Deut. xxxiii. 8,9. And of Levi he said, Let thy Thumfnim
and thy Urim be luitk thy holy one, luhoni thon didst
prove at Massah, and ivith wliom thou didst strive at the
waters of Meribah; ivho said unto his father and to his
mother, I have not seen him; ?ieither did lie acknowledge
his brethren, nor kneiv his own children : for they have ob-
served thy word, and kept thy covenant.
AS the father of his people, Moses desired to bless
them before his death ; and the pronouncing of this
blessing, in which he was endued with a spirit of pro-
phecy, was the last act of his life. The grounds on
which the blessing was bestowed on the tribe of'
Levi, are so peculiar, that they deserve a distinct
consideration. There is manifestly a testimony given
366 DEUTEROOMY, XXXIII. 8, 9- [160.
them of decided approbation : and from this circum-
stance commentators have been led to regard the
whole of what is spoken in the text as of the same
import; and to supply from conjecture what is no
where noticed in the Mosaic history, or rather to
contradict altogether what is plainly noticed. The
conduct of Levi both at Massah (which was also called
Meribah), and, above thirty-eight years afterwards,
at another place called Meribah, was exceeding sin-
ful ^ At the latter place in particular, both Moses
and Aaron, as well as the people, offended God ; and
were for that offence doomed to die in the wilder-
ness, and never to enter into the promised land.
Hence it might have been supposed that God would
punish the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron by
withdrawing from them the peculiar honours he had
conferred upon them ; but as on one occasion they
had signalized themselves by a very exalted act of
obedience, he was pleased to record what they had
done, and to make it an occasion of continuing in their
line the most distinguished testimonies of his regard.
This sense accords with the history; to the very
terms of which the text seems specifically to refer ''.
Li the words before us there are two things parti-
cularly to be noticed ;
L The commendation of Levi —
The act for which they were commended was truly
[When tlie people throughout the camp of Israel were wor-
shipping the golden calf, Moses, filled with indignation, called
the Levites to him, and bid them gird on swords and slay the
ringleaders in idolatry throughout the whole camp : and this
order they executed immediately, without any respect of persons
whatever: they spared not eitlier their nearest lelatives or tJieir
dearest friends ; hut slew of the people 3000 men*^.
This would be thought by many to be a savage act, and
to deserve censure rather than praise : but it must be remem-
bered, that God was, if I may so speak, their earthly Gover-
nor, (they lived under a Theocracy;) and, that thev acted in
obedience to their su])reme Magistrate : nor could cruelty be
^ Compare Exod. xvii. /. witli umb. xx. 10 — 1:5.
'• Compare ihe langu.ic^o in uuib. xx. 13. with ihe'tcxl.
' Exod. xxxii. 25 — 2y.
imputed to them any more than to any person who executes the
laws amongst ourselves. They were justified in what they did,
precisely as Phinehas was justified in destroying Zimri and Cozbi.
The law itself required, that, if their nearest relative only enticed
them to idolatry, even where there was no overt act commit-
ted, they should instantly give information against him, and
with their own hands put him to death '^. But here was the
overt act visible to all ; and the Civil Magistrate was present
to sanction their conduct : and therefore they were bound to
obey the order given them, and to execute the laws with im-
partial severity. Hence their conduct is marked in our text as
an act of obedience to God, and a " vindication of the quarrel of
his covenant^."]
or is it by any means unconnected with ou?- duty
as Christians —
[Certainly we have nothing to do with the judgment of
zeal, nor any right to take the execution of the laws into our
own hands. But we should be zealous for the honour of God ;
and we ought, in subserviency to the laws, to exert ourselves for
the suppression of open impiety and profaneness. More parti-
cularly are we bound to serve God ourselves, and to account all
personal sacrifices as unworthy of a thought in comparison of
our duty to him. Our Lord tells us, not only that " if we love
father or mother more than him, we are not worthy of him;" but
that we must " haie father and mother, yea, and our own lives
also, if we would be his disciples^" Of course this must not be
understood p05i//ye/// ; (for the Gospel inspires nothing hut love,
and that even to our bitterest enemies :) but it must be taken
comparatively; and be explained as intimating, that we should
be so firm and decided in our obedience to him as to be alto-
gether unmoved by the affection or menaces of our dearest friends,
or even by the apprehensions of the most cruel death. Our
Lord himself has set us an example in this respect : for, when
some persons told him that his " mother and his brethren were
standing without, and desirous to speak with him, he replied,
Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? Whosoever shall
do the will of my Father, the same is my brother and sister and
mother"." Thus must love to the Creator be the predominant
aiFection in our hearts; and all inferior considerations must be
subordinated to his glory.]
