There is a strangely
arranged prophecy regarding the Prophet of Islam in a pseudepigraphical book
attributed to Moses named ‘The Assumption of Moses’.
It was introduced to me by a worthy friend, Mr. Muhammad Farooq Kamal.
The book consisted originally of 1,100 stichoi [lines], about half of which
had been discovered. This book has been included in R. H. Charles’
compilation, ‘The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in
English’. According to the Introduction of this book by the editor, it was
originally written in Hebrew, between AD 7 and 29. A Greek version of it
appeared in the first century AD. The Greek version was translated into
Latin not later than the fifth century. Of this version a large fragment was
discovered by Ceriani in the form of a sixth-century MS in the Ambrosian
Library in Milan and published by him in his Mon. sacr. Et prof. I. i. 55-64
in 1861. This MS is a palimpsest
of the sixth century.
The editor has observed:
It is not, as scholars have supposed, the
actual work of the original Latin translator, but only a fragmentary copy of
that version [stress added]; for our text contains duplicate renderings and
attempts at a better translation, which were primarily marginal glosses, but
afterwards introduced by a copyist into the text [stress added. And it is a
common practice with most of the Bible texts.].
The present book is the English translation
of the Latin Version, which was translated from the Greek Version. But the
Greek Version is not its original form. It may have been translated from the
Hebrew original. That’s why the editor has observed, ‘In some cases we must
translate, not the Latin, but the Hebrew presupposed by it.’;
and, ‘Frequently it is only through retranslation that we can understand the
source of the corruptions in the text [stress added. Note the existence of
the corruptions in its text.].’
The author was not a Sadducee, or a Zealot, or an Essene; but was a
The present treatise, ‘The Assumption of
Moses’, consists of 12 chapters, rather paragraphs, of an average of about
twenty lines each. At the very outset, in chapter 1, Moses calls to him
Joshua the son of Nun and tells him:
The time of the years of my life is fulfilled
and I am passing away to sleep with my fathers even in the presence of all
the people. And receive thou this writing that thou mayst know how to
preserve the books which I shall deliver unto thee.
He also tells him:
He might be the minister of the people (…),
and that he might bring the people into the land given to their fathers,
that it should be given to them according to the covenant and the oath.
It is evinced from these lines that this
treatise consists of some information which is very important according to
Moses. That’s why he is putting it forward at the end of his ‘years of life’
as his last will or ‘testament’.
It would be pertinent to study very briefly the outlines of the contents of
each chapter to understand the development of the theme.
In chapter 2 Moses tells Joshua, ‘thou shalt
bless and give to them individually and confirm unto them their inheritance
He also informs him briefly about the salient features of the history of
Israel until the conquest of Nebuchadnezzer
in a symbolic manner. In chapter 3 Moses gives a brief account of the
destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzer. In chapter 4 Moses
informs about the coming of Daniel and his praying for the Jews and their
deliverance from the captivity and return from the exile of Babylon to their
Chapter 5 states the occupation of the Seleucidae and the Greek kings and
generals. Later, in the person of Antiochus, they punished the apostate
Jewish nation. Chapter 6 relates to the Maccabees without mentioning their
With the end of chapter 6 the author’s own
lifetime starts. He can now no more state the events of the past as the
predictions of the future. He can now state only some obscure predictions
and enigmatical symbols. The treacherous men, self-pleasers, gluttons, and
deceitful people of chapter 7 can be interpreted in terms of the Sadducees.
According to the editor the ‘second visitation [and wrath of chapter 8] is
too accurate an account of Antiochus Epiphanes’
The editor has further observed here in his footnote, ‘Thus we have a clear
case of transposition by the final editor.’
It shows that at every stage of its compilation the redactors of the
treatise had been liberally modifying the text to their taste or
intelligence. As regards chapter 9, Moses, or whosoever of the inspired
saints or scribes be the author, foretells the incident of taking refuge of
the ‘Seven Sleepers’ in a cave to spare themselves from the persecution of
the Roman Emperor, Decius.
