Lessons on the Life of Moses (Bible Biographies Book 5)

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It was then He decreed that Moses as well as his whole generation would not enter the land Deut. When his time had come, Moses was commanded to ascend Mount Nebo, from which he could view the length and breadth of the Promised Land. There he died and was buried in the valley, "in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor; and no man knows his burial place, to this day" Deut.

The various theological explanations of Moses' death in Transjordan vouch for the existence of a grave tradition. Inasmuch as grave traditions were attached to such worthies as the patriarchs and matriarchs, the surprising obliteration of his burial-place savors of a deliberate aversion toward his apotheosis, which might have grown out of veneration of his grave as a shrine.

Such an apotheosis was likely in view of the singular status accorded Moses in Israelite tradition see Houtman. The wonders performed by Moses on behalf of Israel exceed those of any subsequent prophet Deut. He not only outdid Egypt's magicians whose virtuosity, as displayed, e. Erman, The Ancient Egyptians , 36ff. That in so doing he no more than activated the power of God, and in God's own cause, is unfailingly noted; no room is left for regarding Moses as a magician, aggrandizing himself through native powers or occult arts.

One superhuman trait, however, does pertain to him: the ability to endure, on more than one occasion, a fast of forty days Ex. Elijah's similar feat, i Kings Miraculous features, part of the traditional image of the "man of God," are ascribed to Moses in the highest degree as befits his heroic role. No later figure is portrayed so close to God as Moses. God spoke with him "face to face" Ex.

The covenant made after this apostasy, on the basis of Moses' favor with God, specifically names Moses as an equal party with the people Ex. The equation corresponds to God's substitution of Moses for all the rest of the people in Exodus cf. In Deuteronomy and later literature Josh. His spirit inspires ecstasy Num. Moreover, he is compared to prophets in Numbers 12, Deuteronomy , and , and in the last passage he is represented as their unequaled archetype.

Just in those two narratives where Moses' relation to prophecy is manifest, a point is made of his meekness and forbearance. Nor will he assert himself even against rival claims of his brother and sister, for he was "the meekest man on earth" Num. Perhaps here, too, a distinction between Moses' character and that of later prophets is intended contrast ii Kings — Moses is not consistently present in biblical literature.

He dominates the Pentateuch and Joshua — the repository of traditions about the birth of the nation. He reappears in the revival and re-founding literature of late monarchic and post-Exilic times. But references to him in the prophetic and hymnal writings e. Moses' slighting by prophets and psalmists is significant, but the implications of that omission are debated. All innovation in the later religion of Israel is attributable to individuals known by name: the monarchy to Samuel and David; the Temple to David and Solomon; reforms in the official religion to kings Asa, Jehu, Hezekiah, Josiah, the priests Jehoiada and Hilkiah, and the prophets Elisha, Elijah, and Huldah; new moral-historical and eschatological conceptions to Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah — and the list is not ended.

Had no founder of the worship of yhwh and the covenant institutions that characterized Israel from its beginnings been recorded in tradition, analogy would have required postulating him; and that is probably what happened. The traditions of the Torah point unanimously to Moses as the founder of all the constitutional elements of the religious community of Israel excepting the monarchy. No single figure in later Israel plays the many roles ascribed to Moses, itself an indication that whatever historical basis there might have been for the activity of Moses is beyond recovery. The Jewish-Hellenistic tendency to adopt the sages of ancient culture entailed a whole series of farfetched identifications e.

Thus, Moses became for Eupolemus whose chronology placed him more than years before the Trojan War the first wise man, and the first to invent writing for the Jews from whom it was taken over by the Phoenicians, and from the Phoenicians, by the Greeks; Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica , According to Artapanos, Moses who is identified with Musaeos and also with Hermes-Thot was the teacher of Orpheus, discovered the art of writing, was the first philosopher, and invented a variety of machines for peace and war.

He was also responsible for the political organization of Egypt having divided the land into 36 nomes , and was the originator of the animal cults of the Egyptians, which were seen as the only practical means available to overcome the unstable character of the Egyptian masses Eusebius, op. The earliest philosophical exegete of the Pentateuch, Aristobulus, claimed that Homer and Hesiod drew much of their material from the Books of Moses, which, according to him, had been translated long before the Septuagint Eusebius, op.

Philo maintains that Heraclitus snatched his theory of opposites from Moses "like a thief " Quaestiones et Solutiones in Genesin Similarly, he says that the Greek legislators "copied" various laws from the laws of Moses Spec. Philo even states that Moses anticipated Plato's doctrine of creation from preexistent matter, by teaching in Genesis that there was water, darkness, and chaos before the world came into being De Providentia , ed. Aucher , ; cf. Justin Martyr, Apologia , According to Josephus, Moses was the most ancient of all legislators in the records of the world.

Indeed, he maintains that the very word "law" was unknown in ancient Greece Jos. Moreover, "in two points in particular, Plato followed the example of our legislator [Moses]. He prescribed as the primary duty of the citizens a study of their laws, which they must all learn word for word by heart, and he took precautions to prevent foreigners from mixing with them at random" ibid. The only analogue in the pagan world to these ascriptions of priority to Moses is the famous statement of Numenius of Apamea second century c.

Philo also asserts that Moses was "the best of all lawgivers in all countries," and that his laws are most excellent and truly come from God. This is proved by the fact that while other law codes have been upset for innumerable reasons, the laws of Moses have remained firm and immovable, and "we may hope that they will remain for all future ages… so long as thesun and moon and the whole heaven and universe exist" ii Mos.

