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סֵפֶר פְּטִירָת מֹשֶׁה | Motä Musē (the Book of the Passing of Mosheh), in Hebrew and English translation

The Betä ʾƎsəraʾel community of Ethiopian Jews has a unique collection of mäṣəḥäfə qədusə, or holy texts. Attached here is the text of the Betä ʾƎsəraʾel legend of the death of Moses, known as Motä Musē in the Gəʿəz language. It features a beautifully human portrayal of Moses as a loving family man, struggling with his approaching death and worried for his loved ones. The text, originally written in Gəʿəz, was translated to Hebrew by the great scholar and activist Jacques Faïtlovitch, and vocalized, cantillated, and translated into English by Isaac Mayer. It could be read on the seventh of Adar, traditionally considered the date on which Moses died, or it could just be studied as an example of a unique Jewish legend that should be preserved.

Note: The Gəʿəz word ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer እግዚአብሔር (literally “Lord of the people”) is the standard circumlocution for the Divine Name in the Ethiopic languages.

Translation (Hebrew) Secondary Translation (English)

סֵפֶר פְּטִירָת מֹשֶׁה
Motä Musē (the Book of the Passing of Mosheh)

לְפִי מְסוֹרָת קָהָל קָדוֹשׁ בֵּתֶא אִסְרַאֶל יְהוּדֵי אֶתִיוֹפִּיָה
מְתֻרְגָּם מִגִּעִז לְעִבְרִית עַל יְדֵי יַעַקֹב נֹחַ בֶּן־מֹשֶׁה פַייטְלוֹוִיץ
מֻגָּהּ וּמְנֻקָּד וּמֻטְעָם וּמְתֻרְגָּם לְאַנְגְלִית עַל יְדֵי יִצְחָק הַרְאֵל בֶּן אַבְרָהָם מֵאִיר הַכֹּהֶן
according to the tradition of the holy Betä ʾƎsəraʾel community of Ethiopia
translated from Gəʿəz to Hebrew by Jacques Faïtlovitch
edited and vocalized and cantillated and translated to English by Isaac Mayer

בָּר֥וּךְ יהו֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֱלֹהֵ֥י כׇּל־ר֖וּחַ וְכׇל־בָּשָֽׂר׃ סְפֹ֗ר אֵ֛יךְ שֶׁבָּ֖א מַלְאָ֣ךְ הַמָּ֑וֶת אֵ֚צֶל מֹשֶׁ֣ה הַנָּבִ֔יא בֶּן־עַמְרָ֖ם וְאִמּ֥וֹ יוֹכָֽבֶד׃ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר מִיכָאֵֽל׃ עָלָ֤ה מֹשֶׁה֙ לְהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י לְהִתְחַנֵּ֖ן לִפְנֵ֣י יהו֑ה וַיִּפְתַּ֤ח אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה֙ לִקְרֹ֔א וְַיִּמְצָא־בָּ֗הּ חֲמִשָּׁ֧ה דְּבָרִ֛ים וָנֶּעֶלְמוּ־ל֖וֹ פְּרוּשֵׁ֥י הָעִנְיָנִֽים׃
Blessed be ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer[1]The Gəʿəz word ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer እግዚአብሔር (literally “Lord of the people”) is the standard circumlocution for the Divine Name in the Ethiopic languages. God of Yisrael, God of all spirit and all flesh. Tell how the Angel of Death came by Mosheh the Prophet son of Amram whose mother is Yokheved. And Michael said… Mosheh went up to Mt. Sinai to petition before ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer, and he opened the Torah/Teaching to read and found within it five statements, and the interpretations of the matters were gone from him.

