#306. Does Moses implore Yahweh to let him crossover OR not? (Deut 3:23-28 vs Num 27:12-21)

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Deuteronomy 1-11 presents Moses renarrating events from the wilderness period as a sort of survey of events leading up to the encampment on the plains of Moab some 40 years afterward. Yet in every single renarration the author of Deuteronomy has Moses alter, modify, and even contradict the details of these events/stories as they were told in the books of Exodus and Numbers. Most of these altered retellings happen to the older JE traditions, which I have been waiting to discuss when we get to the contradictions in the book of Deuteronomy. On a few occasions, however, the Deuteronomist has Moses renarrate with variation a story from the Priestly tradition. Our present entry is one such case.

Deuteronomy 3:23-25 is a short speech given by Moses that does not appear in the traditions preserved in Exodus–Numbers. In fact, Deuteronomy is full of speeches that Moses claims he had said “at that time”—referring to past events in the wilderness—that are in fact not attested in the versions that speak of what transpired “at those times,” that is traditions now preserved in Exodus and Numbers. These speeches are the creation of the author of Deuteronomy himself and serve to legitimate his religious beliefs and particular ideological program by presenting them from the authoritative mouthpiece of Moses—one of the literary techniques employed by this 7th century BCE author. See The Deuteronomist.

At any event, Deut 3:23-25 is one such case. Moses claims that “at that time” he implored Yahweh to allow him to crossover to the promised land, to which Yahweh replied, with indignation, “Not a chance!” In fact, the way that the Deuteronomist sets this story up is also unique. Moses’ begging and Yahweh’s refusal serve as a foil for Moses’ ascent to Pisgah (but see #305) where as a consolatory gesture Yahweh allows him to see the land. This too is a unique creation of the Deuteronomist’s retelling.

Back to the Priestly version in Numbers 27:12-21, we immediately notice that what Moses here in Deuteronomy claims to have said to Yahweh “at that time” is not recorded in the version that relates what happened “at that time.” Instead of Moses imploring Yahweh, Yahweh refusing, and then Yahweh offering a consolatory vision of the promised land atop Pisgah, in the original version in Num 27, Yahweh just commands Moses with no prompting: “Ascend this mountain, Abarim.”

Finally, although this was already treated in contradiction #266, both the Priestly version in Num 27 and the Deuteronomic version in Deut 3 give contradictory reasons for why Moses cannot crossover. Numbers 27:14 specifically references Moses’ disobedience at the waters of Meribath affair (see #262-265) for the reason why he cannot crossover. Yet nearly a couple months later—narratively speaking—Moses claims that it was on account of the Israelites’ sin in the spying of the land affair (Deut 3:26, 1:37). In other words, the Deuteronomist has changed, has Moses alter, the tradition and claim a different reason! Or is it that the Priestly writer has altered the tradition? Or are we talking about two independent traditions?

11 thoughts on “#306. Does Moses implore Yahweh to let him crossover OR not? (Deut 3:23-28 vs Num 27:12-21)

  1. My ears we’re burnin’…

    Sabba works against the text. For the text of the Pentateuch itself reveals its own composite nature…which professes certain beliefs about the text. Sabba, as with many others, has chosen tradition over texts…”

    As one of Elvis’ songs go, “…but don’t step on my blue swede shoes!”

    I.E., talking in my lampoonish/parabolic/allegorical way (sabba abushy-esque; “sae”), you have insisted that I do ‘so and thus’ and I am here saying, “It just ain’t so! (much less ‘thus’)”

    In fact, by reviewing some of your points, I actually hope to help you be more effective as an truly objective exegete and expositor.

    Just above, about 2-3 ‘reader comments’ back on this page, you make a good point that is only too obvious. In fact, in effect I SAID IT (on this particular reader’s comments forum post, anyway) BEFORE YOU DID. WHILE TALKING TO ROBERT M.

    My exact quote was: “…This is not rocket science nor even approaching the realm of psychology 101. That this site’s whole MO is sounding the alarm when there is no crisis is telling when it comes to all the participants in this supposed outrage that “people would be so stupid as to think one man wrote this himself.” Common sense, sorely lacking in spades by everyone who swallows this swill (i.e. the exact mirror opposite of the previous sentence and the context thereof), would simply say, “NO DUH!” to the concept that someone like Joshua actually wrote the last few comments that make up Deuteronomy 34.”