Furthermore, not only Jews but almost every other people have attained enough holiness to value and honor these laws. In fact, says Philo, "it is only natural that when people are not flourishing, their belongings to some degree are under a cloud, but if a fresh start should be made to brighter prospects… each nation would… throw overboard its ancestral customs and turn to honoring our laws alone" ibid. In spite of the declining political fortunes of the Jews during the period of the Roman Empire , an occasional note of admiration for Moses is still found in writers like Pseudo-Longinus, who speaks glowingly of the great legislator's lofty genius On the Sublime , but Numenius, Tacitus, Galen, Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, on the other hand, are highly critical of, and even hostile to, Moses.

The earliest Greek references to Moses were quite favorable. Hecataeus of Abdera presented Moses as the founder of the Jewish state, ascribing to him the conquest of Palestine and the building of Jerusalem and the Temple. He explained, in the Platonic manner, that Moses divided his people into 12 tribes, because 12 is a perfect number, corresponding to the number of months in the year cf.

Overview: Exodus Ch. 1 -18

Plato, Laws , b—d; Republic , b. He also discovered a solicitude for military training in Moses' endeavor to train the youth in moral restraint and heroic endurance Diodorus ; in: Th. Reinach, Textes d'auteurs Grecs et Romains relatifs au Judaisme , 14ff. More important, he emphasized that Moses instituted no images in the worship of God, so that God should not be conceived of anthropomorphically, since the all-encompassing heavens alone i.

Posidonius of Apamea similarly emphasized that Moses worshiped no idols, and identified God with nature Strabo Soon, however, a reaction set in, and Moses became the butt of a venomous antisemitic literature. Hecataeus had earlier observed that Moses had initiated a form of life encouraging seclusion from man and a hatred of aliens. According to the Egyptian priest Manetho third century , Moses was a rebellious priest of Heliopolis, called Osarsiph cf. Chaeremon and Jos. Lysimachus wrote that he instructed the Jews to show goodwill to no man, to always offer the worst advice, and to overthrow any temples and altars of the gods which they found Jos.

Apollonius Molon accused Moses of being a charlatan and impostor, who gave the Jews bad laws. Posidonius says that upon entering the Holy of Holies, Antiochus Epiphanes saw the statue of a bearded man riding on an ass cf. Tacitus, Histories , and holding a book. This was Moses, who gave the Jews laws of hatred toward all mankind Diodorus , 3; Reinach, ibid. Finally, Nicarchus cf. Ptolemy Chennos of Alexandria, and Helladius writes that Moses was called Alpha an honorific title for members of the Museum at Alexandria, and possibly applied to Moses in Jewish-Hellenistic literature , because he had leprous spots alphous all over his body Reinach, ibid.

The sparse biographical details of the biblical narrative concerning Moses are considerably elaborated and expanded in the characteristic style of Jewish-Hellenistic literature. According to the Bible, Abraham sent the sons of Keturah away "eastward, to the land of the East" Gen. The first elaborate account of Moses' life is to be found in Artapanus' "On the Jews. Merris' husband, Chenephres, king of Memphis, grew jealous of Moses, and tried to dispose of him by sending him into battle against the Ethiopians with inadequate forces.

After a ten-year campaign, the Ethiopians so admired Moses that, under his influence, they adopted the rite of circumcision. Artapanus knew nothing, however, of Moses' romance with the Ethiopian king's daughter and her betrayal of the capital city to him Jos.

Artapanus' version of the biblical story of Moses' slaying of the Egyptian emphasizes the latter's plotting against Moses' life. Indeed, it was in a last resort to defend his life, that Moses slew the Egyptian Chanethothes. Moses' efforts to free his people land him in jail, but the irons binding him miraculously fall off, and the jail doors open of themselves cf. Moses' rod, according to Artapanus, was found in every Egyptian temple and was similar to the seistron or "rattle" used in the worship of Isis. Artapanus mentions two traditions concerning the Red Sea , that of Memphis and that of Heliopolis.

That of Heliopolis follows the Bible, while that of Memphis explains the event by saying that Moses knew the area well and waited for the ebb tide cf.

Finally, the reason given for the Egyptians' pursuit of the Israelites was their desire to retrieve the property borrowed from them cf. Philo, i Mos. A similar explanation is given by Trogus Pompeius, who says, however, that the Jews stole the holy utensils of the Egyptians Justin , Artapanus' account closes with a description of Moses: "Moses, they say, was tall and ruddy, with long white hair, and dignified" Eusebius, op. The lines preserved from the tragedy of Ezekiel the Poet on Exodus include a long soliloquy by Moses recounting his career down to his flight to Midian; a dialogue which recounts a dream in which a royal personage enthrones Moses on a throne which reaches heavenward, whereupon Moses surveys the heavenly host who fall on their knees before him, and then pass by as he counts them; and a detailed description of a remarkable bird, apparently the phoenix, at Elim cf.

Herodotus ; Pliny, Natural History , —5; Job. In his De vita Mosis , Philo depicts Moses in his fourfold role as king, legislator, priest, and prophet. Whereas the fame of Moses' law, writes Philo, has traveled throughout the civilized world, the man himself, as he really was, was known to few. Greek men of letters, perhaps through envy, have refused to treat him as worthy of memory. Although there is no attempt in this treatise to refute the antisemitic literature on Moses, Philo does refer in his Hypothetica to the charge that Moses was "an impostor and prating mountebank.

