Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
deu 34:1And Moses went up - When he knew the place of his death he chearfully mounted a steep hill to come to it. Those who are well acquainted with another world, are not afraid to leave this. When God's servants are sent for out of the world, the summons runs go up and die! Unto Dan - To that city which after Moses's death was called so.
deu 34:2All Naphtali - The land of Naphtali, which together with Dan, was in the north of Canaan, as Ephraim and Manasseh were in the midland parts, and Judah on the south, and the sea, on the west. So these parts lying in the several quarters are put for all the rest. He stood in the east and saw also Gilead, which was in the eastern part of the land, and thence he saw the north and south and west. The utmost sea - The midland sea, which was the utmost bound of the land of promise on the west.
deu 34:3The south - The south quarter of the land of Judah, which is towards the salt sea, the city of palm - trees - Jericho, so called from the multitude of palm - trees, which were in those parts, as Josephus and Strabo write. From whence and the balm there growing it was called Jericho, which signifies, odoriferous or sweet smelling.
deu 34:4I have caused thee to see it - For tho' his sight was good, yet he could not have seen all Canaan, an hundred and sixty miles in length, and fifty or sixty in breadth, if his sight had not been miraculously assisted and enlarged. He saw it at a distance. Such a sight the Old Testament believers had of the kingdom of the Messiah. And such a sight believers have now of the glory that shall he revealed. Such a sight have we now, of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, which shall cover the earth. Those that come after us shall undoubtedly enter into that promised land: which is a comfort to us, when we find our own carcases falling in this wilderness.
deu 34:5So Moses the servant of the Lord died - He is called the servant of the Lord, not only as a good man, (all such are his servants) but as a man eminently useful, who had served God's counsels in bringing Israel out of Egypt, and leading them thro' the wilderness. And it was more his honour, to be the servant of the Lord, than to be king in Jeshurun. Yet he dies. Neither his piety nor his usefulness would exempt him from the stroke of death. God's servants must die, that they may rest from their labours, receive their recompense, and make room for others. But when they go hence, they go to serve him better, to serve him day and night in his temple. The Jews say, God sucked his soul out of his body with a kiss. No doubt he died in the embraces of his love.
deu 34:6He - The Lord, buried him either immediately, or by the ministry of angels, whereof Michael was the chief or prince. Of his sepulchre - Of the particular place where he was buried: which God hid from the Israelites, to prevent their superstition and idolatry, to which he knew their great proneness. And for this very reason the devil endeavoured to have it known and contended with Michael about it, Jde 1:9. God takes care even of the dead bodies of his servants. As their death is precious, so is their dust. Not one grain of it shall be lost, but the covenant with it shall be remembered.
deu 34:7His eye was not dim - By a miraculous work of God in mercy to his church and people.
deu 34:8Thirty day's - Which was the usual time of mourning for persons of high place and eminency. 'Tis a debt owing to the surviving honour of deceased worthies, to follow them with our tears, as those who loved and valued them, are sensible of the loss, and humbled for the sins which have provoked God to deprive us of them.
deu 34:9Wisdom - And other gifts and graces too, but wisdom is mentioned as being most necessary for the government to which he was now called. Upon him - And this was the thing which Moses at that time asked of God for him.
deu 34:10Whom the Lord - Whom God did so freely and familiarly converse with.
deu 34:12Moses was greater than any other of the prophets of the Old Testament. By Moses God gave the law, and moulded and formed the Jewish church. By the other prophets he only sent particular reproofs, directions and predictions. But as far as the other prophets came short of him, our Lord Jesus went beyond him. Moses was faithful as a servant, but Christ as a son: his miracles more illustrious, his communion with the father more intimate: for he is in his bosom from eternity. Moses lies buried: but Christ is sitting at the right - hand of God, and of the increase of his government there shall be no end.