וַיִּקְרָ֥א יהו֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֖אמֶר לֽוֹ׃ אֲנִי֙ כְּתַבְתִּ֣ים בְּיָדַ֔י וַאֲנִ֖י יוֹדֵ֣עַ פְּרוּשָֽׁם׃ דַּ֖ע וּשְׁמַ֑ע כְּמ֨וֹ שֶׁאוֹמֵ֧ר לְךָ֛ אֶת־עִנְיַנ֖וֹ הָרִאשֽׁוֹן׃ כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָבֹ֜אוּ שׁ֣וֹד וָרָעָ֗ב שָׂבָ֧ע וְשִׂמְחָ֛ה וַחָלִּ֖י וְעִצָּב֣וֹן וְדַאֲב֑וֹן וְ֠הָיָ֠ה כּֽל־מִ֨י שֶׁיַּחֲשֹׁ֜ב בְּלִבּ֣וֹ לֵאמֹ֗ר כִּ֣י יֵשׁ֩ אָד֨וֹן אַחֵ֜ר בִּלְעָדַ֗י וְאֵינ֣וֹ יוֹדֵ֡עַ כִּ֣י אֲנִ֣י אֶשְׁפְּטֵ֩הוּ֩ כִּ֨י אֲנִ֤י הוּא֙ הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וְכִסְּאוֹ֙ מָר֣וֹם מִכֹּ֔ל אֲנִ֥י אֲבִיא֖וֹ לְאִשּׁ֥וֹ שֶׁלְּגֵיהִנּֽוֹם׃ וּשְׁמַ֖ע אֶת־עִנְיַ֥נוֹ הַשֵּׁנִֽי׃ מִ֚י שֶׁיַּ֣אֲמִין־בִּ֔י וְנָתַ֧תִּי ל֛וֹ חַיִּ֥ים טוֹבִ֖ים וַחֲסָדִ֥ים עֲצוּמִֽים׃ וּשְׁמַ֖ע אֶת־עִנְיַ֥נוֹ הַשְּׁלִישִֽׁי׃ מֵ֗י שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂ֕ה אֶת־כׇּל־הַחֲטָאִ֖ים בִּצְח֑וֹק אֲנִ֧י אֲבִיאֶ֛נּוּ לְאִשּׁ֥וֹ שֶׁלְּגֵיהִנּ֖וֹם בַּבֶּֽכִי׃ וּשְׁמַ֖ע אֶת־עִנְיַ֥נוֹ הָרבִיעִֽי׃ כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר יִמְצָא֩ אִ֨ישׁ חַ֜יִל וְלֹ֣א יֹאמַ֗ר כִּ֚י יהו֣ה נָתְנוּ־ל֔וֹ וַיֹא֖מֶר בְּכֹחִ֣י מְצָאתִ֑יו כְּשֶׁיַּגִּ֣יעַ קֵץ֔ אֲנִ֧י אֲבִיאֵ֛הוּ לְאִשּׁ֖וֹ שֶׁלְּגֵיהִנֹּֽם׃ וּשְׁמַ֖ע אֶת־עִנְיַ֥נוֹ הַחֲמִישִֽׁי׃ כַּאֲשֶׁ֞ר יִתְפַּלְּל֣וּ אֵלַ֗י כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּרָ֛אתִי בְּכׇל־מַאֲמַצֵּ֥י לְבָבָ֖ם לֵאמֹֽר׃ יהוה֮ אֱלֹהֵ֒ינוּ֒ אַתָּ֣ה ה֡וּא אֲשֶׁר־יָצַרְתָּ֩ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֨יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֜רֶץ וַאֲשֶׁ֣ר יָצַרְתָּ֗ אֶת־הַגַּ֤ן הָעֵ֨דֶן֙ וְאֶת־הַשְּׁאוֹל֙ וְאֶת־הַלַּ֣יְלָה וְאֶת־הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ וְאֶת־הַיָּרֵ֑חַ וַיַּאֲמִ֤ינוּ בִּי֙ וַיַּאֲמִ֣ינוּ בְּכִסְּאִ֔י אֲשֶׁר֙ בַּשָּׁ֣מַיִם מִמַּ֔עַל וְנָתַ֧תִּי לָהֶ֛ם חַיִּ֥ים טוֹבִ֖ים וַחֲסָדִ֥ים עֲצוּמִֽים׃
And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to Mosheh and said to him: “I wrote these with My hand and I know their interpretations. Know and hear when I tell you its first matter: when robbery and famine, satiation and joy, sickness and toil and faintness come upon you, all who think in their hearts to say that there is another lord other than me, and does not know that I judge him, for I am God and My Throne is high over all, I Myself will bring him to the fire of Gehinom. And hear its second matter: One who believes in Me, I will grant him a good life and great mercies. And hear its third matter: One who does all sins with levity, I Myself will bring them to the fire of Gehinom in weeping. And hear its fourth matter: when a man finds strength and does not say “‘or ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer gave it to me, I found it by my own power,’ when he comes to an end I Myself will bring him to the fire of Gehinom. And hear its fifth matter: when any of My creatures pray to Me with all the strength of their hearts and say, ‘ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer our God, You are the One who made the heaven and the earth, and who made the Garden of Eden and Tartarus, and the night and the day and the sun and the moon,’ and believe in Me and believe in My Throne which is in heaven above, I will grant them a good life and great mercies.”

וַיִּ֨פֶן מֹשֶׁ֧ה אֶל־יהו֛ה וַיֹּא֖מֶר לֽוֹ׃ יהו֛ה קָרָ֖אתִי בְּסִפְרֶ֑ךָ וְאֶ֥מְצָא־ב֖וֹ כְּנֶאֱמַֽר׃ אַתָּ֥ה אָמַ֖רְתָּ לַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְלָאָ֑רֶץ הֲתַאֲמִ֥ינוּ בִּ֖י וְאִם־תְּמָֽאֲנוּ׃ וְהַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ אָמְר֑וּ אָ֥נוּ מַאֲמִינִ֖ים בְּךָ֥ אָדֽוֹן׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־יהו֑ה וְאִ֥ם לֹא֙ יַאֲמִ֣ינוּ בָּ֔ךְ מָ֥ה תַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה לַשָּּׁמַ֥יִם וְלָאָֽרֶץ׃ וַיִּ֨פֶן יהו֧ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֛ה וַיֹּא֖מֶר לֽוֹ׃ אֲשַׁלַּ֤ח אֶת־הָחַיָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּיָּ֔ם הַקְּטָנָ֖ה מִכֹּ֑ל וְאִ֞ישׁ לֹ֣א ׀ יָדַ֣ע מְקוֹמָ֗הּ אַיֵּ֕ה וְאִ֧ישׁ לֹא־בִּקְּשָׁ֛הּ זוּלָתִ֥י אֲנִ֖י לְבַדִּֽי׃ אֲנִ֥י אֲשַׁלַּ֖ח אֶת־הָחַיָּ֣ה הַזֹּ֑את לִבְל֤וֹעַ אֶת־כֻּלָּם֙ כָּרֶ֔גָע וְלֹ֣א תִּדְמֶ֔ה לַגַּרְעִ֥ין שֶׁלְּחַרְדָּ֖ל הַנִּשְׁלָ֣ח אַ֑רְצָה כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר תִּבְלָעֵ֥ם לְכֻלָּ֖ם כָּרָֽגַע׃
And Mosheh turned to ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer and said: ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer, “You called me in Your book and I was found, as it is said: ‘You said to the heavens and the earth, do you believe in Me or refuse? And the heavens and the earth said, we believe in You, Lord.” And Mosheh said to ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer, if they would not believe in You, what would You do to the heaven and to the earth? And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer turned to Mosheh and said to him: “I would send the animal in the sea, the smallest of all; and no one knows where their place is, and no one can find them but Me alone. I would send that animal to swallow everything in a moment, and not more than a grain of mustard would be left on Earth, as it swallows everything in a moment.”

