Was Moses being proud when he wrote, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth”? Must someone else have written it for it to be true? I love James Hamilton’s answer:
The irony is obvious, right? It’s hardly humble to declare yourself the most humble man in the world.
Unless it’s true.
In which case, it wouldn’t be a humblebrag fail. Nor is Moses touting his own virtue….
If anything will create humility, face to face interaction with Yahweh will do the job. Moses knew the greatness of God like no one else. Moses thereby knew both his inadequacy and his massive task like no one else.
Moses knew from this direct interaction with God what God’s intentions were and what part God intended Moses to play in the program. Only a reprobate fool would be made proud by such knowledge, and Moses is neither.
So Moses, I contend, is humbly speaking the truth. The access Moses had to God made him the humblest man in the world, and part of the proof of his humility is that he doesn’t cave to the proud desire to avoid doing anything that might make people think he isn’t humble.
This also makes sense given that the Numbers 12:3 verse in question comes in the midst of the story of Miriam’s and Aaron’s grumbling against Moses’ position of authority—a position that Moses had desperately tried to get out of as he stood before God, to the point of provoking God’s anger. God’s glory had informed informed Moses of his utter lack of natural ability to fulfill his role. He never wanted it and would have been relieved to pass it on to his brother or sister. And so here, he reminds us of this.
Only Moses, among all the people living on earth, had seen God “face to face” and felt the anguished inadequacy that seeing towering greatness evokes. His words were spoken not as a reflection on his virtue, but out of his keen awareness of his own smallness—an insight he uniquely bore because of his encounters with God.
Now that makes sense to me.