Deuteronomy 33:6
(6) Let Reuben live, and not die.--"'Live' in this world." says Rashi, "and 'not die' in the world to come." That his misdeed should not be remembered (Genesis 35:22). Rashi also notices the juxtaposition of this record with the sentence, "the sons of Jacob were twelve." Reuben was not cut off, but he was disinherited (1Chronicles 5:1), and his father's blessing had so much in it of disapproval, that Moses' prayer for him was not unnecessary.

And let not his men be few.--The sentence is difficult. The LXX. insert Simeon, "let Simeon be many in number." But there is no need for this. The most terrible destruction ever wrought in Israel by the word of Moses came on Dathan and Abiram (who were Reubenites), when "they and all that appertained to them went down alive into the pit." We cannot say how far the tribe was diminished by this terrible visitation and the plague that followed (Numbers 16), but the fighting men of the tribe had slightly decreased in the second census (Numbers 1:21; Numbers 26:7), and only two of all the twelve tribes had a smaller force than Reuben

at this time. It seems best, therefore, to take the whole verse as applying to Reuben, and the negative in the first clause as covering the second clause also. "Let not his men be a (small) number." The omission of Simeon may be accounted for by his coming within the inheritance of Judah, in Canaan, and enjoying the blessing and protection of that most distinguished tribe. Rashi also takes this view.

Verses 6-25. - Blessings on the tribes individually. With these may be compared the blessing which Jacob pronounced on his sons as representing the tribes of which they were the heads. The two resemble each other in many points; the differences are such as naturally arose from the different relations of the speakers to the objects of their address, and the changes in the condition and prospects of the tribes which during the lapse of centuries had come to pass. Verse 6. - And let not his men be few. The negative, though not expressed in the Hebrew, is to be carried into this clause from the preceding. Though the rights of primogeniture had been withdrawn from Reuben, and Jacob had declared that he should not excel, Moses here assures the tribe of continuance, and even prosperity. Their number was not to be small; which was, perhaps, said to comfort them, in view of the fact that their numbers had greatly diminished in the course of their wanderings in the desert (comp. Numbers 1:21 with Numbers 26:7). At no time, however, was this tribe numerous as compared with the others; nor was it ever distinguished either by the enterprise of its members or by the eminence of any of them in the councils of the nation or the management of affairs.

33:6-23 The order in which the tribes are here blessed, is not the same as is observed elsewhere. The blessing of Judah may refer to the whole tribe in general, or to David as a type of Christ. Moses largely blesses the tribe of Levi. Acceptance with God is what we should all aim at, and desire, in all our devotions, whether men accept us or not, 2Co 5:9. This prayer is a prophecy, that God will keep up a ministry in his church to the end of time. The tribe of Benjamin had their inheritance close to mount Zion. To be situated near the ordinances, is a precious gift from the Lord, a privilege not to be exchanged for any worldly advantage, or indulgence. We should thankfully receive the earthly blessings sent to us, through the successive seasons. But those good gifts which come down from the Father of lights, through the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and the pouring out of his Spirit like the rain which makes fruitful, are infinitely more precious, as the tokens of his special love. The precious things here prayed for, are figures of spiritual blessing in heavenly things by Christ, the gifts, graces, and comforts of the Spirit. When Moses prays for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush, he refers to the covenant, on which all our hopes of God's favour must be founded. The providence of God appoints men's habitations, and wisely disposes men to different employments for the public good. Whatever our place and business are, it is our wisdom and duty to apply thereto; and it is happiness to be well pleased therewith. We should not only invite others to the service of God, but abound in it. The blessing of Naphtali. The favour of God is the only favour satisfying to the soul. Those are happy indeed, who have the favour of God; and those shall have it, who reckon that in having it they have enough, and desire no more.Let Reuben live, and not die,.... As a tribe, continue and not be extinct, though they should not excel, because of the sin of their progenitor; and it may have a special regard to the preservation of them, of their families on the other side Jordan, while they passed over it with their brethren into Canaan, and of them in that expedition to help the other tribes in the conquest of the country and the settlement of them in it; which Jacob by a spirit of prophecy foresaw, and in a prayer of faith petitioned for their safety: all the three Targums refer the words to a future state, as a wish for them, that they might live and enjoy an eternal life, and not die the death of the wicked in the world to come; and which they call the second death, and from whom the Apostle John seems to have borrowed the phrase, Revelation 2:11 Revelation 20:6; Reuben signifies, "see the Son"; and all that see the Son of God in a spiritual manner, and believe in him with a true faith, as they live spiritually now, shall live eternally hereafter, and never die the second or eternal death; on them that shall have no power, see John 6:40,

and let not his men be few; or, "though his men be few?" as Bishop Patrick chooses to render the words, and as they will bear, "vau", being sometimes so used, of which Noldius (h) gives instances; and the number of men in this tribe were but few in comparison of some others; and so those that see the Son of God and believe in him are but a small number; for all men have not faith. 2 Thessalonians 3:2

(h) Concord. part. Ebr. p. 292.

Deuteronomy 33:5
Top of Page
Top of Page