Moses' Blessing of the Tribes: Reuben
||This is the blessing that Moses, man of God, bestowed on the Israelites just before his death.
God came from Sinai, shone forth to them from Seir, and made an appearance from Mount Paran. From the holy myriads, He brought the fire of a religion to them from His right Hand.
||Although there is love for nations, all Your holy ones are in Your hand. They follow Your footsteps, and uphold Your word.
||Moses prescribed the Torah to us, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Jacob.
||He was king in Jeshurun when the people's leaders gathered themselves together, [and] the tribes of Israel were united.
||May Reuben live and not die, although his ranks are numbered.
||The same goes for Judah. [Moses also] said, 'May God hear Judah's voice and bring him to his people. Although his power suffices him, may You help him against his enemies.'
||To Levi, he said: Your Urim and Thumim belong to Your pious one. You tested him at Massah, and contended with him at the Waters of Dispute.
||He was the one who said of his father and mother, 'I do not see them,' not recognizing brother or child. They thus kept Your word and safeguarded Your covenant.
||They shall [therefore] teach your law to Jacob, and your Torah to Israel. They shall place incense in Your presence and consume sacrifices on Your altar.
||May God bless his effort and favor the work of his hands. May He smash the loins of those who rise up against him, so that his enemies rise no more.
||To Benjamin he said: God's beloved one shall dwell securely beside Him. [God] protects him all day long and dwells among his slopes.
||To Joseph he said: His land is a blessing of God, with the sweetness of the heaven's dew, and the waters that lie below,
||the sweetness of the sun's yield, the sweetness of the moon's crop,
||the best of the ancient mountains, the sweetness of the eternal hills,
||the sweetness of the land and its fullness, and the favor of the One who dwells in the thornbush. It shall come upon Joseph's head, on the brow of the elect of his brothers.
||His glory is like a first-born ox, and his horns are the horns of the aurochs. With both of them he shall gore nations to the end of the earth. They are the myriads of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh.
||To Zebulun he said: Rejoice Zebulun in your excursions, and Issachar in your tents.
||They shall summon nations to the mountain, and there they shall offer righteous sacrifice. They will be nourished by the bounty of the sea, and by what is hidden in the secret treasures of the sands.
||To Gad he said: Blessed is the one who helps Gad expand. He dwells at peace like a dread lion, tearing as prey the arm and head.
||He saw the first portion for himself, for that is where the portion of the lawgiver is hidden. He came with the first of his people, doing what is just with God, and lawful with Israel.
||To Dan he said: Dan is a young lion, springing from the Bashan.
||To Naphtali he said: Naphtali shall be totally satisfied and filled with God's blessing. He shall occupy the [land] to the southwest [of Dan].
Asher; All Israel
||To Asher he said: Blessed among the sons is Asher. He shall be accepted by his brothers, and dip his foot in oil.
||Iron and copper are your doorbolts, and your strength shall increase each day.
||There is none like God, Jeshurun. Your Helper is He who controls the heavens and has His majesty in the skies.
||The eternal God is a shelter [above], with [His] everlasting arms beneath. He shall drive the enemy before you, and shall proclaim, 'Destroy!'
||Israel shall thus dwell securely, alone in a land of grain and wine, just like Jacob. Your heavens shall also drip with dew.
||Happy are you Israel! Who is like you? [You are] a nation delivered by God, the Shield who helps you, and your triumphant Sword. Your enemies shall come cringing to you, and you shall crush their high altars underfoot.
|This is the blessing...|
See Genesis 49:1-27.
|man of God|
See Psalms 90:1. Also see 1 Samuel 2:27, 9:6, 1 Kings 12:22,13:1, 2 Kings 1:13, 4:9, Nehemiah 12:24, 2 Chronicles 25:7 (cf. Sifri; Midrash HaGadol). This indicates that the blessing is from God (Paaneach Razah) and would be fulfilled (Ramban). Or, 'prophet of God' (Targum; Ibn Ezra; Ralbag), or, 'messenger of God' (Saadia).
(Sifri; Ibn Ezra).
Or, 'revealed Himself' (Targum; Saadia).
Or, 'on Sinai' (Ibn Ezra; Bachya).
(Targum). Zarach. Or, 'appeared' (Septuagint; possibly as in ezrach).
The territory of Esau (Genesis 14:6, 32:4, 36:8). See Judges 5:4. Some say that Seir is near Sinai (Emunoth VeDeyoth 3:8; Ibn Ezra; see note on Exodus 3:1). Others say that God appeared from the direction of Seir (Chizzkuni; cf. Sifri). Another opinion is that God appeared to them again at Seir after they left Sinai (Ramban; Ralbag; Abarbanel). See next note, 'Mount Paran'. Midrashically, this teaches that God offered the Torah to Esau before giving it to Israel (Sifri; Avodah Zarah 2b; Targum Yonathan; Rashi).
