V’ZOT HAB’RACHAH (AND THIS THE BLESSING)
Parashat V’Zot HaBrachah
The Blessing of Moses
33 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed Bnei-Yisrael before his death. 2 He said,
“Adonai came from Sinai
and dawned on Bnei-Yisrael from Seir.
He shone forth from Mount Paran,
and He came from the holy myriads—
blazing fire[a] for them from His right hand.
3 Indeed, a lover of peoples is He—
all His kedoshim are in His hand.
They followed in Your steps,
each receiving Your words.
4 Torah Moses commanded us—
a heritage for the community of Jacob.
5 He became king in Jeshurun
when the heads of the people gathered,
all the tribes of Israel together.
6 ‘Let Reuben live and not die,
though his people become few.’
7 Now this is for Judah. He said,
‘Hear, Adonai, the voice of Judah!
Bring him to his people.
His hands contended for him,
so You will be a help against his foes.’
8 For Levi he said,
‘Let Your Thummim and Urim be with Your pious man.
You tested him at Massah,
You strived with him at the waters of Meribah.’
9 He said of his father and mother,
“I have not seen them,”
nor did he acknowledge his brothers
or recognize his children.
For they observed Your word
and kept Your covenant.
10 They will teach Jacob Your judgments
and Israel Your Torah.
They will put incense in your nose
and whole burnt offerings on Your altar.
11 Adonai, bless his resources,
find favor in the work of his hands.
Crush the loins of those
who rise against him and hate him,
so they do not rise again.’
12 For Benjamin he said,
‘The beloved of Adonai
rests securely beside Him.
He shields him all day long.
Between His shoulders he rests.’
13 For Joseph he said,
‘May his land be blessed by Adonai
with heavenly bounty from the dew
and from the deep lying beneath,
14 and with the bounty
of the sun’s produce
and the months’ yield,
15 and with the best
from the ancient mountains
and the bounty of the everlasting hills,
16 with earth’s bounty and its fullness
and the favor of the One
dwelling in the bush.
May it come on Joseph’s head,
on the crown of the prince
among his brothers.
17 The firstborn ox—majesty is his.
His horns are the horns of the wild ox.
With them he gores peoples,
all at once, to the ends of the earth.
They are the myriads of Ephraim,
they are the thousands of Manasseh.’
18 For Zebulun he said,
‘Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
and Issachar, in your tents.
19 Peoples they call to the mountain—
there they offer righteous sacrifices.
For they suckle the abundance of the seas
and the hidden treasures of the sand.’
20 For Gad he said,
‘Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad.
Like a lion he crouches,
and tears off an arm
or even the crown of a head.
21 He chose the best for himself,
for there a marked portion was reserved.
He came with the heads of the people.
He carried out Adonai’s justice
and His judgments for Israel.’
22 For Dan he said,
‘Dan is a lion’s cub
leaping out of the Bashan.’
23 For Naphtali he said,
‘O Naphtali, satisfied with favor
and full of the blessing of Adonai,
possess the sea and the south.’
24 For Asher he said,
‘Most blessed of sons is Asher—
may he be the favorite of his brothers,
and may he dip his foot in oil.
25 The bolts of your gates
will be iron and bronze.
As your days, so will your strength be.’
26 “There is none like God, Jeshurun,
riding through the heavens to your aid
and through the skies in His majesty.
27 A refuge is the ancient God,
and underneath are everlasting arms.
He drove out the enemy before you
and said, ‘Destroy!’
28 So Israel rests in safety,
untroubled is Jacob’s fountain
in a land of grain and new wine.
Yes, his heavens drip dew.
29 Happy are you, O Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by Adonai,
the Shield of your help
and the Sword of your triumph?
Your enemies will cower before you,
and you will trample on their backs.”
34 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. Adonai showed him all the land—Gilead to Dan, 2 and all of Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negev and the plain of the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 Then Adonai said to him, “This is the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saying, ‘I will give it to your seed.’ I let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over there.”
5 So Moses the servant of Adonai died there in the land of Moab, as was from the mouth of Adonai. 6 Then He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor—but no one knows of his burial place to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was not dim nor his vigor gone. 8 Bnei-Yisrael wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping, mourning for Moses, were ended.
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So Bnei-Yisrael listened to him and did just as Adonai had commanded Moses.
10 There has not risen again a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom Adonai knew face to face, 11 with all the signs and wonders Adonai sent him to do in the land of Egypt—to Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land— 12 by the strong hand and great awe that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Chazak! Be strong!
1 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of Adonai that Adonai spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide saying: 2 “My servant Moses is dead. So now, arise, you and all these people, cross over this Jordan to the land that I am giving to them—to Bnei-Yisrael. 3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I am giving to you, as I spoke to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river, the Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—to the Great Sea[a] toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 5 No one will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 Chazak! Be strong! For you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be very strong, and resolute to observe diligently the Torah which Moses, My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so you may be successful wherever you go. 8 This book of the Torah should not depart from your mouth—you are to meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. For then you will make your ways prosperous and then you will be successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Chazak! Be strong! Do not be terrified or dismayed, for Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.”
