Did Moses fast (without food or water) for 81-days straight in Deuteronomy 9:9-18 | Or did Moses eat & drink in verses 12-17?

  • If the descent from Mount Horeb, destruction of the Golden Calf, and ascension back up Mount Horeb took place in 1-day (Verses 12-17) : Then Moses appears to have an unimaginable fast for 81-days = 40-days (Verses 9-11) + 1-day (Verses 15-17) + 40-days (Verses 18).

NIV | Deuteronomy 9: 9-18

9 When I went up on the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord had made with you, I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water.


10 The Lord gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God. On them were all the commandments the Lord proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly.

11 At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the Lord gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant.

12 Then the Lord told me, “Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have turned away quickly from what I commanded them and have made an idol for themselves.”

13 And the Lord said to me, “I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed! 14 Let me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they.”

15 So I turned and went down from the mountain while it was ablaze with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my hands.

16 When I looked, I saw that you had sinned against the Lord your God; you had made for yourselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the Lord had commanded you.

17 So I took the two tablets and threw them out of my hands, breaking them to pieces before your eyes.


18 Then once again I fell prostrate before the Lord for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight and so arousing his anger.

  • 2
    Yes. Agreed. I think you are correct. Two, forty day/night fasts, one after the other, as the record states.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 7, 2021 at 14:41
  • If this is not a miracle then 40 days should have been 4 days and “without drinking water” a later construction of what originally said just “drinking”. Meaning abstaining from all calorie bearing drinks, such as milk and wine. May 7 at 23:48

4 Answers 4


The passage in Deut 9 records one or possibly two of the many miracles associated with the life of Moses. Fasts of up to 40 days are humanly possible; BUT a fast without any hydration is impossible for only a few days.

Moses was in the presence of God Almighty and obviously needed no physical nourishment. The communion with the divine had been so close that Moses' face shone when he returned to the camp (Ex 34:35)

Obviously, God provided for all of Moses' needs so that no physical nourishment was required. Whether Moses ate anything between these two 40-day periods is not stated but it is not material - Moses was sustained during this time miraculously.


Climbing Mt Sinai is physically demanding especially for Moses who would have been 80 years old at the time. It is testament to the divine miracle that occurred that Moses was capable of doing this after not eating for so long.

  • "a fast without any hydration is impossible for only a few days"? * Does this mean Moses was physically resurrected twice, each time he descended with the Law? Jan 7, 2021 at 20:49
  • @ChurchQuestions - No - it simply means that he was miraculously sustained so that no water and food was necessary.
    – Dottard
    Jan 7, 2021 at 20:51

More detail is given in Exodus 32.

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods a who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
19When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
27Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ ” 28The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

There is no mention that Moses ate anything; there is no mention that he fasted either. I assume that he did eat and drink in between the two 40-days fasts.


I don't believe Jesus drank any water either when he fasted 40 days in the desert (being in a desert). It also says that He fasted 40 days AND nights, which makes me wonder if he supernaturally fasted his sleep that whole time as well.

In the book "the Heavenly Man" by Brother Yun, he recounts how God led him to fast with no food and water for 81 or so days in the Chinese communist prison where he was placed for preaching Christ. He said at the end he looked like a skeleton and his own mother did not recognize him when she visited the prison to see him.

In Moses' fast, he seems to be surrounded by so much of the glory of God that he actually got stronger, and maybe why his eyesight and physical strength did not abate him until 120 years of age.


The Bible does say that Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and he did not eat or drink water. (Exodus 34:28) And Jesus also fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and he didn’t eat but I believe maybe he did drink water because the verse says after he was hungry; never says anything about him being thirsty.

In either case, this is a powerful thing and clearly, The Holy Spirit supernaturally sustained and strengthened their bodies, especially being in the very presence of God you know they did not sleep much if not at all.

That is awesome and so amazing! God is glorious!! 🙌🏽❤️🔥🙏🏽

New contributor
Kevin is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.