Jude 1:9, The Body of Moses

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

//What on earth is this verse all about? Michael and Satan squabbling over the body of Moses?

According to Origin, an early 3rd-century church father, this verse in Jude references an apocryphal text known as the Assumption of Moses or the Ascension of Moses. We’ve never uncovered the ending to the Assumption of Moses; it’s believed that about a third of the manuscript is missing, and many scholars therefore assume the story of Michael and Satan is in the lost ending.

An alternative explanation is that Jude compounds ideas from multiple sources, playing on the general Jewish tradition of Michael as a gravedigger for the just. Michael “rebukes” Azazel in the book of Enoch, and an angel of the Lord “rebukes” Satan in Zechariah 3, so if we mix all the stories together, we get something akin to Jude’s verse.Today’s theologians often point out that Satan is the prince of this earth and, though the spirit of Moses ascended untouched to God, Satan stakes his claim to the bodies of believers. If so, why do you suppose Michael cared about this particular body? Is it because the location of Moses’ burial is supposed to remain a mystery? In Deuteronomy 34, God buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

Is Satan among those still looking for the lost body of Moses? Why would God take a special hand in Moses’ burial? Something out of the ordinary was going on, and maybe we’ll never know what this little tiff was about, but if you have opinions, I’d be curious to hear them.


  1. Have you considered the possibility that “body” in this context means “asssembly”? As in “body of Christ” meaning the “assembly of followers of Christ”?

    Note the parallels:
    * Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into
    his death? (Rom 6:3)
    * And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (1 Cor 10:1-2)

    If those “baptised into Christ” are part of the “body of Christ”, then could it also be said that those “baptised unto Moses” are part of the “body of Moses”?

    In other words, could the dispute recorded in Jude 9 be about Satan’s accusations agaist Israel?

  2. Fascinating contribution, Joe! The cool thing about scripture is that it can be “about” many things. I think we would be remiss not to recognize the historical origin of the story of Satan and Michael disputing, knowing that it was clearly on Jude’s mind as he wrote, but could he have intended that we uncover a deeper meaning? Much like the way you pull a deeper meaning from the story of the red sea crossing? Sure!

    • False teachers = jewish myths = to be rejected
      “The assumption of moses” is an attempt by man under false understanding to ‘fill-in’ the seemingly missing details in his false understanding. But if he were to seek true understanding, he would need no ‘additional writings’ jewish myths.

      If those baptised into CHRIST are part of the body of Christ, then those baptised unto Moses are part of the body of Moses. Let scripture explain itself. If we then believe what is written for our learning, we would immediately see the falsehood of the Assumption of Moses for what it is – Jewish fables and myths

      • Lee Harmon

        You might have just labeled the book of Jude a “Jewish fable and myth,” Meg, since it appears to give credence to the Assumption of Moses.

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