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Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 50

Deuteronomy 33:1-29   -   (no Prophet)   -   Psalm 147   -   Matthew 19:25 - 20:16

 

Adar 20, 5764 / March 13, 2004

Adar 20, 5767 / March 10, 2007

II Adar 16, 5776 / March 26, 2016

 

Vezot haB’rachah  / This is the Blessing   SCRIPTURES should be read first

 

Jacob blessed the tribes at the beginning of their existence. Now Moses is blessing them at the beginning of their life in the Promised Land. It is important to note: each tribe is blessed according to its national responsibilities. This theme will be basic throughout this study.

 

(V.1) Moses is called “the man of God”: these blessings were prophetic, from God. Moses had just told the people that he was about to die, because of his sin at Meribah. Though his sin had been a result of their provocation, yet Moses now blesses them wholeheartedly.

 

(V.2) “Having dawned on them from Seir – Abram rescued Lot from Seir; and “having shone forth from Mount Paran – he dwelt in Paran,Yahweh came from Sinai . . . and at His right hand there was flashing lightning for them” – the giving of the Torah with a celestial display.

 

(V.3-4) Yahweh loved His people: all the holy ones, who are in His Hand, and follow Him – they receive His Words, which were given to the qehal / congregation of Israel.

 

This is one of the places where we see the word qehal in the Torah. This word is translated into English as congregation or assembly. It is translated into Greek as sunagoge and ekklesia; from thence it is translated into English as synagogue or church (among other words).

 

God’s Word was given to His church at Pentecost – 3300 years ago at Mt. Sinai. (In about 2½ months, at Hag Shavuot / the Feast of Pentecost, we will study this in detail.) When Yeshua said that He would build-up His church (Matthew 16:18), it had been in existence for more than 1300 years!

 

The Torah was the heritage of His church – Yahweh’s Word for them to preserve for all generations.

 

(V.6) Reuben was the first to receive his portion of the Land, and so was blessed first. (This is the order by which the blessings were given.) Reuben had been chastised for violating the bed of Bilhad (Genesis 35:22), and would be the first tribe to be exiled (Deuteronomy 29:27, Leviticus 26:38). Reuben was told that he would be granted to live (in this world) and not die (in the world to come).

 

(V.7) Judah would produce the Davidic royal line, and lead Israel in wars. He was slated for victory in war, and his prayers to be answered by Yahweh in whom he trusted.

 

Simeon was omitted, perhaps because their violence in the affair of Shechem (Genesis 49:5), and because of their idolatry committed at Baal of Peor (Numbers 25:3); or perhaps because Simeon did not have a contiguous territory of its own, but was scattered throughout Israel, and would thus share in the blessings of the others.

 

(V.8-11) Levi was praised for loyalty and bravery, and blessed as teachers and servants at the altar.

The Urim and Tummim were placed upon a Levite – Aaron, the “devout one”. Though the Levites were aggressive in the violent affair of Shechem, they used that trait in the Wilderness to avoid the pitfalls that befell the other tribes: They did not complain with the others in the Wilderness (Exodus 17:1, Numbers 14:22)  Without regard for family ties, they slew those who worshipped the golden calf (Exodus 32:27). Levites were slated for prosperity, in order to be free for ministering.

 

(V.12) Benjamin was the only one of the twelve born in the Holy Land. The Holy Temple was located in Benjamin’s portion of Jerusalem. The Divine Presence rested there.

 

(V.13-17) Joseph received a double blessing, through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh. “Blessed by Yahweh is his land”: Joseph’s territory was the most fertile. “The moon’s yield” may refer to crops that produce month-by-month, or crops that grow by night, such as cucumber and melon. “The horns of the wild ox” could refer unfortunately to the evil kings of the ten northern tribes, which sprang from Joseph.

 

(V.18-19) Zebulun and Issachar had a partnership. Zebulun would be engaged in maritime work (their banner is a sail boat), which would support Issacher’s work in Torah study, teaching, and spiritual helps. Among Issachar’s descendants were 200 heads of sanhedrins, whose halachic rulings determined when everyone would assemble at the Temple Mount for Yahweh’s appointed times (referring to Rosh Hodesh sanctification). Zebulun gathered, from the sand of the sea, chilazon / sea snails from which a strand of the tzitzit / tassel of the prayer shawl must be died blue (Numbers 15:38).

