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Parashah 54 VeZot HaBerachah

Deuteronomy 33:1 – 34:12

By Dr. K. Blad©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

Torah Readings:

  1. 33:1-7

  2. 33:8-12

  3. 33:13-17

  4. 33:18-21

  5. 33:22-26

  6. 33:27-29

  7. 34:1-12


  1. 33:18-21

  2. 33:22-26

    Chatan Torah: 33:27 – 34:12

This reading is for Simchat Torah (the 22nd of Tishri in Eretz Israel and the 23rd of Tishri in the Diaspora) together with Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 and Numbers 29:35 – 30:1.

Haftarah: Joshua 1:1-9


VeZot HaBerachah

Means “and this is the blessing”

 The First Aliyah, 33:1-7

33:1 “And this is the blessing, with which Moshe the man of God blessed the children of Yisra'el before his death.”(HNV revised) – How wonderful it is when a person ends his days blessing instead of cursing!

Yeshua became the final fulfillment of the prophecy about the prophet like Moshe whom the Eternal should raised up, see Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. Yeshua also ended his last moments on the earth by blessing his twelve disciples, as it is written in Luke 24:50-51,

“He led them out as far as Beit-Anyah, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. It happened, while he blessed them, that he withdrew from them, and was carried up into heaven.”(HNV)

33:2 “He said, HaShem came from Sinai, rose from Se`ir to them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, he came from the ten thousands of consecrated ones: at his right hand was a fiery Torah for them.”(HNV revised) – Talmud[1] teaches:

“R. Yochanan said, ‘This teaches us that the Sacred One, blessed be he, offered the Torah to all nations and languages, but they did not receive it until he came to Israel who received it.”

The Torah was given by fire. It is very important that we maintain the fire of the Eternal’s Torah in our hearts so that the halachah, our walk of obedience, does not become something heavy, boring, and dry, see Luke 24:32. When the Torah is in our hearts it becomes an inner fire that keeps our practical love for the Eternal burning.

In Romans 12:11, it is written,

not lagging in diligence; fervent (burning) in spirit; serving the Lord”(HNV)

33:3 “Yes, he loves the peoples; all his consecrated ones are in your hand: they sat down at your feet; everyone shall receive of your words.”(HNV revised) – “The peoples” in this case are referring to the twelve tribes. “Your feet” means the foot of Mount Sinai. The consecrated ones are those who receive the Eternal’s word, as it also is written in Revelation 14:12,

“Here is the patience of the consecrated ones, those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Yeshua."(HNV revised)

The fulfillment of the commandments it what produces consecration (“holiness”).

33:4  “Moshe commanded us a Torah, an inheritance for the assembly of Ya`akov.”(HNV revised) – The Torah is the inheritance of the assembly of Yaakov. When a gentile converts to the God of Israel through Yeshua the Messiah, then he will also partake of the inheritance of the Torah, as it is written in Acts 26:17b-18,

“…the gentiles, to whom I send you, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”(HNV revised)

In Galatians 3:29, it is written,

“If you are Messiah's, then you are Avraham's seed and heirs according to promise.”(HNV)

This doesn’t mean that gentiles who have dedicated their lives to the Eternal through Mashiach have the same responsibility as the Jews to fulfill all the Torah, as we have said earlier, but they certainly have a part in the inheritance of the Torah and a great responsibility to fulfill the seven groups of commandments which apply to them according to the Torah that is written in their hearts by the Spirit, see Jeremiah 31:33.

33:5 “He was king in Yeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Yisra'el together.”(HNV) – The word “king” could be referring either to Moshe or to the Eternal. According to Talmud[2], it is referring to the Eternal.

33:6 “Let Re'uven live, and not die; yet let his men be few.”(HNV revised) – Reuven committed a sin punishable by death when he slept with his father’s concubine. However, through repentance he was given a chance to live. Reuven was forgiven because of what the Messiah Yeshua would do through his blood. According to the Levite priesthood, there is no offering that could cover such a sin.