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־יהוֽה׃ אָדוֹן֮ הִשְׁבַּעְתִּ֣יךָ בִּשְׁמֶ֒ךָ֒ שֶׁ֤הוֹדַ֨עְתָּ֙ לִ֔י וְלֹ֨א יֵדָעֵ֤הוּ אַחֵר֙ זוּלָתִ֔י וְאַתָּ֖ה לְבַדֶּ֑ךָ כִּ֨י תַּגִּ֧יד לִ֛י י֛וֹם שֶׁתֻּקַּח־בּ֖וֹ אֶת־נִפְשִֽׁי׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יהו֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה שְׁמַ֤ע מֹשֶׁה֙ אֲגִידְךָ֔ וְאוּלָם֙ לֹא־הִגַּ֣דְתִּי ע֔וֹד לְאִ֖ישׁ י֥וֹם מוֹתֽוֹ׃ לַנְּבִיאִ֞ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר הָיוּ֙ לְפָנֶ֔יךָ וְלַמַּלְאָכִ֕ים הַקְּרוֹבִ֥ים אֵלַ֖י לֹ֣א הִגַּדְתִּ֑יו וּלְךָ֤ מֹשֶׁה֙ אֲגִידֵ֣נוּ לָ֔ךְ בְּי֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁ֖י אֶקַ֥ח אֶת־נָפְשֶֽׁךָ׃ וַיְּהִ֨י מֹשֶׁ֧ה לוֹבֵ֛שׁ בְּכׇל־י֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁ֖י בִּגְדֵ֣י קְבוּרָ֑ה וַיִּטְהַ֕ר לִקְרַ֛את בִּיאַ֖ת מַלְאַ֥ךְ הַמָּֽוֶת׃
And Mosheh said to ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer: “Lord, You swore by Your Name to let me know what no others but me alone and You would know, so tell me the day that You will take my life.” And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to Mosheh, “Hear, Mosheh, and I will tell you what I have never told to anyone else, the day of his death. The prophets who were before you, and the angels close to Me I have not told, but to you, Mosheh, I will tell you: on Friday I will take your life.” And Mosheh would dress every Friday[2]The Ethiopian community to this day performs a weekly Ṣomä ʿArb or “Friday fast,” a partial fast in commemoration of Mosheh’ preparations for death. in burial clothes and purified himself to greet the coming of the Angel of Death.

