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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Deuteronomy 34

Verses 1-4

DEUTERONOMY - CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

Verses 1-4:

When Moses concluded his benediction, he ascended the mountain at God’s direction, obedient to the conclusion of his life. Compare this text with Deuteronomy 32:49-52.

On Nebo’s summit, God expanded Moses’ vision to enable him to have a panoramic view of the entire Land of Canaan.

Gilead, a mountainous region east of Jordan, occupied by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, see Numbers 32:1; Numbers 32:26-40. This territory was later known as Perea.

Dan, the northernmost city of Canaan, originally known as Laish, or Leshem, Joshua 19:27. The original inhabitants lived like the Zidonians, engaging in commerce and without any strong defense. Part of the tribe of Dan migrated to this region, conquered it, and settled there, Judges 18:1; Judges 18:7-10; Judges 18:27-29. The present site is unknown.

Naphtali, the territory in the north of the Land, between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea.

Ephraim and Manasseh, the central highlands.

Judah, the southern territory.

Plains of Jericho, near the north part of the Dead Sea where the Jordan River empties into it.

Zoar, an ancient Canaanite city likely under the waters of the southeast part of the Dead Sea. It was originally known as Bela, Genesis 14:2. It was saved from immediate destruction by Lot’s intervention, when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:20-22. See also Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:34. It was an important point between Elath and Jerusalem, during the Middle Ages.

The territory which Moses viewed was more than 150 miles in length, and more than 65 miles in width. It would not be possible to view this range with the natural eye. The implication is that God miraculously increased Moses’ power of vision for this occasion.

At last Moses viewed the Land to which his rash actions had denied him entrance, Numbers 20:11-13. This illustrates the severe penalty for sin.

Verses 5-7

Verses 5-7:

After viewing the Land, Moses died, as God had said. The exact site of his death is unknown. It may have been on Mount Nebo, but it was likely in the valley where he was buried.

"According to the word of the Lord," means "according to the commandment of Jehovah." Jewish tradition interprets this expression as, "by the kiss of Jehovah."

Tradition also says that Moses retired to a cavern in a valley of the Nebo range, where he died and where he was buried.

The site of Moses’ grave is unknown. This suggests two thoughts:

(1) God deliberately concealed the grave site, in order to prevent Israel’s making of it a national shrine, and eventually regarding it as a place of idolatrous worship, in the same manner as the Brazen Serpent, see Numbers 21:8; 2 Kings 18:4.

(2) Some believe the body of Moses did not suffer corruption, but was miraculously preserved, perhaps in the same manner as the bodies of Enoch and Elijah. This would account for Moses’ appearance with Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration, see Matthew 17:3. Satan "contended" entered into a hostile dispute with the Archangel Michael, "disputed" concerning the body of Moses, Judges 1:9. "Disputed," dialogizomai, "to bring together different reasons." The language implies that Satan set forth various reasons in his hostile dispute with Michael, as to why he should be allowed to destroy Moses’ body with the process of corruption and decay common to death.

Moses’ age at the time of his death was one hundred twenty years. He still retained the natural vigor of life, in spite of his advanced years.

Verse 8

Verse 8:

Israel observed a mourning period of thirty days for Moses, following his death, as they had done for Aaron, see Numbers 20:29.

Verse 9

Verse 9:

Joshua was the choice as Moses’ successor, De 30:7, 8, 22, 23; Numbers 27:18-23. He took office at Moses’ death, and the people accepted and followed him as they had followed Moses.

Verses 10-12

Verses 10-12:

"The Lord knew," not as the knowledge God has of all men, but in a special way by which men are made known to Him, through the Spirit-filled relationship of love, see 1 Corinthians 8:3.

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and as such was the greatest of Old Testament prophets. He was "faithful in all his house," in the charge committed to him as the servant of Jehovah. But the One who is the Mediator of the New Covenant is greater than Moses: He is the Apostle and High Priest of the Christian’s profession, and is placed as a Son over all the house of God, in which Moses was faithful as a servant, see Hebrews 3:1-6.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 34". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-34.html. 1985.