Who Wrote Moses’s Obituary in Deuteronomy 34?

Who Wrote Moses’s Obituary in Deuteronomy 34?

Who Wrote Moses’s Obituary in Deuteronomy 34?

What do these books have in frequent? The sixth quantity of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Entire Bible, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and The E book of Misplaced Tales, and Charles Krauthammer’s The Level of It All. The writer of every died earlier than finishing his work. In every occasion—and there are lots of extra—one other writer edited and accomplished the work.

The Bible is not any totally different.

The Scriptures are clear that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the primary 5 books of the Outdated Testomony (Deut. 4:14; 5:1–2; 1 Kings. 2:3; 8:9; 2 Kings. 14:6 Ezra 7:6; Neh. 1:7; 8:1; Ps. 103:7; Dan. 9:13; 2 Chron. 23:18; 25:4; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 19:7–8; 22:24; Acts 3:22; 7:37–38; Rom. 10:19; 1 Cor. 9:9; Heb. 9:19; Rev. 15:3). Holding to Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, nonetheless, poses an attention-grabbing query: Who wrote about Moses’s dying and burial in Deuteronomy 34?

Over the centuries, biblical students and commentators have differed over who wrote Deuteronomy 34. For instance, Jewish custom cites Joshua. In his commentary on Deuteronomy, John Calvin acknowledges the “probable conjecture of the ancients” that Joshua wrote Deuteronomy 34, however admits Eleazar the priest is a probable candidate too. John Gill says Joshua could possibly be the writer, and but admits that Eleazer, Samuel, and Ezra are additionally potential.

More moderen commentators—comparable to Eugene Merrill, Edward J. Woods, and Dan Block—merely go away the writer unnamed.

Perhaps Moses?  

It’s not far-fetched to suppose Moses wrote the account of his personal dying and burial, significantly since God revealed his phrase and works to Moses (Ps. 103:7). There are different examples in Scripture that lend some credibility to the concept Moses noticed his coming dying and wrote concerning the circumstances.

That will be according to God’s revelation of future occasions in different places. God previewed his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham (Gen. 18:17–33). God revealed to Ezekiel in actual time that Nebuchadnezzar was standing at a crossroads, divining which strategy to proceed (Ezek. 21:18–23). In Ezekiel 8, God revealed to Ezekiel—whereas in exile close to the Euphrates River—what was occurring within the temple in Jerusalem. Matthew 16:21 signifies that Jesus knew what lay earlier than him—struggling, crucifixion, and resurrection—in Jerusalem. Due to this fact, God may have revealed to Moses what would are available in his final days. In spite of everything, God revealed to him what occurred earlier than his beginning (Gen. 1:1–Exod. 1:22).

Nonetheless, it’s extra possible that one other hand penned Deuteronomy 34, and there are indications in Scripture and in Jewish custom as to the  writer’s possible id.


The son of Aaron and his successor as excessive priest, Eleazar is commonly named as a potential writer of Deuteronomy 34. Eleazar performed an vital position in Israel’s life in the course of the ministries of Moses and Joshua. He was named the chief of the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:32) and was charged with overseeing the duties of the sanctuary (Num. 4:16). Within the wilderness, Eleazar was charged to stock the spoils of battle after Israel fought Midian (Num. 31). He additionally assisted Moses and Joshua in distributing the land to the tribes of Israel (Num. 34:17; Josh. 14:1).

Additional, Eleazar was a Levite. The Levites had been charged with the care of the legislation (Deut. 31:9, 26) and charged to show the legislation (Num. 31:21; Deut. 33:10; 2 Chron. 17:9; 35:3). Eleazar’s place as excessive priest, and his service alongside Moses and Joshua, might have given him the {qualifications} to replace Deuteronomy after Moses’s dying.


Ezra is described as a worthy scribe who was “skilled in the law of Moses” and who had “set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it” (Ezra 7:6, 10). Ezra was answerable for restoring trustworthy worship among the many remnant that returned from exile.