וַיְּהִ֗י כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר חָלְפוּ֙ יָמִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים וַיִּשְׁכַּ֥ח מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶת־י֣וֹם מוֹת֑וֹ וַיַּ֨עַל֙ עַל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וְה֥וּא מִתְפַּלֵּ֖ל לִפְנֵ֥י יהוֽה׃ בָּא֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ הַמָּ֔וֶת וַיָּ֖קׇם לִפְנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֑ה וְה֧וּא דּוֹמֶ֛ה כְּבָח֖וּר מִבְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ שָׁל֥וֹם לְךָ֖ מֹשֶֽׁה׃ וְכַאֲשֶׁר֮ שָׁמַ֣ע אֶת־קוֹלוֹ֒ שֶׁ֤לְּמַלְאָךְ֙ הַמָּ֔וֶת נִצְטַמֵּ֧ק גְּרוֹנ֛וֹ וְתִדְבַּ֥ק לְשׁוֹנ֖וֹ וְנֶעֶלְמ֣וּ דְּבָרָ֑יו וְרָעֲדוּ֙ בִּרְכָּ֔יו וַיִּשְׁתָּ֥חוּ עַל־פָּנָ֖יו וַיָּֽקׇם׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְמַלְאַ֣ךְ הַמָּ֑וֶת הֲאַתָּ֤ה הוּא֙ הָאוֹמֵ֤ר אֵלַי֙ שָׁל֣וֹם לָ֔ךְ לֹ֨א שָׁמַ֧עְתִּי ק֛וֹל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַרְעִידֵ֖נִי שֶׁכְּמוֹתֶֽךָ׃ וַיֹּ֛אמֶר מַלְאַ֥ךְ הַמָּ֖וֶת לְמֹשֶׁ֑ה וְכִ֤י אֵינְךָ֙ יוֹדֵ֣עַ אוֹתִ֔י שְׁמַ֥ע מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֲגִידֶֽךָ׃ אֲנִ֣י ה֣וּא הַ֠גְּזֵרָ֠ה הַמְּרַחֶ֨קֶת אֶת־הָאִשָּׁ֤ה וְהַבַּת֙ וְהַמְּאַבֶּ֤דֶת אֶת־הַבָּתִּים֙ וְהַבּוֹנֶ֣ה אֶת־הַקְּבָרִ֔ים עַד־שֶׁיָּבֹ֖א ס֣וֹף הָעוֹלָ֑ם אֲנִ֧י ה֦וּא סוּרִיאֵ֖ל מַלְאַ֥ךְ הַמָּֽוֶת׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְמַלְאַ֣ךְ הַמָּ֑וֶת מַ֥ה בָּ֖אתָ לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃ וַיֹּ֛אמֶר מַלְאַ֥ךְ הַמָּ֖וֶת לְמֹשֶׁ֑ה בָּ֚אתִי לָקַ֣חַת אֶת־נַפְשֶׁ֔ךָ וְלַהֲבִיאָ֖הּ לִפְנֵ֥י יהוֽה׃
And it was after many days had passed, and Mosheh forgot the day of his death, and he went up to Mt. Sinai and was praying before ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer. The Angel of Death was coming and got up before Mosheh, and he looked like a young Israelite man. And he said to him, “Peace be upon you, Mosheh.” And as he heard the voice of the Angel of Death, his throat tightened and his tongue stuck and his words left him and his knees trembled and he bowed prostrate on his face and fell. And Mosheh said to the Angel of Death, “Are you the one who said to me, ‘Peace be upon you?’ I have never heard a voice that frightened me as yours does!” And the Angel of Death said to Mosheh, “And you do not know me? Listen, Mosheh, and I will tell you. I am the one decree that distances mothers and daughters, and builds graves until the end of the world; I am Suriel[3]Suriel is named in Berakhot 51a as the ministering angel of the Divine presence. In Ethiopian tradition he is considered a good angel of death, as opposed to Samael, an evil angel of death. the Angel of Death.” And Mosheh said to the Angel of Death, “What have you come to do?” And the Angel of Death said to Mosheh, “I have come to take your life and bring it before ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer.”

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְמַלְאַ֣ךְ הַמָּ֑וֶת הִשְׁבַּעְתִּ֨יךָ בַּיהו֜ה הַשּׁוֹלַחֲךָ֗ כִּ֚י לֹא־תִּקַּ֣ח אֶת־נַפְּשִׁ֔י לִפְנֵ֞י שְׁל֣וֹשׁ ׀ שָׁע֣וֹת בְּי֗וֹם עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֵלֵ֔ךְ אֵל־אִשְּׁתִּ֖י וְאֵל־בָּנַֽי׃ וְיִקְרָ֥א יהו֖ה לְמַלְאַ֣ךְ הַמָּ֑וֶת הָנֵ֧חַ ל֥וֹ עַ֖ד בֹּ֥א שְׁעָתֽוֹ׃ וַיַּנִּיחֵ֖הוּ עַד־בָּ֑א וַיֵּ֖צֵא לְצֵ֥ל הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃
And Mosheh said to the Angel of Death, “I have sworn before You by ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer who takes me that you will not take my soul until the third hour of the day,[4]Three hours after sunrise, aka nine o’clock in the morning. so I may go to my wife and sons.” And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to the Angel of Death, “Let him be, until the hour comes.” So he let him be until it came, and he went out to the sun’s shadow.

וַיֵּ֤רֶד מֹשֶׁה֙ מֵהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וַיַּגִּ֖יעַ אֶל־פָּרָשַׁ֣ת הַדְּרָכִ֑ים הַדֶּ֤רֶךְ הָאַחַת֙ מַגִּיעַ֣ת עַד־אִמּ֔וֹ וַיַּעֲמֹ֕ד בְּאֶמְצַ֖ע שְׁתֵ֥י הַדְּרָכִֽים׃ וַיַּחֲשֹׁ֥ב בְּלִבּ֖וֹ לֵאמֹ֑ר הַאֵלֵ֛ךְ אֵ֥צֶל אִשְּׁתִּ֖י אוֹ־אֵ֥צֶל אִמִּֽי׃ וּבְעוֹדֶ֖נּוּ חוֹשֵׁ֣ב כָּזֹ֑את שָׁמַ֨ע ק֤וֹל מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֨יִם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֵ֛ךְ אֵ֖צֶל אִמְּךָ֥ קֽוֹדֵם׃
And Mosheh went down from Mt. Sinai to the crossroads, and one road went to his mother, and he stood in the middle of the two roads. And he thought in his heart and said, “Should I go by my wife or by my mother?” And just as he was thinking this he heard a voice from Heaven say, “Go by your mother first.”

וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ אֵ֣צֶל אִמּ֑וֹ וַיַּגִ֨יעַ֙ עַד־פֶּ֣תַח אִמּ֔וֹ וַיְּצַוֶּ֖הָ פִּֽתְחִי־לִֽי׃ וַתָּבֹ֤א אִמּוֹ֙ וַתִּפְתַּח־ל֔וֹ וַתֵּ֖רֶא אֶת־צוּרַ֣ת בְּנָ֑הּ וְהִנֵּ֕ה פָנָ֥יו עֲצוּבִ֖ים וְגוּפ֥וֹ חִוֵּֽר׃ וַתֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ מֶה־הָ֥יָה לְךָ֖ בְּנִ֑י הֲבָא֤וּ רוֹעֶ֨יךָ֙ לְדַבֵּר־לָ֔ךְ אוֹ־מֶ֧ה הָיָ֛ה לְךָ֖ אֵיפֹ֥א בְּנִֽי׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְאִמּ֑וֹ מִי־יִקְרָאֵ֨נִי֙ מִבַּלְעֲדֵ֣י יהו֔ה וּמִי־יַפְחִידֵ֖נִי מִבַּלְעֲדֵ֥י הַמָֽוֶת׃ וַתֹּ֥אמֶֶר אִמּ֖וֹ לְמֹשֶׁ֑ה הֲמְדַבֵּ֤ר עִם־יהוה֙ פַּנִ֣ים אֶל־פַנִ֔ים וּפֶ֥ה אֶל־פֶ֖ה יָמֽוּת׃ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְאִמּ֔וֹ כֵּ֖ן יָמ֑וּת וְכֻלָּ֖ם יָמֻֽתוּ׃ וְאוּלָ֗ם קוּמִי֩ וְשִׂ֨ימִי אֶת־רַגְלֵ֤ךְ הַשְּׂמֹאלִית֙ עַל־צִדִּ֣י הַשְּׂמֹאלִ֔ית וּשְׂאִי֙ אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֣י יָדַ֔יִךְ וְהִתְפַּלְּלִ֖י לִפְנֵ֣י יהו֑ה כִּ֣י יֵקַ֔ל אֶת־יִסּוּרֵ֖י הַמָּֽוֶת׃ וַתַּ֛עַשׂ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר אַֽמָר־לָ֖הּ וַתִּתְחַנֶּֽן׃ וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ מֵאִתָּ֔ה וַיֵ֖בְךְּ בְּכִ֥יָּה גְּדוֹלָֽה׃ וַתֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֵינֶ֣נּוּ מַאֲמִינִ֔ים בְּעִנְיְנֵ֖י הָעוֹלָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָ֣נוּ מְקַוִּ֔ים לַאֲשֶׁ֖ר בַּשָּׁמַֽיִם׃
And he went by his mother and arrived at his mother’s entrance and ordered her, “Open up for me!” And his mother came and opened it for him, and she saw the form of her son, and hey, his face was sad and his body was pale. And she said to him, “What happened to you, my son? Have your shepherds come to speak with you – or what happened, my son?” And Mosheh said to his mother, “Who would call me other than ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer, and who would frighten me other than death?” And Mosheh’ mother said to him, “The one who speaks with God face to face and mouth to mouth would die?” And he said to his mother, “Yes, he will die, for all die. But come, put your left leg by your left side and lift up your two hands and pray before ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer that God may lighten the torments of death.” And she did as he had said and besought. And he went from her and cried a great cry. And she said, “We cannot believe in the matters of this world, but we hope for what is in Heaven.”

וַיְּהִ֞י בְּלֶ֤כֶת מֹשֶׁה֙ אֵ֣צֶל אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ נָפַ֥ל לִבּ֖וֹ וְיֶחֶוְר֑וּ וְלֹא־יָדַ֥ע אֶת־הַדֶּ֖רֶךְ וַיַּגִ֣יעַ הַפָּֽתַח׃ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ אָנֹכִ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה פִּתְחִ֖י לִ֑י וַתָּ֖קׇם וַתִּפְתַּ֥ח לֽוֹ׃ וַיָבֹ֥א מֹשֶׁ֖ה וַתֵּ֑רֶא כִּ֚י חִוְּר֣וּ פָנָ֔יו וְכִ֖י נָפַ֥ל לִבּֽוֹ׃ וַתֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ מֶ֛ה הָיָ֥ה לְךָ֖ חֲבִיבִ֑י כִּ֚י נָפַ֣ל לִבֶּ֔ךָ וְכִ֖י חִוֵּ֥ר גּוּפֶֽךָ׃ הַגְּמַלִ֖ים אָ֣בְדוּ לָ֑ךְ א֖וֹ הוֹנֶֽךָ׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְאִשְׁתּ֑וֹ מִי־יִקְרָאֵ֨נִי֙ מִבַּלְעֲדֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים וּמִי־יַפְחִידֵ֖נִי מִבַּלְעֲדֵ֥י הַמָֽוֶת׃ וַתֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ אִשְׁתּ֑וֹ הֲמְדַבֵּ֥ר עִם־הַאֱלֹהִ֖ים יָמֽוּת׃ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָ֔הּ כֵּ֖ן יָמ֑וּת אַבְרָהָם֙ מֵ֔ת וְהַנְּבִיאִ֖ים כֻּלָּ֥ם מֵֽתוּ׃
And it was when Mosheh went by his wife, his heart was fallen and he was pale, and he did not know the way, and he arrived at the entrance. And he said to her, “It’s me, Mosheh! Open up for me!” And she came and opened up for him. And Mosheh came and she saw that his face was pale and his heart was fallen. And she said to him, “What has happened to you, dear, that your heart has fallen and your body has paled? Did the camels run off or something?” And Mosheh said to his wife, “Who would call me other than God, and who would frighten me other than death?” And his wife said to him, “The one who speaks with God would die?” And he said to her, “Yes, he will die; Abraham died and all the prophets died.”

