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Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judaism and one of the most important
prophets in Christianity In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious g ...
,
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission
o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling o ...
) is an religion teaching that is a of .Peters, F. E. 2009. "Allāh." In , edited by J. L. Esposito. Oxford: . . (See alsoquick reference) " e Muslims' und ...
, Druze faith, the
Baháʼí Faith The Baháʼí Faith (; fa , بهائی ') is a relatively new religion teaching the Baháʼí Faith and the unity of religion, essential worth of all religions and Baháʼí Faith and the unity of humanity, the unity of all people. Establish ...
and other Abrahamic religions. According to both the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
and the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
, Moses was the leader of the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of of the , who inhabited a part of during the . Overview In the , the term ''Israelites'' is used interchangeably with the term '. Although related, the terms , Israelites, and are not interchan ...

Israelites
and lawgiver to whom the
authorship An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and ...
, or "acquisition from heaven", of the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
(the first five books of the Bible) is attributed. According to the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
, Moses was born in a time when his people, the Israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in population and, as a result, the
Egyptian Pharaoh Pharaoh (, ; cop, ''Pǝrro'') is the vernacular, common title now used for the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty of Egypt, First Dynasty (c. 3150 BCE) until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the ...
worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt's enemies. Moses's
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...

Hebrew
mother,
Jochebed According to the Bible, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and mother of Miriam, Aaron and Moses. She was the wife of Amram, as well as his aunt. No details are given concerning her life. According to Jewish legend, Moses's Mother is buried in the To ...
, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh's daughter (identified as Queen Bithia in the
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; p ...

Midrash
), the child was adopted as a
foundling Foundling may refer to: * An abandoned child, see child abandonment * Foundling hospital, an institution where abandoned children were cared for ** Foundling Hospital, Dublin, founded 1704 ** Foundling Hospital, Cork, founded 1737 ** Foundling Hosp ...
from the
Nile river The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...
and grew up with the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slave-master who was beating a Hebrew, Moses fled across the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
to
Midian Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and Quran. William G. Dever states that biblical Midian was in the "northwest A ...

Midian
, where he encountered the
Angel of the Lord The (or an) angel of the ( he, מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה '' malakh YHWH'' "messenger of Yahweh") is an entity appearing repeatedly in the Tanakh (Old Testament) on behalf of the Yahweh, God of Israel. The term ''malakh YHWH'', which occurs ...
, speaking to him from within a
burning bush The burning bush is an object described by as being located on Mount Horeb. According to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name. In the biblical narrative, the burning bush is the location at wh ...
on
Mount Horeb Mount Horeb (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...
, which he regarded as the Mountain of God.
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...
sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses said that he could not speak eloquently, so God allowed
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...

Aaron
, his elder brother, to become his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its ...
, where Moses received the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christia ...

Ten Commandments
. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died on
Mount Nebo Mount Nebo ( ar, جَبَل نِيبُو, Jabal Nībū; he, הַר נְבוֹ, Har Nevo) is an elevated ridge A ridge or a mountain ridge is a geographical feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elev ...
at the age of 120, within sight of the
Promised Land The Promised Land ( he, הארץ המובטחת, translit. Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping Letter (alphabet), letters (thus ''wikt:trans-#Prefix, trans-'' + ''wikt:litter ...
. Generally, Moses is seen as a
legend A legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, documentary, Travel literature, tra ...

legend
ary figure, whilst retaining the possibility that Moses or a Moses-like figure existed in the 13th century BCE.
Rabbinical Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Heb ...
calculated a lifespan of Moses corresponding to 1391–1271 BCE;
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authorize ...

Jerome
suggested 1592 BCE, and
James Ussher James Ussher (or Usher; 4 January 1581 – 21 March 1656) was the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland), Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656. He was a prolific scholar and church leade ...

James Ussher
suggested 1571 BCE as his birth year.


Etymology of name

An
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
root '' msy'' ('child of') has been considered as a possible etymology, arguably an abbreviation of a
theophoric name A theophoric name (from Greek: , ''theophoros'', literally "bearing or carrying a god") embeds the name of a god, both invoking and displaying the protection of that deity. For example, names embedding Apollo Apollo, grc, Ἀπόλλω ...
, as for example in Egyptian names like Thutmoses ('child of
Thoth Thoth (; from grc-koi, Θώθ ', borrowed from cop, Ⲑⲱⲟⲩⲧ, the reflex of egy, ḏḥwtj " eis like the Ibis") is an ancient Egyptian deity Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods A deity or god is a supernatural being consider ...

Thoth
') and Ramesses ('child of '),Hays, Christopher B. 2014
''Hidden Riches: A Sourcebook for the Comparative Study of the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East''
Presbyterian Publishing Corp. p. 116.
with the god's name omitted.
Abraham Yahuda Abraham Shalom Yahuda ( he, אברהם שלום יהודה; 1877–1951) was a Palestinian Jew, polymath, teacher, writer, researcher, linguist, and collector of rare documents. Biography Abraham Shalom Yahuda was born in Jerusalem to a Jewish fam ...
, based on the spelling given in the
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, ...
, argues that it combines "water" or "seed" and "pond, expanse of water," thus yielding the sense of "child of the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nubi ...

Nile
" ('' mw- š''). However,
Kenneth Kitchen Kenneth Anderson Kitchen (born 1932) is a British biblical scholar, Ancient Near Eastern historian, and Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology Archaeology or archeo ...
argued that an Egyptian origin for the name was unlikely, as the sounds in the Hebrew ''m-š-h'' do not correspond to the pronunciation of Egyptian ''msy'' in the relevant time period. The biblical account of Moses's birth provides him with a
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familia ...
to explain the ostensible meaning of his name. He is said to have received it from the Pharaoh's daughter: "he became her son. She named him Moses (מֹשֶׁה ''Mōše''), saying, 'I drew him out (מְשִׁיתִֽהוּ ''mǝšīṯīhū'') of the water'."Maciá, Lorena Miralles. 2014.
Judaizing a Gentile Biblical Character through Fictive Biographical Reports: The Case of Bityah, Pharaoh's Daughter, Moses' Mother, according to Rabbinic Interpretations
" Pp. 145–75 in ''Narratology, Hermeneutics, and Midrash: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Narratives from Late Antiquity through to Modern Times'', edited by C. Cordoni and G. Langer.
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (V&R) is a scholarly publishing house based in Göttingen, Germany. It was founded in 1735 by (1700-1750) in connection with the establishment of the University of Göttingen, Georg-August-Universität in the same city. ...
.
This explanation links it to the Semitic root משׁה ''m-š-h'', meaning "to draw out". The eleventh-century
Tosafist The Tosafot, Tosafos or Tosfot ( he, תוספות) are medieval commentaries on the Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakh ...
Isaac b. Asher haLevi noted that the princess names him the active participle Drawer-out (מֹשֶׁה ''mōše''), not the passive participle Drawn-out (נִמְשֶׁה ''nīmše''), in effect prophesying that Moses would draw others out (of Egypt); this has been accepted by some scholars. The
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
etymology in the Biblical story may reflect an attempt to cancel out traces of Moses's Egyptian origins. The Egyptian character of his name was recognized as such by ancient Jewish writers like
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, , Yedidia (Jedediah) HaCohen; ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from ...

