Devarim Thirty-Four: The End of an Era

We’ve made it to the final chapter of the Torah. The five books of Moses end, fittingly, with the death of Moses. “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, top of the summit facing Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the Land: The Gilead until Dan (Deuteronomy 34:1).” Moses takes in all of the land, the land that Abraham was instructed to walk and that God promised to the Israelites. He looks at all of it, at the closest thing to the reality of the dream that he has been working towards for most of his life. And then, in the presence of the land, he dies. “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 34:5).” Moses has died, and God Himself buries him, so that no human being knows the exact location of the burial. Although Moses was old when he died, having reached the age of 120, we are told that his eyes hadn’t dimmed and he was still vibrant. What does that tell us? If Moses hadn’t made a mistake, could it not have been his time? Did he only die now because of the punishment, and not because he needed to?

“And the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days, and the days of weeping over the mourning for Moses came to an end (Deuteronomy 34:8).” Joshua takes over the leadership of the people, and prepares to move them into the next stage of their journey. However, neither he nor any future prophet would ever compare to Moses. “And there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, as manifested by all the signs and wonders, which the Lord had sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and all his servants, and to all his land, and all the strong hand, and all the great awe, which Moses performed before the eyes of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).” None were like Moses, and no one else could have done what he did. The people have to move on without their great leader, and to enter the land, figuring out what it means to be conquerers and sovereigns for the first time.

With that, the Torah ends. I can’t believe that I’ve officially read every chapter on its own, not glossing over the ones that I might have thought of as boring, but paying attention and reflecting every day. I’ve obviously found something to say about each one, even when I never thought I would, and I’m so happy that Project 929 has given me that opportunity. I’m eager to continue with the project, and to move into the stories of the Prophets. There’s so much more to read and learn and understand, and I’m so glad that this project encompasses all of Tanakh, not just Torah, because I wouldn’t be ready to end at this point.

The Torah is five books, and 187 chapters. Now, there are 742 chapters to go in this project, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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