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְאִשְׁתּ֑וֹ בַּנָ֖י אַיֵּ֥ה הֵֽם׃ וַתֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ אִשְׁתּ֑וֹ הֵ֥ם יְשֵׁנִ֖ים בַּמִּטָּֽה׃ וַיֹּאמֶ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ לְאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ הֲבִיאָ֖ם אֵלַֽי׃ וַתֵּ֮בְךְּ֮ בְּכִיָּ֣ה גְּדוֹלָה֒ וַתֵּ֨לֶךְ֙ וְהִ֣יא בוֹכָ֔ה וַתֹּאמֶ֣ר לָהֶ֗ם לְכ֛וּ אֵ֥צֶל אֲבִיכֵ֖ם ק֣וֹדֶם שֶׁיָּמ֑וֹת וְלֹ֥א תּוֹסִ֖יפוּ לִרְאוֹת֥וֹ עֽוֹד׃ וַתָּעִירֵ֥ם מִשְּׁנָתָ֖ם‎ וַתּוֹלֵיכֶ֑ם וְהִיא֙ מְחַזֶּ֣קֶת בְּיָדָ֔ם הַיְּמָנִ֖ית וְהַשְׂמֹאלִֽית׃ וַתֹּאמֶ֖ר לָהֶ֑ם בְּכוּ֙ עַ֣ל אֲבִיכֵ֔ם יַ֛עַן כִּ֥י הִנְּכֶ֖ם נִפְרָדִֽים׃ וַיֹּ֥אמְרוּ לָ֖הּ אַיֵּ֣ה אֲבִ֑ינוּ וַתָּבִיאֵ֖ם אֵ֥צֶל אֲבִיהֶֽם׃ וַתֹּאמֵ֤ר לָהֶם֙ הַבִּ֣יטוּ בַּאֲבִיכֶ֔ם עַ֖ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּשָּׁבֶ֑עוּ יַ֕עַן כִּ֥י בְּקָר֖וֹב תִּפָּרֶֽדוּ׃ וְכַאֲשֶׁ֣ר רָאוּ֮ אֶת־אֲבִיהֶם֒ נָפְל֣וּ עַל־פְּנֵיהֶ֗ם וַיִּבְכּוּ֙ בְּכִיָּ֣ה גְּדוֹלָ֔ה וּמֹשֶׁ֥ה בָּכָ֖ה עִמָּ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֔ם הִנְנ֥וּ נִפְרָדִ֖ים מֵעַ֥ל הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ וַתֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ אִשְׁתּ֑וֹ לֹא־נָשׁ֥וּב לְהִתְרָא֖וֹת עֽוֹד׃
And Mosheh said to his wife, “My sons, where are they?” And his wife said to him, “They are sleeping in the bed.” And Mosheh said to his wife, “Bring them out to me.” And she cried a great cry and went, weeping along the way, and said to them, “Come by your father before he dies, for then you will not see him again.” And she awoke them from their sleep and held their hands, right and left. And she said to them, “Cry for your father, because you are to be separated.” And they said to her, “Where is our father?” and she took them by their father. And she said to them, “Gaze upon your father until you are sated, because you are soon to be separated.” And when they say their father they fell on their faces and cried a great cry, and Mosheh cried with them, and said to them, “We are to be separated from upon the earth!” And his wife said to him, “We will not return to see you again.”

וַיָּ֨שֶׂם אֶת־בְּנ֤וֹ הַצָּעִיר֙ אֱלִיעֶ֔זֶר עַל־בִּרְכּ֥וֹ הַיְּמָנִ֖ית לְבָרְכ֑וֹ וְאֶת־בְּנ֤וֹ הָאֶחָד֙ גֵּרְשֹׁ֣ם הַבְּכ֔וֹר עַל־בִּרְכּ֥וֹ הַשְּׁמֹאלִ֖ית לְבָרְכֽוֹ׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַצָּעִ֖יר לְאָחִ֣יו הַבְּכ֑וֹר מֵעַתָּ֗ה כְּשֶׁאָ֤נוּ נִפְרָדִים֙ מֵאֲבִ֔ינוּ מִ֣י שֶׁאָהַ֗בְנוּ יָרֵ֨עַ֙ לָ֔נוּ וּמִ֥י שֶׁשָּׂנֵ֖אנוּ יְגָרְשֵֽׁנוּ׃ כַּאֲשֶׁר֙ שָׁמַ֣ע מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י בָּנָ֖יו בָּכָ֑ה וְהַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְהָאָ֔רֶץ בָּכ֖וּ עִמָּֽם׃
And he took his younger son Eliezer on his right knee to bless him, and his one son Gershom the eldest on his left knee to bless him. And the younger said to his elder brother, “Now that we will be separated from our father, those who loved us will be evil to us, and those who hate us will cast us away!” And as Mosheh heard the words of his sons he wept, and the heavens and earth wept with him.

