The Death Of Moses
Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?
Few people are granted the courtesy of writing the account of their own death. And cynics who are inclined to doubt that Moses wrote the Pentateuch are inclined to ignore Jesus’ statement that Moses is the author (Luke 16:29) and rest their case on the fact that Moses could not have recorded his own death.
Understand, with most people, the issue is not Moses or some other candidate. There is an entire systematic study on the authorship of the Pentateuch. The “enlightened” understand the Pentateuch as a collation of four independently written documents that were carefully intertwined by a later editor1.
Just so we understand: The Pentateuch contains roughly 160,000 words, and Moses’ obituary contains 316 words. I am somehow supposed to believe that the 316 words out of 160,000 prove that the Pentateuch has four authors.
Most believers could, if pressed to respond, accept that – even if someone else did add Deuteronomy 34 – Moses is still the author of the rest of the Pentateuch. But I will not even concede that much. Moses was the author of all five books – in their entirety. There is no reason to suppose that Moses, under the supervision of the Holy Spirit, could not have written of even his own death2:
· “When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end….” Deuteronomy 31:24 – Moses personally finished the book.
· “Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord….” Deuteronomy 31:25 – Moses handed over a notarized manuscript to the Levites.
· “‘Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.” Deuteronomy 31:26 – The manuscript was used as a “witness.” If someone else had added Deuteronomy 34, that is the same as tampering with the witness, and a tampered witness is of no value.
· “For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly….” Deuteronomy 31:29 – Moses knew of his death, and of the events that will follow.
1I will not dwell on this line of thought. Further insights into this position can be gained through an Exact-Phrase internet search on “Documentary Hypothesis.”
2The cynic could have added (though I’m not aware of any who do) that Moses would not have had time following his Deuteronomy speech to place it on record before he died. The truth is that much of the Bible account sounds ridiculous to those who refuse to consider the influence of the almighty God.
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