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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

The life of Moses divides conveniently into three periods of forty years each. The first period ended with his flight from Egypt to Midian ( Acts 7:23-29), the second with his return from Midian to liberate his people from Egyptian power ( Acts 7:30-36;  Exodus 7:7), and the third with his death just before Israel entered Canaan ( Deuteronomy 34:7).

As the leader God chose to establish Israel as a nation, Moses had absolute rule over Israel. God spoke to the people through him ( Exodus 3:10-12;  Exodus 24:12;  Exodus 25:22). Moses’ position was unique. No other person of his time, and no leader after him, had the face-to-face relationship with God that Moses had ( Exodus 24:1-2;  Exodus 33:11;  Numbers 12:6-8;  Deuteronomy 34:10).

Relations with Egypt

Moses was the third child of Amram and Jochabed, and belonged to the tribe of Levi. His older sister was Miriam and his older brother Aaron ( Exodus 6:20;  1 Chronicles 6:1-3). Through a series of remarkable events, the young child Moses was adopted into the Egyptian royal family but grew up under the influence of his godly Israelite mother ( Exodus 2:8-10;  Hebrews 11:23). From his mother he learnt about the true and living God who had chosen Israel as his people, and from the Egyptians he received the best secular education available ( Acts 7:22).

By the time he was forty, Moses was convinced God had chosen him to rescue Israel from Egypt. But his rash killing of an Egyptian slave-driver showed he was not yet ready for the job. To save his life he fled from Egypt to live among the Midianites, a nomadic people who inhabited a barren region that spread from the Sinai Peninsular around the Gulf of Aqabah into the western part of the Arabian Desert. By such a decisive act, Moses demonstrated his total rejection of his Egyptian status ( Exodus 2:11-15;  Acts 7:23-29;  Hebrews 11:24-25).

In Midian Moses lived with a local chief named Jethro (or Reuel), from whom he probably learnt much about desert life and tribal administration. He married one of Jethro’s daughters, and from her had two sons ( Exodus 2:16-22;  Exodus 18:1-3).

During Moses’ forty years in Midian, Israel’s sufferings in Egypt increased. God’s time to deliver Israel from bondage had now come, and the person he would use as the deliverer was Moses ( Exodus 2:23-25;  Exodus 3:1-12). Because the Israelites had only a vague understanding of God, Moses had to explain to them the character of this one who would be their redeemer. He, the Eternal One, would prove himself able to meet every need of his people, but they had to learn to trust in him ( Exodus 3:13-15;  Exodus 6:2-8; see Yahweh ).

In response to Moses’ complaint that the Israelites would not believe him, God gave him three signs ( Exodus 4:1-9;  Exodus 4:30). In response to his excuse that he was not a good speaker, God gave him Aaron as a spokesman ( Exodus 4:10-16;  Exodus 7:1-2). Moses then returned to Egypt, where the elders of Israel welcomed him ( Exodus 4:20;  Exodus 4:29;  Exodus 4:31).

God warned Moses that his job would be difficult and that Pharaoh would not listen to his pleas for freedom for the Israelites ( Exodus 4:21-23). Pharaoh’s response to Moses’ initial meeting was to increase the Israelites’ suffering, with the result that they turned bitterly against Moses ( Exodus 5:1-21). God gave Moses further assurance that Pharaoh would be defeated, but when Moses told the people, they were too disheartened to listen ( Exodus 6:1;  Exodus 6:9).

Moses again put his request to Pharaoh, and again Pharaoh refused ( Exodus 7:1-13). God therefore worked through Moses and Aaron to send a series of plagues upon Egypt, resulting in the overthrow of Egypt and the release of Israel ( Exodus 7:14-25; Exodus 8; Exodus 9; Exodus 10; Exodus 11; Exodus 12; Exodus 13; Exodus 14;  Exodus 15:1-21; see Pharaoh ; Plague ).

Israel’s lawgiver

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]


1. Name The Hebrew narrator regards Môsheh as a participle from the vb. mâshâh , ‘to draw’ Ex (  Exodus 2:10 ). Jos. [Note: Josephus.] and Philo derive it from the Copt, mo ‘water,’ and ushe ‘saved’; this is implied in their spelling Mouses , also found in LXX [Note: Septuagint.] and NT. It is more plausible to connect the name with the Egyptian mes, mesu , ‘son.’ Perhaps it was originally coupled with the name of an Egyp. deity cf. Ra-mesu, Thoth-mes , and others which was omitted under the influence of Israelite monotheism.

2. History

(i.) The narrative of J. [Note: . Jahwist.] Moses killed an Egyptian, and rebuked one of two Israelites who were striving together, and then he fled to Midian. There he helped seven daughters of the priest of Midian to water their flocks, dwelt with him, married his daughter Zipporah, and had one son by her, named Gershom (  Exodus 2:11-22 ). The king of Egypt died (  Exodus 2:23 a), and at J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s bidding Moses returned. On the way, J″ [Note: Jahweh.] smote him because he had not been circumcised before marriage; but Zipporah saved him by circumcising the child, and thus circumcising Moses by proxy (  Exodus 4:19;   Exodus 4:24-26 . These verses must be put back to this point). J″ [Note: Jahweh.] appeared in the burning bush and spoke to Moses. Moses was to gather the elders, give them J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s message, and demand permission from Pharaoh to sacrifice in the wilderness. Moses was given two signs to persuade the Israelites, and yet a third if the two were insufficient (  Exodus 3:2-4 a,   Exodus 3:6-8 a,   Exodus 3:16-18 ,   Exodus 4:1-9 ). J″ [Note: Jahweh.] was angry at his continued diffidence. Moses spoke to the elders and they believed; and then they made their demand to Pharaoh, which led to his increased severity (  Exodus 4:10-12;   Exodus 4:29-31 ,   Exodus 5:3;   Exodus 5:6;   Exodus 5:23 ,   Exodus 6:1 ). Plagues were sent, the death of the fish in the river (  Exodus 7:14;   Exodus 7:16-17 a,   Exodus 7:21  Exodus 7:21 a,   Exodus 7:24 f.), frogs (  Exodus 8:1-4;   Exodus 8:8-15 a), flies (  Exodus 8:20-32 ), murrain (  Exodus 9:1-7 ), hail (  Exodus 9:18;   Exodus 9:17 f.,   Exodus 9:23 b,   Exodus 9:24 b,   Exodus 9:25-34 ), locusts (  Exodus 10:1 a,   Exodus 10:13  Exodus 10:13 b,   Exodus 10:14 b,   Exodus 10:16 a, c,   Exodus 10:16-19 ). See Plagues of Egypt. Pharaoh bade Israel go with their families, but refused to allow them animals for sacrifice; so Moses announced the death of the firstborn (  Exodus 10:24-26;   Exodus 10:28 f.,   Exodus 11:4-8 ). At a later time Israelite thought connected with the Exodus certain existing institutions. The ordinances relating to them were preserved by J [Note: Jahwist.] , but their present position is due to redaction, and the result is a tangled combination in chs. 12, 13 of ordinance and narrative: the ritual of the Passover (  Exodus 12:21-23;   Exodus 12:27 b), the death of the firstborn and the hurried flight of the Israelites (  Exodus 12:29-34;   Exodus 12:37-39 ), commands concerning the Feast of Unleavened Cakes (  Exodus 13:3 a,   Exodus 13:4 ,   Exodus 13:6 f.,   Exodus 13:10 ), and the offering of firstlings (  Exodus 13:11-13 ). J″ [Note: Jahweh.] went before the people in a pillar of cloud and fire (  Exodus 13:21 f.), the water was crossed (  Exodus 14:5 f.,   Exodus 14:7 b,   Exodus 14:10 a,   Exodus 14:18  Exodus 14:18 b,   Exodus 14:21 b,   Exodus 14:26  Exodus 14:26 b,   Exodus 14:27 b,   Exodus 14:28 b,   Exodus 14:30 ), (and Moses sang praise (  Exodus 15:1 ). Moses made the water at Marah fresh (  Exodus 15:22-25 a), and thence they moved to Elim (  Exodus 15:27 ). Fragments of J [Note: Jahwist.] ’s story of Massah are preserved (  Exodus 17:3;   Exodus 17:2 c,   Exodus 17:7 a, c), and parts of the account of the visit of Moses’ father-in-law, which it is difficult to separate from E [Note: Elohist.] (  Exodus 18:7-11 ). The narratives attached to the delivery of the laws of Sinai are in an extraordinarily confused state, but with a few exceptions the parts which are due to J [Note: Jahwist.] can be recognized with some confidence. The theophany occurred (  Exodus 19:18 ), and Moses was bidden to ascend the mountain, where J″ [Note: Jahweh.] gave him directions respecting precautions to be taken (  Exodus 19:20-22;   Exodus 19:24;   Exodus 19:11-13;   Exodus 19:25 ) [  Exodus 19:23 is a redactional addition of a remarkable character; due to   Exodus 19:11-13 having been misplaced]. Moses stayed forty days and nights on the mountain (  Exodus 34:28 a); J″ [Note: Jahweh.] descended, and Moses ‘invoked the name of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’ (6). The laws given to him are fragmentarily preserved (  Exodus 34:10-26 ). J″ [Note: Jahweh.] commanded him to write them down (  Exodus 34:27 ), and he obeyed (  Exodus 34:28 b).

The reason for the insertion of the laws so late in the book was that the compiler of JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] , finding laws in both J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] , and noticing the strong similarity between them, considered the J [Note: Jahwist.] laws to be the renewal of the covenant broken by the people’s apostasy. Hence the editorial additions in   Exodus 34:1 (from ‘like unto the first’) and in   Exodus 34:4 (‘like unto the first’).

A solemn ceremony sealed the covenant ( Exodus 24:1 f.,   Exodus 24:9-11 ). Something then occurred which roused the wrath of J″ [Note: Jahweh.]; it is doubtful if the original narrative has been preserved; but J [Note: Jahwist.] has inserted a narrative which apparently explains the reason for the choice of Levites for Divine service (  Exodus 32:25-29 ). Moses interceded for the people (the vv. to he read in the following order,   Exodus 33:1-4 a,   Exodus 33:12  Exodus 33:12 f.,   Exodus 33:18-23 ,   Exodus 34:6-9 ,   Exodus 33:14-16 ). J″ [Note: Jahweh.] having been propitiated, Israel left the mountain, and Moses asked Hobah to accompany them (  Numbers 10:29-36 ). Being weary of manna, they were given quails, which caused a plague (  Numbers 11:4-15;   Numbers 11:18-24 a,   Numbers 11:31-35 ), Dathan and Ahiram rebelled (ascribed by different comm. to J [Note: Jahwist.] and to E [Note: Elohist.] ,   Numbers 16:1 b,   Numbers 16:2 a,   Numbers 16:26  Numbers 16:26 f.,   Numbers 16:27-32 a,   Numbers 16:33 f.). Fragments of the Meribah narrative at Kadesh appear to belong to J [Note: Jahwist.] (  Numbers 20:3 a,  Numbers 20:5 ,   Numbers 20:8 b). Moses sent spies through the S. of Palestine as far as Hebron. Caleb alone encouraged the people, and he alone was allowed to enter Canaan (  Numbers 13:17 b,   Numbers 13:18 b,   Numbers 13:27  Numbers 13:27 a,   Numbers 13:30-31  Numbers 13:30-31 ,   Numbers 14:1 b,   Numbers 14:8-9;   Numbers 14:11-24;   Numbers 14:31 ). Moses promised that Hebron should be Caleb’s possession (  Joshua 14:8-14 ). The Canaanites were defeated at Hormah (perh. a later stratum of J [Note: Jahwist.] ,   Numbers 21:1-3 ). Israel marched by Edom to Moab, and conquered Heshbon and other cities (  Numbers 21:16-20;   Numbers 21:24 b,   Numbers 21:25;   Numbers 21:31-32 ). The story of Balaam (parts of   Numbers 21:22-24 ). Israel sinned with the Moabite women, and Moses hanged the chiefs (  Numbers 25:1 b,   Numbers 25:2-3 b,   Numbers 25:4 ). Moses viewed the land from the top of Pisgah, and was buried in Moab (parts of   Deuteronomy 34:1-6 ).

(ii.) The narrative of E [Note: Elohist.] . The mid wives rescued Israelite Infants (  Exodus 1:15-20 a,   Exodus 1:21 ). Moses’ birth; his discovery and adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter (  Exodus 2:1-10 ). Moses was feeding Jethro’s sheep in Midian, when God called to him from a bush at Horeb, and told him to deliver Israel. He revealed His name ‘Ehyeh,’ and promised that Israel should triumphantly leave Egypt (  Exodus 3:1;   Exodus 3:4 b,   Exodus 3:9-13  Exodus 3:9-13 f.,   Exodus 3:21 f.). Moses returned to Egypt, meeting Aaron on the way; they made their demand to Pharaoh, and were refused (  Exodus 4:17 f.,   Exodus 4:20 b,   Exodus 4:27 f.,   Exodus 5:1 f.,   Exodus 5:4 ). Moses, by means of his Divinely given staff, brought plagues the turning of the river to blood (  Exodus 7:16-17 b,   Exodus 7:20 b,   Exodus 7:23 ), the hail (  Exodus 9:22-23 a,   Exodus 9:24 a,   Exodus 9:25 a), the locusts (  Exodus 10:12-13 a,   Exodus 10:14 a,   Exodus 10:16 b,   Exodus 10:20 ), the darkness (  Exodus 10:21-23;   Exodus 10:27 ). Moses was bidden to advise the Israelites to obtain gold, etc., from the Egyptians (  Exodus 11:1-3 ), which they did (  Exodus 12:35 f.). They departed, taking with them Joseph’s mummy (  Exodus 13:17-19 ). They crossed the water (fragments are preserved from E [Note: Elohist.] ’s account,   Exodus 13:7 a, c,   Exodus 13:10 b,   Exodus 13:16 a,   Exodus 13:16 a,   Exodus 13:19 a), and Miriam sang praise (  Exodus 15:20-21 ). On emerging into the desert, they were given manna; it is possible that E [Note: Elohist.] originally connected this event with the name massah , ‘proving’ (  Exodus 15:25 b,   Exodus 16:4;   Exodus 16:16 ) Then follows E [Note: Elohist.] ’s Meribah narrative, combined with J [Note: Jahwist.] ’s Massah narrative (  Exodus 17:1 b,   Exodus 17:2 a,   Exodus 17:4-7 b). Israel fought with Amalek under Joshua’s leadership, while Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands with the sacred staff (  Exodus 17:8-16 ). Jethro visited the Israelites with Moses’ wife and two sons; he arranged sacrifices, and a sacrificial feast, in which the elders of Israel took part (  Exodus 18:1 a,   Exodus 18:6 f.,   Exodus 18:12 ). Seeing Moses overburdened with the duty of giving decisions, he advised him to delegate smaller matters to inferior officers; and Moses followed his advice. Jethro departed to his own home (  Exodus 18:12-27 ). Preparations were made for the theophany (  Exodus 19:2 b,   Exodus 19:3 a,   Exodus 19:8 a,   Exodus 19:10-11 a,   Exodus 19:14 f.), which then took place (  Exodus 19:16 f.,   Exodus 19:19 ,   Exodus 20:18-21 ). Laws preserved by E [Note: Elohist.] and later members of his school of thought are grouped together in chs, 20 23 (see Exodus, Law), in the narratives in which the laws are set, two strata, E [Note: Elohist.] and E2, are perceptible, the latter supplying the narrative portions connected with the Ten Words of   Exodus 20:1-17 , E [Note: Elohist.] relates the ceremony which sealed the covenant (  Exodus 24:3-8 ); the usual practice of Moses with regard to the ‘Tent of Tryst,’ where God used to meet with any one who wished to inquire of Him (  Exodus 33:7-11 ); and the people’s act of repentance for some sin which E [Note: Elohist.] has not preserved (  Exodus 33:6 ), E2 relates as follows: Moses told the people the Ten Words, and they promised obedience (  Exodus 19:7 f.; this must follow   Exodus 20:1-17 ), Moses ascended the mountain to receive the written Words, leaving the people in the charge of Aaron and Hur (  Exodus 24:13-15 a,   Exodus 31:18 b), During his absence Aaron made the golden bull, and Moses, when he saw it, brake the tablets of stone and destroyed the imags; Aaron offered a feeble excuse, and J″ [Note: Jahweh.] smote the people (  Exodus 32:1-6;   Exodus 32:16 a,   Exodus 32:16-24;   Exodus 32:35 ), Moses’ intercession has not been preserved in E [Note: Elohist.] , but it is supplied by a late hand in   Exodus 32:30-34 . We here resume the narrative of E. [Note: . Elohist.] After the departure from Horeb a fire from J″ [Note: Jahweh.] punished the people for murmuring (  Numbers 11:1-8 ). At the ‘Tent of Tryst’ J″ [Note: Jahweh.] took of Moses’ spirit and put it upon 70 elders who prophesied, including Eldad and Medad, who did not leave the camp; Joshua objected to the two being thus favoured, but was rebuked by Moses (  Numbers 11:18 f.,   Numbers 11:24-30 ). Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses for having married a foreign woman and then for claiming to have received Divine revelations; Miriam became leprous, but was healed at Moses’ intercession (  Numbers 11:12 ). On Dathan and Abiram (  Numbers 11:16 ) see above, under J. Miriam died at Kadesh (  Numbers 20:1 ). Twelve spies were sent, who brought back a large cluster of grapes, but said that the natives were numerous and powerful (  Numbers 13:13 a, c,   Numbers 13:23  Numbers 13:23 f.,   Numbers 13:26 b,   Numbers 13:27 b,   Numbers 13:29;   Numbers 13:33 ). The people determined to return to Egypt under another captain (  Numbers 14:1 b,   Numbers 14:8 f.). [Here occurs a lacuna, which is partially supplied by   Deuteronomy 1:19-46 , probably based on E. [Note: . Elohist.] ] Against Moses’ wish the people advanced towards Canaan, but were routed by the Amalekites and other natives (  Numbers 14:39-45 ). Edom refused passage through their territory (  Numbers 20:14-20 ). Aaron died at Moserah, and was succeeded by Eleazar (  Numbers 10:5 ). Serpents plagued the people for their murmuring, and Moses made the serpent of bronze (  Numbers 21:4-9 ). Israel marched by Edom to Moab, and vanquished Sihon (  Numbers 21:21-24  Numbers 21:21-24 a,   Numbers 21:27-30 ); the story of Balaam (part   Numbers 21:22-24 ). Israel worshipped Baal-peor, and Moses bade the judges hang the offenders (  Numbers 25:1 a,   Numbers 25:8 a,   Numbers 25:5 ). J″ [Note: Jahweh.] warned Moses that he was about to die, and Moses appointed Joshua to succeed him (  Deuteronomy 31:14 f.,   Deuteronomy 31:23 ). Moses died in Moab, and his tomb was unknown. He was the greatest prophet in Israel (  Deuteronomy 34:5;   Deuteronomy 34:8 b,   Deuteronomy 34:10 ).

(iii.) The narrative of D [Note: Deuteronomist.] is based upon the earlier sources, which it treats in a hortatory manner, dwelling upon the religious meaning of history, and its bearing upon life and morals, and Israel’s attitude to God. There are a few additional details, such as are suitable to a retrospect ( e.g .   Deuteronomy 1:6-8;   Deuteronomy 1:16 f.,   Deuteronomy 1:20 f.,   Deuteronomy 1:29-31 ,   Deuteronomy 3:21 f.,   Deuteronomy 3:23-28 ), and there are certain points on which the tradition differs more or less widely from those of JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.]; see Driver, Deut . p. xxxv f. But D [Note: Deuteronomist.] supplies nothing of importance to our knowledge of Moses’ life and character.