    That was, again, in effect my response to what you would say after me in your own way—only I (as I put it, “in effect” sae) I answered your point before you even came on and responded. Prophetic? Food for thought….(:~))

    Yes, yes, I know! You have already “TRIED” TO address this already in your own imitable way, as seen in your reference to How the Bible was Discovered to be a Collection of Contradictory Texts. By the way, in the “for what it is worth department” (sae), this collection of yours and it’s very title’s provocative nature, like that of this site (contradictionsinthebible.com — “citbc”) actually puts you at a severe disadvantage.

    As I have already pointed out, one of the main reasons for the (what I call the “bible thumpin’ crowd” (“btc”) and it’s (shall we say, “chagin”? with you) is your feigned ignorance of why they don’t just jump on your scholarly website’s bandwagon.

    As you have said on more than one occasion, you are provocative on purpose. It gets people to come in and talk with you who maybe would never show up at this scene.

    This is your mission field. Being one to Israel for the last 44 years, you’re just one of many (I’m calling you a missionary too) that I have met and am a member of and work as such myself. So I appreciate you letting me even respond and discuss things with you.

    Like the fact that you need to do just a little more than just refer to material that is somewhat related.

    It isn’t that you are so successful (IMHO you are not; not with me anyway) but that your purported willingness to have an intelligent dialogue is “limited”. You are busy! So you often plug in one of your “standard operating procedure” responses when at times you have to take more time. Which is your biggest problem with successful operations. Sometimes ALL you do is repeat the standard line: “…you have to look at things my way and that is it! Otherwise you are just “stuck on the stupid” of thinking the Bible can talk for itself (66 books as a composite whole) and therefore don’t realize how corrupted and fraudulent it really is!”

    Something like that. BTW, you said many good things to Laura and I thought you did an excellent job of engaging her and in so doing…well, you made me look good in more ways than I can enumerate. Todah! (re:#155. Does Yahweh command sacrifices during the wilderness period OR not?).

    I thought you did fine with EG too, (above, your first responder here on this article) even though you could not understand what he had to share because of the language barrier. His language your barrier.

    And as I looked at how you dealt with him, it was clear that you are not going to be bothered with “facts” at times that he also knew would go way over your head because of the Hebrew Thing. So he did not come back.

    Anyway what I say is just common sense and the fact that I am and have taken the time to listen to what you say. I have taken the time to read the gist of everything that is available to read about and which reveals the ‘raison d’etre’ of this site and your life. I don’t have to translate that French phrase for you, either, you, having spent time at the Sorbonne studying Middle Eastern pagan thought. On that score you have forgotten more than I will ever know. Both of us making a conscious effort to that effect. (;~)) This little smiling face of mine. (R) that is also sae.

    So we are like two trains going in opposite directions that meet at a certain point, going and coming from the central subsway station in Paris, let us say— our actual contact point, in effect, like a few pixel frames in today’s digital videos, zooming by each other, or slowly gazing out the window as we both take off after sitting in our seats and gazing at each other across the tracks before our separate departures…on the Bullet trains.

    I’m referring to your point:

    “If I recall correctly, Hobbes was really the first person to denounce Mosaic authorship. Other scholars and thinkers of the time were coming to the realization that there were post-Mosaic sources, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to abandon Mosaic authorship of the core text. I’ve written a rather lengthy summary of the scholarly advances and conclusions drawn from the earliest Rabbinic claims that Moses did not write his own death to the discovery of JEDP. How the Bible was Discovered to be a Collection of Contradictory Texts.”

  2. Steve, I know that you are a very busy man and as I address that matter now, and speaking of this kangaroo court atmosphere that animates this place on almost a daily basis, take for your example that phrase:

    “A typical Sabba-esque comment”

    I personally have no problem with it. In fact it’s creative and I think I may claim it and use it in the future. It is like a badge of honor and believe it or not, is, in my opinion, from what I know about the guy (I’ll explain who that is in a minute), you have meant it as maybe just a backhanded insult of sorts (understandable—like I said, no problem) but I see it as a good character reference. Like if I asked you to give me a ‘good character’ to reference if I was looking for someone to help get my business started (or something—just by way of example). Or as a character reference for me that I could use in a resume or something next time I needed to apply for a job.

