The Ten Commandments

Is it true that Moses never entered the Promised Land?

Yes, according to the Bible, Moses, who was 80 years old when he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, never entered the Promised Land of Canaan.

After parting the Red Sea (which had swallowed up the Egyptian soldiers who pursued the Israelites as they fled), Moses led the people into the desert, embarking on what turned out to be a 40-year journey to Canaan. During this time, which is also described as 40 years of wandering, the Israelites lived under harsh conditions. This led them to distrust a God they could not see and to challenge Moses’s authority. But Moses frequently appealed to God for help, and the Bible reports that he received it. In one instance (Numbers 20:22–12), God directed Moses to get water for the parched Israelites and their livestock by ordering a rock to yield its water. But instead of speaking to the rock, Moses struck it twice with his staff. Even though water gushed out of the rock, Moses had failed to follow God’s instructions. Therefore, God later said to Moses: “Because you were not faithful to me … you shall not lead this community into the land I will give them.”

Eventually the Israelites reached Canaan (ancient Palestine). But God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land—he only viewed it from atop Mount Pisgah (in present-day Jordan) before he died.


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