What did Moses write?

Traditionally it is known that Moses wrote the Torah aka Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Contra-traditionally it is known that Moses either did not write anything or wrote some things which were then compiled along with other texts.
Overall, Moses is referenced 846 times within the Bible—throughout the entire Bible.

I am herein interested in discerning that which the Bible as a whole states with regards to exactly what was written by Moses. It should be kept in mind that the Bible does not tells us words to the effect of FYI: Moses wrote ____________ and then the blank is filled with the titles of books or from…to this or that text. The Bible only tells us certain things about Moses as author and it is to those data points which we shall get. Of course, reference to Mosaic authorship means Moses as scribe of the inspired words of God.

The first time of which we know that God spoke to Moses is recorded in Exodus 3 wherein “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush.” Even if not specifically directed to write his life’s story, he certainly could have done so.
We also have references to God telling Moses to, in turn, tell people certain things. It is sometimes specified that he went on to write those things he may not have written some of them but may have written them all down. Moreover, picking up as he did from Moses as leader, Joshua could certainly have written the account of Moses’ death as anyone surely would have done in order to complete an orderly account—a biographical note on the end of an autobiography, in a manner of speaking. In fact, Moses may have written key portions and had someone such as Joshua fill in the biographical details.

In fact, Joshua 24:25-24 specifies So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.


Various texts refer to book which in Hebrew can refer to scroll (Strong’s H5612 cepher).
There are certain generic references to “a book,” others to “the book of the covenant,” others to “book of the law” and others to the “book of Moses.”
These could all be the same text or books or scrolls that were compiled (much like “the Bible” is not a (as in one) book but a volume consisting of 66 books).
Book of the covenant could refer to just that, the agreement between God and the Hebrews along with the blessings and curses that come therewith. Book of the law could refer to the various ritual/ceremonial details.
Sometimes, such as in Exodus 34:27-28, specific definitions seem to be given and yet, this does not mean that a term or word cannot mean anything else elsewhere, “the LORD said unto Moses…I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel…the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Also Deuteronomy 4:13 “he declared unto you his covenant…even ten commandments.”

Exodus 17:14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
This referred, at least, to that by which the statement is preceded within the chapter which is that “the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin…and pitched in Rephidim,” Moses was directed to “smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it” and Amalek attacking Israel in Rephidim. I stated “at least” as “Write this” could refer to all of the events involving the overall exodus.

2 Chronicles 35:6, 12 So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses…And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the Lord, as it is written in the book of Moses. And so did they with the oxen.

Nehemiah 13:1 On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;

Exodus 24:3-4, 7 …Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments…And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel…And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.

2 Kings 23:2-3, 21 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant…And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant (reiterated in 2 Chronicles 34:30-31).

Verse 24 specifies that the words of the law…were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 34:21 Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.

Ten commandments, decalogue, atheism, true freethinker,.jpg

Deuteronomy 31:9, 24 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel…And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 8:32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.

1 Kings 2:3 And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:

2 Kings 23:25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

2 Chronicles 25:4 But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin.

2 Chronicles 34:14 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses.

Daniel 9:11, 13 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him…As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

The following affirm that the written “law” was of Mosaic authorship.

Ezra 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.

Nehemiah 8:1, 14 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel…And they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:

Nehemiah 9:14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:

Nehemiah 10:29 They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

I thought to treat these separately since even though they came to be written within a book/scroll they were originally written on stone.
Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
At this point, the tablets seem to have been provided directly to Moses prepped and completed by God: cut and engraved.

This is confirmed in the next reference which is Exodus 32:16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables…
Verse 15 had specified that the two tables were of the testimony and that they were written on both their sides.

Deuteronomy 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Exodus 32:19 notes that Moses cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

God tells Moses that He, God, would rewrite the Decalogue.
Deuteronomy 10:2-1 God tells Moses Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first…And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.
Exodus 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

Exodus 34:4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

Then Exodus 34:27 notes And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
A reference to, at least, the contents of the preceding verses specifically 10-26 which record God’s instructing Moses on various and sundry topics.

Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Keep in mind that verses are an artificial insertion into the text of the Bible and quite damaging for at least two reasons: 1) they break up complete thoughts into thought fragments and they combine separate thoughts into one. That is to say that people tend to pay attention to artificial verse breaks and fail to note when the text itself is beginning and ending a thought. Or, they see that a verse contains this or that statement but fail to recognize that the text is implying a break from one subject to another or one specific point to another.

In this case verse 28 refers to “he…he…And he” thus, since the context is Moses the three hes appear to all refer to him: he did this, he did the other and he also did thusly.
However, the greater context would lead us to conclude that since it was God who was going to write upon the second set of tables then the first two hes refers to Moses and that the third is separated by the And in order to distinguish that the third he refers to God. However, while such parsing may be possible it seems unnecessary.

To reiterate:
Exodus 31:18 God gave Moses two stone tables of testimony…written with the finger of God. This begs the question as to whether of testimony refers specially to the Decalogue.
Exodus 32:15-16 the two tables of the testimony were…the writing was the writing of God.
Deuteronomy 4:13 God declared…his covenant…even ten commandments…he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Deuteronomy 10:1-2 and Exodus 34:1 God states to Moses Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first…I will write that which was in the first tablets. This brings us back to the begged question as to what was on the first tablets.
Exodus 34:4 Moses hewed two tables of stone.
Exodus 34:27 God tells Moses Write thou these words.

