Why Did God Forbid Moses to Cross the Jordan River?

For disobedience, God forbade Moses to cross the Jordan River into the
... Uriel Sinai/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Although Moses led the Israelites out of their bondage in Egypt, he was forbidden to enter Canaan, known as the "Promised Land." After leaving Egypt, the Jews wandered in the deserts of what is now the Sinai, Jordan and Israel for 40 years. This generation of wandering was punishment for their repeated doubts. Moses, however, received a special punishment: God forbade him to cross the Jordan River into Canaan at the end of the journey. Moses died on Mount Nebo, granted a glimpse into the Promised Land. "But you will not cross into it," God told him in Deuteronomy 34:4.

1 Disobedience

Moses’ sin is detailed in Numbers 20:2-12. While wandering in the desert lands of Zin, the Israelites needed water, so God instructed Moses to gather the people and then to speak to the rock. Instead, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff. God’s response to Moses was immediate: "Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." It was both a literal act of disobedience, by disobeying God's instructions, and a symbolic one involving the rock (foundation of faith) and water (source of life.)

Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at "The Knoxville Journal." She has written for "MetroPulse," "Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times" and "Some" monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.