Devarim 32:49-50

עֲלֵה אֶל-הַר הָעֲבָרִים הַזֶּה הַר-נְבוֹ, אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב, אֲשֶׁר, עַל-פְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ; וּרְאֵה אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲחֻזָּה. נ וּמֻת, בָּהָר אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹלֶה שָׁמָּה, וְהֵאָסֵף, אֶל-עַמֶּיךָ: כַּאֲשֶׁר-מֵת אַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ, בְּהֹר הָהָר, וַיֵּאָסֶף, אֶל-עַמָּיו.

Paraphrased translation:

Moshe, go up the mountain and die there.

The word "die" is said in command form - Moshe is being commanded to die.

Is that under Moshe's jurisdiction? Can he die at will?

  • IYH will try to find sources, but why can't it just be "Go up to the mountain where you will die"? – MTL Sep 22 '14 at 4:20
  • @Shokhet because that would be a different word in Hebrew. ימות maybe. The word used is conjugated in command form. – Y     e     z Sep 22 '14 at 4:22

Assuming it is a chaser spelling of the binyan kal command, it would seem that Moshe has some control over the process. The Ibn Ezra indicates that the command is for Moshe to prepare himself for death by burying himself (לתקן עצמו כי הוא יקבר את עצמו)

This notion is also discussed here.

My Aramaic is rough but the Targum Yonatan seems to hint to this as well. He writes "ושכוב בטוורא" the command to lie down in the mountain.

The sforno writes "קבל עליך המיתה לכפרה" 'accept upon yourself the death as an atonement...'

The Ohr Hachaim makes a different point and DOES indicate Moshe's control over the death itself:

"התרצה למות שאין הקב"ה לוקח נפשות חסידיו אלא לרצונם"

The command is to accept death (want it?) because Hashem never takes the soul of his chassidim unless it is their will.

The command then is not to control death but to do some part in the death process.

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  • Targum Yonatan or Onkulus? – Scimonster Sep 22 '14 at 7:49
  • Yonatan ben Uziel. Unkelus has "umoot" and the Yerushalmi has "vtitk'nish" – rosends Sep 22 '14 at 7:49
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    Great job bringing together answers from a whole bunch of commentators! – Isaac Moses Sep 22 '14 at 12:59
  • שביכ also means to die (see page 1573 here.....couldn't figure out how to link directly to a page in Jastrow) – MTL Sep 22 '14 at 14:08
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    I was about to post this answer myself...also see אבן עזרא, who says that he should prepare himself for death / burial, because no one else would do it "ומת: לתקן עצמו, כי הוא יקבור את עצמו".....though the אור החיים is the best answer, IMHO – MTL Sep 22 '14 at 14:10

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