(iv.) The narrative of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] . Israel was made to serve the Egyptians ‘with rigour’ (  Exodus 1:7;   Exodus 1:16;   Exodus 1:14 b). When the king died, J″ [Note: Jahweh.] heard their sighing, and remembered His covenant (  Exodus 2:23-25 ). He revealed to Moses His name Jahweh, and bade him tell the Israelites that they were to be delivered (  Exodus 6:2-9 ). Moses being diffident, Aaron his brother was given to be his ‘prophet’ (  Exodus 6:10-12 ,   Exodus 7:1-7 ). [The genealogy of Moses and Aaron is given in a later stratum of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ,   Exodus 6:14-25 .] Aaron turned his staff into a ‘reptile’ before Pharaoh (  Exodus 7:8-18 ). By Aaron’s instrumentality with Moses plagues were sent all the water in Egypt turned into blood (  Exodus 7:19-20 a,   Exodus 7:21 b,   Exodus 7:22 ); frogs (  Exodus 8:5-7;   Exodus 8:15 b); gnats or mosquitoes (  Exodus 8:16-19 ); boils (  Exodus 9:8-12 ). [As in J [Note: Jahwist.] , commands respecting religious institutions are inserted in connexion with the Exodus: Passover (  Exodus 12:1-18;   Exodus 12:24;   Exodus 12:28;   Exodus 12:43-50 ), Unleavened cakes (  Exodus 12:14-20 ), Dedication of firstborn (  Exodus 13:1 f.).] The Israelites went to Etham (  Exodus 13:20 ) and thence to the Red Sea. The marvel of the crosslng is heightened, the waters standing up in a double wall (  Exodus 14:1-4;   Exodus 14:8 f.,   Exodus 14:15 b,   Exodus 14:13-18 ,   Exodus 14:21 a, c,  Exodus 14:22 f.,   Exodus 14:26-27 a,   Exodus 14:28 a). in the wilderness of Sin the people murmured, and manna was sent; embedded in the narrative are fragments of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s story of the quails (16, exc.   Exodus 14:4;   Exodus 14:15 ). They moved to Rephidim (  Exodus 17:1 a), and thence to Sinai (  Exodus 19:1-2 a). After seven days J″ [Note: Jahweh.] called Moses into the cloud (  Exodus 24:15-18 a) and gave him instructions with regard to the Tabernacle and its worship (  Exodus 25:1 to   Exodus 31:17 ), and also gave him the Tablets of the Testimony (  Exodus 31:18 a). [Other laws ascribed to Divine communication with Moses are collected in Lev. and parts of Num.] When Moses descended, his face shone, so that he veiled it when he was not alone in J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s presence (  Exodus 34:29-35 ). A census was taken of the fighting men preparatory to the march, and the writer takes occasion to enlarge upon the organization of the priestly and Levitical families (  Numbers 1:1-54;   Numbers 2:1-34;   Numbers 3:1-51;   Numbers 4:1-49 ). The cloud which descended upon the Tabernacle was the signal for marching and camping (  Numbers 9:15-23 ), and the journey began (  Numbers 10:11-28 ). With the story of Dathan and Abiram (see above) there are entwined two versions of a priestly story of rebellion (1) Korah and 250 princes, all of them laymen, spoke against Moses and Aaron for claiming, in their capacity of Levites, a sanctity superior to that of the rest of the congregation. (2) Korah and the princes were Levites, and they attacked Aaron for exalting priests above Levites (parts of 16). The former version has its sequel in 17; Moses and Aaron were vindicated by the budding of the staff for the tribe of Levi. In the wilderness of Zin Moses struck the rock, with an angry exclamation to the murmuring people, and water flowed; Moses and Aaron were rebuked for lack of faith [the fragments of the story do not make it clear wherein this consisted], and they were forbidden to enter Canaan (parts of   Numbers 20:1-13 ). Joshua, Caleb, and ten other spies were sent from the wilderness of Paran; the two former alone brought a good account of the land, and they alone were permitted to enter Canaan; the other ten died by a plague (parts of 13, 14; see above under J and E). Aaron died at Mt. Hor (  Numbers 20:22-29 ). Israel marched by Edom to Moab (  Numbers 20:22 ,   Numbers 21:4 a,   Numbers 21:10-11 a). Phinehas was promised ‘an everlasting priesthood’ for his zeal in punishing an Israelite who had brought a Midianite woman into the camp (  Numbers 25:6-16 ). All the last generation having died except Joshua and Caleb, a second census was taken by Moses and Eleazar (26). Moses appointed Joshua to succeed hi m (27). T he Midianites were defeated and Balaam was slain (31). Moses died on Mt. Nebo, aged 120 (  Deuteronomy 34:1 a,   Deuteronomy 34:7-9 ).

3. Historicity . In the OT, there are presented to us the varying fortunes of a Semitic people who found their way into Palestine, and were strong enough to settle in the country in defiance of the native population. Although the Invaders were greatly in the minority as regards numbers, they were knit together by an esprit de corps which made them formidable. And this was the outcome of a strong religious belief which was common to all the branches of the tribe the belief that every member of the tribe was under the protection of the same God, Jahweh. And when it is asked from what source they gained this united belief, the analogy of other religions suggests that it probably resulted from the influence of some strong personality. The existence and character of the Hebrew race require such a person as Moses to account for them . But while the denial that Moses was a real person is scarcely within the bounds of sober criticism, it does not follow that all the details related of him are literally true to history. What Prof. Driver says of the patriarchs in Genesis is equally true of Moses in Ex., Nu.: ‘The basis of the narratives in Genesis is in fact popular oral tradition  ; and that being so, we may expect them to display the characteristics which popular oral tradition does in other cases. They may well include a substantial historical nucleus; but details may be due to the involuntary action of popular invention or imagination, operating during a long period of time; characteristic anecdotes, reflecting the feelings, and explaining the relations, of a later age may thus have become attached to the patriarchs; phraseology and expression will nearly always be ascribed rightly to the narrators who cast these traditions into their present literary shape’ (art. ‘Jacob’ in DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] ii. 534 b ).

Moses is portrayed under three chief aspects as (i.) a Leader, (ii.) the Promoter of the religion of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , (iii.) Lawgiver, and ‘Prophet’ or moral teacher.

(i.) Moses as Leader . Some writers think that there is evidence which shows that the Israelites who went to Egypt at the time of the famine did not comprise the whole nation. Whether this be so or not, however, there is no sufficient reason for doubting the Hebrew tradition of an emigration to Egypt. Again, if Israelites obtained permission as foreign tribes are known to have done to occupy pasture land within the Egyptian frontier, there could be nothing surprising if some of them were pressed into compulsory building labour; for it was a common practice to employ foreigners and prisoners in this manner. But in order to rouse them, and knit them together, and persuade them to escape, a leader was necessary. If, therefore, it is an historical fact that they were in Egypt, and partially enslaved, it is more likely than not that the account of their deliverance by Moses also has an historical basis. It is impossible, in a short article, to discuss the evidence in detail. It is in the last degree unsafe to dogmatize on the extent to which the narratives of Moses’ life are historically accurate. In each particular the decision resolves itself into a balance of probabilities. But that Moses was not an individual, but stands for a tribe or group of tribes, and that the narratives which centre round him are entirely legendary, are to the present writer pure assumptions, unscientific and uncritical. The minuteness of personal details, the picturesqueness of the scenes described, the true touches of character, and the necessity of accounting for the emergence of Israel from a state of scattered nomads into that of an organized tribal community, are all on the side of those who maintain that in its broad outlines the account of Moses’ leadership is based upon fact.

(ii.) Moses as the Promoter of the religion of Jahweh . Throughout the OT, with the exception of   Ezekiel 40:1-49;   Ezekiel 41:1-26;   Ezekiel 42:1-20;   Ezekiel 43:1-27;   Ezekiel 44:1-31;   Ezekiel 45:1-25;   Ezekiel 46:1-24;   Ezekiel 47:1-23;   Ezekiel 48:1-35 , the forms and ceremonies of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] worship observed in every age are attributed to the teaching of Moses. It is to be noticed that the earliest writer (J [Note: Jahwist.] ) uses the name ‘Jahweh’ from his very first sentence (  Genesis 2:4 b) and onwards, and assumes that J″ [Note: Jahweh.] was known and worshipped by the ancestors of the race; and in Ex. he frequently employs the expression ‘J″ [Note: Jahweh.] the God of the Hebrews’ (  Genesis 3:18 ,   Genesis 5:3 ,   Genesis 7:16 ,   Genesis 9:1;   Genesis 9:13 ,   Genesis 10:3 ). But, in agreement with E [Note: Elohist.] and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , he ascribes to Moses a new departure in J″ [Note: Jahweh.] worship inaugurated at Sinai. E [Note: Elohist.] and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] relate that the Name was a new revelation to Moses when he was exiled in Midian, and that he taught it to the Israelites in Egypt. And yet in   Genesis 3:6 E [Note: Elohist.] represents J″ [Note: Jahweh.] as saying to Moses, ‘I am the God of thy father’ [the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (unless this clause is a later insertion, as in   Genesis 3:15 f.,   Genesis 4:5 )]. And in   Genesis 6:3 P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] states categorically that God appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but He was not known to them by His name ‘Jahweh.’ All the sources, therefore, imply that Moses did not teach a totally new religion; but he put before the Israelites a new aspect of their religion; he defined more clearly the relation in which they were to stand to God: they were to think of Him in a peculiar sense as their God. When we go further and inquire whence Moses derived the name ‘ Jahweh ,’ we are landed in the region of conjectures. Two points, however, are clear: (1) that the God whose name was ‘Jahweh’ had, before Moses’ time, been conceived of as dwelling on the sacred mountain Horeb or Sinai (  Genesis 3:1-5;   Genesis 3:12;   Genesis 19:4 ); (2) that He was worshipped by a branch of the Midianites named Kenites (  Judges 1:16;   Judges 4:11 ), of whom Jethro was a priest (  Exodus 3:1;   Exodus 18:1 ). From these facts two conjectures have been made. Some have supposed that Moses learned the name ‘Jahweh’ from the Midianites; that He was therefore a foreign God as far as the Israelites were concerned; and that, after hearing His name for the first time from Moses in Egypt, they journeyed to the sacred mountain and were there admitted by Jethro into the Kenite worship by a sacrificial feast at which Jethro officiated. But it is hardly likely that the Israelites, enslaved in Egypt, could have been so rapidly roused and convinced by Moses’ proclamation of an entirely new and foreign deity. The action taken by Jethro in organizing the sacrifice might easily arise from the fact that he was in his own territory, and naturally acted as host towards the strangers. The other conjecture, which can claim a certain plausibility, is that J″ [Note: Jahweh.] was a God recognized by Moses’ own tribe of Levi. From   Exodus 4:24;   Exodus 4:27 it is possible to suppose that Aaron was not in Egypt, but in the vicinity of Horeb, which he already knew as the ‘mountain of God.’ If Moses’ family, or the tribe of Levi, and perhaps (as some conjecture) the Rachel tribes, together with the Midianite branch of Semites, were already worshippers of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , Moses’ work would consist in proclaiming as the God of the whole body of Israelites Him whose help and guidance a small portion of them had already experienced. If either of these conjectures is valid, it only puts back a stage the question as to the ultimate origin of the name ‘Jahweh.’ But whatever the origin may have been, it is difficult to deny to Moses the glory of having united the whole body of Israelites in the single cult which excluded all other deities.

(iii.) Moses as Prophet and Lawgiver . If Moses taught the Israelites to worship J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , it may safely be assumed that he laid down some rules as to the method and ritual of His worship. But there is abundant justification for the belief that he also gave them injunctions which were not merely ritual. It is quite arbitrary to assume that the prophets of the 8th cent. and onwards, who preached an ethical standard of religion, preached something entirely new, though it is probable enough that their own ethical feeling was purer and deeper than any to which the nation had hitherto attained. The prophets always held up a lofty ideal as something which the nation had failed to reach , and proclaimed that for this failure the sinful people were answerable to a holy God. And since human nature is alike in all ages, there must have been at least isolated individuals, more high-souled than the masses around them, who strove to live up to the light they possessed. And as the national history of Israel postulates a leader, and their religion postulates a great personality who drew them, as a body, into the acceptance of it, so the ethical morality which appears in the laws of Exodus, and in a deeper and intenser form in the prophets, postulates a teacher who instilled into the nucleus of the nation the germs of social justice, purity, and honour. Moses would have been below the standard of an ordinary sheik if he had not given decisions on social matters, and   Exodus 18:1-27 pictures him as so doing, and   Exodus 33:7-11 shows that it was usual for the people to go to him for oracular answers from God. It is in itself probable that the man who founded the nation and taught them their religion, would plant in them the seeds of social morality. But the question whether any of the codified laws, as we have them, were directly due to Moses is quite another matter. In the life of a nomad tribe the controlling factor is not a corpus of specific prescriptions, but the power of custom. An immoral act is condemned because ‘it is not wont so to be done’ (  Genesis 34:7 ,   2 Samuel 13:12 ). The stereotyping of custom in written codes is the product of a comparatively late stage in national life. And a study of the history and development of the Hebrew laws leads unavoidably to the conclusion that while some few elements in them are very ancient, it is impossible to say of any particular detail that it is certainly derived from Moses himself; and it is further clear that many are certainly later than his time.

4. Moses in the NT . (i.) All Jews and Christians in Apostolic times (including our Lord Himself) held that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. Besides such expressions as ‘The law of Moses’ (  Luke 2:22 ), ‘Moses enjoined’ (  Matthew 8:4 ), ‘Moses commanded’ (  Matthew 19:7 ), ‘Moses wrote’ (  Mark 12:19 ), ‘Moses said’ (  Mark 7:10 ), and so on, his name could be used alone as synonymous with that which he wrote (  Luke 16:20;   Luke 16:31;   Luke 24:27 ).

(ii.) But because Moses was the representative of the Old Dispensation, Jesus and the NT writers thought of him as something more. He was an historical personage of such unique prominence in Israel’s history, that his whole career appeared to them to afford parallels to spiritual factors in the New Covenant. The following form an interesting study, as illustrating points which cover a wide range of Christian truth: The ‘glory’ on Moses’ face ( 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 ), the brazen serpent (  John 3:14 ), the Passover (  John 19:36 , Heb 11:28 ,   1 Corinthians 5:7 f.), the covenant sacrifice at Horeb (  Matthew 26:28 ,   Mark 14:24 ,   Luke 22:20 ,   1 Corinthians 11:25; see also   Hebrews 9:18-20 ,   1 Peter 1:2 with Hort’s note), the terrors of the Sinai covenant (  Hebrews 12:18-24 ), the crossing of the sea (  1 Corinthians 10:2 ), the manna (  John 6:30-35;   John 6:41-58 ), the water from the rock (  1 Corinthians 10:3-4 ), Moses as a prophet (  Acts 3:22;   Acts 7:37 ,   John 1:21-23; and see   John 6:14;   John 7:40 [  Luke 7:39 ]), the magicians of Egypt (  2 Timothy 3:8 ), the plagues (  Revelation 8:5;   Revelation 8:7-8;   Revelation 9:2-4;   Revelation 15:6-8;   Revelation 16:2-4;   Revelation 16:10;   Revelation 16:13;   Revelation 16:18;   Revelation 16:21 ), and ‘the song of Moses the servant of God’ (  Revelation 15:3 ).

A. H. M‘Neile.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

This illustrious legislator of the Israelites was of the tribe of Levi, in the line of Koath and of Amram, whose son he was, and therefore in the fourth generation after the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt. The time of his birth is ascertained by the exode of the Israelites, when Moses was eighty years old,  Exodus 7:7 . By a singular providence, the infant Moses, when exposed on the river Nile, through fear of the royal decree, after his mother had hid him three months, because he was a goodly child, was taken up and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, and nursed by his own mother, whom she hired at the suggestion of his sister Miriam. Thus did he find an asylum in the very palace of his intended destroyer; while his intercourse with his own family and nation was still most naturally, though unexpectedly, maintained: so mysterious are the ways of heaven. And while he was instructed "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and bred up in the midst of a luxurious court, he acquired at home the knowledge of the promised redemption of Israel; and, "by faith" in the Redeemer Christ, "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ," or persecution for Christ's sake, "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect to the recompense of reward,"  Exodus 2:1-10;  Acts 7:20-22;  Hebrews 11:23-26; or looked forward to a future state.

When Moses was grown to manhood, and was full forty years old, he was moved by a divine intimation, as it seems, to undertake the deliverance of his countrymen; "for he supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God, by his hand, would give them deliverance; but they understood not." For when, in the excess of his zeal to redress their grievances, he had slain an Egyptian, who injured one of them, in which he probably went beyond his commission, and afterward endeavoured to reconcile two of them that were at variance, they rejected his mediation; and "the man who had done wrong said, Who made thee a judge and a ruler over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday?" So Moses, finding it was known, and that Pharaoh sought to slay him, fled for his life to the land of Midian, in Arabia Petraea, where he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, or Reuel, prince and priest of Midian; and, as a shepherd, kept his flocks in the vicinity of Mount Horeb, or Sinai, for forty years,  Exodus 2:11-21;  Exodus 3:1;  Exodus 18:5;  Numbers 10:29;  Acts 7:23-30 . During this long exile Moses was trained in the school of humble circumstances for that arduous mission which he had prematurely anticipated; and, instead of the unthinking zeal which at first actuated him, learned to distrust himself. His backwardness, afterward, to undertake that mission for which he was destined from the womb, was no less remarkable than his forwardness before,  Exodus 4:10-13 .

At length, when the oppression of the Israelites was come to the full, and they cried to God for succour, and the king was dead, and all the men in Egypt that sought his life, "the God of glory" appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, from the midst of a bush, and announced himself as "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," under the titles of Jahoh and AEhjeh, expressive of his unity and sameness; and commissioned him first to make known to the Israelites the divine will for their deliverance; and next to go with the elders of Israel to Pharaoh, requiring him, in the name of "the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, to suffer the people to go three, days' journey into the wilderness, to sacrifice unto the Lord their God," after such sacrifices had been long intermitted during their bondage; for the Egyptians had sunk into bestial polytheism, and would have stoned them, had they attempted to sacrifice to their principal divinities, the apis, or bull, &c, in the land itself: foretelling, also, the opposition they would meet with from the king, the mighty signs and wonders that would finally compel his assent, and their spoiling of the Egyptians, by asking or demanding of them (not borrowing) jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, (by way of wages or compensation for their services,) as originally declared to Abraham, that "they should go out from thence with great substance,"

 Genesis 15:14;  Exodus 2:23-25;  Exodus 3:2-22;  Exodus 8:25-26 .

To vouch his divine commission to the Israelites, God enabled Moses to work three signal miracles:

1. Turning his rod into a serpent, and restoring it again:

2. Making his hand leprous as snow, when he first drew it out of his bosom, and restoring it sound as before when he next drew it out: and,

3. Turning the water of the river into blood. And the people believed the signs, and the promised deliverance, and worshipped. To assist him, also, in his arduous mission, when Moses had represented that he was "not eloquent, but slow of speech," and of a slow or stammering tongue, God inspired Aaron, his elder brother, to go and meet Moses in the wilderness, to be his spokesman to the people,   Exodus 4:1-31 , and his prophet to Pharaoh; while Moses was to be a god to both, as speaking to them in the name, or by the authority, of God himself,  Exodus 7:1-2 . At their first interview with Pharaoh, they declared, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not," or regard not, "the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." In answer to this haughty tyrant, they styled the Lord by a more ancient title, which the Egyptians ought to have known and respected, from Abraham's days, when he plagued them in the matter of Sarah: "The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: Let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword:" plainly intimating to Pharaoh, also, not to incur his indignation, by refusing to comply with his desire. But the king not only refused, but increased the burdens of the people,  Exodus 5:1-19; and the people murmured, and hearkened not unto Moses, when he repeated from the Lord his assurances of deliverance and protection, for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage,  Exodus 5:20-23;  Exodus 6:1-9 .

At their second interview with Pharaoh, in obedience to the divine command, again requiring him to let the children of Israel go out of his land; Pharaoh, as foretold, demanded of them to show a miracle for themselves, in proof of their commission, when Aaron cast down his rod, and it became a serpent before Pharaoh and before his servants, or officers of his court. The king then called upon his wise men and magicians, to know if they could do as much by the power of their gods, "and they did so with their enchantments; for they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron's rod swallowed up their serpents." Here the original phrase, ויעשו כן , "and they did so," or "in like manner," may only indicate the attempt, and not the deed; as afterward, in the plague of lice, "when they did so with their enchantments, but could not,"  Exodus 8:18 . And, indeed, the original term, להטיהם , rendered "their enchantments," as derived from the root לאט , or לוט , to hide or cover, fitly expresses the secret deceptions of legerdemain, or sleight-of-hand, to impose on spectators: and the remark of the magicians, when unable to imitate the production of lice, which was beyond their skill and dexterity, on account of their minuteness,— "This is the finger of a God!"—seems to strengthen the supposition; especially as the Egyptians were famous for legerdemain and for charming serpents: and the magicians, having had notice of the miracle they were expected to imitate, might make provision accordingly, and bring live serpents, which they might have substituted for their rods. And though Aaron's serpent swallowed up their serpents, showing the superiority of the true miracle over the false,   2 Thessalonians 2:9 , it might only lead the king to conclude, that Moses and Aaron were more expert jugglers than Jannes and Jambres, who opposed them,  2 Timothy 3:8 . And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, so that he "hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had said," or foretold,  Exodus 6:10-11;  Exodus 7:8-13 . For the conduct of Moses as the deliverer and lawgiver of the Israelites, See Plagues Of Egypt , See Red Sea , and See Law .

At Mount Sinai the Lord was pleased to make Moses, the redeemer of Israel, an eminent type of the Redeemer of the world. "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him:" which Moses communicated to the people. "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me: unto him shall ye hearken,"  Deuteronomy 18:15-19 . This prophet like unto Moses was our Lord Jesus Christ, who was by birth a Jew, of the middle class of the people, and resembled his predecessor, in personal intercourse with God, miracles, and legislation, which no other prophet did,  Deuteronomy 34:10-12; and to whom God, at his transfiguration, required the world to hearken,  Matthew 17:5 . Whence our Lord's frequent admonition to the Jewish church, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,"  Matthew 13:9 , &c; which is addressed, also, by the Spirit to the Christian churches of Asia Minor,  Revelation 3:22 .

