Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:20 - 33:20

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:20 - 33:20


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Gad. - “Blessed be He that enlargeth Gad: like a lioness he lieth down, and teareth the arm, yea, the crown of the head. And he chose his first-fruit territory, for there was the leader's portion kept; and he came to the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his rights with Israel.” Just as in the blessing of Noah (Gen 9:26) the God of Shem is praised, to point out the salvation appointed by God for Shem, so here Moses praises the Lord, who enlarged Gad, i.e., who not only gave him a broad territory in the conquered kingdom of Sihon, but furnished generally an unlimited space for his development (vid., Gen 26:22), so that he might unfold his lion-like nature in conflict with his foes. On the figure of a lioness, see Gen 49:9; and on the warlike character of the Gadites, the remarks on the blessing of Jacob upon Gad (Gen 49:19). The second part of the blessing treats of the inheritance which Gad obtained from Moses at his own request beyond Jordan. רָאָה, with an accusative and ל, signifies to look out something for oneself (Gen 22:8; 1Sa 16:17). The “first-fruit” refers here to the first portion of the land which Israel received for a possession; this is evident from the reason assigned, חֶלְקַת שָׁם כִּי, whilst the statement that Gad chose the hereditary possession is in harmony with Num 32:2, Num 32:6, Num 32:25., where the children of Gad are described as being at the head of the tribes, who came before Moses to ask for the conquered land as their possession. The meaning of the next clause, of which very different explanations have been given, can only be, that Gad chose such a territory for its inheritance as became a leader of the tribes. מְחֹקֵק, he who determines, commands, organizes; hence both a commander and also a leader in war. It is in the latter sense that it occurs both here and in Jdg 5:14. מְחֹקֵק חֶלְקַת, the field, or territory of the leader, may either be the territory appointed or assigned by the lawgiver, or the territory falling to the lot of the leader. According to the former view, Moses would be the mechokek. But the thought, that Moses appointed or assigned him his inheritance, could be no reason why Gad should choose it for himself. Consequently מְחֹקֵק חֶלְקַת can only mean the possession which the mechokek chose for himself, as befitting him, or specially adapted for him. Consequently the mechokek was not Moses, but the tribe of Gad, which was so called because it unfolded such activity and bravery at the head of the tribes in connection with the conquest of the land, that it could be regarded as their leaders. This peculiar prominence on the part of the Gadites may be inferred from the fact, that they distinguished themselves above the Reubenites in the fortification of the conquered land (Num 32:34.). סָפוּן, from סָפַן, to cover, hide, preserve, is a predicate, and construed as a noun, “a thing preserved.” - On the other hand, the opinion has been very widely spread, from the time of Onkelos down to Baumgarten and Ewald, that this hemistich refers to Moses: “there is the portion of the lawgiver hidden,” or “the field of the hidden leader,” and that it contains an allusion to the fact that the grave of Moses was hidden in the inheritance of Gad. But this is not only at variance with the circumstance, that a prophetic allusion to the grave of Moses such as Baumgarten assumes is apparently inconceivable, from the simple fact that we cannot imagine the Gadites to have foreseen the situation of Moses' grave at the time when they selected their territory, but also with the fact that, according to Jos 13:20, the spot where this grave was situated (Deu 34:5) was not allotted to the tribe of Gad, but to that of Reuben; and lastly, with the use of the word chelkah, which does not signify a burial-ground or grave. - But although Gad chose out an inheritance for himself, he still went before his brethren, i.e., along with the rest of the tribes, into Canaan, to perform in connection with them, what the Lord demanded of His people as a right. This is the meaning of the second half of the verse. The clause, “he came to the heads of the people,” does not refer to the fact that the Gadites came to Moses and the heads of the congregation, to ask for the conquered land as a possession (Num 32:2), but expressed the thought that Gad joined the heads of the people to go at the head of the tribes of Israel (comp. Jos 1:14; Jos 4:12, with Num 32:17, Num 32:21, Num 32:32), to conquer Canaan with the whole nation, and root out the Canaanites. The Gadites had promised this to Moses and the heads of the people; and this promise Moses regarded as an accomplished act, and praised in these words with prophetic foresight as having been already performed, and that not merely as one single manifestation of their obedience towards the word of the Lord, but rather as a pledge that Gad would always manifest the same disposition. “To do the righteousness of Jehovah,” i.e., to do what Jehovah requires of His people as righteousness - namely, to fulfil the commandments of God, in which the righteousness of Israel was to consist (Deu 6:25). יֵתֵא, imperfect Kal for יֶאֱהֶת or יֶאתֶּה; see Ges. §76, 2, c., and Ewald, §142, c. “With Israel:” in fellowship with (the rest of) Israel.