Who wrote the closing verses of Deuteronomy?


Some Bible commentators have suggested that Moses wrote the closing verses of the book of Deuteronomy before his death, but others believe that Joshua or some other author wrote it later, as a postscript to the Pentateuch (the first five book of the Bible). Each opinion is in line with the way in which inspiration has worked.

However, specific terms in vs. 6–12 indicate that Joshua was the one that wrote it:

1.The phrase “no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (v. 6) reflects consideration from those who survived Moses, concerning the place of burial. There is more reason to believe that this verse was written by another person after his death, by inspiration, for sure, than that it was recorded by Moses himself before that event.

2.The words of v. 9, showing the authority of Joshua and his capability as a leader, seem to be more a simple historical version of the change in leadership, than a prophecy concerning it. In Moses’ description of the future events of the twelve tribes (ch. 33), he wrote in obviously prophetic words (vs. 10, 12, 19, etc.); here, the language is that of a plain historical record.

3.The phrase, “There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses” (v. 10), seem more fitting as a tribute by Joshua or some other individual than by Moses himself.

The Pauline authorship of the book of Romans is undisputed, yet the writer who wrote for Paul felt at liberty to add a salutation of his own, to some people he knew at Rome (Rom. 16:22–24). The existence of this postscript don’t alter the fact that the book is the work of Paul rather than of “Tertius, who wrote this epistle” (v. 22), nor does it in any way change the value of its inspiration. God’s inspiring Spirit could direct Tertius as well as He could direct Paul.

In the same way, God’s Spirit might simply have directed Joshua in recording the last verses of Deuteronomy as He had Moses in recording the previous part of the book, or as He later directed Joshua in recording the book that bears his name.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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