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יהו֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה לָ֚מָּה תִּבְכֶּ֔ה מִפְּנֵ֤י שֶׁהִנְּךָ֙ עוֹזֵ֣ב אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ א֛וֹ מִפְּנֵ֥י שֶׁהִנְּךָ֖ יָרֵ֥א אֶת־הַמָּֽוֶת׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־יהו֑ה אֲבִ֣י אִשְּׁתִּ֞י יִתְר֣וֹ מֵ֗ת וְגַ֨ם אֲחִ֤י אַהֲרֹן֙ מֵ֔ת וְאִם־אֲנִ֥י אָמ֖וּת עַל־מִ֥י אֶעֶזְבֵֽם׃ וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יהו֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר נוֹלֶ֜דֶת וְאִמְּךָ֣ יוֹכֶ֗בֶד שָׂ֨מָה אוֹתְךָ֤ בַּתֵּבָה֙ וְתַעֲזׇבְךָ֣ בַּיְּא֔וֹר הַאִ֥ם אֲנִ֖י שְׁכַחְתִּֽיךָ׃ וּלְפַרְעֹ֣ה ׀ מֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרַ֗יִם סָכַ֤רְתִּי פִּיו֙ וָאַ֣עַשׂ כֵּ֔ן לְמַ֖עַן לֹא־יְדַבֵּ֥ר פִּֽיו׃ וַעֲשִׂיתִיךָ֩ לְמַ֨עַן תֶּאֱהׇבְךָ֤ מְאֹד֙ תֵּרְמוּת֙ בַּת־פַּרְעֹ֔ה בְּאָמְרָ֥ה לְךָ֖ בְּנִ֑י וְאַתָּ֥ה חָיִ֖יתָ אַרְבָּעִ֥ים שָׁנָֽה׃
And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to Mosheh, “Why are you crying? Is it because you are to leave the earth, or because you are afraid of death?” And Mosheh said to ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer, “My father-in-law Yitro is dead, and my brother Aharon is dead, and if I die, to whom will I leave them?” And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to Mosheh, “When you were born and your mother Yokheved put you in the basket in the Nile, did I forget you? And I shut the mouth of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and I did so so that he would not speak. And I did this for you so that Thermouth[5]A traditional name for the daughter of Pharaoh. See also Jubilees 47:5 and Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 9:5. Pharaoh’s daughter would love you greatly, and say to you, “My son!” And you lived there forty years.”

וְעַתָ֥ה ק֖וּם קַ֣ח אֶת־מַטֶּ֑ךָ וּבְקַ֖ע אֶת־יָ֥ם הַסּֽוּף׃ וַיָּ֣קׇם מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיְּבַקַּע֙ אֶת־הַיָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖קׇם מִן־הַיָּ֑ם וַיִּמְצָ֛א אֶ֥בֶן גְדוֹלָ֖ה נִגְלָֽלֶת׃ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יהוה֙ לְמֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּקַ֕ע אֶת־הַאֶ֖בֶן הַנִּגְלָ֑לֶת וַתִּתְבַּקַּ֖ע הַאָֽבֶן׃ וַיִּמְצָ֣א בַּחֲלָלָ֑ה וְהוּא֙ מֵעֵ֣שֶׂב יָרֹ֔ק תּוֹלֵעָ֣ה קְטַנָּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר אָמְרָ֑ה בָּר֣וּךְ יהו֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹ֤א שַׁכְחָ֨נִי֙ עַד־הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה שֶׁהָיִ֖יתִי בִּמְצוּלַ֥ת הַיָּֽם׃ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יהוה֮ לְמֹשֶׁה֒ הֲלֹ֣א רָאִ֗יתָ כְּמ֤וֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה֙ בִמְצוּלַ֣ת הַיָּ֔ם וּבֶחָ֖לָל אֶ֣בֶן נִגְלָ֑לֶת וְהַאִ֥ם שַׁכָ֖חְתִּי אֶת־הַתּוֹלֵעָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ הֲתִדְמֶ֗ה כִּ֚י אֶשְׁכַּ֣ח אֶת־בָּנֶ֔יךָ אִם־יִתְפַּלְּל֥וּ אֵלַ֖י כָּזֶ֑ה וְהִנֵּ֧ה בָּנֶ֛יךָ יִהְיוּ־לִ֖י לְפִקָּדֽוֹן׃ וְעַתָּ֣ה שַׁק֮ לְבָנֶ֣יךָ וּלְאִשְּׁתֶּ֒ךָ֒ יַעַ֗ן כִּ֚י יִקְרְב֣וּ אֵלֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר יִקְּח֣וּ אֶת־נַפְשֶׁ֑ךָ וְלֹ֥א תּוֹסִ֖יף לָבֹּ֥א הֵֽנָה׃ וְתַחְבְּקֵ֣הוּ אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ וַתֵּ֥בְךְּ בְּכִיָּ֖ה גְּדוֹלָ֑ה וְגַ֥ם ה֖וּא בָּכָ֥ה עִמָּֽהּ׃
“And now, get up, take your staff and split the Red Sea!” And Mosheh got up and split the sea and got up from the sea and found a great rock rolled there. And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to Mosheh, “Split the rolled rock!” and the rock was split. And in a cavity green with grass he found a small worm that said, “Blessed be ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer who did not forget me until this day, for I was in the depths of the sea!” And ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer said to Mosheh, “Don’t you see? Just as this worm was in the depths of the sea and in a cavity in a rolled rock, did I forget it? Are you not similar, that I would forget your sons if they pray to me like this? Hey, your sons will be as a remembrance. And now, kiss your sons and your wife, because those who will take your life draw near, and you will not come again.” And he embraced his wife and she cried a great cry, and also he wept with her.

