The Unknown Yet Known Place of Moses’ Burial
The Three Places Moses Is Buried?
The Torah states that no one knows where Moses is buried (Deut 34:6). A surprising midrash preserved in Sifrei (3rd cent. C.E.) notes that even the Roman emperor had trouble finding Moses’ burial place because Moses seemed to be buried in more than one place at the same time:
וכבר שלחה מלכות בית קיסר שני סרדיוטות אמרו לכו וראו קבורתו של משה היכן היא הלכו ועמדו למעלה וראו אותו למטה ירדו למטה וראו אותו למעלה נחלקו חציים למעלה וחציים למטה עליונים ראו אותו כלפי מטה ותחתונים ראו אותו כלפי מעלה לכך נאמר ולא ידע איש את קבורתו.
The Roman emperor sent two army units, charging them: “Go and see where Moses is buried.” They went and stood up above and saw it down below; then they went down below and saw it above. So, they split up, half above and have below; those above saw it when they looked down, and those below saw it when they looked up. For this reason, the text states, “No one knows his burial place.” (Sifrei Devarim 357, s.v. לא ידע)
This midrash highlights the fact that the Torah specifies two location for Moses’ death and, presumably, burial, and that, as a consequence, the exact place is unknown:
Valley (Deut 34:6a)
וַיִּקְבֹּ֨ר אֹת֤וֹ בַגַּיְ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מוֹאָ֔ב מ֖וּל בֵּ֣ית פְּע֑וֹר…
He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, near Beth-peor…
Mountain (Deut 32:49-50)
עֲלֵ֡ה אֶל הַר֩ הָעֲבָרִ֨ים הַזֶּ֜ה הַר נְב֗וֹ אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מוֹאָ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל פְּנֵ֣י יְרֵח֑וֹ… וּמֻ֗ת בָּהָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ עֹלֶ֣ה שָׁ֔מָּה וְהֵאָסֵ֖ף אֶל עַמֶּ֑יךָ….
Ascend these heights of Abarim to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab facing Jericho…. You shall die on the mountain that you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your kin….
Unknown (Deut 34:6b)
…וְלֹֽא יָדַ֥ע אִישׁ֙ אֶת קְבֻ֣רָת֔וֹ עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה:
… and no one knows his burial place to this day.
Leaving aside the midrashic tradition that Moses was buried in both places, how have these traditions been reconciled?
On a Mountain: Ibn Ezra
In his gloss on Deuteronomy 34:6, Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1167) claims that Moses was buried on a mountain and not in a valley:
ודע, כי הר העברים, שהוא הר נבו, שהוא צלם כוכב, הוא בעצמו הגיא, שהוא ראש הפסגה, שהוא מול בית פעור…. ושם מת ושם קבורתו…. והנה דבר ברור, כי במקום שמת משה שם קבורתו.
Know that Mount Abarim, which is Mount Nebo, a name that denotes a foreign god (Nabu=the moon god), this is itself “The Valley,” which was at the top of the crest opposite Beit Peor… This is where Moses died and this is where he is buried… And it seems obvious that he was buried in the area where he died.
Scholars identify Mount Nebo with Ras al-Syagha, west of Madaba, and for hundreds of years it housed a Franciscan monastery built in the Byzantine period. We know from lines 14-18 of the Moabite Mesha inscription that the Israelites had a Temple to Yhwh on Mount Nebo:
ויאמר. לי. כמש. לכ. אחז. את. נבח. על. ישראל | ואהלכ. בללה. ואלתחמ. בה. מבקע. השחרת. עד. הצהרמ | ואחזה. ואהרג. כלה. שבעת. אלפנ. גברנ. וגרנ. | וגברת. וגרת. ורחמת | כי. לעשתר. כמש. החרמתה | ואקח. משמ. א[ת כ]לי. יהוה. ואסחב. המ. לפני. כמש |
And Kemosh said to me: “Go take Nebo from Israel.” And I went at night and fought from the break of dawn until the afternoon, and I took it and killed everybody, seven thousand men and boys, women and girls, and concubines, and I made them cherem to Ashtar-Kemosh. And I took from their the [ves]sels of Yhwh, and brought them before Kemosh.