10 Then Joshua commanded the officials of the people saying: 11 “Go through the camp and charge the people saying: ‘Prepare provisions, for within three days you will be crossing over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which Adonai your God is giving you to possess it.’”
12 Then Joshua spoke to the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh saying: 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of Adonai commanded you saying: ‘Adonai your God has given you rest, and has assigned to you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones and your cattle will remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you will cross over before your brothers armed, all the mighty men of valor, and will help them 15 until Adonai gives your brothers rest, as He has given you, and they also possess the land that Adonai your God is giving them. Then you will return to the land of your inheritance, and possess what Moses the servant of Adonai gave you, beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16 Then they answered Joshua saying: “All that you have commanded us, we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may Adonai your God be with you as He was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, he will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
The New Jerusalem
9 Then came one of the seven angels holding the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues, and he spoke with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
10 Then he carried me away in the Ruach to a great and high mountain,[a] and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God—her radiance like a most precious stone, like a jasper, sparkling like crystal. 12 She had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and above the gates twelve angels. On the gates were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Bnei-Yisrael— 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. [b] 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve emissaries of the Lamb.
15 The angel speaking with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city and its gates and walls. [c] 16 The city is laid out as a square—its length the same as its width. He measured the city with the rod—12,000 stadia.[d] Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall—144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The material of the city’s wall was jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every kind of precious stone—the first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, carnelian; the seventh, yellow topaz; the eighth; beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls—each of the gates was from a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
22 I saw no temple in her, for its Temple is Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God lights it up, and its lamp is the Lamb. [e] 24 The nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. [f] 25 Its gates shall never be shut by day,[g] for there shall be no night there! 26 And they shall bring into it the glory and honor of the nations. 27 And nothing unholy[h] shall ever enter it, nor anyone doing what is detestable or false,[i] but only those written in the Book of Life.
22 Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life—bright as crystal,[j] flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the city’s street. On either side of the river was a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [k] 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the city, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face,[l] and His name shall be on their foreheads. [m] 5 Night shall be no more, and people will have no need for lamplight or sunlight—for Adonai Elohim will shine on them.[n] And they shall reign forever and ever!
Defense Before King Agrippa
26 Agrippa said to Paul, “It is permitted for you to speak for yourself.”
Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense. 2 “Concerning all I am accused of by the Judean leaders, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that it is before you that I am about to make my defense today— 3 since you are especially knowledgeable about all Jewish customs and issues. Therefore I beg you to listen patiently to me.
4 “Now all the Jewish people have known my manner of life ever since my youth, starting from the beginning in my own nation and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known about me for a long time—if they were willing to testify—that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.
6 “Yet now I stand here being judged for the hope in the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 It is the promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jewish people, O King! 8 Why is it judged incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
9 “In fact, I myself thought it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Yeshua ha-Natzrati. 10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem. Not only did I lock up many of the kedoshim in prisons by the authority I received from the ruling kohanim, but I cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. 11 I tried to cause them to blaspheme by punishing them often in the synagogues. In furious rage against them, I persecuted them even in foreign cities.
12 “While journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the ruling kohanim, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the road a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me. 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against goads!’
15 “Then I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“And the Lord said, ‘I am Yeshua—whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up, and stand on your feet.[a] For I have appeared to you for this purpose—to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things you have seen as well as to the things I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will rescue you[b] from your own people, and from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes—so they may turn from darkness to light[c] and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive release from sins as well as a place among those who are made holy through trusting in Me.’
19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. 20 Rather, I kept declaring—first to those in Damascus, and then Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also the Gentiles—that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with that repentance.
21 “For this reason some Judeans seized me in the Temple and tried to put me to death. 22 Since I have had God’s help, to this day I have stood here testifying to both small and great. I am saying nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to happen— 23 that the Messiah was to suffer and that, being first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the nations.[d]”
24 As Paul was thus making his defense, Festus says with a loud voice, “You’re crazy, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!”
25 But Paul declares, “I am not insane, most noble Festus! Rather I am speaking the sober truth. 26 For the king knows about these things, and I speak freely to him, since I am convinced that none of these things escape his notice—for this was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do believe!”
28 Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time you are trying to persuade me to be Messianic!”[e]
29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would pray to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today would be such as I am—except for these chains!”
30 Then the king stood up, as well as the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them. 31 When they had gone away, they began talking among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.”
32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free, if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
Sailing for Rome
27 When it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion named Julius, of the Augustan Cohort. 2 So we boarded a ship from Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, and we set out to sea—accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
3 The next day we set down at Sidon. Julius, treating Paul kindly, let him go to his friends to receive care. 4 Setting out to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came down to Myra in Lysia. 6 There the centurion found a ship from Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board.
7 Sailing slowly for a number of days, with difficulty we made it to Cnidus. As the wind did not allow us to go further, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
9 Since considerable time had passed and the voyage was already dangerous because the Fast[f] had already gone by, Paul kept warning them, 10 telling them, “Men, I can see that the voyage is about to end in disaster and great loss—not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives!”
