Jude 1:9
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke you.
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Jude 1:9. Yet Michael, &c. — It does not appear whether St. Jude learned this by any revelation, or from an ancient tradition. It suffices that these things were not only true, but acknowledged to be so by them to whom he wrote. Michael is mentioned Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1, as standing up in defence of Daniel’s people. “Because the book of Daniel is the first sacred writing in which proper names are given to particular angels, some have fancied that, during the Babylonish captivity, the Jews invented these names, or learned them from the Chaldeans. But this seems an unfounded conjecture. For the angel who appeared to Zacharias, (Luke 1:19,) called himself Gabriel, which shows that that name was not of Chaldean invention.” The archangel — This word occurs but once more in the sacred writings, namely, 1 Thessalonians 4:16. So that, whether there be one archangel only, or more, it is not possible for us to determine. Michael is called one of the chief princes, Daniel 10:13, and the great prince, Daniel 12:1; (on which passages see the notes.) And, because it is said, (Revelation 12:7,) that Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels, Estius conjectures that Michael is the chief or prince of all the angels. But this argument is not conclusive. When contending with the devil, he disputed (at what time we know not) concerning the body of Moses — Beza, Estius, Tillotson, and other good writers, think this passage is illustrated by Deuteronomy 34:6, where it is said the Lord buried Moses in a valley, in the land of Moab, and that no one knew of his sepulchre. They suppose that, had the devil been able to discover to the Jews the place where Moses was interred, they would afterward have paid an idolatrous honour to his remains; and it would have gratified his malice exceedingly, to have made him an occasion of idolatry, after his death, who had been so great an enemy to it in his life. To prevent this, he thinks, Michael buried his body secretly. This proves, by the way, that good angels are sometimes concerned in limiting the power of the devils, which must, no doubt, be a great vexation to those malignant spirits. But Mr. Baxter suggests it as a doubt, whether it were about the dead body of Moses, or Moses exposed on the water, when an infant, that there was this contention. Baxter suggests also another interpretation, in his note on this verse. Because the apostle here seems to allude to Zechariah 3:1, where we read of Joshua the high-priest, (representing the Jewish people,) standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him; and the Lord, namely, by his angel, saying unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: and inasmuch as the subject of that contention, between the angel and Satan, was the restoration of the Jewish Church and state, Baxter thinks that by the body of Moses here may be meant the Jewish constitution, civil and religious, which Moses had established. An interpretation which Macknight seems to countenance; “Michael is spoken of as one of the chief angels, who took care of the Israelites as a nation. He may therefore have been the angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua, the high-priest, is said, (Zechariah 3:1) to have stood, Satan being at his right hand to resist him, namely, in his design of restoring the Jewish Church and state, called by Jude, the body of Moses, just as the Christian Church is called by Paul, the body of Christ.” And this interpretation, however apparently improbable, receives some countenance from the consideration, that, among the Hebrews, the body of a thing is often used for the thing itself. Thus, Romans 7:24, the body of sin signifies sin itself. So the body of Moses may signify Moses himself, who is sometimes put in the New Testament for his law, as 2 Corinthians 3:15, When Moses is read, &c.; Acts 15:21, Moses hath in every city them that preach him.

Durst not bring against him a railing accusation — But so revered the divine presence as to speak with moderation and gentleness, even to that great enemy of God and men. Michael’s duty, says Archbishop Tillotson, “restrained him, and probably his discretion too. As he durst not offend God in doing a thing so much beneath the dignity and perfection of his nature, so he could not but think that the devil would have been too hard for him at railing; a thing to which, as the angels have no disposition, so I believe they have no talent, no faculty at it; the cool consideration whereof should make all men, particularly those who call themselves divines, and especially in controversies about religion, ashamed and afraid of this manner of disputing.” But simply said — So great was his modesty! The Lord rebuke thee — I leave thee to the Judge of all. The argument of the apostle certainly does not lie in any regard shown by the angel to the devil, as a dignitary, and one who exercises dominion over subordinate evil spirits; for to be the leader of a band of such inexcusable rebels could entitle him to no respect; but it arises from the detestable character of the devil; as if the apostle had said, If the angel did not rail even against the devil, how much less ought we against men in authority, even supposing them in some things to behave amiss? To do it, therefore, when they behave well, must be a wickedness yet much more aggravated. — Doddridge.1:8-16 False teachers are dreamers; they greatly defile and grievously wound the soul. These teachers are of a disturbed mind and a seditious spirit; forgetting that the powers that be, are ordained of God, Ro 13:1. As to the contest about the body of Moses, it appears that Satan wished to make the place of his burial known to the Israelites, in order to tempt them to worship him, but he was prevented, and vented his rage in desperate blasphemy. This should remind all who dispute never to bring railing charges. Also learn hence, that we ought to defend those whom God owns. It is hard, if not impossible, to find any enemies to the Christian religion, who did not, and do not, live in open or secret contradiction to the principles of natural religion. Such are here compared to brute beasts, though they often boast of themselves as the wisest of mankind. They corrupt themselves in the things most open and plain. The fault lies, not in their understandings, but in their depraved wills, and their disordered appetites and affections. It is a great reproach, though unjust to religion, when those who profess it are opposed to it in heart and life. The Lord will remedy this in his time and way; not in men's blind way of plucking up the wheat with the tares. It is sad when men begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh. Twice dead; they had been once dead in their natural, fallen state; but now they are dead again by the evident proofs of their hypocrisy. Dead trees, why cumber they the ground! Away with them to the fire. Raging waves are a terror to sailing passengers; but when they get into port, the noise and terror are ended. False teachers are to expect the worst punishments in this world and in that to come. They glare like meteors, or falling stars, and then sink into the blackness of darkness for ever. We have no mention of the prophecy of Enoch in any other part or place of Scripture; yet one plain text of Scripture, proves any point we are to believe. We find from this, that Christ's coming to judge was prophesied of, as early as the times before the flood. The Lord cometh: what a glorious time will that be! Notice how often the word ungodly is repeated. Many now do not at all refer to the terms godly, or ungodly, unless it be to mock at even the words; but it is not so in the language taught us by the Holy Ghost. Hard speeches of one another, especially if ill-grounded, will certainly come into account at the day of judgment. These evil men and seducers are angry at every thing that happens, and never pleased with their own state and condition. Their will and their fancy, are their only rule and law. Those who please their sinful appetites, are most prone to yield to ungovernable passions. The men of God, from the beginning of the world, have declared the doom denounced on them. Such let us avoid. We are to follow men only as they follow Christ.Yet Michael the archangel ... - This verse has given more perplexity to expositors than any other part of the Epistle; and in fact the difficulties in regard to it have been so great that some have been led to regard the Epistle as spurious. The difficulty has arisen from these two circumstances:

(1) Ignorance of the origin of what is said here of Michael the archangel, nothing of this kind being found in the Old Testament; and,

(2) the improbability of the story itself, which looks like a mere Jewish fable.

Peter 2 Peter 2:2 made a general reference to angels as not bringing railing accusations against others before the Lord; but Jude refers to a particular case - the case of Michael when contending about the body of Moses. The methods proposed of reconciling the passage with the proper ideas of inspiration have been various, though perhaps no one of them relieves it of all difficulty. It would be inconsistent with the design of these notes to go into an extended examination of this passage. Those who wish to see a full investigation of it may consult Michaelis' Introduction to the New Testament, vol. iv. pp. 378-393; Lardner, vol. vi. p. 312ff; Hug, Introduction Section 183; Benson, in loc.; Rosenmuller's Morgenland, iii. pp. 196, 197; and Wetstein, in loc. The principal methods of relieving the difficulty have been the following:

I. Some have supposed that the reference is to the passage in Zechariah, Zechariah 3:1, following "And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan," etc. The opinion that Jude refers to this passage was held by Lardner. But the objections to this are very obvious:

(1) There is no similarity between the two, except the expression, "the Lord rebuke thee."

(2) the name Michael does not occur at all in the passage in Zechariah.

(3) there is no mention made of the "body of Moses" there, and no allusion to it whatever.

(4) there is no intimation that there was any such contention about his body. There is a mere mention that Satan resisted the angel of the Lord, as seen in the vision, but no intimation that the controversy had "any" reference to Moses in any way.

(5) the reason of the resistance which Satan offered to the angel in the vision as seen by Zechariah is stated. It was in regard to the consecration of Joshua to the office of high priest implying a return of prosperity to Jerusalem, and the restoration of the worship of God there in its purity; see Zechariah 3:2. To this Satan was of course opposed, and the vision represents him as resisting the angel in his purpose thus to set him apart to that office. These reasons seem to me to make it clear that Jude did not refer to the passage in Zechariah, nor is there any other place in the Old Testament to which it can be supposed he had reference.

II. Hug supposes that the reference here, as well as that in Jde 1:14, to the prophecy of Enoch, is derived from some apocryphal books existing in the time of Jude; and that though those books contained mere fables, the apostle appealed to them, not as conceding what was said to be true, but in order to refute and rebuke those against whom he wrote, out of books which they admitted to be of authority. Introduction Section 183. Arguments and confutations, he says, drawn from the sacred Scriptures, would have been of no avail in reasoning with them, for these they evaded 2 Peter 3:16, and there were no surer means of influencing them than those writings which they themselves valued as the sources of their special views. According to this, the apostle did not mean to vouch for the truth of the story, but merely to make use of it in argument. The objection to this is, that the apostle does in fact seem to refer to the contest between Michael and the devil as true. He speaks of it in the same way in which he would have done if he had spoken of the death of Moses, or of his smiting the rock, or of his leading the children of Israel across the Red Sea, or of any other fact in history. If he regarded it as a mere fable, though it would have been honest and consistent with all proper views of inspiration for him to have said to those against whom he argued, that on their own principles such and such things were true, yet it would not be honest to speak of it as a fact which he admitted to be true. Besides, it should be remembered that he is not arguing with them, in which case it might be admissible reason in this way, but was making statements to others about them, and showing that they manifested a spirit entirely different from that which the angels evinced even when contending in a just cause against the prince of all evil.

III. It has been supposed that the apostle quotes an apocryphal book existing in his time, containing this account, and that he means to admit that the account is true. Origen mentions such a book, called "the Assumption of Moses," (Αναληψις του Μωσεως Analēpsis tou Mōseōs,) as extant in his time, containing this very account of the contest between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses. That was a Jewish Greek book, and Origen supposed that this was the source of the account here. That book is now lost. There is still extant a book in Hebrew, called פטירת משׁה paTiyret Mosheh - "the Death of Moses," which some have supposed to be the book referred to by Origen. "That" book contains many fabulous stories about the death of Moses, and is evidently the work of some Jew drawing wholly upon his imagination. An account of it may be seen in Michaelis, Introduction iv. p. 381ff. There is no reason to suppose that this is the same book referred to by Origen under the name of "the Assumption of Moses;" and there is a moral certainty that an inspired writer could not have quoted it as of authority. Further, there can be no reasonable doubt that such a book as Origen refers to, under the title of "the Assumption of Moses," was extant in "his" time, but that does not prove by any means that it was extant in the time of Jude, or that he quoted it. There is, indeed, no positive proof that it was "not" extant in the time of Jude, but there is none that it was, and all the facts in the case will be met by the supposition that it was written afterward, and that the tradition on the subject here referred to by Jude was incorporated into it.

