Who was the prophet who died on his birthday?

Posted by on Sep 25, 2019

Question: Who was the prophet who died on his birthday?

Answer: Mosheh (Moses).

Mosheh spoke these words to all Israel,

I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. And Yehovah has said to me, ‘You do not pass over this Yarden’. (Deu 31:2)

The expression “I am one-hundred and twenty years old today” means “on this very day is the exact day that my life has become complete. Flavius Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 4:8:49 affirms the same, “Now Moses lived in all one hundred and twenty years; a third part of which time, abating one month, he was the people’s ruler; and he died on the last month of the year, which is called by the Macedonians Dystrus, but by us Adar, on the first day of the month.”

As Mosheh was 120 years old, one may say that he was so old that his strength had left him and he could no more go out and in. The Torah, however, states regarding Mosheh’s health, “And Mosheh was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his freshness gone.” (Deu 34:7). This teaches us that his strength and good eye vision were present on the day of his death.

So, what then is the meaning of “I am no longer able to go out and come in”?

What it means is that he was no longer permitted to work for the nation, because his authority was given to Yehoshua (Joshua). We see the same expression in Num 27:17 referring to Yehoshua, “Let YHVH, the Elohim of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who goes out before them and comes in before them, who leads them out and brings them in, so that the congregation of YHVH be not like sheep without a shepherd” (Num 27:16-17).

And Mosheh went up from the desert plains of Mo’av to Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Yericho. And YHVH showed him all the land which He swore to his fathers (Deu 34:1). And Mosheh died there on his 120th birthday, the first of the twelfth month, having lived 120 years.

In summary, Mosheh lived 120 years and died on the first of the twelfth month. The people wept for him thirty days (Deu 34:8) until the end of the twelfth month, and then entered the land on the first day of the first month of the following year.

Now, what is also interesting is that when the 215-year sojourn of the children of Israel in Egypt had come to end, YHVH commissioned Mosheh at Mount Moriah to return to Egypt and lead the people to the Promised Land. As Mosheh returned to Egypt, he and Aharon went to Pharaoh (Exo 5:1-10).

On that day, we are told, Mosheh was eighty years old and Aharon eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh (Exo 7:7). Therefore, that day, when he first met Pharaoh, was his 80th birthday.