In the affair of the Golden Calf, ( See Calf ,) the conduct of Moses showed the greatest zeal for God's honour, and a holy indignation against the sin of Aaron and the people. And when Moses drew nigh, and saw their proceedings, his anger waxed hot, and he cast away the tables of the covenant, or stone tablets on which were engraven the ten commandments by the finger of God himself, and brake them beneath the mount, in the presence of the people; in token that the covenant between God and them was now rescinded on his part, in consequence of their transgression. He then took the golden calf, and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and mixed it with water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. After thus destroying their idol, he inflicted punishment on the idolaters themselves; for he summoned all that were on the Lord's side to attend him; and all the Levites having obeyed the call, he sent them, in the name of the Lord, to slay all the idolaters, from one end of the camp to the other, without favour or affection either to their neighbour or to their brother; and they slew about three thousand men. The Lord also sent a grievous plague among them for their idolatry,  Exodus 32:2-35 , on which occasion Moses gave a signal proof of his love for his people, by interceding for them with the Lord; and of his own disinterestedness, in refusing the offer of the Almighty to adopt his family in their room, and make of them "a great nation." He prayed that God would blot him out of his book, that is, take away his life, if he would not forgive "the great sin of his people;" and prevailed with God to alter his determination of withdrawing his presence from them, and sending an inferior angel to conduct them to the land of promise. So wonderful was the condescension of God to the voice of a man, and so mighty the power of prayer.

When the Lord had pardoned the people, and taken them again into favour, he commanded Moses to hew two tablets of stone, like the former which were broken, and to present them to him on the top of the mount; and on these the Lord wrote again the ten commandments, for a renewal of the covenant between him and his people. To reward and strengthen the faith of Moses, God was pleased, at his request, to grant him a fuller view of the divine glory, or presence, than he had hitherto done. And, to confirm his authority with the people on his return, after the second conference of forty days, he imparted to him a portion of that glory or light by which his immediate presence was manifested: for the face of Moses shone so that Aaron and all the people were afraid to come nigh him, until he had put a veil on his face, to hide its brightness. This was an honour never vouchsafed to mortal before nor afterward till Christ, the Prophet like Moses, in his transfiguration also, appeared arrayed in a larger measure of the same lustre. Then Moses again beheld the glory of the Word made flesh, and ministered thereto in a glorified form himself,  Exodus 34:1-35;  Matthew 17:1-8 .

At Kibroth Hataavah, when the people loathed the manna, and longed for flesh, Moses betrayed great impatience, and wished for death. He was also reproved for unbelief. At Kadesh-barnea, Moses having encouraged the people to proceed, saying, "Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee, go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto you: fear not,"  Deuteronomy 1:19-21; they betrayed great diffidence, and proposed to Moses to send spies to search out the land, and point out to them the way they should enter, and the course they should take. And the proposal "pleased him well," and with the consent of the Lord he sent twelve men, one out of each tribe, to spy out the land,  Deuteronomy 1:22-23;  Numbers 13:1-20 . All these, except Caleb and Joshua, having brought "an evil report," so discouraged the people, that they murmured against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt; or would God that we had died in the wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children shall be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, let us make a captain, and return into Egypt." They even went so far as to propose to stone Joshua and Caleb, because they exhorted the people not to rebel against the Lord, nor to fear the people of the land,  Numbers 14:1-10;.  Deuteronomy 1:26-28 . Here again the noble patriotism of Moses was signally displayed. He again refused the divine offer to disinherit the Israelites, and make of him and his family a "greater and mightier nation than they." He urged the most persuasive motives with their offended God, not to destroy them with the threatened pestilence, lest the Heathen might say, "that the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he sware unto them." He powerfully appealed to the long-tried mercies and forgivenesses they had experienced ever since their departure from Egypt; and his energetic supplication prevailed; for the Lord graciously said, "I have pardoned, according to thy word: but verily, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord;" or shall adore him for his righteous judgments; "for all these men which, have seen my glory and my miracles which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice, surely shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers: neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. As ye have spoken in my ears, so will I do unto you," by a righteous retaliation: "your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in; and they shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, after the number of the days in which ye searched the land, each day for a year, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness." And immediately after this sentence, as the earnest of its full accomplishment, all the spies, except Caleb and Joshua, were cut off, and died by the plague before the Lord,  Numbers 14:11-37;  Deuteronomy 1:34-39 .

The people now, to repair their fault, contrary to the advice of Moses, presumptuously went to invade the Amalekites and Canaanites of Mount Seir, or Hor; who defeated them, and chased them as bees to Hormah,  Numbers 14:39-45;  Deuteronomy 1:41-44 . On the morrow they were ordered to turn away from the promised land, and to take their journey south-westward, toward the way of the Red Sea: and they abode in the wilderness of Kadesh many days, or years,  Numbers 14:25;  Deuteronomy 1:40-46 . The ill success of the expedition against the Amalekites, according to Josephus, occasioned the rebellion of Korah, which broke out shortly after, against Moses and Aaron, with greater violence than any of the foregoing, under Korah, the ringleader, who drew into it Dathan and Abiram, the heads of the senior tribe of Reuben, and two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, among whom were even several of the Levites. ( See Korah . ) But although "all Israel round about had fled at the cry of the devoted families of Dathan and Abiram, for fear that the earth should swallow them up also;" yet, on the morrow, they returned to their rebellious spirit, and murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, "Ye have killed the people of the Lord." On this occasion also, the Lord threatened to consume them as in a moment; but, on the intercession of Moses, only smote them with a plague, which was stayed by an atonement made by Aaron, after the destruction of fourteen thousand seven hundred souls,  Numbers 16:41-50 .

On the return of the Israelites, after many years' wandering, to the same disastrous station of Kadesh-barnea, even Moses himself was guilty of an offence, in which his brother Aaron was involved, and for which both were excluded, as a punishment, from entering the promised land. At Meribah Kadesh the congregation murmured against Moses, for bringing them into a barren wilderness without water; when the Lord commanded Moses to take his rod, which had been laid up before the Lord, and with Aaron to assemble the congregation together, and to speak to the rock before their eyes; which should supply water for the congregation and their cattle. "But Moses said unto the congregation, when they were assembled, Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock? And he smote the rock twice with his rod, and the water came out abundantly; and the congregation drank, and their cattle also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them,"  Numbers 20:1-13; and afterward in stronger terms: "Because ye rebelled against my commandment," &c.

 Numbers 27:14 .

The offence of Moses, as far as may be collected from so concise an account, seems to have been,

1. He distrusted or disbelieved that water could be produced from the rock only by speaking to it; which was a higher miracle than he had performed before at Rephidim,   Exodus 17:6 .

2. He unnecessarily smote the rock twice; thereby betraying an unwarrantable impatience.

3. He did not, at least in the phrase he used, ascribe the glory of the miracle wholly to God, but rather to himself and his brother: "Must we fetch you water out of this rock?" And he denominated them "rebels" against his and his brother's authority, which although an implied act of rebellion against God, ought to have been stated, as on a former occasion, "Ye have been rebels against the Lord, from the day that I knew you,"   Deuteronomy 9:24 , which he spake without blame. For want of more caution on this occasion, "he spake unadvisedly with his lips, because they provoked his spirit,"  Psalms 106:33 . Thus "was God sanctified at the waters of Meribah," by his impartial justice, in punishing his greatest favourites when they did amiss,  Numbers 20:13 . How severely Moses felt his deprivation, appears from his humble, and it should seem repeated, supplications to the Lord to reverse the sentence: "O Lord of gods, thou hast begun to show thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand; for what god is there in heaven or in earth that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee let me go over and see the good land beyond Jordan, even that goodly mountain Lebanon," or the whole breadth of the land. "But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and he said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up unto the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan,"  Deuteronomy 3:23-27 .

The faculties of this illustrious legislator, both of mind and body, were not impaired at the age of a hundred and twenty years, when he died. "His eye was not dim, nor his natural strength abated,"  Deuteronomy 34:7 : and the noblest of all his compositions was his Song, or the Divine Ode, which Bishop Lowth elegantly styles, Cycnea Oratio, "the Dying Swan's Oration." His death took place after the Lord had shown him, from the top of Pisgah, a distant view of the promised land, throughout its whole extent. "He then buried his body in a valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Moab; but no man knoweth his sepulchre unto this day," observes the sacred historian, who annexed the circumstances of his death to the book of Deuteronomy,  Deuteronomy 34:6 . From an obscure passage in the New Testament, in which Michael the archangel is said to have contended with the devil about the body of Moses,  Judges 1:9 , some have thought that he was buried by the ministry of angels, near the scene of the idolatry of the Israelites; but that the spot was purposely concealed, lest his tomb might also be converted into an object of idolatrous worship among the Israelites, like the brazen serpent. Beth-peor lay in the lot of the Reubenites,  Joshua 13:20 . But on so obscure a passage nothing can be built. The "body of Moses," may figuratively mean the Jewish church; or the whole may be an allusion to a received tradition which, without affirming or denying its truth, might be made the basis of a moral lesson.

Josephus, who frequently attempts to embellish the simple narrative of Holy Writ, represents Moses as attended to the top of Pisgah by Joshua, his successor, Eleazar, the high priest, and the whole senate; and that, after he had dismissed the senate, while he was conversing with Joshua and Eleazar, and embracing them, a cloud suddenly came over and enveloped him; and he vanished from their sight, and he was taken away to a certain valley. "In the sacred books," says he, "it is written, that he died; fearing to say that on account of his transcendent virtue, he had departed to the Deity." The Jewish historian has here, perhaps, imitated the account of our Lord's ascension, furnished by the evangelist,  Luke 24:50;  Acts 1:9; wishing to raise Moses to a level with Christ. The preeminence of Moses's character is briefly described by the sacred historian, Samuel or Ezra: "And there arose not a prophet since, in Israel, like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face; in all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and all his servants, and all his land; and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel,"  Deuteronomy 34:10-12 .

So marked and hallowed is the character of this, the most eminent of mere men, that it has often been successfully made the basis of an irresistible argument for the truth of his divine mission. Thus Cellerier observes, Every imposture has an object in view, and an aim more or less selfish. Men practice deceit for money, for pleasure, or for glory. If, by a strange combination, the love of mankind ever entered into the mind of an impostor, doubtless, even then, he has contrived to reconcile, at least, his own selfish interests with those of the human race. If men deceive others, for the sake of causing their own opinions or their own party to triumph, they may sometimes, perhaps, forget their own interests during the struggle, but they again remember them when the victory is achieved. It is a general rule, that no impostor forgets himself long. But Moses forgot himself, and forgot himself to the last. Yet there is no middle supposition. If Moses was not a divinely inspired messenger, he was an impostor in the strongest sense of the term. It is not, as in the case of Numa, a slight and single fraud, designed to secure some good end, that we have to charge him with, but a series of deceits, many of which were gross; a profound dishonest, perfidious, sanguinary dissimulation, continued for the space of forty years. If Moses was not a divinely commissioned prophet, he was not the saviour of the people, but their tyrant and their murderer. Still, we repeat, this barbarous impostor always forgot himself; and his disinterestedness, as regarded himself personally, his family, and his tribe, is one of the most extraordinary features in his administration. As to himself personally: He is destined to die in the wilderness; he is never to taste the tranquillity, the plenty, and the delight, the possession of which he promises to his countrymen; he shares with them only their fatigues and privations; he has more anxieties than they, on their account, in their acts of disobedience, and in their perpetual murmurings. As to his family: He does not nominate his sons as his successors; he places them, without any privileges or distinctions, among the obscure sons of Levi; they are not even admitted into the sacerdotal authority. Unlike all other fathers, Moses withdraws them from public view, and deprives them of the means of obtaining glory and favour. Samuel and Eli assign a part of their paternal authority to their sons, and permit them even to abuse it; but the sons of Moses, in the wilderness, are only the simple servants of the tabernacle; like all the other sons of Kohath, if they even dare to raise the veil which covers the sacred furniture, the burden, of which they carry, death is denounced against them. Where can we find more complete disinterestedness than in Moses? Is not his the character of an upright man, who has the general good, not his own interests, at heart; of a man who submissively acquiesces in the commands of God, without resistance and without demur? When we consider these several things; when we reflect on all the ministry of Moses, on his life, on his death, on his character, on his abilities, and his success; we are powerfully convinced that he was the messenger of God. If we consider him only as an able legislator, as a Lycurgus, as a Numa, his actions are inexplicable: we find not in him the affections, the interests, the views which usually belong to the human heart. The simplicity, the harmony, the verity of his natural character are gone; they give place to an incoherent union of ardour and imposture; of daring and of timidity, of incapacity and genius, of cruelty and sensibility. No! Moses was inspired by God: he received from God the law which he left his countrymen.

To Moses we owe that important portion of Holy Scripture, the Pentateuch, which brings us acquainted with the creation of the world, the entrance of sin and death, the first promises of redemption, the flood, the peopling of the postdiluvian earth, and the origin of nations, the call of Abraham, and the giving of the law. We have, indeed, in it the early history of religion, and a key to all the subsequent dispensations of God to man. The genuineness and authenticity of these most venerable and important books have been established by various writers; but the following remarks upon the veracity of the writings of Moses have the merit of compressing much argument into few words:—

1. There is a minuteness in the details of the Mosaic writings, which bespeaks their truth; for it often bespeaks the eye-witness, as in the adventures of the wilderness; and often seems intended to supply directions to the artificer, as in the construction of the tabernacle.

2. There are touches of nature in the narrative which bespeak its truth, for it is not easy to regard them otherwise than as strokes from the life; as where "the mixed multitude," whether half-castes or Egyptians, are the first to sigh for the cucumbers and melons of Egypt, and to spread discontent through the camp,   Numbers 11:4; as the miserable exculpation of himself, which Aaron attempts, with all the cowardice of conscious guilt, "I cast into the fire, and there came out this calf:" the fire, to be sure, being in the fault,  Exodus 32:24 .

3. There are certain little inconveniences represented as turning up unexpectedly, that bespeak truth in the story; for they are just such accidents as are characteristic of the working of a new system and untried machinery. What is to be done with the man who is found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day?   Numbers 15:32 . (Could an impostor have devised such a trifle?) How is the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad to be disposed of, there being no heir male?  Numbers 36:2 . Either of them inconsiderable matters in themselves, but both giving occasion to very important laws; the one touching life, and the other property.

4. There is a simplicity in the manner of Moses, when telling his tale, which bespeaks its truth: no parade of language, no pomp of circumstance even in his miracles, a modesty and dignity throughout all. Let us but compare him in any trying scene with Josephus; his description, for instance, of the passage through the Red Sea, Exodus 14, of the murmuring of the Israelites and the supply of quails and manna, with the same as given by the Jewish historian, or rhetorician we might rather say, and the force of the observation will be felt.

5. There is a candour in the treatment of his subject by Moses, which bespeaks his truth; as when he tells of his own want of eloquence, which unfitted him for a leader,   Exodus 4:10; his own want of faith, which prevented him from entering the promised land,  Numbers 20:12; the idolatry of Aaron his brother,  Exodus 32:21; the profaneness of Nadab and Abihu, his nephews, Leviticus 10; the disaffection and punishment of Miriam, his sister,  Numbers 12:1 .

6. There is a disinterestedness in his conduct, which bespeaks him to be a man of truth; for though he had sons, he apparently takes no measures during his life to give them offices of trust or profit; and at his death he appoints as his successor one who had no claims upon him, either of alliance, of clanship, or of blood.

7. There are certain prophetical passages in the writings of Moses, which bespeak their truth; as, several respecting the future Messiah, and the very sublime and literal one respecting the final fall of Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 28.

8. There is a simple key supplied by these writings, to the meaning of many ancient traditions current among the Heathens, though greatly disguised, which is another circumstance that bespeaks their truth: as, the golden age; the garden of the Hesperides; the fruit tree in the midst of the garden which the dragon guarded; the destruction of mankind by a flood, all except two persons, and those righteous persons,

Innocuos ambos, cultores numinis ambos; [Both innocent, both worshippers of Deity;]

the rainbow, "which Jupiter set in the cloud, a sign to men;" the seventh day a sacred day; with many others, all conspiring to establish the reality of the facts which Moses relates, because tending to show that vestiges of the like present themselves in the traditional history of the world at large.

9. The concurrence which is found between the writings of Moses and those of the New Testament bespeaks their truth: the latter constantly appealing to them, being indeed but the completion of the system which the others are the first to put forth. Nor is this an illogical argument; for, though the credibility of the New Testament itself may certainly be reasoned out from the truth of the Pentateuch once established, it is still very far from depending on that circumstance exclusively, or even principally. The New Testament demands acceptance on its own merits, on merits distinct from those on which the books of Moses rest, therefore (so far as it does so) it may fairly give its suffrage for their veracity, valcat quantum valet: [it may avail as far as it goes;] and surely it is a very improbable thing, that two dispensations, separated by an interval of some fifteen hundred years, each exhibiting prophecies of its own, since fulfilled; each asserting miracles of its own, on strong evidence of its own; that two dispensations, with such individual claims to be believed, should also be found to stand in the closest relation to one another, and yet both turn out impostures after all.

10. Above all, there is a comparative purity in the theology and morality of the Pentateuch, which argues not only its truth, but its high original; for how else are we to account for a system like that of Moses, in such an age and among such a people; that the doctrine of the unity, the self-existence, the providence, the perfections of the great God of heaven and earth, should thus have blazed forth (how far more brightly than even in the vaunted schools of Athens at its most refined era!) from the midst of a nation, of themselves ever plunging into gross and grovelling idolatry; and that principles of social duty, of benevolence, and of self-restraint, extending even to the thoughts of the heart, should have been the produce of an age which the very provisions of the Levitical law itself show to have been full of savage and licentious abominations?   Exodus 3:14;  Exodus 20:3-17;  Leviticus 19:2;  Leviticus 19:18;  Deuteronomy 6:4;  Deuteronomy 30:6 . Such are some of the internal evidences for the veracity of the books of Moses.

11. Then the situation in which the Jews actually found themselves placed, as a matter of fact, is no slight argument for the truth of the Mosaic accounts; reminded, as they were, by certain memorials observed from year to year, of the great events of their early history, just as they are recorded in the writings of Moses, memorials universally recognized both in their object and in their authority. The passover, for instance, celebrated by all, no man doubting its meaning, no man in all Israel assigning to it any other origin than one, viz. that of being a contemporary monument of a miracle displayed in favour of the people of Israel; by right of which credentials, and no other, it summoned from all quarters of the world, at great cost, and inconvenience, and danger, the dispersed Jews, none disputing the obligation to obey the summons.

12. Then the heroic devotion with which the Israelites continued to regard the law, even long after they had ceased to cultivate the better part of it, even when that very law only served to condemn its worshippers, so that they would offer themselves up by thousands, with their children and wives, as martyrs to the honour of their temple, in which no image, even of an emperor, who could scourge them with scorpions for their disobedience, should be suffered to stand, and they live: so that rather than violate the sanctity of the Sabbath day, the bravest men in arms would lay down their lives as tamely as sheep, and allow themselves to be burned in the holes where they had taken refuge from their cruel and cowardly pursuers. All this points to their law, as having been at first promulgated under circumstances too awful to be forgotten even after the lapse of ages.

13. Then again, the extraordinary degree of national pride with which the Jews boasted themselves to be God's peculiar people, as if no nation ever was or ever could be so nigh to him; a feeling which the early teachers of Christianity found an insuperable obstacle to the progress of the Gospel among them, and which actually did effect its ultimate rejection, this may well seem to be founded upon a strong traditional sense of uncommon tokens of the Almighty's regard for them above all other nations of the earth, which they had heard with their ears, or their fathers had declared unto them, even the noble works that he had done in the old time before them.

14. Then again, the constant craving after "a sign," which beset them in the latter days of their history, as a lively certificate of the prophet; and not after a sign only, but after such a one as they would themselves prescribe:

"What sign showest thou, that we may see, and believe? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert,"  John 6:31 . This desire, so frequently expressed, and with which they are so frequently reproached, looks like the relic of an appetite engendered in other times, when they had enjoyed the privilege of more intimate communion with God; it seems the wake, as it were, of miracles departed.

15. Lastly, the very onerous nature of the law; so studiously meddling with all the occupations of life, great and small;—this yoke would scarcely have been endured, without the strongest assurance, on the part of those who were galled by it, of the authority by which it was imposed. For it met them with some restraint or other at every turn. Would they plough? then it must not be with an ox and an ass. Would they sow? then must not the seed be mixed. Would they reap? then must they not reap clean. Would they make bread? then must they set apart dough enough for the consecrated loaf. Did they find a bird's nest? then must they let the old bird fly away. Did they hunt? then they must shed the blood of their game, and cover it with dust. Did they plant a fruit tree? for three years was the fruit to be uncircumcised. Did they shave their beards? they were not to cut the corners. Did they weave a garment? then must it be only with threads prescribed. Did they build a house? they must put rails and battlements on the roof. Did they buy an estate? at the year of jubilee, back it must go to its owner. All these (and how many more of the same kind might be named!) are enactments which it must have required extraordinary influence in the lawgiver, to enjoin, and extraordinary reverence for his powers to perpetuate.

