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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE DEATH OF MOSES

WHEN the forty years of wandering which God had foretold had almost come to an end, so that there were only thirty days left, Moses felt that it was time for him to die. [85] And he appointed Joshua to be his successor, both as the leader of the armies of the Israelites and as a prophet to receive the messages of the Lord, for God had signified to him that this was the man of His choice. Then Moses called together the multitude of the Israelites, and he spoke many words of wisdom to them, and gave them laws for their government. And when he had spoken he read them a song he had composed, which contained predictions of what was to come to pass afterwards. And all things happened as Moses predicted, so that this song proved a testimony to all generations of the truth of the words of Moses. He delivered all the books which he had written, and which are the first five books of the Bible, to the priests, and he gave them also the ark, in which were placed the ten commandments written on tablets of stone. He told the priests to take care of the tabernacle. And he exhorted the Israelites that when they had conquered the land of Canaan they should destroy all the people and overturn their idols. And they should not forget the injuries of the Amalekites, but should make war against them and inflict punishment upon them for what they had done to them when they were in distress in the wilderness. And Moses pronounced blessings upon those who were diligent in the worship of God in the observance of the laws, and who did not reject what Moses had said to them, but he uttered curses upon those who should transgress the laws. He wrote down these blessings and these curses, that they might never be forgotten, and he also inscribed them on each side of the altar.

Again, on the next day, he called the people together, all the men and the women and the children, and even the slaves, that they might all solemnly swear to observe the laws which he had given them and to take vengeance on all who [86] disobeyed them. And the multitude bound themselves by a solemn oath. And Moses warned them that if they broke this oath God had declared to him that they should experience great misfortunes.

"Your lands," he said, "shall be overrun by your enemies, and your cities and your temples overthrown, and you shall be sold as slaves to hard masters, and you will repent when repentance will be too late."

Having said these words, Moses further informed the multitude that the time had come when he must leave them, for this was the day appointed for his death. He bade them farewell, and blessed them again, and commended them to God. And the multitude fell into tears,—even the women and the children lamented and beat their breasts,—and though Moses knew that he ought not to be cast down at the approach of death, yet what the people did so overcame him that he wept himself. Now as he went thence to the place where he was to vanish from their sight, they all followed after him weeping. But Moses beckoned with his hand to those that were afar off, and bade them stay behind in quiet, while he spoke to those that were near him and exhorted them not to make his departure so sorrowful. So they restrained their tears, or sobbed only in silence, and let him depart as he desired. Only the rulers of the tribes, with Eleazar and Joshua, followed him. But when he had come to the mountain called Abarim, or Nebo, which is near the city of Jericho, and affords to such as are upon it a view of the greater part of the land of Canaan, he dismissed the rulers. And as he was going to embrace Eleazar and Joshua, and was still discoursing with them, a cloud stood over him on a sudden, and he disappeared.

Moses was one hundred and twenty years old at the time of his death, and he had ruled over the Israelites for forty years. The people mourned for him thirty days. Nor did ever any grief so deeply affect them as did this upon the death of Moses.


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