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Deuteronomy 33:8-11

Context
Blessing on Levi

33:8 Of Levi he said:

Your Thummim and Urim 1  belong to your godly one, 2 

whose authority you challenged at Massah, 3 

and with whom you argued at the waters of Meribah. 4 

33:9 He said to his father and mother, “I have not seen him,” 5 

and he did not acknowledge his own brothers

or know his own children,

for they kept your word,

and guarded your covenant.

33:10 They will teach Jacob your ordinances

and Israel your law;

they will offer incense as a pleasant odor,

and a whole offering on your altar.

33:11 Bless, O Lord, his goods,

and be pleased with his efforts;

undercut the legs 6  of any who attack him,

and of those who hate him, so that they cannot stand.

1 sn Thummim and Urim. These terms, whose meaning is uncertain, refer to sacred stones carried in a pouch on the breastplate of the high priest and examined on occasion as a means of ascertaining God’s will or direction. See Exod 28:30; Lev 8:8; Num 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6. See also C. Van Dam, NIDOTTE 1:329-31.

2 tn Heb “godly man.” The reference is probably to Moses as representative of the whole tribe of Levi.

3 sn Massah means “testing” in Hebrew; the name is a wordplay on what took place there. Cf. Exod 17:7; Deut 6:16; 9:22; Ps 95:8-9.

4 sn Meribah means “contention, argument” in Hebrew; this is another wordplay on the incident that took place there. Cf. Num 20:13, 24; Ps 106:32.

5 sn This statement no doubt alludes to the Levites’ destruction of their own fellow tribesmen following the golden calf incident (Exod 32:25-29).

6 tn Heb “smash the sinews [or “loins,” so many English versions].” This part of the body was considered to be center of one’s strength (cf. Job 40:16; Ps 69:24; Prov 31:17; Nah 2:2, 11). See J. H. Tigay, Deuteronomy (JPSTC), 325.



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