Tacitus, Histories , and also to the revelations of God in dreams and visions bidding them to go forth. Moreover, he points out that the Israelites' admiration for the man who gave them their laws was so great, that anything which seemed good to him also seemed good to them. Therefore, whether what he told them came from his own reasoning or from some supernatural source, they referred it all to God ibid.

In the De vita Mosis , Philo explains how the child Moses happened to be found by Pharaoh's daughter. In a state of constant depression over not having a child who could succeed her father she finally broke down on one occasion, and, though she had hitherto always remained in her quarters, she set off with her maids to the river where Moses was exposed.

Since he had been taken up from the waters, she called him Moses, mou being the Egyptian word for water. As he grew in beauty and nobility, she decided to claim him as her own son, having at an earlier time artificially enlarged the figure of her womb to make him pass as her real child. Teachers arrived from different parts of Egypt and even from Greece.

In a short time, however, he advanced beyond their capacities. Moses thus acquired the best of both Greek and Egyptian education. In his desire to live for the soul alone and not for the body, he lived frugally, scorning all luxury. Moses' career as a shepherd served as good training and a preliminary exercise in kingship for one destined to command the herd of mankind.

Since Moses abjured the accumulation of wealth, God rewarded him by placing the whole world in his hands. Therefore each element obeyed him as its master, and submitted to his command cf. His partnership with God also entitled him to bear the same title: "For he was named god and the king of the whole nation, and entered into the darkness where God was, that is, into the unseen, invisible, incorporeal, and archetypal essence of existing things. A few further details may be added from Josephus' account of Moses Ant. Pharaoh decreed that all male infants of the Hebrews be drowned on the advice of a sacred scribe who had divined the birth of one who, if allowed to live, would abase Egypt and exalt Israel.

Moses' easy birth spared his mother violent pangs and discovery by the watchful Egyptian midwives. His size and beauty enchanted princess Thermuthis, who found him on the Nile. Because he refused to take the breast of any Egyptian wet nurse, his mother was engaged to suckle him. Moses' precocity was displayed in his very games. Moreover, when the princess laid the babe in her father's arms, and the latter, to please his daughter, placed his diadem upon the child's head, Moses tore it off, flung it to the ground, and trampled it underfoot.

This was taken as an ill omen, and the sacred scribe who had foretold his birth rushed forward to kill him. Thermuthis, however, was too quick for him and snatched the child away. Carried away by his Hellenistic ambience, Josephus says that, after crossing the Red Sea , Moses composed a song to God in hexameter verse. Some last points of interest may be gleaned from Pseudo-Philo's Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum first century c.

According to this work, Moses was born circumcised cf. Pharaoh's daughter comes down to bathe in the Nile at this particular time because she had had a dream. Before Moses smashes the tablets, he looks upon them and sees that there is no writing on them. The reason given for his not entering the Promised Land was that he should be spared the sight of the idols that were to mislead his people.

Moses dies at the hands of God, who buries him personally cf. According to the Assumption of Moses c. No single place was worthy to mark the site of his burial, for his sepulcher was from the rising to the setting sun Moses' relation to Israel did not cease with his death, for he was appointed by God to be their intercessor in the spiritual world.

This work also includes the debate between Michael and Satan over the burial of Moses. Satan opposes Michael's commission to bury Moses, on the ground that he is the lord of matter. To this claim Michael rejoins: "The Lord rebuke thee, for it was God's spirit that created the world and all mankind. The author, speaking through Michael, rejects this gnostic dualism by insisting that God is Lord of both spirit and flesh, since he is the creator of all R.

Charles, Apocrypha, 2 , —7. It may be well to allude here to the apocalyptic tradition connected with the name of Moses and also with Ezra, the "second Moses. In Jubilees, too, the account is given of a secret tradition revealed to Moses on Sinai in which he is shown all the events of history both past and future With this may be compared ii Esdras 14, where Ezra, the "second Moses," receives by divine revelation the 24 books of canonical Scripture which he has to publish openly and the 70 books representing the apocalyptic tradition which he has to keep secret.

In pagan literature, Moses was, naturally enough, sometimes represented as a great magician. Numenius of Apamea, for example, presents him as a magician greater than his rivals Iannes and Iambres because his prayers were more powerful than theirs fragments 18 and 19, L; cf. Pliny, Natural History , , 11; Reinach, op. Moreover, in some of the magic papyri, Moses appears as the possessor of mysteries given to him by God K.

Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae , 2, 87f. Finally, it may be noted that in some of the Qumran fragments, secret astrological teachings were ascribed to Moses J. Milik, in: rb, 63 , A marked ambivalence is to be observed in the Jewish tradition with regard to the personality of Moses. On the one hand, Moses is the greatest of all the Jewish teachers, a powerfully numinous figure, the man with whom God speaks "face to face," the intermediary between God and man, the master of the prophets, and the recipient of God's law for mankind.

On the other hand, the utmost care is taken to avoid the ascription of divine or semi-divine powers to Moses. Moses is a man, with human faults and failings. Strenuous attempts are made to reject any "personality cult," even when the personality in question is as towering as Moses. Judaism is not "Mosaism" but the religion of the Jewish people. There are to be found Jewish thinkers, evidently in response to the claims made for Jesus by Christianity and for Muhammad by Islam, who elevate the role of Moses so that the religion is made to center around him.

However, the opposite tendency is equally notable. Precisely because Christianity and Islam center on a person, Jewish thinkers declared that Judaism, on the contrary, singles out no one person, not even a Moses, as belonging to the heart of the faith. The stresses in this matter vary in proportion to the particular strength of the challenge in the period during which the role of Moses is considered.