This temple was likely associated with Moses’ grave, which supports the “burial on the mountain” tradition.
In the Valley: Seforno
Ovadiah Seforno (c. 1475-1550), however, suggests that even if Moses died on the mountain, he was buried in the valley:
ויקבר אותו. אם הוא קבר את עצמו כדברי קצתם ז”ל עשתה זאת נפשו הנבדלת כי הוא מת בהר ראש הפסגה שמשם ראה את הארץ כאמרו וימת שם משה והקבורה היתה בגיא:
And he buried him(self) – If he did bury himself, as some of the sages believe, his disembodied soul must have done so, since he died on the top of the peak of a mountain from which he saw all the land [of the Cisjordan], as it says, “and Moses died there,” but his burial was in a valley.
Beth-peor should be identified with Khirbat ‘Uyun Musa in the valley at the foot of Mt. Nebo. It too once housed a Byzantine period church.
Nobody Knows: Sifrei Devarim
The midrash about the Roman emperor’s search reflects the third tradition, that the place where Moses is buried is unknown. The midrash is trying to combine all three statements about Moses’ burial, implying that the actual place is unknown because it looks as if he is buried in two places. Nevertheless, the plain meaning of “unknown” in Deut 34:6 is that no one knows where he is buried, full stop.
The unknown grave tradition was either unaware of the two other traditions, or was actively polemicizing against them. According to Deut. 3:29, at the time of Moses’ death, the Israelite camp was in the valley near Beth-peor (Deut. 3:29). The valley is limited in size, and thus the tradition that his grave is unknown is especially surprising.
A Documentary Solution to the Three Burial Places
From a critical perspective, rather than reconcile the three divergent traditions about Moses’ burial, each tradition should be understood as independent. Each of these independent traditions was originally from a different Pentateuchal document. It was only when the three documents were woven together by the compiler of the Torah that the inconsistent death and burial tradition we have today in chapter 34 developed.
Based on the terminology each tradition uses, and its connection to stories earlier in the Torah, they may be assigned to particular sources:
Each version is represented separately below (see appendix for a color-coded version of the entire text).
Bold – Word that appeared in more than one source
// – breaks, where compiler inserted pieces from other sources
Mount Nebo – The Priestly Version
This version originally read:
לד:א וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה מֵעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב אֶל-הַר נְבוֹ // אֲשֶׁר עַל-פְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ וַיַּרְא // אֶת כָּל הָאָרֶץ //לד:ה וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה //. בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב עַל פִּי י-הוה. // לד:חוַיִּבְכּוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת מֹשֶׁה בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וַיִּתְּמוּ יְמֵי בְכִי אֵבֶל מֹשֶׁה. לד:ט וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן מָלֵא רוּחַ חָכְמָה כִּי סָמַךְ מֹשֶׁה אֶת יָדָיו עָלָיו וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ אֵלָיו בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה י-הוה אֶת מֹשֶׁה.
34:1 Moses went up from the steppes of Moab to Mount Nebo // opposite Jericho, and looked out // at the whole land. // 34:5 And Moses // died there, in the land of Moab, at the command of Yhwh. 34:8 And the Israelites bewailed Moses in the steppes of Moab for thirty days. The period of wailing and mourning for Moses came to an end. 34:9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him; and the Israelites heeded him, doing as Yhwh had commanded Moses.
The following points are noteworthy about the P version:
- Storyline – The ascent to Mt. Nebo is the final piece in a chain that starts at Kadesh with the punishment on the Waters of Meribah.
Moses told that he will not enter the land as a consequence of his sin.