Philo
and
Josephus Titus Flavius Josephus (; ; 37 – 100), born Yosef ben Matityahu ( he, יוסף בן מתתיהו ''Yōsef ben Matiṯyāhu''; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς ''Iṓsēpos Matthíou paîs''), was a first-century Romano-Jewish ...

Josephus
.Greifenhagen, Franz V. 2003
''Egypt on the Pentateuch's Ideological Map: Constructing Biblical Israel's Identity''
Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 60ff n.65.
Philo linked Moses's name () to the Egyptian (
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...
) word for 'water' (''möu'', ), in reference to his finding in the Nile and the biblical
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familia ...
. Josephus, in his ''
Antiquities of the Jews ''Antiquities of the Jews'' ( la, Antiquitates Iudaicae; el, Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, ''Ioudaikē archaiologia'') is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th ye ...
'', claims that the second element, ''-esês'', meant 'those who are saved'. The problem of how an Egyptian princess, known to Josephus as Thermutis (identified as Tharmuth) and to 1 Chronicles 4:18 as
Bithiah The Pharaoh's daughter ( he, בַּת־פַּרְעֹה, lit=daughter of Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the ...
, could have known Hebrew puzzled medieval Jewish commentators like Abraham ibn Ezra and
Hezekiah ben Manoah Hezekiah ben Manoah, or Hezekiah bar Manoah, was a French rabbi and Bible commentator of the 13th century. He is generally known by the title of his commentary, Chizkuni ( he, חזקוני). In memory of his father, who lost his right hand through ...
. Hezekiah suggested she either converted or took a tip from
Jochebed According to the Bible, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and mother of Miriam, Aaron and Moses. She was the wife of Amram, as well as his aunt. No details are given concerning her life. According to Jewish legend, Moses's Mother is buried in the To ...
.Salkin, Jeffrey K. 2008
''Righteous Gentiles in the Hebrew Bible: Ancient Role Models for Sacred Relationships''
Jewish Lights Publishing Jewish Lights Publishing is a publishing company Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of ...
. pp. 47ff


Biblical narrative


Prophet and deliverer of Israel

The
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of of the , who inhabited a part of during the . Overview In the , the term ''Israelites'' is used interchangeably with the term '. Although related, the terms , Israelites, and are not interchan ...

Israelites
had settled in the
Land of Goshen Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemica ...
in the time of
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
and
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
, but a new
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...
arose who oppressed the children of Israel. At this time Moses was born to his father
Amram In the Book of Exodus, Amram () is the husband of Jochebed and father of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Alternative spellings of the name include . In the Bible In addition to being married to Jochebed, Amram is also described in the Bible as hav ...

Amram
, son (or descendant) of
Kehath According to the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses) of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bib ...
the
Levite A Levite (or Levi) (, ) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations ...
, who entered Egypt with Jacob's household; his mother was
Jochebed According to the Bible, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and mother of Miriam, Aaron and Moses. She was the wife of Amram, as well as his aunt. No details are given concerning her life. According to Jewish legend, Moses's Mother is buried in the To ...
(also Yocheved), who was kin to Kehath. Moses had one older (by seven years) sister,
Miriam Miriam ( he, מִרְיָם ''Mīrəyām'') is described in the as the daughter of and , and the older sister of and . She was a and first appears in the . The refers to her as "Miriam the Prophetess" and the names her as one of the seven ...
, and one older (by three years) brother,
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...

Aaron
. The Pharaoh had commanded that all male Hebrew children born would be drowned in the river
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nubi ...

Nile
, but Moses's mother placed him in an ark and concealed the ark in the
bulrush Bulrushes is the vernacular name for several large wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interact ...
es by the riverbank, where the baby was discovered and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, and raised as an Egyptian. One day, after Moses had reached adulthood, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. Moses, in order to escape the Pharaoh's
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ' ...

death penalty
, fled to
Midian Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and Quran. William G. Dever states that biblical Midian was in the "northwest A ...

Midian
(a desert country south of Judah), where he married
Zipporah Zipporah or Tzipora (; he, צִפּוֹרָה, ''Tsìpporah'', "bird"), ''Sepphōra''; ar, صفورة, ''Ṣaffūrah'' is mentioned in the Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting ...

Zipporah
. There, on
Mount Horeb Mount Horeb (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...
,
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...

God
appeared to Moses as a
burning bush The burning bush is an object described by as being located on Mount Horeb. According to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name. In the biblical narrative, the burning bush is the location at wh ...
, revealed to Moses his name
YHWH The Tetragrammaton (; ), or Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as ...

YHWH
(probably pronounced
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
) and commanded him to return to Egypt and bring his
chosen people Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves to be the chosen people ( he, עם סגולה / העם הנבחר) of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dic ...
(Israel) out of bondage and into the
Promised Land The Promised Land ( he, הארץ המובטחת, translit. Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping Letter (alphabet), letters (thus ''wikt:trans-#Prefix, trans-'' + ''wikt:litter ...
(
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
). During the journey, God tried to kill Moses, but Zipporah saved his life. Moses returned to carry out God's command, but God caused the Pharaoh to refuse, and only after God had subjected Egypt to ten plagues did the Pharaoh relent. Moses led the Israelites to the border of Egypt, but there God hardened the Pharaoh's heart once more, so that he could destroy the Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea Crossing as a sign of his power to Israel and the nations. After defeating the
Amalekites Amalek (; he, עֲמָלֵק, ''‘Ámālēq'', ar, عماليق ''‘Amālīq'') is a nation described in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are alm ...
in
Rephidim ''Battle with the Amalekites'', by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1860), representing Exodus 17:8-16. Rephidim ( he, רפידים) is one of the places visited by the Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient ...
, Moses to
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its ...
, where he was given the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christia ...

Ten Commandments
from God, written on
stone tablets According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a ...

stone tablets
. However, since Moses remained a long time on the mountain, some of the people feared that he might be dead, so they made a statue of a
golden calf According to the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common sup ...
and worshipped it, thus disobeying and angering God and Moses. Moses, out of anger, broke the tablets, and later ordered the elimination of those who had worshiped the golden statue, which was melted down and fed to the idolaters. He also wrote the ten commandments on a new set of tablets. Later at Mount Sinai, Moses and the elders entered into a covenant, by which Israel would become the people of YHWH, obeying his laws, and YHWH would be their god. Moses delivered the laws of God to Israel, instituted the priesthood under the sons of Moses's brother
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...

