Deuteronomy 34 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Deuteronomy 34)

Verse 1

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

And Moses went up — When he knew the place of his death he chearfully mounted a steep 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! Unto Dan - To that city which after Moses's death was called so.

Verse 2

[2] And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,

All Naphtali — The land of Naphtali, which together with Dan, was in the north of Canaan, as Ephraim and Manasseh were in the midland parts, and Judah on the south, and the sea, on the west. So these parts lying in the several quarters are put for all the rest. He stood in the east and saw also Gilead, which was in the eastern part of the land, and thence he saw the north and south and west.

The utmost sea — The midland sea, which was the utmost bound of the land of promise on the west.

Verse 3

[3] And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.

The south — The south quarter of the land of Judah, which is towards the salt sea, the city of palm-trees - Jericho, so called from the multitude of palm-trees, which were in those parts, as Josephus and Strabo write. From whence and the balm there growing it was called Jericho, which signifies, odoriferous or sweet smelling.

Verse 4

[4] And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

I have caused thee to see it — For tho' his sight was good, yet he could not have seen all Canaan, an hundred and sixty miles in length, and fifty or sixty in breadth, if his sight had not been miraculously assisted and enlarged. He saw it at a distance. Such a sight the Old Testament believers had of the kingdom of the Messiah. And such a sight believers have now of the glory that shall he revealed. Such a sight have we now, of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, which shall cover the earth. Those that come after us shall undoubtedly enter into that promised land: which is a comfort to us, when we find our own carcases falling in this wilderness.

Verse 5

[5] So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.

So Moses the servant of the Lord died — He is called the servant of the Lord, not only as a good man, (all such are his servants) but as a man eminently useful, who had served God's counsels in bringing Israel out of Egypt, and leading them thro' the wilderness. And it was more his honour, to be the servant of the Lord, than to be king in Jeshurun. Yet he dies. Neither his piety nor his usefulness would exempt him from the stroke of death. God's servants must die, that they may rest from their labours, receive their recompense, and make room for others. But when they go hence, they go to serve him better, to serve him day and night in his temple. The Jews say, God sucked his soul out of his body with a kiss. No doubt he died in the embraces of his love.

Verse 6

[6] And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

He — The Lord, buried him either immediately, or by the ministry of angels, whereof Michael was the chief or prince.

Of his sepulchre — Of the particular place where he was buried: which God hid from the Israelites, to prevent their superstition and idolatry, to which he knew their great proneness. And for this very reason the devil endeavoured to have it known and contended with Michael about it, Jude 1:9. God takes care even of the dead bodies of his servants. As their death is precious, so is their dust. Not one grain of it shall be lost, but the covenant with it shall be remembered.

Verse 7

[7] And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

His eye was not dim — By a miraculous work of God in mercy to his church and people.

Verse 8

[8] And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

Thirty day's — Which was the usual time of mourning for persons of high place and eminency. 'Tis a debt owing to the surviving honour of deceased worthies, to follow them with our tears, as those who loved and valued them, are sensible of the loss, and humbled for the sins which have provoked God to deprive us of them.

Verse 9

[9] And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Wisdom — And other gifts and graces too, but wisdom is mentioned as being most necessary for the government to which he was now called.

Upon him — And this was the thing which Moses at that time asked of God for him.

Verse 10

[10] And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

Whom the Lord — Whom God did so freely and familiarly converse with.

Verse 12

[12] And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

Moses was greater than any other of the prophets of the Old Testament. By Moses God gave the law, and moulded and formed the Jewish church. By the other prophets he only sent particular reproofs, directions and predictions. But as far as the other prophets came short of him, our Lord Jesus went beyond him. Moses was faithful as a servant, but Christ as a son: his miracles more illustrious, his communion with the father more intimate: for he is in his bosom from eternity. Moses lies buried: but Christ is sitting at the right-hand of God, and of the increase of his government there shall be no end.


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