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Last Days of Moses

INTRODUCTION: Moses had a unique relationship with the LORD God from the time he was chosen to lead the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, then he was given the Ten Commandments on stone tables. Exodus 34 "29 It happened, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mountain, that Moses didn't know that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him." When Moses realized that appearance frightened the people, he used a veil when necessary. At one point in the wilderness Miriam and Aaron challenged Moses and said they had equal authority from God, but Moses did not respond. Numbers 12 "3 Now the man Moses was very humble, above all the men who were on the surface of the earth." But Yahweh called all three of them before the tabernacle and rebuked Miriam and Aaron. Numbers 12 "8 With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see Yahweh's form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?" 9 The anger of Yahweh was kindled against them; and he departed." When Aaron saw that Miriam was made leprous he turned to Moses and very respectfully pleaded that they be forgiven and that Miriam be healed. Moses prayed to Yahweh and Miriam was set outside the camp for seven days before being healed. Throughout forty years as Israel wandered in the wilderness, there were repeated times of the people complaining before Moses and Yahweh, with severe consequences for their rebellion. But near the end of forty years, Moses became angry at the waters of Meribah and did not follow the instructions in the manner as Yahweh had told him, therefore he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land.

NOTE: All scripture is from the World English Bible. (Yahweh is the same as LORD in other translations).


Exodus 17 "1 All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to Yahweh's commandment, and encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?" 3 The people were thirsty for water there; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?" 4 Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, "What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5 Yahweh said to Moses, "Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarrelled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?""

Numbers 20 "1 The children of Israel, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month: and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. 2 There was no water for the congregation: and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 The people strove with Moses, and spoke, saying, "We wish that we had died when our brothers died before Yahweh! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of Yahweh into this wilderness, that we should die there, we and our animals? 5 Why have you made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in to this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink." 6 Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and fell on their faces: and the glory of Yahweh appeared to them. 7 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 8 "Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you, and Aaron your brother, and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it give forth its water; and you shall bring forth to them water out of the rock; so you shall give the congregation and their livestock drink." 9 Moses took the rod from before Yahweh, as he commanded him. 10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring you water out of this rock for you?" 11 Moses lifted up his hand, and struck the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you didn't believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." 13 These are the waters of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with Yahweh, and he was sanctified in them."

COMMENTS: The children of Israel had seen Pharaoh's pursuing army destroyed in the waters of the Red Sea, which same waters they had miraculously passed through on dry ground with the separated walls of water on each side. They gave great praise at that time to Yahweh for their protection without the need for them to have any part in the utter destruction of their enemy. Within just three days they complained for lack of water to drink, and Yahweh removed the bitterness and made the water at Marah sweet. When they needed food they were given daily manna from heaven with the Sabbath established at the same time; and that manna was supplied throughout the forty years in the wilderness until they began entry into the land promised to them. The first time Yahweh gave water from the rock it had been les than two months since the children of Israel had been brought out from being slaves in Egypt. Yahweh had instructed Moses to strike the rock using the same rod which he had used at the Nile. Moses followed the details of instructions and Yahweh was sanctified before the people. I used the reference from Exodus 17 to compare with the second time water was provided from the rock by Yahweh.

In the above passage from Numbers Miriam had died and was buried, and the forty years of wanderings in the wilderness was nearing the end. The tabernacle of the LORD had been with the children of Israel from an early point, and Moses had been many times clearly shown to be the chosen one by Yahweh. However, this second time that Yahweh would provide water from the rock, Moses allowed his human weakness to dishonor Yahweh when he in anger struck the rock rather than speaking as Yahweh had instructed, and he acted as though he and Aaron were providing the water. The LORD told both Moses and Aaron they would not enter the land because of this trespass. Section B below resumes in Numbers 20 at verse 22.


Numbers 20 "22 They traveled from Kadesh: and the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. 23 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in Mount Hor, by the border of the land of Edom, saying, 24 "Aaron shall be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter into the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against my word at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up to Mount Hor; 26 and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them on Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be taken, and shall die there." 27 Moses did as Yahweh commanded: and they went up into Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. 28 Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them on Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 When all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they wept for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel."

Numbers 33 "1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel, when they went forth out of the land of Egypt by their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron. 2 Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of Yahweh: and these are their journeys according to their goings out."

Numbers 33 "38 Aaron the priest went up into Mount Hor at the commandment of Yahweh, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fifth month, on the first day of the month. 39 Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died in Mount Hor."

COMMENTS: Beginning in Numbers 20, verse 22 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron and said Aaron would die in Mount Hor and not enter the land because they had rebelled against His word at the waters of Meribah. Moses, Aaron, and Eleazar went up into Mount Hor. Eleazar was given the garments and position of priest in place of his father Aaron, then Aaron died and was buried. When Moses and Eleazar came down from Mount Hor the whole congregation mourned for thirty days. Numbers 33, verses 1&2 describe the chapter content, and verses 38 and 39 give a little more detail about Aaron when he obediently went up to Mount Hor and died.


