« السابقةمتابعة »
feh, faying, Thou art a great people, and haft great power thou fhalt 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 fhall be thine for thou fhalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be ftrong."*
The Jewish writers take delight in expatiating upon the beauty and fruitfulness of the providentially allotted portion of this tribe. They reprefent 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 haften from it, and attend our departing prophet, as he bids a fhorter adieu to the remaining tribes.
As the lots of Zebulun and Iffachar were to be contiguous in Canaan; as they were brothers german, being both fons of Leah, and thereby had a nearer intereft and affection among themfelves, and their tents were pitched contiguous to each other in the plains of Moab, Mofes addreffes them as forming one body of people. "And of Zebulun he faid, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and Iffachar in thy tents." This is, with little variation, a repetition and confirmation of the bleffing pronounced by dying Jacob. Zebulun the younger of the two brothers is in both preferred; and in diftributing the lots Zebulun has the third lot, Iffachar only the fourth. The inheritance of Zebulun was to be of a peculiar quality, and they were to draw their fubfiftence and wealth from fources very different from thofe of the rest of Ifrael; they were to grow great by navigation and trade.
The fea, that unruly element, was to be made tributary to them, and through it, a paffage opened to them to the vast, populous and wealthy fhores of Africa on the south, and of Afia and Europe on the north. They fhall fuck of the abundance of the feas, and of
*Jofhua xvii. 14-18.
+ Deut. xxxiii. 18.
of treafures hid in the fand. They fhall call the people unto the mountain, there they fhall offer facrifices of righteoufnefs."* The Chaldean applies thefe words peculiarly to Iffachar, and tranflates them thus. "Rejoice Iffachar, that is, be thou bleffed in thy going to appoint the times of the folemn feafts of Ifrael, which has a reference to what we read of this tribe, 1 Chron. xii. 32. "And of the children of Iffachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Ifrael ought to do: 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 feftivals were regulated, and which they of Iffachar, by their aftronomical observation and skill, calculated for the ufe of all Ifrael. Hence, they are reprefented in the bleffing of Mofes as calling the people "unto Mount Zion, where the temple was." Thus, we fee every tribe had fome feparate and diftinct province, fome peculiar benefit and privilege, that in the commonwealth of Ifrael, as in the natural body, there might be no fchifm, nor the hand be able to fay to the eye or to the foot, "I have no need of thee."
Mofes advances to the tents of Gad with thefe words
upon his tongue. "Bleffed 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 feated: and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the juftice of the Lord, and his judgments with Ifrael." The enlargement of Gad may refer to his inheritance, which God hereby promised to extend, as he did that of Ifrael in general. "I will enlarge thy border;" or it may be understood of his perfon, and will then imply deliverance out of trouble, in which fenfe the word is used Pfal. iv.
+ Deut. xxxiii. 20, 21.
* Deut. xxxiii, 19.
iv. 1. "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in diftrefs." If so, the words of Mofes refer to the troubles of Gad, prophefied of by his dying father, and the hiftory of the deliverance and enlargement of that tribe, from the hands of their enemies, by Jephtha the Gileadite. We read of Gadites in David's time, who were "mighty men of valour," whofe faces were like the "faces of lions," and were "as fwift as the roes upon the mountains." Hence he is faid "to dwell as a lion, and to tear the arm with the crown of the head;" the emblems of fovereignty and ftrength, intimating that none fhould be fo high or powerful, but the might of Gad fhould bring him down. The bleffing in the 21ft verfe plainly refers to the provifion 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 feated: and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the juftice of the Lord, and his judgments with Ifrael."*
The younger children of a numerous family, are to a stranger fo many uninterefting, infignificant names; they have a mere family likenefs, they fpeedily become undiftinguishable, we mistake the one for the other. It is not fo with the parents; they have diftinguishing marks for each, they have a particular affection for every one; they have fomething to fay to, to fay of, every one. Thus Dan and Naphtali and Áfher are to us fo many words without a meaning; but in the eyes of Mofes all have a special importance, each particular bleffing has a fpecial meaning, and the last is not the least in his affection. But as ftrangers we pass by the reft, and diftinct ideas of only two or three of Judah and Levi, and Benjamin and Jofeph, cleave to our memory; thefe we would know among ten thoufand, these we can never forget.
We must now fuppofe Mofes to have finished his
* Deut. xxxiii. 21.
round, to have returned to his place; and, clofing the folemn scene with taking a general furvey of the whole, he rifes from the goodly tents of Ifrael, to the contemplation and acknowledgment of Ifrael's God, and he finally defifts 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 foul in the bofom of the God of heaven and earth. "There is none like unto the God of Jefhurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the fky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms : and he fhall thruft out the enemy from before thee, and shall fay, Destroy them. Ifrael then fhall dwell in fafety alone; the fountain of Jacob fhall be upon a land of corn and wine, alfo his heavens fhall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Ifrael, who is like unto thee, O people, faved by the Lord, the fhield of thy help, and who is the fword of thy excellency! and thine enemies fhall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places."*
-Mofes pronounced a bleffing which he could not bestow, which has long ago spent itself, the effects of which are no longer visible. Chrift led out his disciples as far as to Bethany: " and he lifted up his hands, and bleffed them." He pronounced a bleffing in his power to confer, which has not fpent 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 Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatfoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Heaven and earth fhall pass away, but his word fhall not pafs away, till all be fulfilled. "He ever liveth to make interceffion for us." "All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth." What are the kingdoms of this
*Deut. xxxiii. 26—29.
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 Manaffeh?" The blefling even of Jofeph 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 fecond to his firft coming; expands a new creation, "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteoufnefs;" exalts guilty, fallen men to the dignity of the fons of God. Let him blefs me, and I fhall be bleffed. Lord, lift thou upon me the light of thy countenance, and I fhall be faved; breathe upon me, and I fhall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
-The bleffing of Mofes implied fucceffion and change, contention and triumph; exhibited the "confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood," the exaltation of one on the depreffion of another the bleffing of Chrift prefents stability and permanency, harmony and peace, equality and acquiefcence; exhibits only the noble contention of generous and affectionate spirits, the triumphs of benevolence; the fpirit of adoption burfting from every lip, Abba, Father; the fpirit of brotherly love glowing in every bofom, tuning the tongue to the law of kindnefs, beaming from the eye in looks of tenderness. A greater than Mofes is with us: we are not under the law, but under grace."