As a part of his restorative work, Jewish custom attributes two actions that bear on our subject. First, he’s answerable for updating the script of the Hebrew Bible. Second, within the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud, the rabbis point out that Ezra accomplished updating, gathering, and arranging the books of the Outdated Testomony. Moreover, 2 Maccabees 2:13 means that Ezra had a big library at his disposal to carry out his work on the Outdated Testomony canon. Given Ezra’s literary exercise and the sources obtainable to him, he may’ve been answerable for closing out the Pentateuch with Moses’s dying and burial.


Samuel is a chief candidate for the authorship of Deuteronomy 34 given each his standing earlier than the Lord (1 Sam. 2:21; 3:19) and likewise his position as a prophet. The Outdated Testomony prophets had been divinely impressed (1 Pet. 1:10–12; 2 Pet. 1:20–21), and plenty of dedicated their prophecies to writing (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Micah, and so forth).

In keeping with the division of the Hebrew Bible, nonetheless, there are extra prophetic books. What we contemplate the historic books (Joshua, Judges, 1 and a couple of Samuel, 1 and a couple of Kings) are thought of prophetic as effectively. This implies the historic books are usually not merely a historic file of Israel; they’re a “sacred history” written by a prophet to file God’s acts amongst his covenant individuals (1 Chron. 29:29). The prophet Samuel, then, wrote the sacred histories of Judges and the books of Samuel as much as his dying. Some would add the ebook of Joshua to the listing of books Samuel authored. Scripture additionally provides proof of Samuel’s literary exercise in 1 Samuel 10:25 and 1 Chronicles 29:29. Samuel, then, as a prophet, would have divine authority to finish Deuteronomy. And this is able to account for the assertion present in Deuteronomy 34:10: “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses.”

Proof Factors to Joshua

However Joshua appears to be the more than likely candidate for authorship of Deuteronomy 34. Most commentators and Jewish custom agree. John Peter Lange factors out that it’s clear from Joshua’s command in Joshua 1:8 (examine with Deut. 4:2; 13:1) that he meditated on and practiced God’s Phrase.

Joshua served as Moses’s attendant since his youth, and sure grew to like God’s Phrase whereas serving Moses (Num. 11:28; see additionally Ex. 33:11). Scripture additionally provides proof of Joshua’s literary exercise in Deuteronomy 31:19 and Joshua 24:26.

Though God may have communicated the account of Moses’s dying and burial to any of the boys listed above, a easy studying of Deuteronomy 34 appears to level Joshua because the more than likely writer.

Does It Matter?

Whereas a compelling case may be made for the writer of Deuteronomy 34, finally we aren’t sure who wrote it. Many comply with Calvin’s sensible recommendation and go away “the matter of no very great importance undecided.” In preaching Deuteronomy 34, then, the pastor might supply his opinion concerning the writer, since just a few match the invoice. But the pastor ought to merely recommend his opinion.

When instructing a congregation on the inspiration of Scripture and on the authors of the Bible’s 66 books, the pastor might supply this be aware: To recommend that an writer aside from Moses wrote Deuteronomy 34 not at all undermines Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch or the inspiration of Scripture. Once more, Scripture consists of indications of divinely licensed additions and updating. For instance, Proverbs 25:1 tells of the boys of King Hezekiah including saying of Solomon to Proverbs.

Whereas David is the writer of many psalms, it’s clear that one other individual put the ebook into the shape we have now it immediately; for instance, the Psalter is split into 5 books, a lot of which comprise psalms from different authors. Exodus 13:17 mentions the “way of the land of the Philistines,” an replace of an older place title because the Philistines weren’t within the image on the time of the exodus.

And Samuel couldn’t have written 2 Samuel, since he had already died; it’s possible that Nathan or Gad completed his work (1 Chron. 29:29).

The 16 ministers who accomplished Henry’s magisterial commentary, Christopher Tolkien, and Daniel Krauthammer ensured that they honored their predecessors in ending their works. And with regards to the Scriptures, we are able to belief God oversaw and impressed even those that made the updates and additions (2 Tim. 3:16).

Who Wrote Moses’s Obituary in Deuteronomy 34?

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