It is written in Acts 13:38-39,

“Be it known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man is proclaimed to you remission of sins, and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Torah of Moshe.”(HNV revised)

In Romans 3:23-26, it is written,

“for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua; whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God's forbearance; to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Yeshua.”(HNV revised)

On account of Yeshua’s death, Reuven could be forgiven for his mortal sin and become the first to inherit the land. Among the twelve tribes, he was the first to have his land apportioned to him. Furthermore, since his territory was outside of the main borders of the Promised Land, he needed a special blessing in order not to be wiped out by the enemies of Israel.

33:7 “This is the blessing of Yehudah: and he said, hear, HaShem, the voice of Yehudah, bring him in to his people. With his hands he contended for himself; you shall be a help against his adversaries”(HNV revised) – Shimon was not mentioned specifically in Moshe Rabbenu’s blessing. He received his inheritance within Yehudah’s territory. Therefore we can find his name hidden in the word “hear”, in Hebrew shema, in the blessing over Yehudah. The name “Shimon” comes from the same root as shema, see Genesis 29:33. Since Shimon’s and Levi’s wrath was cursed by their father Yaakov, they did not receive any territory as an inheritance of their own in the land, as it is written in Genesis 49:7,

Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Ya`akov, scatter them in Yisra'el.”(HNV)

Shimon’s tribe brought ruin over Israel through the sin that they committed with the daughters of Midyan, see Numbers 25. The tribe of Levi repented from the sin of their forefather, but the tribe of Shimon did not. Because of that, Shimon was not specifically mentioned among the other tribes in Moshe’s final blessings.

“hear, HaShem, the voice of Yehudah” – Yehudah is an intercessor. Many kings from Yehudah’s tribe have called out to the Eternal and been answered, for example David, Shelomo, Asa, Yehoshafat, Chizkiyahu. Yeshua the Messiah comes from the tribe of Yehudah. His is the primary intercessor of Israel. He has been praying before the Father for the children of Israel according to the order of Malki-Tzedek for nearly 2000 years.

“bring him in to his people” – This is speaking of the young men from the tribe of Yehudah who would go out to war. Moshe is praying that they would come back unharmed. Yehudah was the tribe that went first when they conquered the Promised Land, see Judges 1:2.

This text is also talking about the Messiah’s second coming. Moshe prays that he should come back to his people, the Jewish people.

The Second Aliyah, 33:8-12

33:8-9 “Of Levi he said, your Tummim and your Urim are with your godly one, whom you did prove at Massah, with whom you did strive at the waters of Merivah; who said of his father, and of his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brothers, nor knew he his own children: for they have observed your word, kept your covenant.”(HNV) – It is not written, “to Levi he said…”, but “Of Levi…”. Moshe is speaking in the presence of the Eternal. Tummim and Urim belong to the Eternal. The text can be understood as if it was the Eternal who tested Levi at Massah and Merivah. Levi is the priestly tribe. Tummim and Urim (“completions and lights”) were kept in the high priest’s breastplate. This speaks of a perfect character that fulfills the Eternal’s will from the heart. For those who come near the Eternal, this is the most important thing.

The Eternal’s claim is more important for the Levites than the demands of their own families, parents, siblings, and children. HaShem must be first in our lives. This does not mean that we do not take care of our family, but when we take care of the family we do it for the sake of the Eternal who has commanded us to honor our parents, love our wives, and teach our children Torah. This makes the Eternal not only the first in our lives, but he becomes everything to us.

However, when the demands of the family go against the claims of the Eternal, then His claims have higher priority. It seems as though the Messiah Yeshua had this text in mind when he said what is recorded in Matthew 10:37,        

“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me.”(HNV)

In Luke 14:26, it is written,

“If anyone comes to me, and doesn't hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can't be my talmid.”(HNV)

In Matthew 12:48-50, it is written,

But he answered him who spoke to him, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ He stretched out his hand towards his disciples, and said, ‘Behold, my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will (which has to do with the Urim and Tummim) of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.’”(HNV)

33:10 “They shall teach Ya`akov your ordinances, Yisra'el your Torah: they shall put incense before you, whole burnt offering on your altar.”(HNV) – The Levites’ primary assignment is to teach Israel the Torah. Their secondary assignment is to minister in the temple.