Still, after all, says Mr. Blunt, unbelievers may start difficulties,—this I dispute not; difficulties, too, which we may not always be able to answer, though I think we may be always able to neutralize them. It may be a part of our trial, that such difficulties should exist and be encountered; for there can be no reason why temptations should not be provided for the natural pride of our understanding, as well as for the natural lusts of our flesh. To many, indeed, they would be the more formidable of the two, perhaps to the angels who kept not their first estate they proved so. With such facts, however, before me, as these which I have submitted to my readers, I can come to no conclusion but one,—that when we read the writings of Moses, we read no cunningly devised fables, but solemn and safe records of great and marvellous events, which court examination, and sustain it; records of such apparent veracity and faithfulness, that I can understand our Lord to have spoken almost without a figure, when he said, that he who believed not Moses, neither would he be persuaded though one rose from the dead.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

(See Aaron ; Egypt; Exodus ) Hebrew Μosheh , from an Egyptian root, "son" or "brought forth," namely, out of the water. The name was also borne by an Egyptian prince, viceroy of Nubia under the 19th dynasty. In the part of the Exodus narrative which deals with Egypt, words are used purely Egyptian or common to Hebrew and Egyptian. Manetho in Josephus (contrast Apion 1:26, 28, 31) calls him Οsarsiph , i.e. "sword of Osiris or saved by Osiris". "The man of God" in the title Psalm 90, for as Moses gave in the Pentateuch the key note to all succeeding prophets so also to inspired psalmody in that the oldest psalm. "Jehovah's slave" ( Numbers 12:7;  Deuteronomy 34:5;  Joshua 1:2;  Psalms 105:26;  Hebrews 3:5). "Jehovah's chosen" ( Psalms 106:23). "The man of God" ( 1 Chronicles 23:14). Besides the Pentateuch, the Prophets and Psalms and New Testament ( Acts 7:9;  Acts 7:20-38;  2 Timothy 3:8-9;  Hebrews 11:20-28;  Judges 1:9) give details concerning him. His Egyptian rearing and life occupy 40 years, his exile in the Arabian desert 40, and his leadership of Israel from Egypt to Moab 40 ( Acts 7:23;  Acts 7:30;  Acts 7:36).

Son of Amram (a later one than Kohath's father) and Jochebed (whose name, derived from Jehovah, shows the family hereditary devotion); Miriam, married to Hur, was oldest; Aaron, married to Elisheba, three years older ( Exodus 7:7, compare  Exodus 2:7); next Moses, youngest. (See Amram ; MIRIAM.) By Zipporah, Reuel's daughter, he had two sons: Gershom, father of Jonathan, and Eliezer ( 1 Chronicles 23:14-15); these took no prominent place in their tribe. A mark of genuineness; a forger would have made them prominent. Moses showed no self-seeking or nepotism. His tribe Levi was the priestly one, and naturally rallied round him in support of the truth with characteristic enthusiasm ( Exodus 32:27-28). Born at Heliopolis (Josephus, Ap. 1:9, 6; 2:9), at the time of Israel's deepest depression, from whence the proverb, "when the tale of bricks is doubled then comes Moses." Magicians foretold to Pharaoh his birth as a destroyer; a dream announced to Amram his coming as the deliverer (Josephus, Ant. 2:9, section 2-3).

Some prophecies probably accompanied his birth. These explain the parents' "faith" which laid hold of God's promise contained in those prophecies; the parents took his good looks as a pledge of the fulfillment.  Hebrews 11:23, "by faith Moses when he was born was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper (good-looking:  Acts 7:20, Greek 'fair to God') child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment" to slay all the males. For three months Jochebed hid him. Then she placed him in an ark of papyrus, secured with bitumen, and laid it in the "flags" ( Tufi , less in size than the other papyrus) by the river's brink, and went away unable to bear longer the sight. (H. F. Talbot Transact. Bibl. Archrael., i., pt. 9, translates a fragment of Assyrian mythology: "I am Sargina the great king, king of Agani. My mother gave birth to me in a secret place. She placed me in an ark of bulrushes and closed up the door with slime and pitch. She cast me into the river," etc. A curious parallel.) Miriam lingered to watch what would happen.

Pharaoh's daughter (holding an independent position and separate household under the ancient empire; childless herself, therefore ready to adopt Moses; Thermutis according to Josephus) coming down to bathe in the sacred and life giving Nile (as it was regarded) saw the ark and sent her maidens to fetch it. The babe's tears touched her womanly heart, and on Miriam's offer to fetch a Hebrew nurse she gave the order enabling his sister to call his mother. Tunis (now San), Zoan, or Avaris near the sea was the place, where crocodiles are never found; and so the infant would run no risk in that respect. Aahmes I, the expeller of the shepherd kings, had taken it. Here best the Pharaohs could repel the attacks of Asiatic nomads and crush the Israelite serfs. "The field of Zoan" was the scene of God's miracles in Israel's behalf ( Psalms 78:43). She adopted Moses as "her son, and trained him "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," Providence thus qualifying him with the erudition needed for the predestined leader and instructor of Israel, and "he was mighty in words and in deeds."

This last may hint at what Josephus states, namely, that Moses led a successful campaign against Ethiopia, and named Saba the capital Meroe (Artapanus in Eusebius 9:27), from his adopted mother Merrhis, and brought away as his wife Tharbis daughter of the Ethiopian king, who falling in love with him had shown him the way to gain the swamp surrounding the city (Josephus Ant. 2:10, section 2; compare  Numbers 12:1). However, his marriage to the Ethiopian must have been at a later period than Josephus states, namely, after Zipporah's death in the wilderness wanderings. An inscription by Thothmes I, who reigned in Moses' early life, commemorates the "conqueror of the nine bows," i.e. Libya. A statistical tablet of Karnak (Birch says) states that Chebron and Thothmes I overran Ethiopia. Moses may have continued the war and in it wrought the "mighty deeds" ascribed to him.

When Moses was 40 years old, in no fit of youthful enthusiasm but deliberately, Moses "chose" ( Hebrews 11:23-28) what are the last things men choose, loss of social status as son of Pharaoh's daughter, "affliction," and "reproach." Faith made him prefer the "adoption" of the King of kings. He felt the worst of religion is better than the best of the world; if the world offers "pleasure" it is but "for a season." Contrast Esau ( Hebrews 12:16-17). If religion brings "affliction" it too is but for a season, its pleasures are "forevermore at God's right hand" ( Psalms 16:11). Israel's "reproach" "Christ" regards as His own ( 2 Corinthians 1:5;  Colossians 1:24), it will soon be the true Israel's glory ( Isaiah 25:8). "Moses had respect unto" (Greek Apeblepen ), or turned his eyes from all worldly considerations to fix them on, the eternal "recompense." His "going out unto his brethren when he was grown and looking on their burdens" was his open declaration of his taking his portion with the oppressed serfs on the ground of their adoption by God and inheritance of the promises.

"It came into his heart (from God's Spirit,  Proverbs 16:1) to visit his brethren, the children of Israel" ( Acts 7:23). An Egyptian overseer, armed probably with one of the long heavy scourges of tough pliant Syrian wood (Chabas' "Voyage du Egyptien," 119, 136), was smiting an Hebrew, one of those with whom Moses identified himself as his "brethren." Giving way to impulsive hastiness under provocation, without regard to self when wrong was done to a brother, Moses took the law into his own hands, and slew and hid the Egyptian in the sand. Stephen ( Acts 7:25;  Acts 7:35) implies that Moses meant by the act to awaken in the Hebrew a thirst for the freedom and nationality which God had promised and to offer himself as their deliverer. But on his striving to reconcile two quarreling Hebrew the wrong doer, when reproved, replied: "who made thee a prince (with the power) and a judge (with the right of interfering) over us? ( Luke 19:14, the Antitype.) Intendest thou to kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian?"

Slavery had debased them, and Moses dispirited gave up as hopeless the enterprise which he had undertaken in too hasty and self-relying a spirit. His impetuous violence retarded instead of expedited their deliverance. He still needed 40 more years of discipline, in meek self-control and humble dependence on Jehovah, in order to qualify him for his appointed work. A proof of the genuineness of the Pentateuch is the absence of personal details which later tradition would have been sure to give. Moses' object was not a personal biography but a history of God's dealings with Israel. Pharaoh, on hearing of his killing the Egyptian overseer, "sought to slay him," a phrase implying that Moses' high position made necessary special measures to bring him under the king's power. Moses fled, leaving his exalted prospects to wait God's time and God's way. Epistle to the Hebrew ( Hebrews 11:27) writes, "by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." Moses "feared" ( Exodus 2:14-15) lest by staying he should sacrifice his divinely intimated destiny to be Israel's deliverer, which was his great aim.

But he did "not fear" the king's wrath which would be aggravated by his fleeing without Pharaoh's leave. He did "not fear the king" so as to shrink from returning at all risks when God commanded. "Faith" God saw to be the ruling motive of his flight more than fear of personal safety; "he endured as seeing (through faith) Him who is invisible" ( Luke 12:4-5). Despondency, when commissioned at last by God to arouse the people, was his first feeling on his return, from past disappointment in not having been able to inspire Israel with those high hopes for which he had sacrificed all earthly prospects ( Exodus 3:15;  Exodus 4:1;  Exodus 4:10-12). He dwells not on Pharaoh's cruelty and power, but on the hopelessness of his appeals to Israel and on his want of the "eloquence" needed to move their stubborn hearts. He fled from Egypt to southern Midian because Reuel (his name "friend of God" implies he worshipped Εl ) or Raguel there still maintained the worship of the true God as king-priest or Imam (Arabic version) before Israel's call, even as Melchizedek did at Jerusalem before Abraham's call.

The northern people of Midian through contact with Canaan were already idolaters. Reuel's daughters, in telling of Moses' help to them in watering their flocks, called him "an Egyptian," judging from his costume and language, for he had not yet been long enough living with Israelites to be known as one; an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness. Moses "was content to live with Reuel" as in a congenial home, marrying Zipporah his daughter. From him probably Moses learned the traditions of Abraham's family in connection with Keturah ( Genesis 25:2). Zipporah bore him Gershom and Eliezer whose names ("stranger," "God is my help") intimate how keenly he felt his exile ( Exodus 18:3-4). The alliance between Israel and the Kenite Midianites continued permanently. Horab, Moses' brother-in-law, was subsequently Israel's guide through the desert. (See Hobab .) In the 40 years' retirement Moses learned that self discipline which was needed for leading a nation under such unparalleled circumstances.

An interval of solitude is needed especially by men of fervor and vehemence; so Paul in Arabia ( Acts 24:27;  Galatians 1:17). He who first attempted the great undertaking without God's call, expecting success from his own powers, in the end never undertook anything without God's guidance. His hasty impetuosity of spirit in a right cause, and his abandonment of that cause as hopeless on the first rebuff, gave place to a meekness, patience, tenderness, long suffering under wearing provocation and trials from the stiff-necked people, and persevering endurance, never surpassed ( Numbers 12:3;  Numbers 27:16). To appreciate this meekness, e.g. under Miriam's provocation, and apparent insensibility where his own honor alone was concerned, contrast his vigorous action, holy boldness for the Lord's honor, and passionate earnestness of intercession for his people, even to the verge of unlawful excess, in self sacrifice. (See Miriam ; Anathema He would not "let God alone," "standing before God in the breach to turn away His wrath" from Israel ( Psalms 106:23).

His intercessions restored Miriam, stayed plagues and serpents, and procured water out of the rock ( Exodus 32:10-11;  Exodus 32:20-25,  Exodus 32:31-32). His was the reverse of a phlegmatic temper, but divine grace subdued and sanctified the natural defects of a man of strong feelings and impetuous character. His entire freedom from Miriam's charge of unduly exalting his office appears beautifully in his gentle reproof of Joshua's zeal for his honor: "enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets!" etc. ( Numbers 11:29.) His recording his own praises ( Numbers 12:3-7) is as much the part of the faithful servant of Jehovah, writing under His inspiration, as his recording his own demerits ( Exodus 2:12;  Exodus 3:11;  Exodus 4:10-14;  Numbers 20:10-12). Instead of vindicating himself in the case of Korah (Numbers 16) and Miriam (Numbers 12) he leaves his cause with God, and tenderly intercedes for Miriam. He is linked with Samuel in after ages as an instance of the power of intercessory prayer ( Jeremiah 15:1).

He might have established his dynasty over Israel, but he assumed no princely honor and sought no preeminence for his sons ( Deuteronomy 9:13-19). The spiritual progress in Moses between his first appearance and his second is very marked. The same spirit prompted him to avenge his injured countryman, and to rescue the Midianite women from the shepherds' violence, as afterward led him to confront Pharaoh; but in the first instance he was an illustration of the truth that "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" ( James 1:20). The traditional site of his call by the divine "Angel of Jehovah" (the uncreated Shekinah , "the Word" of John 1, "the form like the Son of God" with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace,  Daniel 3:25) is in the valley of Shoayb or Hobab, on the northern side of jebel Musa. Moses led Jethro's flock to the W. ("the back side") of the desert or open pasture. The district of Sherim on the Red Sea, Jethro's abode, was barren; four days N.W. of it lies the Sinai region with good pasturage and water.

He came to "the mountain of God" (Sinai, called so by anticipation of God's giving the law there) on his way toward Horeb. The altar of Catherine's convent is said to occupy the site of the (the article is in the Hebrew,: the well known) burning bush. The vision is generally made to typify Israel afflicted yet not consumed ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-10); but the flame was in the bush, not the bush in the flame; rather, Israel was the lowly acacia, the thorn bush of the desert, yet God deigned to abide in the midst of her ( Zechariah 2:5). So Israel's Antitype, Messiah, has "all the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily" ( John 1:14;  Colossians 2:9). Jehovah gave Moses two signs as credentials to assure him of his mission: the transformation of his long "rod" of authority (as on Egyptian monuments) or pastoral rod into a "serpent," the basilisk or cobra, the symbol of royal and divine power on the Pharaoh's diadem; a pledge of victory over the king and gods of Egypt (compare  Mark 16:18; Moses' humble but wonder working crook typifies Christ's despised but allpowerful cross). (On Zipporah'S [See] Circumcision Of Her Son.)

The hand made leprous, then restored, represents the nation of lepers (as Egyptian tradition made them, and as spiritually they had become in Egypt) with whom Moses linked himself, divinely healed through his instrumentality. No patriarch before wrought a miracle. Had the Pentateuch been mythical, it would have attributed supernatural wonders to the first fathers of the church and founders of the race. As it is, Moses first begins the new era in the history of the world with signs from God by man unknown before. To Moses' disinterested and humble pleadings of inability to speak, and desire that some other should be sent, Jehovah answers: "Aaron shall be thy spokesman ... even he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God." Aaron, when he heard of Moses leaving Midian, of his own accord went to meet him; Jehovah further directed him what way to go in order to meet him, namely, by the desert ( Exodus 4:14;  Exodus 4:27). The two meeting and kissing on the mountain of God typify the law and the sacrificing priesthood meeting in Christ ( Exodus 4:27;  Psalms 85:10).

Nothing short of divine interposition could have enabled Moses to lead an unwarlike people of serfs out of a powerful nation like Egypt, to give them the law with their acceptance of it though so contrary to their corrupt inclinations, to keep them together for 40 years in the wilderness, and finally to lead them to their conquest of the eastern part of Canaan. Moses had neither eloquence nor military prowess (as appears  Exodus 4:10;  Exodus 17:8-12), qualities so needful for an ordinary popular leader. He had passed in rural life the 40 years constituting the prime of his vigor. He had seemingly long given up all hopes of being Israel's deliverer, and settled himself in Midian. Nothing but God's extraordinary call could have urged him, against his judgment, reluctantly at fourscore to resume the project of rousing a debased people which in the rigor of manhood he had been forced to give up as hopeless. Nothing but such plagues as Scripture records could have induced the most powerful monarchy then in the world to allow their unarmed serfs to pass away voluntarily.

His first efforts only aggravated Pharaoh's oppression and Israel's bondage ( Exodus 5:2-9). Nor could magical feats derived from Egyptian education have enabled Moses to gain his point, for he was watched and opposed by the masters of this art, who had the king and the state on their side, while Moses had not a single associate save Aaron. Yet in a few months, without Israel's drawing sword, Pharaoh and the Egyptians urge their departure, and Israel "demands" (not "borrows," Shaal ) as a right from their former masters, and receives, gold, silver, and jewels ( Exodus 12:85-39). Not even does Moses lead them the way of Philistia which, as being near, wisdom would suggest, but knowing their unwarlike character avoids it; Moses guides them into a defile with mountains on either side and the Red Sea in front, from whence escape from the Egyptian disciplined pursuers, who repented of letting them go, seemed hopeless, especially as Israel consisted of spiritless men, encumbered with women and with children.

Nothing but the miracle recorded can account for the issue; Egypt's king and splendid host perish in the waters, Israel passes through in triumph ( Exodus 13:17;  Exodus 14:3;  Exodus 14:5;  Exodus 14:9;  Exodus 14:11-12;  Exodus 14:14). Again Moses with undoubting assurance of success on the borders of Canaan tells Israel "go up and possess the land" ( Deuteronomy 1:20-21). By the people's desire spies searched the land; they reported the goodness of the land but yet more the strength and tallness of its inhabitants. The timid Israelites were daunted, and even proposed to stone the two faithful spies, to depose Moses, and choose a captain to lead them back to Egypt. Moses, instead of animating them to enter Canaan, now will neither suffer them to proceed, nor yet to return to Egypt; they must march and counter-march in the wilderness for 40 years until every adult but two shall have perished; but their little ones, who they said should be a prey, God will bring in. Only a divine direction, manifested with miracle, can account for such an unparalleled command and for its being obeyed by so disobedient a people.

Too late they repented of their unbelieving cowardice, when Moses announced God's sentence, and in spite of Moses' warning presumed to go, but were chased by the Amalekites to Hormah ( Deuteronomy 1:45-46;  Deuteronomy 2:14;  Numbers 14:39). The sustenance of 600,000 men besides women and children, 40 years, in a comparative desert could only be by miracle; as the Pentateuch records, they were fed with Manna from heaven until they ate the grain of Canaan, on the morrow after which the manna ceased (Exodus 16;  Joshua 5:12). Graves, Pentateuch, 1:1, section 5. Aaron and Hur supported Moses in the battle with Amalek ( Exodus 17:12); Joshua was his minister. The localities of the desert commemorate his name, "the wells of Moses," Ayun Moses on the Red Sea, jebel Musa, the mountain of Moses, and the ravine of Moses near the Catherine convent. At once the prophet (foremost and greatest,  Deuteronomy 34:10-11), lawgiver, and leader of Israel, Moses typifies and resembles Messiah ( Numbers 21:18;  Deuteronomy 33:21; especially  Deuteronomy 18:15-19, compare  Acts 3:22;  Acts 7:37;  Acts 7:25;  Acts 7:35;  John 1:17).

Israel's rejection of Moses prefigures their rejection of Christ. His mediatorship in giving the law answers to Christ's; also  Exodus 17:11;  Exodus 32:10-14;  Exodus 32:31-34;  Exodus 33:18-16;  Galatians 3:19, compare  1 Timothy 2:5. Moses was the only prophet to whom Jehovah spoke "face to face," "as a man speaketh unto his friend" ( Exodus 33:11;  Numbers 12:8;  Deuteronomy 34:10): so at Horeb ( Exodus 33:18-23); compare as to Christ  John 1:18. For the contrast between "Christ the Son over His own house" and "Moses the servant faithful in all God's house" see  Hebrews 3:1-6. Pharaoh's murder of the innocents answers to Herod's; Christ like Moses sojourned in Egypt, His 40 days' fast answers to that of Moses. Moses stands at the head of the legal dispensation, so that Israel is said to have been "baptized unto Moses" (initiated into the Mosaic covenant) as Christians are into Christ.

Moses after the calf worship removed the temporary tabernacle (preparatory to the permanent one, subsequently described) outside the camp; and as he disappeared in this "tent of meeting" (rather than "tabernacle of congregation") the people wistfully gazed after him ( Exodus 33:7-10). On his last descent from Sinai "his face shone"; and he put on a veil as the people "could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away," a type of the transitory dispensation which he represented, in contrast to the abiding Christian dispensation ( Exodus 34:30;  Exodus 34:38;  2 Corinthians 3:13-14;  2 Corinthians 3:7;  2 Corinthians 3:11). "They were afraid to come nigh him": Alford's explanation based on the Septuagint is disproved by  Exodus 34:30;  2 Corinthians 3:7, namely, that Moses not until he had done speaking to the people put on the veil "that they might not look on the end (the fading) of his transitory glory." Paul implies, "Moses put on the veil that (God's judicial giving them up to their willful blindness:  Isaiah 6:10;  Acts 28:26-27) they might not look steadfastly at (Christ,  Romans 10:4; the Spirit,  2 Corinthians 3:17) the end of that (law in its mere letter) which (like Moses' glory) is done away."

The evangelical glory of Moses' law, like the shining of Moses' face, cannot be borne by a carnal people, and therefore remains veiled to them until the Spirit takes away the veil (2 Corinthians 14-17;  John 5:45-47). There is a coincidence between the song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32; 33) and his Psalm 90; thus  Deuteronomy 33:27 compare  Psalms 90:1;  Psalms 32:4;  Psalms 32:36 with  Psalms 90:13;  Psalms 90:16. The time of the psalm was probably toward the close of the 40 years' wandering in the desert. The people after long chastisement beg mercy ( Psalms 90:15-17). The limitation of life to 70 or 80 years harmonizes with the dying of all that generation at about that age; 20 to 40 at the Exodus, to which the 40 in the wilderness being added make 60 to 80. Kimchi says the older rabbis ascribed Psalm 91 also to Moses Israel's exemption from Egypt's plagues, especially the death stroke on the firstborn, which surrounded but did not touch God's people, in  Exodus 8:22;  Exodus 10:28;  Exodus 11:7;  Exodus 12:23, corresponds to  Psalms 91:3-10.

