In this chapter, Moses prophesies over the twelve tribes of Israel, ultimately seeing their end-time deliverance when Jesus appears in glory over Sinai, reveals himself to Israel in Seir, and leads them back to their land in victory.
Verses 2 to 5 are written in the past tense, and the NET Bible translators entitle this section as 'A Historical Review'. However, biblical prophecies are often written in the past tense (referred to as 'the prophetic past tense'). Given that this chapter introduces prophetic blessings on each of the twelve tribes, and given the content of these verses it is reasonable to understand this section to be prophetic rather than historic.

Verse 2 says, "The Lord came from Sinai and revealed himself to Israel from Seir. He appeared in splendor from Mount Paran, and came forth with ten thousand holy ones. With his right hand he gave a fiery law to them".

Although Sinai has traditionally been identified as Jebal Musa in what is known today as the Sinai Peninsula, it is more likely that the biblical Mount Sinai was on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba in Midian, which is now north-western Saudi Arabia (see map below). Seir was the mountainous territory given to Esau (Joshua 24:4) and is synonymous with Edom. At the time of the Exodus, Edom was the region shown on the map (although by the 6th century BC it was seen to extend half-way down the west side of modern-day Saudi Arabia). Mount Paran was likely a peak within the Desert of Paran. The Desert of Paran was where Ishmael lived after he and Hagar were driven away by Sarah (Genesis 21:21), and was likely located to the south-east of Aqaba (biblical Ezion-geber), bordering Edom. The Israelites were encamped in the Desert of Paran when Moses sent twelve spies to the promised land (Numbers 13:3). Moses' prophecy of the Lord appearing in splendour (glory) from Mount Paran equates with that of Habakkuk 3:3, "God comes from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor has covered the skies, the earth is full of his glory". It also matches the end-time prophecy of Enoch that is quoted in Jude 14-15, "The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed". This is the second coming appearance of Jesus in all his glory, that occurs at the seventh and last trumpet (Revelation 11:15). It appears from Isaiah 63:1-6 that he then fights against Edom, but does so alone. The main purpose of his Edom campaign is likely to rescue the Jewish exiles who have spent the Great Tribulation in a desert safe-place (Revelation 12:6) that is called Bozrah, meaning 'sheepfold', and from which Jesus breaks them out and then advances as their king, leading them out (Micah 2:12-13). From verse 2, here in Deuteronomy 33 (along with Habakkuk 3:3), it appears this 'Bozrah sheepfold' may be located in the region of Mount Paran. Various scriptures indicate that Jesus will then muster an army (Search by tags: Jesus musters an army), so that by the time he arrives at the battle of Armageddon, he is accompanied by a large army (Revelation 19:4). This army of holy ones likely includes the Jews he has liberated from the Bozrah sheepfold, and possibly also raptured and resurrected Christians (Psalm 50:3-5). In the statement "With his right hand he gave a fiery law to them", 'law' is the Hebrew word 'dath' which can mean 'law, decree, or commission'. Various prophecies portray Jesus as a mighty warrior at his second coming (Psalm 45:3, Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 30:27-28, 31:4, 66:15, Joel 2:11, Zechariah 9:14, 14:3, Revelation 19:15) and many portray him using fire as a weapon of judgment (Psalm 29:7, 50:3, 97:3, Isaiah 30:27-28, 33:12-14, 66:15-16, Matthew 3:12, Hebrews 10:27). The armies that accompany him will join him in his commission of fiery judgment against his enemies. If verse 2 is understood in such an end-time context, the initial statement "The Lord came from Sinai and revealed himself to Israel from Seir" may imply that when Jesus returns in glory, he descends first to Mount Sinai and proceeds from there to Seir where he reveals himself to Israel and delivers them from their 'Bozrah sheepfold'. This is supported by Psalm 68:17, an end-time psalm, which says, "God has countless chariots; they number in the thousands. The Lord comes from Sinai in holy splendor".

Verse 3 says, "Surely he loves the people; all your holy ones are in your power. And they sit at your feet, each receiving your words".

This implies that the ten thousand holy ones mentioned in verse 2 are God's people, not angels.

Verses 4 to 5 say, "Moses delivered to us a law, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob. 5 The Lord was king over Jeshurun, when the leaders of the people assembled, the tribes of Israel together".

Although Moses was a prophet who gave Israel the law, their king was and will be the Lord (Jesus). Whenever interpreting Old Testament end-time prophecies through the lens of the New Testament, it is important to recognise that according to Philippians 2:9-11, at the second coming every knee will bow before Jesus, and every tongue confess him as Lord. In saying this, Paul takes Isaiah 45:22-24 and replaces both 'Lord' and 'God' with 'Jesus'. It is therefore correct for us to do the same in many end-time portrayals of 'God' or 'the Lord'. Jeshurun is a poetic name of affection for Israel. At the second coming, many prophecies portray the restoration of all twelves tribes of Israel, and their reunification as a single nation under the rule of Jesus their king (Search by tags: Restoration of Israel and Judah).

