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Bible Q

Why did the devil want to claim Moses’ soul?

I assume you are referring to Jude verse 9:

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

This verse in Jude, refers to the incident described in Zechariah 3.  The same phrase occurs there:

Jude verse 9 – the archangel says to the devil – “The LORD rebuke you!”


Zechariah 3: 2 – the angel speaking on the LORD’s behalf – “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan!”

The book of Zechariah is full of symbology – chapter 3 is no exception.  So what does this puzzling verse mean?

We have a sort of dramatized play acted out, based on real characters of the time, but with spiritual meaning.

  • Michael the archangel is the angel who had charge of the people of Israel – see Daniel 12:1

 At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people.

  • Joshua the high priest = Joshua/Jeshua the son of Jozadak/Jehozadak the high priest. (Ezra 5:2; Haggai 1:1 & 12; Haggai 2:4)
  • The body of Moses = the people of Israel (1 Cor. 10:2), much like the body of Christ = those baptised into Christ – see Ephesians 4:11-12:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ

  • Satan (means adversary) = the enemies of the Jews intent on stopping the building of the temple Ezra 4:1-6:

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel,  they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.”  (3)  But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”  (4)  Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build  (5)  and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.  (6)  And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

The Jews did resume building the temple under Zerubbabel and Joshua, and when the  opponents of the Jews complained to the king about this, received the following reply from the king – Ezra 6:6-12:

Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away.  (7)  Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site.  (8)  Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River.  (9)  And whatever is needed–bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require–let that be given to them day by day without fail,  (10)  that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.  (11)  Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill.  (12)  May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”

So God did cause the enemies of the Jews to be rebuked by the the hand of Darius the king.

The point Jude is making in reference to this passage in Zechariah 3, is how wrong it is to speak evil of things not understood, using the adversaries of God’s people as an example of how not to act and the response of the angel as an example of how we should act.


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