Epistles of Thomas

April 17, 2009

Deuteronomy 31-34

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 16:06

Deuteronomy 31 records Moses giving over leadership of the people to Joshua. This was evident from his laying hands on Joshua and transferring God’s spirit of wisdom to him (34:9). He reminds them that God said he would not cross the Jordan. Moses then writes down this law (Deuteronomy?) and gave it to the priests (31:9) and commanded that it be read every seven years along with the cancelling of debts during the Festival of Tabernacles. God then proclaims that the people will quickly turn away from him once Moses is gone and he gives Moses a song to teach the people as a testimony against them at that time. The bulk of chapter 32 comprises that song which tells of God’s good work on their behalf and his righteous anger to punish sinfulness now and forevermore. The chapter ends by reminding them that Moses and Aaron cannot enter the land because they “did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites” (32:51).

In chapter 33, Moses blesses the twelve tribes of Israel with specific things: Reuben, Judah, Levi, Benjamin, Joseph, Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali, Asher. The details of 33:2 led subsequent generations to visualise angels present with God as he gave the law: his “myriads of holy ones.” This concept adds to the greatness of the occasion and to God’s kingship as we envision his court accompanying him.

Deuteronomy concludes with the death of Moses. He was buried in Moab but no one knew where his tomb was. It is interesting that although Moses is above any other prophet to ever appear in Israel (34:10ff) he died and was buried like any other man and not taken into heaven like Elijah. There was no opportunity to deify Moses or think of him as a superman. For all Moses’ greatness his human foibles are present. He cannot enter the Promised Land because of his sin and he dies a common death at age 120.


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