    I hope I haven’t totally lost you…(yet!~))

    But I will say this: based on the above named phrase you invented and your attribution: “so most of what you said does not apply to anything I said.”

    Ahhh, here in this public square of public opinion on what I have just described in the previous post as a, more or less, “kangaroo court”, I make the following claim:

    Steve, I honestly think you need to apologize, publicly (get down on your knees somehow in a print type of way,’thingee’) and ask forgiveness, repent even ( this site purports to do “biblical” things, not just “scholarship”)…I think you need to actually say that you are sorry.

    I really do.

    But not to me. Robert M is who you have defamed and who’s exemplary character besmirched and associated with that vile and evil sinner(s?) otherwise known as Sabba AbuShy.

    That is right! You basically called Robert a “sabba” or something.

    Think about it. That quote I supposedly made the “so most of what you said does not apply to anything I said.” one by which you remarked: “A typical Sabba-esque comment” —-

    That was a 100% pure Robert M comment. He made that statement (which @ the time he made it, as I read it when he beamed it back, I thought: “OK, I need to go back and re-read and get back to him…”).

    So in effect, while making up a very descriptive phrase in the “A typical Sabba-esque comment” —- as I said, one that I actually cherish and which could be used by anyone, for that matter….you were actually slamming Robert, (totally ‘unbeknownstoyou’).

    Do you see what I am saying? Robert is a very nice guy. What has he ever done to you that you would treat him this way? You need to ask his forgiveness for what you did (as always) in total ignorance.

    In a recent, previous post I made the other day or so— on “the scientific way of studying the bible”, I said that I think your form or way of presenting “data” here on contradictionsinthebible.com — upon which to form a hypothesis and from there make a salient argument or make a good point — I honestly think the Julian Wellhausen approach you employ actually makes that impossible for you personally, based on my observations on how you run this site.

    You’re in over your head. Especially when it comes to being basically Hebrew “challenged”/illiterate and yet discoursing on what you say wasn’t Moses anyway but just some kind of propaganda from those Jews in the Babylonian exile who made the whole Bible (New Testament too)— people like 2nd and 3rd Isaiah and Daniel 1-4, a bunch of disaffected neurotic Jews who just made up 66 books called the HOLY BIBLE whole cloth— while fighting with each other in the yeshivas each day and thinking that they had just written the ELDERS OF THE PROTOCOLS OF ZION in the process. And not even knowing that it had already been written by a roomful of monkeys with type writers and an endless supply of Marlboros that they kept lit there hanging from their mouths as they tried to learn how to type— all back in the ancient daze of Abraham about the same time he said goodbye and left for the Promise Land, circa 4000 years ago, or so. That is a paraphrase of your philosophy and what you have dedicated your whole life to propagate and my
    “Sabba-esque” comment for the day.

    Something like that. The stuff of which they make Woody Allen movies: (re: “Sleeper” 1973)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n6ZeaeY7zE

    You just need to slow down a bit and wake up! “We’re not in the last daze…it’s the last seconds and minutes, maybe hours—like Jesus said, just like in the old Noah myth and that of Sodom and Gomorrah…”just before I return and set up haMalqoot haShamayeem”

    Shabbat Shalom! (;~))

  3. Robert,

    actually the only place I used the word “stupid” was in the attitude (found easily on this site) that people with MY perspective are considered to be ‘thus and so’. Maybe read again how I put that…”that people would be so stupid as to think one man wrote this himself…”

    At any rate, after reading the rest of your response, as far as I can tell, Deut. 1:37 is the bone in your craw. A close reading of the verses associated with this passage shows that Moses, in reminding them of their of the last 38 years or so, went to Numbers 14 and that is where the reference to Caleb, specifically, (see verse 36 just before). That is the first mention of the spies and their “infidel ways”. But since he is reviewing the history he wrote down in Numbers, he then skips to chapter 27. It was there after once again being rebuked by YHVH, that Moses then cries out for a man to be appointed to take his place. This is where verses 37 and 38 come in. Then in verse 39 to the end of the first chapter in Deuteronomy, Moses basically quote from Numbers 14 and the spies incident verbatim.

