Deuteronomy 34:1-12 . MOSES FROM MOUNT NEBO VIEWS THE LAND.
1. Moses went up from the plains of Moab--This chapter appears from internal evidence to have been written subsequently to the death of Moses, and it probably formed, at one time, an introduction to the Book of Joshua.
unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah--literally, the head or summit of the Pisgah; that is, the height (compare Numbers 23:14 , Deuteronomy 3:17-27 , 4:49 ). The general name given to the whole mountain range east of Jordan, was Abarim (compare Deuteronomy 32:49 ), and the peak to which Moses ascended was dedicated to the heathen Nebo, as Balaam's standing place had been consecrated to Peor. Some modern travellers have fixed on Jebel Attarus, a high mountain south of the Jabbok (Zurka), as the Nebo of this passage [BURCKHARDT, SEETZEN, &c.]. But it is situated too far north for a height which, being described as "over against Jericho," must be looked for above the last stage of the Jordan.
the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead--That pastoral region was discernible at the northern extremity of the mountain line on which he stood, till it ended, far beyond his sight in Dan. Westward, there were on the horizon, the distant hills of "all Naphtali." Coming nearer, was "the land of Ephraim and Manasseh." Immediately opposite was "all the land of Judah," a title at first restricted to the portion of this tribe, beyond which were "the utmost sea" (the Mediterranean) and the Desert of the "South." These were the four great marks of the future inheritance of his people, on which the narrative fixes our attention. Immediately below him was "the circle" of the plain of Jericho, with its oasis of palm trees; and far away on his left, the last inhabited spot before the great desert "Zoar." The foreground of the picture alone was clearly discernible. There was no miraculous power of vision imparted to Moses. That he should see all that is described is what any man could do, if he attained sufficient elevation. The atmosphere of the climate is so subtle and free from vapor that the sight is carried to a distance of which the beholder, who judges from the more dense air of Europe, can form no idea [VERE MONRO]. But between him and that "good land," the deep valley of the Jordan intervened; "he was not to go over thither."
5. Moses . . . died--After having governed the Israelites forty years.
6. he buried him--or, "he was buried in a valley," that is, a ravine or gorge of the Pisgah. Some think that he entered a cave and there died, being, according to an ancient tradition of Jews and Christians, buried by angels ( Jude 1:9 , Numbers 21:20 ).
no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day--This concealment seems to have been owing to a special and wise arrangement of Providence, to prevent its being ranked among "holy places," and made the resort of superstitious pilgrims or idolatrous veneration, in after ages.
9. Joshua . . . was full of the spirit of wisdom--He was appointed to a peculiar and extraordinary office. He was not the successor of Moses, for he was not a prophet or civil ruler, but the general or leader, called to head the people in the war of invasion and the subsequent allocation of the tribes.
10-12. there arose not a prophet since--In whatever light we view this extraordinary man, the eulogy pronounced in these inspired words will appear just. No Hebrew prophet or ruler equalled him in character or official dignity, or in knowledge of God's will and opportunities of announcing it.