The forty years of Moses' life can be divided into three segments. According to Acts 7:23, Moses spent the first forty years of his life as a member of Egypt's royal family. For the rest of his life, Moses remained an outcast because of his decision to aid the Israelites rather than the Egyptians.
After returning from his mission to free Israel from slavery in Egypt, Moses continued to live for another forty years. In total, Moses spent forty years as a prince, forty years as a shepherd in exile, and then another forty years as the leader of a group of emancipated slaves.
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How Old Was Moses When He Died?
Even though Moses' exact age at death is never specified in the Bible, historians have estimated that he lived to be around 120 years old.
God instructs Moses to lead the Hebrew slaves to safety and then to the land they were promised (Bible, Exodus 3:10). In their journey to freedom, he takes charge of the band of fugitive slaves and guides them through numerous perils (Exodus 4:19-22). A daughter of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Zipporah becomes Moses' wife (see Genesis 20:18-21; 25:1-2)
The Timeline of Moses’ Life
To say that Moses had a peculiar life would be an understatement. God made a method for Moses to have a safe haven as a child, despite the fact that he was born to a Hebrew woman and the Egyptians had been ordered to kill all male Hebrew babies.
He is found by an Egyptian princess, who raises him as her own after having Moses' mother care for him during his toddler years (Exodus 2). He spends 40 years in Egypt as a king before he finally snaps and kills someone for mistreating a Hebrew slave.
He abandons civilization and moves 40 years early to the desert oasis of Midian, where he meets his future wife (Exodus 2). At the ripe old age of 80, God sends him to Egypt to convince Pharaoh to release the Hebrew slaves (Exodus 3).
We all know how the narrative ends: Moses goes back to Egypt & the Egyptians refuse to let the Hebrews out, so Moses brings 10 plagues upon them. Egypt first agreed to let the Israelites leave, but afterward changed their minds & began to pursue them across the Red Sea.
After escaping Egypt, the Israelites began their long journey to the land God had given them. While on this journey, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and receives God's commandments for all people to follow (Exodus 19).
But God forbids most of Israel from entering the promised land because of their worship of idols, grumbling, and disobedience, and so they and Moses end up wandering the desert for 40 years. Moses dies at age 120 before the Israelites enter the land they were promised.
Why Did People Live So Long in the Old Testament?
We might have noted before the flood that many people lived for a very long time. Methuselah lives to the ripe old age of 969, passing away shortly before the Great Flood. As far as anyone can tell, Moses lived to be 120 years old and probably could have gone on for much longer.
In light of man's sinfulness, God declares in Genesis 6:3: “Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not battle with people forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
However, it appears that post-flood lifespans have increased over 120 years. Age 175 for Abraham, and age 180 for Isaac. What gives, then? Some have interpreted this to signify that God gave humans 120 years to repent before the Flood, after witnessing their wickedness.
It appears that this remark agrees with that reading. Yet this doesn't explain why humanity survived the flood and continued to exist for centuries thereafter. We know this because Josephus discusses it in his Antiquities, Book 1.
For those ancients were beloved of God & made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live such a great number of years; but let no one, upon comparing their lives with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, thinks, that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument that neither did they attain to so long duration of life.
For their virtue and the good use of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, God granted them extra years of life; without those extra years, they would not have had the opportunity to predict the periods of the stars; the Great Year is finished in that time frame.
The ravages of sin hadn't yet taken a firm hold on them, meaning their DNA was stronger and they enjoyed a healthier diet than subsequent generations. That Moses's life span was just half that of Methuselah's is likely due in part to the fact that he lived in a different era. However, we will also investigate the underlying cause of God's decision to end his life prematurely.