Deuteronomy 34:1
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead, to Dan,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXIV.

DEATH OF MOSES.

(1) Pisgah.—See Numbers 21:20. The word seems to mean a height.

(1, 2) The Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali . . . unto the utmost sea—that is, He showed him all the land which was to be given to these several tribes. Whether He then showed it to him under the names which are given here or not is a question we cannot answer. Many deeply interesting queries suggest themselves here. Did Moses go up alone? or did Joshua accompany him? Who wrote these particulars of what was shown to him, and how were the particulars known? I am disposed to believe that as Elijah and Elisha “still went on and talked,” until that chariot of fire appeared which “parted them both asunder,” so it was with Moses and Joshua—that Moses’ minister attended him until Jehovah withdrew him from his sight. But it speaks well for Joshua’s character—in fact, it is altogether characteristic of the man—that in this record of the death of the great lawgiver he should have concealed himself and every other figure from sight except Jehovah and His servant Moses. Rashi, in his comment on this scene, says that the Lord showed Moses not only the land, but what should happen therein, in every part. But of this we know nothing. We know that the spectacle was complete. Probably “the eye that was not dim” was enabled to see farther than human eye ever saw from such a height before. “The utmost sea” is full fifty miles away from that spot.

Deuteronomy 34:1. Moses went up — When he knew the place of his death, he cheerfully mounted the hill to come to it. Those who are well acquainted with another world, are not afraid to leave this. When God’s servants are sent for out of the world, the summons runs, “Go up and die!” From the plains of Moab — In which was their last station before they entered into Canaan, Numbers 33:48. To the top of Pisgah — Which appears to have been the highest top of these mountains. And from hence God enabled him to take a particular view of the several quarters of the land of Canaan. Unto Dan — To that city, which after Moses’s death was called so. The mention of Daniel in this verse, and the account of Moses’s death and burial, and of some particulars after he had left the world, (Deuteronomy 34:5-9,) show that this chapter was not written by Moses; but probably by Samuel, Ezra, or some other of the prophets who succeeded him.34:1-4 Moses seemed unwilling to leave his work; but that being finished, he manifested no unwillingness to die. God had declared that he should not enter Canaan. But the Lord also promised that Moses should have a view of it, and showed him all that good land. Such a sight believers now have, through grace, of the bliss and glory of their future state. Sometimes God reserves the brightest discoveries of his grace to his people to support their dying moments. Those may leave this world with cheerfulness, who die in the faith of Christ, and in the hope of heaven.Dan - This can hardly be the Dan (Dan-Laish) of Judges 18:27 ff, which was not in Gilead. It is probably a town of this name which stood in the north of Peraea; perhaps the same as Dan-jaan, 2 Samuel 24:6; and the Dan of Genesis 14:14. CHAPTER 34

De 34:1-12. Moses from Mount Nebo Views the Land.

1. Moses went up from the plains of Moab—This chapter appears from internal evidence to have been written subsequently to the death of Moses, and it probably formed, at one time, an introduction to the Book of Joshua.

unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah—literally, the head or summit of the Pisgah; that is, the height (compare Nu 23:14; De 3:17-27; 4:49). The general name given to the whole mountain range east of Jordan, was Abarim (compare De 32:49), and the peak to which Moses ascended was dedicated to the heathen Nebo, as Balaam's standing place had been consecrated to Peor. Some modern travellers have fixed on Jebel Attarus, a high mountain south of the Jabbok (Zurka), as the Nebo of this passage [Burckhardt, Seetzen, &c.]. But it is situated too far north for a height which, being described as "over against Jericho," must be looked for above the last stage of the Jordan.

the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead—That pastoral region was discernible at the northern extremity of the mountain line on which he stood, till it ended, far beyond his sight in Dan. Westward, there were on the horizon, the distant hills of "all Naphtali." Coming nearer, was "the land of Ephraim and Manasseh." Immediately opposite was "all the land of Judah," a title at first restricted to the portion of this tribe, beyond which were "the utmost sea" (the Mediterranean) and the Desert of the "South." These were the four great marks of the future inheritance of his people, on which the narrative fixes our attention. Immediately below him was "the circle" of the plain of Jericho, with its oasis of palm trees; and far away on his left, the last inhabited spot before the great desert "Zoar." The foreground of the picture alone was clearly discernible. There was no miraculous power of vision imparted to Moses. That he should see all that is described is what any man could do, if he attained sufficient elevation. The atmosphere of the climate is so subtle and free from vapor that the sight is carried to a distance of which the beholder, who judges from the more dense air of Europe, can form no idea [Vere Monro]. But between him and that "good land," the deep valley of the Jordan intervened; "he was not to go over thither."Moses from Mount Nebo vieweth the land, Deu 34:1-4. He dieth there, Deu 34:5. His burial, Deu 34:6. His age, Deu 34:7. Thirty days’ mourning for him, Deu 34:8. Joshua succeedeth him, Deu 34:9. The praises of Moses, Deu 34:10-12.