In verses 6 to 25, Moses prophesies over each of the twelve tribes. It is likely these were fulfilled historically, although it is also possible they will find further fulfilment during the Millennium after the twelve tribes are restored to the land of Israel.

Verse 26 says that God "rides through the sky to help you, on the clouds in majesty". Poetically and metaphorically, God is seen to have done this historically when he helped Israel fight her battles, as in Psalm 68:33 which describes God as "the one who rides through the sky from ancient times! Look! He thunders loudly". However, both these passages are ultimately prophetic, for at his second coming, Jesus will visibly do so (Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7).

Verses 27 to 29 describe God carrying Israel, driving enemies out before her, and establishing her securely in her land. God delivers her and makes her victorious over her enemies. Although this was partially fulfilled in Israel's historic exodus, many prophecies portray Israel's end-time exodus (Search by tags: End-time exodus). Ultimately, this will be fulfilled at the battle of Armageddon, and when Israel is made secure in her land at the beginning of the Millennium.
Stacks Image 4511
Places: Israel, Sinai, Seir, Mount Paran
Tags: Jesus rides on the clouds, Jesus comes from Sinai, Jesus musters an army, End-time exodus, Restoration of Israel and Judah, Millennial peace
Introduction to the Blessing of Moses
33 This is the blessing Moses the man of God pronounced upon the Israelites before his death. 2 He said:

A Historical Review
The Lord came from Sinai and revealed himself to Israel from Seir.
He appeared in splendor from Mount Paran, and came forth with ten thousand holy ones. With his right hand he gave a fiery law to them.
3 Surely he loves the people; all your holy ones are in your power. And they sit at your feet, each receiving your words.
4 Moses delivered to us a law, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob.
5 The Lord was king over Jeshurun, when the leaders of the people assembled, the tribes of Israel together.

Blessing on Reuben

6 May Reuben live and not die, and may his people multiply.

Blessing on Judah

7 And this is the blessing to Judah. He said, Listen, O Lord, to Judah’s voice, and bring him to his people. May his power be great, and may you help him against his foes.

Blessing on Levi

8 Of Levi he said: Your Thummim and Urim belong to your godly one, whose authority you challenged at Massah, and with whom you argued at the waters of Meribah.
9 He said to his father and mother, “I have not seen him,” and he did not acknowledge his own brothers or know his own children, for they kept your word, and guarded your covenant.
10 They will teach Jacob your ordinances and Israel your law; they will offer incense as a pleasant odor, and a whole offering on your altar.
11 Bless, O Lord, his goods, and be pleased with his efforts; undercut the legs of any who attack him, and of those who hate him, so that they cannot stand.

Blessing on Benjamin

12 Of Benjamin he said: The beloved of the Lord will live safely by him; he protects him all the time, and the Lord places him on his chest.

Blessing on Joseph

13 Of Joseph he said: May the Lord bless his land with the harvest produced by the sky, by the dew, and by the depths crouching beneath;
14 with the harvest produced by the daylight and by the moonlight;
15 with the best of the ancient mountains and the harvest produced by the age-old hills;
16 with the harvest of the earth and its fullness and the pleasure of him who resided in the burning bush. May blessing rest on Joseph’s head, and on the top of the head of the one set apart from his brothers.
17 May the firstborn of his bull bring him honor, and may his horns be those of a wild ox; with them may he gore all peoples, all the far reaches of the earth. They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

Blessing on Zebulun and Issachar

18 Of Zebulun he said: Rejoice, Zebulun, when you go outside, and Issachar, when you are in your tents.
19 They will summon peoples to the mountain, there they will sacrifice proper sacrifices; for they will enjoy the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the shores.

Blessing on Gad

20 Of Gad he said: Blessed be the one who enlarges Gad. Like a lioness he will dwell; he will tear at an arm – indeed, a scalp.
21 He has selected the best part for himself, for the portion of the ruler is set aside there; he came with the leaders of the people, he obeyed the righteous laws of the Lord and his ordinances with Israel.

Blessing on Dan

22 Of Dan he said: Dan is a lion’s cub; he will leap forth from Bashan.

Blessing on Naphtali

23 Of Naphtali he said: O Naphtali, overflowing with favor, and full of the Lord’s blessing, possess the west and south.

Blessing on Asher

24 Of Asher he said: Asher is blessed with children, may he be favored by his brothers and may he dip his foot in olive oil.
25 The bars of your gates will be made of iron and bronze, and may you have lifelong strength.

General Praise and Blessing

26 There is no one like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the sky to help you, on the clouds in majesty.
27 The everlasting God is a refuge, and underneath you are his eternal arms; he has driven out enemies before you, and has said, “Destroy!”
28 Israel lives in safety, the fountain of Jacob is quite secure, in a land of grain and new wine; indeed, its heavens rain down dew.
29 You have joy, Israel! Who is like you? You are a people delivered by the Lord, your protective shield and your exalted sword. May your enemies cringe before you; may you trample on their backs.