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“The Destiny of All Men”

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Chapter Summary

The death of Moses, for the Jewish medieval exegete, was a key textual location to struggle with the question of theodicy or of justifying God's seemingly unjust actions. This chapter shows that Jewish medieval Bible commentaries present two alternative solutions to this problem. One solution, favored by Rashi and his school, presents Moses as in fact a sinner and therefore worthy of death. If Moses sinned, then God did not act unjustly in requiring him to die. The other possibility, favored by Spanish exegetes such as Nahmanides and Abravanel, is that Moses did not deserve to die and that therefore there was some injustice in his death. The chapter shows that these two alternatives in the medieval exegetical literature develop out of tensions that already exist in the biblical text and are highlighted by the midrashic literature.

Keywords: Bible; Isaac ben Judah Abravanel; Moses' death; Nahmanides



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