Prophecy regarding the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) in ‘Assumption of Moses’
By: Abdus Sattar Ghauri
There is a strangely arranged prophecy regarding the Prophet of Islam in a pseudepigraphical book attributed to Moses named ‘The Assumption of Moses’.1 It was introduced to me by a worthy friend, Mr. Muhammad Farooq Kamal.2 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 palimpsest3 of the sixth century.4 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.].5
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.’6; 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.].’7 The author was not a Sadducee, or a Zealot, or an Essene; but was a Pharisaic Quietist8.
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.9
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.10
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’.11 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 in me.’12 He also informs him briefly about the salient features of the history of Israel until the conquest of Nebuchadnezzer13 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 homeland, Jerusalem.14 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 names.
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’15 persecution.’16 The editor has further observed here in his footnote, ‘Thus we have a clear case of transposition by the final editor.’17 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.18 The incident has been recorded in the Qu’an 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.19
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 Muhammad (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 kingdom20 shall appear throughout all His creation,21
And He will appear to punish the Gentiles,22
And He will destroy all their idols.23
And do thou, Joshua (the son of) Nun, keep these words and this book;
For from my death [assumption] until His advent25 there shall be CCL times [stress added].26
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.27
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),28
Bernhard W. Anderson29 and John Bright30 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.31
Now if this Pharaoh Rameses II (1290-24 BC)32 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.33
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.34
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.35
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, 632.36
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.37
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.
1. Included in ‘The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English’, edited in conjunction with many scholars by R. H. Charles, the Oxford University Press, Vol. II, 1979, pp. 414-24, with an Introduction, pp. 407-13. It was first published in 1913.
2. Mr. Muhammad Faruq Kamal is a renowned scholar. He is the author of a number of books. Some of his titles are: (i) Vindication of the Crescent, (ii) Crescent Versus the Cross, (iii) Islam for the West, (iv) Muhammad, Rasulullah (Urdu). These can be had from: ‘Defenders of Islam Trust, 28-Empress Road, Lahore.’ He has reproduced this prophecy in some of his works for the first time. As far as my study is concerned I did not find this prophecy quoted by any of the Muslim scholars previously.
3. It means ‘a piece of writing-material or manuscript on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for other writing.’ (The Oxford Dictionary & Thesaurus, Ed Sara Tulloch, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 1096).
4. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, Ed. RH Charles, Oxford, 1979, p. 407,8.
5. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 409.
6. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 410.
7. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 410.
8. Quietism is a religious system which teaches that one should give up all desires, and gain peace by thinking quietly about God and His things.
9. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 415.
10. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 414.
11. The name of this treatise, in fact, is ‘Testament of Moses’, and not ‘the Assumption of Moses’. The editor points it out in his introduction under § 2 as its caption, ‘The present book in reality a Testament of Moses—not the Assumption, which is preserved only in a few Greek quotations.’
12. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., pp. 415 f.
13. Nebuchadnezzer was the king of Babylonia for 605-562 BC. His father was Nabupolassar, who was a Chaldean chieftain appointed by the Assyrians the governor of ‘the Sea lands’, the extreme S of Mesopotamia. The weakness of Assyria, then in its decline, made it possible for Nabupolassar to revolt and proclaim himself king of Babylon in 626 BC. His son, Nebuchadnezzer, conquered and destroyed Jerusalem after a bitter siege in 587-6 BC.
14. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 417.
15. King of Syria from 175 to 163 BC. ‘Epiphanes’ means distinguished or great. His policy of attaining political unity by propagating Greek culture met with violent resistance from the Jews. In 169 BC he attacked Jerusalem and spoiled the Temple, and in 167 BC made a renewed and fiercer onslaught in a determination to exterminate Judaism. Jewish customs were forbidden under penalty of death, the Temple defiled and pagan cults instituted. This led to the Maccabean Revolt, after which Antiochus retired to Persia, where he died.
16. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 420.
17. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 420.
18. C. Messius Quintus Decius had been the Roman Emperor for 249-251. ‘After Emp. Philip’s defeat and death near Verona, Decius was accepted by the Senate. In the next year he undertook the first systematic persecution of the Christians, beginning with the execution of Fabian, Bp. Of Rome, in Jan. 250. In June all citizens were required to furnish proof of having offered sacrifice to the Emperor; and, though many gave way or escaped through bribery, thousands were put to death. (…) The persecution, which was probably initiated to combat the allegedly fissiparous [reproducing with fission] influence of Christianity, was ended by the death of Decius in June 251.’ (F. L. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., London, Oxf. Univ. Press, 1974, p. 384.)
19. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., p. 421.
20. ‘His kingdom’ obviously means the Law of God, revealed through His Messenger.
21. As far as the Israelites are concerned, the ‘Kingdom of God’ has never ‘appeared throughout all His creation’ at their hands. They had never been able to establish the ‘Law of God’, in whatsoever form, outside Canaan, and upon the people other than the Israelites (Gentiles), throughout their history. It is only through the Prophet of Islam that the Kingdom of God ‘appeared throughout all His creation’ irrespective of their Geographic or ethnic identity.
22. This prediction of Moses is also true of the Prophet of Islam that only through him ‘He [God] will appear to punish the Gentiles’.
23. It is also true of the Prophet of Islam only that ‘He will destroy all their idols.’ A. Guillaume has recorded in ‘The Life of Muhammad’, Oxford University Press, Karachi-2, 1974, p. 552,
The apostle entered Mecca on the day of the conquest and it contained 360 idols which Iblis had strengthened with lead. The apostle was standing by them with a stick in his hand, saying, ‘The truth has come and falsehood has passed away; verily falsehood is sure to pass away’ (Sura 17.82). Then he pointed at them with his stick and they collapsed on their backs one after the other.