33:11a “Bless, HaShem, his substance, accept the work of his hands”(HNV revised) – Levi was blessed in a special way. Earlier his anger was cursed, but here his efforts and the work of his hands are blessed. By this we can also see that when a person who is quick to anger submits his soul to the great Potter, He can change that soul into a tool for blessing instead of cursing. Shimon and Levi had the same potential. Shimon chose the path of sin and did not repent. Therefore he did not receive any final blessing. Levi repented of his sin and was united with the Eternal. Therefore he received a great blessing in the end. The tribe of Shim’on was lost among the nations. The tribe of Levi is still among the Jewish people.

33:11b “Smite through the loins of those who rise up against him, of those who hate him, that they not rise again.”(HNV) – The Maccabees, who stood up against the Syrian-Greek army during the first century before the Christian era, were Levites. The Greeks could not defeat them and they we able to restore the Chashmonite dynasty which lasted until the Roman invasion.

33:12 “Of Binyamin he said, the beloved of HaShem shall dwell in safety by him; he covers him all the day long, he dwells between his heights.”(HNV revised) – Rachel’s son, Binyamin, was called “the beloved”. He was the only one of the twelve sons who was born in the land of Israel. He was also the only one who was not a part of the conspiracy to sell his brother Yosef. Because of this, the temple was built in Binyamin’s territory. This blessing contains a reference to the three temples:

1.      Shall dwell in safety – the first temple

2.      Covers him all the day long – the second temple

3.      Dwells between his heights – the third temple

Two great persons have come from Binyamin, King Shaul and Shaliach Shaul (the apostle Paul). Binyamin’s blessing imparted a special protection. He needed this blessing, especially when his tribe was about to be wiped out from the nation as it is written about in Judges 21. The tribe of Binyamin is still among the Jewish people.

The Third Aliyah, 33:13-17

33:13-16 “Of Yosef he said, blessed of HaShem be his land… precious things… gifts… precious things… precious things of the growth… the chief things… precious things… precious things… the fullness… The good will…”(HNV revised) – Since Yosef was the savior of the children of Israel, he received the largest area in the land. He reaped what he had sown.

33:17 “The firstborn of his herd, majesty is his; his horns are the horns of the wild-ox: with them he shall push the peoples all of them, even the ends of the earth: they are the ten thousands of Efrayim, they are the thousands of Menasheh.”(HNV) – This is talking about Yehoshua, the first leader after Moshe, who was powerful and mighty like the firstborn among bulls, so that he could conquer the people who were in the Promised Land. The wild ox is referring to Gid’on, who won great victories for Israel.

This text is also talking about the two tribes Efrayim and Menasheh, who were the leading tribes among the ten tribes that were exiled and driven away into all the nations of the earth. They represent the children of Israel who are compared with the sand of the sea that cannot be counted, see Hosea 1:10.

The Fourth Aliyah, 33:18-21

33:18-19 “Of Zevulun he said, rejoice, Zevulun, in your going out; Yissakhar, in your tents. They shall call the peoples to the mountain; there shall they offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck the abundance of the seas, the hidden treasures of the sand.”(HNV) – This is a wonderful example of brotherly love. The tribes of Zevulun and Yissakhar worked together in the Eternal’s work. Both lived near the sea, see Genesis 49:13, and Zevulun was joyful in his fishing business and other activities that served to supply the needs of Yissakhar, as he studied Torah in his tents. If it had not been for Zevulun, Yissakhar would never have been able to study in that way. Zevulun was younger than Yissakhar, but in this text he is mentioned first because of his practical love in providing for his brother in his studies. This merit places him above his older brother. These two worked together for the expansion of the Torah. They needed each other. Zevulun went out and told of Israel’s faith and invited the gentiles to come and visit Israel. Yissakhar was dedicated to studying and teaching the Torah so that Israel and those who united with Israel would be able to serve the Eternal in the right way.