Deuteronomy 31 "14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Behold, your days approach that you must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the Tent of Meeting, that I may commission him." Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the Tent of Meeting. 15 Yahweh appeared in the Tent in a pillar of cloud: and the pillar of cloud stood over the door of the Tent. 16 Yahweh said to Moses, "Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers; and this people will rise up, and play the prostitute after the strange gods of the land, where they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come on them; so that they will say in that day, 'Haven't these evils come on us because our God is not among us?' 18 I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evil which they shall have worked, in that they are turned to other gods. 19 "Now therefore write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. 20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, flowing with milk and honey, and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and grown fat; then will they turn to other gods, and serve them, and despise me, and break my covenant. 21 It shall happen, when many evils and troubles have come on them, that this song shall testify before them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they frame this day, before I have brought them into the land which I swore." 22 So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. 23 He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, "Be strong and courageous; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them: and I will be with you." 24 It happened, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, saying, 26 "Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of Yahweh your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27 For I know your rebellion, and your stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, you have been rebellious against Yahweh; and how much more after my death? 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will happen to you in the latter days; because you will do that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands." 30 Moses spoke in the ears of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were finished."

COMMENTS: Yahweh told Moses that the time was drawing near for him to sleep with his fathers and he would commission Joshua to replace Moses as leader of the people; similar to the way in which Eleazar had taken his father's place as priest. Yahweh said when the people entered the land they would act like prostitutes by breaking their covenant with Yahweh to worship strange gods, not being thankful for the sumptuous supply of the land. Therefore, when Yahweh turned his back to them, they would experience many disasters. Moses wrote the song as instructed by Yahweh which was to be passed down through the generations to be a witness against them for their rebellion. Yahweh prepared this in advance because He knows the inner thoughts of all people. Moses read all of that song before the congregation that very day, and Joshua was commissioned to lead the people into the land. Moses finished writing the Law and gave the book to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, and told them to put it by the side to be a witness against the people. Moses said he knew how rebellious they had been against Yahweh while he was alive, and they would be even more so after his death!

NOTE: One of my early Bible studies (19March2001) is the "Song of Moses" contained in the first 43 verses of Deuteronomy chapter 32, and is available in the Topical section of


Deuteronomy 32 "44 Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. 45 Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel; 46 He said to them, "Set your heart to all the words which I testify to you this day, which you shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. 47 For it is no vain thing for you; because it is your life, and through this thing you shall prolong your days in the land, where you go over the Jordan to possess it." 48 Yahweh spoke to Moses that same day, saying, 49 "Go up into this mountain of Abarim, to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and see the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel for a possession; 50 and die on the mountain where you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor, and was gathered to his people: 51 because you trespassed against me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah of Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you didn't sanctify me in the midst of the children of Israel. 52 For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there into the land which I give the children of Israel.""

COMMENTS: Joshua and Moses were together as Moses spoke all the words of this song before the people. When Moses finished he told them to set their hearts to the words he delivered to them that day, and to command their children to follow all the words of this law. If the law is followed, it will not be in vain, but will prolong your time in the land over the Jordan. That same day Yahweh told Moses to go up into Mount Nebo near Jericho where he would be gathered to his people as Aaron had been at Mount Hor. Moses would see the land but would not enter it because he trespassed by not sanctifying Yahweh at the waters of Meribah.


Deuteronomy 34 "1 Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. Yahweh showed him all the land of Gilead, to Dan, 2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, to the hinder sea, 3 and the South, and the Plain of the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, to Zoar. 4 Yahweh said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your seed.' I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there." 5 So Moses the servant of Yahweh died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Yahweh. 6 He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth Peor: but no man knows of his tomb to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. 8 The children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping in the mourning for Moses were ended. 9 Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands on him: and the children of Israel listened to him, and did as Yahweh commanded Moses. 10 There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and the wonders, which Yahweh sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, 12 and in all the mighty hand, and in all the great terror, which Moses worked in the sight of all Israel."

COMMENTS: Yahweh showed Moses all the land beyond the Jordan, north, south, and west; that He had sworn to give to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had caused Moses to be able to see it with his eyes, but he would not be allowed to enter into it. Moses died and Yahweh buried him in Moab, but no one knows that location. Although Moses was 120 years of age, he was in excellent health when he died. The children of Israel mourned for Moses thirty days as they had done for Aaron, then Joshua took the leadership role and the people listened to him. There were no other prophets quite like Moses with his special closeness to Yahweh, and all the signs and wonders Yahweh had sent him to do in the sight of all Israel.