Near Seir (see Genesis 14:6). This was Ishmael's territory (Genesis 21:21). Paran was the Israelites first stop after Sinai (Numbers 10:12). Some say that this represents the revelation of Deuteronomy; see Deuteronomy 1:1 (Adereth Eliahu; Ophan Sheni; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Midrashically, this indicates that the Torah was offered to Ishmael (see above).
|From the holy myriads...|
(Ibn Ezra; Sforno; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Or, 'He came from the holy myriads ...' (Ramban). 'He came to the holy myriads' (Ralbag); 'He brought to the holy myriads' (Saadia); 'He brought with Him myriads of holy beings' (Targum); 'He brought some of His holy myriads' (Sifri; Rashi); or, 'He came with the myriads of Kadesh' (Septuagint).
|fire of a religion|
(Rashi; Ibn Ezra). Esh dath in Hebrew. Or, 'fire become law' (Hirsch); 'a law of fire' (Ramban), or 'a Torah of light' (Saadia). Some see eshdath as a single word, indicating a waterfall as in Numbers 21:15, Deuteronomy 3:17 (Eliahu Levitas; cf. Ibn Janach who rejects this), and hence, 'from His right hand a waterfall to them.' Or, 'from the fire at His right hand, a law to them' (Targum); or, 'at His right hand, His angels were with Him' (Septuagint). Or, 'Although He came with the holy myriads, His fiery law was given to them by His right hand' (Abarbanel).
(Targum; Rashi; Radak, Sherashim). Chovev in Hebrew. Or, 'bestows duty' (Hirsch), 'shelters' (Ramban; Ralbag); or, 'spares' (Septuagint).
(Sifri; Lekach Tov; Rashi; Chizzkuni; Sforno). Or, 'Although beloved by nation...' (Targum Yonathan; Chizzkuni); 'Although He loves gentiles [who become proselytes]' (Rashbam; Paaneach Razah); 'He also loves them above all nations' (Sifri; Bachya); 'He also loves the tribes [of Israel]' (Targum; Saadia); 'Although He love the tribes, all Your holy ones (Levi) are in Your hand' (Ibn Ezra); 'Although He shelters the tribes' (Ramban; Ralbag); 'He spared His people, [and] all His holy ones are in His hands' (Septuagint); or, 'Also to take nations to duty, you take all Your holy ones in Your hand' (Hirsch).
(Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim). Tuku in Hebrew. Or, 'under your feet' (Septuagint; cf. Exodus 24:10); gather (Targum; Rashi); 'subjugated' (Malbim); 'conscious of their powerlessness' (Hirsch); or, 'they are beaten for Your sake' (Sifri; Ramban; Chizzkuni; see next note, 'Your footsteps').
Or, 'Your feet, ' denoting Sinai (Rashi), or the clouds of glory (Targum). Or, 'for Your sake' (see Genesis 30:30; Chizzkuni). Also possibly, 'your pilgrimage.'
Or, 'bear burden of' (Chizzkuni); 'accepted' (Rashi); 'spread' (Ibn Ezra); 'speak' (Ramban; Tur). Or, 'He received the words of the Torah that Moses ...' (Septuagint; cf. Sforno). Or, 'lifted eyes to Your word' (Rashi); 'Passed on' (Saadia) or, 'it bears Your word expressing itself' (Hirsch).
(HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Or, 'inheritance' (Targum; Septuagint). Morashah in Hebrew.
(Saadia; Ibn Ezra). Or, 'God' (Rashi; Ramban; Abarbanel); or, 'Joshua' (Malbim). Or, 'There shall be a king...' speaking of Saul (Ralbag). Others say that the Torah is the king (Yehudah HaLevi, in Ibn Ezra).
See Deuteronomy 32:15.
See Deuteronomy 31:28 (Ibn Ezra). Or, 'When the people gather themselves together, [God] will be king in Jeshurun' (Baaley Tosafoth).
|although his ranks are numbered|
(Ralbag; cf. Ramban). Or, 'may his ranks be many in number (Tur; Septuagint); 'may he retain his full number' (Baaley Tosafoth; Paaneach Razah; Abarbanel); 'may he not be few in number' (Saadia; Ibn Ezra); 'may those unfit for battle be few' (Malbim); 'may he be counted with the others' (Rashi), or, 'may his men have power' (Sifri).
|The same goes for Judah|
(Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni; Sforno). Or, literally, 'This is for Judah' (Ramban; cf. Saadia; Septuagint).