According to Rashi, Yissakhar contributed 200 people to the Sanhedrin throughout the history of Israel, as it is written in 1 Chronicles 12:32-33,

“Of the children of Yissakhar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Yisra'el ought to do, the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brothers were at their commandments. Of Zevulun, such as were able to go out in the army, who could set the battle in array, with all manner of instruments of war, fifty thousand, and who could order the battle array, and were not of double heart.”(HNV revised)

We need both these kinds of people in our midst. Some work in business, bringing practical and financial support to those who give themselves continually to the ministration of the Torah so that prophetic revelation is not lacking at any time. Without the support of Zevulun, Yissakhar would not have been able to study the Torah. Without the support of Yissakhar, Zevulun would never have partaken of revelations and heavenly things. Blessed be the Eternal for this wonderful cooperation!

“for they shall suck the abundance of the seas, the hidden treasures of the sand” – The sand of the sea is the descendants of Avraham and Yaakov who have lost their Israelite identity, and who are spread out among the nations. There are treasures among them. These treasures, people who study the Torah and are skillful in business, are now, at this time, being raised up from the bottom of the sea and they are going to be a great blessing to Israel before the return of the Messiah.

33:20-21 “Of Gad he said, blessed be he who enlarges Gad: he dwells as a lioness, tears the arm, yes, the crown of the head. He provided the first part for himself, for there was the lawgiver's portion reserved; he came with the heads of the people; he executed the righteousness of HaShem, his ordinances with Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – Gad received his area by the river Yarden, next to Reuven and the half tribe of Menasheh. This area was exposed to constant threat of enemy invasions. Therefore Gad needed a special blessing in order to stand. This text shows that he was so strong that he would be able to cut off both the arm and the head of his enemy with one blow. The tribe of Gad was also given the honor of going in the front, together with Yehoshua, when the land was conquered, see Deuteronomy 3.

The Fifth Aliyah, 33:22-26

33:22 “Of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's cub, that leaps forth from Bashan.”(HNV) – The tribes who are compared with lions were those whose area bordered their enemies. Dan, however, is called a lion’s cub. He needed special help from the Eternal to resist the enemy.

33:23 “Of Naftali he said, Naftali, satisfied with favor, full with the blessing of HaShem, possess you the west and the south.”(HNV revised) – Naftali received his inheritance near the lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. There he would acquire much wealth through fishing. Furthermore, the valley of Kinneret is known for its fine fruits.

33:24-25 “Of Asher he said, blessed be Asher with children; let him be acceptable to his brothers, let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and brass; as your days, so shall your strength be.”(HNV) – Asher was blessed with children. He increased with 11,900 people during the time between the two censuses in the desert. Many of Asher’s daughters were very beautiful and several of them married priests and later the royal family of the descendants of David.

“dip his foot in oil” – Asher’s area has many olive trees.

 “as your days so shall your strength be” – There is an example of a woman from the tribe of Asher who became very old, Chanah, and who served in the temple when Yeshua was presented there as a child, as it is written in Luke 2:36-38,

“There was one Chanah, a prophetess, the daughter of Penu'el, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow for about eighty-four years), who didn't depart from the temple, worshipping with fastings and petitions night and day. Coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all those who were looking for redemption in Yerushalayim.”(HNV)

The Sixth Aliyah, 33:27-29

33:26, 28 “Yeshurun… Israel… Yaakov” – Here we see the three names of the nation. Each one of these names represents a spiritual level. Yeshurun is the highest.

33:27 “The eternal God is your dwelling-place, underneath are the arms of the world. He thrust out the enemy from before you, said, Destroy.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, the arms of the world are the two kings, Sichon and Og, whom were the world power and strength of that time. According to Talmud,[3] the arms of the world, in Hebrew zero’ot olam, means the arms of the Eternal.

33:29 “Happy are you, Yisra'el: who is like you, a people saved by HaShem, the shield of your help, the sword of your excellency! Your enemies shall submit themselves to you; you shall tread on their high places.”(HNV revised) – This is the end of the long history of the people of Israel. In the end, there will be an eternal victory over the enemies, when the desired Mashiach ben David comes with the clouds of heaven.

