The Old Testament: Deuteronomy IV – Reflecting on the Death of Moses

A typical action movie stereotype involves the hard-nosed character (usually a man) who was a reluctant recruit to a particular journey/quest.  Said character has to be roped into joining what he considered to be a hopeless, pointless, usually-suicidal quest.  He’ll pass, thank you.  But we need you, they plead. So he tags along, eventually leads the way, proves pivotal to their survival, until they are about to reach their goal (or escape) and he gets wounded.  He can’t continue; he’ll never make it. But he can stay behind to protect anything coming the group’s way one last time.  Their last scene shows them watching the group leave without him.

Moses is this character (as seen from Exodus through Numbers), and in Deuteronomy he gets his final scene, watching from a mountaintop as the tribes of Israel enter the Promised Land (from which, because of them he was not allowed to enter).

It’s hard to feel good about seeing his sorrow at having endured so much with the Israelites (and on their behalf) and be deprived of entering the Promised Land. It’s also appreciated that he reminds the tribes (over and over in Deuteronomy) that they are the reason he has been punished in this way. They don’t even seem apologetic.

Though in some ways, this is a fitting close to this section of the Bible—this is not happy ending, just a pause until things (presumably) go wrong again for the Israelites—we’re giving more hints that they will drop the ball than a poorly written horror film uses the soundtrack to tell you someone is about to die.

What’s the old expression, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it? The pattern established by the Bible thus far suggests that things will go wrong, and quickly.

Next up: Joshua.  I can’t wait to see how much fun he has taking over for Moses. New, inexperienced leader in charge of a mass of people finally settled in a new land? I can’t imagine what would go wrong.

About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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