Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:12 - 33:12

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:12 - 33:12

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Benjamin. - “The beloved of the Lord will dwell safely with Him; He shelters him at all times, and he dwells between His shoulders.” Benjamin, the son of prosperity, and beloved of his father (Gen 35:18; Gen 44:20), should bear his name with right. He would be the beloved of the Lord, and as such would dwell in safety with the Lord (עָלָיו, lit., founded upon Him). The Lord would shelter him continually. The participle expresses the permanence of the relation: is his shelterer. In the third clause Benjamin is the subject once more; he dwells between the shoulders of Jehovah. “Between the shoulders” is equivalent to “upon the back” (vid., 1Sa 17:6). The expression is founded upon the figure of a father carrying his son (Deu 1:29). This figure is by no means so bold as that of the eagle's wings, upon which the Lord had carried His people, and brought them to Himself (Exo 19:4; vid., Deu 32:11). There is nothing strange in the change of subject in all three clauses, since it is met with repeatedly even in plain prose (e.g., 2Sa 11:13); and here it follows simply enough from the thoughts contained in the different clauses, whilst the suffix in all three clauses refers to the same noun, i.e., to Jehovah.

(Note: “To dwell upon God and between His shoulders is the same as to repose upon Him: the simile being taken from fathers who carry their sons while delicate and young” (Calvin).)

There are some who regard Jehovah as the subject in the third clause, and explain the unheard-of figure which they thus obtain, viz., that of Jehovah dwelling between the shoulders of Benjamin, as referring to the historical fact that God dwelt in the temple at Jerusalem, which was situated upon the border of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. To this application of the words Knobel has properly objected, that God did not dwell between ridges (= shoulders) of mountains there, but upon the top of Moriah; but, on the other hand, he has set up the much more untenable hypothesis, that the expression refers to Gibeon, where the tabernacle stood after the destruction of Nob by Saul. - Moreover, the whole nation participated in the blessing which Moses desired for Benjamin; and this applies to the blessings of the other tribes also. All Israel was, like Benjamin, the beloved of the Lord (vid., Jer 11:15; Psa 60:7), and dwelt with Him in safety (vid., Deu 33:28).