Where Was Moses Again?

The answer to the question where Moses was when he died (see the post “Where was Moses?” October 4, 2009), seems to lie in a mixture of traditions that crept into the Biblical account.

In Deuteronomy 3, as the children of Israel are on the verge of entering Canaan, Moses leaves them and goes up to the mountains east of the river Jordan. There the Lord gives him a glimpse of the Promised Land before he dies. The mountains are named, the land is naturally irrigated and it contains a “sea.” None of these have been identified near Canaan, but, as the previous post shows, they are all names and features that can be found in Kashmir, India. Even the tomb of Moses that cannot be found in Deuteronomy is clearly identified in Kashmir.

With Joshua now leading the children of Israel at the end of their long wanderings over the river Jordan into Canaan, it defies common sense that at about the same time Moses is climbing the slopes of Mount Nebu in Kashmir to get his glimpse of their destination.

What appears to have happened is that a story from one oral history has become inserted in another when the Hebrew bible was first written down. Scholars tend to agree that the writing down mostly took place during the years of exile in Babylon.

After the death of King Solomon in 931 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel split into the northern kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Israel (based in Samaria), and the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah (based in Jerusalem). The northern kingdom lasted until 722 BCE when Assyria started destroying the kingdom. By 720 BCE, the population was exiled and the kingdom was no more. These Israelites, now known to us as the ten lost tribes, never returned. They were most likely assimilated as the Pashtuns into the areas of Afghanistan and eastern Pakistan, as well as into northern India, notably Kashmir.

The Kingdom of Judah suffered a similar fate around 586 BCE, when the Jews were exiled by the Babylonians. These Jews were allowed to return in 539 BCE when the Persians conquered the Babylonians. They were permitted to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and they brought with them the written version of their heritage, the Torah.

In the Torah is that passage in Deuteronomy about Moses seeing the Promised Land, but it comes from the tradition of the northern tribes in exile, and this is why there is a discrepancy with the rest of the narrative.