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Rashi to Bamidbar 31:3 says:

וידבר משה וגו': אף על פי ששמע שמיתתו תלויה בדבר עשה בשמחה ולא איחר:

Moses spoke: Although he heard that his death depended on the matter, he did it joyfully, without delay.

In other words, Moshe hurried to make war, even though he knew he would die afterwards.

Had he delayed, and not hurried to fight Midyan, could he have prolonged his life indefinitely?

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Had he delayed, and not hurried to fight Midyan, could he have prolonged his life indefinitely?

Prior to your question we must ask a more basic question: Would delaying prolong his life?

It sounds plausible that it would have, but it also sounds like that is not the point. Instead, the point seems to be that even though his death was the next major event, he still did it happily and without delay. His mindset is what we are focused on, not the timing.

But, nu, would his life have been extended? Well, let's see. After the war, Moshe gave a speech. Actually, he gave a very long speech, some rebuke, and some b'rochos before the rest. He was also command by Hashem to ascend the mountain to have a good look, and only then, finally lay down. Being so much would happen first, it is hard to link the war with his death.

But, nu, would his life have been extended? Well, had he tarried, and assuming that none of this tarrying would have affected the rest of what he and He did, it is reasonable to assume that his life would have been extended accordingly to allow everything to be done.

What if Moshe had tarried indefinitely? This is highly theoretical. I get the impression that would have caused rebuke from Hashem, and had he still tarried, he would have been deposed so Yehoshua could take over.

For comparison, see Shmos 4:24, where due to a bit of tarrying, Hashem sought to kill him. Though the variables are different here, tarrying does not seem to find good fortune.

  • Looks good, but can you provide sources? – Scimonster Jul 15 '14 at 13:43
  • What would you like sources for? Most of that is the text of the Rashi provided, Sefer D'varim, and personal assumption. Well, that's how i see it at least. :) – please delete me Jul 15 '14 at 13:47
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    @BoruchTkatch - I recall learning that Yehoshua's life ended earlier than usual b/c he calculated that he might live longer by delaying conquering all the lands that were sipposed to be alloted to all the tribes. – DanF Jul 15 '14 at 13:59
  • ...and we see that didn't help... Excellent point though. I completely forgot about that. – please delete me Jul 15 '14 at 14:19
  • Yes, I think it is much to Moshe's credit that, despite knowing that his death would follow the war, he hastened to do it anyway. That he then got some extra time to tie up loose ends is a bonus he couldn't have known about in advance. (Well I suppose he could have, but I've never heard anybody make the claim, for what that's worth.) – Monica Cellio Jul 15 '14 at 15:17

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