Deuteronomy 33:23 meaning

Moses pronounces blessings on the tribe of Naphtali.


Moses continues the poem of blessing he pronounced upon Israel that he began in Deuteronomy 33:1. The next tribe on which Moses pronounced blessings was the tribe of Naphtali (v. 23). Naphtali (“my struggles”) was the second son that Bilhah bore to Jacob. She bore two sons to Jacob: the first Dan, and then Naphtali (Genesis 30:1-8).

In his benediction to Naphtali, Moses described him as one satisfied with favor and full of the blessing of the LORD. God’s favor (Hebrewrāṣōn”) refers to His good pleasure and acceptance resulting in security and prosperity. God’s blessing (Heb.berēkâ”) refers to success, prosperity, or material possessions (such as land) which He bestows on someone. Hence, Naphtali would receive God’s favor to enjoy many blessings from Him.

Moses further commanded Naphtali to take possession of the sea and the south. The word translated as sea (Heb.yām”) probably refers to the Sea of Galilee, which is located on the southern boundary of the territory of Naphtali. This likely suggests that Naphtali would occupy the territory in the Upper Galilee, a prosperous and fruitful land, according to Joshua 19:32–37.

Perhaps one of the greatest blessings Naphtali enjoyed was the fact the Lord Jesus Christ spent a great amount of His time ministering in the tribal areas of Naphtali and Zebulun (Matthew 4:12–17). According to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus came, He settled in Capernaum, a small fishing village on the northern shoreline by the Sea of Galilee (see map in Additional Resources ) This region is in ancient tribal lands of Zebulun and Naphtali among the northern borders of Israel. This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy in which he saw a great light coming from here to enlighten those walking in darkness (Isaiah 9:1-2).

Biblical Text:

23 Of Naphtali he said,
O Naphtali, satisfied with favor,
And full of the blessing of the Lord,
Take possession of the sea and the south.

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