IV. The remaining supposition is, that Jude here refers to a prevalent "tradition" among the Jews, and that he has adopted it as containing an important truth, and one which bore on the subject under discussion. In support of this, it may be observed,

(a) that it is well known that there were many traditions of this nature among the Jews. See the notes at Matthew 15:2.


9. Michael, the archangel—Nowhere in Scripture is the plural used, "archangels"; but only ONE, "archangel." The only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs, is 1Th 4:16, where Christ is distinguished from the archangel, with whose voice He shall descend to raise the dead; they therefore err who confound Christ with Michael. The name means, Who is like God? In Da 10:13 he is called "One ('the first,' Margin) of the chief princes." He is the champion angel of Israel. In Re 12:7 the conflict between Michael and Satan is again alluded to.

about the body of Moses—his literal body. Satan, as having the power of death, opposed the raising of it again, on the ground of Moses' sin at Meribah, and his murder of the Egyptian. That Moses' body was raised, appears from his presence with Elijah and Jesus (who were in the body) at the Transfiguration: the sample and earnest of the coming resurrection kingdom, to be ushered in by Michael's standing up for God's people. Thus in each dispensation a sample and pledge of the future resurrection was given: Enoch in the patriarchal dispensation, Moses in the Levitical, Elijah in the prophetical. It is noteworthy that the same rebuke is recorded here as was used by the Angel of the Lord, or Jehovah the Second Person, in pleading for Joshua, the representative of the Jewish Church, against Satan, in Zec 3:2; whence some have thought that also here "the body of Moses" means the Jewish Church accused by Satan, before God, for its filthiness, on which ground he demands that divine justice should take its course against Israel, but is rebuked by the Lord who has "chosen Jerusalem": thus, as "the body of Christ" is the Christian Church, so "the body of Moses" is the Jewish Church. But the literal body is evidently here meant (though, secondarily, the Jewish Church is typified by Moses' body, as it was there represented by Joshua the high priest); and Michael, whose connection seems to be so close with Jehovah-Messiah on the one hand, and with Israel on the other, naturally uses the same language as his Lord. As Satan (adversary in court) or the devil (accuser) accuses alike the Church collectively and "the brethren" individually, so Christ pleads for us as our Advocate. Israel's, and all believers' full justification, and the accuser's being rebuked finally, is yet future. Josephus [Antiquities,4.8], states that God hid Moses' body, lest, if it had been exposed to view, it would have been made an idol of. Jude, in this account, either adopts it from the apocryphal "assumption of Moses" (as Origen [Concerning Principalities, 3.2] thinks), or else from the ancient tradition on which that work was founded. Jude, as inspired, could distinguish how much of the tradition was true, how much false. We have no such means of distinguishing, and therefore can be sure of no tradition, save that which is in the written word.

durst not—from reverence for Satan's former dignity (Jude 8).

railing accusation—Greek, "judgment of blasphemy," or evil-speaking. Peter said, Angels do not, in order to avenge themselves, rail at dignities, though ungodly, when they have to contend with them: Jude says that the archangel Michael himself did not rail even at the time when he fought with the devil, the prince of evil spirits—not from fear of him, but from reverence of God, whose delegated power in this world Satan once had, and even in some degree still has. From the word "disputed," or debated in controversy, it is plain it was a judicial contest.

Michael the archangel: either this is understood of Christ the Prince of angels, who is often in Scripture called an Angel, or of a created angel; and that either:

1. One of the archangels: Daniel 10:13, Michael is called one of the chief princes, which though the word archangel be not found in the plural number in Scripture, may well imply a plurality of them; for what is one of the chief princes among the angels, but an archangel? Or:

2. A principal angel, or one that is chief among others.

When contending with the devil; it may be meant either of Christ contending with the devil, as Matthew 4:1-25, in his temptation, and Zechariah 3:1,2, and Revelation 12:7; or rather, of Michael, a created angel.

He disputed about the body of Moses:

1. If Michael the archangel be meant of Christ, then the body of Moses may be taken figuratively, for that body whereof the Mosaical ceremonies were shadows, Colossians 2:17, i.e. the truth and accomplishment of the law given by Moses; that accomplishment was to be in Christ, who is represented by Joshua, Zechariah 3:1-10: him Satan resists in the execution of his office, and by him strikes at Christ, whose type he was, and whom he afterward opposeth in the execution of his office, when he was come in the flesh. Or:

2. If we take Michael for a created angel, which agrees best with the parallel place in Peter, then the body of Moses must be taken properly, (as most take it), and the dispute seems to be: Whether Moses’s body should be so buried as to be concealed from the Israelites? Deu 34:6, it is said God buried him, ( which might be by the ministry of Michael the archangel), and that no man knoweth of his sepulchre. The devil opposeth the angel, desiring to have the place of his burial known, that in after-times it might be a snare to that people, and a means to bring them to idolatry. And this seems very probable, if we consider what work the devil hath made in the world with the bodies of saints and martyrs, and how much idolatry he hath brought in thereby. This passage Jude, most probably, had (as was observed in the argument) from some known tradition among the Jews, the truth of which we are now sure of, because certified here concerning it.

Durst not bring against him; or, could not endure, (as the Greek word is often taken among profane writers), or find in his heart, not from fear of punishment, but by reason of the holiness of his own nature, and to give an example to us. And this sense agrees to the scope of the place, whether we understand it of Christ, or of a created angel, Hebrews 12:3 1 Peter 2:23.

A railing accusation: see 2 Peter 2:11.