The incident has been recorded in the Qu’ān in chapter XVIII (al-Kahf, i.e.,
The Cave). Although the editor attaches chapter 9 to some other irrelevant
person Eleazar of 2 Macc. vi. 18 (whose name has been mentioned here as ‘Taxo’),
who was one of the chief scribes, and, according to 4 Macc. v. 3, a priest;
its application to the event of the ‘Seven Sleepers’ of Ephesus is more
significant. Some of its excerpts would illustrate it:
Then in that day there shall be a man of the
tribe of Levi, whose name shall be Taxo, who having seven sons shall speak
to them exhorting (them): ‘Observe, my sons, behold a second ruthless (and)
unclean visitation has come upon the people, and a punishment far exceeding
the first. (…). Now, therefore, my sons, hear me (…). Let us fast for the
space of three days and on the fourth let us go into a cave which is in the
field, and let us die rather than transgress he commands of the Lord of
Lords, the God of our fathers. For if we do this and die, our blood shall be
avenged before the Lord.
It may be noted here that the event of the
‘Seven Sleepers of Ephesus’ is the main and significant event of the domain
of religion between the period of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muh~ammad (sws).
That’s why Moses has told it to Joshua.
Now comes the most conspicuous chapter 10 of
the ‘Testament’, which indicates its main and central theme. It relates the
advent of the Prophet of Islam. Some of its lines are reproduced below:
And then His kingdom
shall appear throughout all His creation,
And He will appear to punish the Gentiles,
And He will destroy all their idols.
And do thou, Joshua (the son of) Nun, keep
these words and this book;
For from my death [assumption] until His
there shall be CCL times [stress added].
And this is the course of the times which
they shall pursue till they are consummated.
And I shall go to sleep with my fathers.
Wherefore, Joshua thou (son of) Nun, (be
strong and) be of good courage; (for) God hath chosen (thee) to be minister
in the same covenant.
In chapter 11 Moses reminds Joshua his
assignments emphatically. Joshua is aggrieved upon and afraid of the heavy
task before him. Finally, in chapter 12 Moses Consoles and encourages
Joshua. He affirms that the will of God shall be fulfilled and shall prevail
and He shall help him in the accomplishment of his assignment. And with this
our present treatise comes to the end.
As can be easily appreciated, chapter 10 is
the most conspicuous part of the book, because it foretells the advent of
the ‘kingdom of God’ which is to be established 1750 years after the death
of Moses. To appreciate the exact personality which was to establish the
foretold ‘kingdom of God’, first of all we have to find out the point of
time in the world history which falls 1750 years after the death of Moses.
Although the time of Moses’ death cannot be exactly pin pointed, the
scholars have made all out efforts to reach as near to the exact point of
time of the event as possible with the help of the available data of the
annals of the world history.
Oxford Bible Atlas asserts that the Exodus of
the Israelites under Moses from Egypt took place during the period of
Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II of the 19th dynasty, who ruled Egypt from 1290
to 1224 BC:
The oppression of Israel and the exodus from
Egypt took place most probably under Rameses II (1290-24),
Bernhard W. Anderson
and John Bright
have also assigned Ramesus II the same dates.
New Bible Atlas concludes on the basis of
archaeological research that the event of exodus related to ca. 1230/20 BC:
Among the L. B. [Late Bronze Age: 1550-1200
BC] towns destroyed at the end of the period are some listed among Israel’s
conquest: Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir), Eglon (Tell el-Hesi), Debir (Tell el-Beit
Mirsim) and Hazor. Many scholars have therefore interpreted these
destructions as the archaeological evidence for Israel’s entry into Canaan,
dating the event c. 1230/20 BC. The relatively poor Iron Age I [1200-330 BC]
culture which followed has therefore been labelled ‘Israelite’.(….). It
appears from the latest evidence that Lachish was also destroyed c. 1175 BC
rather than 1230/20 BC.