Aaron
, and destroyed those Israelites who fell away from his worship. In his final act at Sinai, God gave Moses instructions for the
Tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are almost exclusively in , with a few passages in (in the books of and , the verse 10:11, and som ...

Tabernacle
, the mobile shrine by which he would travel with Israel to the Promised Land. From Sinai, Moses led the Israelites to the Desert of Paran on the border of Canaan. From there he sent twelve spies into the land. The spies returned with samples of the land's fertility, but warned that its inhabitants were
giants Giant or Giants may refer to: Mythology and religion *Giant **Giants (Greek mythology) **Giants (Norse mythology) **Giants (Welsh folklore) **Giants (esotericism) **Nephilim, a Hebrew term loosely translated as giants in some Bibles Arts, ente ...
. The people were afraid and wanted to return to Egypt, and some rebelled against Moses and against God. Moses told the Israelites that they were not worthy to inherit the land, and would wander the wilderness for forty years until the generation who had refused to enter Canaan had died, so that it would be their children who would possess the land. Later on,
Korah Korah ( he, ''Qōraḥ''; ar, قارون ''Qārūn''), son of IzharAccording to the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (Pe ...
was punished for leading a revolt against Moses. When the forty years had passed, Moses led the Israelites east around the
Dead Sea The Dead Sea ( he, יָם הַמֶּלַח lit. Sea of Salt; ar, البحر الميت , lit. ''the Dead Sea'',The first article ''al-'' is unnecessary and usually not used. or Buhayrat, Bahret or Birket Lut, ''lit.'' "Lake/Sea of Lot") is a s ...

Dead Sea
to the territories of
Edom Edom (; Edomite Edom (; Edomite: 𐤀𐤃𐤌 ''’Edām''; he, אֱדוֹם ''ʼÉḏōm'', lit.: "red"; akk, 𒌑𒁺𒈠𒀀𒀀 ''Uduma'') was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah Th ...

Edom
and
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an anci ...
. There they escaped the temptation of idolatry, conquered the lands of and
Sihon Sihon was an Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were a ...
in Transjordan, received God's blessing through
Balaam Balaam (; , Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined r ...

Balaam
the prophet, and massacred the
Midian Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and Quran. William G. Dever states that biblical Midian was in the "northwest A ...

Midian
ites, who by the end of the Exodus journey had become the enemies of the Israelites due to their notorious role in enticing the Israelites to sin against God. Moses was twice given notice that he would die before entry to the Promised Land: in
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
27:13, once he had seen the Promised Land from a viewpoint on Mount Abarim, and again in Numbers 31:1 once battle with the Midianites had been won. On the banks of the Jordan River, in sight of the land, Moses assembled the Tribes of Israel#The Twelve Tribes, tribes. After recalling their wanderings he delivered God's laws by which they must live in the land, sang a Song of Moses, song of praise and pronounced a Blessing of Moses, blessing on the people, and passed his authority to Joshua, under whom they would possess the land. Moses then went up
Mount Nebo Mount Nebo ( ar, جَبَل نِيبُو, Jabal Nībū; he, הַר נְבוֹ, Har Nevo) is an elevated ridge A ridge or a mountain ridge is a geographical feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elev ...
, looked over the
Promised Land The Promised Land ( he, הארץ המובטחת, translit. Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping Letter (alphabet), letters (thus ''wikt:trans-#Prefix, trans-'' + ''wikt:litter ...
spread out before him, and died, at the age of one hundred and twenty.


Lawgiver of Israel

Moses is honoured among Jews today as the "lawgiver of Israel", and he delivers several sets of laws in the course of the four books. The first is the Covenant Code, the terms of the Mosaic covenant, covenant which God offers to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Embedded in the covenant are the Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant. The entire Book of Leviticus constitutes a second body of law, the Book of Numbers begins with yet another set, and the Book of Deuteronomy another. Moses has traditionally been regarded as Mosaic authorship, the author of those four books and the Book of Genesis, which together comprise the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
, the first section of the Hebrew Bible.


Historicity

Scholars hold different opinions on the status of Moses in scholarship. For instance, according to William G. Dever, the modern scholarly consensus is that the biblical person of Moses is largely mythical while also holding that "a Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan (Bible), Transjordan in the mid-late 13th century B.C." and that "archeology can do nothing" to prove or confirm either way. However, according to Solomon Nigosian, there are actually three prevailing views among biblical scholars: one is that Moses is not a historical figure, another view strives to anchor the decisive role he played in Israelite religion, and a third that argues there are elements of both history and legend from which "these issues are hotly debated unresolved matters among scholars." According to Brian Britt, there is divide amongst scholars when discussing matters on Moses that threatens gridlock. Jan Assmann argues that we ''cannot'' know if Moses ever lived because there are no traces of him outside tradition. Though the names of Moses and others in the biblical narratives are Egyptian and contain genuine Egyptian elements, no extrabiblical sources point clearly to Moses. No references to Moses appear in any Egyptian sources prior to the fourth century BCE, long after he is believed to have lived. No contemporary Egyptian sources mention Moses, or the events of Exodus–Deuteronomy, nor has any archaeological evidence been discovered in Egypt or the Sinai Peninsula, Sinai wilderness to support the story in which he is the central figure. David Adams Leeming states that Moses is a mythic hero and the central figure in Hebrew mythology. However, according to John Van Seters, John van Seters, any mythical elements in sources on Moses do not indicate that there was no Moses, nor that the tales do not include historical information, but that in the Torah, memory revises history and makes myths out of it. The ''Oxford Companion to the Bible'' states that the historicity of Moses is the most reasonable assumption to be made about him as his absence would leave a vacuum that cannot be explained away. ''Oxford Biblical Studies'' states that although few modern scholars are willing to support the traditional view that Moses himself wrote the five books of the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
, there are certainly those who regard the leadership of Moses as too firmly based in Israel's corporate memory to be dismissed as pious fiction. The story of Moses's discovery picks up a familiar motif in ancient Near Eastern Mythology, mythological accounts of the ruler who rises from humble origins. Thus Sargon of Akkad's Akkadian language, Akkadian account of his own origins runs:
My mother, the high priestess, conceived; in secret she bore me She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid She cast me into the river which rose over me.
Moses's story, like those of the other patriarchs, most likely had a substantial oral prehistory, (he is mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Isaiah) and his name is apparently very ancient, as the tradition found in Exodus no longer understands its original meaning. Nevertheless, the completion of the Torah and its elevation to the centre of post-Exilic Judaism was as much or more about combining older texts as writing new ones – the final Pentateuch was based on existing traditions. Book of Isaiah, Isaiah, written during the Exile (i.e., in the first half of the 6th century BCE), testifies of tension between the people of Judah and the returning post-Exilic Jews (the "Golah, gôlâ"), stating that God is the father of Israel and that Israel's history begins with the Exodus and not with Abraham. The conclusion to be inferred from this and similar evidence (e.g., the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah), is that the figure of Moses and the story of the Exodus must have been preeminent among the people of Judah at the time of the Exile and after, serving to support their claims to the land in opposition to those of the returning exiles. Kenite hypothesis, A theory developed by Cornelis Tiele in 1872, which has proved influential, argued that
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
was a
Midian Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and Quran. William G. Dever states that biblical Midian was in the "northwest A ...

Midian
ite god, introduced to the Israelites by Moses, whose father-in-law Jethro (Bible), Jethro was a Midianite priest. It was to such a Moses that Yahweh reveals his real name, hidden from the Patriarchs (Bible), Patriarchs who knew him only as El Shaddai. Against this view is the modern consensus that most of the Israelites were native to Palestine (region), Palestine. Martin Noth argued that the Torah, Pentateuch uses the figure of Moses, originally linked to legends of a Transjordan conquest, as a narrative bracket or late redactional device to weld together 4 of the 5, originally independent, themes of that work. and , the latter in a somewhat Sensationalism, sensationalist manner, have suggested that the Moses story is a distortion or transmogrification of the historical pharaoh Amenmesse, Amenmose (c. 1200 BCE), who was dismissed from office and whose name was later simplified to ''msy'' (Mose). Aidan Dodson regards this hypothesis as "intriguing, but beyond proof." Rudolf Smend argues that the two details about Moses that were most likely to be historical are his name, of Egyptian origin, and his marriage to a Midianite woman, details which seem unlikely to have been invented by the Israelites; in Smend's view, all other details given in the biblical narrative are too mythically charged to be seen as accurate data. The name Mesha, King Mesha of
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an anci ...
has been linked to that of Moses. Mesha also is associated with narratives of an exodus and a conquest, and several motifs in stories about him are shared with the Exodus tale and that regarding Israel's war with Moab (2 Kings 3). Moab rebels against oppression, like Moses, leads his people out of Israel, as Moses does from Egypt, and his first-born son is slaughtered at the wall of Kir of Moab, Kir-hareseth as the firstborn of Israel are condemned to slaughter in the Exodus story, in what Calvinist theologian Peter Leithart described as "an infernal Passover that delivers Mesha while wrath burns against his enemies". An Egyptian version of the tale that crosses over with the Moses story is found in Manetho who, according to the summary in
Josephus Titus Flavius Josephus (; ; 37 – 100), born Yosef ben Matityahu ( he, יוסף בן מתתיהו ''Yōsef ben Matiṯyāhu''; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς ''Iṓsēpos Matthíou paîs''), was a first-century Romano-Jewish ...

Josephus
, wrote that a certain Osarseph, a Heliopolis (Ancient Egypt), Heliopolitan priest, became overseer of a band of Leprosy, lepers, when Amenhotep III, Amenophis, following indications by Amenhotep, son of Hapu, had all the lepers in Egypt quarantined in order to cleanse the land so that he might see the gods. The lepers are bundled into Avaris, the former capital of the Hyksos, where Osarseph prescribes for them everything forbidden in Egypt, while proscribing everything permitted in Egypt. They invite the Hyksos to reinvade Egypt, rule with them for 13 years – Osarseph then assumes the name Moses – and are then driven out. Other Egyptian figures which have been postulated as candidates for a historical Moses-like figure include the princes Ahmose-ankh and Ramose (prince), Ramose, who were sons of pharaoh Ahmose I, or a figure associated with the family of pharaoh Thutmose III. Israel Knohl has proposed to identify Moses with Irsu, a Shasu who, according to Papyrus Harris I and the Elephantine Stele, took power in Egypt with the support of "Asiatics" (people from the Levant) after the death of Queen Twosret; after coming to power, Irsu and his supporters disrupted Egyptian rituals, "treating the gods like the people" and halting offerings to the Egyptian deities. They were eventually defeated and expelled by the new Pharaoh Setnakhte and, while fleeing, they abandoned large quantities of gold and silver they had stolen from the temples.


Hellenistic literature

Non-biblical writings about Jews, with references to the role of Moses, first appear at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE. Shmuel notes that "a characteristic of this literature is the high honour in which it holds the peoples of the East in general and some specific groups among these peoples." In addition to the Judeo-Roman or Judeo-Hellenic historians Artapanus of Alexandria, Artapanus, Eupolemus,
Josephus Titus Flavius Josephus (; ; 37 – 100), born Yosef ben Matityahu ( he, יוסף בן מתתיהו ''Yōsef ben Matiṯyāhu''; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς ''Iṓsēpos Matthíou paîs''), was a first-century Romano-Jewish ...

Josephus
, and
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, , Yedidia (Jedediah) HaCohen; ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from ...

Philo
, a few non-Jewish historians including Hecataeus of Abdera (quoted by Diodorus Siculus), Alexander Polyhistor, Manetho, Apion, Chaeremon of Alexandria, Tacitus and Porphyry (philosopher), Porphyry also make reference to him. The extent to which any of these accounts rely on earlier sources is unknown. Moses also appears in other religious texts such as the Mishnah (c. 200 CE),
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; p ...

Midrash
(200–1200 CE), and the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
(c. 610–653). The figure of Osarseph in Greek historiography, Hellenistic historiography is a renegade Egyptian priest who leads an army of lepers against the pharaoh and is finally expelled from Egypt, changing his name to Moses.


Hecataeus

The earliest existing reference to Moses in Greek literature occurs in the Egyptian history of Hecataeus of Abdera (4th century BCE). All that remains of his description of Moses are two references made by Diodorus Siculus, wherein, writes historian Arthur Droge, he "describes Moses as a wise and courageous leader who left Egypt and colonized Judea, Judaea." Among the many accomplishments described by Hecataeus, Moses had founded cities, established a temple and religious cult, and issued laws: Droge also points out that this statement by Hecataeus was similar to statements made subsequently by Eupolemus.


Artapanus

The Jewish historian Artapanus of Alexandria (2nd century BCE), portrayed Moses as a cultural hero, alien to the Pharaonic court. According to theologian John Barclay, the Moses of Artapanus "clearly bears the destiny of the Jews, and in his personal, cultural and military splendor, brings credit to the whole Jewish people." Artapanus goes on to relate how Moses returns to Egypt with Aaron, and is imprisoned, but miraculously escapes through the name of YHWH in order to lead the Exodus. This account further testifies that all Egyptian Egyptian temple, temples of Isis thereafter contained a rod, in remembrance of that used for Moses's miracles. He describes Moses as 80 years old, "tall and ruddy, with long white hair, and dignified." Some historians, however, point out the "Apologetics, apologetic nature of much of Artapanus' work," with his addition of extra-biblical details, such as his references to Jethro: the non-Jewish Jethro expresses admiration for Moses's gallantry in helping his daughters, and chooses to adopt Moses as his son.


