Life of Moses Lesson 29 Day 3 Deut 33

Deuteronomy 33 : 6-25 Deut 33

5.  List of Israel’s tribes—

In Deuteronomy 33:6-25—the order is very different from the two passages in Genesis.


Genesis 29 lists the sons of Jacob in birth order.

Simeon is excluded in the Deuteronomy passage perhaps a result of the curse in Genesis 49:5-7. Their tribe went from 59,300 in the first census to 22,200 in the second census.]

Jacob’s last words over his sons revealed their inner character. Moses speaks only blessings.

The tribe of Levi did not receive their own territory but were scattered in cities throughout Israel. Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, are included in the Deuteronomy list but not in the Genesis lists.

  1. Reuben
  2. Judah
  3. Levi
  4. Benjamin
  5. Joseph
  6. Ephraim
  7. Manasseh
  8. Zebulun
  9. Issachar
  10. Gad
  11. Dan
  12. Naphtali
  13. Asher

In Genesis 49

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Zebulun
  6. Issachar
  7. Dan
  8. Gad
  9. Asher
  10. Naphtali
  11. Joseph
  12. Benjamin

In Genesis 29:31–30:24; 35:16-18 —This list is birth order.

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Dan
  6. Naphtali
  7. Gad
  8. Asher
  9. Issachar
  10. Zebulun
  11. Joseph
  12. Benjamin

6.  Moses blesses the tribes—Due to the cryptic nature of these blessings, I looked to commentaries for clarification. So BSF purists, be forewarned.

  • Reuben—They won’t die out even though they will become a smaller tribe.
  • Judah—I like this explanation of Judah’s blessing:

    1. That the tribe of Judah, conscious of its weakness, shall depend on the Most High, and make prayer and supplication to him;

    2. That God will hear such prayer; and,

    3. That his hands shall be increased, and that he shall prevail over his enemies. This blessing has a striking affinity with that which this tribe received from Jacob, Genesis 49:9; and both may refer to our blessed Lord, who sprang from this tribe, as is noted on the above passage, who has conquered our deadly foes by his death, and whose praying posterity ever prevail through his might. Adam Clarke’s Commentary

  • Levi—God appointed this tribe to the priesthood because of their faithfulness to defend God’s honor even though it meant killing their fellow Israelites.

    He entrusted them with the sacred duty of caring for the holy items, ministering to Him, and teaching Israel His instructions. Moses blessed their ministry and the work of their hands.

  • Benjamin—Their blessing reminds me of Psalm 91.

    It also reminds me of the Apostle John who leaned back against Jesus as they all ate together.

    Their territory included part of Jerusalem, so they did live beside Him and the temple. Their blessing is one of loving care.

  • Joseph—Favor of God, bountiful harvests every month, and mighty warriors known throughout the world. Joseph’s territory had mountains and level fields. Mountains are good for vineyards and orchards (figs and olives) and level fields are good for grain, vegetables and herbs. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown CommentaryThe Jews say Joseph’s land yielded a greater abundance of all good things than any other part of the promised land. Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
  • Ephraim and Manasseh—Their blessing is included along with Joseph. In addition, Moses says they will become a multitude.
  • Zebulun—May they prosper in their commercial travels and voyages by sea.
  • Issachar—May they prosper at home in their tents.
    Both tribes should traffic with the Phoenicians in gold and silver, pearl and coral, especially in murex, the shellfish that yielded the famous Tyrian dye, and in glass, which was manufactured from the sand of the river Belus, in their immediate neighborhood. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary
  • Gad—Their territory was larger because they chose to settle east of the Jordan. Moses himself settled them in the first land conquered by Israel. They dwelled as a lion. They still kept their promise to help the other tribes conquer Canaan.
  • Dan—A short blessing—“Dan is a lion’s cub, leaping out from Bashan.” One reference says Jewish interpreters say Bashan was inhabited by lions. They were known to go outside that area to hunt. This may predict the territory Dan took for themselves in Joshua 19:47.
  • Naphtali—Rich in favor and full of blessings. There land was pleasant and fertile. Also, Capernaum, Christ chief residence, was in Naphtali. He worked many miracles there. Most of the disciples were from this tribe. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
  • Asher—Blessed with all the comforts of life—esteemed by his brothers and a harmonious relationship with them, growing in numbers, fertile land, and security.

7.  I’m partial to Benjamin’s blessing.

Their territory included part of Jerusalem, so they hosted His presence.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him,
    for he shields him all day long,
    and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12 MSG


Photo Credit Sapphire Dream Photography Creative Commons License

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These are MY answers to the study questions, not THE answers.