His song in Exodus 15 abounds in incidents marked by the freshness and simplicity which we should expect from an eye-witness: he anticipates the dismay of the Philistines and Edomites through whose territories Israel's path lay to the promised land. The final song (Deuteronomy 32) and blessing (Deuteronomy 33) have the same characteristics. These songs gave atone to Israel's poetry in each succeeding age. They are the earnest of the church's final "song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb" ( Revelation 15:3), the song which shall unite in triumph the Old Testament church and the New Testament church, after their conflicts shall have been past. Like the Antitype, his parting word was blessing ( Deuteronomy 33:29;  Luke 24:51). His exclusion from Canaan teaches symbolically the law cannot bring us into the heavenly Canaan, the antitypical Joshua must do that. Two months before his death (Numbers 31), just before his closing addresses, the successful expedition, by God's command to Moses, against Midian was undertaken.

Preparatory to that expedition was the census and mustering of the tribes on the plains of Moab (Numbers 26). The numbers were taken according to the families, so as equitably to allot the land. Moses among his last acts wrote the law and delivered it to the priests to be put in the side of the ark for a witness against Israel ( Deuteronomy 31:9-12;  Deuteronomy 31:22-27) and gave a charge to Joshua. In  Exodus 24:12 "I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and the commandment" (Hebrew), the reference is to the ten commandments on the two stone tables, the Pentateuch "law," and the ceremonial commandment. However, Knobel translated it as "the tables of stone with the law, even the commandment." His death accorded with his life. He was sentenced (for "unbelievingly not sanctifying the Lord" and "speaking unadvisedly with his lips," to the people, though told to address the rock, in a harsh unsympathetic spirit which God calls rebellion,  Numbers 20:8-13;  Numbers 27:14, through the people's "provocation of his spirit," his original infirmity of a hasty impetuous temper recurring) to see yet not enter the good land.

Meekly submitting to the stroke, he thought to the last only of God's glory and Israel's good, not of self: "let Jehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation" ( Numbers 27:12-16). Yet how earnestly he had longed to go over into the good land appears in  Deuteronomy 3:24-27. Ascending to Nebo, a height on the western slope of the range of Pisgah, so-called from a neighboring town, he was showed by Jehovah "all Gilead unto Dan, Naphtali, Ephraim, Manasseh, all Judah, unto the Mediterranean, the S. and the plain of Jericho unto Zoar" (N. according to Tristram, rather S. of the Dead Sea); like Christ's view of the world kingdoms ( Luke 4:5), it was supernatural, effected probably by an extraordinary intensification of Moses' powers of vision. (See Zoar .)

Then he died there "according to the word of Jehovah," Hebrew "on the mouth of Jehovah," which the rabbis explain "by a kiss of the Lord" ( Song of Solomon 1:2); but  Genesis 45:21 margin supports KJV (compare  Deuteronomy 32:51.) Buried by Jehovah himself in a valley in Moab over against Bethpeor, Moses was probably translated soon after; for he afterward appears with the translated Elijah and Jesus at the transfiguration, when the law and the prophets in Moses' and Elijah's persons gave place to the Son whose servants and fore witnesses they had been: "hear ye Him" answers to "unto Him ye shall hearken" (Deuteronomy 18;  Matthew 17:1-10; compare  Judges 1:9). His sepulchre therefore could not be found by man.

The term "decease," Exodus, found in  Luke 9:31, and with the undesigned coincidence of truth repeated by Peter an eye-witness of the transfiguration ( 2 Peter 1:15), was suggested by the Exodus from Egypt, the type of Jesus' death and resurrection. Josephus (Ant. 4:8) thought God hid Moses' body lest it should be idolized. Satan ( Hebrews 2:14) contended with Michael, that it should not be raised again on the ground of Moses' sin ( Judges 1:9, compare  Zechariah 3:2). "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" before death. Israel mourned him for 30 days. The remembrance of Moses ages after shall be a reason for Jehovah's mercy awaiting Israel ( Isaiah 63:11).

"And had he not high honor? The hillside for his pall, To lie in state while angels wait, With stars for tapers tall; And the dark rock pines, like tossing plumes, Over his bier to wave, And God's own hand, in that lonely land To lay him in the grave." - C. F. Alexander.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [5]

Just as, in the Synagogue, the Law (the Torah), was accounted the most important division of the Canon, and as Holy Scripture in its entirety might thus a parte potiori be designated the ‘Law’ (ὁ νόμος, the tôrâh ), so in the primitive Church Moses was regarded as the supreme figure of the OT.

1. Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. -Moses was honoured as the author of the ‘Law,’ i.e. the Pentateuch:  Romans 10:5 (‘Moses writeth’); cf.  Acts 3:22;  Acts 7:37. His name had become so closely identified with the books of the Torah that we even find it said, ‘Moses is read’ ( Acts 15:21,  2 Corinthians 3:15 [cf.  2 Corinthians 3:14]). The Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch was an assumption of Jewish tradition and, as such, seems to have been taken over by Jesus and His apostles without criticism of any sort. It is to be noted, however, that they attached no special importance to the belief that Moses himself wrote the Pentateuch. This is in no sense the point of the above references, as the name ‘Moses’ is used either metonymically for the Law (‘the Old Covenant’) as in  Acts 15:21 and  2 Corinthians 3:15 (cf.  2 Corinthians 3:14), or as a designation of the correlative, i.e. the first, portion of Holy Scripture or Divine revelation; cf. e.g.  Romans 10:19 (where Moses is referred to only as the mouth-piece of God, exactly like ‘Isaiah’ in the next verse). Occasionally, however, special emphasis is laid upon the fact that Moses, as a prophet, gave utterance to certain sayings, since, as the recognized representative of Judaism, he forms in some sense a contrast to Jesus; cf.  Acts 7:37;  Acts 3:22 (‘Moses said’) with  John 5:46 ( Romans 10:5).

2. Moses as a prophet. -Among the early Christians generally Moses was honoured as preeminently a prophet. While the religion of the OT revolved around the two foci, Law and Promise, primitive Christianity-in contrast to later Judaism-laid the chief emphasis upon the Promise; and, if the Jews exploited Moses in their controversies with the Christians, the latter could always appeal to his Messianic prediction; cf.  Acts 3:22;  Acts 7:37;  Acts 26:22;  Acts 28:23,  Luke 24:27;  Luke 24:44,  John 5:45-47 ( Deuteronomy 18:15 : ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me’). More especially in the speech of Stephen a strong emphasis is laid upon the prophetic character of Moses ( Acts 7:37); here, moreover, Moses does not merely foretell the coming of Christ, but in his calling, and even in his experiences, he is also, as indicated in the passage cited from Dt., a prototype of Christ, having been first of all disowned by his people ( Acts 7:23-29), then exalted by God to be their leader and deliverer ( Acts 7:35), and at length once more rejected by them ( Acts 7:39-41). St. Paul, too, uses the figure of Moses as a type of Christ: the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt ‘were all baptized unto Moses’ in the Red Sea ( 1 Corinthians 10:2); and in  Hebrews 3:2 Moses is spoken of as typifying Christ’s faithfulness in the service of God’s house. That Christ is called the Mediator of the New Covenant ( Hebrews 8:6;  Hebrews 12:24) doubtless presupposes that Moses was the mediator of the Old (cf.  Acts 7:38,  Galatians 3:19). In the speech of Stephen the life of Moses is sketched at some length, and is furnished with certain particulars which were derived from the oral tradition of the Synagogue (the Haggâdâ), as e.g. in  Acts 7:22 (‘instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians’)-just as the names of the Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, are given by St. Paul ( 2 Timothy 3:8). Further, among the heroes of the faith enumerated in Hebrews 11, Moses wins more than a passing reference as a pattern of faith ( Hebrews 11:24-26).

High as Moses stands in the Old Covenant, however, his glory pales before that of Christ, as the transient and the material gives place to the permanent and the spiritual ( 2 Corinthians 3:7-18,  Hebrews 3:3-5). Moses was but the servant of God, while Jesus Christ is God’s Son, who not merely superintends, but actually governs God’s house, and was in fact its builder ( Hebrews 3:3-5). In the fading away of the dazzling glory on the face of Moses ( Exodus 34:33-35) St. Paul finds a symbol of the transient glory of the Old Covenant mediated by Moses, while the glory of the Lord ( i.e. Christ), and thus also of the New Covenant, is imperishable ( 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; cf.  2 Corinthians 3:7-11).

3. Moses as the law-giver. -This brings us to the function of Moses as the law-giver. As Judaism became more and more definitely legalistic, an ever higher position was assigned to the great intermediary of the Law. He towered above every other character in the OT, and Judaism became neither more nor less than Mosaism. To impugn the Law in any way was to speak blasphemy, not only against Moses, but even against God (cf. the charge against Stephen,  Acts 6:11). The primitive Church, on the other hand-as was said above-laid great stress upon the prophetic and prototypic character of Moses, as also upon his subordinate position in relation to Christ. But as long as Moses remained the great canonical standard, the Church could not renounce his legislative authority. Even the Lord Jesus Himself had sanctioned the Law of Moses, and co-ordinated it with the Prophets ( Matthew 5:17-20,  Luke 16:17; cf.  Luke 16:29-31), and the primitive community in Jerusalem could never have entertained the thought of disparaging the authority of Moses for Christians as well as Jews. Still, the relation of the disciples of Jesus to the Mosaic Law could not permanently remain the same as that of the unbelieving Jews; the differentiating factor of belief in Jesus was felt more and more to be paramount, and at length it was fully realized that salvation could be secured not by the Law but by faith, or grace, and that it came not from Moses, but from Jesus Christ.

Thus too had come the time when the believing Gentiles must be fully recognized as brethren, and received into the Church without circumcision.*[Note: A detailed explanation of this development is given in the art. Law.]Yet this does not in any sense imply that the mother church in Jerusalem and the rest of the Jewish Christians believed themselves to be exempt from the obligation of the Law. On the contrary, we are told in Acts that the many thousands of Jewish Christians continued to be ‘zealous for the law’ ( Acts 21:20), and in a continuation of the passage we are shown that the rumour of St. Paul’s having taught the Jewish Christians in his churches to forsake Moses was without foundation ( Acts 21:21-26), while we learn from St. Paul’s own letters that within certain limits he desired the distinction made by Moses between Jew and Gentile to be maintained in his churches (cf.  1 Corinthians 7:18,  Galatians 5:3; see also articleLaw, p. 690). Furthermore, even as regards a Gentile Christian community, the Apostle could appeal to particular regulations of the Mosaic Law as expressions of the Divine will in contrast to the dictates of human reason ( 1 Corinthians 9:8 f.; cf.  1 Timothy 5:18, where the same OT passage- Deuteronomy 25:4 -is placed side by side with a saying of Jesus)-just as elsewhere he frequently refers to special provisions of the Law, or to the Law as a whole. Yet this in no way detracts from the validity of the principle that all things are spiritually judged ( 1 Corinthians 2:14 f.), and that nothing is to be enforced according to the letter which killeth ( 2 Corinthians 3:5), the regulative canon being that the external statutes, ‘the commandments in ordinances’ ( Ephesians 2:15), are merely the shadow of things to come, while the body is Christ’s ( Colossians 2:17)-whence it follows that the outward regulations of the Law are to be applied in a typological (or allegorical) way. A further result was a certain relaxation of the Mosaic ordinances relating to practical life, enabling the Jewish Christians to live in brotherly intercourse with the believing Gentiles.

In this connexion, however, certain difficulties arose which seemed actually to necessitate some limitation of Gentile Christian liberty, and it was this state of things that led the primitive Church to promulgate the ‘Apostolic Decree.’ According to  Acts 15:19-21, St. James, the brother of the Lord, justified his proposal regarding the Decree by the circumstance that ‘Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath.’ The point of this statement is much debated. Does St. James mean thereby that the apostles do not need to trouble regarding the dissemination of the Mosaic legislation, and that they should therefore lay upon the Gentile Christians nothing beyond the four prohibitions specified by him, since Moses had from of old been sufficiently represented throughout the Diaspora (so e.g. Zahn)? If this be the true interpretation, the statement of St. James fails to explain why these particular prohibitions were fixed upon. We must thus rather look for an interpretation according to which  Acts 15:21 provides a reason why precisely these four injunctions were laid upon the Gentile churches. Such a reading of the passage would be as follows: Since, not only in the Holy Land, but also in heathen lands, the doctrines of Moses are every Sabbath inculcated upon those who attend the Synagogue, it is necessary that the believing Gentiles-like the so-called ‘God-fearing’ (οἱσεβόμενοιτὸν θεόν)-should give some consideration to the Mosaic Law, and should at least abstain from taking part in those heathen practices which were most revolting to the Jewish mind. The prohibitions of the Apostolic Decree, which resemble those imposed upon Jewish proselytes, were probably framed in conformity with Leviticus 17, 18, which contain, inter alia , laws to be observed by aliens resident in the land of Israel. They seem at first sight to be a strange mingling of moral and purely ritual laws, the prohibition of sexual immorality being conjoined with three interdicts about food (cf.  Acts 15:29). But while this collocation has certainly an appearance of arbitrariness, a glance at  Revelation 2:20-24 (where we undoubtedly hear an echo of the Apostolic Decree), as also a comparison with  1 Corinthians 10:7 f., shows us that abstinence from idolatrous sacrifices and abstinence from sexual immorality are closely related, and that πορνεία here refers not merely to the forbidden degrees of marriage but also to ceremonial prostitution; the Gentile Christians must abstain both from taking part in the sacrificial meals of the heathen world and from the immoralities connected therewith, i.e. from practices regarded among the heathen as adiaphora (cf.  1 Corinthians 6:12). As regards the other two restrictions, it is clear that they converge upon a single point-the supreme necessity of maintaining the sacredness of blood in every form, as already recognized in the so-called Noachian dispensation: the believing Gentiles must no longer partake of blood either in the flesh or by itself ( e.g. mixed with wine, as drunk by the heathen in their sacrificial feasts); in other words, only the flesh of ritually slaughtered animals may be eaten.

The essential equivalence of these two prohibitions might also explain the uncertainty attaching to the reading πνικτοῦ in the textual tradition. Here, however, another consideration arises. In the Western text, which omits καὶ πνικτοῦ (πνικτῶν), we find an addition which points to an entirely different conception of the Apostolic Decree, viz. καὶ ὅσα μὴ θέλουσιν ἑαυτοῖς γίνεσθαι ἑτέροις μὴ ποιεῖν ( 1 Corinthians 15:20; so D, Iren., Tert., Cypr., some Minuscules, and the Sahidic). The ‘golden rule’ being thus added to the prohibitions of idolatrous sacrifices, fornication, and blood, the Decree is transformed into a short moral catechism, in which are forbidden the three cardinal vices-idolatry, fornication, and murder (αἶμα = ‘shedding of blood’). But although the genuineness of this form of the text is defended by able scholars, such as Blass and Harnack, it should in all probability be rejected as of secondary origin. For not only is the golden rule introduced most inaptly in a formal respect, but the purely ethical character of the decree as thus transformed presupposes the conditions of a later time-a time when the Church was no longer concerned with the specific problem that had called for the attention of the Apostolic Council; in the West, where the ‘ethical’ form of the Decree took its rise, Jewish Christianity was a relatively insignificant force, and what was wanted there was a brief compendium of the anti-heathen morality of Christianity. At the same time, however, the altered form of the Decree shows that the Church never regarded it as an inviolable law, but thought of it simply as a provisional arrangement which might be varied to suit local and temporary circumstances.

In Revelation 2 the prohibitions of idolatrous sacrifices and (ritual) immorality are once more brought to view, while in  1 Corinthians 6:8-10 St. Paul urges the same restrictions, though without appealing to the Apostolic Decree. Nor, strangely enough, does he mention the Decree in  Galatians 2:1-10; this, however, would be sufficiently explained on the ground that the Apostle had emphasized its provisions (which, be it remembered, were not new, but had already found a regular place in the Jewish propaganda) in his missionary labours in the Galatian region ( Acts 16:6). In that case it was not necessary that he should complicate the deliverance of the Council as to the recognition of his gospel and his apostolic status by mentioning the Decree, and all the less so because the account in Acts 15 does not imply that St. Paul himself was charged with the duty of enforcing its provisions in his missionary sphere.

We may sum up the whole by saying that while primitive Christianity originally set Moses and Jesus side by side, it came at length, in the process of development, to contrast them with each other, and St. John, in the Prologue to his Gospel, gives expression to this result in his great saying: ‘The law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’ (1:17).

Literature.-H. H. Wendt, Apostelgeschichte 8, in Meyer’s Kommentar , 1899; G. Hoennicke, Apostelgeschichte , Leipzig, 1913; text-books of NT Theology , by B. Weiss (Eng. translation, 1882-83), H. J. Holtzmann (21911), P. Feine (1910), G. B. Stevens (1899); E. B. Reuss, Hist. of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age , Eng. translation, 1872-74, i. 139, 205, etc.; J. R. Cohu, St. Paul , 1911, p. 40 ff.; A. E. Garvie, Studies of Paul and his Gospel , 1911, p. 192 ff.

Olaf Moe.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Mo'ses. ( Hebrew, Mosheh . "Drawn", that is, From The Water; in the Coptic, it means, "Saved From The Water"). The legislator of the Jewish people, and, in a certain sense, the founder of the Jewish religion. The immediate pedigree of Moses is as follows:

Levi was the father of: Gershon, Kohath, Merari

Kohath was the father of: Amram = Jochebed

Amram = Jochebed was the father of: Hur = Miriam, Aaron = Elisheba, Moses = Zipporah

Aaron = Elisheba was the father of: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar

Eleazar was the father of: Phineas

Moses = Zipporah was the father of: Gershom, Eliezer

Gershom was the father of: Jonathan.

The history of Moses. Naturally. Divides itself into three periods of 40 years each. Moses was born at Goshen, in Egypt, B.C. 1571. The story of his birth is thoroughly Egyptian in its scene. His mother made extraordinary efforts for his preservation, from the general destruction, of the male children of Israel. For three months, the child was concealed in the house. Then, his mother placed him in a small boat or basket of papyrus, closed against the water by bitumen. This was placed among the aquatic vegetation, by the side of one of the canals, of the Nile. The sister lingered to watch her brother's fate.

The Egyptian princess, who, tradition says, was a childless wife, came down to bathe in the sacred river. Her attendant slaves followed her. She saw the basket in the flags, and despatched divers, who brought it. It was opened, and the cry of the child moved the princess to compassion. She determined to rear it as her own. The sister was at hand to recommend a Hebrew nurse, the child's own mother.

Here was the First Part of Moses' training, - a training, at home, in the true religion, in faith in God, in the promises to his nation, in the life of a saint, - a training which he never forgot, even amid the splendors and gilded sin of Pharaoh's court. The child was adopted by the princess.

From this time, for many years, Moses must be considered as an Egyptian. In the Pentateuch, this period is a blank, but in the New Testament, he is represented as "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and as "mighty in words and deeds;"  Acts 7:22; this was the Second Part of Moses' training.

The second period of Moses' life began when he was forty years old. Seeing the sufferings of his people, Moses determined to go to them as their helper, and made his great life-choice, "choosing rather to suffer affliction, with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt."  Hebrews 11:25-26.

Seeing an Israelite suffering the bastinado [A sound beating with a stick or cudgel; the blows given with a stick or staff. This name is given to a punishment in use among the Turks, of beating an offender on the soles of his feet] from an Egyptian, and thinking that they were alone, he slew the Egyptian, and buried the corpse in the sand. But the people soon showed themselves unfitted as yet to obtain their freedom, nor was Moses yet fitted to be their leader.

He was compelled to leave Egypt, when the slaying of the Egyptian became known, and he fled to the land of Midian, in the southern and southeastern part of the Sinai peninsula. There was a famous well, ("the well,").  Exodus 2:15, surrounded by tanks for the watering of the flocks of the Bedouin herdsmen. By this well, the fugitive seated himself and watched the gathering of the sheep. There were the Arabian shepherds, and there were also seven maidens, whom the shepherds rudely drove away from the water.

The chivalrous spirit, which had already broken forth in behalf of his oppressed countrymen, broke forth again in behalf of the distressed maidens. They returned unusually soon to their father, Jethro, and told him of their adventure. Moses, who up to this time had been "an Egyptian,"  Exodus 2:19, now became for a time an Arabian. He married Zipporah, daughter of his host, to whom he also became the slave and shepherd.  Exodus 2:21;  Exodus 3:1.

Here, for forty years, Moses communed with God and with nature, escaping from the false ideas taught him in Egypt, and sifting out the truths that were there. This was the Third Process of his training for his work; and from this training, he learned infinitely more than from Egypt. Stanely well says, after enumerating what the Israelites derived from Egypt, that the contrast was always greater than the likeness. This process was completed when God met him on Horeb, appearing in a burning bush, and, communicating with him, appointed him to be the leader and deliverer of his people.