Strabo

Strabo, a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher, in his ''Geographica'' (c. 24 CE), wrote in detail about Moses, whom he considered to be an Egyptian who deplored the situation in his homeland, and thereby attracted many followers who respected the deity. He writes, for example, that Moses opposed the picturing of the deity in the form of man or animal, and was convinced that the deity was an entity which encompassed everything – land and sea: In Strabo's writings of the history of Judaism as he understood it, he describes various stages in its development: from the first stage, including Moses and his direct heirs; to the final stage where "the Temple of Jerusalem continued to be surrounded by an aura of sanctity." Strabo's "positive and unequivocal appreciation of Moses' personality is among the most sympathetic in all ancient literature." His portrayal of Moses is said to be similar to the writing of Hecataeus of Abdera, Hecataeus who "described Moses as a man who excelled in wisdom and courage." Egyptologist Jan Assmann concludes that Strabo was the historian "who came closest to a construction of Moses' religion as monotheism, monotheistic and as a pronounced counter-religion." It recognized "only one divine being whom no image can represent... [and] the only way to approach this god is to live in virtue and in justice."


Tacitus

The Roman historian Tacitus (c. 56–120 CE) refers to Moses by noting that the Jewish religion was monotheistic and without a clear image. His primary work, wherein he describes Jewish philosophy, is his ''Histories (Tacitus), Histories'' (c. 100), where, according to 18th-century translator and Irish dramatist Arthur Murphy (writer), Arthur Murphy, as a result of the Jewish worship of one God, "paganism, pagan mythology fell into contempt." Tacitus states that, despite various opinions current in his day regarding the Jews' ethnicity, most of his sources are in agreement that there was an Exodus from Egypt. By his account, the Pharaoh Bakenranef, Bocchoris, suffering from a Plague (disease), plague, banished the Jews in response to an oracle of the god Zeus-Amun. In this version, Moses and the Jews wander through the desert for only six days, capturing the Holy Land on the seventh.Tacitus, Cornelius. ''Tacitus, The Histories, Volume 2'', Book V. Chapters 5, 6 p. 208.


Longinus

The Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, impressed the pagan author of the famous classical book of literary criticism, ''On the Sublime'', traditionally attributed to Longinus (literature), Longinus. The date of composition is unknown, but it is commonly assigned to the late 1st century C.E. The writer quotes Book of Genesis, Genesis in a "style which presents the nature of the deity in a manner suitable to his pure and great being," however he does not mention Moses by name, calling him 'no chance person' () but "the Lawgiver" (, Archon#Ancient Greece, thesmothete) of the Jews," a term that puts him on a par with Lycurgus of Sparta, Lycurgus and Minos. Aside from a reference to Cicero, Moses is the only non-Greek writer quoted in the work, contextually he is put on a par with Homer,. and he is described "with far more admiration than even Greek writers who treated Moses with respect, such as Hecataeus of Abdera, Hecataeus and Strabo.


Josephus

In Josephus' (37 – c. 100 CE) ''Antiquities of the Jews'', Moses is mentioned throughout. For example Book VIII Ch. IV, describes Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, at the time the Ark of the Covenant was first moved into the newly built temple: According to Feldman, Josephus also attaches particular significance to Moses's possession of the "cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice." He also includes piety as an added fifth virtue. In addition, he "stresses Moses' willingness to undergo toil and his careful avoidance of bribery. Like Plato's Philosopher king, philosopher-king, Moses excels as an educator."


Numenius

Numenius of Apamea, Numenius, a Greek philosopher who was a native of Apamea, Syria, Apamea, in Syria, wrote during the latter half of the 2nd century CE. Historian Kennieth Guthrie writes that "Numenius is perhaps the only recognized Greek philosopher who explicitly studied Moses, the prophets, and the life of Jesus..." He describes his background:


Justin Martyr

The Christian saint and religious philosopher Justin Martyr (103–165 CE) drew the same conclusion as Numenius of Apamea, Numenius, according to other experts. Theologian Paul Blackham notes that Justin considered Moses to be "more trustworthy, profound and truthful because he is ''older'' than the Ancient Greek philosophy, Greek philosophers." He quotes him:


Abrahamic religions


Judaism

Most of what is known about Moses from the Bible comes from the books of book of Exodus, Exodus, Book of Leviticus, Leviticus, book of Numbers, Numbers, and Book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy. The majority of scholars consider the compilation of these books to go back to the Yehud Medinata, Persian period, 538–332 BCE, but based on earlier written and oral traditions. There is a wealth of stories and additional information about Moses in the Jewish apocrypha and in the genre of rabbinical exegesis known as
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; p ...

Midrash
, as well as in the primary works of the Jewish oral law, the Mishnah and the Talmud. Moses is also given a number of bynames in Jewish tradition. The
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; p ...

Midrash
identifies Moses as one of seven biblical personalities who were called by various names. Moses's other names were Jekuthiel (by his mother), Heber (by Amram, his father), Jered (by
Miriam Miriam ( he, מִרְיָם ''Mīrəyām'') is described in the as the daughter of and , and the older sister of and . She was a and first appears in the . The refers to her as "Miriam the Prophetess" and the names her as one of the seven ...
), Avi Zanoah (by Aaron), Avigdor (name), Avi Gedor (by Kohath), Avi Soco (by his wet-nurse), Shemaiah ben Nethanel (by people of Israel). Moses is also attributed the names Toviah (as a first name), and Levi (as a family name) (Vayikra Rabbah 1:3), Heman, Mechoqeiq (lawgiver) and Ehl Gav Ish (Numbers 12:3). In another exegesis, Moses had ascended to the first heaven until the Seven Heavens, seventh, even visited Paradise and Hell alive, after he saw the burning bush, Divine vision in Mount Horeb. Jewish historians who lived at Alexandria, such as Eupolemus, attributed to Moses the feat of having taught the Phoenicians Phoenician alphabet, their alphabet, similar to legends of
Thoth Thoth (; from grc-koi, Θώθ ', borrowed from cop, Ⲑⲱⲟⲩⲧ, the reflex of egy, ḏḥwtj " eis like the Ibis") is an ancient Egyptian deity Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods A deity or god is a supernatural being consider ...

Thoth
. Artapanus of Alexandria explicitly identified Moses not only with Thoth/Hermes, but also with the Greek figure Musaeus of Athens, Musaeus (whom he called "the teacher of Orpheus"), and ascribed to him the division of Egypt into 36 districts, each with its own liturgy. He named the princess who adopted Moses as Merris, wife of Pharaoh Chenephres. Jewish tradition considers Moses to be the greatest prophet who ever lived. Despite his importance, Judaism stresses that Moses was a human being, and is therefore not to be worshipped. Only God is worthy of worship in Judaism. To Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox Jews, Moses is called ''Moshe Rabbenu, `Eved HaShem, Avi haNeviim zya"a'': "Our Leader Moshe, Servant of God, Father of all the Prophets (may his merit shield us, amen)". In the orthodox view, Moses received not only the Torah, but also the revealed (written and oral) and the hidden (the ''`hokhmat nistar'' teachings, which gave Judaism the Zohar of the Shimon bar Yochai, Rashbi, the Torah of the Isaac Luria, Ari haQadosh and all that is discussed in the Heavenly Yeshiva between the Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Ramhal and his masters). Arising in part from his age of death (120 years, according to Deut. 34:7) and that "his eye had not dimmed, and his vigor had not diminished," the phrase "Live until 120, may you live to 120" has become a common blessing among Jews (120 is stated as the maximum age for all of Noah's descendants in Genesis 6:3).


Christianity

Moses is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament figure. For Christianity, Christians, Moses is often a symbol of Divine law, God's law, as reinforced and Expounding of the Law, expounded on in the teachings of Jesus. New Testament writers often compared Jesus's words and deeds with Moses's to explain Jesus's mission. In Acts of the Apostles, Acts 7:39–43, 51–53, for example, the rejection of Moses by the Jews who worshipped the
golden calf According to the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common sup ...
is likened to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews that continued in traditional Judaism. Moses also figures in several of Jesus's messages. When he met the Pharisees, Pharisee Nicodemus at night in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, he compared Moses's lifting up of the Nehushtan, bronze serpent in the wilderness, which any Israelite could look at and be healed, to his own lifting up (by his death and resurrection) for the people to look at and be healed. In the sixth chapter, Jesus responded to the people's claim that Moses provided them ''manna'' in the wilderness by saying that it was not Moses, but God, who provided. Calling himself the "Bread of Life Discourse, bread of life", Jesus stated that he was provided to feed God's people. Moses, along with Elijah, is presented as meeting with Jesus in all three Synoptic Gospels of the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, respectively. In Matthew 23, in what is the first attested use of a phrase referring to this rabbinical usage (the Graeco-Aramaic קתדרא דמשה), Jesus refers to the scribes and the Pharisees, in a passage critical of them, as having seated themselves "on the chair of Moses" ( gr, Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋσέως καθέδρας , ''epì tēs Mōüséōs kathédras'') His relevance to modern Christianity has not diminished. Moses is considered to be a saint by several churches; and is commemorated as a prophet in the respective Calendar of saints, Calendars of Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheranism, Lutheran churches on September 4. In September 4 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics), Eastern Orthodox liturgics for September 4, Moses is commemorated as the "Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses, on Mount Nebo". The Orthodox Church also commemorates him on the Nativity Fast#Sunday of the Forefathers, Sunday of the Forefathers, two Sundays before the Nativity of Jesus, Nativity. Moses is also commemorated on July 20 with
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...

Aaron
, Elijah and Elisha and on April 14 with all saint Sinaia Monastery, Sinai monks. The Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates him as one of the Holy Forefathers in their Calendar of Saints (Armenian Apostolic Church), Calendar of Saints on July 30.


Mormonism

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially called Mormons) generally view Moses in the same way that other Christians do. However, in addition to accepting the biblical account of Moses, Mormons include Book of Moses, Selections from the Book of Moses as part of their scriptural canon. This book is believed to be the translated writings of Moses, and is included in the Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism), Pearl of Great Price. Latter-day Saints are also unique in believing that Moses was taken to heaven without having tasted death (Translation (LDS Church), translated). In addition, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery stated that on April 3, 1836, Moses appeared to them in the Kirtland Temple (located in Kirtland, Ohio) in a glorified, immortal, physical form and bestowed upon them the "keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the Ten Lost Tribes#Latter-day Saint Movement, ten tribes from the land of the north."


Islam

Moses is mentioned more in the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
than any other individual and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other Prophets of Islam, Islamic prophet. Islamically, Moses is described in ways which parallel the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Like Muhammad, Moses is defined in the Quran as both prophet (''nabi'') and messenger (''Prophets and messengers in Islam, rasul''), the latter term indicating that he was one of those prophets who brought a scripture and law to his people. Moses is mentioned Moses in Islam#Qur'anic references, 502 times in the Quran. Most of the key events in Moses's life which are narrated in the Bible are to be found dispersed through the different chapters (''suwar'') of the Quran, with a story about meeting Khidr which is not found in the Bible. In the Moses story related by the Quran, Jochebed is commanded by God to place Moses in an ark and cast him on the waters of the Nile, thus abandoning him completely to God's protection. The Pharaoh's wife Asiya, not his daughter, found Moses floating in the waters of the Nile. She convinced the Pharaoh to keep him as their son because they were not blessed with any children. The Quran's account has emphasized Moses's mission to invite the Pharaoh to accept God's divine message as well as give salvation to the Israelites. According to the Quran, Moses encourages the Israelites to enter Canaan, but they are unwilling to fight the Canaanites, fearing certain defeat. Moses responds by pleading to Allah that he and his brother Aaron be separated from the rebellious Israelites. After which the Israelites are made to wander for 40 years. One of the hadith, or traditional narratives about Muhammad's life, describes a meeting in heaven between Moses and Muhammad, which resulted in Muslims observing Salah, 5 daily prayers. Huston Smith says this was "one of the crucial events in Muhammad's life". According to some Islamic tradition, Moses is believed to be buried at Nabi Musa, Maqam El-Nabi Musa, near Jericho.


Baháʼí Faith

Moses is one of the most important of God's messengers in the
Baháʼí Faith The Baháʼí Faith (; fa , بهائی ') is a relatively new religion teaching the Baháʼí Faith and the unity of religion, essential worth of all religions and Baháʼí Faith and the unity of humanity, the unity of all people. Establish ...
being designated a Manifestation of God (Baháʼí Faith), Manifestation of God. An epithet of Moses in Baháʼí scriptures is the One Who Conversed with God. According to the Baháʼí Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the faith, is the one who spoke to Moses from the Burning bush. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Abdul’l-Baha, has highlighted the fact that Moses, like Abraham, had none of the makings of a Great Man theory, great man of history, but through God's assistance he was able to achieve many great things. He is described as having been "for a long time a shepherd in the wilderness," of having had a Stuttering, stammer, and of being "much hated and detested" by the Pharaoh and the ancient Egyptians of his time. He is said to have been raised in an oppressive household, and to have been known, in Egypt, as a man who had committed murder – though he had done so in order to prevent an act of cruelty. Nevertheless, like Abraham, through the assistance of God, he achieved great things and gained renown even beyond the Levant. Chief among these achievements was the freeing of his people, the Hebrews, from bondage in Egypt and leading "them to the Holy Land." He is viewed as the one who bestowed on Israel 'the religious and the civil law' which gave them "honour among all nations," and which spread their fame to different parts of the world. Furthermore, through the law, Moses is believed to have led the Hebrews 'to the highest possible degree of civilization at that period.’ Abdul’l-Baha asserts that the ancient Greek philosophers regarded "the illustrious men of Israel as models of perfection." Chief among these philosophers, he says, was Socrates who "visited Syria, and took from the children of Israel the teachings of the Unity of God and of the immortality of the soul." Moses is further seen as paving the way for Bahá'u'lláh and his ultimate revelation, and as a teacher of truth, whose teachings were in line with the customs of his time.


Druze faith

Moses is considered an important prophet of God in the Druze faith, being among the seven prophets who appeared in different periods of history.


Legacy in politics and law

In a metaphorical sense in the Christian tradition, a "Moses" has been referred to as the leader who delivers the people from a terrible situation. Among the List of Presidents of the United States, Presidents of the United States known to have used the symbolism of Moses were Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who referred to his supporters as "the Moses generation." In subsequent years, theologians linked the Ten Commandments with the formation of early democracy. Scottish theologian William Barclay (theologian), William Barclay described them as "the universal foundation of all things… the law without which nationhood is impossible. …Our society is founded upon it. Pope Francis addressed the United States Congress in 2015 stating that all people need to "keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation... [and] the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being.


In US history


Pilgrims

References to Moses were used by the Puritans, who relied on the story of Moses to give meaning and hope to the lives of Pilgrim Fathers, Pilgrims seeking Freedom of religion, religious and Civil liberties, personal freedom in North America. John Carver (Plymouth Colony governor), John Carver was the first governor of Plymouth colony and first signer of the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote in 1620 during the ship ''Mayflowers three-month voyage. He inspired the Pilgrims with a "sense of earthly grandeur and divine purpose," notes historian Jon Meacham, and was called the "Moses of the Pilgrims." Early American writer James Russell Lowell noted the similarity of the founding of America by the Pilgrims to that of History of ancient Israel and Judah, ancient Israel by Moses: Following Carver's death the following year, William Bradford (Plymouth Colony governor), William Bradford was made governor. He feared that the remaining Pilgrims would not survive the hardships of the new land, with half their people having already died within months of arriving. Bradford evoked the symbol of Moses to the weakened and desperate Pilgrims to help calm them and give them hope: "Violence will break all. Where is the meek and humble spirit of Moses?" William G. Dever explains the attitude of the Pilgrims: "We considered ourselves the 'New Israel,' particularly we in America. And for that reason we knew who we were, what we believed in and valued, and what our 'manifest destiny' was."


Founding Fathers of the United States

On July 4, 1776, immediately after the United States Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence was officially passed, the Continental Congress asked John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin to design a seal that would clearly represent a symbol for the new United States. They chose the symbol of Moses leading the Israelites to freedom. After the death of George Washington in 1799, two thirds of his eulogies referred to him as "America's Moses," with one orator saying that "Washington has been the same to us as Moses was to the Children of Israel." Benjamin Franklin, in 1788, saw the difficulties that some of the newly independent U.S. state, American states were having in forming a government, and proposed that until a new code of laws could be agreed to, they should be governed by "the laws of Moses," as contained in the Old Testament. He justified his proposal by explaining that the laws had worked in biblical times: "The Supreme Being… having rescued them from bondage by many miracles, performed by his servant Moses, he personally delivered to that chosen servant, in the presence of the whole nation, a constitution and code of laws for their observance. John Adams, 2nd List of Presidents of the United States, President of the United States, stated why he relied on the laws of Moses over Ancient Greek philosophy, Greek philosophy for establishing the United States Constitution: "As much as I love, esteem, and admire the Greeks, I believe the Hebrews have done more to enlighten and civilize the world. Moses did more than all their legislators and philosophers." Swedish historian Hugo Valentin credited Moses as the "first to proclaim the Human rights, rights of man.".


Slavery and civil rights

Underground Railroad conductor and American Civil War veteran Harriet Tubman was nicknamed "Moses" due to her various missions in freeing and ferrying escaped enslaved persons to freedom in the free states of the United States. Historian Gladys L. Knight describes how leaders who emerged during and after the period in which slavery in the United States was legal often personified the Moses symbol. "The symbol of Moses was empowering in that it served to amplify a need for freedom." Therefore, when Abraham Lincoln was Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, assassinated in 1865 after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery, African Americans, Black Americans said they had lost "their Moses". Lincoln biographer Charles Carleton Coffin writes, "The millions whom Abraham Lincoln delivered from slavery will ever liken him to Moses, the deliverer of Israel." Similarly, Harriet Tubman, who rescued approximately seventy enslaved family and friends, was also described as the "Moses" of her people. In the 1960s, a leading figure in the civil rights movement was Martin Luther King Jr., who was called "a modern Moses," and often referred to Moses in his speeches: "The struggle of Moses, the struggle of his devoted followers as they sought to get out of Egypt. This is something of the story of every people struggling for freedom."


Cultural portrayals and references


Art

Moses often appears in Christian art, and the Pope's private chapel, the Sistine Chapel, has a Sistine Chapel#Southern wall, large sequence of six frescos of the ''life of Moses'' on the southern wall, opposite a set with the ''life of Christ''. They were painted in 1481-82 by a group of mostly Florentine artists including Sandro Botticelli and Pietro Perugino. Because of an ambiguity in
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authorize ...

Jerome
's Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, where Moses's face is described as ''cornutam'' (meaning either "shining" or "horned") when descending from Mount Sinai with the tablets, Moses is usually shown in Western art until the Renaissance with small horns, which at least served as a convenient identifying attribute. With the prophet Elijah, he is a necessary figure in the Transfiguration of Jesus in Christian art, a subject with a long history in Eastern Orthodox art, and popular in Western art between about 1475 and 1535. :Michelangelo's statue Michelangelo's Moses (Michelangelo), statue of Moses (1513–15), in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, is one of the most familiar statues in the world. The horns the sculptor included on Moses's head are the result of a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible into the Latin Vulgate, Vulgate Bible with which Michelangelo was familiar. The Hebrew word taken from ''Exodus'' means either a "horn" or an "irradiation." Experts at the Archaeological Institute of America show that the term was used when Moses "returned to his people after seeing as much of the Glory of the Lord as human eye could stand," and his face "reflected radiance." In early Jewish culture#Visual arts and architecture, Jewish art, moreover, Moses is often "shown with rays coming out of his head." :Depiction on U.S. government buildings Moses is depicted in several U.S. government buildings because of his legacy as a lawgiver. In the Library of Congress stands a large statue of Moses alongside a statue of the Paul the Apostle. Moses is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in marble bas-reliefs in the United States Capitol#House Chamber, chamber of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. The plaque's overview states: "Moses (c. 1350–1250 B.C.) Hebrew prophet and lawgiver; transformed a wandering people into a nation; received the Ten Commandments." The other twenty-two figures have their profiles turned to Moses, which is the only forward-facing bas-relief. Moses appears eight times in carvings that ring the United States Supreme Court Building, Supreme Court Great Hall ceiling. His face is presented along with other ancient figures such as Solomon, the Greek god Zeus and the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. The Supreme Court Building's east pediment depicts Moses holding two tablets. Tablets representing the Ten Commandments can be found carved in the oak courtroom doors, on the support frame of the courtroom's bronze gates and in the library woodwork. A controversial image is one that sits directly above the Chief Justice of the United States' head. In the center of the 40-foot-long Spanish marble carving is a tablet displaying Roman numerals I through X, with some numbers partially hidden.