The Seventh Aliyah, 34:1-12

34:1-2 “Moshe went up from the plains of Mo'av to Mount Nevo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Yericho. HaShem showed him all the land of Gil`ad, to Dan, and all Naftali, and the land of Efrayim and Menasheh, and all the land of Yehudah, to the hinder sea”(HNV revised) – The Eternal showed Moshe, by naming the names of the tribes, the whole land that was promised to the forefathers. Therefore he knew ahead of time, what area each tribe would have, even the area in the north that Dan would later take, see Judges 18.

34:3 “and Negev, and the Yarden Plain of the valley of Yericho the city of palm trees, to Tzo`ar.”(HNV revised) – Tzo’ar means “insignificant”. HaShem showed Moshe everything, even the most insignificant places of the land’s geography. According to Rashi, he also showed him the events that would take place in these areas up until the resurrection.

34:6 “He buried him in the valley in the land of Mo'av over against Beit-Pe`or: but no man knows of his tomb to this day.”(HNV) – Moshe was buried by the Eternal after a battle in the heavenlies between Michael and satan, as it is written in Jude v. 9,

“But Mikha'el, the chief angel, when contending with satan and arguing about the body of Moshe, dared not bring against him an abusive condemnation, but said, ‘May HaShem rebuke you!’”(HNV revised)

By not revealing the location of Moshe’s burial, the Eternal avoided having people come there to call on a so-called “spirit of Moshe” by his grave, as many Jews do at the graves of the sages of Israel. Sadly enough, this is a very popular custom among the Jews. This can release evil spirits instead of the spirits of the wise men.

In Talmud[4] there is a discussion about whether verses 5-12 were written by Yehoshua, after Moshe’s death, or if they were dictated by HaShem directly to Moshe, just as the rest of the Torah scroll was, as it is written in Deuteronomy 31:24,

It happened, when Moshe had made an end of writing the words of this Torah in a scroll, until they were finished,”(HNV revised)

It would not have been difficult for Moshe to write these words in the same way that he wrote the earlier words, according to the Eternal’s dictation.

“over against Beit-Pe`or” – Moshe was buried across from the place where the children of Israel sinned with the daughters of Moav, see Numbers 25. This teaches us that the people were forgiven for that sin. Each time that the Eternal sees that place, he remembers the sin, but simultaneously he remembers Moshe, and the Messiah, who were willing to give their lives so that the people could be forgiven.

34:7 “Moshe was one hundred twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.”(HNV) – According to tradition, Moshe died on his 120th birthday, the Shabbat after the seventh of Adar, year 2488.

34:9 “Yehoshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moshe had laid his hands on him: and the children of Yisra'el listened to him, and did as HaShem commanded Moshe.”(HNV revised) – The laying on of hands has primarily two functions; transferring and installing. When Yehoshua was installed in his ministry, he also had a spirit of wisdom transferred to him, through which he would be able to lead the people after Moshe’s death.

34:10-12 “There has not arisen a prophet since in Yisra'el like Moshe, whom HaShem knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which HaShem sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Par`oh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all the mighty hand, and in all the great terror, which Moshe worked in the sight of all Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – Obviously this excludes Yeshua, which is on another level, not comparable with Moshe or the other prophets, as it is written in Hebrews 1:1-3 and 3:3-6,

“God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself made purification for our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high… For he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moshe, inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone; but he who built all things is God. Moshe indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken, but Messiah is faithful as Son over his house; whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end”(HNV revised)

“Israel” – this is the last word of the Torah. In bereshit1:1, the Torah begins with the letter bet, which means “house”, and in Devarim 34:12, it ends with Israel, who is the bride that will live in the house that was prepared since the creation of the world.

The last word of the Torah is Israel. This teaches us that Israel will have the last word in world history. BARUCH HASHEM!

HaShem’s Torah is perfect, restoring the soul.

HaShem’s testimony is sure, making wise the simple.

HaShem’s precepts are right, rejoicing the heart.

HaShem’s commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of HaShem is clean, enduring forever.

HaShem’s ordinances are true, and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold

Sweeter also than honey and the extract of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned. In keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:7-11

[1]     Avodah Zarah 2b.

[2]     Rosh HaShanah 32b.

[3]     Chagigah 12b.

[4]     Bavah Batrah 15a.