The need is keenly felt to affirm the supremacy of Moses and yet, at the same time, to deny him any divine honors. Rav and Samuel said that 50 gates of understanding were created in the world, and all but one were given to Moses, for it is said Ps. All the prophets saw God as one looks into a dim glass, but Moses as one who looks through a clear glass Yev.

When Moses was born the whole house was filled with light Sot. Moses was so kind, gentle, and considerate to his sheep when tending the flock of Jethro that God made him the shepherd of Israel Ex. For Moses such a great thing as the fear of God was very easy of attainment Ber.

Johanan said: "The Holy One, blessed be He, causes His Divine Presence to rest only upon him who is strong, wealthy, wise, and meek and Moses had all these qualifications" Ned. According to one opinion, Moses did not really die but still stands and ministers to God as he did while on Mount Sinai Sot.

Moses was righteous from the beginning of his life to the end of it, as was Aaron Meg. Here, and frequently in the rabbinic literature, the praise of Moses is coupled with that of Aaron. The humility of Moses and Aaron was greater than that of Abraham since Abraham spoke of himself as dust and ashes Gen.

20 Things You Didn't Know about Moses in the Bible

These and similar sayings are typical of the rabbinic determination to go to the utmost lengths in lauding Moses; yet sayings of a not too different nature are found lauding other biblical heroes, and in some of the passages Aaron is made to share Moses' glory. For the rabbis generally Moses is Moshe Rabbenu "Moses our master," i. Neumark Toledot ha-Ikkarim 2 , 85f. It is also suggested in the Mishnah rh that the hands of Moses did not in themselves have any effect on the fortunes of Israel in the battle with Amalek.

It was only when Israel lifted up their eyes to God in response to Moses' uplifted hands that God helped them. Eleazar, commenting on the verse "Go down" Ex. Have I given to thee greatness except for the sake of Israel? And now Israel have sinned; then why do I want thee? Yose said that if Moses had not preceded him, Ezra would have been worthy of receiving the Torah for Israel Sanh. Nor were the rabbis averse on occasion to criticizing Moses for his quick temper Pes. The idea that new teachings were truly new and yet were implied in the Torah given to Moses is conveyed in the story of Moses being transported through time to the academy of Akiva and feeling disturbed at his inability to comprehend Akiva's teachings until he heard Akiva declare that he had received them as a tradition from Moses at Sinai Men.

The idea that the foremost Jewish teachers who produced innovations — Hillel, Johanan b. Zakkai, and Akiva — are to be identified with Moses, whose work they continued, is expressed in the statement that they, like Moses, also lived for years, divided into three periods of 40 years Sif. According to one interpretation, widely accepted in the Middle Ages , the name "Moses" was, in fact, sometimes given to scholars as a title of honor Bezah 38b. Heaven and earth were only created for the sake of Moses Lev.

The account of the creation of water on the second day does not close with the customary formula "and God saw that it was good" since Moses was destined to be punished through water Gen. Noah was only rescued from the Flood because Moses was destined to descend from him Gen. The ascending and descending angels seen by Jacob in his nocturnal vision Gen.

His parents' house was filled with light on the day of his birth. He was born circumcised Sot. He spoke with his parents on the day of his birth, and prophesied at the age of three Mid. Petirat Moshe, in: Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash , Pharaoh's daughter went down to bathe since she was afflicted with leprosy, but as soon as she touched the ark of Moses she was healed. She therefore took pity upon the child and saved him, despite the protests of her maidens. When she opened the ark she saw the Shekhinah next to Moses, and heard his cry, which sounded like that of a mature youngster Ex.

Pharaoh's astrologers had previously predicted that the savior of Israel would shortly be born and that he would be punished through water. After Moses was placed in the Nile, they told Pharaoh that the redeemer had already been cast into the water, whereupon Pharaoh rescinded his decree that the male children should be put to death Ex.

Not only were all the future children saved, but even the , children cast into the Nile together with Moses were also rescued Gen. Moses refused to suck at the breast of Egyptian foster-mothers because the mouth which was destined to speak with the Shekhinah would not take unclean milk Sot. His unique beauty captivated the royal household and he was adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, who constantly displayed her affection for him.

Even Pharaoh played with the baby, who often took his crown and placed it upon his own head. The king's advisers were frightened by this behavior and they counseled Pharaoh to put him to death. However, Jethro, who was among the royal counselors, insisted on first testing the youngster. A gold vessel and a live coal were brought before Moses, and he was about to reach for the gold when the angel Gabriel came and deflected his hand to the hot coal. The baby placed a live coal into his mouth, burning his tongue, and as a result he acquired the impediment in his speech Ex.

Moses not only sympathized with the sufferings of his brethren, but he also aided them in their tasks by himself preparing the clay for the bricks. He also assigned them responsibilities in accordance with their abilities so that the strong carried greater burdens while the weak discharged lesser tasks Ex. He slew the cruel Egyptian taskmaster only after the angels decreed his death since he had previously defiled the wife of one of the Hebrew slaves in his charge and subsequently sought to slay the husband. Moses killed the Egyptian either by means of the Divine Name or by his own physical strength.

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After Dathan and Abiram informed on Moses to Pharaoh, he was condemned to death, but the executioner's sword had no effect on him, since his neck became like a pillar of ivory Ex. Moses saved the daughters of Jethro after the shepherds had cast them into the well, and he also protected them from their immoral designs. Moses drew out only one bucketful and with this watered all the flock there assembled, since the water was blessed at his hands Ex.