Literature

* Sigmund Freud, in his last book, ''Moses and Monotheism'' in 1939, postulated that Moses was an Egyptian nobleman who adhered to the monotheism of Akhenaten. Following a theory proposed by a contemporary Biblical criticism, biblical critic, Freud believed that Moses was murdered in the wilderness, producing a collective sense of Patricide, patricidal Guilt (emotion), guilt that has been at the heart of Judaism ever since. "Judaism had been a religion of the father, Christianity became a religion of the son", he wrote. The possible Egyptian origin of Moses and of his message has received significant scholarly attention. Opponents of this view observe that the religion of the Torah seems different from Atenism in everything except the central feature of devotion to a single god, although this has been countered by a variety of arguments, e.g. pointing out the similarities between the Great Hymn to the Aten, Hymn to Aten and Psalm 104. Freud's interpretation of the historical Moses is not well accepted among historians, and is considered pseudohistory by many. * Thomas Mann's novella ''The Tables of the Law'' (1944) is a retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, with Moses as its main character. * W. G. Hardy's novel ''All the Trumpets Sounded'' (1942), told a fictionalized life of Moses. *Orson Scott Card's novel ''Stone Tables'' (1997) is a novelization of the life of Moses.


Film and television

* Moses was portrayed by Theodore Roberts in Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 silent film ''The Ten Commandments (1923 film), The Ten Commandments''. Moses also appeared as the central character in the 1956 remake, also directed by DeMille and called ''The Ten Commandments (1956 film), The Ten Commandments'', in which he was portrayed by Charlton Heston. A The Ten Commandments (miniseries), television remake was produced in 2006. * Burt Lancaster played ''Moses'' in the 1975 television miniseries ''Moses the Lawgiver''. * In the 1981 comedy film ''History of the World, Part I'', Moses was portrayed by Mel Brooks. *In 1995, Sir Ben Kingsley portrayed Moses in the 1995 TV Film Moses (miniseries), Moses, produced by British and Italian Production Companies * Sir Ben Kingsley was the narrator of the 2007 Animation, animated film, ''The Ten Commandments (2007 film), The Ten Commandments''. * Moses appeared as the central character in the 1998 DreamWorks Pictures' Animated cartoon, animated movie, ''The Prince of Egypt''. His speaking voice was provided by Actor Val Kilmer, with American gospel singer and tenor Amick Byram providing the singing voice of Moses. * In the 2009 miniseries ''Battles BC'', Moses was portrayed by Cazzey Louis Cereghino. * In the 2013 television miniseries ''The Bible (miniseries), The Bible'', Moses was portrayed by actor William Houston (actor), William Houston. * Christian Bale portrayed Moses in Ridley Scott's 2014 film ''Exodus: Gods and Kings'' which portrayed Moses and Rameses II as being raised by Seti I as cousins. * The 2016 Brazilian Biblical Telenovela Os Dez Mandamentos features Brazilian Actor Guilherme Winter portraying Moses


Criticism of Moses

In the late eighteenth century, the deist Thomas Paine commented at length on Moses's Laws in ''The Age of Reason'' (1794, 1795, and 1807). Paine considered Moses to be a "detestable villain", and cited Numbers 31 as an example of his "unexampled atrocities". In the passage, after the Israelite army returned from Midian war, conquering Midian, Moses orders the killing of the Midianites with the exception of the virgin girls who were to be kept for the Israelites. Rabbi Joel Grossman argued that the story is a "powerful fable of lust and betrayal", and that Moses's execution of the women was a symbolic condemnation of those who seek to turn sex and desire to evil purposes. He says that the Middianite women "used their sexual attractiveness to turn the Israelite men away from [Yahweh] God and toward the worship of Baal Peor [another Canaanite God]".Grossman, Joel (2008)
"Matot"
. Temple Beth Am Library Minyan.
Rabbi Grossman argues that the genocide of all the Middianite non-virgin women, including those that did not seduce Jewish men, was fair because some of them had sex for "improper reasons". Alan Levin, an educational specialist with the Reform Judaism, Reform movement, has similarly suggested that the story should be taken as a cautionary tale, to "warn successive generations of Jews to watch their own idolatrous behavior". Moses Sofer, Chasam Sofer emphasizes that this war was not fought at Moses's behest, but was commanded by God as an act of revenge against the Midianite women, who, according to the Biblical account, had seduced the Israelites and led them to sin. Moses has also been the subject of much feminist criticism. Womanist theology, Womanist Biblical scholar Nyasha Junior has argued that Moses can be the object of feminist inquiry.


See also

* Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses * Table of prophets of Abrahamic religions * Tharbis, according to
Josephus Titus Flavius Josephus (; ; 37 – 100), born Yosef ben Matityahu ( he, יוסף בן מתתיהו ''Yōsef ben Matiṯyāhu''; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς ''Iṓsēpos Matthíou paîs''), was a first-century Romano-Jewish ...

Josephus
a wife of Moses * Jewish mythology


Notes


References


Sources

*


Further reading

* . * . * Peter Barenboim
"Biblical Roots of Separation of Powers", Moscow, 2005
, * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * * * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . 208 pp. * * . * . * . * . * . * Jonathan Kirsch, Kirsch, Jonathan. ''Moses: A Life.'' New York: Ballantine, 1998. . * Kohn, Rebecca. ''Seven Days to the Sea: An Epic Novel of the Exodus''. New York: Rugged Land, 2006. . * . * . * . * . * * . * * . * * * * . * . * . * . * .


External links


Book XVI, Chapter II
in ''Geographica'' by Strabo, 1st century, 1932 translation. Moses is mentioned. {{Authority control Moses, 15th-century BC biblical rulers Adoptees Ancient Egyptian Jews Angelic visionaries Biblical murderers Book of Deuteronomy Book of Exodus people Book of Numbers people Christian saints from the Old Testament Founders of religions People in the canonical gospels People in the catholic epistles People whose existence is disputed Prophets in the Druze faith Tribe of Levi Wonderworkers