Deuteronomy 34:9-12: Moses’ Place in Redemptive History

Verse 9:  And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the (Is. 11:2; Dan. 6:3) spirit of wisdom; for (Num. 27:18, 23) Moses had laid his hands upon him:  and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

[Joshua was full]  In the place of, had been filled (Bonfrerius).

The spirit of wisdom; and other gifts and graces too, as appears from the history; but wisdom is mentioned as being most necessary for the government, to which he was now called.

[Because Moses laid]  In the place of, had laid (Bonfrerius, Menochius), or, since he had imposed (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  See Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 31:7, 23 (Malvenda).

Moses had laid his hands upon him; which God had appointed as a sign to Moses, and Joshua, and the Israelites, that this was the person whom he had appointed and qualified for his great work.  See Numbers 27:18, etc.  Compare Genesis 48:10; Numbers 8:10.


Verse 10:  And there (see Deut. 18:15, 18) arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, (Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:6, 8; Deut. 5:4) whom the LORD knew face to face…

[Not…like Moses]  Not similar with respect to the following things (Menochius, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals):  namely, familiarity with God (Estius, Menochius, Bonfrerius, Lapide), and portents (Lapide).

Like unto Moses, in the privileges here following.

[Whom the Lord know face to face, אֲשֶׁר֙ יְדָע֣וֹ יְהוָ֔ה]  Whom He knew, etc., that is, who thus familiarly conversed and spoke with Jehovah (Vatablus).  Almost all translate it, whom the Lord knew (Dieu).  I refer it to Moses:  which exposition the following verse requires (Piscator).  But because it is not at all exceptional that God knew someone familiarly, but it is especially exceptional that someone in this life knew God familiarly, neither, as far as I know, is it in Scripture ever attributed to God with respect to us, but always to us with respect to God, whose face, it is promised, we are at length going to see; we are not afraid to profess that it is able to be translated, who knew God [Oleaster similarly translates it]; so that the object suffix on יְדָעוֹ, he knew him, is referred to the following substantive יְהוָה/Jehovah, and is pleonastic:  which in the Chaldean and Syriac is very common, and not unusual in Scripture; as in Exodus 2:6, וַתִּרְאֵ֣הוּ אֶת־הַיֶּ֔לֶד, and she saw him, the child, where the הוּ/him is superfluous, and is referred to the following substantive; in Numbers 23:18, בְּנ֥וֹ צִפֹּֽר׃, the son of him, Zippor; in Deuteronomy 32:43, וְכִפֶּ֥ר אַדְמָת֖וֹ עַמּֽוֹ׃, and He will be merciful to the land of it, His people; Psalm 64:9, וַיַּכְשִׁיל֣וּהוּ עָלֵ֣ימוֹ לְשׁוֹנָ֑ם, and they shall cause to fall it, their tongue, upon themselves.  And on this place Onkelos reads, to whom the Lord was revealed, that is, who saw the Lord (Dieu).

Whom the Lord knew face to face, i.e. whom God did so freely, and familiarly, and frequently converse with.  See on Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 5:4.


Verse 11:  In all (Deut. 4:34; 7:19) 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…

In all the signs:  this is to be joined, either, 1.  With the words immediately foregoing, as an eminent instance wherein God did know or acknowledge and own or converse so familiarly with Moses, namely, in the working of all his signs and wonders in Egypt, where God spake to him so oft, and sometimes even in Pharaoh’s presence, and answered his requests so particularly and punctually, whether he called for vengeance or for deliverance.  Or, 2.  With the more remote words, there was none like unto Moses in regard of all the signs, etc., the words, whom the Lord knew face to face, coming in by way of parenthesis.


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

[A mighty hand]  That is, Works done by a mighty hand (Ainsworth).  He understands those things that were done in the exodus from Egypt, and in the Red Sea (Vatablus).

[וּלְכֹ֖ל הַמּוֹרָ֣א[1]In all marvels (Septuagint, Chaldean); in every great vision (Samaritan Text, similarly the Syriac); in all terror (Arabic, Montanus, Oleaster, Ainsworth), or, terrible works (Junius and Tremellius).  Either, 1.  in the giving of the Law (Vatablus); or, 2.  whereby He terrified the Egyptians (Oleaster), and the Israelites, Numbers 16; 25 (Lapide).

[1] מוֹרָא may be related to the verbal root יָרֵא, to fear, or to רָאָה, to see.

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