Deut. 34:1 ¶ And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
Deut. 34:2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
Deut. 34:3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
After pronouncing blessing upon the tribes of Israel, Moses heads up Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah via the plains of Moab. It was a high point chosen by God to allow Moses to see the Promised Land since he was forbidden to cross over Jordan to enter it. I would assume that He supernaturally empowered him to see the land from north to south and clear across to the Mediterranean.
This section seems to have been recorded by someone else according to the revelation of God. On the other hand, it could have been prewritten by Moses according to God’s revelation to him. Those kinds of facts don’t bother me since I know that all scripture is written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Deut. 34:4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
The LORD specifies to Moses that he is seeing the land that was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his descendants. The implication is that he is seeing the whole of the land, and that is why I believe he supernaturally empowered Moses to see it all.
Don’t you know that Moses was filled with regret for the sin that prohibited him from crossing over? I also believe he faced death without fear and with confidence that he would go into the presence of God. He had been prepared through his presence when God had taken Aaron.
Deut. 34:5 ¶ So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
Deut. 34:6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
We are told that Moses died there “in the land of Moab,” which seems to contradict the view promoted in the Talmud discussed in reference to the blessing on Gad. “According to the word of the LORD” is a reference to what He told Moses as recorded in chapter 32, verses 49-50. “He” (the LORD) buried “him” (Moses) toward Bethpeor, which is defined by Strong’s as “a place east of the Jordan.” Point is made that no man knows where Moses is buried.
I liked David Guzik’s comment on Moses’ epitaph.
“It was not "Moses, Prince of Egypt." It was not "Moses, Murderer of an Egyptian." It was not "Moses, Shepherd in the Wilderness." It was not "Moses, Spokesman for a Nation." It was not "Moses, Miracle Worker." It was not "Moses, Prophet." It was not "Moses, the Man Who Saw a Piece of God's Glory." It was not "Moses, Who Never Entered the Promised Land." At the end of it all, the title is simple: Moses the servant of the Lord.
Oh, that this would be enough for us! We often say it, and it sounds so humble to say it, but how hard it is to really live it! To be satisfied with simply being the servant of the Lord is a precious place indeed. It is the happiest of all stations in life, for when the Master is glorified, the servants are satisfied!”
He also made reference to a Jewish tradition that was interesting.
“Literally, the phrase according to the word of the Lord means upon the mouth of the Lord. From this, ancient Jewish traditions say that Moses died as God took away his soul with a kiss. The medieval Jewish rabbi Maimonides says that of the 903 different ways to die, this was the best.”
I remember from my study of Jude that at some point Satan must have tried to expose the body of Moses, but was prevented by Michael.
Jude 1:9 “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
I’m convinced that the only reason Satan would have wanted to expose the site was in hopes that it would become a place of false worship—anything to turn the worship of the people away from YHWH. This is another example of the limitations under which Satan operates at this time. He’s known all along where Moses was buried, but he has not been allowed to reveal that location.
Though Moses just sort of fades off the pages of scripture in the Old Testament, the New Testament gives us a glorious picture of him meeting with Jesus and Elijah in the Promised Land on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Luke 9:28-31 “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.”
I know it was a glorious experience for Moses, but I am sure that being in the Promised Land paled in comparison to being in the presence of the Savior. It’s always intrigued me that Moses and Elijah were talking to the Lord about His coming death in Jerusalem. Though the prophets may not have known the whole of what they prophesied during their lifetime, it seems that their revelation is complete once they enter God’s presence. I can’t help but make application to some of my loved ones who are with the Lord now and wonder how much they know about upcoming events.
Deut. 34:7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
We are told that Moses was 120 years old when he died. According to the entry on “Moses” at www.jewishencyclopedia.com, different legends purport that Moses died on his birthday on Adar 7. At his death Moses was still physically strong and of clear vision. He didn’t die a decrepit old man unable to continue in service to God. That must have made the fact that he couldn’t lead the people into the Promised Land even more disappointing.
Deut. 34:8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
Just as they did for Aaron, the people mourned the death of Moses for thirty days before proceeding to take possession of the land.
Deut. 34:9 ¶ And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Record is now made that Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom through the laying on of hands by Moses. At that time the people were ready to follow Joshua as their leader. They all followed the commands of God as delivered to them by Moses; this included looking to Joshua as their leader.
It would seem that “laying on hands” when done by God’s chosen leaders testify to God’s blessings or the public anointing of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to accomplish specific ministry.
Deut. 34:10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
Deut. 34:11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
Deut. 34:12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.
The Holy Spirit makes a point of declaring that there has never risen a prophet in Israel like Moses. I would imagine this carries forward to the time that Jesus bestows that title upon John the Baptist.
Luke 7:28 “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist….”
I think the reference to knowing the LORD “face to face” is reference to Moses’ privilege of communicating directly with God. Though God chose to communicate directly with specific people throughout the Old Testament, it was always on a limited basis and in accordance with His specific purpose. Through Jesus we can enjoy the same privilege of communication that Moses enjoyed; we can approach the throne of God boldly.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
It was through personal revelation from God that Moses so publicly declared the signs and wonders that God used to get Pharaoh to let the people go. I liked the NIV translation for verse 12:
For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.