Page images
PDF
EPUB

seh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only. But the mountain shall be thine ; for it is a wood, and thou fhalt cut it down : and the out-goings of it shall be thine : for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.”*

The Jewish writers take delight in expatiating upon the beauty and fruitfulness of the providentially allotted portion of this tribe. They represent Canaan as a garden, in comparison to the rest of the world, and Mount Ephraim with its adjacent plains as the garden of Canaan. But we must hasten from it, and attend our departing prophet, as he bids a shorter adieu to the remaining tribes.

As the lots of Zebulun and Issachar were to be con. tiguous in Canaan ; as they were brothers german, being both sons of Leah, and thereby had a nearer interest and affection among themselves, and their tents were pitched contiguous to each other in the plains of Moab, Moses addrefses them as forming one body of people. “ And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out ; and Issachar in thy tents.”+ This is, with little variation, a repetition and confirmation of the blessing pronounced by dying Jacob. Zebulun the younger of the two brothers is in both preferred; and in distributing the lots Zebulun has the third lot, Issachar only the fourth. The inheritance of Zebulun was to be of a peculiar quality,

from sources very different from those of the rest of Israel ; they were to grow great by navigation and trade.

The sea, that unruly element, was to be made tributary to them, and through it, a passage opened to them to the valt, populous and wealthy shores of Africa on the south, and of Asia and Europe on the north. • They shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and

of

* Joshua xvii. 14-18.

+ Deut. xxxiii. 18.

of treasures hid in the fand. They shall call the people unto the mountain, there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness."* The Chaldean applies these words peculiarly to Iffachar, and translates them thus. “Rejoice Iffachar, that is, be thou blessed in thy going to appoint the times of the solemn feasts of Israel," which has a reference to what we read of this tribe, i Chron. xii. 32. “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Ifrael ought to do i the heads of them were two hundred, and all their brethren were at their commandment." This is generally understood of the times and seasons of the year, of the new moons and other appearances of the heavenly bodies, by which the folemn festivals were regulated, and which they of Islachar, by their astronomical observation and skill, calculated for the use of all Israel. Hence, they are reprefented in the blesing of Moses as calling the people “ unto Mount Zion, where the temple was.” Thus, we fee every tribe had some feparate and distinct province, some peculiar benefit and privilege, that in the commonwealth of Israel, as in the natural body, there might be no schism, nor the hand be able to say to the eye or to the foot, “I have no need of thee.”

Mofes advances to the tents of Gad with these words upon his tongue. " Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. And he provided the first part for himself, because there in a portion of the law-giver was he seated : and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.”+ The enlargement of Gad may refer to his inheritance, which God hereby promised to extend, as he did that of Israel in general. “ I will enlarge thy border;" or it may be understood of his person, and will then imply deliverance out of trouble, in which sense the word is used Psal.

iv. * Deut. xxxiii, 19. + Deut. xxxii. 20, 21.

iv. 1. « Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” If so, the words of Mofes refer to the troubles of Gad, prophefied of by his dying father, and the history of the deliverance and enlargement of that tribe, from the hands of their enemies, by Jephthą the Gileadite. We read of Gadites in David's time, who were " mighty men of valour," whose faces were like the 66 faces of lions," and were “as swift as the roes upon the mountains.” Hence he is said " to dwell as a lion, and to tear the arm with the crown of the head;" the emblems of fovereignty and strength, intimating that none should be so high or powerful, but the might of Gad fhould bring him down. The blessing in the 21st verse plainly refers to the provision already made for this tribe in conjunction with Reuben, and the half tribe of Manaffeh, in the kingdoms of Og and Sihon. “ And he provided the first part for himself, because there in a portion of the law-giver was he seated : and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Ifrael."*

The younger children of a numerous family, are to a stranger so many uninteresting, insignificant names; they have a mere family likeness, they fpeedily become undistinguishable, we mistake the one for the other. It is not fo with the parents ; they have distinguishing marks for each, they have a particular af, fection for every one; they have fomething to say to, to say of, every one. Thus Dan and Naphtali and Asher are to us fo many words without a meaning ; but in the eyes of Mofes all have a special importance, each particular blessing has a special meaning, and the last is not the least in his affection. But as strangers we pass by the rest, and distinct ideas of only two or three of Judah and Levi, and Benjamin and Joseph, cleave to our memory; these we would know among ten thoufand, these we can never forget. We must now suppose Moses to have finished his

round, * Deut. xxxjii. 21.

round, to have returned to his place; and, closing the solemn scene with taking a general survey of the whole, he rises from the goodly tents of Israel, to the contemplation and acknowledgment of Israel's God, and he finally desists from speaking and acting, in rapturous admiration of Him in whom he lived, moved and breathed; he begins heaven on earth, by pouring out his soul in the bosom of the God of heaven and earth. “There is none like unto the God of Jelhurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help,

is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms : and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, Destroy them. Ifrael then shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine, also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency ! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places." *

-Moses pronounced a blessing which he could not bestow, which has long ago spent itself, the effects of which are no longer visible. . Christ led out his disciples as far as to Bethany : 6 and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.”'t He pronounced a bleffing in his power to confer, which has not spent its force, which reaches into eternity : “ Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghoft; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”| Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. “ He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” “ All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth.” What are the kingdoms of

this * Deut. xxxii. 26-29. † Luke xxiv. 50.

| Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

this world, and the glory of them? What is now the land which once flowed with milk and honey? Where are now “ the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh ?” The blessing even of Jo. feph has failed, and the beauty of Mount Ephraim is no more. But we receive from our greater prophet “ a kingdom which cannot be moved : an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away.” His benediction embraces a globe ; extends from generation to generation; unites his second to his first coming ; expands a new creation,“ new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness ;” exalts guilty, fallen men to the dignity of the sons of God. Let him bless me, and I shall be blessed. Lord, lift thou upon me the light of thy countenance, and I shall be saved; breathe upon me, and I shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

-The blessing of Moses implied succession and change, contention and triumph; exhibited the 6 confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood,” the exaltation of one on the depression of another : the blessing of Christ presents stability and permanency, harmony and peace, equality and acquiescence; exhibits only the noble contention of generous and affectionate spirits, the triumphs of benevolence; the spirit of adoption bursting from every lip, Abba, Father; the spirit of brotherly love glowing in every bosom, tuning the tongue to the law of kindness, beaming from the eye in looks of tenderness. A greater than Moses is with us : we “ are not under the law, but under grace.”

History

« PreviousContinue »