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  • The Biblical Antiquities of Philo, Chapter 19Philo 19
Andries Hendrik Potgieter Andries Pretorius FW Reitz General Louis Botha Gideon Jacobus Scheepers Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey Johanna Brandt Johannes Cornelius Lötter Koos De La Rey Pres MT Steyn Sarel Cilliers Siener van Rensburg

Debat oor Christendom en Godsdiens

The Biblical Antiquities of Philo

Or the history of philo from the beginning of the world to king david

Chapter 19.

The farewell and death of Moses.

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1. At that time Moses slew the nations, and gave half of the spoils to the people, and he began to declare to them the words of the law which God spake to them in Oreb.

2. And he spake to them, saying: Lo, I sleep with my fathers, and shall go unto my people. But I know that ye will arise and forsake the words that were ordained unto you by me, and God will be wroth with you and forsake you and depart out of your land, and bring against you them that hate you, and they shall have dominion over you, but not unto the end, for he will remember the covenant which he made with your fathers.

Dt. 31:27, etc.

3. But then both ye and your sons and all your generations after you will arise and seek the day of my death and will say in their heart: Who will give us a shepherd like unto Moses, or such another judge to the children of Israel, to pray for our sins at all times,(1) and to be heard for our iniquities?

Asc. Mos. 11:9 sqq.
Dt. 4:26, etc.

4. (2)Howbeit, this day I call heaven and earth to witness against you, for the heaven shall hear this and the earth shall take it in with her ears, that God hath revealed the end of the world, that he might covenant with you upon his high places, and hath kindled an everlasting lamp among you. Remember, ye wicked, how that when I spake unto you, ye answered saying: All that God hath said unto us we will hear and do. But if we transgress or corrupt our ways, he shall call a witness against us and cut us off.

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5. But know ye that ye did eat the bread of angels 40 years. And now behold I do bless your tribes, before my end come. But ye, know ye my labour wherein I have laboured with you since the day ye came up out of the land of Egypt.

6. And when he had so said, God spake unto him the third time, saying: Behold, thou goest to sleep with thy fathers, and this people will arise and seek me, and will forget my law wherewith I have enlightened them, and I shall forsake their seed for a season.

Dt. 32:52, 34:4

7. But unto thee will I show the land before thou die, but thou shall not enter therein in this age, lest thou see the graven images whereby this people will be deceived and led out of the way. I will show thee the place wherein they shall serve me 740 (l. 850) years. And thereafter it shall be delivered into the hand of their enemies, and they shall destroy it, and strangers shall compass it about, and it shall be in that day as it was in the day when I brake the tables of the covenant which I made with thee in Oreb: and when they sinned, that which was written therein vanished away. Now that day was the 17th day of the 4th month.

8. And Moses went up into Mount Oreb, as God had bidden him, and prayed, saying: Behold, I have fulfilled the time of my life, even 120 years. And now I pray thee let thy mercy be with thy people and let thy compassion be continued upon thine heritage, Lord, and thy long-suffering in thy place upon the race of thy choosing, for thou hast loved them more than all.

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9. And thou knowest that I was a shepherd of sheep, and when I fed the flock in the desert, I brought them unto thy Mount Oreb, and then first saw I thine angel in fire out of the bush; but thou calledst me out of the bush, and I feared and turned away my face, and thou sentest me unto them, and didst deliver them out of Egypt, and their enemies thou didst sink in the water. And thou gavest them a law and judgements whereby they should live. For what man is he that hath not sinned against thee? How shall thine heritage be established except thou have mercy on them? Or who shall yet be born without sin? Yet wilt thou correct them for a season, but not in anger.

1 K. 8:45, etc.

10. Then the Lord shewed him the land and all that is therein and said: This is the land which I will give to my people. And he shewed him the place from whence the clouds draw up water to water all the earth, and the place whence the river receiveth his water, and the land of Egypt, and the place of the firmament, from whence the holy land only drinketh.(3) He shewed him also the place from whence it rained manna for the people, and even unto the paths of paradise. And he shewed him the measures of the sanctuary, and the number of the offerings, and the sign whereby men shall interpret (lit. begin to look; upon) the heaven, and said: These are the things which were forbidden to the sons of men because they sinned.

Dt. 34:1

11. And now, thy rod wherewith the

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signs were wrought shall be for a witness between me and my people. And when they sin I shall be wroth with them and remember my rod, and spare them according to my mercy, and thy rod shall be in my sight for a remembrance all the days,(4) and shall be like unto the bow wherein I made a covenant with Noe when he came out of the ark, saying: I will set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign between me and men that the water of a flood be no more upon the earth.

12. But thee will I take hence and give thee sleep(5) with thy fathers and give thee rest in thy slumber, and bury thee in peace, and all the angels shall lament for thee, and the hosts of heaven shall be sorrowful. But there shall not any, of angels or men, know thy sepulchre wherein thou art to be buried, but thou shalt rest therein until I visit the world, and raise thee up and thy fathers out of the earth [of Egypt](6) wherein ye shall sleep, and ye shall come together and dwell in an immortal habitation that is not subject unto time.