But said, The Lord rebuke thee; i.e. put thee to silence, restrain thy insolence, hinder thy design, &c.: hereby the angel refers the cause to God. Yet Michael the archangel,.... By whom is meant, not a created angel, but an eternal one, the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from his name Michael, which signifies, "who is as God": and who is as God, or like unto him, but the Son of God, who is equal with God? and from his character as the archangel, or Prince of angels, for Christ is the head of all principality and power; and from what is elsewhere said of Michael, as that he is the great Prince, and on the side of the people of God, and to have angels under him, and at his command, Daniel 10:21. So Philo the Jew (o) calls the most ancient Word, firstborn of God, the archangel; Uriel is called the archangel in this passage from the Apocrypha:

"And unto these things Uriel the archangel gave them answer, and said, Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance.'' (2 Esdras 4:36)

when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses; which some understand literally of the fleshly and natural body of Moses, buried by the Lord himself, partly out of respect to him; and partly, as some think, lest the Israelites should be tempted to an idolatrous worship of him; but rather it was to show that the law of Moses was to be abolished and buried by Christ, never to rise more: and they think that this dispute was either about the burying of his body, or the taking of it up again; Satan on the one hand insisting upon the taking of it up, in order to induce the Israelites to worship him, and Michael, on the other hand, opposing it, to prevent this idolatry; but then the difficulty is, where Jude should have this account, since the Scriptures are silent about it. Some have thought that he took it out of an apocryphal book, called "the Ascension of Moses", as Origen (p), which is not likely; others, that he had it by tradition, by which means the Apostle Paul came by the names of the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres; and some passages are referred to in some of their writings (q), as having some traces of this dispute; but in them the discourse is not concerning the body, but the soul of Moses; not concerning burying or taking up of his body, when buried, but concerning the taking away of his soul, when he was alive; which none of the angels caring to undertake, at length Samael, the chief of devils, did, but without success, wherefore God took it away with a kiss himself: besides, the apostle produces this history as a thing well known; nor is it reasonable to suppose that such an altercation should be between Michael, and the devil, on such an account; or that it was in order to draw Israel into idolatry on the one hand, and on the other hand to prevent it; since never was the custom of the Israelites to worship their progenitors or heroes; nor did they seem so well disposed to Moses in his lifetime; nor was there any necessity of taking up his body, were they inclined to give him honour and worship; yea, the sight of his dead body would rather have prevented than have encouraged it: but this is to be understood figuratively; and reference is had to the history in Zechariah 3:1; as appears from the latter part of this verse: some think the priesthood of Christ is intended, which was the end, the sum and substance, of the law of Moses; and seeing that Joshua, the high priest, was a type of Christ, and the angel of the Lord contended with Satan about him, he might be said to dispute with him about the body of Moses; but this sense makes a type of a type, and Christ to contend about himself; besides, this should rather be called the body of Christ than of Moses, others think that the temple of the Jews is meant about the rebuilding of which the contention is thought to be; and which may be called the body of Moses, as the church is called the body of Christ; though it should be observed, that the temple is never so called, and that not the place where the church meets, but the church itself, is called the body of Christ: but it is best of all to understand it of the law of Moses, which is sometimes called Moses himself, John 5:45; and so the body of Moses, or the body of his laws, the system of them; just as we call a system of laws, and of divinity, such an one's body of laws, and such an one's body of divinity: and this agrees with the language of the Jews, who say (r), of statutes, service, purification, &c. that they are , "the bodies of the law"; and so of Misnic treatises, as those which concern the offerings of turtle doves, and the purification of menstruous women, that they are "the bodies" of the traditions (s), that is, the sum and substance of them: so the decalogue is said (t) to be "the body of the Shema", or "Hear, O Israel", Deuteronomy 6:4, so Clemens of Alexandria (u) says, that there are some who consider the body of the Scriptures, the words and names, as if they were, , "the body of Moses" (w). Now the law of Moses was restored in the time of Joshua the high priest, by Ezra and Nehemiah. Joshua breaks some of these laws, and is charged by Satan as guilty, who contended and insisted upon it that he should suffer for it; so that this dispute or contention might be said to be about the body of Moses, that is, the body of Moses's law, which Joshua had broken; in which dispute Michael, or the angel of the Lord, even the Lord Jesus Christ himself,

durst not bring against him a railing accusation; that is, not that he was afraid of the devil, but though he could have given harder words, or severer language, and which the other deserved, yet he chose not to do it, he would not do it; in which sense the word "durst", or "dare", is used in Romans 5:7,

but said, the Lord rebuke thee; for thy malice and insolence; see Zechariah 3:2; and this mild and gentle way of using even the devil himself agrees with Christ's conduct towards him, when tempted by him in the wilderness, and when in his agony with him in the garden, and amidst all his reproaches and sufferings on the cross. And now the argument is from the greater to the lesser, that if Christ, the Prince of angels, did not choose to give a railing word to the devil, who is so much inferior to him, and when there was so much reason and occasion for it; then how great is the insolence of these men, that speak evil of civil and ecclesiastical rulers, without any just cause at all?

(o) De Confus. Ling. p. 341. & quis. rer. divin. Haeres. p. 509. (p) , l. 3. c. 2.((q) Debarim Rabba, fol. 245. 3, 4. Abot R. Nathan, c. 12. fol. 4. 2, 3. Petirath Mosis, fol. 57. 1. &. c. (r) Misn. Chagiga, c. 1. sect. 8. (s) Pirke Abot, c. 3. sect. 18. (t) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 6. 2.((u) Stromat, l. 6. p. 680. (w) Vid. Chion. Disput. Theolog. par. 1. & 2. De Corpore Mosis, sub Praesidio Trigland. Lugd. Batav. 1697.

{7} Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

(7) An argument of comparison: Michael one of the chiefest angels, was content to deliver Satan, although a most accursed enemy, to the judgment of God to be punished: and these perverse men are not ashamed to speak evil of the powers who are ordained of God.

Jude 1:9 places in a strong light the wickedness of this blasphemy (comp. 2 Peter 2:11). They do something against the δόξαι, which even Michael the archangel did not venture to do against the devil.