וּמֹשֶׁה יָצָא מִבֵּיתוֹ וְיַעֲזֹב֙ אֶת־אִשְׁתּ֣וֹ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֔יו וַיֵּ֕לֶךְ וְלִבּ֥וֹ נוֹפֵ֖ל וְגוּפ֣וֹ חִוֵּ֑ר וְלֹא־יָדַ֥ע אֶת־הַדֶּ֖רֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֵלֵךְ־בָּֽהּ׃ וַיִּמְצָ֗א שְׁלֹשָׁה֙ בַּחוּרִ֣ים יָפִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר חָפְר֖וּ קָֽבֶר׃ וַיֹּאמֶ֤ר לָהֶם֙ שָׁל֣וֹם לָכֶ֔ם וּשְׁל֥וֹם יהו֖ה יְהִ֥י עֲלִיכֶֽם׃ וְאָחַ֛ר אָמַ֥ר מֹשֶׁ֖ה לָהֶ֑ם בִּ֥שְׁבִיל מִי֙ אֲתֶּ֣ם חוֹפְרִ֔ים אֶת־הַקֶּ֖בֶר הַזֶּֽה׃ וְיֹ֥אמְרוּ ל֖וֹ הַבְּחוּרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה בְּעַ֥ד אִישׁ֙ אָה֣וּב אֱלֹהִ֔ים הִנֵּ֖נוּ חוֹפְרִֽים׃ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה לָהֶ֗ם אִ֨ם בְּעַ֥ד אִ֛ישׁ אָה֥וּב אֱלֹהִ֖ים תַּחְפְּר֑וּהוּ הִנְנִ֥י לְעֶזְרְכֶ֖ם וְעִמָּכֶ֥ם אֶחְפֹּֽר׃
And Mosheh was exiting his house and left his wife and sons and went, and his heart was low and his body was pale, and he did not know the way that he would go. And he found three handsome young men who were digging a grave. And he said to them, “Peace be upon you, and the peace of ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer be over you!” And afterwards Mosheh said to them, “For whom are you digging this grave?” And those young men said to him, “For a man beloved by God we are digging.” And Mosheh said to them, “If for a man beloved by God you are digging it, I’m here to help you, and I will dig with you.”

וְכַאֲשֶׁ֖ר כָּל֥וּ אֶת־הַקָּ֑בֶר אָמַ֤ר לָהֶם֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה הָבִ֛יאוּ אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲתֶּ֖ם מְקַבְּרִֽים׃ וְיֹאמְר֥וּ ל֖וֹ הַבְּחוּרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְהֵ֥ם מַלְאָכִ֖ים הַדּוֹמִ֥ים לַאֲנָשִֽׁים׃ חוֹשֵׁ֗שְׁנוּ כִּ֨י יָצַ֤ר הַמָּקוֹם֙ לָ֔נוּ לְמַ֨עַן֙ נִקְבֹּר־בּ֔וֹ וְאוֹת֣וֹ הָאִ֗ישׁ ה֚וּא דּוֹמֶ֣ה לְךָ֔ בְּגוּפ֥וֹ וּמִשְׁקָ֖לוֹ וּמַרְאֵ֑הוּ לָכֵ֛ן תָּב֥וֹא אֶל־הַקֶּ֖בֶר וְתִמְדְּדֶ֥נּוּ לָֽנוּ׃ וְיָבֹ֥א מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־הַקָּ֑בֶר וַיִּמְצָ֛א אֶת־מַלְאַ֥ךְ הַמָּ֖וֶת בַּקָּֽבֶר׃ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר מַלְאַ֤ךְ הַמָּוֶת֙ לְמֹשֶׁ֔ה שָׁל֥וֹם לְךָ֖ מֹשֶׁ֥ה בֶּן־עַמְרָ֑ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ לְמַלְאַ֣ךְ הַמָּ֔וֶת יָבֹ֥א שְׁלוֹמֶ֖ךָ‎ עַל־רֹאשֶֽׁךָ׃ וַיָּ֣מׇת מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיִּקְבְּרֻ֖הוּ הַמַּלְאָכִֽים׃
And when they finished the grave Mosheh said to them, “Bring the one whom you are burying.” And those young men said to him — and they were angels who were like men — “We are worried that the place is too narrow for us to bury him, but the man himself is like you in body and weight and appearance. So you can go into the grave and have it measured for us.” And Mosheh went into the grave and found the Angel of Death in the grave. And the Angel of Death said to Mosheh, “Peace be upon you, Mosheh son of Amram.” And Mosheh said to the Angel of Death, “May your peace fall on your head.” And Mosheh died and the angels buried him.

Source(s)

Notes   [ + ]

  1. The Gəʿəz word ʾƎgəziʾäbəḥer እግዚአብሔር (literally “Lord of the people”) is the standard circumlocution for the Divine Name in the Ethiopic languages.
  2. The Ethiopian community to this day performs a weekly Ṣomä ʿArb or “Friday fast,” a partial fast in commemoration of Mosheh’ preparations for death.
  3. Suriel is named in Berakhot 51a as the ministering angel of the Divine presence. In Ethiopian tradition he is considered a good angel of death, as opposed to Samael, an evil angel of death.
  4. Three hours after sunrise, aka nine o’clock in the morning.
  5. A traditional name for the daughter of Pharaoh. See also Jubilees 47:5 and Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 9:5.

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