The final weekly parasha is entitled V’zot HaB’racha, meaning,“and this is the blessing” and completes the annual cycle of Torah readings. Shortly before his death, Moses pronounces a blessing over the 12 tribes – a reiteration of what Jacob prophesied over his 12 sons five centuries earlier. The two blessings contain differences, and some of them are worth noting.
The most obvious is that, whereas Jacob conferred judgment on some of his sons, there is only blessing here. Also, Simeon’s name does not appear in Moses’ blessing. This is because Simeon’s land inheritance was eventually subsumed in Judah. This is consistent with Shimon and Levi being told together by Jacob that they would be scattered throughout Israel.
In both blessings, Joseph – Yosef – is called “the one distinguished among his brothers.” Messiah’s human ancestry may trace from the line of Judah, but His character: His humility, wisdom and willingness to forgive His own brothers who disowned Him, are reminiscent of Joseph, and so one of Messiah’s titles is Ben Yosef – the One who suffers, though innocent, and goes on to becomes the very Source of their salvation.
Something very interesting about Levi appears in chapter 33. In verse 9, Moses says of Levi “Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; and he did not acknowledge his brothers, nor did he regard his own sons, for they observed Your word, and kept Your covenant.’ Moses wasn’t advocating that we dishonor our parents or abandon our children. Rather, he was reminding us that the Levites were the only ones loyal to God back at the time of the Golden Calf incident. So fiercely committed to the Covenant was this tribe, that they obeyed God’s command and put to death 3,000 rebellious Israelis that day.
In chapter 34 Adonai summons Moses up Mt. Nebo and allows him a brief panoramic view of the Promised Land, reminding him that he won’t be going in, but will die atop the mountain. I wonder if Moses told the people he wouldn’t be returning. If so, can you imagine the sadness of such a send off? I find it fascinating that for the third and final time, God and Moses are alone on a mountain at a pivotal time:
It was on a mountain top that God commissioned Moses to return to Egypt and deliver Israel. It was on a mountain top that God gave him the tablets of the Law. And now, on this mountain top, God allows him to view the Promised Land before he dies. Of course, Moses eventually did arrive in Israel, again on a mountain, when he appeared with Elijah at Yeshua’s transfiguration.
Moses dies atop Mt. Nebo in the land of Moab. Scripture says that God buried him there, but that no man knows his burial place. The signs and wonders God sent him to perform were, at the time of the completing of the Torah, unparalleled in Israel. Yet, of all the things that might be said in his honor, none is so telling as the statement that God knew Moses face-to-face.
The very last verses of the Torah are set apart as a reminder that what was promised in chapter 18 had not yet taken place. God had promised that one day He would raise up a singular, extraordinary prophet like Moses, and that this One would speak the words of God; and that Israel must give Him unqualified obedience. But the Torah ends with these words: Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face-to-face, for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform…
We’ve come to the end of the Torah, and we’re left still waiting for that One! In synagogues around the world our people have come to the end of this very same Torah, and are left waiting… and wanting. Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, announced the wait was over when He declared, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me”.
V’zot HaB’racha is Moses’ swan song. It represents the conclusion of his earthly life. But if you’ll take his words seriously, and believe on the Messiah – the One of whom he spoke, it will mark the beginning of your eternal life!