ὁ δὲ Μιχαὴλ ὁ ἀρχάγγελος] Michael, in the doctrine of the angels, as it was developed during and after the captivity by the Jews, belonged to the seven highest angels, and was regarded as the guardian of the nation of Israel: Daniel 12:1, הַשַּׂר הַגָּדוֹל הָעֹמֵד עַל־בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ; comp. Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; in the N. T. he is only mentioned in Revelation 12:7. In the Book of Enoch, chap. 20:5, he is described as “one of the holy angels set over the best part of the human race, over the people.”

ἀρχάγγελος only here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (Daniel 12:1, LXX., ὁ ἄρχων ὁ μέγας); see Winer’s bibl. Reallex.: Angel, Michael.

ὅτε τῷ διαβόλῳ κ.τ.λ.] This legend is found neither in the O. T. nor in the Rabbinical writings, nor in the Book of Enoch; Jude, however, supposes it well known. Oecumenius thus explains the circumstance: λέγεται τὸν Μιχαὴλτῇ τοῦ Μωσέως ταφῇ δεδιηκονηκέναι· τοῦ γὰρ διαβόλου τοῦτο μὴ καταδεχομένου, ἀλλʼ ἐπιφέροντος ἔγκλημα διὰ τὸν τοῦ Αἰγυπτίου φονον, ὡς αὐτοῦ ὄντος τοῦ Μωσέως, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο μὴ συγχωρεῖσθαι αὐτῷ τυχεῖν τῆς ἐντίμου ταφῆς. According to Jonathan on Deuteronomy 34:6, the grave of Moses was given to the special custody of Michael. This legend, with reference to the manslaughter committed by Moses, might easily have been formed, as Oecumenius states it, “out of Jewish tradition, extant in writing alongside of the Scriptures” (Stier).[28] According to Origen (περὶ ἀρχῶν, iii. 2), Jude derived his account from a writing known in his age: ἈΝΆΒΑΣΙς ΤΟῦ ΜΩΣΈΩς.[29] Calvin and others regard oral tradition as the source; Nicolas de Lyra and others, a special revelation of the Holy Ghost; and F. Philippi, a direct instruction of the disciples by Christ, occasioned by the appearance of Moses on the mount of transfiguration. De Wette has correctly observed that the explanation is neither to be derived from the Zendavesta (Herder), nor is the contest to be interpreted allegorically (σῶμα Μωσέως = the people of Israel, or the Mosaic law).

ΔΙΑΚΡΙΝΌΜΕΝΟς ΔΙΕΛΈΓΕΤΟ] The juxtaposition of these synonymous words serves for the strengthening of the idea; by ΔΙΕΛΈΓΕΤΟ the conflict is indicated as a verbal altercation.

ΟὐΚ ἘΤΌΛΜΗΣΕ] he ventured not.

κρίσιν ἐπενεγκεῖν βλασφημίας] Calovius incorrectly explains it by: ultionem de blasphemia sumere; the words refer not to a blasphemy uttered by the devil, but to a blasphemy against the devil, from which Michael restrained himself.

ΚΡΊΣΙΝ ἘΠΙΦΈΡΕΙΝ] denotes a judgment pronounced against any one (comp. Acts 25:18 : ΑἸΤΊΑΝ ἘΠΙΦΈΡΕΙΝ).

ΚΡΊΣΙΝ ΒΛΑΣΦΗΜΊΑς] is a judgment containing in itself a blasphemy. By ΒΛΑΣΦ. that saying—namely, an invective—is to be understood by which the dignity belonging to another is injured. Michael restrained himself from such an invective against the devil, because he feared to injure his original dignity; instead of pronouncing a judgment himself, he left this to God. Herder: “And Michael dared not to pronounce an abusive sentence.”

ἈΛΛʼ ΕἾΠΕΝ· ἘΠΙΤΙΜΉΣΑΙ ΣΟΙ ΚΎΡΙΟς] the Lord rebuke thee: comp. Matthew 17:18; Matthew 19:13, etc. According to Zechariah 3:1-3, the angel of the Lord spoke the same words to the devil, who in the vision of Zechariah stood at his right hand as an adversary of the high priest Joshua (LXX.: ἐπιτιμήσαι κύριος ἐν σοὶ διάβολε).

[28] Schmid (bibl. Theol. II. p. 149), Luthardt, Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, I. p. 340), Schott, Wiesinger (less definitely) think that the conflict consisted in Michael not permitting the devil to exercise his power over the dead body of Moses, but withdrawing it from corruption; for which an appeal is made to the fact that “God had honoured Moses to see in the body a vision of His entire nature” (Hofmann), and also that “Moses was to be a type of the Mediator conquering death” (Schott), and that Moses appeared with Christ on the mount of transfiguration. In his explanation of this Epistle, Hofmann expresses himself to this effect, that Satan wished to prevent “Moses, who shared in the impurity of death, and who had been a sinful man, from being miraculously buried by the holy hand of God (through Michael).”