13. But this heaven shall be in my sight as a fleeting cloud, and like yesterday when it is past, and it shall be when I draw near to visit the world, I will command the years and charge the times, and they shall be shortened, and the stars shall be hastened, and the light of

the sun make speed to set, neither shall the light of the moon endure, because I will hasten to raise up you that sleep, that in the place of sanctification which I shewed thee, all they that can live may dwell therein.

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14. And Moses said: If I may ask yet one thing of thee, O Lord, according to the multitude of thy mercy, be not wroth with me. And shew me what measure of time hath passed by and what remaineth.

15. And the Lord said to him: An instant, the topmost part of a hand,(7) the fulness of a moment,(8) and the drop of a cup. And time hath fulfilled all. For 4½ have passed by, and 2½ remain.(9)

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Dt. 34:6

16. And Moses when he heard was filled with under standing, and his likeness was changed gloriously: and he died in glory according to the mouth of the Lord, and he buried him as he had promised him, and the angels lamented at his death, and lightnings and torches and arrows went before him with one accord. And on that day the hymn of the hosts was not said because of the departure of Moses. Neither was there any day like unto it since the Lord made man upon earth, neither shall there be any such for ever, that he should make the hymn of the angels to cease because of a man; for he loved him greatly; and he buried him with his own hands on an high place of the earth, and in the light of the whole world.


(1) 127:1 to pray for our sins at all times. cf. Assumption of Moses, 11:11, 11:17; 12:3.

(2) 127:2 DCCXL. years of the MSS. should, as Dr. Cohn suggests, be changed to DCCCL. From the death of Moses to the building of the first temple 440 years are reckoned, and from thence to its destruction 410. The Seder Olam Rabbah XI. reckons seventeen Jubilees (850 years) from the entrance into the Holy Land to the Captivity (Cohn, p. 327, note).

(3) 129:1 the place of the firmament from whence the holy land only drinketh. cf. Babylonian Talmud Taanith I (tr. Rodkinson, p. 24). "The land of Israel is watered by the Lord himself, while the rest of the world is watered by a messenger. . . The land of Israel is watered by rain, while the rest of the world is watered by the residue remaining in the clouds."

(4) 130:1 The rod of Moses is to be transported to heaven and to become a sign like the rainbow. Perhaps the Milky Way is meant. No such tradition is cited in Mr. I. Abrahams' interesting paper on "The Rod of Moses," in Papers read before the Jews' College Literary Society (1887, p. 28), nor in Daehnhardt's Natursagen, nor in other sources which I have consulted.

(5) 130:2 give thee sleep. Dormificabo R., which must be preferred, I think, to glorificabo of AP.

(6) 130:3 the earth [of Egypt]. The word Aegypti is certainly intrusive, written mechanically after excitabo te, etc., de terra.

(7) 131:1 Lit.: Here is honey, a great summit.

(8) 131:2 The corrupt words istic mel apex magnus I emend into stigma et apex manus, cf. 4 Esdr. 4:48-50; 6:9, 6:10. The fulness of a moment: momenti plenitudo. Perhaps this renders ρηοπήσ πλήρωμα, that which fills the scale of the balance and causes it to sink.

(9) 131:3 four and a half have passed and two and a half remain (cf. 4 Esdr. 14:11). The total, seven, agrees with that in the Vision of Kenaz (XXVI I 1. 8), "men shall dwell in the world VII. (i.e. 7000) years." The calculation in the present passage ought to mean that 4500 years are past and 2500 remain: but no other authority seems to place the death of Moses so late as AM. 4500. The Assumption of Moses puts it in 2500, the Hebrew in 2706, the LXX in 3859, Jubilees in 2450.

There is a certain plausibility in the following view: 4½ stands for 45, and 2½ for 25: the 45 and 25 consist of weeks of years. Then 45 = 3150, and 25 = 1750: total 4900, or 7 X 700, a good mystical number. Only it disagrees with the 7000 of XXVIII. 8. With that passage in view, I think we must take it that 4½ = 4500, and 2½ 2500, the unit being 100 years.

The Assumption of Moses (10:11) says that from the death of Moses "to the advent of Messiah there will be 250 times," which is superficially like 2½. The "times" here are commonly taken to mean weeks of years, making 1750. But if we could take each "time" to be ten years, then 250 p. 132 times would be 2500 years or fifty jubilees, and we should p. 132 only have to alter bis millesimus et quingentesimus (I:2) to quater (IIII.) millesimus, etc., to bring it into exact agreement with Philo! Perhaps this method of dealing with authorities may find more favour with others than it does with me.

I think it quite possible that the unexplained verse in Apoc. Bar. 28:2, "and the measure and reckoning of that time are two parts weeks (or two parts a week), of seven weeks" may contain the same calculation, the week being 1000 years, and "two parts a week" being corrupt for 2½ weeks. But if so we should have to assume that the writer of Apoc. Bar. had not allowed for the difference in date between Moses and Baruch--some 850 years. I do not think that such an inadvertence is quite out of the question.

Another possibility is that our author, in making his calculation, has in mind not so much the date of Moses, as that at which he is himself writing.

Taking the texts as they stand, the calculation, and the whole account of the death of Moses, show that Philo quite disregards the Assumption, though he may very likely have read it. When I came across the passage as a separate extract in a MS. and published it, in 1893, I spent much space in trying to prove that it was actually part of the Assumption. The view neither was nor deserved to be accepted.