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I am aware that the Talmud discusses a debate as to who wrote the last few verses in the Torah about Moses's death.

Near the end of the story about mahn, in Shmot (Exodus) 16:35, the verse says that B'nai Israel ate mannah for 40 years in the desert. It seems quite obvious that that verse must have been written many years after the event of the mahn happened, so I assume that this fact must have been written, later. If G-d conveyed to Moses to write this in the Torah immediately, people then would have known future events. So, did Moshe write this verse at the beginning of the 40 year travel in the desert, perhaps with God revealing when the mahn would stop, or did Joshua write it at the point or just after the man actually did stop?

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2 Answers 2

The discussion as to whether Yeshoshua wrote the last eight lines or Moshe wrote them "bedimah" (either with tears or "confused") applies only to those lines.

And Moshe the servant of HaShem died in the land of Moav by the word of HaShem.[Devarim 34:5]

On this verse Rashi quotes a famous debate regarding the last eight verses of the Tora; is it possible that Moshe died and wrote “and Moshe died”? Rather, up to here Moshe wrote and from here on Yehoshua wrote. Rebbe Meir says “is it possible that the Sefer Tora is deficient, for it says ‘take this Sefer Tora’ ”? Rather G-d dictated and Moshe wrote in tears (‘b’dima’).

Also note that the Pasuk of the 40 years (Shmos 16:35) is before the sin of the meraglim when the 40 years in the desert was decreed. Thus, it could not have been put in until after the chait hameraglim in the first place.

The statement about the mann could have been dictated when Moshe Rabbeinu wrote the entire Torah just before he died. Thus, since the man was now scheduled to stop immediately thereafter, Moshe Rabbeinu would have been able to write it as part of the final dictation without any problem.

Another point is that since Moshe Rabbeinu gave every shevet a sefer Torah, Yehoshua could not have added extra pesukim in the middle of the Torah. Only the end pesukim could have been added to each already written sefer torah. If Yehoshuah had added pesukim in the middle, the entire torah would have had to be written from scratch (or at least from sheet of parchment with the new pasuk all the way to the end). That is, adding the extra words to the appropriate sheet would have caused words at the end of the sheet to be pushed to the next sheet which would have to be written anew all the way to the end. The torah would have to be taken apart and resewn together as well.

Indeed, we see from the discussions in the Bava Basra 15 that only those pesukim (minor differences in which pesukim do not matter to this inyan) were being discussed. In fact, Rabbi Meir and Rabb Shimon Shezuri (menachos 30) refuse to accept that Yehoshua wrote the last pesukim because they say that the torah that Moshe Rabbeinu gave to the shevatim had to have been complete.


Who Wrote the Torah?

Who Wrote the Torah?

How did we get the Torah? Who wrote it down? If it was Moses, how could he write about his own death at the end of Deuteronomy?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Torah was given to the entire Jewish people at Mount Sinai. (In fact, all Jewish souls – past, present and future – were there at the time.)

As for the actual verses, the Torah was dictated from God to Moses, letter-for-letter. From there, the Midrash (Devarim Rabba 9:4) tells us that prior to his death, Moses wrote 13 scrolls. Twelve of these were distributed to each of the Twelve Tribes. The thirteenth was placed in the Ark of the Covenant (with the stone Tablets). If anyone would come and attempt to rewrite or falsify the Torah, the one in the Ark would "testify" against him.

As for the final 8 verses of Deuteronomy, the Talmud has two opinions: 1) Moshe wrote it himself, simply following God's instruction to write about his own death, or 2) The final 8 verses were written by Joshua.

(sources: Talmud – Menachot 30a, Gittin 60a)

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This indeed could be. Do you have a source for it? What about according to opinions that the Torah was dictating "on the go"? Also can you source your first line? It is well known that Ibn Ezra disagreed with it slightly. –  Double AA May 14 at 21:38
@DoubleAA I do not have the sources with me. The discussions as to which lines were and were not written by Yehoshua only go into the very end with Moshe's death. Everything else is based on the idea that Moshe was commanded to write the entire Torah the day of his death and went around giving a copy to each Shevet on that day. We see other things that imply that not everything could have been "as it happened" since parts of different seforim overlapped. Thus, he could have had the "final edition" dictated at the end and put in. Also Yehoshua could not have added into the middle –  sabbahillel May 14 at 21:59
Again, you are listing wonderful possibilities... –  Double AA May 14 at 22:01
@DoubleAA I expanded the answer pointing to the gemoros on the issue and the basic arguments. I then follow the logic that is implied by those arguments to show that pesukim in the middle of the torah could not have been added. I also point out that the description of the man lasting for fourty years (16:35) was before the meraglim when the 40 years was decreed. –  sabbahillel May 14 at 22:21
"If Yehoshuah had added pesukim in the middle, the entire torah would have had to be written from scratch" why? A sefer Tora need not be written in order (unlike a m'zuza). –  msh210 May 15 at 6:17

If one assumes that the Torah was written in the order that the events happened (lest this occur), then it is only logical to conclude that this verse was written at the end of the 40 years, when "they came to the border of the land of Canaan" and the mahn had stopped. When did this happen? In Joshua ch. 5 we are explicitly told:

10 Encamped at Gilgal, in the steppes of Jericho, the Israelites offered the passover sacrifice on the fourteenth day of the month, toward evening. 11 On the day after the passover offering, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the country, unleavened bread and parched grain. 12 On that same day, when they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. The Israelites got no more manna; that year they ate of the yield of the land of Canaan. (NJPS)

Thus, as the mahn did not stop until after Moshe's death, it is only logical to conclude that Joshua wrote this verse.

The Rashbam appears to agree with this assessment, as he writes that the verse in Shemot is referring to the verse in Joshua

אל קצה ארץ כנען - כדכת' ביהושוע וישבת המן ממחרת:

as does the Midrash (מדרש אגדה שמות פרשת בשלח פרק טז)

אכלו את המן ארבעים שנה עד באם וגו' אל קצה וגו'. במה שכתוב בספר יהושע:

However, Rashi and Kiddushin 38a write that the manna stopped upon Moshe's death, which may mean that the discussion in Baba Bathra 15a comes into play, as it deals with the verses of Moshe's death. As such, R. Judah would hold that Joshua wrote it, and R. Shimon that Moshe wrote it. (Yes, I'm aware that the Gemara is only discussing the last 8 verses. However, the Ibn Ezra (Dt 34:1) writes that Joshua wrote the last 12 verses, indicating that may extrapolation to include this verse as well isn't completely farfetched.)

The Sifre (‫סד—סז‪.‬‬ ‫פוסקא‬ ‫בהעלותך‬ ‫ספרי‬) on this verse comments that "אין מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה," thus rejecting our main assumption, and implying that Moshe wrote it.

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This doesn't really add anything over the question itself other than speculation. –  Yishai May 15 at 21:57
Why does something which is confirmed in Sefer Yehoshua mean that Joshua wrote it? Does that mean that he wrote the parsha of Har Grizim and Har Eival just because it is referring to something that happened in Sefer Yehoshua? –  YEZ May 15 at 21:57
@Yishai - As this question is not explicitly addressed by any commentators (as far as I can tell), extrapolations based on what they do say is the best we can do. –  Shmuel May 15 at 21:59
@YEZ - It's not confirmed in Yehoshua, it happens then. The manna stopped after Moshe died, after Yehoshua became the leader. The pasuk in Shemot is referring to the pasuk in Yehoshua, as stated in Rashbam and Midrash. –  Shmuel May 15 at 22:02
+1 for the Sifre. The rest of the discussion is highly speculative. –  Double AA May 15 at 22:08

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