[29] See on this apocryphal writing, F. Philippi (das Buch Henoch, p. 166–191), who ascribes the composition of it to a Christian in the second century, and assumes that he was induced to it by this 9th verse in the Epistle of Jude; this at all events is highly improbable.Jude 1:9. ὁ δὲ Μιχαὴλ ὁ ἀρχάγγελος. The term ἀρχ. occurs in the N.T. only here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The names of seven archangels are given in Enoch. The story here narrated is taken from the apocryphal Assumptio Mosis, as we learn from Clem. Adumbr. in Ep. Judae, and Orig. De Princ. iii. 2, 1. Didymus (In Epist. Judae Enarratio) says that some doubted the canonicity of the Epistle because of this quotation from an apocryphal book. In Cramer’s Catena on this passage (p. 163) we read τελευτήσαντος ἐν τῷ ὄρει Μωυσέως, ὁ Μιχαὴλ ἀποστέλλεται μεταθήσων τὸ σῶμα, εἶτα τοῦ διαβόλου κατὰ τοῦ Μωυσέως βλασφημοῦντος καὶ φονέα ἀναγορεύοντος διὰ τὸ πατάξαι τὸν Αἰγύπτιον, οὐκ ἐνεγκὼν τὴν κατʼ αὐτοῦ βλασφημίαν ὁ ἄγγελος, Ἐπιτιμήσαι σοι ὁ Θεὸς, πρὸς τὸν διάβολον ἔφη. Charles in his edition of the Assumption thus summarises the fragments dealing with the funeral of Moses: (1) Michael is commissioned to bury Moses, (2) Satan opposes his burial on two grounds: (a) he claims to be the lord of matter (hence the body should be handed over to him). To this claim Michael rejoins, “The Lord rebuke thee, for it was God’s spirit which created the world and all mankind”. (b) He brings the charge of murder against Moses (the answer to this is wanting). The story is based upon Deuteronomy 34:6 (R.V.), “he buried him (mg. he was buried) in the valley … but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day”. Compare the vain search for Elijah (2 Kings 2:16-17). Further details in Josephus (Ant. 4:8, 48), νέφους αἰφνίδιον ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ στάντος ἀφανίζεται κατά τινος φάραγγος. γέγραφε δὲ αὐτὸν ἐν ταῖς ἱεραῖς βίβλοις τεθνεῶτα, δείσας μὴ διʼ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν ἀρετῆς πρὸς τὸ θεῖον αὐτὸν ἀναχωρῆσαι τολμήσωσιν εἰπεῖν, Philo i. p. 165, and Clem. Al. (Str. vi. § 132, p. 807) where it is said that Caleb and Joshua witnessed the assumption of Moses to heaven, while his body was buried in the clefts of the mountain. See comment in the larger edition, pp. 74–76.

διακρινόμενος. Here used in the sense of “disputing,” as in Jeremiah 15:10, ἄνδρα διακρινόμενον πάσῃ τῇ γῇ, Joel 3:2, Acts 11:2. See my note on Jam 1:6 and below Jude 1:22.

διελέγετο. Cf. Mark 9:34, πρὸς ἀλλήλους διελέχθησαν, τίς μείζων.

οὐκ ἐτόλμησεν κρίσιν ἐπενεγκεῖν βλασφημίας. I take βλασφημίας to be gen. qualitatis, expressed by the adjective βλάσφημον in 2 Peter: see below on Jude 1:18, Jam 1:25, ἀκροατὴς ἐπιλησμονῆς, 2 Peter 2:4 κριταὶ διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν, 2 Peter 3:6, ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας, also 2 Peter 2:1, αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας, 2 Peter 2:10, ἐπιθυμίᾳ μιασμοῦ. For ἐπενεγκεῖν see Plat. Legg. ix. 856 προδόσεως αἰτίαν ἐπιφέρων, ib. 943, τιμωρίαν ἐπιφ. The word occurs elsewhere in N.T. only in Romans 3:5. Field (On Translation of N.T. p. 244) compares Acts 25:18 οἱ κατήγοροι οὐδεμίαν αἰτίαν ἔφερον ὧν ἐγὼ ὑπενόουν, Diod. xvi. 29, δίκην ἐπήνεγκαν κατὰ τῶν Σπαρτιατῶν, ib. xx. 10, κρίσεις ἀδίκους ἐπιφέροντες, xx. 62, φοβηθεὶς τὰς ἐπιφερομένας κρίσεις, tom. x. p. 171 ed. Bip. ἐπήνεγκαν κρίσιν περὶ ὕβρεως, and translates “durst not bring against him an accusation of blasphemy”; but surely that is just what he does in appealing to God. Besides such a statement would be altogether beside the point. The verse is introduced to show the guilt attached to speaking evil of dignities, i.e. of angels. If Michael abstained from speaking evil even of a fallen angel, this is appropriate; not so, if he simply abstained from charging the devil with speaking evil of Moses.

κρίσις, like κρίνω, has the two meanings of judgment and of accusation, cf. Lycurg. 31 where οἱ συκοφαντοῦντες are distinguished from τῶν δικαίως τὰς κρίσεις ἐνισταμένων.

