Blessings of Reuben, Judah, Levi, Benjamin and Joseph

Sep 27, 2015

וְזֹאת הַבְּרָכָה אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַךְ מֹשֶׁה אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי מוֹתוֹ׃

This is the blessing with which Moshe, the man of Hashem, bade the Israelites farewell before he died.

Deuteronomy 33:1

בְּכוֹר שׁוֹרוֹ הָדָר לוֹ וְקַרְנֵי רְאֵם קַרְנָיו בָּהֶם עַמִּים יְנַגַּח יַחְדָּו אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ וְהֵם רִבְבוֹת אֶפְרַיִם וְהֵם אַלְפֵי מְנַשֶּׁה׃

Like a firstling bull in his majesty, He has horns like the horns of the wild-ox; With them he gores the peoples, The ends of the earth one and all. These are the myriads of Efraim, Those are the thousands of Menashe.

Deuteronomy 33:17

Moses begins with a brief introduction describing the relationship between God and the Children of Israel before blessing each tribe individually. He begins with Reuben, blessing him with continuity. Judah he blesses with might and the ear of God. To Levi he offers praise for the tribe’s steadfast commitment to God, asking God to accept the offerings of their hands. He calls Benjamin God’s beloved, saying God will dwell among the tribe. To Joseph he offers prosperity, bounty and power, heaping blessings upon Ephraim and Manasseh.

 

The Israel Bible points out that Benjamin’s blessing, that God will dwell among the tribe, is a reference to the Temple, which stood in Benjamin’s territory. One reason suggested to explain why Benjamin merited to host the Temple, and thereby God Himself, is that he was the only one of Jacob’s twelve sons to have been born in Israel.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

The tribes are not being blessed in birth order (of their progenitors), or in order of encampment. What do you think might be the significance of the order in which Moses chooses to bless them?

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