במד’ כ:יב וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְ-הֹוָה֘ אֶל מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽל אַהֲרֹן֒ יַ֚עַן לֹא הֶאֱמַנְתֶּ֣ם בִּ֔י לְהַ֨קְדִּישֵׁ֔נִי לְעֵינֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל לָכֵ֗ן לֹ֤א תָבִ֙יאוּ֙ אֶת הַקָּהָ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה אֶל הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַ֥תִּי לָהֶֽם:
Num 20:12 But Yhwh said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.”
Moses told to alight upon Mt. Abarim to die, but Moses asks for more time.
במד’ כז:יב וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְ-הֹוָה֙ אֶל מֹשֶׁ֔ה עֲלֵ֛ה אֶל הַ֥ר הָעֲבָרִ֖ים הַזֶּ֑ה וּרְאֵה֙ אֶת הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל: כז:יגוְרָאִ֣יתָה אֹתָ֔הּ וְנֶאֱסַפְתָּ֥ אֶל עַמֶּ֖יךָ…
Num 27:12 Yhwh said to Moses, “Ascend these heights of Abarim and view the land that I have given to the Israelite people. 27:13When you have seen it, you too shall be gathered to your kin…
Moses told to alight upon Mt. Abarim (= Mt. Nebo), view the land, and die, which he does soon after (ch. 34).
דבר’ לב:מט עֲלֵ֡ה אֶל הַר֩ הָעֲבָרִ֨ים הַזֶּ֜ה הַר נְב֗וֹ אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מוֹאָ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל פְּנֵ֣י יְרֵח֑וֹ וּרְאֵה֙ אֶת אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁ֨ר אֲנִ֥י נֹתֵ֛ן לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לַאֲחֻזָּֽה: לב:נ וּמֻ֗ת בָּהָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ עֹלֶ֣ה שָׁ֔מָּה וְהֵאָסֵ֖ף אֶל עַמֶּ֑יךָ…לב:נב כִּ֥י מִנֶּ֖גֶד תִּרְאֶ֣ה אֶת הָאָ֑רֶץ וְשָׁ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א תָב֔וֹא אֶל הָאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִ֥י נֹתֵ֖ן לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
Deut 32:49 Ascend these heights of Abarim to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites as their holding. 32:50You shall die on the mountain that you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your kin…32:52 You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people.
- Location – The command Moses receives to die in Deuteronomy 32 specifies the place as Mt. Abarim / Mt. Nebo in the Moabite Land opposite Jericho.
- The mourning period – The description of Aaron’s death in Nub 27, a P text, includes a mourning period of thirty days (Num 21:29). This matches verse 8, which has an identical description for Moses, should be assigned to P too.
- Joshua – Moses’ response to God’s first command to die in Num 27—a Priestly text—was to ask for a leader that will replace him. God orders him to single out Joshua “a man with spirit in him and lay your hand upon him (אִ֖ישׁ אֲשֶׁר ר֣וּחַ בּ֑וֹ וְסָמַכְתָּ֥ אֶת יָדְךָ֖ עָלָֽיו).” Deut. 34:9 tells us that the laying of the hands was done.
The large gap between the command in Num 27 for Moses to die and its fulfillment here has much to do with the compiler’s decision to place the D source, which represents most of the book of Deuteronomy, in between the account in Numbers and the death scene here.
Why there is No Death Scene in D
in Ironically, although the death scene appears in Deuteronomy, the D source is the one source that contains no death scene. This is because D is a speech, not a narrative of Moses’ life. Moses makes his speech, and writes the whole thing down. As the Sages and ibn Ezra already noted from a different vantage point, since Moses is the purported author (of D), it would be extremely odd for D to describe Moses’ death. (Could he write about his own death?)