According to one tradition, Moses could marry Zipporah only after he agreed to Jethro's condition that one of their children be raised in Jethro's faith while the rest could be trained in the Hebraic tradition. Because of this agreement, Gershom was not circumcised, and on the way to Egypt Moses almost met his death because of this neglect Ex. Before God confers greatness on a man he is first tested through small matters and then promoted to importance. Moses displayed his trustworthiness by leading the sheep into the wilderness in order to keep them from despoiling the fields of others.

He then showed his mercy by carrying a young kid on his shoulders after it had exhausted itself by running to a pool of water Ex. God appeared to him in a burning bush to illustrate that the Jews were as indestructible as the bush which was not consumed by the flames Ex. Sb-Y to The sages likewise were perplexed by Moses' seemingly disrespectful reply to God that since he had spoken to Pharaoh the lot of his people had not improved Ex.

Various explanations are given for the tone of Moses' lament: the taunts of Dathan and Abiram regarding his lack of success provoked Moses' anger Ex. The attribute of justice sought to strike Moses, but God protected him since He knew that Moses only spoke out of his love for his brethren Ex.

The elders started to accompany Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh's palace Ex. Despite the harsh messages which Moses delivered to Pharaoh, he constantly accorded him the respect due to royalty Ex. Moses executed all the plagues except for those connected with water and dust, since he had been saved through water and the dust had concealed the body of the Egyptian he slew Ex. When Moses announced the final plague, he did not state the exact time of its incidence, saying only that "about midnight" Ex.

During the Exodus, while the masses thought only of taking the gold and silver of the Egyptians, Moses went and retrieved the coffin of Joseph which subsequently accompanied the Israelites in the desert Mekh. Moses went up to Mount Sinai, enveloped by a cloud which sanctified him for receiving the Torah Yoma 4a. After he ascended on high, the ministering angels contested the right of "one born of woman to receive the treasures of the Torah. The angels thereupon became friendly with Moses, and each one revealed its secret to him Shab.

In abstaining from food during the 40 days on Mt. Sinai Moses acted as do the angels bm 86b. He received instruction from God by day and reviewed the teachings at night Ex. Not only were the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, and aggadah taught to Moses, but all interpretations that were destined to be propounded by future students were also revealed to him Ex.

Before Moses ascended the mountain, he promised to return by midday of the 41 st day. On that day Satan confused the world so that to the Israelites it appeared to be afternoon when it was actually still morning. Satan told them that Moses had died and would never return, whereupon the people made the Golden Calf Shab.

Moses broke the tablets, and made it appear that the Torah had not been given, to prevent the sinners from being punished ARN 2 —6. God approved of this action Shab. He argued that God had not enjoined the prohibition against idolatry upon the children of Israel since the singular and not the plural is used in the command Ex.

Moses refused God's offer to make him the ancestor of a great nation since he feared that he would be accused of seeking only his glory and not that of the people Ber. God would not grant Moses' wish to behold all His glory since Moses had refused to look at him through the burning bush Ber. He was hidden in the same cave which was later occupied by Elijah i Kings — If there had been an aperture even as minute as the point of a needle, Moses would have been consumed by the passing divine light Meg.

Moses received only the reflection of this light, and from its radiance his face subsequently shone Ex. During this revelation, Moses was granted profound insight into the problem of theodicy Ber. Afterward he was known as the master of Torah, wisdom, and prophecy Meg. He was the greatest prophet among the Israelites Deut. Moses insisted on giving a complete account of the materials collected for the Tabernacle since he overheard scoffers claiming that he had embezzled a portion of the gold and silver Ex. During the seven days of the dedication of the sanctuary, Moses officiated as the high priest.

He was also considered the king of Israel during the year sojourn in the desert. When Moses requested these two offices for a permanent heritage, he was told that the priesthood was already assigned to Aaron, while royalty was designated for David Ex. Moses insisted that his sin of striking the rock be recorded in the Torah Num. The impatience of the people and the jeers of the scoffers were the cause of his smiting the rock in anger Num. In reality, God had long before decreed that Moses should not enter the Promised Land and Moses' offense in Kadesh was only a pretext so that He might not appear unjust.

God explained to Moses that if he were not buried in the desert with the generation that left Egypt, people would mistakenly declare that the generation of the wilderness had no share in the world to come Num. Moses immediately obeyed God's command to avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites Num. Before his death, Moses pleaded for the appointment of a successor who would successfully cope with the dissimilar temperaments of the people Num.

Moses also requested that his successor lead his people into war, and not remain behind the troops as was the customary practice of gentile kings Sif. Moses pleaded that the decree against his entering the Holy Land be rescinded so that he could share in the joy of his people after experiencing their sorrow Deut. However, God refused his repeated requests since the leader of the generation should remain with his followers, and the generation of Moses was buried in the wilderness Num.

Lieberman, pp. Moses died at the kiss of God Deut. God himself buried Moses Sot. His tomb is opposite Beth-Peor to atone for the sin of the Israelites in worshiping the idol Peor Num. Nevertheless, his grave cannot be discovered, since to a person standing in the valley it looks as though it is on a mountain peak, whereas from the mountain peak it looks as though it is in the valley Sot.

In his discussion of prophecy in the Guide of the Perplexed , Maimonides states that he will allude to the prophecy of Moses only in order to contrast it with prophecy in general Guide , He spells out four distinctions between the prophecy of Moses and that of other prophets Yad, Yesodei ha-Torah, ; Comm. The revelations of all the prophets, except for Moses, took place in dreams and visions Num. Moses, by contrast, received his prophetic message while fully awake; in nonsymbolic language; directly from God, rather than through the medium of an angel; and at the time of his own choosing Num.

It seems that these differences between the prophecy of Moses and that of other prophets can be reduced to one basic difference, namely, that imaginative faculty played no role in Moses' prophetic experience, while it played a major role in the case of the other prophets, prophecy being, according to Maimonides, "an overflow from God, through the intermediation of the active intellect, toward the rational faculty in the first place, and thereafter the imaginative faculty" Guide , , see Abrabanel's commentary on this passage.

He writes that whileother prophets "can hear only in a dream of prophecy that God has spoken to him… Moses… heard Him from above the ark cover, from between the two cherubim, without action on the part of the imaginative faculty" Guide , Moses' prophetic experience, then, seems to have been dependent on the superior development of his rational faculty, and it is probable that according to Maimonides — although he does not say so explicitly — Moses attained union with the active intellect see S.

Pines tr. Guttmann has suggested that according to Maimonides, Moses' prophecy differed from that of the other prophets insofar as it transcended "the natural order and was wholly due to a supernatural action of God," while the prophecies of the other prophets resulted from the development of their rational and imaginative faculties. In this way, Guttmann maintains, Maimonides "safeguards the uniqueness of biblical religion which Moses transmitted against the danger inherent in a naturalistic interpretation of prophecy" Guttmann, Philosophies, Atlas, on the other hand, interprets Maimonides as asserting that while Moses' prophetic experience did not depend on his imaginative faculty, it did depend to a large extent on the superior development of his rational faculty, and was hence not totally dependent on the supernatural action of God.

However, he too maintains that in Maimonides' view there was an important element in Moses' prophetic experience — an element not common to the experiences of the other prophets — which was the result of God's creative will, namely, the giving of laws Atlas, in huca, 25 , — Medieval philosophers considered Moses' qualities of courage, modesty, and justice to be prerequisites for prophetic experience see for example Guide , — For Judah Loew b.

Bazalel the Maharal of Prague Tiferet Yisrael , 64—67 , Moses is a superhuman being occupying a midway position between the supernatural beings and humans. This is why he was able to be equally at home in heaven and on earth and this is hinted at in his name since the letter mem of Moshe is the middle letter of the alphabet. Samson Raphael Hirsch Comm. Very curious is the legend recorded by Israel Lipschuetz b. Gedaliah Tiferet Yisrael to Kid.

A certain king, having heard of Moses' fame, sent a renowned painter to portray Moses' features. On the painter's return with the portrait the king showed it to his sages, who unanimously proclaimed that the features portrayed were those of a degenerate. The astonished king journeyed to the camp of Moses and observed for himself that the portrait did not lie. Moses admitted that the sages were right and that he had been given from birth many evil traits of character but that he had held them under control and succeeded in conquering them.

This, the narrative concludes, was Moses' greatness, that, in spite of his tremendous handicaps, he managed to become the man of God. Various attempts have, in fact, been made by some rabbis to ban the further publication of this legend as a denigration of Moses' character. The biblical commentators discuss why God arranged for Moses to be brought up by the daughter of Pharaoh. Abraham ibn Ezra Comm. Nahmanides Comm. In the Kabbalah, too, there is great elevation of the character of Moses. On the verse: "And Moses went up to God" Ex. When other human beings ascend it is to wealth or honor or power, but when Moses ascends what does Scripture say?

Moses was a reincarnation of Abel Sha'ar ha-Pesukim , Exodus, beg. This Moses is neither a great military strategist nor an astute politician. Nor is his role primarily that of lawgiver in the accepted sense since the laws he gives are for the future ideal state still to be realized. Moses is rather the "master of the prophets," the highest example of the prophetic ideal as expressed in a human life. The prophet is ruthless in his pursuit of justice which is, for him, a categorical imperative brooking no opposition.

Moses' vision is of the perfect society, of what ought to be rather than what is.

Moses Biography

Moses embarks on his prophetic career with a protest against injustice and oppression and devotes the rest of his life to his ideal. He hears the voice of God speaking to him in his heart urging him to become the deliverer of his downtrodden people. This God who speaks to him and to the people is not a tribal god but the God of all men, every one of whom is created in His image.

Because his vision is unqualified Moses must die without entering the Promised Land. The prophet is too uncompromising to be the leader of the people in the stark realities of the actual human situation. The leadership must pass to another more capable of coming to terms with life as it is, even though this involves a diminution of the dream. Thus Moses is the symbol of Israel's divine discontent with the present. Like Moses, Israel learned to live only in the past and the future, its life a pilgrimage from past to future.

For Israel as for Moses the present, as it falls short of the ideal, has no real existence. According to Freud, Moses was not an Israelite but an Egyptian. The monotheism he taught was derived from a period of pure monotheism established during the reign of Ikhnaton. Following a hint thrown out by Sellin based on an obscure passage in the Book of Hosea, Freud believed that the Israelites, unable to accept Moses' new ideas, eventually murdered him. But Moses' monotheistic teachings lived on in the racial unconscious of the Israelites to reappear hundreds of years later in the monotheism of the prophets.

The slaying of Moses repeated what, for Freud, was the sin of primitive man, the slaying of the primal father by his jealous sons. Because of this, monotheistic religion is haunted by guilt feelings and the need for atonement. Freud admits the speculative nature of his theory but feels that it is in accord with his ideas on how religion began and on man's needs for a father figure.

The saga is not history but neither is it fiction. It follows in the footsteps of the historical events and describes the impact they had. Creative memory is at work in the saga. But the saga is not simply a matter of group psychology. We can get behind it to the actual historical events which made such an impact on the people that they could only explain these events as of divine power at work in them. It is not a case of "historization of myth" but of "mythization of history.

