Deuteronomy discusses Moses' death, and I've heard several versions of its authorship: that Moses wrote it (and knew about his death, it was predetermined), or that Joshua wrote it (or part of it). I'm tempted to believe that Moses did write it, and that he knew about his death. I'd like some more info about this though, particularly:

  1. What does the Zohar say about Deuteronomy? Zohar reflects and interprets the Torah, so surely there must be something there about it.

  2. King Josiah found a Torah part (in the Temple, I think?). It contained laws that the Israelites had not practiced for a long time (obviously, since it was lost until Josiah found it...) What was this newly found Torah portion? I've heard that some believe it to have been Deuteronomy, is that so? But I've also heard that the Israelites found Deuteronomy writings shortly after Moses' death.

Any thoughts? Links & references are greatly appreciated.


1 Answer 1


You've brought up a bunch of ideas. Let me try to deal with them singly.

The Talmud records a dispute as to whether Moses or Joshua wrote the last eight verses of Deuteronomy (the ones that mention his death). The rest of Deuteronomy was written by Moses: I know of no Jewish source that disputes that, though I'm no expert.

Either way, though, Moses knew about his death beforehand: see Deuteronomy 32:50.

There are many, many commentaries on the Torah. Yes, Zohar is one of them, but is not most Jews' go-to source for Torah commentary. As I said, the Talmud records a dispute over the authorship of the end of Deuteronomy, and that's reliable. That said, if you do want to know what Zohar says about it, I'm not saying that's a bad question — and I don't know.

Josiah found the Pentateuch, entire, in the Temple. It happened to be rolled to a portion of Deuteronomy. The Jews had largely forgotten or ignored the Torah in his day, and this reminded him of it and encouraged him to boost the nation's Torah observance. This has no bearing on Deuteronomy's authorship: what Josiah found was old text, not something new. More info on the episode.

I've never heard of the Jews' finding parts of Deuteronomy soon after Moses's death. It's conceivable, but they would have been copies of existent text rather than new text, since, as mentioned above, Moses had written all of Deuteronomy (except perhaps the last eight verses).

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