The Bible does not tell us precisely why Michael, the archangel, and the devil disputed over the body of Moses. But, we can offer some theories. Perhaps the main reason is that people tend to turn special objects and people into idols. Since Moses had done great things, been the very presence of God, parted the Red Sea, delivered the people from bondage out of Egypt, etc., it would make sense that people might want to build an altar to him where his body would reside. This could easily become idolatrous.
Jude 9, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Deut. 34:6, “And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.”
An example of idolatry is found regarding the bronze serpent lifted up in the wilderness. It became an idol.
2 Kings 18:4, “He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.”
Since one of the works of the evil one is to promote false worship, and since Moses undoubtedly was highly revered for his connection with God, we can see how easily his body could have been made into either an object of worship or a location of worship with the body would be central. This would be false worship.
Powers attributed to his body
A related event occurred when a man’s body was cast at the grave of Elisha, and when he came in contact with his bones, the dead man was revived.
2 Kings 13:20–21, “Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood up on his feet.”
Since there were powers attributed to Elisha’s body, could it be that some might expect the same thing with the body of Moses? Of course, Elisha lived well after Moses died. But the principle is there, and it would bolster the idea that an idolatrous cult could have started around the body of Moses.
Desecration of Moses’ body
Another possibility is that the devil might have wanted to desecrate the body of Moses. I do not know how that might be done or to what extent. But I offered it as a logical possibility since the devil is a being of hatred. Perhaps this was a possibility, and God did not want Moses’ body desecrated.
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