The human figure is not transfigured, so that the element of sober historical recording is still present. Describing the God of Moses, Buber writes: "He is the One who brings His own out, He is their leader and advance guard; prince of the people, legislator and the sender of a great message.

He acts on the level of history on the peoples and between the peoples. What He aims at and cares for is a people. He makes His demand that the people shall be entirely 'His' people, a 'holy' people; that means, a people whose entire life is hallowed by justice and loyalty, a people for God and for the world… That Moses experiences Him in this fashion and serves Him accordingly is what has set that man apart as a living and effective force at all times; and that is what places him thus apart in our own day, which possibly requires him more than any earlier day has ever done.

Moses is mentioned more often than any other biblical figure in the New Testament , which emphasizes the parallel between the ministries of Moses and Jesus Matt. As Israel's lawgiver and liberator, Moses — according to Christian tradition — prefigures the ministry of Jesus and prophesies the coming of the Savior and the mediator of the new covenant.

Moses is an example of deep faith in God Heb. Jesus, however, surpasses Moses in all respects. Unlike the face of Moses, that of Jesus is unveiled and his superior glory is spiritual ii Cor. Moses appears as God's faithful servant, but Jesus is God's son Heb. Moses seals the covenant with the blood of animals, but the Messiah's covenant, which for Christians definitely supersedes the Mosaic Law, is sealed by his own sacrifice Heb.

In addition, the events of the Exodus appear to the Church Fathers as typological events of Jesus' life; the passage through the Red Sea is the type of Salvation through baptism; and the water gushing out of the rock that Moses struck is a symbol of the Eucharist. The events of his life, from the moment of his birth, are related at length. The ark of Moses had marvelous healing powers from which Pharaoh's daughter benefited. The infant Moses was saved from the fiery furnace just as Abraham had been; Pharaoh examined the child by placing a plate of coals and a plate full of gold in front of him.

Moses wished to touch the gold, but an angel diverted his hand and put a burning coal in his mouth, which caused him later to stammer. The sheep of Jethro gave birth to spotted and speckled lambs. The staff of Moses came from a tree which had grown in the Garden of Eden , and which he inherited from the prophets, from Adam via Jacob. The number of pages devoted to Moses in the "Legends of the Prophets" emphasizes the many legends which have been circulated.

The tale of the journey of Moses and his servant Sura —81 is a departure from the framework of the biblical tales and legends. Moses set out to find the confluence of the two seas. On the way the servant forgot the roasted fish which was to serve as their provisions. They encountered the prophet of Allah and Moses asked him for a sign which would teach him wisdom and lead him along the proper course.

The prophet consented on the condition that he would not question the meaning of the events which would occur en route. They boarded a ship and the prophet drilled a hole in it. Moses wondered about this act, forgot his promise, and asked the prophet whether it was his intention to drown them. Continuing on their way, the prophet killed a youth; and when they reached a town whose inhabitants refused them hospitality, the prophet held up a fence which was about to collapse.

The prophet then explained to Moses the meaning of his surprising actions. The ship, which was the property of poor men, was about to fall into the hands of a pirate king. The youth would have caused his upright parents to sin; in his place, an upright son was born.

Under the fence there was a treasure, the property of orphans, which was discovered after a while. However, other names are also mentioned. It closely corresponds to the Jewish legend about R. Joshua b. Levi who set out on a journey with the prophet Elijah. The Jewish tale is found in two almost identical versions, though with a change in the order of events. One was published by A. Nissim b. The introduction to the Jewish tale is identical to that of the Koran, except that Moses is replaced by R. The details of the story also differ: Elijah kills the cow of poor men who had received him and his companion with hospitality.

They later stay with a wealthy man who neither pays attention to them nor gives them anything to eat. Elijah, however, prayed and rebuilt the wall of his house, which was about to collapse. Elijah and R. Joshua again came to a place of wealthy men who were indifferent toward them. Nevertheless, Elijah blessed them that they all might become leaders. When, however, they came to a place of the poor who were hospitable to them, the blessing was that they should have one leader.

Elijah explained that all his actions and words had been favorable to the poor. With the exception of the story of the wall which was about to collapse, the Jewish tale differs from the Muslim account in its details. Of all the major biblical figures, not excepting David, Jacob, Joseph, and Solomon, Moses has inspired the largest amount of creative endeavor in literature, art, and music. Treatment of this figure also involves several associated themes, such as the Ten Plagues, the Exodus, and the Revelation on Sinai. By far the earliest literary work on the subject was Exagoge "The Exodus from Egypt" , a drama by the second-century b.

Gifford, ; and by J. Bloch, The first play known to have been written by a Jew, this was also the first recorded biblical drama. The characters who appear in it include Moses, Zipporah, Jethro, and an invented Chum. The Exagoge , an interesting example of late classical Greek theater, anticipates the miracle and mystery plays of the Middle Ages.

Interest in the theme thereafter waned for a time. In the 16 th century there were only a few works of note, such as a play by Diego Sanchez c. Although Moses was one of the Old Testament heroes that appealed to Protestant writers of the 17 th century, most of the works about him were of Catholic inspiration: one of the English Stonyhurst Pageants c. In the 18 th century, treatment was at first light, but more serious attention was given by writers of the last decades, particularly with the rise of the oratorio and musical drama.