Moses went up, in compliance with God’s will, that he should then and there resign up his soul to God.

Of the mountain of Nebo, see Numbers 27:12 32:38 Deu 32:49. Of the land of Gilead Moses had as yet seen and enjoyed but a small part. Of this land, see Genesis 31:21 Numbers 32:1,19, &c.

Unto Dan; to that city which after Moses’s death was called Dan, Joshua 19:47 Judges 18:29. So that here is an anticipation. But it seems most probable, and is commonly believed, that this chapter was not written by Moses, but by Eleazar, or Joshua, or Ezra, or some other man of God, directed herein by the Holy Ghost; this being no more impeachment to the Divine authority of this chapter, that the penman is unknown, which also is the lot of some other books of Scripture, than it is to the authority of the acts of the king or parliament, that they are written or printed by some unknown person.

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab,.... Where the Israelites had lain encamped for some time, and where Moses had repeated to them the law, and all that, is contained in this book of Deuteronomy; and after he had read to them the song in Deuteronomy 32:1; and had blessed the several tribes, as in the preceding chapter: at the command of God he went up from hence:

unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho; Nebo was one of the mountains of Abarim, which formed a ridge of them, and Pisgah was the highest point of Nebo, and this was over against Jericho on the other side Jordan, see Deuteronomy 32:49; hither Moses went, to the top of this high mountain, for aught appears, without any support or help, his natural force not being abated, though an hundred and twenty years old; and hither he seems to have gone alone, though Josephus (p) and the Samaritan Chronicle (q) say, Eleazar, Joshua, and the elders of Israel accompanied him:

and the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan; the Word of the Lord, as the Targum of Jonathan, who appeared to him in the bush, sent him to Egypt, wrought miracles by him there, led him and the people of Israel through the Red sea and wilderness, and brought them to the place where they now were: and though the eye of Moses was not become dim, as was usual at such an age he was of, yet it can hardly be thought it should be so strong as to take a distinct view of the whole land of Canaan, to the utmost borders of it: no doubt but his natural sight was wonderfully strengthened and increased by the Lord, by whom he was directed first to behold the land of Gilead on that side of Jordan where he was, and which was the possession of the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; and then he was directed to look forward to the land of Canaan beyond Jordan, to the northern part of it; for Dan is not the tribe of Dan, but a city of that name, formerly Leshem, which the Danites took, and lay the farthest north of the land, hence the phrase "from Dan to Beersheba", see Joshua 19:47; this city is so called by anticipation: Aben Ezra thinks Joshua wrote this verse by a spirit of prophecy; and it is very likely the whole chapter was written by him, and not the eight last verses only, as say the Jewish writers: this view Moses had of the good land a little before his death may be an emblem of that sight believers have, by faith, of the heavenly glory, and which sometimes is the clearest when near to death; this sight they have not in the plains of Moab, in the low estate of nature, but in an exalted state of grace, upon and from off the rock of Christ, in the mountain of the church of God, the word and ordinances being often the means of it; it is a sight by faith, and is of the Lord, which he gives, strengthens, and increases, and sometimes grants more fully a little before death.

(p) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 48. (q) Apud Hottinger. Smegma, l. 1. c. 8. p. 456.

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of {a} Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,

(a) Which was a part of mount Abarim, Nu 27:12.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Moses went up] As commanded, Deuteronomy 3:27, Deuteronomy 32:49.

plains of Moab] Heb. ‘arbôth Mo’ab, the parts of the ‘Arabah (see on Deuteronomy 1:1) reckoned as Moabite. The designation is peculiar to P, who gives it as Israel’s last camp before crossing Jordan, Numbers 33:48-50, cp. Numbers 22:1; Numbers 26:3; Numbers 26:63; Numbers 31:12; Numbers 35:1; Numbers 36:13, Joshua 13:32, which place these ‘steppes’ on Jordan and opposite Jericho. According to Deuteronomy 3:24-29 Moses ascended Nebo from Israel’s immediately previous camp in the glen over against Beth-Pe‘or, which is above the Jordan valley. But ‘arbôth Mo’ab may have been loosely held to cover this higher hollow that debouches on the ‘Arabah.

