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Luke xvi. 31. Moses spake from the brink of the grave, and was forgotten the moment his voice ceased. God himself thundered from Sinai, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me," Exod. xx, 4, 5; and within "a little month" we see all Israel dancing round a golden calf, and saying," These be thy Gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt," Exod. xxxii. 4. The Son of Man came down from heaven, disclosed the secrets of the eternal mind; descended into the grave, and returned to the earth, and showed himself openly. But did infidelity stop her mouth? No. "Some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day," Matt. xxviii. 11-15.
The circumstances in which Moses took his last long farewell of his beloved charge, were such, one would think, as to leave a lasting, an indelible impression on the minds of his hearers; but the sequel shows us, that the impressions of gratitude, sympathy, sorrow and regret, are "as the morning cloud and the early dew, which passeth away."
-Having finished his course, and the time of his departure drawing nigh, we behold the man of God making his final progress through the camp of Israel;
going from tribe to tribe, from standard to standard, saluting every one by his name, and pronouncing over him the cordial benediction of a dying friend. Wẹ have accompanied him from Reuben to Judah, and from Judah to Levi, and heard his dying breath confirm the promise of royal dignity to the one, and entail the sacred dignity of the priesthood upon the other. They have heard his last adieu. Their eyes shall behold him no more. He has now arrived at the encampment of Benjamin. Benjamin the son of his mother's sorrow, the son of his father's right hand: the last of Israel in the course of nature, not the least in the affection of his sole surviving parent, nor in importance as one of the heads of the holy commonwealth. Benjamin, destined of Providence to support the throne of David, when shaken by the revolt of ten tribes. And what is the blessing of Benjamin?" Of Benja min he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders,” Deut. xxxiii. 12.
The course in which Moses proceeded in pronouncing the blessing, is supposed by some to be prophetically governed, according to the geographical description of Canaan, and the order and course in which each portion was allotted to every several tribe. Benjamin, therefore, is addressed before his elder brother Joseph, because the lot of his inheritance was to lie between the lots of Judah and Joseph, and to border upon each, and this, by consulting the book of Joshua, xviii. 11, you will find was the case. And we shall afterwards find many circumstances concurring to give a distinction and a consequence to Benjamin, among the tribes of Israel. Jebus, that is Jerusalem, fell to them. Of course, the seat of empire and of religion, in process of time, was fixed in the midst of them. Imperial Judah administered the affairs of government in a city belonging to another tribe, and from the day
that the temple was built, not only the priests the sons of Levi were called to minister in the order of their course, within the confines of their brother Benjamin; but all the males of all the tribes were obliged to appear before the Lord in the same place, at the three great stated festivals every year, besides the innumerable occasional visits made to the metropolis of the whole country, as to the centre of civil government and of religious worship.
On comparing the arrangement of the precious stones in the breast-plate of the high-priest, with that of the same number and quality of gems which are represented as constituting the foundation of the new Jerusalem, we find the jasper standing last, with the name of Benjamin engraved upon it, in the breastplate; but the first in the foundation of the holy city, which is the type of the christian church.
With the aid of Benjamin alone Judah was enabled to support an independent sovereignty, which considerably outlasted the kingdom of the ten tribes. This, and various other circumstances, in the future history and condition of this tribe, explain the blessing of Moses, which describes him as "the beloved of the Lord," tenderly watched over and protected of Jeho vah, as the progenitor of this tribe according to the flesh, was carefully kept at home, and affectionately cherished by his father Jacob; as "dwelling in safety by him," that is, in confidence, in security, there being none to make him afraid," to whom God was so nigh. There is apparently an allusion to this, and a beautiful one, in the 48th Psalm, from verse 1 to 5. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were trou
bled, and hasted away." "The Lord shall cover him," adds Moses, "all day long." "Cover." The Seventy translate the word by one that signifies "to overshadow." The Chaldean paraphrase is, "he shall be a shield over him;" it denotes a security, covering or protection from evil; and the evangelical prophet, Isaiah, beautifully expands the thought in these remarkable words, descriptive of and applied to the same object. "And the Lord will create upon every dwellingplace of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from the storm and from rain," Isai. iv. 5, 6. "All day long," or "every day;" that is, continually. "And he shall dwell between his shoulders;" like the head, the glory of the natural body, rearing itself majestically between and upon "the shoulders," the strength and power of the man. This was the blessing of Benjamin.
Moses seems now to turn to a peculiarly favourite object; he seems to rise above himself, the spirit of dying Jacob seems to revive in him. As if the name of Joseph were the fire put to the train, he kindles, he blazes, he lightens. As if the name of Joseph were the signal to be at once great and sublime, tender and pathetic, approching his standard, recollecting the history and character of their illustrious progenitor, contemplating their rising greatness and prosperity, he thus breaks out in strains loftier than bard ever sung. "Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and
fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh," Deut. xxxiii. 13-17. Isaac had but two sons, and found himself exhausted when he had bestowed a blessing upon one of them; Jacob has twelve sons, and yet he has a several blessing for each son. Israel at the death of Moses was increased to an innumerable multitude, and yet there are blessings enough, and to spare, and yet there is room. And when God shall have brought back the captivity of Jacob, when God shall have brought his ancient people within the bond of the gospel covenant, together with the fulness of the Gentile nations, the tide of benediction shall rise, and rise, and swell to the number and necessity of all the partakers. Thus the sacred stream which Ezekiel saw in vision, issuing from the threshold of the house, was at first but a little bubbling fountain; but after a progress of a thousand cubits, became "a brook of water up to the ancles;" after a thousand more, had risen to the height of the loins; and after a thousand more "the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over."
To go into a detail of the particulars contained in the blessing of Joseph, instead of occupying the place of an evening, might furnish employment for years. I feel myself perfectly at a loss how to represent it to your view; in what light first to consider it, what particular part of it to bring forward-whether I should at all presume to attempt an illustration of it, or leave it altogether to your private meditation. Never, surely, in the same quantity of words were exhibited such a mul