 

(V.20-21) Gad received the largest territory: Yahweh was blessed as “the One Who broadens Gad’s territory.” Since they had to defend the eastern flank of Israel, they were given strength like a lion. Moses’s burial place, “the lawgiver’s plot”, was in their territory.

 

(V.22) Dan was to dwell at the western flank, on the Mediterranean Sea; a lion cub’s strength was needed for defense there. Samson was a Danite.

 

(V.23) Naphtali received a rich territory, including the Sea of Kinneret / Galilee.

 

(V.24) Asher was a large tribe, blessed with children. Asher supplied the other tribes with its abundant oil.

 

(Psalm 147:4) Yahweh “counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.” [The tribes are the stars of Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:9).] The remainder of today’s Psalm relates to the blessings of today’s Torah portion, such as praising Yahweh for prosperity and strength against enemies.

 

(Deut. 33:25-26) All Israel is fortunate, because Yahweh delivered them from sin! Here we need to remember that “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9), but we who believe are graffed into the remnant.

 

(Matthew 19) After hearing Yeshua’s teaching, the disciples “were very astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ And looking upon them Yeshua said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’ And Yeshua said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.’ ”

 

Blessings:

 

While our blessings do not rise to the prophetic nature of Jacob’s or Moses’, there is much commonality.

 

Some say that the greater always blesses the lesser; therefore, we cannot bless God. However, God created us in order for us to be a blessing to Him. When we are walking with Him, using His provision not for our selfish reasons but for His work, then both we and these provisions are blessing Him.

 

Tefillah / prayer means connecting with God. Prayer is the communion whereby we walk with God. It is a way we bless our creator, and a way to stay mindful of our position before Him. “My House shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:12). 

 

When we begin a meal by blessing God with “Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine,” and “. . . who brings forth bread from the earth,” we are recognizing our creator who has given us His covenant (the fruit of the vine being the blood of the covenant), and our redeemer who is the bread of life that was brought forth from the earth (resurrected) to guarantee our resurrection. And all of this is given us for His glory – to bless Him.

 

Consider Adam (man): He was created at the end of day six. (He was the last of God’s creation on day six – (Genesis 1:24-31). He was made upright (Job 1:8, Psalm 19:13) to walk with God. He glowed with the Glory of God – in Eden the attire is robes of light. He was given divine license to rule the world (Genesis 1:26). His first full day on earth was the Sabbath Day, the day set aside to worship the creator.

 

God created vegetation on day three (Genesis 1:11-13), but it remained dormant and undeveloped, not sprouting until the end of day six, when Adam came on the scene.

Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to work the soil” (Genesis 2:5).

So the sages teach that the world began with prayer. Until God and Adam communicated there was no fulfillment of Adam’s needs for survival and glorifying God.

 

God sanctified the Sabbath (set it apart from the other days, Genesis 2:3), and commanded man to sanctify the Sabbath (set it apart to God, Deuteronomy 5:12). One way that we sanctify the Sabbath is by candle lightings (Erev Shabbat and Havdallah); one way that we are to sanctify all things that we use is by prayer.

When Adam placed another before God, he lost his glow. He covered himself with leaves to hide from God by looking like a tree that naturally did not glow. He was exiled from the Garden of Eden.

 

We look forward to ruling the world with Messiah Yeshua (1 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:10, 20:16, 22:5), when we shall glow with God’s glory (Matthew 17:2, Revelation 3:4-5). We are promised Paradise -- the Garden of Eden, on a renewed earth.

[The Hebrew Gan Edan is translated in the Greek Septuagint as Paradiso (Genesis 2:5): in English Gan Edan is translated as Garden of Eden, and Paradiso as Paradise. Paradise in Luke 23:43 & Revelation 2:7 refers to the Septuagint translation of Garden of Eden.]

But we must first be sanctified by God, and everything that we use for survival and glorifying God should be sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer (1 Timothy 4:5). Because “The earth and its fullness belong to Yahweh” (Psalm 24:1), one who derives pleasure from this world without the appropriate blessing is as if he derived illegal pleasure from a sacred object (one which belongs to the Temple).

 

Man can only rule if he acknowledges that he rules only by the grace of God. By being oblivious of God, man becomes a treacherous usurper of the throne; by surrendering and being grateful to God, he legitimizes his license to control.