Sh'ma in Hebrew, possibly alluding to Simeon (Shimeon), who is omitted (Sifri).
(Malbim). Literally, 'hand.'
(Ibn Ezra; Malbim). Rav in Hebrew. Or, 'fights' (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Septuagint); 'takes revenge' (Targum; Saadia); 'shoots [arrows]' (Ibn Ezra, from Genesis 49:23, Psalms 18:15). Or, 'with his power he fights for them' (Hirsch); or, '[You are] the power fighting for him' (Saadia; Sforno).
(Saadia; Septuagint). Or, 'It' (his hand) (Targum; Sforno).
(Targum Yonathan; Saadia; Ramban; Septuagint). Or, 'Regarding Levi' (Rashi; Ibn Ezra).
|Urim and Thumim|
See Exodus 28:30.
God's (Rashi; cf. Saadia). Or, Levi's (Ramban).
The tribe of Levi (Ralbag), or, Aaron (Targum Yonathan; Sforno).
See Exodus 17:7 (Saadia; Ramban; cf. Rashi). Or, 'tests' (Targum; Ibn Ezra).
|Waters of Dispute|
See Exodus 32:27-29 (Sifri; Rashi; Ibn Ezra). Or, abandoning family to serve God (Ibn Ezra), possibly relating to those outside the proper age of Levitical service (see Targum Yonathan; see Numbers 4:47). Or, if relating to the High Priest, not to defile himself for a dead relative (Leviticus 21:11; Chizzkuni; Paaneach Razah).
|safeguarded Your covenant|
By not worshiping the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:26; Abarbanel), or by not worshiping idols in Egypt (Midrash HaGadol); by keeping circumcision in Egypt (Yad, Issurey Biyah 13:2; Bachya), and in the desert (Rashi; cf. Sifri). Or, covenant of the priesthood (Chizzkuni; cf. Numbers 25:13), or the covenant of the Torah in general (Ralbag).
|in Your presence|
(Targum; Saadia). Literally, 'in Your nostrils.' Or, 'to [assuage] Your anger' (Abarbanel; Malbim; Septuagint; cf. Numbers 17:11).
(Septuagint). Chayil in Hebrew. Or, 'brigade' (Saadia; Ramban); 'wealth' (Sifri; Targum); or, 'spirit' (Malbim).
(Targum; Saadia; Rashi). Or, 'of the enemies who rise against him' (Ibn Ezra).
|securely beside Him|
(Ibn Ezra; Ramban; Chizzkuni).
(Targum; Rashi). Chafaf in Hebrew. Or, 'overshadows' (Septuagint; cf. Radak, Sherashim); or, 'oversees' (Chizzkuni). Or, '[Benjamin] longs for [God] all day long' (Yoma 12a).
|dwells among his slopes|
(Targum; Saadia; Rashi; cf. Genesis 48:22). This may allude to the fact that the Holy of Holies was destined to be in Benjamin's portion (Sifri; Zevachim 54b). Or, '[Benjamin] dwells between His shoulders' (Septuagint), or, 'boundaries' (Chizzkuni).
(Ramban). Meged in Hebrew; see Genesis 24:53, Song of Songs 4:13. Or, 'best' (Radak, Sherashim), or, 'seasons' (Septuagint).
See Genesis 49:25.
(Rashi). Yerachim in Hebrew. Or, 'of each month's crop' (Targum; Rashi; Septuagint).
(Septuagint). Geresh in Hebrew. From garash, meaning 'to drive out,' denoting what the moon causes the earth to bring forth. (Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni; cf. Ibn Ezra, from Isaiah 57:20). Or, 'what follows the moon' (Ibn Janach). Others relate it to sheger with a transposition of letters, denoting young animals as in Exodus 13:12, Deuteronomy, 7:13 (Paaneach Razah).
(Targum Yonathan). Or, 'top' (Septuagint).
|the One who dwells in the thornbush|
See Exodus 3:2-5 (Targum; Sifri; Rashi; Septuagint). Or, 'He who dwells in heaven' (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; cf. Targum). Or, 'favor even [in areas] inhabited by thornbushes (wastelands)' (Paaneach Razah).
|It shall come|
(Targum; Ramban; Ralbag; Septuagint). Tavothah in Hebrew. Or, 'Its grain' (cf. Ibn Ezra).
|on the brow...|
See Genesis 49:26.
