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The Death of Moses

The Holy One said to Gabriel : ' O Gabriel, Go, and bring Me the soul of Moses.' But he replied : ' Lord of the universe, how can I look upon the death of him who is equal to the sixty myriads of Israel ? How can I cause anguish to such a man?' God then said to Michael: Go, and bring Me the soul of Moses. He replied : ' Lord of the universe, I was his teacher, and he was my pupil; I cannot look upon his death. Whereupon God said to Sammael the wicked : Go, and bring Me the soul of Moses. He immediately clothed himself with wrath, girded on his sword, wrapped himself in cruelty, and went to meet Moses. When Sammael perceived that Moses was sitting and writing the In- effable Name, that the radiance of his countenance was like the sun's, and that he resembled an angel of the Lord of hosts, he was afraid of him, and said: ' It is certain that the angels are not able to take the soul of Moses.

Before Sammael appeared, Moses knew that Sam- mael was coming. As soon as Sammael saw Moses, trembling and pain, as of a woman in travail, took hold of him. Sammael could not open his mouth, until Moses said to him : ' There is no peace, saith the Lord concerning the wicked ! (Isiah 48:22) What art thou doing here ? ' He replied : ' I came to take thy soul.' ' Who sent thee ? ' asked Moses. He that created all creatures,' answered Sammael. Thou shalt not take my soul,' said Moses. ' The souls of all that enter this world are delivered into my hands,' said Sammael. ' I am stronger than all who enter this world,' asserted Moses. Wherein lies thy strength ? ' asked Sammael. I am Amram's son, who came forth circumcised from my mother's womb, so that there was no need to circumcise me. On the very day of my birth I was able to talk; I walked about, and spoke to my father and mother; I did not even drink milk. When I was three months old, I prophesied and said that I was destined to receive the Torah from the midst of flames of fire. While walking about in the streets, I entered the king's palace, and took off his crown from his head.

When eighty years old I did signs and wonders in Egypt, and brought forth the sixty myriads of Israel in the sight of all the Egyptians; I divided the sea into twelve parts, and made the waters of Marah sweet. I ascended to heaven, where I walked about, and took part in the controversy of the angels; I received the Torah of fire, dwelt under the throne of fire, took shelter under a pillar of fire, and spoke face to face with God. I conquered the dwellers of heaven, and revealed their secrets to the sons of men. I received the Torah from the right hand of God, blessed be He, and taught it to Israel. I waged war against Sihon and Og, the two mightiest men of the Gentiles, who were so tall that during the flood the waters reached not their ankles. I made the sun and moon stand still in the height of the universe, and smote these mighty men with the staff that was in my hand, and slew them. Who is there among them that enter this world who can do all this? Get thee hence, O wicked one; thou must not stand here; go, and flee from me. I will not give thee my soul.'

Sammael forthwith returned, and brought word back to God. But the Holy One said to Sammael: ' Go, and bring the soul of Moses.' He immediately drew his sword from its sheath, and stood near Moses. Whereupon Moses grew wroth, seized in his hand the staff, upon which was engraved the Ineffable Name, and fell upon him with the Ineffable Name, and taking a ray of splendor from between his eyes, he blinded Sammael's eyes. Thus far Moses prevailed.

At the last moment a heavenly voice came forth, and said : The hour of thy death has come.' Moses then said to the Holy One, blessed be He : ' O Lord of the universe, remember the day on which Thou didst reveal Thyself unto me in the bush, and didst say unto me : " Come, and I will send thee unto Pharoah, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt." Remember the time when I stood upon mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights. I implore Thee, deliver me not unto the hand of the angel of death.' Whereupon a heavenly voice came forth,, and said unto him: Fear not ! I Myself shall take charge of thee and of thy burial.'

At that moment Moses arose, and sanctified himself, as do the Seraphim. The Holy One came down from the highest heaven of heavens to take the soul of Moses, and with Him were three ministering angels, Michael, Gabriel, and Zagzagel. Michael arranged Moses' bed, and Gabriel spread a garment of fine linen at his head; Zagzagel was at his feet. Michael stood at one side, and Gabriel at the other. The Holy One then said to Moses : Moses, close thine eye- lids, one upon the other; place thy hands upon thy breast; place thy feet one upon the other.' Moses did as he was commanded. At that moment the Holy One summoned the soul from Moses' body, and said unto her : My daughter, one hundred and twenty years have I appointed for thee to be in Moses' body; the time to depart has now arrived. Come thou forth, tarry not.' The soul said unto Him : ' Lord of the universe, I know that Thou art the God of all spirits, and that all the souls, the souls of the living and of the dead, are delivered into Thy hands, and that Thou didst create and fashion me, and put me into Moses' body for one hundred and twenty years. Now is there in the world a body purer than that of Moses, upon which there never was any pollution, nor worm and maggot ? Therefore I love it, and desire not to de- part from it.'

But the Holy One said : O soul, come forth, tarry not. I shall bring thee up to the highest heaven of heavens, and cause thee to dwell under My Throne of Glory near the Cherubim, Seraphim, and hosts of other angels.' The soul then said : O Lord of the universe, when from Thy Shekinah in heaven there came down two angels, Uzzah and Azzael, they coveted the daughters of the earth, and corrupted their way upon the earth, so that Thou didst suspend them be- tween heaven and earth. But the son of Amram has not come in unto his wife from the day Thou didst reveal Thyself unto him in the bush, as it is written : " And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman." I implore Thee, let me remain in Moses' body.'

At that moment the Holy One kissed him, and took away his soul with a kiss. God wept, and cried, as it were: 'Who will rise up for Me against the evil-doers? who will stand up for Me against the workers of iniquity ? ' " The Holy Spirit said : And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses. " The heavens wept, and said : ' And the upright among men is no more.' " When Joshua sought his master and found him not, he wept, and said : ' Help, O Lord, for the godly man hath ceased; for faithfulness hath failed from the children of men. The ministering angels said : He executed the righteousness of the Lord. " Israel said : And His ordinances with Israel. " All of them together said : He entereth into peace, they rest in their beds, each one that walketh in his uprightness.

The memory of the righteous is blessed, and his soul shall be in the life of the world to come.