Deuteronomy 18 "15 Yahweh your God will raise up to you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you desired of Yahweh your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I not die." 17 Yahweh said to me, "They have well said that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. 19 It shall happen, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."

John 5 "37 The Father himself, who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. 38 You don't have his word living in you; because you don't believe him whom he sent. 39 "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. 40 Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life."

John 9 "51 Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death." 52 Then the Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets; and you say, 'If a man keeps my word, he will never taste of death.' 53 Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?" 54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is our God. 55 You have not known him, but I know him. If I said, 'I don't know him,' I would be like you, a liar. But I know him, and keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad." 57 The Jews therefore said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM." 59 Therefore they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus was hidden, and went out of the temple, having gone through their midst, and so passed by."

Luke 9 "25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own self? 26 For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed, when he comes in his glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you the truth: There are some of those who stand here, who will in no way taste of death, until they see the Kingdom of God. 28 It happened about eight days after these sayings, that he took with him Peter, John, and James, and went up onto the mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became white and dazzling. 30 Behold, two men were talking with him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory, and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem."

Luke 20 "37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him."

Acts 3 "11 As the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. 12 When Peter saw it, he responded to the people, "You men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? Why do you fasten your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous one, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, to which we are witnesses. 16 By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 "Now, brothers, I know that you did this in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained for you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets. 22 For Moses indeed said to the fathers, 'The Lord God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him in all things whatever he says to you. 23 It will be, that every soul that will not listen to that prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people.' 24 Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days."

Acts 7 "33 The Lord said to him, 'Take your sandals off of your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning. I have come down to deliver them. Now come, I will send you into Egypt.' 35 "This Moses, whom they refused, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?'-God has sent him as both a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, having worked wonders and signs in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord our God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me.' 38 This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living oracles to give to us, 39 to whom our fathers wouldn't be obedient, but rejected him, and turned back in their hearts to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, 'Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him.'"

Acts 7 "51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do. 52 Which of the prophets didn't your fathers persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous one, of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers. 53 You received the law as it was ordained by angels, and didn't keep it!" 54 Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 and said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed at him with one accord. 58 They threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60 He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them!" When he had said this, he fell asleep."

COMMENTS: Yahweh told Moses that he would raise up a prophet like Moses, and over many ensuing centuries other prophets wrote about that coming Messiah. Jesus told the religious leaders at Jerusalem that the Scriptures told of His coming, but they would not believe and come to Him to have eternal life. In John 9 Jesus told religious leaders that all who obeyed His word would never die. In response to their comment about Abraham being dead, Jesus said He existed before Abraham, and they wanted to stone Him because that statement implied Jesus is God. But Jesus was hidden from their view as he walked through the crowd untouched and left the temple. In Luke 9 when Jesus took Peter, John, and James up the mountain with him, Moses and Elijah appeared with the transfigured Jesus because they are indeed alive in glory. In Luke 20 Jesus said that resurrection is real: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him.

After the resurrection of Christ Jesus, His disciples gave witness about Him without regard to any danger it might bring. In John chapter 3, Peter and John were at the temple; and after a lame man was healed by the power of God, Peter took the opportunity to speak to the people. Peter affirmed that Jesus is that one promised by Yahweh to be like Moses, but more so as the Son of God He is able to give the gift of eternal life for those who believe on His name. In John chapter 7 Stephen was countering false accusations made against him, and he declared that Jesus is indeed the prophet like Moses promised by Yahweh. When the narrative resumed at verse 50, the zeal of Stephen brought the crowd to a violent reaction, but Stephen was blessed to have a vision of the glory of the Lord Jesus in heaven. As he was being stoned, he said "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" and he asked that his assailants be forgiven just before he "fell asleep."

--- REFLECTIONS IN Prayer ---

LORD, I wanted to look more carefully at the final days of Moses because it is very clear from the Scriptures that even as the leader you chose for the children of Israel during forty years in the wilderness, he experienced much rebellion against you, which was directed toward him. I want to remember that finally his only recorded trespassed was in anger at the waters of Meribah, openly before the people as he was not instructed that time to strike the rock. LORD, you righteously judged him and Aaron for that incident with their special positions before you; but after each one had died the children of Israel mourned for thirty days before they traveled on. it makes me realize how much grace and mercy I have been given in my wavering walk over the years since I asked Christ Jesus to be my Savior. Your Word, LORD, describes Moses as a very humble man, and that no other prophet was like him until Jesus came. It was a unique blessing as you enabled Moses to see with his own eyes the land which he would not be permitted to enter; then to be buried by your hand, LORD, in a place known only to you. The appearance of Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration with you, Jesus, is a beautiful witness that those men were used in a mighty way by you. I thank you, LORD, that you are not the God of the dead, but of the living, who are promised resurrection by your mercy and grace at the appointed time. Hallelujah, Amen!

Published 31 October 2018