Deuteronomy 34:1-4: Moses’ View of the Promised Land

Verse 1:  And Moses went up from the plains of Moab (Num. 27:12; 33:47; Deut. 32:49) unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah (or, the hill[1]), that is over against Jericho.  And the LORD (Deut. 3:27; 2 Mac. 2:4[2]) shewed him all the land of Gilead, (Gen. 14:14) unto Dan…

Moses went up, in compliance with God’s will, that he should then and there resign up his soul to God.

[From the plains of Moab, מֵעַרְבֹת[3]From the conjunctions, or borders, of Moab, that is, where the borders of diverse kingdoms came together (Oleaster).

[Upon mount Nebo, unto the peak of Pisgah[4] (thus the Septuagint, Samaritan Text, Vatablus)]  Mount Nebo was the tallest of the mountains of AbarimPisgah was the highest peak of mount Nebo (Menochius, Lyra).

[רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה[5]Unto, or toward, the peak of the hill (Chaldean, Syriac), or, of the cliff (Arabic), or, of the overlook (Samaritan Version).  See Numbers 21:20 (and 27:12 [Bonfrerius]); Deuteronomy 3:27 (Malvenda).

Of the mountain of Nebo, see Numbers 27:12; 32:38; Deuteronomy 32:49.

[The land of Gilead, אֶת־כָּל־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֶת־הַגִּלְעָ֖ד]  They translate it, 1.  from Gilead (Junius and Tremellius, Hebrews in Ainsworth).  They take אֶת[6] for מִן/from; for it was not needful that he regard that which he had subdued (Ainsworth).  Gilead, vulgarly Galaad, was the name of the mountain situated on the other side of the Jordan, toward the East, from a comparison of Numbers 32 verse 1 and verse 19 (Piscator).  2.  Gilead, that is, taken broadly, or the land of the two and a half Tribes (Menochius).  He shows this in its entirety, because Moses had not visited the whole, neither had he perceived its pleasantness with his eyes.  God appears to strengthen the eyes of Moses, so that he might better regard things at a distance (Bonfrerius).

Of the land of Gilead Moses had as yet seen and enjoyed but a small part.  Of this land, see Genesis 31:21; Numbers 32:1, 19, etc.

[Unto Dan]  The name of a city occupied by the Danites, previously called Leshem, or Laish.  See Joshua 19:47 (Piscator).

Unto Dan; to that city which after Moses’s death was called Dan, Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29.  So that here is an anticipation.  But it seems most probable, and is commonly believed, that this chapter was not written by Moses, but by Eleazar, or Joshua, or Ezra, or some other man of God, directed herein by the Holy Ghost; this being no more impeachment to the Divine authority of this chapter, that the penman is unknown, which also is the lot of some other books of Scripture, than it is to the authority of the acts of the king or parliament, that they are written or printed by some unknown person.

 

Verse 2:  And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, (Deut. 11:24) unto the utmost sea…

All Naphtali, i.e. 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.

[Unto the utmost sea, עַ֖ד הַיָּ֥ם הָאַחֲרֽוֹן׃]  The hindmost (Samaritan Text, Ainsworth, Malvenda, Montanus, similarly the Chaldean, Junius and Tremellius), or, extreme (Ainsworth), see Deuteronomy 11:24[7] (Vatablus), farthest (Syriac), last (Septuagint).  Namely, the Western (Ainsworth, Bonfrerius, Arabic), as it is evident, inasmuch as everywhere the utmost sea is opposed to the Eastern, which is the sea of Gennesaret, Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8 (Bonfrerius).

The utmost sea, i.e. the midland sea, which was the utmost bound of the Land of Promise on the west.

 

Verse 3:  And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, (Judg. 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chron. 28:15) the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.

 

And the south, etc.:  i.e. The south quarter of thee land of Judah, which is towards the Salt Sea, which is described Numbers 34:3-5; Joshua 15:1-4, as the western quarter of Judah was described in the words next foregoing.

[The breadth of the plain of Jericho, וְֽאֶת־הַכִּכָּ֞ר בִּקְעַ֧ת יְרֵח֛וֹ[8]]  They translate it, and the plain of the valley (or, the plain, the valley [Pagnine], that plain, the ravine [Junius and Tremellius], the plain of the field [Chaldean], or, the level plain [Munster, Tigurinus]) of Jericho (Montanus, Ainworth).  The portion of the rupture, or division, of Jericho:  that is, the southern part, which Jericho divides; or, the ruptures that Jordan makes, or, the torrents in the land of Jericho (Oleaster).  And the plain of the valley (or the valley, by apposition [Vatablus, Malvenda]) of Jericho (Ainsworth).  The plain, the plain, I say, of the valley, in which is Jericho (Vatablus, similarly Piscator).

The plain of the valley of Jericho; or, in which lies Jericho; which was in the tribe of Benjamin.

[The city of palms]  They refer it, 1.  to Engedi, a city famous for palm-groves.  See Genesis 14:17; Judges 1:16.  So that it might be asyndeton, and the city of palms (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  2.  To Jericho, which is thus called, Judges 1:16 (and 3:13 [Ainsworth]); 2 Chronicles 28:15 (Malvenda, Ainsworth).  The same is affirmed by Pliny in his Natural History 5:14, Jericho, planted with palm-groves, and Diodorus Siculus in his Historical Library 2:93, and Strabo in his Geography 16:763, and Josephus in his Jewish Wars 5:4 (Malvenda).  From these and the balsam, etc. growing there Jericho had its name; that is to say, Odoriferous.[9]  What Moses last saw was both the closest to him, and the most pleasant of the whole land (see Genesis 13:10), and the first occupied by the Israelites (Ainsworth).

The city of palm trees, i.e. Jericho, so called both here and Judges 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15, 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:  And the LORD said unto him, (Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 26:3; 28:13) This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed:  (Deut. 3:27; 32:52) I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

With thine eyes, to wit, by a miraculous power strengthening thy sight, or making a clear representation of all these parts to thy view.

[1] Hebrew:  הַפִּסְגָּה.

[2] 2 Maccabees 2:4:  “It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.”

[3] עֲרָבָה, desert-plain, is derived from the verbal root ערב, to be arid.  ערב can also signify to mix.

[4] Hebrew:  אֶל־הַ֣ר נְב֔וֹ רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה.

[5] פִּסְגָּה/Pisgah may be derived from the verbal root פָּסַג, to split.

[6] The direct object marker.

[7] Deuteronomy 11:24:  “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours:  from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea (וְעַד֙ הַיָּ֣ם הָֽאַחֲר֔וֹן) shall your coast be.”

[8] כִּכָּר, a round district, is derived from the verbal root כָּרַר, to move around; בִּקְעָה/ valley, from the verbal root בָּקַע, to cleave.

[9] יְרִיחוֹ/Jericho may be related to רָוַח, a fragrant land.

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