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The tale of Joshua succeeding Moses is found in Deuteronomy 31, 32, and 34. Moses encountered multiple conflicts with God while leading the Israelites out of Egypt, preventing him from traveling to the Promised Land. He shattered the Torah tablets, and God compelled him bend them again, which was one of their differences. He was also becoming older and his passing was imminent. As a result, he needed a successor to guide Israel's descendants into the Promised Land. He gathered the Israelites and told them that due to his advanced age, he could not continue with the journey anymore and that the Lord told him he would not enter Canaan (Due 31:2). He, therefore, gave his last word of encouragement to the Israelites and assured them of God’s love for them (Due 31:5). Thereafter, he summoned Joshua before all the people and handed over all the responsibilities to him (Due 31:7). He told him that God had chosen him and would always be with him (Due 31:8).
Before his death, he wrote down the all the laws which the Lord had instructed him to give the Israelites, gave the Levite priests who took them to the elders. He instructed them to ensure that they read them during every feast so that they stick in the minds of the children of Israel (Due 31: 13). Just before Moses died, the Lord instructed him to summon Joshua so that he would instruct him (Due 31:14). Also, the Lord predicted the rebellion of the Israelites against him (Due 31: 16).
After giving out the laws, Moses sang a song unto Joshua and all the Israelites and urged the Israelites to heed on these words for the rest of their lives (Due 32:44). In his song, he lamented on how the children of Israel had rebelled against God and disappointed him severally. However, he explains that God never lost interest in the Israelites but continued to love them unconditionally. Despite the several disasters which God sent upon the Israelites, he did not deny them the opportunity to see the Promised Land. Moses however, grieves of how he was not going to see the land in person, but take a glance at it from afar (Due 32: 52).
The last chapter of the book of Deuteronomy narrates the death of Moses (Due 34). God guided him up to his place of death where he wanted him to get a glimpse of the Promised Land. God showed him Canaan from afar and how it was to be distributed among the tribes of Israelites (Due 34:1). The Lord told him that this land was similar to the kingdom of heaven (Due 34:4). After all this, Moses died peacefully, having served the children of Israel and God. Despite the ups and downs Moses had with God, he died full of God’s love (Due 34:5). The Lord himself, with the assistance of angels, buried Moses and made a sculpture of Moses on his grave (Due 34:6). However, he hid the sculpture to avoid the Israelites turning it into an idol and worship it (Due 34:6). This signified the willingness of God to take care of his servants even upon death (Due 34:6). After his death, the Israelites mourned for a whole thirty days, which was a custom when an important person had passed on (Due 34:8). God then bestowed wisdom and grace, among other gifts, on Joshua, who was the successor of Moses, so that he would be able to guide the Israelites accordingly (Due 34:9). Of all the prophets in the history of Israel, Moses was the greatest and came to be described as God’s best friend (Due 34:12). Also, his greatness was marked by the fact that he was the one who handed down laws unto the Israelites.
Berlin, Adele, et al. The Jewish study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh translation. New York, Oxford University Press, 2004.
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