Why were they arguing of Moses' body?


Jude 1:9 Not even the archangel Michael, when he was engaged in argument with the devil about the corpse of Moses, dared to denounce him in the language of abuse; all he said was, ‘May the Lord rebuke you.’

Does anybody know the story or reasoning behind this?



Would have to read Assumption of moses.it is a pseudepigraphal so it is no biggie.


we aren’t told Scripturally.

That Moses was bodily assumed is a huge reach. More likely, the Devil wanted to set up some kind of idolatrous use of the body, and the Archangel prevented that.

But ultimately, God did not want this known.



Interesting point.

I will add that Moses appeared in 3 of the Gospels during Christ’s Transfiguration. We are not told whether it was actually his real body or a spiritual, though I believe most Trinitarian churches believe actual presence occurred.




There are stories which describe something similar to this allusion in Jude, but they are all later Christian sources (although it is possible that they preserve older Jewish traditions). In one common version of the story, the devil argued that Moses was a murderer (remember he once killed the Egyptian and buried the body in the sand) and so does not deserve to have an honorable burial. In another version, the devil wanted Moses’ body brought down to the Israelites so that they would worship him as a god. In yet another version, the devil claimed that the body was his since he was the “master of matter” - and so, therefore, all bodies belong to him. All versions end with Michael rebuking the devil, the devil leaving, and Michael burying Moses himself (which thereby explains why nobody knows where Moses was buried).

This allusion in Jude is a combination of some version of that story plus Zechariah 3:1-2, where you also have another argument:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 9. When Michael, &c. We do not find this in any other canonical Scripture, so that St. Jude must either have had it from some tradition among the Jews, or from some writing which he, by the Spirit of God, knew to be true. It is not expressed on what account this dispute or strife was, betwixt St. Michael and the devil, about the body of Moses. The common interpretation is, that St. Michael conveyed the body of Moses out of the way, and from the knowledge of the Israelites, lest they should pay to it some idolatrous worship; whereas the devil, for that end, would have it buried, so that the people might know the place and adore it. See Deuteronomy xxxiv. 6. where it is said, “and no man hath known of his sepulchre until this present day.” (Witham) — Contended about the body, &c. This contention, which is no where else mentioned in holy writ, was originally known by revelation, and transmitted by tradition. It is thought the occasion of it was, that the devil would have had the body buried in such a place and manner, as to be worshipped by the Jews with divine honours. — Command thee, or, rebuke thee. (Challoner)


Jude 1:9 Yet the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not venture to pronounce a reviling judgment* upon him but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!”

This is how I see it:

Moses is a typology of Christ. The body of Moses should not take a literal interpretation, but a more symbolic approach. The same way the body of Christ is the New Israel or the Church; the body of Moses is the Old Israel i.e., Joshua and the Israelites.

Satan may have lain accusations against Israel’s faithfulness. During the forty years in the wilderness, Israel had repeatedly offended God e.g., Golden Calf, grumbling against the lack of food and water. Thus, argument ensued between Archangel Michael and the Devil over the body.

“May the Lord rebuke you!” is a reminder that God is the Judge. Jude makes a comparison between the old and the new. If God had forgiven Israel for their trespass giving them the inheritance of the Promise Land, how much more mercy overflows after the Cross. Jesus purchased us with His Blood. Those who are victorious will inherit the promise of eternal life in Heaven. Jude also exhorts us to preach even to sinners to believe in God’s Mercy, fear God’s judgment, repent, and hate sins, “Save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh. v23


Chapter 12 of the Apocalypse might shed some light on the battle between Satan and St. Michael.

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” (Apo 12:7-8)

Verse 9 says that the dragon is Satan and verse 10 says what he did in heaven: he “accused them before our God day and night.”

This tells me that Satan is accusing members of the Church Triumphant for things that he thinks should have kept them out of heaven, and St. Michael is like a defense attorney for them. We see visible signs here on earth that this spiritual battle may in fact be taking place. Whenever we are falsely accused of idolatry (for saying the rosary) or blasphemy (for going to mass) or fraud (for baptizing infants), it is not just us who are being accused, but members of the Church Triumphant, because those are things that the Church has been practicing for hundreds of years.


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