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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 Jehovah, as the progenitor of this tribe according to the Aesh, 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 over. shadow.” 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. 6 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 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 himn. 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 carth 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
titude and variety of beautiful, striking, and sublime ideas. When Joseph is to be blessed, the prophet for him arrays nature in her gayest, richest attire: for him he digs into the mine, and cleaves the flinty rock, and pours jewels and gold at his feet. “For him the roses blow, for him distils the dew.” For him golden harvests wave in the fragrant air, and rivers of milk and oil flow down the mountains and through the vallies. For him the swelling clusters of the vine assume a purple hue, the meadows clothe themselves with verdure, and the cedars of God lift their proud heads to the skies; the sun and moon, and eleven stars, do obeisance to him. Nature is then animated, as it were, to do him honour, to give him protection, to extend his empire, to minister to his delight. The grove becomes vocal, the bullock treads stately through the plain, the unicorn pushes with the horn, nations of enemies melt before him, the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh, cultivate their fertile, peaceful fields, beautify their pleasant villages, fortify their magnificient cities.
With inexhausted strength, with resistless force, the prophet then hurries us out of the sphere of nature, bears us to the awful regions of religion, places our feet on holy ground. It is the blessing of Joseph, and we feel ourselves transported to the wilderness of Horeb, we behold the bush on fire, we hear the voice of God himself from the midst of the flame. But though it speaks from the midst of fire, to the house of Joseph it speaks nothing but love, it is a fire that con. sumes not, it breathes “good will.” Moses having thus as a poet touched every power of imagination, conducted us from one scene of delight to another, and made all Eden rise to view; having, as a prophet, unveiled the world of spirits to our astonished sight, and borve us as on eagles' wings up to the throne of God, gently deviates into his character of orator and historian, and sweetly re-descends with us into the
field of Zoan, and calls forth a tender sigh from our bosom over the hapless youth who was torn from his father's embrace, and sold into slavery. 66 Let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren,” Deut. xxxiii. 16. But « who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” Job xxxviii. 2. Moses, my friends, seems reluctant to break off this subject, he is loth to bid Joseph farewell; as he goes he “casts a longing lingering look behind,” and sighs out another blessing, after his tongue is silent. When Jacob speaks to Joseph, and Moses writes and speaks of him, neither of them knows how to leave off.
We soon find the prediction of Moses verified, and the parting benediction falling down, according to the letter of it, in copious showers upon the head of Joseph. For though half the tribe of Manasseh obtained an inheritance beyond Jordan, and a fair and spa. cious lot had fallen to the rest of the sons of Joseph in Canaan, they are soon under the necessity of applying to Joshua for an additional lot to enlarge their border. “ And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto? And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood-country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Beth-shean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel. And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power; thou shalt not have one lot only: