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Moses

Moses

Born: c. 1392 b.c.e.
Egypt
Died: c. 1272 b.c.e.
Moab, Syria

Egyptian prophet

The Old Testament prophet Moses was chosen to lead Israel out of Egyptian slavery. He created Israel's nationhood and delivered the Ten Commandments.

Childhood years

Moses was the son of Amram and Yochebed of the tribe of Levi. Miriam and Aaron were his brother and sister. He was born in Egypt during the period in which the Israelites (Hebrews) had become a threat to the Egyptians simply because of their large population. The Pharaoh had ordered that all newborn male Hebrew children be cast into the Nile to drown. Amram and Yochebed took their newborn son and placed him in a waterproof basket and hid him in the tall grasses of the Nile. Meanwhile, his sister Miriam hid and watched over the baby from a distance. A group of women and servants were bathing nearby. The Pharaoh's daughter, hearing the baby cry, found and rescued him. She named him "Moses," meaning "drawn from the water." Her desire for a son fulfilled, she made certain that he had the best of everything, including education.

Moses was brought up in the splendor of the Egyptian court as the Pharaoh's daughter's adopted son. Grown to manhood, he was aware of his Hebraic roots and shared a deep compassion for his confined kinsmen. He became furious while witnessing an Egyptian master brutally beating a Hebrew slave, and he impulsively killed the Egyptian. Fearing the Pharaoh's punishment, he fled into the desert of Midian, becoming a shepherd for Jethro, a Midianite priest whose daughter Zipporah he later married. While tending the flocks on Horeb Mountain in the wilderness, he saw a bush burning yet not turning to ash. He heard a voice from within the bush telling him that he had been chosen to serve as one to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. He was also told to declare the unity of God to his people. At that time most Israelites were worshipping many gods. Moses was to tell them that there was only one God.

The tremendous responsibility of Moses's task, his shyness, and his own feeling of unworthiness brought forth a hesitancy and lack of confidence. The Divine answer was "Who made your tongue?" He was then assured that Aaron, his more talkative brother, would serve as his spokesman both to the children of Israel and to the Pharaoh. The promised destination for the Israelites' journey was a "land rich with milk and honey."

Moses returned to Egypt and persuaded the Hebrews to organize for a quick trip from their Egyptian slave drivers. With Aaron, Moses informed the Pharaoh that the God of the Hebrews demanded that Pharaoh free God's people. The Pharaoh refused to obey, bringing upon himself and his people nine terrible plagues (diseases that spread rapidly and can cause death) that Moses produced upon Egypt by using the miraculous staff he had received from God as a sign of his authority. The Egyptians suffered under the plagues of water turned into blood, frogs, gnats, flies, disease to their cattle, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. Each plague was severe to the Egyptians but left the Israelites untouched. The tenth plague is now the Hebrew story of Passover. God sent the Angel of Death to kill the firstborn sons of the Egyptiansa proof of His immense strength and power. The Israelites protected their households by putting lamb's blood on their doorway, so that the Angel of Death would know to pass over their homes. This last plague broke the Pharaoh's resistance and moved him to grant the Hebrews permission to leave immediately. Moses thus found himself the leader of an undisciplined collection of slaves, Hebrew as well as non-Hebrew, escaping from Egyptian territory toward freedom.

Exodus

Moses' immediate goal was Mt. Horeb, called Mt. Sinai, where God had first revealed Himself to Moses. The Hebrews came to the sacred mountain encouraged by the power they sensed in Moses. Summoned by God, Moses ascended the mountain and received the tablets of stone while the children of Israel heard the thundering forth of the Ten Commandments. Inspired, the people agreed to the conditions of the Covenant (agreement made between people and God).

Through forty years in the wilderness of Sinai, overcoming many obstacles, Moses led the horde of former slaves, shaping them into a nation. Many miracles happened along the way. When the Israelites stopped in front of the Red Sea with the Egyptian soldiers at their heels, it was Moses' raised staff that parted the Red Sea so that they could cross. Once they had safely crossed, the sea crashed down, drowning many of their pursuers. When food supplies ran out, God sent down what was called "manna" (spiritual food) everyday for the nourishment of the Israelites. Moses had to hear the Israelites complain about the food, the climate, and the slowness of their progress. Moses even had to hear the Israelites claim that Egypt had been better than this wilderness trip. When the people were in need of water, God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would spring from it. Moses' character was apparently worn down because, instead of following directions, he struck the rock with his staff. That was to have lasting impact on Moses's final days.

Covenant

With the help of his brother Aaron, Moses was able to hold together his ragtag band of exslaves for forty years. Only a man with tremendous will, patience, compassion, humility, and great faith could have forged the bickering and scheming groups who constantly challenged his wisdom and authority into a nation. Throughout the forty years Moses was in constant communication with his Lord, the God of Israel. This God added to the Ten Commandments through Moses by giving a code of law regulating the social and religious lives of the people. This collection of instructions, read to and confirmed by the people, was called the Book of the Covenant. These were protected in a specially designed box called the Ark of the Covenant. All of the specific details were spoken through Moses by the God of the Israelites.

Under Moses's leadership, most of the land east of the Jordan was conquered and given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and to half of the tribe of Menashe. Moses, however, was not permitted to lead the children of Israel into Canaan, the Promised Land, because he had been disobedient to God during the period of wandering in the desert. His regular meetings with God had fulfilled him in ways that even his fellow Israelites could detect. His face was always radiant when he exited any interview with his Almighty. Moses, 120 years old, died in the land of Moab and was buried opposite Bet Peor.

For More Information

Hodges, Margaret. Moses. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Kirsch, Jonathan. Moses: A Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998.

Meier, Levi. Mosesthe Prince, the Prophet: His Life, Legend, and Message for Our Lives. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishers, 1998.

Roshwald, Mordecai, and Miriam Roshwald. Moses: Leader, Prophet, Man. New York: T. Yoseloff, 1969.

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Moses

Moses

The Old Testament prophet Moses (ca. 1392-ca. 1272 B.C.) was the emancipator of Israel. He created Israel's nationhood and founded its religion.

Moses was the son of Amram and Yochebed of the tribe of Levi. He was born in Egypt during the period in which the Pharaoh had ordered that all newborn male Hebrew children be cast into the Nile. Rescued by the daughter of the Pharaoh, he was brought up in the splendor of the Egyptian court as her adopted son. Grown to manhood, aware of his Hebraic origin, and with deep compassion for his enslaved brethren, he became enraged while witnessing an Egyptian taskmaster brutally beating a Hebrew slave. Impulsively he killed the Egyptian. Fearing the Pharaoh's wrath and punishment, he fled into the desert of Midian, becoming a shepherd for Jethro, a Midianite priest whose daughter Zipporah he later married. While tending the flocks on Mt. Horeb far in the wilderness, he beheld a bush burning that was not consumed. In the revelation that followed, he was informed that he had been chosen to serve as the liberator of the children of Israel. He was also told to proclaim the unity of God to his entire people, which doctrine heretofore had been known only to certain individuals.

The tremendous responsibility of his task, his innate humility, and his own feeling of unworthiness evoked a hesitancy and lack of confidence in Moses. He was assured, however, that Aaron, his more fluent brother, would serve as his spokesman both to the children of Israel and to the Pharaoh.

Moses returned to Egypt and persuaded the Hebrews to organize for a hasty departure from the land of bondage. Together with Aaron, he informed the Pharaoh that the God of the Hebrews demanded that he free His people. The Pharaoh refused to obey, bringing upon himself and his people nine terrible plagues that Moses wrought upon Egypt by using the miraculous staff he had received as a sign of his authority. The tenth plague, the killing of the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, broke the Pharaoh's resistance and compelled him to grant the Hebrews permission to depart immediately. Moses thus found himself the leader of an undisciplined collection of slaves, Hebrew as well as non-Hebrew, escaping from Egyptian territory to freedom.

Moses' immediate goal was Mt. Horeb, called Mt. Sinai, where God had first revealed Himself to him. The Hebrews came to the sacred mountain fired by the inspiration of their prophetic leader. Summoned by God, Moses ascended the mountain and received the tablets of stone while the children of Israel heard the thundering forth of the Ten Commandments. Inspired, the people agreed to the conditions of the Covenant.

Through 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai, overcoming tremendous obstacles, Moses led the horde of former slaves, shaping them into a nation. He selected and set them apart for a divine purpose and consecrated them to the highest ethical and moral laws. Only a man with tremendous will, patience, compassion, humility, and great faith could have forged the bickering and scheming factions who constantly challenged his wisdom and authority into an entity.

Moses supplemented the Ten Commandments by a code of law regulating the social and religious life of the people. This collection of instructions, read to and ratified by the people, was called the Book of the Covenant.

Under his leadership, most of the land east of the Jordan was conquered and given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and to half of the tribe of Menashe. Moses, however, was not permitted to lead the children of Israel into Canaan, the Promised Land, because he had been disobedient to God during the period of wandering in the desert. When the people were in need of water, God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would spring from it. Instead he had struck the rock with his staff. From the heights of Nebo he surveyed the land promised to his forefathers, which would be given to their children. Moses, 120 years old, died in the land of Moab and was buried opposite Bet Peor.

Further Reading

No single work on Moses is satisfactory. One full study is Martin Buber, Moses (1946; new ed. 1958). Mordecai Roshwald and Miriam Roshwald, Moses: Leader, Prophet, Man (1969), draws from legend, fiction, drama, and poetry as well as from the Bible. The best short essays on Moses are in Rudolph Kittel, Great Men and Movements in Israel (1929), and Fleming James, Personalities of the Old Testament (1939). For archeological and historical background consult Max L. Margolis and Alexander Marx, A History of the Jewish People (1927); Robert H. Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old Testament (1941; rev. ed. 1948); William F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine (1949; rev. ed. 1956); Harry M. Orlinsky, Ancient Israel (1954); and Martin Noth, The History of Israel (1958; rev. ed. 1960). □

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Moses

Moses (mō´zĬs), Hebrew lawgiver, probably b. Egypt. The prototype of the prophets, he led his people in the 13th cent. BC out of bondage in Egypt to the edge of Canaan. The narrative in the Bible is the chief source of information on his life. His historical existence has been questioned, although there is nothing improbable about the general outline of the narrative after allowances for distortion over time are made. According to the biblical account, Moses was divinely protected as an infant, and as a young man he received a special calling at the burning bush. He lived in constant touch with God, who guided him in leading all Israel out of Egypt and across the desert. Through him God promulgated the Law, including the Ten Commandments, the criminal code, and the whole liturgical law. In his old age, when the Hebrews were at the Jordan River ready to cross, God gave Moses a view of the Promised Land from Mt. Pisgah; but he did not enter it, for he died and was buried in Moab. All this is recounted in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The authorship of these and Genesis (collectively called the Pentateuch) has been ascribed to Moses since earliest times; hence they are called the Books of Moses. The Law he promulgated is called the Mosaic law, the Torah. Few critics would argue that Moses actually authored the Pentateuch. Moses, one of the great names of Hebrew history, is referred to repeatedly in the Jewish, Christian, amd Muslim scriptures. In the Qur'an, Moses is a precursor of Muhammad, confirming God's revelation to Abraham. Among the Pseudepigrapha is a Testament of Moses.

See E. Auerbach, Moses (1975); G. W. Coats, Moses (1988).

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"Moses." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Moses

Moses (c.13th cent. BCE). Jewish leader and lawgiver. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in Egypt to Amram and Jochabel, who hid him in the reeds of the river Nile to escape Pharaoh's order to slaughter all Jewish male babies. He was rescued by Pharaoh's daughter: ‘From the water I drew him’ (Exodus 2. 10), meshitihu, hence the name Mosheh (Eng. Moses). While keeping his father-in-law's sheep on Mount Horeb, he encountered God in a burning bush. He was commanded to liberate the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. He guided them for forty years in the wilderness, and, on Mount Sinai, he received God's revelation of Torah, including the Ten Commandments. Before his death, he appointed Joshua as his successor. In the Jewish tradition, Moses has a unique status. In Christianity, he appears with Jesus at his transfiguration (Mark 9. 2–8) and, according to the Qurʾān, where he is known as Mūsā, he prophesied the coming of Muḥammad (7. 140).

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"Moses." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Moses." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/moses

"Moses." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved May 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/moses

Moses

Moses (fl. c.14th–13th centuries bc), Hebrew prophet and lawgiver, brother of Aaron. According to the biblical account, he was born in Egypt, and to escape a massacre was hidden by his mother in a basket among the bulrushes; found there by Pharaoh's daughter, he was adopted and brought up by her. Grown to manhood, he led the Israelites away from servitude in Egypt, across the desert towards the Promised Land. During the journey he was inspired by God on Mount Sinai to write down the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone (Exodus 20). In allusive use, the name may be used to denote someone held to resemble Moses, especially in his character of lawgiver or leader.
Law of Moses (or Mosaic Law) the system of moral and ceremonial precepts contained in the Pentateuch; the ceremonial portion of the system considered separately.
Moses basket a carrycot or small portable cot made of wickerwork, with allusion to the biblical story of Moses, left in a basket among the bulrushes (Exodus 2:3).

See also horns of Moses.

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"Moses." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Moses." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved May 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/moses

Moses

Moses (active c.13th century bc) Biblical hero who, as a prophet and leader of the ancient Hebrews, was the central figure in their liberation from bondage in Egypt and a formative influence in the founding of their nation-state, Israel. His story is recounted in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Numbers. An abandoned Hebrew child, Moses was brought up in the Pharaoh's court. As a man, Moses sought to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, and eventually was permitted to lead the exodus. God revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, but made the Israelites wander in the desert for a further 40 years before they entered the promised land of Canaan.

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Moses

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