*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Deuteronomy 34:1-3 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Deuteronomy 34:1
  • Deuteronomy 34:2
  • Deuteronomy 34:3

God shows Moses the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo.

The Suzerain God had commanded Moses to ascend Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). Now that he had finished all his addresses to the Israelites, Moses obeyed this command and went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. The summit called Mount Nebo (or Pisgah) is about 2700 feet in height and is approximately twenty miles east of Jericho and about ten miles east of the Jordan River (Deuteronomy 3:17). It is identified with modern Ras es-Siyaghah.

It was from this mountaintop that the Lord showed Moses all the land before his death (Deuteronomy 3:27). God began on the northern side of the Promised Land, starting with Gilead, the northern part of the territory located on the east side of the Jordan River. He went as far as Dan, the northernmost city in the territory of the tribe of Dan, north of the Sea of Galilee.

Then God showed Moses all Naphtali, which was on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh (the central territory of the northern kingdom of Israel). God also allowed Moses to view all the land of Judah, south of Ephraim and Manasseh and west of the Dead Sea. Judah’s territory extended to the west and southwest as far as the western sea (that is, the Mediterranean Sea), and the Negev desert region located south of Judah.

Finally, God showed Moses the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. The city called Jericho was often described as the city of palm trees for its abundance of palm trees (Judges 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15). The city was in the lower Jordan Valley, west of the Jordan River and about ten miles northwest of the Dead Sea. It was located very close to where the Israelites would cross the Jordan River when entering the Promised Land (see map on right in Additional Resources) .

The place called Zoar was in the southeast end of the Dead Sea. It was the small town in which Lot initially took refuge when the LORD was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:18-22). It is also known as Bela (Genesis 14:2). God was a personal guide to Moses of a visual tour of Israel.

Biblical Text

1Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 

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