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7 Observations About Moses That Raise More Questions Than They Answer

The Bible tells us a lot about the life of Moses. In fact, the Bible contains stories from throughout the life of this remarkable man, beginning with his birth all the way through his death on Mt. Sinai—and even beyond!

Nevertheless, many of the things we know about Moses raise unanswered questions. Here are seven intriguing questions prompted by the life of Moses:

1. Was Moses raised in the household of King Tut’s grandfather?

The Bible doesn’t tell us the name of the Pharaohs in power when Moses was being raised in the palace, or when he returned years later to lead the Israelites to freedom.

Scripture can be used, however, to pinpoint the year—1446 BC—in which the Exodus is likely to have occurred. Based on that date, many scholars believe that the Pharaoh of the Exodus may have been Amenhotep II, the grandfather of King Tut.

2. What’s up with all the lame excuses?

God revealed himself to Moses in a flaming bush that did not burn, giving him instructions to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.

But not even hearing the voice of God coming from a supernatural burning bush was enough to get Moses psyched up about the assignment. He pushed back with five weak excuses as to why he wasn’t the man for the job:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Exodus 3:11).

“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13).

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” (Exodus 4:4).

“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

“Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13).

God answered each of these objections in great detail, using logic as well as signs and miracles. Of course, Moses went on to do what God was instructing him to do, leading the Israelites out of bondage and, in the process, playing a role in some of the most dramatic stories of the Bible, including the parting of the Red Sea and receiving the Ten Commandments.

But Moses’ conversation with God in Exodus 3 and 4 provides fascinating dialogue, and is just one of the many indications that Moses had a truly unique and intimate relationship with God.

3. How did God and Moses get to be so close? And aren’t you curious about that feast?

The Bible tells us that the Lord knew Moses “face to face” (Deut. 34:10). And in Exodus we learn that “the Lord would speak to Moses, face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). God also said of Moses, “I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (Exodus 33:17).

We’re also told that Moses saw God. At least from behind. In Exodus 33:18-23 when Moses asks God to show him His glory, God answers, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” And then He allows Moses to see his back, but not his face.

What a unique relationship they had!

Moses saw God another time, too. This time he wasn’t alone: “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:9-11).

They saw God, and they ate and drank. Wow. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been at that meal?

4. How did Moses die, then?

Moses seems to have died while he was still a vibrant man of, well, 120 years old. The point is, regardless of his age, the Bible indicates that he was in good health.

“Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone” (Deuteronomy 34:7).

And this is the just the first of several mysteries related to his death (and they get stranger as we go along!)

5. Why is there so much mystery surrounding his burial?

As if dying vibrant at 120 isn’t interesting enough, guess who buried Moses: God himself did the job. And while we know the location of the graves of many of the patriarchs, not so with Moses.

“And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is” (Deuteronomy 34:5-6).

6. Why did the archangel Michael fight with the devil over Moses’ body?

And here’s a real head-scratcher.

Moses’ death gives us a glimpse into a fascinating dispute between two celestial beings. The Bible tells us that the archangel Michael confronted the devil himself over the body of Moses.

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 1:9).

This isn’t the only time Scripture reveals that the archangel Michael won confrontations with demons. Another passage that gives us an equally intriguing glimpse into the life (and battles) of angels is Daniel 10:13 where the angel Gabriel tells Daniel that he was resisted by a demon called the Prince of Persia until the angel Michael came to help him.

7. Why was Moses present with Elijah at the transfiguration of Jesus?

The Transfiguration was the capstone of Jesus’ life before the cross, after which there should have been no doubt among his disciples that he was, indeed, who he claimed to be. After taking  Peter, John, and James up onto a mountain to pray, Jesus’ glory is revealed as his face changes and even his clothing becomes as bright as lightning.

And at that moment . . .

“Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31).

Clearly, there is much we have yet to understand about this prophet who is like no other, for, according to Deuteronomy 34:12, “…no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

So what do you think? Did you learn anything new? What do you think about the unique nature of Moses’ close relationship with God? Why might Moses have been allowed to accompany Elijah to talk with Jesus at His transfiguration? What do you think the dispute over Moses’ body was all about?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Karen Scalf Bouchard