 

Yeshua, as our example, ruled by surrender to the Father. Before eating bread, He blessed Yahweh – the bringer-forth of bread from the earth (Matthew 14:19 – He did not “bless the bread”, as some translations say).

 

Now, if we reconsider the twelve blessings: they were provisions to bless Yahweh; but if they were misused, they would bring upon the people the curses of previous chapters.

Readings:

 

Reader 1* Amen 1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death. 2 And he said, “Yahweh came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; at His right hand there was flashing lightning for them. 3 Indeed, He loves the people; all Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they followed in Your steps; everyone receives of Your words: 4 ‘The Torah with which Moses charged us is a heritage for the assembly of Jacob.’ 5 And He was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, the tribes of Israel together.”

 

Reader 2* Amen 6 “May Reuben live and not die, nor his men be few.” 7 And this regarding Judah; so he said, "Hear, O Yahweh, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people. With his hands he contended for them; and may You be a help against his adversaries." 8 And of Levi he said, "Let Your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, whom You proved at Massah, with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah; 9 who said of his father and his mother, 'I did not consider them'; and he did not acknowledge his brothers, nor did he regard his own sons, for they observed Your word, and kept Your covenant. 10 "They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, and Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar. 11 "O Yahweh, bless his substance, and accept the work of his hands; shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, and those who hate him, so that they may not rise again."

 

Reader 3* Amen 12 Of Benjamin he said, "May the beloved of Yahweh dwell in security by Him, Who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders." 13 And of Joseph he said, "Blessed of Yahweh be his land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath, 14 and with the choice yield of the sun, and with the choice produce of the months.

 

Reader 4* Amen 15 "And with the best things of the ancient mountains, and with the choice things of the everlasting hills, 16 and with the choice things of the earth and its fulness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers. 17 "As the first-born of his ox, majesty is his, and his horns are the horns of the wild ox; with them he shall push the peoples, all at once, to the ends of the earth. And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and those are the thousands of Manasseh."

 

Reader 5* Amen 18 And of Zebulun he said, "Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going forth, and, Issachar, in your tents. 19 "They shall call peoples to the mountain; there they shall offer righteous sacrifices; for they shall draw out the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand." 20 And of Gad he said, "Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad; he lies down as a lion, and tears the arm, also the crown of the head. 21 "Then he provided the first part for himself, for there the ruler's portion was reserved; and he came with the leaders of the people; he executed the justice of Yahweh, and His ordinances with Israel." 22 And of Dan he said, "Dan is a lion's whelp, that leaps forth from Bashan."

 

Reader 6* Amen 23 And of Naphtali he said, "O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of Yahweh, take possession of the sea and the south." 24 And of Asher he said, "More blessed than sons is Asher; may he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil. 25 "Your locks shall be iron and bronze, and according to your days, so shall your leisurely walk be.

 

Reader 7* Amen 26 "There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty. 27 "The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, 'Destroy!' 28 "So Israel dwells in security, the fountain of Jacob secluded, in a land of grain and new wine; His heavens also drop down dew. 29 "Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by Yahweh, Who is the shield of your help, and the sword of your majesty! So your enemies shall cringe before you, and you shall tread upon their high places."

 

[No Prophet]

 

Psalm 147

 

1 Praise Yahweh! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and praise is becoming. 2 Yahweh builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. 4 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. 5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. 6 Yahweh supports the afflicted; He brings down the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to Yahweh with thanksgiving; sing praises to our God on the lyre, 8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. 9 He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens which cry. 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 Yahweh favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness. 12 Praise Yahweh, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your sons within you. 14 He makes peace in your borders; He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat. 15 He sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. 17 He casts forth His ice as fragments; who can stand before His cold? 18 He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow. 19 He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise Yahweh!

 

Matthew 19:25 – 20:16

 

25 And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" 26 And looking upon them Yeshua said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?" 28 And Yeshua said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life. 30 "But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.

20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 "And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, 'You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And so they went. 5 "Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 "And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?' 7 "They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into the vineyard.' 8 "And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.' 9 "And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 "And when those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius. 11 "And when they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.' 13 "But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 'Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' 16 "Thus the last shall be first, and the first last."


© 2004  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)