(Targum; Saadia; Ralbag; Septuagint). Hadar in Hebrew. Or, 'given' (Rashi), or, 'multitude' (Ibn Ezra).
Or, 'ruler' (Rashi).
Shor in Hebrew. Or, 'fitting' (Targum Yonathan). See Genesis 49:6. In general, denoting a powerful person (cf. Ramban), or a ruler (Radak, Sherashim).
Thus, 'His glory is as a first-born bull' (Septuagint); 'His firstling ox-like leader shall have the glory of royalty' (Ramban); 'The firstling of his bull will have glory' (Hirsch); 'There will be glory to the one who will rule his firstling bull' (Saadia); 'His bull-like king is given to him' (Rashi); 'the advantage of birthright is glory to him' (Paaneach Razah; cf. Targum Yonathan); or, 'His first-born ruler is a glory to him.'
Re'em. See Numbers 23:22.
The two horns (Ramban; Chizzkuni). Or, '[Those nations] are the myriads [killed by] Ephraim ...' (Targum Yonathan; Sifri; Rashi; cf. 1 Samuel 18:7).
Doing business by the sea (Ramban; cf. Genesis 49:13). Or, to war (Ibn Ezra; Ralbag).
|in your tents|
Since their land is so fertile, no work is needed (Paaneach Razah), cf. Genesis 49:15 (Ibn Ezra). Or in tents of study, supported by Zebulun (Rashi).
Kara in Hebrew. Or, 'assemble' (Saadia; Rashi).
|to the mountain|
(Sifri; Sforno; cf. Targum). Or, 'Nations shall assemble at your mountain' (Targum Yonathan; Saadia); 'Nations shall call that place a mountain (temple)' (Ralbag); or, 'They shall utterly destroy the nations and shall call men there' (Septuagint; translating har the same as haras, 'destroy').
|and by what is...|
Or, 'and have enough to hide ...' (Ibn Ezra; Bachya).
(Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Hirsch). Safan in Hebrew, related to tzafan. Or, 'covered' (Ibn Janach). Or, 'stored up' (Saadia), 'markets' (Septuagint), 'shipwrecked boats' (Chizzkuni; Paaneach Razah), from sefinah, a ship.
Or, 'and' (Sifri; Megillah 7a). Hence, 'and by what is hidden in the secret treasures of the sands' (Radak, Sherashim; Hirsch), 'what is hidden and the secret treasures ...' (Sifri; Megillah 7a); 'they will assemble treasuries of what is hidden in the sand' (Saadia); 'They will have to hide their wealth [and] conceal it in the sand' (Ibn Ezra), 'and from the shipwrecked boats hidden in the sand (Chizzkuni); or, 'and from the markets of those who dwell by the sea coast' (Septuagint).
(Paaneach Razah). Or, 'Blessed is [God] who ... (Hirsch).
Labhi in Hebrew. See Genesis 49:9.
|He saw the first portion for himself|
(Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth). Or, 'He took the first portion ...' (Targum), or, 'He saw himself as the first one' (Hirsch); or, 'When he saw at the beginning of his land ...' (Saadia), or, 'He saw his first fruits' (Septuagint).
|for that is where...|
Some say that this indicates that Moses was buried in Gad's territory (Targum; Rashi). Or, 'that is where the lawgiver's treasures were' (Targum Yonathan; cf. 33:19). Or, 'that is where the palaces of the mighty were' (Ibn Ezra); or, 'there are the lands of the princes' (Paaneach Razah; cf. Septuagint).
Gad (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth). Or, Moses (Rashi; Sotah 13b; Avoth 5:18).
(Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Septuagint). Zanak in Hebrew. Or, 'drawing water' (Targum); 'spurting' or 'dividing' (Sifri; cf. Niddah 59b; Chullin 38a); or, 'indolent' (Ibn Janach).
|from the Bashan|
Since Dan's territory is directly to the west of the Bashan.
(Rashi; cf. Ibn Ezra). Seva Ratzon in Hebrew. Or, 'has the fullness of good things' (Chizzkuni; Septuagint); 'Shall be satisfied with [God's] will' (Ramban), or, 'has the desire to be satisfied' (Abarbanel).
|to the southwest of Dan|
(cf. Ibn Ezra). This is actually where Naphtali was. Or, 'He shall occupy the sea and [the area to its] south,' where the sea is the Kinnereth (Targum; Sifri; Bava Kama 81b; Rashi).
|Blessed among the sons...|
(Ramban; Sforno). Or, 'Blessed by the [other] sons ...' (Ramban; Chizzkuni); 'Increased by the [other] sons' (Ramban). Or, 'Blessed with sons' (Sifri; Rashi; Septuagint), cf. 1 Chronicles 7:40 (Ramban). Possibly because Asher already had grandchildren when they went to Egypt (Genesis 46:17; Tzafenath Paaneach), or because of their increase during the 40 years in the desert (Numbers 26:47; Aravey Nachal).
