from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 61

Deuteronomy 34: Death of Moses

The Story


Moses was now an old man, a hundred and twenty years old. He had been the faithful leader of the children of Israel from the day that the Lord spoke to him at the burning bush and sent him to bring the people out of Egypt. He had prepared them to hear the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and had taught them many other laws from the Lord, and he had done many signs and wonderful works at the Lord's command with his rod, both in Egypt and in the wilderness. Do you remember some of them? Once when Moses used his rod to do one of the wonderful works, he did not speak humbly and give the Lord the praise; it was when water was given the second time from the rock; and the Lord told Moses that he should not lead the people into the promised land. He should see it with his eyes, but he should not go over thither; he should die in Mount Nebo, a mountain in the land of Moab.

So Moses went up from the plain where the people were camping by the Jordan, to the top of Mount Nebo. Pisgah seems to be another name for Nebo, perhaps for the top of Nebo. It was opposite Jericho, across the meadows and the Jordan. From there the Lord showed Moses the land, to the north and west and south, where the tribes would soon find their homes. It was a wonderful view -the land which the Lord had promised to the people, to which he had been leading them; the good land of hills and valleys watered by the rain of heaven, the land of springs and streams, of wheat and vines and olives. "A land which the Lord thy God careth for. The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the, end of the year." (Dent. 11:12) The land was so blessed because it was a picture of heaven.

So Moses died in the mountain, in the Lord's care, and his grave was not known to anyone. He was old, but clear of sight and strong. The people mourned for Moses thirty days. Who would now be their leader? Joshua, who had been Moses' helper. At the Lord's command also, Joshua had been appointed and was ready to take the lead, and the people were ready to follow and obey him. Moses was remembered as one who knew the Lord and gave the people the Lord's message.


The book of Deuteronomy reviews many events of the story of Israel while Moses was their leader, and gives us a beautiful chance to review the parts of the story that we have learned. Let us take the last chapter of Deuteronomy in this way. "From the plains of Moab," the plains where the people were camping by the Jordan before entering the land. Have your map before you as you read how from Mount Nebo, or Pisgah, as the height is also called, the Lord showed Moses the land which he was not to enter. Why was Moses not to go into the land, but only to see it? You will connect this with the second smiting of the rock for water. Read Num. 20:2, 7-13; Deut. 32:48-52; Ps. 106:32, 33.

We look with Moses from the mountain. To the north, on the east of Jordan, was the land of Gilead. Dan was far away at the springs of Jordan under Mount Hermon. Notice that the parts of the land are called by the names of the tribes of Israel, to whom they soon were given. Naphtali was on the west of Jordan, reaching toward Mount Hermon. Manasseh (the half tribe which was given a home west of Jordan) lay in the middle of the land, including Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, which were plainly seen from Nebo. Ephraim lay south of Manasseh, and across the Dead Sea Judah stretched away to the west toward the Mediterranean. Still to the left lay the open pastures of the south country. Nearby was the deep plain of Jordan, with Jericho at the foot of the bluffs across the river among its groves of palms. Close under the foot of the mountain was Zoar, one of the cities of the plain, which we learned of in the days of Abraham and Lot. (Gen. 13:10; 14:2)

So Moses died in Mount Nebo, having seen the promised land. Some of you have a picture of the old man looking out over the land, where Abraham had lived and Isaac and Jacob, where the children of Israel would now find a home, and where by and by the Lord would live and walk in the paths over the hills. Moses died, in the Lord's care, and the people mourned thirty days. Do you remember the mourning for Jacob (Gen. 50:3); and for Aaron (Num. 20:29)?

Now Joshua became leader. When did we first hear of Joshua? (Exod. 17:9) We remember him, too, with Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai with the tables of the Commandments in his hands. (Exod. 32:17) Joshua was one of the spies who went through the land of Canaan. (Num. 13:8, 16) He was appointed at the Lord's command and consecrated by Moses to be the leader. (Num. 27:18-23) The people were ready to obey Joshua and to follow him, for they knew that the Lord was with him as He had been with Moses.

1. Why were Moses and Aaron not allowed to enter the promised land?

2. Where did Aaron die? Who took his place as priest?

3. Where did Moses die? Who took his place as leader?

4. Show me on the map where Moses stood, and the land he looked out upon.

5. Who can tell me the story of Moses' life?

Spiritual Study


Moses and Aaron had spoken the Lord's word and shown the Lord's power to the people. Aaron the priest represented the Lord's love, and Moses the lawgiver the Lord's truth. What is meant by their death? Not that the power of the Lord fails, but the apprehension of the Lord that we have today must give place to a wiser and stronger one tomorrow, as we advance in regeneration. So Aaron gives place to Eleazar, and Moses to Joshua. There seemed to be a note of self-confidence in Moses' bringing water from the rock, which must be left behind before the heavenly life is reached. Moses and Joshua both stand for the Lord's truth with us, Moses for the Divine truth leading, and Joshua for the Divine truth combating. In that thought it is interesting that Joshua is first introduced to us as leading the soldiers against Amalek, and he led the people in the conquest of Canaan. In general Moses represents a more intellectual grasp of the principles of the heavenly life, and Joshua a more living experience of them. To Moses it was said, "I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither." (Deut. 34:4) And to Joshua, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you." (Josh. 1:3; A. 8595)

"Whom the Lord knew face to face." Compare Deut. 34:10 with Exod. 33:20. No person can see the full divineness of the Lord, but the Lord has appeared to people in ways accommodated to their state. Before His incarnation He came by filling an angel with His presence. (A. 1925, 6831) On His appearance to Moses, see A. 4299.

Moses' view of the promised land from the mountain reminds us of the view of the holy city given to John from "a great and high mountain." (Rev. 21:10) There are high interior states into which our minds may be lifted, to be given visions of what life with the Lord may be in earth and heaven. To see it from a mountain is to see it as angels see it. Was it not another vision from a mountain when the Lord led the disciples and others into the mountain in Galilee and taught them of the Christian life in the Sermon on the Mount? After a vision from the mountain we must come down to live with the Lord's help the life which we have seen, to conquer the enemies which oppose, and to dwell in the promised land and the holy city. (R. 896)

to next Lesson