Now if this Pharaoh Rameses II (1290-24 BC)
be, as is generally accepted by the scholars of the Bible, the same Pharaoh,
during whose reign the Israelites migrated from Egypt with Moses, he must
have drowned in the sea while chasing Israelites. The Bible has recorded the
event fairly in detail:
When the king of Egypt was told that the
people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them
and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost
their services!” So he [this ‘he’, obviously, here means none other than
‘Pharaoh’] had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took
six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of
Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of
Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching
out boldly. The Egyptians — all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and
troops — pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea
near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked
up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified
and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no
graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done
to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us
alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to
serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.
Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.
The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight
for you; you need only to be still.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you
crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and
stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the
Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of
the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory
through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The
Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh,
his chariots and his horsemen.” (….).
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the
sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind
and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites
went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and
on their left.
The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s
horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. (…).
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out
your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians
and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched his hand over the sea, and
at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing
toward it and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and
covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had
followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
It shows that the Pharaoh, who followed the
Israelites in the dried seabed, had been drowned and was not spared.
Consequently the Israelites entered into Sinai. Thus the Exodus took place
in 1224 BC, which is also the same year in which Pharaoh Rameses II died of
drowning in his hot pursuit of the fleeing Israelites.
Now the Israelites along with Moses wandered
for forty years in Sinai before entering into the land of Canaan. Moses died
at the end of this forty-year wandering in the wilderness before the entry
of the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan under the leadership of
Joshua son of Nun. It shows that Moses died in the year 1184 BC
(1224-40=1184). That the Israelites had wandered in Sinai for forty years
after the announcement of this punishment for their misbehavior in Sinai and
before their entry into the Promised Land of Canaan, can be appreciated from
the following excerpt of the Bible:
In this desert your bodies will fall — every
one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who
has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with
uplifted hand to make your home except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son
of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will
bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you — your bodies
will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty
years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies
in the desert. For forty years — one year for each of the forty days you
explored the land — you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like
to have me against you. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these
things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me.
They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die.
It is to be noted that there is an error in
counting the years of the common Christian era. Smith’s Dictionary of the
Bible has recorded:
The date of his birth was most probably in
December, B.C. 5, four years before the era from which we count our years.
That era was not used till several hundred years after Christ. The
calculations were made by a learned monk, Dionysius Exiguus, in the sixth
century, who made an error of four years.
It means that the number of years after the
death of Moses till the birth of Jesus Christ, which have became 1184 years,
is not right. Jesus had born four years prior to what is generally stated.
So the actual gap between the death of Moses and the birth of Jesus is 1180
years (4 years earlier than 1184=1180).
It is almost unanimously held that the
Prophet of Islam was born in AD 570. In his article ‘Mohammed,
Mohammedanism’ Geo. W. Gilmore observes:
Mohammed, ‘The Praised’, the posthumous son
of Abdu Allah, a member of the Koraish tribe, by Aminah, was born at Mecca
Aug. 20, 570, and died at Medina June 8, 632.
Michael H. Hart writes:
The majority of the persons in this book had
the advantage of being born and raised in centers of civilization, highly
cultured or politically pivotal nations. Muhammad, however, was born in the
year 570, in the city of Mecca, in southern Arabia, at that time a backward
area of the world, far from the centers of trade, art, and learning.
It can thus be appreciated that the number of
years from the death of Moses till the birth of Jesus is 1180 years; and the
number of years from the birth of Jesus till the birth of the Prophet of
Islam is 570. Now 1180+570 make nothing else than 1750 years. It reveals
that Moses foretold about none other than the Prophet of Islam in his
prophecy recorded in the “Assumption of Moses”. It should also be born in
mind that it is only the Prophet of Islam, and none other than he, who came
after 1750 years from the death of Moses. And as such, there remains no
justifiable reason for denying the sincerity of the claim to the apostolate
of the Prophet of Islam for an honest, impartial, and unbiased person.