Did Moses write about his own death?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Did Moses actually write about his own death? If we are Bible believers, then we answer in the affirmative: “YES, Moses did write about his own death.” If we are Bible rejecters, however, we respond in the negative: “NO, Moses did not write about his own death.”

The issue at hand regards the final words of Deuteronomy, as found in chapter 34: “[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, [2] And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, [3] And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. [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.

[5] So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. [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. [7] And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. [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. [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. [10] And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, [11] In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, [12] And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.”

Verses 5-8 are a major problem for some readers. How could Moses write about his own death and burial place? How could he know his age and physical condition at the moment of his decease? How could he describe Israel’s activities following that demise? Higher criticism is the field of questioning who wrote what in the Bible. (Lower criticism is the study of reconstructing the “original text” itself.) To be blunt, this is nothing but unbelief—but such “scholarship” is common, and its thousands of “experts” can be found leading (!) our churches, seminaries, “Christian” colleges, and so on. (It is no secret why the average church member or preacher struggles with doubts the world over.) We are subjecting the Scriptures to the same criteria we use to examine other books. Except for the Bible, the Holy Spirit wrote no other Book. If we are Bible believers, we will treat the Scriptures as what they are (the Words of God)—and that would force us to approach the Scriptures differently than we would other ancient literature.

For example, if we believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, He thought Moses wrote Deuteronomy (cf. Matthew 19:7-8 and Mark 10:2-5 with Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Deuteronomy (literally, “second law”) is the restating of the Law. Is it not called “the Law of Moses?” If the LORD God used Moses to deliver the Law once to Israel, He used Moses to do it again. All of Deuteronomy would be the work of Moses under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit. Moses was not writing with his intellect alone: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Whatever limitations Moses had, Almighty God overrode them—and that principle would apply to all other human writers of Scripture.

If we disallow Moses from writing about his own death, then our fundamental problem is further exposed. We really do not believe he wrote any other prophecies either. That is, since we consider it “doubtful” for him to write about his demise, and the details following it, nothing prevents us from extending the logic to its ultimate conclusion. Moses could not have written about Jesus Christ millennia into the future, either! If, on the other hand, Moses could have foretold what Jesus would do centuries after he penned the Books of Genesis to Deuteronomy, Moses could have done the easier and written about his own expiration just days away.

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?(John 5:45-47). “And he [Christ Jesus] said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:…” (Luke 24:44-46).

If we deem it incredible that Moses foresaw the events surrounding his death, then we really do not believe the Holy Spirit was ever leading him to write any words in the first place! We are in the exact same position as the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, and every other Bible rejecter. Lastly, if we “Bible believers” find implausible the prophetic ability of the Scriptures, we dare not demand these rejecters treat those precious words of God any better than we (“who ‘love’ the Bible”) do!


As long as we do not have any problem with Moses writing about his own death, we would have no issue with Joshua writing about his own death, or subsequent events, either. The Holy Spirit gave Joshua the same foresight He gave Moses decades prior.

“And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel. And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim” (Joshua 24:29-33).

Also see:
» Why could Moses not enter the Promised Land?
» How did Israel manipulate Moses to murder Messiah?
» Why was Moses ordered to be shoeless?
» What was wrong with Moses’ speech?
» How was Moses very meek?
» Was the Law of Moses given by the LORD or by angels?
» Why did God want to kill Moses in Exodus 4:24?