A blessing and then a death

 Deuteronomy 33-34

Jerry A Collins




v          What are the blessings we receive from God today?

v          Are the consequences of our sins removed here?

v          How should a believer view the reality of death?


All of us want to pass on blessings to our children. We want them to have an exemplary life that can be developed and enhanced by the favor we have with our family.The blessing we have here is the blessing of Moses given just before his death. It was a customary thing for a father to pass on a blessing just before his death. We see that with Isaac blessing his sons or Jacob’s blessing in Genesis 49. Moses the leader of the exodus and the mediator at Mt Sanai was in a very real sense the Israel’s father. God wants to bless His children and He wants to do that here with each of the tribes of Israel. So what is a blessing and how is it passed onto others to benefit them?


Moses gives a statement about each of the tribes of Israel. It is called a ‘blessing’ in verse 1. All of this took place just before his death.

1-5    Here is the introduction to the blessing and it is interesting to compare these statements with Jacob’s in Genesis 49. The point is that God has been in charge all along the way. He has been the source of their blessing all along. He uses people like Moses for instance to bring that blessing about. He uses us in the same way. Then he gives his blessings to each of the individual tribes in Israel.

Reuben 6   There is prosperity for Reuben the firstborn. Jacob said he would not prosper because he went to Jacob’s concubine’s bed. This is a blessing to overcome a special adversity that could cripple this tribe’s influence.

Judah 7     Judah contended for the people. Jacob said his hand would be on the neck of his enemies. His leadership would not depart from Israel.

Simeon is not mentioned in Moses’ list. Probably because their land was inside of and would be absorbed by the much larger tribe of Judah. Jacob mentions Simeon along with Levi saying both of them would be scattered. Levi did not have territory, and Simeon disappears. We don’t know what happens to them.

Levi 8-11   Let their decisions be from godly men. The Thummin and Urim were two precious stones used in casting of lots to receive divine answers in difficult matters. The Levites will have the responsibility of teaching the Law to Israel and carrying out the sacrifices on the altar.

Benjamin 12       Jacob said he was a ravenous wolf. They were known as left-handed fighters. That Benjamin may no security and peace in spite of it being the smallest tribe in the nation.

Joseph 13-17     Joseph (tribes of his sons Manasseh and Ephraim). Jacob says they are a fruitful bough. These were the largest tribes of the north.

Zebulun 18         Always on the fringe of things, up in Galilee. The Messiah would come from this area (Nazareth).

Issachar 19        Is also named along with Zebulun the larger tribe of the two but both with the same kind of blessing somehow associated with the sea.

Gad 20-21          This tribe had a large area east of the Jordan river. They still fought valiantly for the tribes in the land even though they had chosen land that was outside it’s borders. Dan 22  Dan is a lion’s whelp—a young offspring. He leaps from Bashan. Danites migrated to north area.

Naphtali 23         Take possession of the fertile land around the sea of Galilee. Like Joseph’s sons, this tribe would enjoy the favor of God and His special blessing.

Asher 24-25       The northern coastland where Lebanon is today. They would be traders by the sea. Jesus went there when He healed the Syro-Pheonician daughter.

Our God is unique 26-29

1. Incomparable in power 26. No matter the adversity the nation may encounter, the Lord could be there instantly with power to deliver her.

2. An eternal refuge 27. God’s everlasting arms a figure for protection in calamity even as enemy is destroyed.

3.  Serving this God would make Israel invincible before her enemies assuring security in the land 28-29.


1. All blessings come from God and are not from our talents, skills, bad luck, good luck or anything else. God is the sole originator of any we acknowledge or experience.

2. As physical reproduction in the  land was a blessing for Israel, so spiritual reproduction is today—and rewarded in heaven.

3. As believer-priests, we should be more interested in God’s interests than in human interests. What is it that God wants. We are always directing people vertically. 4. Whatever we go through in life, God’s wish for us is to have a heavenly blessing. So pursue that in every dimension of your life.


1      Moses went up from the plains of Moab to the top of Mt. Nebo at Pisgah. It is opposite of Jericho at the northern end of the Dead Sea.

2-4    God let Moses see the length and breadth of the land but he was not to go into it.

5-6    So Moses died there according to God’s Word and he was buried there and no one knows where he is buried.

7      Here is an editorial comment possibly from Joshua. A comment that describes the vitality of Moses even at 120 yrs—his eye was not dim nor his vigor abated.

8      The nation weeped for Moses for thirty days. This must have been heart-felt grief at the loss of a giant of a man.

9      There is no need to look for a replacement. Joshua had already been prepared and appointed. He was filled with the spirit of wisdom ready to take on the responsibility passed down to him.

10 Another editorial comment here. Since then, there has been no other prophet like Moses, who knew God face to face. Moses was unique among all of the prophets for his intimacy with the Lord.

11-12 Moses had performed all  kinds of miraculous things in the land of Egypt and was remembered for these.

1500 years later, this same Moses appears with Elijah to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He is alive and well and the same person he was on earth. His service was over here and he had done all that God had asked of Him. He is now doing service for the Lord in heaven.

1. So far, death is 100%. Even Moses, the man of God, whom the Lord knew face-to-face, had to die.

2. The consequences of our sin are not removed. Even when our relationship with God is secure and our fellowship with God is renewed. Sin’s consequences must still be dealt with and managed.

3. Death for the believer is to be gathered to his or her people—other believers—where he or she is the same person he or she was on earth.

4. While death ends a person’s service for the Lord, it also becomes the beginning for someone else to step into the gap and carry on the work in a new way or new direction. God had prepared Joshua to build on the work Moses had established. Both works were necessary and the one was not more important than the other. Each one made a significant contribution to the overall execution of God’s plan.