See Genesis 49:20, which can be translated, 'His bread shall be oil.'
(Saadia; Lekach Tov). Min'al in Hebrew. Or, 'locks' (Chizzkuni; cf. Nehemiah 3:3); 'treasuries' (Radak, Sherashim); 'closed cities' (Targum; Rashi; Hirsch); 'shoes' (Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni; Malbim; Septuagint); 'sinews' (Baaley Tosafoth). Or, 'you are a lock [to the Holy Land] of iron and copper' (Sifri). Or, 'Your [land] is filled with iron and copper' (Ibn Janach).
(Targum; Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Septuagint). Dabha in Hebrew. Or, 'energy' (Malbim); 'youth' (Rashi; Lekach Tov; cf. Targum); 'overflow' (Sifri; Ramban); 'old age' (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni); 'weakness' (Hirsch); or 'troubles' (Paaneach Razah).
|shall increase each day|
(Septuagint). Or, 'as in the days of your youth' (Rashi); or, 'Even in the days of your old age' (Radak, Sherashim).
|There is none like God, Jeshurun|
(Rashi; Or HaChaim). Or, 'There is none like the God of Jeshurun' (Targum; Septuagint); 'The God of Jeshurun, who has none like Him, is the one ...' (Saadia); 'None has the power of Jeshurun' (Tur); or, 'None has the power [of Asher] in Jeshurun' (Abarbanel).
(Moreh Nevukhim 1:70). Literally, 'rides.' Or, 'dwells' (Saadia), or, 'has His Divine Presence in' (Targum).
|and has His majesty...|
(Targum). Or, 'and who controls the spheres in His majesty' (Moreh Nevukhim 1:10; cf. Rashi); Or, 'who supports the skies in His majesty' (Ibn Ezra).
(Emunoth VeDeyoth 2:12; Sforno). Kedem in Hebrew.
|is a shelter|
(Bereshith Rabbah 68:10; Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Bachya). Meonah in Hebrew; cf. Psalms 90:1. Or, 'Is the support of all existence' (Ibn Janach). Or, '[The heavens] are the abode of the eternal God' (Targum; Rashi).
|with His everlasting arms beneath|
(Ibn Ezra). Or, 'under [His] eternal arms' (Septuagint); 'and below [Him] are the arms of the universe' (Lekach Tov; cf. Sefer HaYetzirah 5:1); 'and under [His] arms is the world' (Yerushalmi, Chagigah 2:1); '[and the support] of the arms of the universe below' (Bachya); '[and who rides] the arms of the universe below' (Chizzkuni; Ralbag); 'and below [the heavens] are [His] eternal arms' (Baaley Tosafoth); 'the eternal arms [lifting] from the depths below' (Hirsch); 'and below are the arms of the universe' (Radak, Sherashim); 'and [subjugated] below Him are the mighty of the world' (Saadia; Rashi; Ibn Janach); or, 'And down below are the mighty of the world' (Midrash HaGadol).
See Numbers 23:9. (Baaley Tosafoth).
(Targum; Sifri; Saadia; Rashi; Radak, Sherashim). Eyn in Hebrew. Or, 'those who come from Jacob's well' or 'fountain' (Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth; Hirsch; Ibn Janach; cf. Psalms 68:27); denoting 'children' (Chizzkuni), or, 'land' (Septuagint). Or, 'eye of Jacob,' denoting prophecy (Midrash HaGadol).
Araf, see Deuteronomy, 32:2. Or, 'shall be misty with dew' (Septuagint).
Ashrey in Hebrew. Makarios in Greek (Septuagint), denoting happiness, good fortune, or having things go just right. Or, 'You have it good' (Targum), or, 'all progress is yours' (Hirsch). See Genesis 30:13. Or, 'the greatest success' (Sforno).
|and your triumphant Sword|
(Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Hirsch). Or, 'Your Helper shall hold His shield over you, and [His] sword is your boast' (Septuagint). Or, 'For you the sword is merely a proud ornament' (Paaneach Razah).
(Targum; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim). Kachash in Hebrew; see 2 Samuel 22:45 (Midrash HaGadol). Or, 'will deny [their hatred]' (Chizzkuni); 'will speak falsely' (Septuagint), 'will renounce their principles' (Hirsch). Or, '[God] will subjugate your enemies' (Saadia).