James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.Deuteronomy 32:44-34:12
THE BLESSING AND THE END
After Moses ended his song (Deuteronomy 32:44) he exhorted the people in language familiar to us (Deuteronomy 32:45-47), and then the voice of the Lord was heard to what purport (Deuteronomy 32:49-50)? And why (Deuteronomy 32:51)? Can you recall the details referred to in that verse? If not, look up the story again as indicated in the margin of your Bible. What grace does God show Moses, in spite of his disobedience (Deuteronomy 32:52)? Does Moses complain at his disappointment? On the contrary, what does he now do, as indicated in the next chapter?
BLESSING THE TRIBES (Deuteronomy 33)
Notice the sublime exordium (Deuteronomy 33:2-3). From what object of nature is the metaphor borrowed? Why does he describe the law as fiery? (Compare again Exodus 19:16-18.) Nevertheless, in what spirit had the law been given (Deuteronomy 33:3)? What shows the law to have been a great privilege to as well as a great obligation upon Israel (Deuteronomy 33:4)?
Which tribe is first blessed (Deuteronomy 33:6)? Reuben, as we saw in Genesis 49, was denied the right of primogeniture, and yet he was to hold rank as one of the tribes of Israel. Observe the reward of Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8-11) for their zeal in supporting Moses at the time of Israel’s idolatry (Exodus 32:26-28). What indicates their impartiality in executing judgment at that time (Deuteronomy 33:9)?
Read the beautiful words expressive of Benjamin’s blessing (Deuteronomy 33:12). Historically it means that the land of this tribe was located near the temple. “Between his shoulders” might be rendered “on his borders,” and means that Matthew Moriah, the site of the temple, lay in the territory of Benjamin, although Matthew Zion, on which Jerusalem itself stood, was in Judah.
How does the language of Joseph’s blessing (Deuteronomy 33:13-17) show that his territory would be diversified in beauty and rich in productions?
What shows that Zebulun’s progeny would be sailors and traders, while that of Issachar would be landsmen (Deuteronomy 33:18)? And yet would not the latter traffic in the things the Zebulunites would bring home with them (Deuteronomy 33:19)?
Do you remember on which side of the Jordan Gad was located, and why? May this explain the reference (Deuteronomy 33:20) to the enlargement of his borders? What expression (Deuteronomy 33:21) may refer to his having been settled in his territory by Moses himself, and before the conquest by Joshua?
What is said of Dan (Deuteronomy 33:22)? His original settlement was in the south, but these quarters being limited, he suddenly leaped, made an irruption, and established a colony in the north.
Which tribe seemed to have no occasion for murmuring with their assignment (Deuteronomy 33:23)? And which was a close second (Deuteronomy 33:24-25)? Is there anything to indicate that Asher’s soil may have been particularly adapted to the olive? Were there any minerals in his rocky coast?
MOSES’ DEATH (Deuteronomy 34)
This chapter seems to have been written after the death of Moses, and has been regarded as a kind of introduction to Joshua.
Travelers say that no miraculous powers were necessary to be communicated to Moses to discern what is here recorded (Deuteronomy 34:1-3), and that anyone could see the same from that elevation, the climate being very “subtle and flee from vapor.”
What distinction had Moses in his death above all other men (Deuteronomy 34:6)? While the concealment of Moses’ tomb seems wise to prevent its becoming the resort of superstitious pilgrims, yet that there was a deeper reason for it seems clear from Judges 1:9. What that was we may not at present know, and yet there are hints about it which will be considered later on.
What eulogium does inspiration pronounce upon Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)?