The Lost Tomb of Moses

Moses was the revolutionary figure that dazzled the pharaoh with his magic, parted the red sea and led the Israelite's out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Yet despite playing a prominent role in all three of the world’s most popular religions his grave site and tomb remains undiscovered. God himself apparently decided that Moses should be buried in secret and the exact location of his body be hidden forever. The Bible mentions the death and burial of Moses at least three times and each mention of the affair only adds to the mystery that surrounds the final days of prophet. Moses was supposedly 120 years old when he died, but despite a harsh forty years of wandering in the desert “his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone” (Deuteronomy 34:7) and despite his age, Moses was recalled to be still in his physical prime. However, Because Moses struck a water-giving rock at Meribah Kadesh and then took all the credit for himself, God denied his entrance into the Promised Land. He apparently died shortly after bringing the people of Israel to the very edge of Canaan, where he was given a teaser glimpse of the land he left Egypt for:

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And The Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And The Lord said to him, "This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” (Deuteronomy 34:1-4 RSV)

Moses then died there on the summit short of the brass ring, “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his sepulcher to this day.” (Deuteronomy 34:5–6)

As the Israelites were prone to idolatry, Scholars suggest that Moses was buried in secret to prevent his grave from becoming a future shrine or place of worship. The fact that God personally buried Moses and then kept the location secret is not only extremely fascinating but unique in all of Scripture. Making the matter more mystifying was the appearance of the archangel Michael who was prepared to battle the devil over the rights to Moses’ body. This account comes from the Epistle of Jude, the penultimate book of the New Testament – Jude was apparently the brother of both Jesus and John the Just. (Jude 1:9) However, this passing reference is vague and never expounded on by Jude in future detail and remains a topic of debate among biblical scholars. Also debatable are the reasons why the devil would want his body, was he concerned about a possible resurrection of Moses? 

Whatever the reason, Moses died and was buried in his sepulcher somewhere in the valley of the lands of Moab and within sight of the Promised Land, but east of the Jordan River- the exact location unknown. For thousands of years the sepulcher or tomb of Moses has been searched for. Even Julius Caesar sent a platoon to Beth Peor to find it but came up empty just like those before and after. The puzzled Roman soldiers wondered why it was when they ascended the high ground it appeared they were in the valley, and when they stood in the valley it appeared as if they were on the high ground. Apparently they might have been standing over the lost tomb of Moses without even knowing it. According to the Babylonian Talmud the governor of Beth Peor ordered a search party to discover the lost tomb, “but when they stood above, it appeared to them to be below; when they were below, it appeared to them to be above. They divided themselves into two parties; to them who were standing above it appeared below, and to those who were below it appeared above.” The Talmud also states that “God Himself buried Moses in a grave which had been prepared for him in the dusk of Friday, the sixth day of the Creation and that this tomb is opposite Beth-peor… Yet it cannot be discovered; for to a person standing on the mountain it seems to be in the valley; and if one goes down into the valley, it appears to be on the mountain (Sanh. 39a)

Adding more to the mystery of Moses’ lost tomb is the theory that he’s actually buried in the sacred Hindu lands of Kashmir over two thousand miles away from Israel. This comes from Muslim scholars who suggest that one of the lost tribes of Israel wandered into Afghanistan and Kashmir. The oral and written histories of Kashmir claim Moses visited and died there. Abdul Qadir bin Khan, in his Hashmat-i-Kashmir writes:

Moses came to Kashmir and people believed in him. Subsequently they continued to believe in him, others did not. He died and was buried here. The people of Kashmir call his tomb the Shrine of the Prophet of the Book

The Tarikh-i-Azami states:

And this Sang Bibi was also a renowned hermitess and excelled men in meditation and prayer. Near to her tomb is a place which is known as the sepulcher of Moses, the Prophet of God (may our salutations be on him), and people who know assert that many benefits are derived from that place

Similar Muslim references are to be found in Wajeez-ut-Tawarikh and the Tarikh-i-Hasan. Amongst early European travelers and writers, Francis Bernier was the first to express his beliefs that the ancient Kashmiris were the descendants of Israel saying, "The fourth ground is the belief that Moses died in this city of Kaschmire and that this took place within a league of it" (Bernier, Travels in India, 174). George Moore, in his book The Lost Tribes, says, "Moses himself came amongst them to teach them the worship of one God" (George Moore, The Lost Tribes, 137). Legendary explorer and military leader Lt.-Col. H.D. Torrens wrote, "There is a belief too, that Moses died in the Capital of Kashmir and that he is buried near it" (Torrens, Lt.-Col., H.D., Travels in Ladakh, Tartary and Kashmir, 268). Mrs. Harvey, citing 13th century Muslim cleric Badi-ud-Din as her authority, states, “According to one eminent authority Kashmir was inundated on account of the relapse of the inhabitants to idolatry, after having been taught the worship of One God by Moses, who died there and whose tomb is by some said to be still pointed out" (Mrs.Harvey, The Adventures of a Lady in Tartary, Thibet, China and Kashmir, Vol. 2: 154)

Apparently you can personally go to the Muslim tomb of Moses, which is about an eight mile donkey ride uphill from Bandipur. The temple custodian will be happy to show you around and even point out the tomb itself, a quadrangular enclosure consisting of four covered tombs situated as per Muslim custom in the north-south direction. The fourth tomb is the tomb of Moses, which, like other Jewish graves, faces the east-west direction. 

But if indeed Moses is buried in Kashmir then how did he get there? Ancient gnostic texts claim that Moses ascended unto the Lord via a thunderous huge cloud. Josephus records that Moses left his people at the bottom of Mount Nebu as he disappeared in the upper distance, "when a cloud suddenly stood over him and he disappeared'' (Josephus, Antiquities, 4 : 8, 48). Later beliefs added that Moses didn’t die but like Elijah, Enoch and Abraham were in fact taken up to heaven. (Jewish Ency., Art. Moses). This ties into the ancient astronaut theory that states these prophets were taken aboard an ancient alien spaceship and flown great distances above and beyond the realms of earth. If Moses did ascend into a cloud (spaceship) that’s one possible way of explaining how his lost tomb is all the way in Kashmir. This also explains how Moses made it all the way to Japan where he's also rumored to be buried at mount Houdatsu. According to the ancient Japanese apocryphal writings of the Takenouchi Documents Moses caught a ride to Japan on a UFO where he lived another four hundred years before dying at the age of 583.

However strange the lost tomb of Moses story gets, the real reason why nobody will ever find it is because it serves as a lesson to oppose idolatry. As if God personally made sure there would be no chance that Moses could ever become deified. Which is pretty much the lesson of his death in the first place, a testament of uprooting idolatry and for this reason most scholars believe that Moses’ gravesite must continue to remain hidden. Or he's buried in Kashmir... 

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  1. My guess from Jude has been to avoid idolatry.

    Been trying to track down spots to discuss scripture and such, just ran across this. Interesting read, thanks for writing it up! I'll have to snoop around and see what other stuff you got out there.

  2. This was very interesting. I didn't even know Moses had a tomb that was missing!

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