Jude 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”
Peter Leithart argues that this passage has raised several difficulties for conservative commentators. Many argue “that Jude borrowed this story from the Assumption of Moses, an apocryphal work.” If this is the case, we may re-consider the nature and authority of apocryphal literature. This seems to be the majority position on this verse. But we must ask why is Michael seeking the body of Moses; further, why is he fighting with Satan about the location of the body?
Perhaps in order to answer this question we should consider whether the interpreter must conclude that “Moses’ body” refers to his physical remains. Further, what is the identification of the archangel Michael? According to Leithart:
Michael is the only one who stands firmly against the princes of Persia and Greece (10:20-21). He is the one who stands as protector over the Lord’s people (12:1). Elsewhere, Daniel refers to a “Prince” that is identified with the Messiah (9:25). In Revelation 12:7, Michael leads the angels in the war against the dragon. All of these passages suggest the probability that Michael is Christ.
Most commentators agree that the Angel of the Lord often is a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son. Thus, we may conclude that the archangel Michael is the Angel of the Lord, and is Christ.
Jude 9 directly parallels Zechariah 3:2. In Zechariah, the Lord rebuked Satan. When comparing Zechariah 3 with Jude 9, it is reasonable to conclude that “the ‘body of Moses” in Jude 9 is the Aaronic priesthood, and by implication, the entire Mosaic liturgical and social system.
This interpretation may clear up a lot of misunderstanding and endless speculations about Jude’s use of a non-canonical book.