20, 5764 /
March 13, 2004
20, 5767 /
March 10, 2007
16, 5776 /
March 26, 2016
/ 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
(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
(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.
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
(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
(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.’
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
Reader 1* Amen
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
“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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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.
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."