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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Deuteronomy 34

 

 

Verses 1-12

A Prophet Like None Other

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

It took the death of Moses to evoke the words which serve as our title today. Ironically, that death marks the beginning of Israel"s path into the promised land. Moses had to lay down the mantle of leadership and Joshua take it up for God"s people to enter Canaan.

When the people arrived at Kadesh in Numbers 20:1-29, they murmured against God and his leaders. Moses and Aaron went before God to learn what he would have them to do in response to the complaints. God told them to take the rod, assemble the people and speak to the rock.

Moses rebuked the people instead of speaking to the rock. He also struck the rock twice and left the impression that he and Aaron were solely responsible for providing water for the people (Psalms 106:33). The two brothers had failed to sanctify God in their actions, though he was sanctified when he swiftly punished the two leaders for their wrong deeds. Moses and Aaron acted like unbelievers when they failed to follow God"s will exactly as he had directed, so God denied them an entrance to the promised land.

Moses pleaded with God to let him go into the promised land to see the end of the works he had begun in delivering the people from Egypt. Moses told the people, "But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter" (Deuteronomy 3:21-29). God did tell him to go up into Mount Pisgah and see the whole land the people would possess. He also told him to charge Joshua with the job of leadership and encourage him in the work he was about to begin.

In Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Moses climbs to the top of Mount Nebo, which is also called Pisgah, in the Abarim range (Numbers 33:47-48). There God showed him all of the land the children of Israel would inherit. Coffman says various writers say that in those times a man who purchased land would take possession of his purchase by surveying it with his eyes. If so, that would certainly make this a good ending to a great man"s life. Hebrews 11:23-26 seems to say Moses looked forward to a reward from God beyond what he might receive in this life. If so, he may have felt much like Paul in Philippians 1:23. Certainly, he longed to enter into Canaan and finish the work he had begun with the people of Israel, but he also longed for an eternal home.

Verse 5 of Deuteronomy 34:1-12 tells us Moses died "according to the word of the Lord." Leslie G. Thomas says this literally means "by the mouth of the Lord" and the Jewish Rabbis say the meaning is by the kiss of God. In other words, he went to sleep with the kiss of the loving Father in heaven, much like a child goes to sleep at night after the kiss of its father. Then, God took his body and buried it in a place unknown to any man. All that the text tells us is that his burial place was in the valley of Moab near Beth-peor.

Moses had led the people for forty years, from the time he was eighty until his death at the age of one hundred twenty. The text tells us his physical strength never left him nor did his eyesight grow weak. For thirty days, the children of Israel mourned their dead leader, then Joshua took up the mantel of leadership left by Moses, the one he had ministered to for so long.

It is interesting to note that Moses did one day get to enter the promised land. He was not allowed to walk through Jordan"s dry bed but he did go over it to be with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5).

 


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Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 34:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/deuteronomy-34.html. 2014.

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