ἐπιτιμήσαι σοι Κύριος. These words occur in the vision of Zechariah (2 Peter 3:1-10) where the angel of the Lord replies to the charges of Satan against the high priest Joshua with the words ἐπιτιμήσαι Κύριος ἐν σοὶ, διάβολε, καὶ ἐπιτιμήσαι Κύριος ἐν σοί, ὁ ἐκλεξάμενος τὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ. They were no doubt inserted as appropriate by the author of the Ass. Mos. in his account of the controversy at the grave of Moses. We may compare Matthew 17:18, ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς.9. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil …] It is obvious, from the manner in which St Jude writes, that he assumes that the fact to which he refers was familiar to his readers. No tradition, however, precisely corresponding with this statement is found in any Rabbinic or apocryphal book now extant, not even in the Book of Enoch, from which he has drawn so largely in other instances (Jude 1:6; Jude 1:14). Œcumenius indeed, writing in the tenth century, reports a tradition that Michael was appointed to minister at the burial of Moses, and that the devil urged that his murder of the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12) had deprived him of the right of sepulture, and Origen (de Princ. iii. 2) states that the record of the dispute was found in a lost apocryphal book known as the Assumption of Moses, but in both these instances it is possible that the traditions may have grown out of the words of St Jude instead of being the foundation on which they rested. Rabbinic legends, however, though they do not furnish the precise fact to which St Jude refers, shew that a whole cycle of strange fantastic stories had gathered round the brief mysterious report of the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34:5-6, and it will be worth while to give some of these as shewing their general character. Thus, in the Targum, or Paraphrase, of Jonathan on Deuteronomy it is stated that the grave of Moses was given over to the special custody of the Archangel Michael. In the Debarim Rabba i.e. the Midrash on Deuteronomy (fol. 263), it is related that Sammael, the prince of the Evil Angels, was impatient for the death of Moses. “And he said, ‘When will the longed-for moment come when Michael shall weep and I shall laugh?’ And at last the time came when Michael said to Sammael, ‘Ah! cursed one! Shall I weep while thou laughest?’ and made answer in the words of Micah, ‘Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me’ ” (Micah 7:8). A longer and wilder legend is given in the same book (fol. 246), which must be somewhat abridged. “Moses prayed that if he might not enter into the Promised Land, he might at least be allowed to live; but God told him that unless he died in this world he could have no life in the world to come, and commanded Gabriel to fetch his soul. Gabriel shrank from the task. Michael was next bidden to go, and he too shrank; and then the command was given to Sammael, who found him with his face shining as the light, and he was afraid and trembled. He told him why he was come, and Moses asked him who had sent him, and he made answer that he was sent by the Creator of the Universe. But Moses still held out, and Sammael returned with his task unfulfilled. And Moses prayed, ‘Lord of the World, give not my soul over to the Angel of Death.” And there came a voice from Heaven, ‘Fear not, Moses, I will provide for thy burial,’ and Moses stood up and sanctified himself as do the Seraphim, and the Most High came down from Heaven and the three chief angels with Him. Michael prepared the bier and Gabriel spread out the winding sheet.… And the Most High kissed him, and through that kiss took his soul to Himself” (Nork, Rabbinische Quellen). It is suggestive that the sin of the angels comes prominently forward in connexion with the legend. The soul of Moses pleads its reluctance to leave the body which was so holy: “Lord of the world! The angels Asa and Asael lusted after the daughters of men, but Moses, from the day Thou appearedst unto him in the bush, led a life of perpetual continence.”

It is clear from these extracts that there was something like a floating cycle of legendary traditions connected with the death of the great Lawgiver, and it is a natural inference that St Jude’s words refer to one of these then popularly received. It is scarcely within the limits of probability that anything in the nature of a really primitive tradition could have been handed down from generation to generation, through fifteen hundred years, without leaving the slightest trace in a single passage of the Old Testament; nor is it more probable to assume, as some have done, that the writer of the Epistle had received a special revelation disclosing the fact to him. His tone in speaking of the fact is plainly that of one who assumes that his readers are familiar with it. The question whether in thus mentioning it he stamps it with the character of an actual fact in the history of the unseen world, will depend, as has been said above, upon the conclusion we have formed as to the nature of the inspiration under which the writers of the New Testament thought and wrote. Most thoughtful students of Scripture are now agreed that that inspirationdid not necessarily convey an infallible power of criticising the materials of history and distinguishing popular belief from contemporary records; and there is nothing, therefore, irreverent in the thought that St Jude may have referred incidentally to a legend which he saw no reason to question, and which supplied an apposite illustration. In comparing this allusion with the parallel passage in 2 Peter 2:11, the thought suggests itself that the Apostle may have deliberately avoided what appeared to him unauthorized additions to the Sacred Records, and so worded his exhortation as to make it refer to what he found in Zechariah 3:2.

a railing accusation] The Greek phrase, literally a judgment, or charge, of blasphemy, though not absolutely identical with that in 2 Peter 2:11, has substantially the same meaning, not “an accusation of blasphemy,” but one characterised by reviling.Jude 1:9. Ὁ δὲ Μιχαὴλ, but Michael) It matters not whether the apostle received the knowledge of this contention from revelation only, or from the tradition of the elders: it is sufficient that he writes true things, and even admitted to be true by the brethren. Comp. Jude 1:14, note. Δὲ answers to μέντοι.—ὁ ἀρχάγγελος, the archangel) Mention is made of the archangel in this place only, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (where also a most important subject is treated of, the resurrection of the dead): there is no mention of it elsewhere; so that we cannot determine whether there is one archangel only, or more.—ὅτε, when) When this dispute arose, and on what day, is not expressed: it certainly happened after the death of Moses.—τῷ διαβόλῳ, with the devil) against whom it is especially befitting for Michael to contend, Revelation 12—διακρινόμενος διελέγετο, disputing he contended) It was therefore a judicial contest.—περὶ τοῦ Μωσέως σώματος, concerning the body of Moses) He is plainly speaking of the identical body of Moses, now lifeless. In a matter full of mystery, we ought not to alter that part of the language which is plain, according to our own convenience. The devil, who had the power of death, and therefore perhaps claimed the right of hindering the resurrection of Moses, made some attempt, whatever it was, against the body of Moses.[3]—ΟὐΚ ἘΤΌΛΜΗΣΕ, did not dare) Modesty is an angelic virtue. The greater was the victory at length given to Michael: Revelation 12:7.—The Synopsis of Sohar, p. 92, n. 6. It is not permitted man ignominiously to rail at a race opposed to him; that is, evil spirits.—Schœtt-genius. οὐκἀλλʼ ὡς, Romans 9:32.—ΒΛΑΣΦΗΜΊΑς, of railing) that is, βλάσφημον, railing, 2 Peter 2:11.—ἘΠΙΤΙΜΉΣΑΙ ΣΟΙ, punish thee) An instance of the Divine reserve.—Κύριος, the Lord) and none but He. To His judgment the angel assents beforehand [in advance].