    You have to remember, the problem he had personally, that disqualified him involved the matter of striking the rock instead of speaking to it as he had the first time. He was exasperated with almost 40 years of putting up with the childishness of that generation that died off. But that was not an excuse he could use with God even though as a man he had every right to remind the people that it was “on account of you” that he too, Moses, would now also be disqualified.

    You also have to remember that this was a very recent event. He had basically just messed up himself and as he is relating this to his “congregation”, they too remembered the incident at Meribah, and knew exactly what he was talking about—the example of the 10 spies (basically 38 years in everyone’s ‘rear view mirror’) and Moses’ “flipping out” when they, once again, started complaining about the lack of water. That had just happened in fact.

    So what I am saying is that you are building you house of ‘infidel’ on one verse. Maybe there is another one or two that says the same thing that you think Deut. 1:37 is saying. I have looked and I can’t find a corroborating verse or two that has Moses supposedly linking his reason for not going into the Land to his culpability in the 10 spies scenario. If they exist somewhere, then it will be time for me to eat crow pie.

    But if they don’t, then this premise you have would not stand up in any court except a kangaroo court which is my opinion of contradictionsinthebible.com.

  4. I read some Josh McDowell while in college and I didn’t find his arguments for Mosaic authorship very convincing back then, either. I see the same arguments from Sabba now. On the other hand I also read “Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes while in college, and during the 17th century he did not believe in Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in its current form because of phrases like “at that time the Canaanite was in the land” and Moses speaking on “the other side of the Jordan”, which only make sense if the text as written while the Canaanite was no longer in the land or on the western side of the Jordan. There is also mention of the city of Dan in Genesis 14, which according to Judges was called Laish during the lifetime of Moses.

    I’ve always found arguments based on logic and facts more convincing than arguments that ask me to ignore logic and facts.

    1. If I recall correctly, Hobbes was really the first person to denounce Mosaic authorship. Other scholars and thinkers of the time were coming to the realization that there were post-Mosaic sources, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to abandon Mosaic authorship of the core text. I’ve written a rather lengthy summary of the scholarly advances and conclusions drawn from the earliest Rabbinic claims that Moses did not write his own death to the discovery of JEDP. How the Bible was Discovered to be a Collection of Contradictory Texts

      At any rate, scholars are convinced by the textual evidence. Sabba works against the text. For the text of the Pentateuch itself reveals its own composite nature and the fact that it is all post-Mosaic by centuries, even millennia! The choice really is acknowledging the texts on their own terms and that means drawing conclusions from the textual data, or acknowledging the dictates of a centuries later interpretive tradition which professes certain beliefs about the text. Sabba, as with many others, has chosen tradition over texts.

  5. I didn’t object to Mosaic authorship on account of Moses giving a speech in Deuteronomy and being presented in the third person in Numbers, so most of what you said does not apply to anything I said. What I said was that if Moses wrote both Numbers and Deuteronomy, then Moses said in one instance that he could not enter the promised land because of the spy incident, and in another instance that he could not enter because of his own actions at Meribah. I don’t know how to reconcile the two events, that take place about 40 years apart, as both being the singular event that disqualifies Moses from entering.

    Yes, what I wrote is non-verifiable speculation. I believe I said as much up front, in addition to the fact that I’m not any kind of expert in this field. Nevertheless, I tried to answer as best as I could. You, on the other hand, responded with insults, derision, and the attitude that those who don’t see it the way you do are stupid.

    1. so most of what you said does not apply to anything I said.

      A typical Sabba-esque comment. And, by the way, there is NO textual support for concluding, thinking, even speculating that Numbers is Moses speaking in the third person. Sabba is too enmeshed in later authoritative traditions that dictate the meaning and message of these ancient texts and apply a whole set of beliefs and theological constructs on them to actually confront the texts on their own terms and ponder their authors’ multiple messages and meanings.

