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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 34

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-4


This chapter informs us about the last course, the last views, the death and the burial of Moses. We read about Israel's mourning over him and the time of it, about his successor Joshua and about the incomparable character of Moses.

Moses’ life consists of three periods of forty years:
1. Forty years at the court of Pharaoh.
2. Forty years in the wilderness with the sheep of Jethro in the school of God.
3. Forty years in the wilderness with the people of God.

Then comes the moment when he will return to dust, according to his own words in Psalm 90: “You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men” (Psalms 90:3). God Himself arranges His burial.

Moses Sees the Land

After Moses has blessed the people, he climbs Mount Nebo by the command of God (Deuteronomy 32:49). The people will certainly have looked to him as long as possible. Without any help Moses goes up to the top of the mountain. He is not at the end of his strength; he is not tired of life. Yet he rests in the LORD’s decision that his task is over. There is no fear for death in him. He climbs the mountain not to die, but to be with God.

On the mountain the LORD shows him, as He had promised, the promised land in all its vastness. Moses has seen the people in possession of the land. The land is named after the names of the tribes, as each will own their own inheritance. He has an eye that sees beyond what natural eyes see. The LORD has shown it to him in a supernatural way in a moment.

Moses has not only seen the land, but also the ultimate blessing of the people. God’s reign is that he will not go there; God’s grace is that he has seen it as no other has seen it. He has seen it in all its parts under God’s guidance.

Moses is found seven times on a mountain:
1. as intercessors (Exodus 17:8-Nehemiah :);
2. if he receives the law and a description of the tabernacle (Exodus 24:12-Job :);
3. to plead for the people after their sin with the golden calf (Exodus 32:30-Jonah :);
4. to receive the second stone tablets (Exodus 34:4);
5. on Mount Hor, to transfer the priesthood from Aaron to Eleazar (Numbers 20:23-Hosea :);
6. on the Nebo, where he sees the land (Deuteronomy 34:1);
7. on the mountain of glorification, together with Elijah, with the Lord Jesus (Matthew 17:1-Ruth :).

He has described the whole history of the failure of God’s people. Here on the mountain he sees the people according to God’s thoughts. The apostle John also has seen it in the same way. In Revelation 2-3, John describes the failure of the church, and finally the apostacy, in Revelation 17-18. But then he may see the church on the mountain according to God’s thoughts (Revelation 21:9-2 Samuel :). Moses sees the earthly side of the kingdom; John sees the heavenly side of it, the heavenly people of God.

Verses 5-8

Moses Dies and Is Buried

Moses did not die of old age and exhausted. The eye of Moses is not dimmed. He still sees as sharp as in his youth. That is in contrast to Isaac (Genesis 27:1) and Jacob (Genesis 48:10). The LORD takes the life of Moses. The LORD Himself has taken care of his burial (not: cremation). No one knows the burial place of Moses. The devil knows it. He disputed and argued over the body of Moses with the archangel Michael (Jude 1:9), possibly to make known to the people where he is buried and thereby to lead the people to idolatry.

The mourning period of thirty days because of Moses’ death is as long as that of his brother Aaron (Numbers 20:29).

Verse 9

Joshua Takes the Place of Moses

After the report of the death, burial and weeping of Moses, the book is not yet finished. Joshua is the successor of Moses as the leader of the people, not as a prophet, but as leader in the struggle of the people to take possession of the promised land.

Verses 10-12

Moses, the Prophet Without Equal

This last chapter was not written by Moses. Joshua will have been used for this. Under the guidance of God’s Spirit, Joshua depicts the life of Moses in just a few sentences in these last verses. Perhaps there is no one of the people who was aware as much as Joshua, what an extraordinary man Moses was. Joshua has experienced Moses from very close by and for a very long time.

In these last words about Moses his failure is not mentioned. The place of Moses has been completely unique among the people of God. His fellowship with God has also been unique (Deuteronomy 34:10; Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8). His service to us is great because of his presentation of the blessings of the land and the place the LORD has chosen to make his Name dwell there.

Moses has been faithful in all God’s house (Hebrews 3:1-Joshua :). He is a picture of the Lord Jesus, the perfect faithful One, not only in the house of God, but as Son over the house. Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46). Therefore the Lord Jesus far exceeds this excellent man of God.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Deuteronomy 34". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/deuteronomy-34.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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