The Valley Opposite Beit Peor – The E Version
לד:ה וַיָּמָת // מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד י-הוה // לד:ו וַיִּקְבֹּר אֹתוֹ בַגַּי בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב מוּל בֵּית פְּעוֹר //לד:ז וּמֹשֶׁה בֶּן-מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה בְּמֹתוֹ לֹא כָהֲתָה עֵינוֹ וְלֹא נָס לֵחֹה.. // לד:י וְלֹא קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמֹשֶׁה אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוֹ י-הוה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים. לד:יא לְכָל הָאֹתֹת וְהַמּוֹפְתִים אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ י-הוה לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לְפַרְעֹה וּלְכָל עֲבָדָיו וּלְכָל אַרְצוֹ. לד:יב וּלְכֹל הַיָּד הַחֲזָקָה וּלְכֹל הַמּוֹרָא הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל.
34:5 So Moses the servant of Yhwh died // 34:6He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, near Beth-peor // 34:7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated. // 34:10 Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—whom Yhwh singled out, face to face, 34:11 for the various signs and portents that Yhwh sent him to display in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his courtiers and his whole country,34:12 and for all the great might and awesome power that Moses displayed before all Israel.
- Servant of Yhwh – This phrase is found only in E texts (Ex 14:31; Num 12:7).
- Baal-peor – This reflects an E story (Num 25:1–9). The valley near Beth-peor as the location of the Israelite camp is also in E (as quoted in Deut 3:29).
- Moses as 120 years old – the only other place in the Torah, in which Moses records his age is a speech from the D text (31:2). D seems to have borrowed many of the concepts in this speech, including this one, from E storyline.
- Face to face – Only in E does God talk to Moses “face to face” (Exod 33:11), which may be evidence that God is doing the burial.
An Unknown Spot after Ascending Pisgah – The J Version
לד:א וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה // רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה // וַיַּרְאֵהוּ י-הוה // אֶת הַגִּלְעָד עַד-דָּן. לד:ב וְאֵת כָּל נַפְתָּלִי וְאֶת אֶרֶץ אֶפְרַיִם וּמְנַשֶּׁה וְאֵת כָּל אֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה עַד הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן. לד:ג וְאֶת הַנֶּגֶב וְאֶת הַכִּכָּר בִּקְעַת יְרֵחוֹ עִיר הַתְּמָרִים עַד צֹעַר. לד:ד וַיֹּאמֶר י-הוה אֵלָיו זֹאת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה הֶרְאִיתִיךָ בְעֵינֶיךָ וְשָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲבֹר. לד:הוַיָּמָת // מֹשֶׁה // לד:ו וְלֹא יָדַע אִישׁ אֶת קְבֻרָתוֹ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה.
34:1 Moses went up // to the summit of Pisgah // and Yhwh showed him // the Gilead as far as Dan; 34:2 all Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; the whole land of Judah as far as the Western Sea;34:3 the Negeb; and the Plain—the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. 34:4 And Yhwh said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, ‘I will assign it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross there.” 34:5 Moses died //34:6 and no one knows his burial place to this day.
- Pisgah – This toponym is the final stopping point in the J itinerary (Num 21:20), and is part of the (lost) ending of J Scout story (Deut 3:27).
- The detailed description of the Promised Land – This is the fulfillment of the promise to see the land “to the west, the north, the south and the east” (Deut 3:27).
- Promise to the Patriarchs – this is an integral theme throughout the J sections in the book of Genesis. Other sources have promises to the patriarchs, but only J uses the phrase לזרעך אתננה (“I will give it to your seed.”)
- עבר vs בוא – in God’s punishment to Moses in the J text from Deut 3, the root עבר is used (“you will not pass over”), in the Priestly text it is בוא (“you will not come”).
The Lost Pieces of the J Scouts Story
The Scouts story in Numbers 13-14 combines two different versions of that story, one from J and one from P. As many scholars have noted, the J story seems incomplete, but we can reconstruct some of it from the retelling of the Scouts Story in Deut 1-3, since Deuteronomy uses the J source for this story.
In Deuteronomy 1:21-36, Moses retells the Scouts incident, which ends with God’s decree against Moses.