Now, begins the third period of forty years in Moses' life. He meets Aaron, his next younger brother, whom God permitted to be the spokesman, and together, they return to Goshen in Egypt. From this time, the history of Moses is the history of Israel, for the next forty years. Aaron spoke and acted for Moses, and was the permanent inheritor of the sacred staff of power. But Moses was the inspiring soul behind. He is, incontestably, the chief personage of the history, in a sense in which, no one else is described before or since. He was led into a closer communion with the invisible world, than was vouchsafed to any other in the Old Testament.

There are two main characters in which he appears - as a leader and as a prophet.

(1) As A Leader, his life divides itself into the three epochs - the march to Sinai; the march from Sinai to Kadesh, and the conquest of the TransJordanic kingdoms. On approaching Palestine, the office of the leader becomes blended with that of the general or the conqueror. By Moses, the spies were sent to explore the country. Against his advice, took place the first disastrous battle at hormah. To his guidance is ascribed the circuitous route by which the nation approached Palestine from the east, and to his generalship, the two successful campaigns in which Sihon and Og were defeated. The narrative is told so briefly that we are in danger of forgetting that, at this last stage of his life, Moses must have been as much a conqueror and victorious soldier as was Joshua.

(2) His Character As A Prophet Is, from the nature of the case, more distinctly brought out. He is the first, as he is the greatest example of a prophet in the Old Testament. His brother and sister were both endowed with prophetic gifts. The seventy elders, and Eldad and Medad also, all "prophesied."  Numbers 11:25-27. But Moses rose high above all these. With him, the divine revelations were made "mouth to mouth."  Numbers 12:8. Of the special modes of this more direct communication, four great examples are given, corresponding to four critical epochs in his historical career.

(a) The appearance of the divine presence in the flaming acacia tree.  Exodus 3:2-6.

(b) In the giving of the law from Mount Sinai, the outward form of the revelation was a thick darkness as of a thunder-cloud, out of which proceeded a voice.  Exodus 19:19;  Exodus 20:21. On two occasions, he is described as having penetrated, within the darkness.  Exodus 24:18;  Exodus 34:28.

(c) It was nearly at the close of these communications in the mountains of Sinai, that an especial revelation of God was made to him personally.  Exodus 33:2-22;  Exodus 34:5-7. God passed before him.

(d) The fourth mode of divine manifestation was that which is described as beginning at this juncture, and which was maintained with more or less continuity through the rest of his career.  Exodus 33:7. It was the communication with God in the Tabernacle, from out the pillar of cloud and fire. There is another form of Moses' prophetic gift, namely, the poetical form of composition, which characterizes the Jewish prophecy generally. These poetical utterances are -

i. "The song which Moses and the children of Israel sung," (after the passage of the Red Sea).  Exodus 15:1-19.

ii. A fragment of the war-song against Amalek.  Exodus 17:16.

iii. A fragment of lyrical burst of indignation.  Exodus 32:18.

iv. The fragments of war-songs, probably from either him or his immediate prophetic followers, in  Numbers 21:14-15;  Numbers 21:27-30, preserved in the "book of the wars of Jehovah ,"  Numbers 21:14, and the address to the well.  Numbers 21:16-18.

v. The song of Moses,  Deuteronomy 32:1-43, setting forth the greatness and the failings of Israel.

vi. The blessing of Moses on the tribes,  Deuteronomy 33:1-29.

vii. The 90th Psalm, "A prayer of Moses, the man of God." The title, like all the titles of the psalms, is of doubtful authority, and the psalm has often been referred to a later author.

Character. - The prophetic office of Moses can only be fully considered in connection with his whole character and appearance.  Hosea 12:13. He was, in a sense peculiar to himself, the founder and representative of his people; and in accordance, with this complete identification of himself with his nation, is the only strong personal trait which we are able to gather from his history.  Numbers 12:3. The word "meek" is hardly an adequate reading of the Hebrew term, which should be rather "much enduring." It represents what we should now designate by the word "disinterested."

All that is told of him indicates a withdrawal of himself, a preference of the cause of his nation to his own interests, which makes him the most complete example of Jewish patriotism. (He was especially a man of prayer and of faith, of wisdom, courage and patience). In exact conformity with his life is the account of his end.

The book of Deuteronomy describes, and is, the long last farewell of the prophet to his people. This takes place on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year of the wanderings, in the plains of Moab.  Deuteronomy 1:3;  Deuteronomy 1:5. Moses is described as 120 years of age, but with his sight and his freshness of strength unabated.  Deuteronomy 34:7. Joshua is appointed his successor. The law is written out and ordered to be deposited in the ark. Deuteronomy 31. The song and the blessing of the tribes conclude the farewell. Deuteronomy 32; Deuteronomy 33.

And then comes the mysterious close. He is told that he is to See the good land beyond the Jordan, but not to possess it himself. He ascends the mount of Pisgah and stands on Nebo, one of its summits, and surveys the four great masses of Palestine west of the Jordan, so far as it can be discerned from that height. The view has passesd into a proverb for all nations.

"So Moses, the servant of Jehovah , died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Jehovah . And he buried him in a 'ravine' in the land of Moab, 'before' Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days."  Deuteronomy 34:6;  Deuteronomy 34:8.

This is all that is said in the sacred record. (This burial was thus hidden probably -

(1) To preserve his grave from idolatrous worship or superstitious reverence; and

(2) Because it may be that God did not intend to leave his body to corruption, but to prepare it, as he did the body of Elijah, so that Moses could, in his spiritual body, meet Christ , together with Elijah, on the mount of transfiguration).

Moses is spoken of as a likeness of Christ ; and as this is a point of view which has been almost lost in the Church, compared with the more familiar comparisons of Christ to Adam, David, Joshua, and yet, has as firm a basis in fact, as any of them, it may be well to draw it out in detail.

(1) Moses is, as it would seem, the only character, of the Old Testament, to whom Christ expressly likens himself: "Moses wrote of me."  John 5:46. It suggests three main points of likeness:

(a) Christ was, like Moses, the great prophet of the people - the last, as Moses was the first.

(b) Christ , like Moses, is a lawgiver: "Him shall ye hear."

(c) Christ , like Moses, was a prophet out of the midst of the nation, "from their brethren." As Moses was the entire representative of his people, feeling for them more than for himself, absorbed in their interests, hopes and fears, so, with reverence, be it said, was Christ .

(2) In  Hebrews 3:1-19;  Hebrews 12:24-29;  Acts 7:37, Christ is described, though more obscurely, as the Moses of the new dispensation - as the apostle or messenger or mediator of God to the people - as the controller and leader of the flock or household of God.

(3) The details of their lives are sometimes, though not often, compared.  Acts 7:24-28;  Acts 7:35. In  Judges 1:9, is an allusion to an altercation between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses. It probably refers to a lost apocryphal book, mentioned by Origen, called the "Ascension" or "Assumption of Moses." Respecting the books of Moses, See Pentateuch, The .

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [7]

This godly man towers above all other persons in the Old Testament period because he was God's instrument for the introduction of covenant law in Israel. In his long life he also acted on behalf of God to bring into being an enduring nation, while functioning as a prophet, judge, recorder of God's pronouncements, intercessor, military leader, worker of miracles, and tireless shepherd of the unruly Israelite tribes. By the time of his death he had welded his people into a highly efficient military force that would occupy the land promised by God to Abraham ( Genesis 12:7 ).

All that is known about Moses is found in the Bible. There are no surviving monuments to him, although some may have existed prior to his abrupt departure from Egypt ( Exodus 2:15 ). It is therefore impossible to prove that he ever lived, as far as evidence from statues and inscriptions is concerned. But his existence cannot be disproved, either, since other prominent Old Testament figures have neither names nor monuments, as, for example, the Pharaoh with whom Moses contended, and the Egyptian princess who rescued the infant Moses from the Nile.

Moses is so strongly interwoven with the religious tradition involving God's plan for human salvation through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and ultimately the Davidic Messiah, and attested to as an authoritative figure for Hebrew culture even in the New Testament period, that he could not possibly have been an invention or a fictional character used as an object of religious or social propaganda. Unquestionably he stood head and shoulders above all other Hebrews, and was for the Old Testament period what Paul was for the New.

Perhaps out of deference to his stature there was nobody else in the Old Testament named Moses. There has been some debate about the meaning of his name, with some scholars relating it to a root "to bear, " and found in such Egyptian names as Ahmose and Thutmose. In  Exodus 2:10 , the name given to him by the princess is connected with a Hebrew verb meaning "to draw out" (cf.  2 Samuel 22:17 ), but it could also have come from an Egyptian term meaning "son."

The Book of Exodus divides Moses' life into three periods of forty years each. The first of these deals with his birth in Egypt and his education as a prince of the royal harem (cf.  Acts 7:21-22 ). The second phase occurs in Midian, where he fled for refuge after murdering an Egyptian ( Exodus 2:15 ). The final stage involves him liberating the enslaved Hebrews, establishing God's covenant with them in the Sinai desert and leading them to the borders of the promised land. The Scriptures indicate that two-thirds of Moses' life served as a preparation for the crucial final third, which was so important for the divine plan of salvation. Accordingly we will focus on Moses' ministry as a mediator and teacher of God's revealed Word, since theology was henceforth to be the basis of Israelite life ( Exodus 19:6 ).

While Moses may have learned about his ancestral God from Jethro, his father-in-law, the "priest of Midian" ( Exodus 3:1 ), his first encounter with the Lord is at Mount Horeb, where he observes a bush burning with fire, and hears God's announcement that he is the God of Moses' ancestors. Moses is given a commission to return to Egypt and lead out the captive Hebrew people. God reveals to him the new name by which God will become known: "I am who I am." Moses is to say to the Hebrews that "I am" had sent him, and this name is to empower all subsequent pronouncements. Not surprisingly it has also been a matter of debate, and many explanations of its meaning have been advanced. It certainly points to God's eternal existence, self-sufficiency, and continued activity in human history. Intensely dynamic in nature, it transcends and fulfills all other forms of being.

This description of the divine name is supplemented by an additional revelation of his name as Yahweh ( Exodus 6:3 ). So sacred is this designation that its pronunciation has not survived; the Hebrew consonants have been vocalized from another word, "lord, " to produce the classic "Jehovah." Modern attempts to vocalize the original consonants are uncertain at best. Nevertheless, this mysterious Name and its power sustain Moses as he struggles with Pharaoh for the liberation of the Hebrew slaves. The conflict ends with the first Passover celebration, which coincides with the death of Egypt's firstborn ( Exodus 12:29 ).

Dramatic though the crossing of the Re(e)d Sea is for the destiny of the Hebrews, the peak of Moses' career is attained on Mount Sinai, when God appears to him and delivers the celebrated Ten Commandments as the basis of Israel's covenant law. In conjunction with this revelation, God enters into a binding agreement with the twelve tribes that in effect welds them into one nation. God promises to provide for all their needs and give them the land promised long ago to Abraham if they, for their part, worship him as their one and only true God.

God's purpose for his newly created nation is that the Israelites should be visible among their contemporaries as a priestly kingdom and a holy people ( Exodus 19:6;  Leviticus 11:44 ). Every man in Israel is to live as though he has been consecrated to the high and sacred office of a priest in God's service, and be holy and pure in all his doings. He is to abstain from the iniquitous ways of pagan neighboring nations, and be to them an example of what God himself is by nature ( Exodus 34:6-7 ). Moses Acts on behalf of God at the covenant ratification ceremony ( Exodus 24:6-8 ) and thereafter is the recipient of instructions concerning the building of a sacred national shrine known as the tabernacle.

Of high theological significance for the Israelites, this structure was rectangular in shape and contained a tent where the cultic structure known as the covenant ark was housed. God's presence rested upon the ark, which was so sacred that the Israelites were prohibited from even seeing it. When the Israelite tribes were camped in order around the tabernacle, God's presence was indeed in their midst.

During the wilderness period Moses receives from God other laws dealing with sacrifices and offerings, rules governing social behavior, prohibitions against idolatry and immorality, and positive promises of God's blessings upon the Israelites, provided always that they keep the covenant obligations that they had assumed under oath.

From what has been said already it will be clear that Israelite life under Moses and his successors was grounded upon divine revelation and its accompanying theology. Distinctiveness in society as God's people, strictness of living in obedience to his laws, and unswerving trust in his power to save and keep were to be the hallmarks of Hebrew life. God's people were to be holy as he is holy ( Leviticus 11:44 ), and any deviations from these requirements would result in severe punishment. In mediating this theology and setting an example of it in his own life of dedication to God and fellowship with him, Moses serves as the exemplar of spirituality for all Israel to observe.

In dealing with the chosen people, Moses periodically Acts as an intercessor with God, so as to avert divine displeasure with Israel ( Exodus 33:12-16;  Numbers 12:13 ). The call that he had received from God involves his acting in the capacity of prophet to the nation, wherein he serves as God's spokesperson to Israel. So effective is he in this function that God promises to raise up other prophets after his death who will also serve as spokespersons ( Deuteronomy 18:15-18 ), thus indicating that God regards Moses as the standard by which his successors will be judged.

Yet despite his deeply spiritual life and his sense of commitment to covenantal ideals, Moses is still a human being. The task of organizing community living among people of a seminomadic disposition is formidable. In the wilderness he bears the brunt of complaints ( Numbers 11:1-25 ) and feels the crushing weight of his responsibilities ( Numbers 11:14 ). When he is overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming to him for legal decisions ( Exodus 18:13 ), he willingly follows the advice of Jethro as to how he should conduct his judicial responsibilities ( Exodus 18:24-26 ). Under obvious stress he goes beyond God's instructions in dealing with the complaining Israelites ( Numbers 20:10-12 ), and is forbidden to lead the conquering Israelites into the promised land. Yet he is recognized as being "a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth" ( Numbers 12:3 ), which has been urged commonly as a testimony to his humility in the service of Israel's most holy God. It is probable, however, that the term rendered "meek" actually means "more long-suffering than, " "more tolerant than, " which places a rather different construction upon the explanatory phrase.

In New Testament times the law of Moses constituted the standard of faith and conduct for the Christian church, which was commanded to observe Old Testament obligations of holiness ( 1 Peter 1:16 ). At the transfiguration of Christ, Moses appears with Elijah and converses with Jesus, signifying the harmony of law, prophecy, and the gospel ( Mark 9:4 ). The sermon of Stephen before the Sanhedrin quotes Moses several times ( Acts 7:20-44 ). Moses is referred to authoritatively in the Epistles, and is celebrated as a man who lived by faith ( Hebrews 11:23-29 ). In Revelation, the victorious saints chant the song of Moses ( Exodus 15:1-19 ).

R. K. Harrison

See also Theology Of Exodus; Israel

Bibliography . O. T. Allis, God Spake by Moses  ; M. Buber, Moses  ; R. A. Cole, Exodus  ; R. K. Harrison, Numbers  ; F. B. Meyer, Moses the Servant of God .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Genesis 45:17-25

Thus favoured, the Israelites began to "multiply exceedingly" ( Genesis 47:27 ), and extended to the west and south. At length the supremacy of the Hyksos came to an end. The descendants of Jacob were allowed to retain their possession of Goshen undisturbed, but after the death of Joseph their position was not so favourable. The Egyptians began to despise them, and the period of their "affliction" ( Genesis 15:13 ) commenced. They were sorely oppressed. They continued, however, to increase in numbers, and "the land was filled with them" ( Exodus 1:7 ). The native Egyptians regarded them with suspicion, so that they felt all the hardship of a struggle for existence.

In process of time "a king [probably Seti I.] arose who knew not Joseph" ( Exodus 1:8 ). (See Pharaoh .) The circumstances of the country were such that this king thought it necessary to weaken his Israelite subjects by oppressing them, and by degrees reducing their number. They were accordingly made public slaves, and were employed in connection with his numerous buildings, especially in the erection of store-cities, temples, and palaces. The children of Israel were made to serve with rigour. Their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour" (  Exodus 1:13,14 ). But this cruel oppression had not the result expected of reducing their number. On the contrary, "the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" ( Exodus 1:12 ).

The king next tried, through a compact secretly made with the guild of midwives, to bring about the destruction of all the Hebrew male children that might be born. But the king's wish was not rigorously enforced; the male children were spared by the midwives, so that "the people multiplied" more than ever. Thus baffled, the king issued a public proclamation calling on the people to put to death all the Hebrew male children by casting them into the river ( Exodus 1:22 ). But neither by this edict was the king's purpose effected.

One of the Hebrew households into which this cruel edict of the king brought great alarm was that of Amram, of the family of the Kohathites ( Exodus 6:16-20 ), who with his wife Jochebed and two children, Miriam, a girl of perhaps fifteen years of age, and Aaron, a boy of three years, resided in or near Memphis, the capital city of that time. In this quiet home a male child was born (B.C. 1571). His mother concealed him in the house for three months from the knowledge of the civic authorities. But when the task of concealment became difficult, Jochebed contrived to bring her child under the notice of the daughter of the king by constructing for him an ark of bulrushes, which she laid among the flags which grew on the edge of the river at the spot where the princess was wont to come down and bathe. Her plan was successful. The king's daughter "saw the child; and behold the child wept." The princess (see  Exodus 2:10 ), was ultimately restored to her.

As soon as the natural time for weaning the child had come, he was transferred from the humble abode of his father to the royal palace, where he was brought up as the adopted son of the princess, his mother probably accompanying him and caring still for him. He grew up amid all the grandeur and excitement of the Egyptian court, maintaining, however, probably a constant fellowship with his mother, which was of the highest importance as to his religious belief and his interest in his "brethren." His education would doubtless be carefully attended to, and he would enjoy all the advantages of training both as to his body and his mind. He at length became "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" ( Acts 7:22 ). Egypt had then two chief seats of learning, or universities, at one of which, probably that of Heliopolis, his education was completed. Moses, being now about twenty years of age, spent over twenty more before he came into prominence in Bible history. These twenty years were probably spent in military service. There is a tradition recorded by Josephus that he took a lead in the war which was then waged between Egypt and Ethiopia, in which he gained renown as a skilful general, and became "mighty in deeds" ( Acts 7:22 ).

After the termination of the war in Ethiopia, Moses returned to the Egyptian court, where he might reasonably have expected to be loaded with honours and enriched with wealth. But "beneath the smooth current of his life hitherto, a life of alternate luxury at the court and comparative hardness in the camp and in the discharge of his military duties, there had lurked from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, a secret discontent, perhaps a secret ambition. Moses, amid all his Egyptian surroundings, had never forgotten, had never wished to forget, that he was a Hebrew." He now resolved to make himself acquainted with the condition of his countrymen, and "went out unto his brethren, and looked upon their burdens" ( Exodus 2:11 ). This tour of inspection revealed to him the cruel oppression and bondage under which they everywhere groaned, and could not fail to press on him the serious consideration of his duty regarding them. The time had arrived for his making common cause with them, that he might thereby help to break their yoke of bondage. He made his choice accordingly ( Hebrews 11:25-27 ), assured that God would bless his resolution for the welfare of his people. He now left the palace of the king and took up his abode, probably in his father's house, as one of the Hebrew people who had for forty years been suffering cruel wrong at the hands of the Egyptians.

He could not remain indifferent to the state of things around him, and going out one day among the people, his indignation was roused against an Egyptian who was maltreating a Hebrew. He rashly lifted up his hand and slew the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand. Next day he went out again and found two Hebrews striving together. He speedily found that the deed of the previous day was known. It reached the ears of Pharaoh (the "great Rameses," Rameses II.), who "sought to slay Moses" ( Exodus 2:15 ). Moved by fear, Moses fled from Egypt, and betook himself to the land of Midian, the southern part of the peninsula of Sinai, probably by much the same route as that by which, forty years afterwards, he led the Israelites to Sinai. He was providentially led to find a new home with the family of Reuel, where he remained for forty years ( Acts 7:30 ), under training unconsciously for his great life's work.

Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush ( Exodus 3 ), and commissioned him to go down to Egypt and "bring forth the children of Israel" out of bondage. He was at first unwilling to go, but at length he was obedient to the heavenly vision, and left the land of Midian (4:18-26). On the way he was met by Aaron (q.v.) and the elders of Israel (27-31). He and Aaron had a hard task before them; but the Lord was with them (ch. 7-12), and the ransomed host went forth in triumph. (See Exodus .) After an eventful journey to and fro in the wilderness, we see them at length encamped in the plains of Moab, ready to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. There Moses addressed the assembled elders (  Deuteronomy 1:1-4;  5:1-26:19;;  27:11-30:20 ),), and gives the people his last counsels, and then rehearses the great song ( Deuteronomy 32 ), clothing in fitting words the deep emotions of his heart at such a time, and in review of such a marvellous history as that in which he had acted so conspicious a part. Then, after blessing the tribes (33), he ascends to "the mountain of Nebo (q.v.), to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho" (34:1), and from thence he surveys the land. "Jehovah shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar" ( Deuteronomy 34:2-3 ), the magnificient inheritance of the tribes of whom he had been so long the leader; and there he died, being one hundred and twenty years old, according to the word of the Lord, and was buried by the Lord "in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor" (34:6). The people mourned for him during thirty days.

