Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:24 - 33:24

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 33:24 - 33:24


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Asher. - “Blessed before the sons be Asher; let him be the favoured among his brethren, and dipping his foot in oil. Iron and brass be thy castle; and as the days of thy life let thy rest continue.” Asher, the prosperous (see at Gen 30:15), was justly to bear the name. He was to be a child of prosperity; blessed with earthly good, he was to enjoy rest all his life long in strong fortresses. It is evident enough that this blessing is simply an exposition of the name Asher, and that Moses here promises the tribe a verification of the omen contained in its name. מִבָּנִים בָּרוּךְ does not mean “blessed with children,” or “praised because of his children,” in which case we should have בָּנָיו; but “blessed before the sons” (cf. Jdg 5:24), i.e., blessed before the sons of Jacob, who were peculiarly blessed, equivalent to the most blessed of all the sons of Israel. אֶחָיו רְצוּי does not mean the beloved among his brethren, acceptable to his brethren, but the one who enjoyed the favour of the Lord, i.e., the one peculiarly favoured by the Lord. Dipping the foot in oil points to a land flowing with oil (Job 29:6), i.e., fat or fertile throughout, which Jacob had already promised to Asher (see Gen 49:20). To complete the prosperity, however, security and rest were required for the enjoyment of the blessings bestowed by God; and these are promised in Deu 33:25. מִנְעָל (ἅπ. λεγ.) does not mean a shoe, but is derived from נָעַל, to bolt (Jdg 3:23), and signifies either a bolt, or that which is shut fast; a poetical expression for a castle or fortress. Asher's dwellings were to be castles, fortresses of iron and brass; i.e., as strong and impregnable as if they were built of iron and brass. The pursuit of mining is not to be thought of as referred to here, even though the territory of Asher, which reached to Lebanon, may have contained brass and iron (see at Deu 8:9). Luther follows the lxx and Vulgate, and renders this clause, “iron and brass be upon his shoes;” but this is undoubtedly wrong, as the custom of fastening the shoes or sandals with brass or iron was quite unknown to the Israelites; and even Goliath, who was clothed in brass from head to foot, and wore iron greaves, had no iron sandals, though the military shoes of the ancient Romans had nails in the soles. Moreover, the context contains no reference to war, so as to suggest the idea that the treading down and cursing of the foe are intended. “As thy days,” i.e., as long as the days of thy life last, let thy rest be (continue). Luther's rendering, “let thine old age be as thy youth,” which follows the Vulgate, cannot be sustained; for although דֹּבֶא, derived from דָאַב, to vanish away, certainly might signify old age, the expression “thy days” cannot possibly be understood as signifying youth.