Deuteronomy 34

Deuteronomy 34

The Death of Moses

34 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.


Deuteronomy 34 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.

Deuteronomy 34:5-6 NASB

The death of Moses in the final chapter of Deuteronomy brings to mind the dispute over his body in Jude 1:9.

Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Jude 1:8-9 NASB

Jude is alluding to a story which comes from the Testament of Moses. This is a Jewish writing that originated at the beginning of the first century. There are elements to this legend that have also popped up in other various writings. Jewish commentary reports a dispute that occurred an hour before Moses’ death between Michael, the archangel of God and Samma’el, the archangel of death (also known as Satan, the accuser, in the NT). Legend has it that Moses’ tomb was put under Michael’s authority and that he was assigned to bury Moses’ body. Satan claimed it as his own which led to the dispute.

This is all very interesting but it is not the main point that Jude is illustrating. He writes that Michael “did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'” Jude is using this story to illustrate the arrogance of false teachers and heretics who believed they could slander anyone and everyone.

“Mikha’el [Michael] did not dare bring against Satan an insulting charge, because he recognized that Satan’s role as accuser was given to him by God. Rather, in keeping with the warning, “Adonai says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay’ ” (Deu 32:25, Rom 12:19), he said only, “May Adonai rebuke you,” echoing God’s own rebuke of Satan (Zec 3:1-2).”

Jewish New Testament Commentary

God may have allowed this dispute to take place so that the place of burial would be unknown to Israel. As beloved as Moses was, we can speculate that if the Israelites knew where Moses was buried, they may have set up a shrine and began to worship there.

“As a mother takes her child and kisses it, and then lays it down to sleep in its own bed; so did the Lord kiss the soul of Moses away to be with him forever, and then he hid is body we know not where.”

Charles Spurgeon

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