Thus died "Moses the man of God" ( Deuteronomy 33:1;  Joshua 14:6 ). He was distinguished for his meekness and patience and firmness, and "he endured as seeing him who is invisible." "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel" ( Deuteronomy 34:10-12 ).

The name of Moses occurs frequently in the Psalms and Prophets as the chief of the prophets.

In the New Testament he is referred to as the representative of the law and as a type of Christ ( John 1:17;  2 co  3:13-18;  Hebrews 3:5,6 ). Moses is the only character in the Old Testament to whom Christ likens himself ( John 5:46; Compare  Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19;  Acts 7:37 ). In  Hebrews 3:1-19 this likeness to Moses is set forth in various particulars.

In   Jude 1:9 mention is made of a contention between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses. This dispute is supposed to have had reference to the concealment of the body of Moses so as to prevent idolatry.

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]


The Old Testament describes Moses as a heroic leader of the people and as a man of God who brought the people into their special relationship with God. The story about Moses in the Old Testament, found in the extensive narratives from  Exodus 1:1 through   Deuteronomy 34:1 , can be described as a heroic saga. It is more than simply a biography of Moses, an historical document that records the events of his life. It is a special kind of ancient art form. To understand its content, the reader must appreciate its special brand of truth as beauty in the story itself.

The artistic narrative begins in  Exodus 1:1 , not with data about Moses, but with an account of events in Egypt that affected Moses' people. Since the Israelites had grown to be a large people, the Egyptian Pharaoh feared their power. To control them, he launched an official policy of oppression against them. When the oppression failed to curb the population growth of the Israelites, the Pharoah announced a new policy for limiting that growth. “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live” ( Exodus 1:22 , NRSV). The very next line announces the birth of Moses. Moses' life began under the Pharoah's judgment of death.

The mother, however, acted to protect the baby Moses from the Pharaoh's death decree. When the baby could no longer be hidden, the mother constructed an ark, a basket of bulrushes made waterproof with bitumen and pitch. She placed the child in the basket and the basket in the river. A sister stood watch over the basket to know what might happen. She witnessed an apparently terrible twist of fate, however, when the Pharaoh's own daughter came to the river. She found the ark, opened it, and recognized the child as a Hebrew. Rather than killing the child as her father had commanded, however, the woman showed compassion on the child, made the proper preparations, and, with the help of the baby's sister, established a procedure for adopting the baby as her own child. As a part of that process, the princess committed the child to a wet nurse suggested by the girl watching the ark. Of course, the wet nurse was the child's own mother.

After the baby had been weaned, the mother delivered the child to the princess. As a part of the adoption procedure, the princess named the child Moses. The young hero grew to maturity in the palace of the king who had sought to kill him. The mature Moses became concerned about the oppression of his people. The storyteller emphasized the identity between the oppressed people and Moses. “He went out to his people. . ., and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk ” ( Exodus 2:11 NRSV, author's italics). Moses responded to the particular act of oppression against his people by killing the Egyptian.

In the wake of his violent act against the Egyptian taskmaster, Moses fled from Egypt and from his own people to the land of Midian. Again he intervened in the face of oppression, inviting danger and risk. Sitting at a well, the typical meeting place for the culture (see also  Genesis 29:2 ), Moses witnessed the violent aggression of male shepherds against female shepherds who had already drawn water for their sheep. Moses saved the oppressed shepherds, whose father, the priest of Midian, invited him to live and work under the protection of the Midianite's hospitality. Eventually one of the Midianite's daughters became—Moses' wife. In the idyllic peace of the Midianite's hospitality, Moses took care of Jethro's sheep, fathered a child, and lived at a distance from his own people.

The event at the burning bush while Moses worked as a shepherd introduced him to the critical character of his heroic work. The burning bush caught Moses' attention. There Moses met the God of the fathers who offered Moses a distinctive name as the essential key for Moses' authority—”I am who I am.” This strange formulation played on God's promise to Moses to be present with him in his special commission. God sent Moses back to the Pharaoh to secure the release of his people from their oppression. The divine speech of commission has a double character. (1) As the heroic leader of Israel, he would initiate events that would lead to Israel's Exodus from Egypt. (2) As the man of God, he would represent God in delivering the people from their Egyptian slavery. With the authority of that double commission, Moses returned to the Pharaoh to negotiate the freedom of his people.

The negotiation narratives depict Moses, the hero, in one scene of failure after the other. Moses posed his demands to the Pharaoh, announced a sign that undergirded the demand, secured some concession from the Pharaoh on the basis of the negotiations, but failed to win the release of the people. The final scene is hardly a new stage in the negotiations. To the contrary, God killed the firstborn of every Egyptian family, passing over the Israelite families. In the agony of this death scene, the Egyptians drove the Israelites out of Egypt ( Exodus 12:30-36 ). Behind this dominant scene of violence and death lies a different interpretation of the Exodus event. The Pharaoh closed negotiations with Moses by refusing permission for the Israelites to leave in accordance with—Moses' proposition ( Exodus 10:28 ). In the wake of this failure, Moses returned to the people with a plan for escaping Egypt without the knowledge of the Pharaoh. The people borrowed silver, gold, and clothing from the Egyptians in preparation for the event. When they escaped, they took the silver, gold, and clothing with them. They despoiled the Egyptians, a sign of victory over the Egyptians. Thus in leaving Egypt, Israel robbed the most powerful nation of their time of its firstborn sons and of it wealth.

Moses led the people into the wilderness, where the pursuing Egyptians trapped the Israelites at the Red Sea. God who had promised divine presence for the people defeated the enemy at the Sea. The God proved His presence with His people. He met their needs for food and water in the hostile wilderness. Even the fiery serpents and the Amalekites failed to thwart the wilderness journey of the Israelites under Moses' leadership.

 Exodus 17:8-13 shows Moses to be faithful in the execution of his leadership responsibilities.   Numbers 12:1-16 shows Moses to be meek, a leader of integrity who fulfilled the duties of his office despite opposition from members of his own family.

The center of the Moses traditions emerges with clarity in the events at Mount Sinai/Horeb. The law at Sinai/Horeb constitutes God's gift for Israel. The law showed Israel how to respond to God's saving act in the Exodus. The law at Sinai/Horeb showed each new generation how to follow Moses' teaching in a new setting in the life of the people. The laws carried the name of Moses as an affirmation of their authority. The law of Moses became a model for Israelite society. Indeed, Israel's historians told the entire story of Israel under the influence of the Moses model and suggested that the Davidic kings should have constructed their leadership for Israel under the influence of the Moses model (Joshua—Kings). Only the good king Josiah and, to a lesser extent, Hezekiah matched that model.

The death of Moses is marked by tragic loneliness, yet graced with God's presence. Because of Moses' sin ( Numbers 20:1 ), God denied Moses the privilege of entering the Promised Land.  Deuteronomy 34:1 reports the death scene. Central to the report is the presence of God with Moses at the time of his death. Moses left his people to climb another mountain. Atop that mountain, away from the people whom he served so long, Moses died. God attended this servant at his death. Indeed, God buried him. Only God knows where the burial place is.

The Moses saga serves as a model for subsequent leaders in Israel. Jeroboam I created a new kingdom, distinct from the Davidic kingdom centered in Jerusalem. The sign of his kingship included the golden calves of Aaron. Josiah modeled a reformation in Jerusalem on the basis of the Mosaic model. As the new Moses, he almost succeeded in uniting the people of the south with the people of the north. Perhaps the most important Old testament figure that must be interpreted as a new Moses is the servant of the  Isaiah 40-66 , the model for understanding Jesus in the New Testament.

George W. Coats

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

Son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi, brother of Aaron and Miriam. He was born after the mandate by the king that all male children of the Hebrews were to be killed, but his parents by faith hid him three months, and when he could no longer be hidden he was put in an ark of bulrushes and placed among the reeds in the river. Being found there by Pharaoh's daughter he was named by her MOSES, signifying 'drawn out,' and adopted as her son, being nursed for her by his own mother. He became learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and was mighty in words and deeds.

When forty years of age he visited his brethren, and seeing one ill-used he defended him, and slew the Egyptian; but the next day, on seeing two of the Israelites contending, he reminded them that they were brethren, and would have judged between them; but the wrong-doer repulsed him, and asked whether he would kill him as he had killed the Egyptian. Moses, finding that his deed was known, feared the wrath of the king, and fled from Egypt. He had acted with zeal, but without divine direction, and had thereforeto become a fugitive for forty years (being the second period of forty years of his life, as the forty years in the wilderness was the third ). In the land of Midian he married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, by whom he had two sons.

At the end of the forty years God spoke to him out of the burning bush, telling him to go and deliver Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians. He who had once used an arm of flesh is now conscious of his own nothingness, but learns that God would be with him. He is to make known to the people the name of Jehovah, and to attest his mission, as sent by the God of their fathers, by doing certain signs in their sight.

No trace of timidity is apparent in his dealings with Pharaoh, he boldly requests him to let the people go into the wilderness to sacrifice to Jehovah; but Pharaoh refused and made the burdens of the Israelites greater. Ten plagues followed, when the Egyptians themselves, on the death of all their firstborn, were anxious for them to depart.

God constantly spoke to Moses and gave him instructions in all things. Though Aaron was the elder brother, Moses had the place of leader and apostle. He conducted them out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea. He led the song of triumph when they saw their enemies dead on the sea shore. The N.T. declares that it was by faith he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. He forsook Egypt, not now fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.  Hebrews 11:24-27 .

Moses needed such faith, for the murmurings and rebellion of the people were great, and they charged him with causing their trials: why had he brought them out to perish in the wilderness? When God's anger was kindled against them, he pleaded for them. When God spake of consuming all the people, and making a great nation of Moses, he besought God to turn from His anger, urging what a reproach it would be forthe Egyptians to say that He had led them out only to slay them; and he reminded God of what He had sworn to His servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He thus acted as intercessor with God for the people.  Exodus 32:7-13 .

When Miriam and Aaron complained of Moses because he had married an Ethiopian woman, and said, "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?" it does not appear that Moses rebuked them; but on that very occasion it is recorded, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." God had, however, heard them, and He defended Moses, and declared, He "is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches."  Numbers 12:1-8 .

When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company rose against Moses and Aaron, 'he fell on his face,' and left the matter in God's hands. "Even to-morrow the Lord will show who are his and who is holy;" and they were all consumed.  Numbers 16:1-35 . God also called Moses up into the mount, dictated to him the law, gave him the ten commandments written on stone by the finger of God, and showed him the pattern of the tabernacle. He was the mediator, that is, he received all communications from God for the people. He was also called 'King in Jeshurun' (or Israel),  Deuteronomy 33:5; and was a prophet of a unique type.  Deuteronomy 34:10 .

In one instance Moses failed. When without water, God told him to take the rod (namely, that of priesthood), and speak to the rock, and water would come forth. Moses took "the rod from before the Lord as he commanded him," and with Aaron said unto the people, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly." Moses then had to hear the voice of God saying "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." It was called the water of Meribah, that is 'strife.'   Numbers 20:7-13 . After this Moses besought the Lord saying "I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." But the Lord told him to speak no more to Him of that matter. He was to go up to the top of Pisgah, and view the land. There the Lord showed him all the land: after which he died in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knew where. He "was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."  Deuteronomy 3:25-27;  Deuteronomy 34:1-7 .

In the N.T. it is said respecting the body of Moses that Michael, the archangel, contended with the devil about it, the object of Satan probably being to make his tomb to be regarded as a holy place, to which the people would go for blessing, as people do still to the tombs of saints.  Jude 9 .

The law having been given through Moses, his name is often used where the law is alluded to; and Moses is mentioned by the Apostle John when contrasting the dispensations of the law and the gospel: "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."  John 1:17 . The fact of the two dispensations being entirely different furnishes the reason why Moses was not allowed to enter into Canaan. That being a type of the heavenly blessings of Christianity, it would not have agreed with Moses, as the dispenser of the law, leading the Israelites into the land: that must be done by Joshua type of Christ risen. Moses had his proper line of service, and was greatly honoured of God. He was faithful in that service amid great discouragements and trials; he was faithful in all God's house. On the mount of transfiguration Moses still represented the law, as Elias did the prophets.

That Moses was the writer of the first five books of the O.T., called the Pentateuch, there are many proofs in scripture; such as "have ye not read in the book of Moses?"  Mark 12:26; "If they hear not Moses and the prophets,"  Luke 16:31;  Luke 24:27; "When Moses is read,"  2 Corinthians 3:15 . Of course the section where his death is recorded was added by a later hand. When the inspiration of scripture is fully held, God is known as the author of His word, and it becomes a secondary question who was the instrument that God used to write down what He wished to be recorded. Respecting some of the books of scripture we know not who wrote them; but that in no way touches their inspiration. It is plain, however, from the above and other passages that Moses was the writer of the Pentateuch, which is often called "the law of Moses."

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

The name of the illustrious prophet and legislator of the Hebrews, who led them from Egypt to the Promised Land. Having been originally imposed by a native Egyptian princess, the word is no doubt Egyptian in its origin, and Josephus gives its true derivationfrom the two Egyptian words, MO, water, and USE, saved. With this accords the Septuagint form, MOUSES. The Hebrews by a slight change accommodated it to their own language, as they did also in the case of some other foreign words; calling it MOSHIE, from the verb MASHA, to draw. See  Exodus 2:10 . Moses was born about 15.71 B. C., the son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi, and the younger brother of Miriam and Aaron. His history is too extensive to permit insertion here, and in general too well known to need it. It is enough simply to remark, that it is divided into three periods, each of forty years. The first extends from his infancy, when he was exposed in the Nile, and found and adopted y the daughter of Pharaoh, to his flight to Midian.

During this time he lived at the Egyptian court, and "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was nightly in words and in deeds,"  Acts 7:22 . This is no unmeaning praise; the "wisdom" of the Egyptians, and especially of their priests, was then the profoundest in the world. The second period was from his flight till his return to Egypt,  Acts 7:30 , during the whole of which interval he appears to have lived in Midian, it may be much after the manner of the Bedaween sheikhs of the present day. Here he married Zipporah, daughter of the wise and pious Jethro, and became familiar with life in the desert. What a contrast between the former period, spent amid the splendors and learning of a court, and this lonely nomadic life. Still it was in this way that God prepared him to be the instrument of deliverance to His people during the third period of his life, which extends from the exodus out of Egypt to his death on mount Nebo. In this interval how much did he accomplish, as the immediate agent of the Most High.

The life and institutions of Moses present one of the finest subjects for the pen of a Christian historian, who is at the same time a competent biblical antiquary. His institutions breathe a spirit of freedom, purity, intelligence, justice, and humanity, elsewhere unknown; and above all, of supreme love, honor, and obedience to God.

They molded the character of the Hebrews, and transformed them from a nation of shepherds into a people of fixed residence and agricultural habits. Through that people, and through the Bible, the influence of these institutions has been extended over the world; and often where the letter has not been observed, the spirit of them has been adopted. Thus it was in the laws established by the pilgrim fathers of New England; and no small part of what is of most value in the institutions which they founded, is to be ascribed to the influence of the Hebrew legislator.

The name of this servant of God occurs repeatedly in Greek and Latin writings, and still more frequently in those of the Arabs and the rabbinical Jews. Many of their statements, however, are mere legends without foundation, or else distortions of the Scripture narrative. By the Jews he has always been especially honored, as the most illustrious personage in all their annals, and as the founder of their whole system of laws and institutions. Numerous passages both in the Old and New Testament show how exalted a position they gave him,  Psalm 103:7   105:26   106:16   Isaiah 63:12   Jeremiah 15:1   Daniel 9:11   Matthew 8:4   John 5:45   9:28   Acts 7:20,37   Romans 10:5,19   Hebrews 3:1-19   11:23 .

In all that he wrought and taught, he was but the agent of the Most High; and yet in all his own character stands honorably revealed. Though naturally liable to anger and impatience, he so far subdued himself as to be termed the meekest of men,  Numbers 12:3; and his piety, humility, and forbearance, the wisdom and vigor of his administration, his unfailing zeal and faith in God, and his disinterested patriotism are worthy of all imitation. Many features of his character and life furnish admirable illustrations of the work of Christas the deliver, ruler, and guide of his people, bearing them on his heart, interceding for them, rescuing, teaching, and nourishing them even to the promised land. All the religious institutions of Moses pointed to Christ; and he himself, on the mount, two thousand years after his death, paid his homage to the Prophet he had foretold,  Deuteronomy 18:15-19 , beheld "that goodly mountain and Lebanon,"  Deuteronomy 3:25 , and was admitted to commune with the Savior on the most glorious of themes, the death He should accomplish at Jerusalem,  Luke 9:31 .

Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, as it is called, or the first five books of the Bible. In the composition of them he was probably assisted by Aaron, who kept a register of public transactions,  Exodus 17:14   24:4,7   34:27   Numbers 33:1,2   Deuteronomy 31:24 , etc. Some things were added by a later inspired hand; as for example,  Deuteronomy 34:1-12   Psalm 90:1-17 also is ascribed to him; and its noble and devout sentiments acquire a new significance, if received as from his pen near the close of his pilgrimage.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [12]

Moses ( Mo'Zez ), From The Water, i.e., Drawn From The Water. The prophet and legislator of the Hebrews and the son of Amram and Jochebed, and of the tribe of Levi, the son of Jacob.  Exodus 2:1;  Exodus 2:10;  Exodus 6:16-20;  Joshua 1:1-2;  Joshua 1:15;  1 Kings 8:53;  1 Kings 8:56;  2 Chronicles 1:3;  Daniel 9:11;  Deuteronomy 34:5;  Psalms 90:1-17 : title;  Ezra 3:2. He was born in Egypt, about b.c. 1571. In his infancy, because of the cruel edict of Pharaoh, he was hid in a boat-cradle in the Nile; but was found and adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh. He was educated at the Egyptian court, and "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."  Exodus 2:1-10;  Acts 7:20-22. When Moses had grown up, he resolved to deliver his people. Having slain an Egyptian, however, he fled into the land of Midian, where he was a shepherd chief. Among the Midians, the Minni, who we now know were a cultured and literary people, God further prepared him to be the deliverer of his chosen people. By a succession of miracles, which God wrought by his hand, Moses brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, and through the wilderness, unto the borders of Canaan. See Sinai. He was only allowed to behold, not to enter the Promised Land. Having accomplished his mission and attained to the age of 120 years, with the faculties of mind and body unimpaired, the legislator transferred his authority to Joshua; and, ascending the summit of Pisgah, he gazed on the magnificent prospect of the "goodly Land." There he died, and "the Lord buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knoweth of Ms sepulchre unto this day."  Deuteronomy 34:1-7. God buried Moses. It was fitting, therefore, that he too should write his epitaph. "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty land, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel."  Deuteronomy 34:10-12.

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography [13]

Moses (3) ( Moyses ), Roman presbyter (? of Jewish origin), a leading member of an influential group of confessors in the time of Cyprian, about the commencement of the Novatianist schism. The others were Maximus, Nicostratus, Rufinus, Urbanus, Sidonius, Macarius, and Celerinus. They wrote early in the persecution, urging the claims of discipline on the Carthaginian confessors ( Ep. 27) (cf. Tillem. t. iii. Notes s. Moyse, t. iv., S. Cyp. a. xv., Lipsius, Chr. d. röm. Bisch. p. 200), and Moyses signed the second letter of the Roman clerus (viz. Ep. 30), drawn up by Novatian according to Cyprian ( Ep. 55, iv.), and he wrote with the other confessors Ep. 31 to Cyprian ( Ep. 32). When they had been a year in prison ( Ep. 37), or more accurately 11 months and days (Liberian Catalogue, Mommsen, Chronogr. v. Jahre 354, p. 635). i.e. c. Jan. 1, 251, Moyses died and was accounted a confessor and martyr ( Ep. 55). Shortly before his death he refused to communicate with Novatian and the five presbyters who sided with him ( ἀποσχίσασιν ) because he saw the tendency of his stern dogma (Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch, Eus. vi. 43, κατιδών ).

Moyses' severance was not because Novatian had already left the Catholics, which he did not do till June 4, after the election of Cornelius; and Novatus, who induced it, did not leave Carthage for Rome until April or May (Rettberg, p. 109). Moyses' great authority remained a strong point in Cornelius's favour, when the rest of the confessors ( Ep. 51) after their release threw their influence on the side of Novatian as representing the stricter discipline against Cornelius. The headship of the party belonged after Moyses' death to MAXIMUS (3).


Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [14]

The name (as the margin of our Bibles states) means drawn out The illustrious history of Moses forms so large a page in the sacred volume of the Old Testament, that it supersedes the necessity of saying much about him here. He was a faithful servant in the house of the Lord: this is the character given of him by the Holy Ghost. ( Hebrews 3:2.) And a blessed testimony it is! But the same testimony gives him no higher a character than a servant of Christ; and Moses himself thought this an honour high enough. He was a type himself of the law which he was commissioned to deliver; for as he was not permitted to enter into the promised land, so he thereby represented that the law could not bring God's people into Canaan, and consequently not into heaven, of which Canaan was a type. It is Jesus alone that can do this; "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." ( John 1:17.)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [15]

 Exodus 2:10 (c) He is sometimes considered as a type of CHRIST in that he was the mediator between GOD and Israel. He was rejected and repudiated by Israel the same number of times that Jesus was rejected while on earth. He was somewhat clothed with glory on Mount Simi, as JESUS was clothed with glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. (See also  Deuteronomy 18:15 which indicates this truth).

