The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Because you did not have confidence in me, to acknowledge my holiness before the Israelites, therefore you shall not lead this assembly into the land I have given them.

Did the Bible document Moses' reaction upon learning that he wouldn't enter the promised land, despite continuing to lead the Israelites as per God's instruction?

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    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2023 at 22:04
  • We are not told so we do not know.
    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2023 at 22:06
  • to avoid having your question closed, you need a quote referring to the point it which Moses was informed of the exclusion. I'll do that for you this time, although it is no guarantee. If this is not what you had in mind, please edit. Dec 20, 2023 at 2:19

1 Answer 1


The Bible does not directly describe Moses' emotional response, but it does describe his actions, from which we can discern something about his emotional state. In addition, Numbers 20 begins and ends with mourning. It starts with a description of the death and burial of Miriam. It then proceeds to Moses' sin at the Rock and concludes with Moses and "all Israel" mourning for Aaron. The tone of the entire chapter is personally tragic for Moses. His sister dies; Israel thirsts and rebels; Moses lashes out at the Rock that represents God; he is excluded from Canaan; and finally his brother also dies.

Moses has some things to say about these episodes in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 1.

37 The Lord was angered against me also on your account, and said, 'You shall not enter there either, 38 but Joshua, son of Nun, your attendant, shall enter. Encourage him, for he is the one who is to give Israel its possession.'

From this we can infer that Moses accepted his fate and united with God's direction to encourage Joshua to take up the mantle of leadership. Thus, despite any regret at being excluded from Canaan, Moses remained determined that the mission to reclaim the Promised Land would succeed. However, in narrative of Numbers 20, mourning is the major theme.

Numbers 20

22 Setting out from Kadesh, the Israelites, the whole community, came to Mount Hor.23 There at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 24 'Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land I have given to the Israelites, because you both rebelled against my directions at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up on Mount Hor. 26 Then strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar, his son; but there Aaron shall be gathered up in death.'

27 Moses did as the Lord commanded. When they had climbed Mount Hor in view of the whole community, 28 Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain. When Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29 all the community understood that Aaron had breathed his last; and for thirty days the whole house of Israel mourned Aaron.

Summary: During the entire period of Numbers 20, Moses is never described as coming out of his mourning. After losing his sister, he grew impatient with the Israelites and failed to uphold God's holiness. He surely repented for this after God's judgment upon him and Aaron, for he united with God's instruction to turn over the mantle of leadership to Joshua. Nor did he sulk or bemoan his fate but encouraged his protégé to act with boldness. At the same time, Moses embraced his own bereavement when he joined with "all Israel" in mourning the death of Aaron. No doubt he also mourned his own exclusion from the promised land, but this did not stop him for following God's will from that point forward.

  • Wow thank you. This was very helpful, Dan Fefferman Dec 20, 2023 at 4:46
  • The answer is correct in saying "The Bible does not directly describe..." then goes on to say "we can discern something about his emotional state". Discern means to: 1. perceive or recognize 2. distinguish (someone or something) with difficulty by sight or with the other sense. "we can infer that Moses accepted his fate" Infer means to: 1. deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements: What is offered in this answer is a guess: 1. estimate or suppose (something) without sufficient information to be sure of being correct.
    – David D
    Dec 20, 2023 at 18:07

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