A notable distinction within the particular context of the tablets (if not the greater context I have been overall considering as well) testimony appears to refer to the law, the rituals, etc. and covenant refers to the Decalogue. References to both of these seem to cause confusion amongst some as to what was written by God directly and what was written by Moses.
Exodus 31:18 two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Exodus 32:15 two tables…of the testimony…were written on both their sides.
Deuteronomy 4:13 his covenant…even ten commandments…upon two tables of stone.
Exodus 34:27 I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
Exodus 34:28 And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Thus, when it comes to the rewriting upon the second set of tablets it appears that God rewrote the testimony and Moses wrote the covenant—the Decalogue.

1 Kings 8:9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

Nehemiah 1:7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

2 Kings 18:6 For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.

Some texts, such as Psalm 103:7, do not specify writing but affirm God’s specific communications to Moses, He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

Many other texts, such as Psalm 77:20, affirm the historicity of Moses and knowledge of his doings, Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Deuteronomy 31:22 Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel
Deuteronomy 32:44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.

Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Numbers 33:2 And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.

Deuteronomy 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

Now, of course, technically Jesus, Luke, John, et al., affirming that Moses stated this particular point or that one does not necessarily mean that Moses wrote the whole book. Yet, we are given more general and thus wider ranging statements such as that he wrote the law, commandments, judgments, statutes, etc.

With reference to ritual offerings, Matthew 8:4 affirms that they are the gift that Moses commanded—thus, Mosaic authorship.

In Matthew 19:7-8 and Mark 10:4 Jesus affirms the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy by stating in his answer to the following question They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? Jesus replied He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

In Matthew 22:24, Mark 12:19 and Luke 20:28 Sadducees affirm the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother and Jesus went along with their affirmation.

Matthew 23:2 affirms that the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat due to the law coming via Moses in the first place.

Mark 1:44 and Luke 5:14 have Jesus affirming Mosaic authorship of Leviticus in stating to leper go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (such leprosy related cleansings are also noted in Deuteronomy 24:8).

Mark 7:10 has Jesus affirming Mosaic authorship of Exodus, For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother. Another such affirmation of Exodus is found in Mark 10:3.

In Mark 12:26 and Luke 20:37 Jesus affirms the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

Luke 2:22 affirms Mosaic authorship of Leviticus in referring to the days of her purification according to the law of Moses.

Jews love acrostics and so they refer to the entire Old Testament as the Tanakh: T, N and K which stand for T) Torah-the first five books-the law, N) Nevi’im, the prophets and K) Ketuvim, the writings which essentially refers to everything else.
These are the three traditional divisions of the Old Testament and in Luke 16:29 (also see 16:31) Jesus references two of these referring to the Torah as equal to having Moses They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. Thereby, Jesus seems to be affirming the Mosaic authorship of the whole Torah. In Luke 24:27 (also see 24:44) reference is made to Moses and all the prophets. Also, Acts 26:22 refers to the prophets and Moses. Acts 28:23 has Paul preaching and persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets.

In John 5:45 the reason why Moses accuses is that his writings contain the law Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

John 5:46 records that Jesus affirmed that Moses prophesied Him For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

John 7:19, 22-23 has Jesus affirming Mosaic authorship of Genesis and Deuteronomy, Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?…Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
Acts 15:1, 5 also refers to being circumcised after the manner of Moses…circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
In Acts 21:21 reports that Christians were saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs is viewed as having encouraged to forsake Moses.

John 8:5 has scribes and Pharisees affirming Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy and Jesus going along with it Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

John 9:28-29 Pharisees affirm God spoke to Moses Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

Acts 3:22 and 7:37 affirms Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Acts 6:11 refers to speaking blasphemous words against Moses, and against God seemingly due to God’s revelation through Moses. Verse 14 references customs which Moses delivered us.

Act 7:44 affirms that, at least, portions of Exodus Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

John 1:17 affirms that the law was given by Moses (also see 1:45). Acts 13:39 refers to the law of Moses, Act 15:5 records that a certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed referenced the law of Moses, Romans 10:5 Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, 2 Corinthians 3:15 refers to when Moses is read, Hebrews 9:19 and 10:28 refers to when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law….Moses’ law.

Acts 15:21 make a general reference to Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Thus, the “Bible readings” during the services are the reading of text of Mosaic authorship.

Some texts refer to God speaking to Moses and to Moses making statements recorded in the Torah even if they do not specify that Moses wrote down the accounts. There are many such texts and many more which referenced various actions taken by Moses which are recorded in the Torah.
Romans 9:15 affirms that Exodus records God speaking to Moses For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 10:19 has Deuteronomy containing Moses’s words First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

1 Corinthians 9:9 it is written in the law of Moses and a reference is made to Deuteronomy regarding not muzzling a working ox.

Hebrews 7:14 and 8:5 our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood…..Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle…

Hebrews 12:21 touches upon statements made by Moses that are found in Deuteronomy 9:19 Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.

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