  6. More nitpickin’ for the sake of this site’s agenda, i.e. going on a wild goose chase and finding nothing but sand. Another of the multitude of non-existent contradictions.

    Deuteronomy, chapters 1,3, and 4 all have a similar statement phrase on this subject. In each “account” Moses is addressing the people and pointing out the obvious: “on account of you”. This is how he phrased it in each of those three chapters. He simply pointed out the obvious culpability of the people. They were definitely partners in the crime of “breaking faith with YHVH”. The verdict was in and all the guilty parties would pay the price.

    In Numbers 27 and Deuteronomy 32 the narration is different. Moses is not talking directly to the people in these two chapters, as noted above as he did when his narration to them was in the 2nd case plural (“you”), but reminds them of YHVH’s conversation directly with him, Moses. Here, in chapters 27 and 32, he, Moses is the narrator speaking in the 3rd person, like a detached observer relating the actual facts, (but at the same time the history as he experienced it): “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying…’you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes'”. Here it is obvious that ultimately, as the leader and one who had direct access to YHVH, he, Moses will be held accountable. Personally.

    This is not rocket science nor even approaching the realm of psychology 101. That this site’s whole MO is sounding the alarm when there is no crisis is telling when it comes to all the participants in this supposed outrage that people would be so stupid as to think one man wrote this himself.

    Common sense, sorely lacking in spades by everyone who swallows this swill, would simply say, “NO DUH!” to the concept that someone like Joshua actually wrote the last few comments that make up Deuteronomy 34. I would say that it is also a “NO DUH!” THAT MOSES DID IT HIMSELF, “pre-emptively.”

    Robert, as far as your non-verifiable speculation, Jude 9 says that there was indeed some controversy over “the body of Moses”. Arguing and disputing are the words used. A spiritual battle of sorts involving the Archangel Michael and the former angel who used to occupy that position.

    Deuteronomy has the last word, whether Joshua or someone else, or even Moses (I’ll get back to this in a jiff) “no one knows his burial place to this day”. No one except YHVH who made a garden of him, six feet down under “pushing up daisies”.

    Now I realize that the above mentioned participants on this site don’t believe in YHVH or if so, they seriously doubt things like Divine Inspiration, miracles, prophecy, or especially the concept of Creation ex nihilo. No argument there. And in that vein, I who take a stand that is the exact mirror opposite of this site and as a witness (shomair, notzree, tzophay) would have no trouble with the thought of Moses actually writing down, (let’s say, by way of example) chapter 34. Ahead of the actual event, and the details of his death. After all, at the end of verse 5, the account is “according to the word of the Lord.” And this YHVH is able to tell people who serve him, like Moses, things before they actually take place.

    This is that same YHVH who gave Moses everything else to share in the Bible’s foundational first 5 books. That is the Moses of verses 10-12, in the last chapter of the last book he wrote. Only to be “out-ranked” as a prophet by the one Moses predicted would someday come…basically the same One who was always talking with him “face to face.”

  7. The problem isn’t that the Bible didn’t tell us why Moses couldn’t enter the Promised Land, but that it gave two versions that were completely distinct from each other. That’s especially problematic if you believe both accounts were written by Moses.

    I’m no expert, but from what I’ve read I suspect what happened is similar to the following: Moses traditionally had a burial place in the vicinity of Nebo. King Mesha of Moab recorded capturing Nebo and removing the instruments of Yahweh, indicating the presence of a shrine, so perhaps that’s where he was thought to be buried. Eventually the area becomes thought of as Moabite rather than Israelite or Reubenite, and the last resting place of the great Israelite hero being in Moab became problematic. For some reason two distinct explanations came up and both of them ended up in the Bible.

  8. As I have often said, it was this question that brought me here to this site. “Hmmmm, I wonder if the ‘ungodly and irreligious’ have anything to say on this matter…” Well, just as above, no, you didn’t shed any light (darkness and light are the same to YHVH—Ps. 139) but it was in the context of hanging around a few months and getting to know some of the ‘regulars’ around here and reading all the irregular ‘insites’ that it came to me: “Shazam! Moshe was too old! It was now his last time around the block. The principle of Genesis 6 had finally become “Torah”.

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