Numbers 33 says the nation goes from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan to Hor-haggidgad to Jotbah to Abronah to Ezion-geber to Kadesh to Mount Hor, and that Aaron died on Mount Hor.

Deuteronomy 10 says they went from Beeroth-benejaakan to Moserah, that Aaron died there, then they went to Gudgod and then to Jotbah.

Why are there two different accounts of where Aaron died? They have him dying at different locations (Mount Hor is several stops past Moserah), and also there is a different order (Moseroth to Bene-jaakan compared to Beeroth-benejaakan to Moserah).


2 Answers 2


Different commentaries (such as the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban) on the verse in D'varim address the issue in different ways, but I'll produce a rough translation of the Y'rushalmi (Sotah 1:10), which discusses the two passages (please pardon any mistakes in this hasty translation):

It is written (Shmuel II, 1:18): "And David eulogized this elegy… and he said 'To teach the Children of Yehuda the bow, behold it is written in the Sefer HaYashar'." It does not make sense to lament about the Children of Yehuda needing to learn the bow then.... Rather, David said: When the righteous die [in this case Shaul and Yonasan], the enemies of Israel come and harass Israel. [David indeed had to prepare his bow and practice with it, and he was lamenting the deaths of Shaul and Yonasan that led to this].

"Behold it is written in the Sefer HaYashar (the Virtuous Book, i.e. the Torah)." There are two opinions on what this is. One says it is the Book of B'reishis [which details the lives of our virtuous forefathers -Rashi], and the other says it is the Chomesh Pikudim (i.e. the Book of B'midbar).

QUESTION: The opinion that it refers to B'reishis makes sense [since Yehuda is described there as having his hand on the neck of his enemies, which is a mandate for David to prepare for war -Korban HaEdah commentary]. But what war is found in the Book of B'midbar [that serves as a precedent for David needing to prepare for war under those circumstances]?

ANSWER: "And the Children of Israel travelled from Be'eros B'nei Ya'akan to Moserah. There Aharon died" (D'varim 10). But did Aharon really die in Moseros? He actually died at Hor HaHar, as is written, "And they ascended to Hor HaHar… and Aharon died there" (B'midbar 20). Rather, when Aharon died, the clouds of Glory [that had henceforth protected Israel in Aharon's merit] departed, and the Canaanites sought to attack Israel, as is written [immediately after Aharon's death], "And the Canaanite King of Arad dwelling in the Negev heard that Israel came by way of Asarim [and he waged war against Israel]" (ibid. 21).

What is "by way of Asarim"? [The King of Arad] heard that Aharon, who was their great guide for them on the way, died (Asarim could be read to mean "guidings". "Let us come and attack them," [the King of Arad said]. And Israel sought to return to Egypt, and they travelled backwards through eight locations [including their present location and their destination location], and the tribe of Levi pursued them and killed eight families of them, and they killed four families of Levi, as is written (Chronicles I 26), "Of the Amramites, of Yitzhar, of the Chevronites, of the Uzielites." When did they return? In the days of David, as is written (Psalms 72) "The righteous shall flower in his days." They said, "What caused us all this bloodshed?" They answered, "Because we did not perform chesed for that tzadik [Aharon]." And they went and eulogized him and they performed chesed for that tzadik. And the verse treated it for them as if he died there and was buried there, where they did chesed for that tzadik.

  • Rashi Devarim 10:6 says the same thing.
    – Menachem
    Sep 9, 2013 at 5:09
  • @Menachem Yes, but Rashi seems to suggest that Moshe described Aharon's death as being at Moserah as a way of rebuking Israel for their reaction to Aharon's death (fleeing back to Moserah and towards Egypt), while the Y'rushalmi says it is because they finally gave him a proper eulogy in Moserah.
    – Fred
    Sep 9, 2013 at 5:36
  • that's why I added a second answer
    – Menachem
    Sep 9, 2013 at 7:04

See Rashi, Devarim 10:6, who explains pretty much the same thing the Yerushalmi in @Fred's answer says, but adds that this was part of the rebuke that Moshe gave the Jews:

And the children of Israel journeyed from the wells of B’nei Ya’akan to Moserah: What is the relevance of this here? Furthermore, did they really journey from the wells of B’nei Ya’akan to Moserah? Was it not from Moserah that they came to the wells of B’nei Ya’akan, as it is said, “And they journeyed from Moseroth [and encamped in B’nei Ya’akan]” (Num. 33:31) ? Moreover, [why does it say:] “there Aaron died”? Did he not die at Mount Hor? If you calculate it, you will find eight stations from Moseroth to Mount Hor!

However, [the answer is that] this is also part of the reproof [introduced in Deut. 1:1 and continued through here]: [In effect Moses said,] This, also, you did. When Aaron died on Mount Hor at the end of the forty years and [consequently] the clouds of the Divine Glory departed, you were afraid of the [impending] war with the king of Arad. So you appointed a leader to return to Egypt, and you went back eight stations until B’nei Ya’akan, and from there to Moserah. There, the sons of Levi battled with you. They slew some of you, and you some of them, until they forced you to return by the way you had retreated. From there, you returned to Gudgodah, which is Hor Hagidgad (Num. 33:32).

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