unto mount Nebo, the headland of the Pisgah] The former is P’s name for the mount (Deuteronomy 32:49), the latter that of E (Numbers 21:20; Numbers 23:14) and deuteron. writers, see on Deuteronomy 3:17. It is the headland which breaks from the plateau of Moab between Heshbon and Medaba under the name en-Nebâ (= ‘mountain-back,’ Dalman MNPDV, 1900, p. 23) or en-Nebâ, and runs out to the S. of the W. ‘Uyûn Musa upon the N. end of the Dead Sea. From the high edge of the Plateau it dips a little, and so loses the view to the E.—Israel’s desert horizons for 40 years—but the bulk of W. Palestine is in sight; only at first the nearer side of the Jordan valley is invisible, and N. and S. the view is hampered by the parallel headlands. Further W. however it rises somewhat into the Ras Siaghah, a promontory which, though lower than the Ras en-Nebâ, stands freer of the hills to N. and S. The whole of the ‘Arabah is now open from at least Engedi, and if the mist allows from still farther S., to where on the N. the hills of Gilead appear to meet those of Ephraim. The Jordan flows below, with Jericho visible beyond it. Over Gilead Hermon has been seen in fine weather. See further HGHL, 562 ff.

over against Jericho] Lit. against the face of, i.e. (by Semitic orientation) to the E. of.

all the LandGilead unto Dan, etc.] Not as in EVV. the land of Gilead. Dan itself, either Tell-el-Ḳadi, on one of the sources of Jordan, or more probably on the neighbouring spur of Ḥermon above Banias (see above Deuteronomy 33:22, and HGHL, 473, 481), is not visible, but Ḥermon above it is sometimes seen; and Dan is mentioned as the N. limit of the land.Verse 1. - Unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah; rather, unto Mount Nebo, the summit of Pisgah. Gilead unto Dan. Not Dan Laish, near the central source of the Jordan, which was not in Gilead, but another Dan in Northern Perea, the site of which has not yet been discovered (cf. Genesis 14:14). Asher. - "Blessed before the sons be Asher; let him be the favoured among his brethren, and dipping his foot in oil. Iron and brass be thy castle; and as the days of thy life let thy rest continue." Asher, the prosperous (see at Genesis 30:15), was justly to bear the name. He was to be a child of prosperity; blessed with earthly good, he was to enjoy rest all his life long in strong fortresses. It is evident enough that this blessing is simply an exposition of the name Asher, and that Moses here promises the tribe a verification of the omen contained in its name. מבּנים בּרוּך does not mean "blessed with children," or "praised because of his children," in which case we should have בּניו; but "blessed before the sons" (cf. Judges 5:24), i.e., blessed before the sons of Jacob, who were peculiarly blessed, equivalent to the most blessed of all the sons of Israel. אחיו רצוּי does not mean the beloved among his brethren, acceptable to his brethren, but the one who enjoyed the favour of the Lord, i.e., the one peculiarly favoured by the Lord. Dipping the foot in oil points to a land flowing with oil (Job 29:6), i.e., fat or fertile throughout, which Jacob had already promised to Asher (see Genesis 49:20). To complete the prosperity, however, security and rest were required for the enjoyment of the blessings bestowed by God; and these are promised in Deuteronomy 33:25. מנעל (ἅπ. λεγ.) does not mean a shoe, but is derived from נעל, to bolt (Judges 3:23), and signifies either a bolt, or that which is shut fast; a poetical expression for a castle or fortress. Asher's dwellings were to be castles, fortresses of iron and brass; i.e., as strong and impregnable as if they were built of iron and brass. The pursuit of mining is not to be thought of as referred to here, even though the territory of Asher, which reached to Lebanon, may have contained brass and iron (see at Deuteronomy 8:9). Luther follows the lxx and Vulgate, and renders this clause, "iron and brass be upon his shoes;" but this is undoubtedly wrong, as the custom of fastening the shoes or sandals with brass or iron was quite unknown to the Israelites; and even Goliath, who was clothed in brass from head to foot, and wore iron greaves, had no iron sandals, though the military shoes of the ancient Romans had nails in the soles. Moreover, the context contains no reference to war, so as to suggest the idea that the treading down and cursing of the foe are intended. "As thy days," i.e., as long as the days of thy life last, let thy rest be (continue). Luther's rendering, "let thine old age be as thy youth," which follows the Vulgate, cannot be sustained; for although דּבא, derived from דאב, to vanish away, certainly might signify old age, the expression "thy days" cannot possibly be understood as signifying youth.
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