Wessely's poem, an account of the Exodus culminating in the giving of the Law at Sinai, betrays the influence of F. A dramatic revival of literary interest in the theme took place from the first decade of the 19 th century, possibly as a result of the political and social upheavals of the age.

During the 19 th century, Jewish authors also found inspiration in the biblical and rabbinic accounts of the life of Moses. The U. Verse inspired by the life and career of Moses includes S. The yield has been richer in fiction, especially from the years following World War i when a number of novels were written on the theme. There are several treatments of Moses in modern drama. Earlier plays of the 20 th century include Henry R. Fry transforms his central character into an Egyptian military hero torn between idealism and reality, who finds himself providing the impetus for the Hebrews' liberation movement.

Some of the most powerful and significant literary treatments of Moses in the 20 th century have, understandably, been written by Jews. After World War i, the subject was treated by a number of eminent Jewish authors in various genres. Lask, Bridegroom of Blood. Konrad Bercovici's The Exodus was probably the first postwar attempt to recreate the Bible story in U. The medieval church considered him both a type of the Messiah and one of the prophets who foretold his coming.

In early Christian art until the end of the Carolingian period, Moses was often represented as a beardless youth holding a rod. He was later conceived in the form in which he still lives in popular imagination: as a patriarchal figure with a flowing, double-pointed beard, clasping the Tablets of the Law. There are medieval sculptures of Moses at Chartres and elsewhere, and a Renaissance figure by Donatello in the Campanile at Florence.

This work, the most famous portrayal of Moses in art, was originally intended for the mausoleum of Pope Julius ii. Many art cycles relate the various episodes in the life of Moses. Fuller cycles appear in Italy after the fifth century, such as the mosaics at Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. There is a portrayal of the early life of Moses carved in ivory relief Lipsanotheca, Brescia.

Scenes from the life of Moses figure in many famous manuscripts, such as the sixth-century Vienna Genesis, the seventh-century Ashburnham Pentateuch, the ninth-century Bible of Charles the Bald, the 12 th -century Hortus Deliciarum and Admont Bible, the 13 th -century St. Louis Psalter, and the 14 th -century Queen Mary Psalter. They are also found in medieval Hebrew manuscripts. The Haggadot also include illustrations to a number of midrashic legends, such as the tale of the infant Moses who took Pharaoh's crown from his head and placed it on his own Ex.

Other legends depicted include the petrification of Moses' neck when he was sentenced to be executed for killing the Egyptian Ex.

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Scenes from the life of Moses also appear in mosaics at St. Mark's, Venice. Pierre, Louvain : the paschal feast eaten by the Israelites before their departure from Egypt a prefiguration of the Last Supper , and the gathering of the manna. The life of Moses inspired many frescoes of the Italian Renaissance. The Exodus was also treated in the Vatican frescoes of the school of Raphael. In the Brera Gallery, Milan, there is a series of paintings by Bernardino Luini that depict scenes from the Exodus, including the crossing of the Red Sea.

More than any other painter, Nicolas Poussin was haunted by the figure of Moses. He painted a larger number of canvases, forming an almost complete cycle of the lawgiver's life. Some individual episodes call for more detailed consideration. The finding of Moses, Moses and the burning bush, Moses striking the rock, and the giving of the Law are the subjects which have most interested artists. The finding of Moses Ex.

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Moses and the burning bush Ex. The burning bush was held to symbolize virgin birth, in that the virgin was penetrated but not consumed by the flames of the Holy Spirit. In medieval art Mary is therefore represented as rising out of the bush which burns at her feet. There is a more traditional representation of the burning bush episode in an engraving by Hans Holbein the younger.

The ten plagues of Egypt Ex. There is a treatment of this subject by the English landscape painter J. Turner in the National Gallery, London. The crossing of the Red Sea Ex. There is a painting of this subject by the German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach Pinakothek, Munich , who also depicted Miriam's dance of triumph Ex. Moses striking the rock Ex. While all but the most conservative scholars reject the biblical account of the Exodus, [24] a majority still believes that the story has some historical basis, [28] [29] with Kenton Sparks referring to it as "mythologized history.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Second book of the Bible. This article is about the second book of the Bible. For other uses, see Exodus. Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy. Main article: Weekly Torah portion. Historical representations of the Stations of the Exodus.

Bible portal. Methods for Exodus. Cambridge University Press. Barmash, Pamela In Barmash, Pamela; Nelson, W. David eds. Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations. Lexington Books. Childs, Brevard S The Book of Exodus. Collins, John J. Davies, Graham In Day, John ed. Dempster, Stephen G Dominion and Dynasty. InterVarsity Press. Dozeman, Thomas B Commentary on Exodus. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Faust, Avraham In Thomas E. Levy; Thomas Schneider; William H. Propp eds. Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher The Bible Unearthed. Simon and Schuster. Fretheim, Terence E Westminster John Knox Press.

Houston, Walter J In John Barton ed.

About Moses in General

Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. Johnstone, William D In James D. Dunn, John William Rogerson ed. Eerdmans Bible Commentary. Kugler, Robert; Hartin, Patrick An Introduction to the Bible. McEntire, Mark Struggling with God: An Introduction to the Pentateuch. Mercer University Press. Meyers, Carol Biblical History and Israel's Past.

In Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford History of the Biblical World. Gmirkin, Russell E. Shaw, Ian In Shaw, Ian; Jameson, Robert eds. A Dictionary of Archaeology. Wiley Blackwell. Sparks, Kenton L. In Dozeman, Thomas B. Stuart, Douglas K Wenham, Gordon The Book of Leviticus. Exodus Bible. Books of the Bible. Catholic Orthodox.