11 But the centurion was persuaded more by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by what was said by Paul. 12 And because the harbor was unsuitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to set out to sea from there—if somehow they might reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete facing northeast and southeast, and spend the winter there.
Storm and Shipwreck
13 When the south wind blew gently, supposing they had obtained their purpose, they raised the anchor and started coasting along the shore by Crete. 14 But before long, a hurricane-force wind called “the Northeaster” swept down from the island. 15 When the ship was caught and could not face into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we ran under the shelter of a small island called Cauda, we were barely able to get control of the dinghy. 17 When the crew had hoisted it up, they made use of ropes to undergird the ship. Then fearing they might run aground on the Syrtis,[g] they let down the anchor and so were driven along. 18 But as we were violently battered by the storm, the next day they began throwing cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw out the ship’s gear with their own hands. 20 With neither sun nor stars appearing for many days, and no small storm pressing on us, all hope of our survival was vanishing.
21 As they had long been without food, Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not sailed from Crete, to avoid this disaster and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you—but only of the ship. 23 For this very night, there came to me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve. 24 He said, ‘Do not fear, Paul. You must stand before Caesar; and indeed, God has granted you all who are sailing with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I trust God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”
27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors began to sense that they were nearing some land. 28 So they took soundings and found the water was twenty fathoms deep.[h] A bit farther along, they took another sounding and found it was fifteen fathoms deep. 29 Fearing that we might run aground on the rocks, they threw out four anchors from the stern. They were longing for day to come.
30 Now the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had lowered the dinghy into the sea, pretending they were going to put out anchors from the bow. 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men remain on the ship, you cannot be saved!”
32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the dinghy and let it drift away. 33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have kept waiting and going without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore, I urge you to take some food—for this is for your survival, since not one of you will lose a hair from his head.”
35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and began to eat. 36 Then all were encouraged and took some food themselves. 37 (In all we were 276 persons on the ship.)
38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship, throwing the wheat into the sea. 39 Then when daylight came, they did not recognize the land; but they noticed a bay with a beach, where they planned to run the ship aground if they could. 40 So they cut off the anchors and left them in the sea, while loosening the ropes of the rudders at the same time. Then, hoisting the forward sail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41 But they struck a sandbar between the seas and ran the ship aground. The bow stuck fast and remained immovable, and the stern began to break up by the pounding of the waves.
42 The plan of the soldiers was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would escape by swimming away. 43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those able to swim to throw themselves overboard first and get to land— 44 and the rest to get there on boards and pieces of the ship. And in this way all were brought safely to land.
From Malta to Rome
28 Once safely ashore, we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us unusual kindness. Because it had started raining and it was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed us all.
3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and placed it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the snake hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer! Though he has been saved from the sea, Justice[i] has not allowed him to live.”
5 However, Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were expecting him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead—but after they waited a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and began to say he was a god.
7 Now in the vicinity around that place were lands belonging to the most prominent man of the island, named Publius. He welcomed us and hosted us warmly for three days. 8 It so happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and, when he had prayed and laid hands on him, he healed him. 9 After this happened, the rest of the sick on the island started coming and getting healed. 10 They also heaped honors on us; and when we sailed, they put on board all the supplies we needed.
11 After three months, we set sail in a ship from Alexandria that had wintered at the island, with the Twin Brothers[j] as its figurehead. 12 Setting down at Syracuse, we stayed there three days. 13 From there we got underway[k] and reached Rhegium; and a day later a south wind came up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and sisters, and we were invited to stay with them for seven days. And in this way we came to Rome.
15 Now the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he gave thanks to God and took courage. 16 When we entered Rome, Paul was permitted to remain in his own quarters, with a soldier guarding him.
Paul Keeps Spreading the Good News
17 It happened that after three days, Paul called together those who were the prominent Jewish leaders. When they had gathered he said to them, “Brothers, although I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they examined me, they wanted to release me because there was no basis for the death penalty. 19 But when the Judean leaders protested, I was forced to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have requested to see you and to speak with you—since it is for the hope of Israel that I am bearing this chain.”
21 They said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we think it appropriate to hear from you about what you think. For indeed, it is known to us that regarding this sect, it is spoken against everywhere.”
23 They set a day to meet Paul and came to him at his quarters in large numbers. From morning until evening he was explaining everything to them, testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them about Yeshua from both the Torah of Moses and the Prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, while others refused to believe. 25 So when they disagreed among themselves, they began leaving after Paul had said one last statement: “The Ruach ha-Kodesh rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing but will never understand;
you will keep looking, but will never see.
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
their ears can barely hear,
and they have shut their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts.
Then they would turn back,
and I would heal them.”’[l]
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” 29 [m]
30 Paul remained two whole years in his own rented quarters and continued to welcome all who came to him— 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Yeshua the Messiah with all boldness and without hindrance.