The Coronation of God

Vezot HaBrachah (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12)

The final Torah reading before we roll the Torah back to the beginning takes its name from the opening line, Vezot ha’brachah, which means “This is the blessing.” It contains the concluding words of Moses before his death. In his final breath, he blesses the Children of Israel with various blessings that can be difficult to fully understand. At the beginning of the chapter, however, Moses gives a vivid description of God as a groom coming out to meet Israel, His bride, at Sinai. There is a portion of this passage that can help us understand a responsibility we have as God’s children. The chapter begins by describing God coming out to meet Israel at Sinai. Right after this, we read, “Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together” (Deuteronomy 33:5). What does this mean?

First, Jeshurun (or the Hebrew, Yeshurun) comes from the Hebrew root, yashar, which means “upright.” It is only used four times in the Scriptures: three times at the end of Deuteronomy and one time in Isaiah. It is a description of Israel when she is walking in righteousness before the LORD.

What about the expression, “Thus the LORD became king”? Wasn’t He already king over the entire universe? Why does it say he became king in Yeshurun (i.e. Israel)? This is similar to the principle of Shabbat found within the Scriptures. In Genesis 2:3 says, “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” However, Exodus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 5:12 say we are to remember and observe the Sabbath day, “to keep it holy.” In Genesis, God makes the Sabbath holy and distinct from the other six days of the week. But we are also told that it is our job to make the Sabbath holy. How can we make something holy that is already intrinsically holy? The answer is that we make it holy through how we acknowledge it and honor it. This brings us back to our question about how the King of the Universe became king in Israel.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses reminds the Children of Israel of their obligation to keep the commandments once they cross over into the Promise Land. Not only are they to keep them because of their covenantal obligation, but also because observing God’s commandments will be a testimony to the people around them. He tells them, “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deuteronomy 4:6). When Israel lives according to God’s instructions they should be seen as a wise and understanding people who make a positive impact on those around them. The first part of how the LORD becomes king in Yeshurun is when His people begin to live righteously according to His commandments.

The second part is alluded to in our verse: “when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.” Israel is described here as a single unit without division. As a parent, one of the things that melts our hearts the most is when our children love each other. This innate satisfaction of our hearts has been implanted in us to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father. Psalm 133 describes the unity of God’s people as the anointing oil that was poured on Aaron’s head, and like the dew of Mount Hermon. It is refreshing and revitalizing. When God’s children are bickering and fighting with each other we dishonor Him. But when we come together we bring glory and honor to Him. The second part of the LORD becoming king in Yeshurun is when His people live in unity.

Through this, we have seen that living according to God’s ways and in unity with others brings an indescribable amount of glory to God. And it actually allows us to do something that is a little unfathomable: we, in our humble state, can place a crown upon God’s head. When we submit to living in a manner focused on our Creator, our brothers, and our sisters, we can initiate the coronation of God, the King of the Universe. What can you do to make the LORD king in Yeshurun today?

Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazeik! Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!