When the apostle prayed the noon prayer on the day of the conquest he ordered that all the idols which were round the Ka’ba should be collected and burned with fire and broken up. Fadala b. al-Mulawwih al-Laythi, a poet said commemorating the day of the conquest:
Had you seen Muhammad and his troops The day the idols were smashed when he entered, You would have seen God’s light become manifest And darkness covering the face of idolatry.
Sir William Muir, in ‘The Life of Muhammad’, Edinburgh: John Grant 31 George IV Bridge, 1923, p. 408, records the event in the following words: The abused, rejected, exiled Prophet now had the rebellious city at his feet. Mohammad was Lord of Mecca. (…). Then, pointing with his staff to the idols one by one that stood around, he commanded them to be hewn down. ‘Truth hath come,’ he cried in the words of the Kor’an, as the great image of Hubal, reared in front of the Ka’ba, fell with a crash;—‘Truth hath come, and falsehood gone; for falsehood verily vanisheth away.’
As regards the Israelites, not to say of ‘destroying all their idols’, they themselves started to worship the idols for a number of times during their history, which has even been recorded in the Bible for many a time in so many words regretfully.
24. The author, or some later redactor, has inserted some lines regarding the Israelites; but they are so glaringly irrelevant to the text that every unprejudiced reader will appreciate that they have nothing to do with the theme and must have been interpolated.
25. The words, ‘from my death [assumption] until His advent’, make it clear that all the events indicated here are related to the person whose advent has been described here.
26. In the sentence, ‘For from my death [assumption] until His advent there shall be CCL times’, the key words are the ‘CCL times’. The editor of the “Assumption of Moses” has explained in his footnote, ‘CCL times, i.e. 250 year weeks, or 1,750 years. (…), which gives the same date for the Messiah’s coming.’ But, firstly, there is no mention of any Messiah’s coming in this chapter of the “Assumption”, there is rather ‘the kingdom of God’, and, secondly, if the Messiah be Jesus Christ, the calculations are quite wrong. Jesus came some twelve centuries after Moses, whereas Moses has remarked that between his (Moses’) death and His (whosoever is to come; be it Jesus or someone else) advent there shall be 1750 years. Now it is a historical fact that it is only the Prophet of Islam who happened to come about the CCL times after the death of Moses. Now the CCL times, according to the editor = 250 year weeks = 1750 years. We know that according to the Roman numerals ‘C’ stands for one hundred and ‘CC’ would stand for two times a hundred, i.e. 200. Similarly ‘L’ stands for fifty. If ‘L’ be inserted after a letter of larger value, it is added to it. Thus ‘CCL’ becomes 100+100+50, which obviously makes 250. The meanings of the original Hebrew word (according to its idiomatic usage in that context), which has been translated here in English as ‘times’, are ‘year weeks’ as explained by the editor. The ‘year week’ stands for ‘seven years’, in the same way as the ‘day week’ stands for ‘seven days’. Consequently ‘250 week years’ will mean ‘ 250 x 7 years, i.e. 1750 years’.
27. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, op.cit., pp. 421-3.
28. Oxford Bible Atlas, Ed Herbert G. May, Oxford University Press, NY, 3rd Ed, 1984, p.16.
29. Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the OT, Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 3rd Ed, 1975, p.602.
30. John Bright, A History of Israel, SCM Press Ltd, Bloomsbury Street, London, 1967, p. 465.
31. New Bible Atlas, Ed. J.J. Bimson, B.A., Ph.D., Trinity College, Bristol; J.P. Kane, Ph.D., University of Manchester, Inter-Versity Press, Leicester, 1985, p. 38.
32. David Van Biema, in ‘Time’, December 14, 1998, in his research article ‘In Search of Moses’ (p. 38), assigns 1279-1213 BC as his reigning period. He asserts, ‘A Pharaoh, traditionally assigned the identity of Rameses II (reign: 1279-1213 B.C.), was threatened by a growing Israelite population. And so the Egyptians ‘made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks’. When they continued to multiply, he ordered all newborn males thrown into the Nile. Moses’ mother kept him hidden for three months and then set him adrift.’
K.A.Kitchen and T.C.Mitchell in their article, ‘Chronology of the OT’ in the New Bible Dictionary, Inter-Versity Press, Leicester, Second Edn. 1982, p. 195 have assigned 1290-1224 BC as the period of Ramses II. They have also mentioned 1279-1213 BC as an alternative probability.
The Learning Bible, Contemporary English Version, American Bible Society, NY, 2000, p. 107 writes, ‘Rameses II, 1279-1212 B.C. followed Sety I [or Sethos, 1291-1279 B.C.] and may have been the Pharaoh at the time of Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt.’
Seventh Day Adventist B.D., Ed. Don F. Neufeld, Review & Herald Pblg. Association, Washington DC, 1979, p. 219, assigns Ramses II 1304-1238 BC.
33. Exodus xiv: 5-18, 21-3, 26-8 in The NIV Study Bible, Ed Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Pblg. House, Grand Rapids, 1995, pp. 105,07.
34. Numbers xiv: 29-35, in the NIV Study Bible, op.cit., p. 209.
35. William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Pblg. House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1967, p. 307.
36. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia (12 volumes), Ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson, Funk & Wagnalls Company, NY, 1910, p. 436
37. Michael H. Hart, The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Hart Pblg. Co, Inc., NY, p. 34.