א:לז גַּם בִּי֙ הִתְאַנַּ֣ף יְ-הֹוָ֔ה בִּגְלַלְכֶ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר גַּם אַתָּ֖ה לֹא תָבֹ֥א שָֽׁם:
1:37 Because of you Yhwh was incensed with me too, and He said: You shall not enter it either.
According to this, Moses is forbidden to enter the land together with all the Israelites of his generation as part of God’s punishment for the sin of the scouts.
Two chapters later, Moses tries to change God’s mind but fails in the attempt.
ג:כג וָאֶתְחַנַּ֖ן אֶל יְ-הֹוָ֑ה בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖וא לֵאמֹֽר: ג:כד אֲדֹנָ֣י יְ-הֹוִ֗ה אַתָּ֤ה הַֽחִלּ֙וֹתָ֙ לְהַרְא֣וֹת אֶֽת עַבְדְּךָ֔ אֶ֨ת גָּדְלְךָ֔ וְאֶת יָדְךָ֖ הַחֲזָקָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר מִי אֵל֙ בַּשָּׁמַ֣יִם וּבָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה כְמַעֲשֶׂ֖יךָ וְכִגְבוּרֹתֶֽךָ: ג:כהאֶעְבְּרָה נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן: ג:כו וַיִּתְעַבֵּ֨ר יְ-הֹוָ֥ה בִּי֙ לְמַ֣עַנְכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א שָׁמַ֖ע אֵלָ֑י וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְ-הֹוָ֤ה אֵלַי֙ רַב לָ֔ךְ אַל תּ֗וֹסֶף דַּבֵּ֥ר אֵלַ֛י ע֖וֹד בַּדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה: ג:כזעֲלֵ֣ה׀ רֹ֣אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֗ה וְשָׂ֥א עֵינֶ֛יךָ יָ֧מָּה וְצָפֹ֛נָה וְתֵימָ֥נָה וּמִזְרָ֖חָה וּרְאֵ֣ה בְעֵינֶ֑יךָ כִּי לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה:
3:23 I pleaded with Yhwh at that time, saying, 3:24 “O Lord Yhwh, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal! 3:25 Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.” 3:26 But Yhwh was wrathful with me on your account and would not listen to me. Yhwh said to me, “Enough! Never speak to Me of this matter again! 3:27 Go up to the summit of Pisgah and gaze about, to the west, the north, the south, and the east. Look at it well, for you shall not go across yonder Jordan.
This punishment of Moses for the sin of the scouts seems to be taken from a lost section of the J text which the compiler of Numbers cut in favor of P’s explanation, i.e., the story about Moses’ sin at Meribah. Fortuitously, from the retelling in Deut. 1-3, we can reconstruct that in the original independent J text, God bars Moses from entering the land as part of the punishment against the generation of the scouts, and that He told Moses to go up Mount Pisgah, gaze upon all the land, and die.
The Unknown Grave: Process of Elimination
Assigning the unknown grave to J follows the process of elimination. P has Moses’ grave on Mt. Nebo. E has him buried in the valley. J has him go up on Mt. Pisgah to look but never references where he dies or is buried. Thus, it makes most sense to assume that this line was the ending of the J tradition.
The Significance of the Three Traditions
Is it significant that particular sources associate the burial of Moses with particular places?
P identifies the grave as a place where a temple to Yhwh (once) stood. It is not surprising that a Priestly text would be especially comfortable associating Israel’s most important prophet with a temple.
In contrast, E has Moses buried opposite an idolatrous temple (Beit Peor). Perhaps such a burial was meant to symbolize Israel’s position as standing against the false god of its neighbors.
Finally, J wanted to discredit any claims made by local holy places that their spot housed the remains of the great prophet. Perhaps fearful that the place would turn into a worship site (as suggested by Ralbag ad loc.), perhaps out of awe for Moses’ place in Israelite history, J leaves the Israelites with only one way to access Moses, through his teachings.
