Deuteronomy 33:1 – 34:12
Moses’ Blessing of the Tribes
This is the blessing that Moses, man of HaShem, bestowed on the Israelites just before his death. He said: HaShem came from Sinai, shone forth to them from Seir, and made an appearance from Mount Paran. From the holy myriads, He brought the fire of a religion to them from His right Hand.
Although there is love for nations, all Your holy ones are in Your hand. They follow Your footsteps, and uphold Your word. Moses prescribed the Torah to us, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Jacob. He was king in Jeshurun when the people’s leaders gathered themselves together, and the tribes of Israel were united. May Reuben live and not die, although his ranks are numbered.
The same goes for Judah. Moses also said, “May HaShem hear Judah’s voice and bring him to his people. Although his power suffices him, may You help him against his enemies.”
To Levi, he said: Your Urim and Thumim belong to Your pious one. You tested him at Massah, and contended with him at the Waters of Dispute. He was the one who said of his father and mother, “I do not see them,” not recognizing brother or child. They thus kept Your word and safeguarded Your covenant. They shall therefore teach your law to Jacob, and your Torah to Israel. They shall place incense in Your presence and consume sacrifices on Your altar. May HaShem bless his effort and favor the work of his hands. May He smash the loins of those who rise up against him, so that his enemies rise no more.
To Benjamin he said: HaShem’s beloved one shall dwell securely beside Him. HaShem protects him all day long and dwells among his slopes.
To Joseph he said: His land is a blessing of HaShem, with the sweetness of the heaven’s dew, and the waters that lie below,the sweetness of the sun’s yield, the sweetness of the moon’s crop, the best of the ancient mountains, the sweetness of the eternal hills, the sweetness of the land and its fullness, and the favor of the One who dwells in the thorn bush. It shall come upon Joseph’s head, on the brow of the elect of his brothers. His glory is like a first-born ox, and his horns are the horns of the aurochs. With both of them he shall gore nations to the end of the earth. They are the myriads of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh.
To Zebulun he said: Rejoice Zebulun in your excursions, and Issachar in your tents. They shall summon nations to the mountain, and there they shall offer righteous sacrifice. They will be nourished by the bounty of the sea, and by what is hidden in the secret treasures of the sands.
To Gad he said: Blessed is the one who helps Gad expand. He dwells at peace like a dread lion, tearing as prey the arm and head. He saw the first portion for himself, for that is where the portion of the lawgiver is hidden. He came with the first of his people, doing what is just with HaShem, and lawful with Israel.
To Dan he said: Dan is a young lion, springing from the Bashan.
To Naphtali he said: Naphtali shall be totally satisfied and filled with HaShem’s blessing. He shall occupy the land to the southwest of Dan.
To Asher he said: Blessed among the sons is Asher. He shall be accepted by his brothers, and dip his foot in oil. Iron and copper are your door bolts, and your strength shall increase each day. There is none like HaShem, Jeshurun. Your Helper is He who controls the heavens and has His majesty in the skies. The eternal HaShem is a shelter [above], with [His] everlasting arms beneath. He shall drive the enemy before you, and shall proclaim, “Destroy!” Israel shall thus dwell securely, alone in a land of grain and wine, just like Jacob. Your heavens shall also drip with dew. Happy are you Israel! Who is like you? You are a nation delivered by HaShem, the Shield who helps you, and your triumphant Sword. Your enemies shall come cringing to you, and you shall crush their high altars underfoot.
Moses climbed up from the western plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of the cliff facing Jericho. HaShem showed him all the land of the Gilead as far as Dan, all of Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev, the flat plain, and the valley of Jericho, city of dates, as far as Tzoar. HaShem said to him, “This is the land regarding which I made an oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you will not cross the river to enter it.”
It was there in the land of Moab that HaShem’s servant Moses died at HaShem’s word. HaShem buried him in the depression in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor. No man knows the place that he was buried, even to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died, but his eyes had not dimmed, and his natural powers had not left him. The Israelites mourned Moses in the west plains of Moab for thirty days. The wailing period of Moses’ mourning came to an end.
Joshua son of Nun was filled with a spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him. The Israelites therefore listened to him, doing as HaShem had commanded Moses. No other prophet like Moses has arisen in Israel, who knew HaShem face to face. No one else could reproduce the signs and miracles that HaShem let him display in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and all his land, or any of the mighty acts or great sights that Moses displayed before the eyes of all Israel.
In our Parsha Moses gives his blessings to the tribes of Israel and to all of the people of Israel. Then he goes off and dies.
In our Haftara the prophet Joshua takes up where the story left off and leads the people into the land of Israel that was promised to them by HaShem.
- Fifty-Forth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on — lines in the Sefer Torah
- 41 P’sukim (verses)
- 512 words
- 1,969 letters
We start the Torah Cycle all over again
Next week’s Parashat: Bereshit