From the commendation given them we proceed
to notice,
II. Their reward —
This may be considered as of two kinds ;
1 . Official
* Deut. xiii. 6 — 10. ^ Lev. xxvi. 25. with the text,
'Matt. X. 3/. & Luke xiv. 20. ^Malt. xii. 47—50.
368 DEUTEROOMY, XXXIII. 8, Q. [160.
1 . Official honour —
[The Urim and Thumrnim were in some way united to the
breast plate of the high priest; and by means of them he was
enabled to discover the mind and will of God when he went in
before the Lord to consult him on any particular occasion. What
they were, and how they answered the purpose for which they
were made, we are not informed : and therefore it is in vain to
waste time in conjectures. Suffice it to say, that the high priest
who wore them was authorized to consult God in all public mat-
ters, and enabled to discover his mind and will''. ow Moses
prays, and indeed prophetically declares, that this high honour
should descend to the posterity of Aaron ; and that the ser-
vice of the tabernacle should continue to be administered by
the tribe of Levi '. This was a most exalted privilege ; and,
above a thousand years afterwards, it was expressly declared
to have been given as a reward of the obedience before refer-
red to"". What a glorious testimony was this, that God will
suffer nothing that we do for him to pass unnoticed even here :
much less shall it go unrewarded in a future world. Truly
''them that honour God, God will honour;" and every one
that will serve him shall receive an abundant " recompence of
reward" ]
2. Personal benefit —
[The official honour was conferred on the posterity of those
^yhose conduct was approved. But do we suppose that the im-
mediate agents were overlooked, and that no blessing was bestowed
on them ? We can have no doubt but that they also had a recom-
pence in their own bosoms. The import of the w'ords Urim and
Tlmmmim is, Illum'mations and Perfections: and these are the
special benefits which God will confer on all his faithful servants.
There is indeed a manifest connexion between the work and the
reward. The work in this present instance was a vigorous main-
tenance of God's honour, with an utter disregard of every consi-
deration in comparison of it : and where that is, there will be a
clear insight into the Divine will, and a growing conformity to the
Divine image. Where internal rectitude is wanting, the mind
will be obscured, and the feet will stumble : but " where the
single eye is, there will the whole body be full of light," and the
conversation be regulated agreeably to the commands of God.
Light in the mind, and holiness in the life, are mutually influential
on each other : each will languish or be advanced, according as
the other flourishes or decays : illumination and perfection will be
the portion of the decided Christian; but darkness and incon-
sistency will be the fruit of a temporizing and timid conduct.]
'' Exod. xxviii. 29, 30. ' Deut. xxxiii. 11,12. " Mai. ii. 5.
To prevent misapprehension or misconduct, we
shall SUBJOI a word,
1. Of caution —
[Let not any one imagine that religion countenances a fiery
zeal on any occasion whatever. The conduct of the Levites has
not heen jiroposed for imitation under the Gospel dispensation,
any further than is necessary for the maintaining of stedfastness
in our allegiance to God. We are not to wage war, except against
our spiritual enemies : and even then the weapons of our warfare
must not be carnal, but spiritual. In all the opposition which
it may be necessary to make to our earthly friends or relatives,
we must maintain a holy meekness and patience, not attempting
to oppose evil by evil, but to ^' overcome evil with good." The
Civil Magistrate indeed may use the sword, and ought to be " a
terror to evil-doers ;" and all Christians should be ready to aid
him in the suppression of iniquity : but in all private and per-
sonal concerns our only armour must be that which God himself
has provided for us^, and we nmst " overcome our enemies by
the blood of the Lamb"."]
2. Of direction —
[Let a concern for God's honour and your own spiritual ad-
vancement be paramount to all other considerations whatever. You
must " not account even life itself dear to you, so that you may
but finish your course with joy."" It must never be a question
with you, whether you will perform any particular duty, however
difficult it may be, or whatever self-denial it may require : your
mind must be made up to " follow the Lord fully," and to ob-
serve the commandments of God " without preferring one be-
fore another, and doing nothing by partiality." This is the way
to entail the blessing of God upon your souls, and to " grow
both in knowledge and in grace." But you must not attempt
these things in your own strength : in order that you may be
enabled to act thus, you must pray to " the God of peace to
sanctify you wholly," and to " make you perfect in every good
work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing
in his sight through Jesus Christ : to whom be glory for ever and
ever : Amen"."]
' Eph. vi. 11— 17. ¦" Rev. xii, 11.
° 1 Thess. V. 23. Heb. xiii. 20, 21.

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