Appendix – Full Reconstruction
A full reconstruction of the text follows. The words וימת משה, or something similar, would have appeared in all three sources; the compiler would have had no choice but to cut the other two mentions of Moses dying. Similarly, references to Moses “going up” a mountain appeared in both P and J, and references to Moses seeing the land from the mountaintop as well. Here too, the compiler must have cut the doublet. Beyond that, the three sources are fully reflected in the composite text.
J – Blue E – Green P – Red
לד:א וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה מֵעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב אֶל הַר נְבוֹ [וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה] רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ וַיַּרְאֵהוּ י-הוה [וַיַּרְא] אֶת-כָּל-הָאָרֶץ אֶת הַגִּלְעָד עַד דָּן. לד:ב וְאֵת כָּל נַפְתָּלִי וְאֶת אֶרֶץ אֶפְרַיִם וּמְנַשֶּׁה וְאֵת כָּל אֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה עַד הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן. לד:ג וְאֶת הַנֶּגֶב וְאֶת הַכִּכָּר בִּקְעַת יְרֵחוֹ עִיר הַתְּמָרִים עַד צֹעַר. לד:דוַיֹּאמֶר י-הוה אֵלָיו זֹאת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה הֶרְאִיתִיךָ בְעֵינֶיךָ וְשָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲבֹר. לד:ה [וַיָּמָת] שָׁם [מֹשֶׁה] עֶבֶד-י-הוה בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב עַל פִּיי-הוה. לד:ו וַיִּקְבֹּר אֹתוֹ בַגַּי בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב מוּל בֵּית פְּעוֹר וְלֹא יָדַע אִישׁ אֶת קְבֻרָתוֹ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה. לד:ז וּמֹשֶׁה בֶּן מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה בְּמֹתוֹ לֹא כָהֲתָה עֵינוֹ וְלֹא נָס לֵחֹה. לד:ח וַיִּבְכּוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת מֹשֶׁה בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם וַיִּתְּמוּ יְמֵי בְכִי אֵבֶל מֹשֶׁה. לד:ט וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן מָלֵא רוּחַ חָכְמָה כִּי סָמַךְ מֹשֶׁה אֶת יָדָיו עָלָיו וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ אֵלָיו בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה י-הוה אֶת מֹשֶׁה. לד:י וְלֹא קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמֹשֶׁה אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוֹ י-הוה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים. לד:יא לְכָל הָאֹתֹת וְהַמּוֹפְתִים אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ י-הוה לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לְפַרְעֹה וּלְכָל עֲבָדָיו וּלְכָל אַרְצוֹ. לד:יב וּלְכֹל הַיָּד הַחֲזָקָה וּלְכֹל הַמּוֹרָא הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל.
34:1 Moses went up from the steppes of Moab to Mount Nebo, [Moses went up] to the summit of Pisgah, opposite Jericho, and Yhwh showed him [and he saw] the whole land. Gilead as far as Dan; 34:2 all Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; the whole land of Judah as far as the Western Sea; 34:3 the Negeb; and the Plain—the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. 34:4 And Yhwh said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, ‘I will assign it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross there.” 34:5 [And Moses] the servant of Yhwh died there, in the land of Moab, at the command of Yhwh. 34:6 He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, near Beth-peor. No one knows his burial place to this day. 34:7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated. 34:8 And the Israelites bewailed Moses in the steppes of Moab for thirty days. The period of wailing and mourning for Moses came to an end. 34:9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him; and the Israelites heeded him, doing as Yhwh had commanded Moses. 34:10 Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—whom Yhwh singled out, face to face, 34:11 for the various signs and portents that Yhwh sent him to display in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his courtiers and his whole country, 34:12 and for all the great might and awesome power that Moses displayed before all Israel.
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Dr. David Ben-Gad HaCohen (Dudu Cohen) has a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from the Hebrew University. His dissertation is titled, Kadesh in the Pentateuchal Narratives, and deals with issues of biblical criticism and historical geography. Dudu has been a licensed Israeli guide since 1972. He conducts tours in Israel as well as Jordan.
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