[3] For a full discussion of the subject, see Michaelis’ Introduction, by Bishop Marsh, vol. 6.—T.Verse 9. - The irreverent and unbridled speech of these "filthy dreamers" is now contrasted with the self-restraint of one of the "dignities" of the angelic world. The point of the contrast is sufficiently clear. The incident itself is obscure. But Michael the archangel. With the exception of Revelation 12:7, where he is described as warring with the dragon, this is the only mention which the New Testament makes of Michael. It is entirely in harmony, however, with the Old Testament representation. It is only in the Book of Daniel that he is named there, but he appears as the champion and protector of Israel against the world-powers of heathenism. He is "one of the chief princes" (Daniel 10:13), "your prince" (Daniel 10:21), "the great prince" (Daniel 12:1), who gives help against Persia, and stands for the chosen people. He is also introduced in the Book of Enoch, and the view given of him there is like that in Jude. He is "the merciful, the patient, the holy Michael" (40:8). He belongs to that developed form which the doctrine of angels took towards the close of Old Testament revelation, when the ideas of distinction in dignity and office were added to the simpler conception of earlier times. In the apocryphal books we find a hierarchy with seven archangels, including Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel. When contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. These last words occur in Zechariah 3:2, where they are addressed by the Lord to Satan. The term used for "disputed" points to a contention in words. The phrase rendered "railing accusation" by the English Version, and "invective" by others, means rather a judgment or "sentence savouring of evil-speaking," as Alford puts it. Following the Rhemish Version, therefore, the Revised Version renders it a "railing judgment." What is meant, then, is that Michael restrained himself, leaving all judgment and vengeance even in this case to God. But what is the case referred to? The Targum of Jonathan, on Deuteronomy 34:6, speaks of Michael as having charge of the grave of Moses, and there may be something to the same effect in other ancient Jewish legends (see Wetstein). But with this partial exception, there seems to be nothing resembling Jude's statement either in apocryphal books like that of Enoch or in the rabbinical literature, not to speak of the canonical Scriptures. Neither is the object of the contention quite apparent - whether it is meant that the devil attempted to deprive Moses of the honour of burial by impeaching him of the murder of the Egyptian, or that he sought to preserve the body for idolatrous uses such as the brazen serpent lent itself to, or what else. The matter, nevertheless, is introduced by Jude as one with which his readers would be familiar. Whence, then, comes the story? Some have solved the difficulty by the desperate expedient of allegory, as if the body of Moses were a figure of the Israelite Law, polity, or people; and as if the sentence referred to the giving of the Law at Sinai, the siege under Hezekiah, or the rebuilding under Zerubbabel. Others seek its source in a special revelation, or in some unrecorded instructions given by Christ in explanation of the Transfiguration scene. Herder would travel all the way to the Zend-Avesta for it. Calvin referred it to oral Jewish tradition. Another view of it appears, however, in so early a writer as Origen, viz. that it is a quotation from an old apocryphal writing on the Ascent or Assumption of Moses, the date of which is much disputed, but is taken by some of the best authorities (Ewald, Wieseler, Dillmann, Drummond) to be the first decade after the death of Herod. This is the most probable explanation; and Jude's use of this story, therefore, carries no more serious consequences with it than the use he afterwards makes of the Book of Enoch. Beyond what could be gathered from a few scattered references and quotations in the Fathers and some later writings, the book in question remained unknown for many centuries. But in the year 1861 a considerable part of it, which had been discovered in the Ambrosian Library of Milan, was given to the public by Ceriani, in an Old Latin version, and since that time various editions of it have been published. Ewald observes that the quotation "shows how early the attempt was made to describe exactly the final moment of the life of Moses, and to weave into this description a complete answer to the questions which arose concerning his highest glory, and his guilt or innocence" ('History of Israel,' 2, page 226, Eng. trans.). Some who are not prepared to accept the theory that the passage is a quotation from this ancient book, understand Jude to refer to a traditional expansion of Scripture, based partly on the narrative of the death of Moses in Deuteronomy, and partly on the scene between Joshua and Satan in Zechariah 3. So, for example, Professor Lumby, who is of opinion that the mention of Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8, and certain passages in Stephen's speech as reported in Acts 7, show that there were current among the Jews "traditional explanations of the earlier history, which had grown round the Old Testament narrative." (On the Assumption of Moses, and the spread of legend on the subject of the death of Moses, see Schurer's 'The Jewish People in the Time of Christ,' volume 3, div. 2. pages 80-83, Clark's translation.) Michael the archangel

Here we strike a peculiarity of this epistle which caused its authority to be impugned in very early times, viz., the apparent citations of apocryphal writings. The passages are Jde 1:9, Jde 1:14, Jde 1:15. This reference to Michael was said by Origen to be founded on a Jewish work called "The Assumption of Moses," the first part of which was lately found in an old Latin translation at Milan; and this is the view of Davidson, so far at least as the words "the Lord rebuke thee" are concerned. Others refer it to Zechariah 3:1; but there is nothing there about Moses' body, or Michael, or a dispute about the body. Others, again, to a rabbinical comment on Deuteronomy 34:6, where Michael is said to have been made guardian of Moses' grave. Doubtless Jude was referring to some accepted story or tradition, probably based on Deuteronomy 34:6. For a similar reference to tradition compare 2 Timothy 3:8; Acts 7:22.


Angels are described in scripture as forming a society with different orders and dignities. This conception is developed in the books written during and after the exile, especially Daniel and Zechariah. Michael (Who is like God?) is one of the seven archangels, and was regarded as the special protector of the Hebrew nation. He is mentioned three times in the Old Testament (Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1), and twice in the New Testament (Jde 1:9; Revelation 12:7). He is adored as a saint in the Romish Church. For legends, see Mrs. Jameson, "Sacred and Legendary Art," i., 94 sq.

A railing accusation (κρίσιν βλασφημίας)

Lit., a judgment of railing; a sentence savoring of impugning his dignity. Michael remembered the high estate from which he fell, and left his sentence to God.

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