Moses's blessing has little in common with the rest of Deuteronomy and was probably composed independently of Deuteronomy. Its psalmodic style suggests that it originally had a litur-gical function and was perhaps recited at a festival at which all the tribes, or their representatives, gathered. Language and contents suggest that it was composed some time between Israel's settlement in the promised land ca. 1200 BCE and the exile of the northern tribes in 721 B.C.E. It must have been incorporated in Deuteronomy because it was attributed to Moses and, by looking back on a successful conquest of the promised land, foretells the conquest.
As one of the last two chapters in the Torah, the blessing is read in the synagogue on Simhat Torah, the "Celebration of the Torah," the festival at which the annual cycle of reading the Torah is completed.
Jeffrey H. Tigay
Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures
University of Pennsylvania
U. Cassuto, Biblical and Oriental Studies (Jerusalem, 1973), 1:47-70;
F.M. Cross and D.N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (Missoula,
Montana, 1975), pp. 97-122; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction
(New York, 1965), pp. 227-231; A. RofE, Mavo le-Sefer Devarim
(Jerusalem, 1988), Chap. 20; T.H. Gaster, "An Ancient
Eulogy on Israel: Deuteronomy 33:3-5, 26-29," JBL 66 (1947):53-62; I.L.
Seeligmann, "A Psalm from Pre-regal Times," VT 14 (1964):75-92.