Kings 19:27; Isaiah 37:28; Psalm 139:2; and describes in its two aspects of work and production, rest and recreation. Although "going out" (enterprise and labour) is attributed to Zebulun, and "remaining in tents" (the comfortable enjoyment of life) to Issachar, in accordance with the delineation of their respective characters in the blessing of Jacob, this is to be attributed to the poetical parallelism of the clauses, and the whole is to be understood as applying to both in the sense suggested by Graf, "Rejoice, Zebulun and Issachar, in your labour and your rest." This peculiarity, which is founded in the very nature of poetical parallelism, which is to individualize the thought by distributing it into parallel members, has been entirely overlooked by all the commentators who have given a historical interpretation to each, referring the "going out" to the shipping trade and commercial pursuits of the Zebulunites, and the expression "in thy tents" either to the spending of a nomad life in tents, for the purpose of performing a subordinate part in connection with trade (Schultz), or to the quiet pursuits of agriculture and grazing (Knobel). They were to rejoice in their undertakings at home and abroad; for they would be successful. The good things of life would flow to them in rich abundance; they would not make them into mammon, however, but would invite nations to the mountain, and there offer sacrifices of righteousness. "The peoples" are nations generally, not the tribes of Israel, still less the members of their own tribes. By the "mountain," without any more precise definition, we are not to understand Tabor or Carmel any more than the mountain land of Canaan. It is rather "the mountain of the Lord's inheritance" (Exodus 15:17), upon which the Lord was about to plant His people, the mountain which the Lord had chosen for His sanctuary, and in which His people were to dwell with Him, and rejoice in sacrificial meals of fellowship with Him. To this end the Lord had sanctified Moriah through the sacrifice of Isaac which He required of Abraham, though it had not been revealed to Moses that it was there that the temple, in which the name of the Lord in Israel would dwell, was afterwards to be built. There is no distinct or direct allusion to Morah or Zion, as the temple-mountain, involved in the words of Moses. It was only by later revelations and appointments on the part of God that this was to be made known. The words simply contain the Messianic thought that Zebulun and Issachar would offer rich praise-offerings and thank-offerings to the Lord, from the abundant supply of earthly good that would flow to them, upon the mountain which He would make ready as the seat of His gracious presence, and would call, i.e., invite the nations to the sacrificial meals connected with them to delight themselves with them in the rich gifts of the Lord, and worship the Lord who blessed His people thus. For the explanation of this thought, see Psalm 22:28-31. Sacrifice is mentioned here as an expression of divine worship, which culminated in sacrifice; and slain-offerings are mentioned, not burnt-offerings, to set forth the worship of God under the aspect of blessedness in fellowship with the Lord. "Slain-offerings of righteousness' are not merely outwardly legal sacrifices, in conformity with the ritual of the law, but such as were offered in a right spirit, which was well-pleasing to God (as in Psalm 4:6; Psalm 51:21). It follows as a matter of course, therefore, that by the abundance of the seas we are not merely to understand the profits of trade upon the Mediterranean Sea; and that we are still less to understand by the hidden treasures of the sand "the fish, the purple snails, and sponges" (Knobel), or "tunny-fish, purple shells, and glass' (Ps. Jon.); but that the words receive their best exposition from Isaiah 60:5-6, Isaiah 60:16, and Isaiah 66:11-12, i.e., that the thought expressed is, that the riches and treasures of both sea and land would flow to the tribes of Israel.
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