Webster's Dictionary [16]

(n.) A large flatboat, used in the West Indies for taking freight from shore to ship.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [17]

the great Jewish prophet and lawgiver, and the founder, we may say, under God, of the Hebrew nation and religion (Euseb. Prcep. Ev. 7:8; comp. Philo, V. Mos. 1:80). His importance in Biblical history justifies a somewhat extended biography here. In preparing it, we have to depend chiefly upon the Scriptural notices and references.

I. The Name . This in Heb. is משֶׁה , Mosheh', signifying, according to  Exodus 2:10, Drawn Out, i.e., from the water, as if from מָשָׁה , to Draw out; but in that case the form would be active, Drawing out; and it is hardly probable that the daughter of Pharaoh would have given him a Hebrew name. This, therefore (as in many other instances, Babel, etc.), is probably the Hebrew form given to a foreign word. Hence the Alexandrine Jews (Philo, Vit. Mos. 1:4) assigned it an Egyptian origin, from Mo, Water (Mou, or Mos; Copt. Mo), and Ouses (Copt. Ushe), Saved, i.e., "water-saved;" see Jablonski, Opusc. 1:152. This is the explanation given by Josephus (Ant. 2:9, 6; Apion, 1:31), and confirmed by the Greek form of the word adopted in the Sept. and other writings, and thence in the Vulgate. Brugsch, however (L'Histoire d'Egypte, pages 157, 173), renders the name Mes or Messon=child, being that borne by one of the princes of Ethiopia under Rameses II. In the Arabic traditions the name is derived from his discovery in the water and among the trees; "for in the Egyptian language mo is the name of water, and se is that of a tree" (Jalaladdin, page 387). Clem. Alex. (Strom. 1, page 343) derives Moses from "drawing breath." In an ancient Egyptian treatise on agriculture cited by Chwolson (Ueberreste, etc., page 12, note) his name is given as Monios. For other etymologies, see Gesenius, Thes. Heb. page 824. His original Hebrew name is said to have been Joachimn (Clem. Alex. Stron. 1, page 343). The Sept., Josephus, Philo, and the most ancient MSS. of N.T., give the Greek form as Μωϋσῆς (declined Μωϋσέως , or Μωϋσεῖ or Μωϋσῇ , Μωϋσέα ,or Μωϋσῆν ); other editions, however, have Μωσῆς , as in Strabo, 16:760 sq. (see Winer, Grammat. N.T. page 52); the Vulg. gives Moyses (declined Moysi, gen. and dat.; Moysen, ace.); the Rec. Text of the N.T. and Protestant versions, Moses-Arabic, Musa; Numenius (ap. Euseb. Prcep. Ev. 9: 8, 27), Movaalo'; Artapanus (Ibid. 27), Mctiraog; Manetho (ap. Joseph. c. Ap. 1:26, 28, 31), Osarsiph, i.e., (Osiri-tef?) "saved by Osiris" (Osburn, Monumental Egypt); Chaeremon (Ib. 32), Tisithen. In Scripture he is entitled "the man of God" (Psalms 90, title;  1 Chronicles 23:14); "the slave of Jehovah" ( Numbers 12:7;  Deuteronomy 34:5;  Joshua 1:1;  Psalms 105:26); "the chosen" ( Psalms 106:23).

II. His Biography . The materials for this are the following: A. The details preserved in the last four books of the Pentateuch. B. The allusions in the prophets and Psalms, which in a few instances seem independent of the Pentateuch. c. The Jewish traditions preserved in the N.T. ( Acts 7:20-38;  2 Timothy 3:8-9;  Hebrews 11:23-28;  Judges 1:9); and in Josephus (Ant. 2:3, 4), Philo (Vita Moysis), and Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom.). D. The heathen traditions of Manetho, Lysimachus, and Chamremon, preserved in Josephus (c. Ap. 1:26-32), of Artapanus and others in Eusebius (Praep. Ev. 9:8, 26, 27), and of Hecatreus in Diod. Sic. 40; Strabo, 16:2. e. The Mussulman traditions in the Koran (2:7, 10, 18, 20, 28, 40), and the Arabian legends, as given in Weil's Biblical Legends; D'Herbelot (s.v. Moussa), and Lane's Selections, page 182. f. The fragmentary apocryphal books of Moses (Fabricius, Cod. Pseud. V.T. 1:825):

(1) Prayers of Moses,

(2) Apocalypse of Moses,

(3) Ascension of Moses. e. G.

In modern times his career and legislation have been treated by Warburton, Michaelis, Ewald, Bunsen, and others.

The life of Moses, in the later period of the Jewish history, was divided into three equal portions of forty years each ( Acts 7:23;  Acts 7:30;  Acts 7:36). This agrees with the natural arrangement of his history into the three parts of his Egyptian training, his exile in Arabia, and his government of the Israelitish nation in the wilderness and on the confines of Palestine.

1. His Parentage, Birth, And Education . The immediate pedigree of Moses is as follows:

Levi - > Gerahon. + Kohath + Merari.

Amram to Jochebed - -> Hur To Miriam. + Aaron To Elisheba + MOSES To Zipporah

Aaron to Elisheba - -> Nadab + Abinu +Eleazar +Ithamar.

Moses to Zipporah - -> Gershom + Eliezer.

Eleazar - -> Phinehas.

Gershom - > Jonathan.

In this genealogy, as in all the others given of the same period, there is an interval of four to six generations (Browne, Ordo Sceclorum, page 301 sq.). In the Koran, by a strange confusion, the family of Moses is confounded with the Holy Family of Nazareth, chiefly through the identification of Mary and Miriam, and the third chapter, which describes the evangelical history, bears the name of the "Family of Amram." Although little is known of the family except through its connection with this its most illustrious member, yet it was not without influence on his after-life. The fact that he was of the tribe of Levi no doubt contributed to the selection of that tribe as the sacred caste. The tie that bound them to Moses was one of kinship, and they thus naturally rallied around the religion which he had been the means of establishing ( Exodus 32:28) with an ardor which could not have been found elsewhere. His own eager devotion is also a quality, for good or evil, characteristic of the whole tribe. The Levitical parentage and Egyptian origin both appear in the family names. Gershom, Eleazar, are both repeated in the younger generations. Moses and Phinehas (see Brugsch, Hist. de Egypte, 1:173) are Egyptian. The name of his mother, Jochebed, implies the knowledge of the name of Jehovah in the bosom of the family. It is its first distinct appearance in the sacred history. Miriam, who must have been considerably older than himself, and Aaron, who was three years older '( Exodus 7:7), afterwards occupy that independence of position which their superior age would naturally give them.

Moses was born B.C. 1738, and, according to Manetho (Josephus, Ap. 1:26; 2:2), at Heliopolis, in the time of the deepest depression of his nation in the Egyptian servitude. Hence the Jewish proverb, "When the tale of bricks is doubled, then comes Moses." His birth (according to Josephus, Ant. 2:9, 2, 3, 4) had been foretold to Pharaoh by the Egyptian magicians, and to his father Amram by a dream as respectively the future destroyer and deliverer. The pangs of his mother's labor were alleviated so as to enable her to evade the Egyptian midwives. The story of his birth is thoroughly Egyptian in its scene. The beauty of the new-born babe in the later versions of the story amplified into a beauty and size (Josephus, ib. 1:5) almost divine ( Ἀστεῖος Τῷθεῷ ,  Acts 7:20; the word Ἀστεῖος is taken from the Sept. version of  Exodus 2:2, and is used again in  Hebrews 11:23, and is applied to none but Moses in the N.T.)induced the mother to make extraordinary efforts for its preservation from the general destruction of the male infants of Israel. For three months the child was concealed in the house. Then his mother placed him in a small boat or basket of papyrus-perhaps from a current Egyptian belief that the plant is a protection from crocodiles (Plutarch, Is. And Os. page 358) closed against the water by bitumen. This was placed among the aquatic vegetation by the side of one of the canals of the Nile. (See Nile).

The mother departed as if unable to bear the sight. The sister lingered to watch her brother's fate. The basket (Josephus, Ib. 4) floated down the stream. The Egyptian princess came down (after the custom of her country, which allowed more freedom to females than is now common in the East) to bathe in the sacred river, or (Josephus, Ant. 2:9, 5) to play by its side. Her attendant slaves followed her (see Wilkinson, Anc. Ey. 2:389). She saw the basket in the flags, or (Josephus) borne down the stream, and dispatched divers after it. The divers, or one of the female slaves, brought it. It was opened, and the cry of the child moved the princess to compassion. She determined to rear it as her own. The child refused the milk of Egyptian nurses (Josephus). The sister was then at hand to recommend a Hebrew nurse. The child was brought up as the princess's son, and the memory of the incident was long cherished in the name given to the foundling of the water's side whether according to its Hebrew or Egyptian form. (See above.) The child was adopted by the princess. Tradition describes its beauty as so great that passers-by stood fixed to look at it, and laborers left their work to steal a glance (Josephus, Ant. 2:9, 6). His foster-mother (to whom the Jewish tradition gave the name of Thermuthis, Josephus, Ant. 2:9, 5; Artapanus, Praep. Ev. 9:27, the name of ierrhis, and the Arabian traditions that of Asiat, Jalaaddin, page 387) was (according to Artapanus, Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 9:27) the daughter of Palmanothes, who was reigning at Heliopolis, and the wife of Chenephres, who was reigning at Memphis. In this tradition, and that of Philo (V.M. 1:,4), she has no child, and hence her delight at finding one. Many attempts have been made in modern times to identify the Pharaoh into whose family Moses was thus introduced, but different Egyptologists have varied widely as to his name and relative position, according to their several chronological and historical schemes. (See Egypt).

The latest and most plausible effort in this direction is that of Osburn (in the Jour. Of Sac. Lit. July 1860, page 257 sq.), who argues from a number of striking coincidences with the monumental records that it must have been no less than Sesostris-Rameses, the famous architectural monarch of the 19th dynasty, whose son Amenephthis, dying soon after his accession, was succeeded by a sister, Thonoris (in that case the foster- mother of Moses), who again, after a long reign, was succeeded by her nephew, Sethos II, the latter having already been associate king in Upper Egypt. This last then, if we might trust these precarious synchronisms, would be the Pharaoh of the exode (q.v.).

From this time for many years Moses must be considered as an Egyptian. In the Pentateuch this period is a blank, but in the N.T. he is represented as "educated ( Ἐπαιδεύθη ) in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and as "mighty in words and deeds" ( Acts 7:22). The following is a brief summary of the Jewish and Egyptian traditions which fill up the silence of the sacred writer. He was educated at Heliopolis (comp. Strabo, 17:1), and grew up there as a priest, under his Egyptian name of Osarsiph (Manetho, ap. Josephus, c. Ap. 1:26, 28, 31) or Tisithen (Chaeremon, ib. 32). He was (according to these accounts) taught the whole range of Greek, Chaldee, and Assyrian literature. From the Egyptians especially he learned mathematics, to train his mind for the unprejudiced reception of truth (Philo, V.M. 1:5). "He invented boats and engines for building-instruments of war and of hydraulics hieroglyphics division of lands" (Artapanus, ap. Euseb, Prcep. Ev. 9:27). He taught Orpheus, and was hence called by the Greeks Musseus (ib.), and by the Egyptians Hermes (ib.). He taught grammar to the Jews, whence it spread to Phoenicia and Greece (Eupolemus, ap. Clem. Alexand. Strom. 1, page 343). He was sent on an expedition against the Ethiopians. He got rid of the serpents of the country to be traversed by turning basketfuls of ibises upon them (Josephus, Ant. 2:10, 2), and founded the city of Hermopolis to commemorate his victory (Artapanus, ap. Euseb. 9:27). He advanced to Saba, the capital of Ethiopia, and gave it the name of Meroe, from his adopted mother Merrhis, whom he buried there (ib.). Tharbis, the daughter of the king of Ethiopia, fell in love with him, and he returned in triumph to Egypt with her as his wife (Josephus, ib.). See D.W. Moller, De Mose philosopho (Altorf, 1707); Adami, Exerc. exeg. page 92 sq.; Brucker, Hist. phil. 1:78; J.G. Walch, Observ. N.T. (Jen. 1727), page 62 sq.

2. Period Of Moses'S Retirement . The nurture of his mother is probably the unmentioned link which bound him to his own people, and the time had at last arrived When he was resolved to reclaim his nationality. Here again the N.T. preserves the tradition in a more distinct form than the account in tie Pentateuch. "Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures" the ancient accumulated treasure of Rhampsinitus and the old kings "of Egypt" ( Hebrews 11:24-26). In his earliest infancy he was reported to have refused the milk of Egyptian nurses (Josephus, Ant. 2:9, 5), and when three years old to have trampled under his feet the crown which Pharaoh had playfully placed on his head (Ib. 7). According to the Alexandrian representation of Philo ''(V. M'' 1:6), he led an ascetic life, in order to pursue his high philosophic speculations. According to the Egyptian tradition, although a priest of Heliopolis, he always performed his prayers, in conformity with the custom of his fathers, outside the walls of the city, in the open air, turning towards the sun-rising (Josephus, Apion, 2:2). Tile king was excited to hatred by the priests of Egypt, who foresaw their destroyer (Ib.), or by his own envy (Artapanus, ap. Euseb. Praep. Ev. 9:27).

Various plots of assassination were contrived against him, which failed. The last was after he had escaped across the Nile from Memphis, warned by his brother Aaron, and when pursued by the assassin he killed him (ib.). The same general account of conspiracies against his life appears in Josephus (Ant. 2:10). All that remains of these traditions in the sacred narrative is the simple and natural incident that seeing an Israelite suffering the bastinado from an Egyptian, and thinking that they were alone, he slew the Egyptian (the later tradition, preserved by Clement of Alexandria, said, "with a word of his mouth"), and buried the corpse in the sand (the sand of the desert then, as now, running close up to the cultivated tract). The fire of patriotism which thus turned him into a deliverer from the oppressors, turns him in the same story into the peace-maker of the oppressed. See J.F. Mayer, Utrum Moses Egyptium juste interfecit (Viteb. 1685); Hoffmann, Moses Just. Egyptii Percussor (Hal. 1776). It is characteristic of the faithfulness of the Jewish records that his flight is there occasioned rather by the malignity of his countrymen than by the enmity of the Egyptians. So in St. Stephen's speech it is this part of the story which is drawn out at greater length than in the original, evidently with a view to showing the identity of the narrow spirit which had thus displayed itself equally against their first and their last Deliverer ( Acts 7:25-35). But his spirit was yet too rash and vindictive to fit him for being the meek and patient instrument of the Divine purposes. The discovery, too, of the servile and treacherous temper of his own compatriots disheartened him. He needed the bracing as well as the purifying discipline which years of calm reflection and peaceful self-culture alone could give in order to make him the cool, firm, and independent leader of a popular movement.

Moses fled into Midian, B.C. 1698. Beyond the fact that it was in or near the peninsula of Sinai, its precise situation is unknown. Arabian tradition points to the country east of the Gulf of Akaba (see Laborde). Josephus (Ant. 2:11, 1) makes it "by the Red Sea." There was a famous well ("the well,"  Exodus 2:15) surrounded by tanks for watering the flocks of the Bedouin herdsmen. By this well the fugitive seated himself "'at noon" (Joseph. Ib.), and watched the gathering of the sheep. There were the Arabian shepherds, and there were also seven maidens, whom the shepherds rudely drove away from the water. The chivalrous spirit (if we may so apply a modern phrase) which had already broken forth in behalf of his oppressed countrymen, broke forth again in behalf of the distressed maidens. They returned unusually soon to their father, and told him of their adventure. Their father was a person of whom we know but little, but of whom that little shows how great an influence he exercised over the future career of Moses. It was Jethro, or Reuel, or Hobab, chief or priest ("Sheik" exactly expresses the union of the religious and political influence) of the Midianitish tribes. Moses, who up to this time had been "an Egyptian" ( Exodus 2:19), now became for a long period, indicated by the later tradition as forty years ( Acts 7:30), an Arabian. He married Zipporah, daughter of his host, to whom he also became the servant and shepherd ( Exodus 2:21;  Exodus 3:1).

The blank which during the stay in Egypt is filled up by Egyptian traditions can here only be supplied from indirect allusions in other parts of the O.T. The alliance between Israel and the Kenite branch of the Midianites, now first formed, was never broken. (See Kenite).

Jethro became their guide through the desert. If from Egypt, as we have seen, was derived the secular and religious learning of Moses, and with this much of their outward ceremonial, so from Jethro was derived the organization of their judicial and social arrangements during their nomadic state ( Exodus 18:21-23). Nor is the conjecture of Ewald (Gesch. 2:59, 60) improbable, that in this pastoral and simple relation there is an indication of a wider concert than is directly stated between the rising of the Israelites in Egypt and the Arabian tribes, who, under the name of "the Shepherds," had recently been expelled. According to Artapanus (Euseb. Praep. Ev. 9:27), Reuel actually urged Moses to make war upon Egypt. Something of a joint action is implied in the visit of Aaron to the desert ( Exodus 4:27; comp. Artapanus, Ut Sup.); something also in the sacredness of Sinai, already recognised both by Israel and by the Arabs ( Exodus 8:27; comp. Joseph. Ant. 2:12, 1).

But the chief effect of this stay in Arabia was on Moses himself. It was in the seclusion and simplicity of his shepherd-life that he received his call as a prophet. The traditional scene of this great event is in the valley of Shoeib, or Hobab, on the north side of Jebel Musa. Its exact spot is marked by the convent of St. Catharine, of which the altar is said to stand on the site of the Burning Bush. The original indications are too slight to enable us to fix the spot with any certainty. To judge from the indications given in the Bible ( Exodus 4:27;  Numbers 10:30), Jethro must have resided southeast of that mountain (Keil, 2:325; Antonini Placent. Itinerar. c. 37; Acta Sanct. Maji, 2:22). It is remarkable that the time of the calling of Moses in the mount of God was contemporaneous with the extraordinary spirit of prayer among the oppressed nation in Egypt ( Exodus 2:23). The call itself was at "the back" of "the wilderness" at Horeb ( Exodus 3:1); to which the Hebrew adds, while the Sept. omits, "the mountain of God." Josephus further particularizes that it was the loftiest of all the mountains in that region, and the best for pasturage, from its good grass; and that, owing to a belief in its being inhabited by the Divinity, the shepherds feared to approach it (Ant. 2:12, 1). Philo (V.M. 1:12) adds that it was "a grove" or "glade." Upon the mountain was a well-known briery shrub or tree ( הִסְּנְה , The Seneh, A.V. "a bush" the definite article may indicate either "the particular celebrated tree," sacred perhaps already, or "the tree" or "vegetation peculiar to the spot"), usually thought to have been the acacia or the thorn-tree of the desert, spreading out its tangled branches, thick set with white thorns, over the rocky ground; but perhaps only a bramble, or some one of the bristly plants with which the desert abounds. Comp. Reichlin-Meldeg, Mos. Gesch. v. brennenden Dornbusch (Frieb. 1831). (See Shittim); (See Thorn).

It was this bush which became the symbol of the divine Presence, in the form of a flame of fire in the midst of it, in which the dry branches would naturally have crackled and burned in a moment, but which played around it without consuming it. In Philo ( V.M. 1:12) "the angel" is described as a strange but beautiful creature. Artapanus (Euseb. Pr. Ev. 9:27) represents it as a fire suddenly bursting from the bare ground, and feeding itself without fuel. But this is far less expressive than the Biblical image. Like all the visions of the divine Presence recorded in the O.T. as manifested at the outset of a prophetical career, this was exactly suited to the circumstances of the tribe. It was the true likeness of the condition of Israel-in the furnace of affliction, yet not destroyed (comp. Philo, V.M. 1:12). The place too, in the desert solitude, was equally appropriate, as a sign that the divine protection was not confined either to the sanctuaries of Egypt or to the Holy Land, but was to be found with any faithful worshipper, fugitive and solitary though he might be. The rocky ground at once became "holy," and the shepherd's sandal was to be taken off no less than on the threshold of a palace or a temple. It is this feature of the incident on which St. Stephen dwells as a proof of the universality of the true religion ( Acts 7:29-33). The call or revelation was twofold

(1.) The declaration of the Sacred Name expressed the eternal self- existence of the one God. The name itself, as already mentioned, must have been known in the family of Aaron. But its grand significance was now first drawn out. (See Jehovah).

(2.) The mission was given to Moses to deliver his people. The two signs are characteristic-the one of his past Egyptian life, the other of his active shepherd life. In the rush of leprosy into his hand is the link between him and the people whom the Egyptians called a nation of lepers (Josephus, Apion, 1:26). (The Mussulman legends speak of his white shining hand as the instrument of his miracles [D'Herbelot]. Hence "the white hand" is proverbial for the healing art.) In the transformation of his shepherd's staff is the glorification of the simple pastoral life, of which that staff was the symbol, into the great career which lay before it. The humble yet wonder- working book is, in the history of Moses, as Ewald finely observes, what the despised cross is in the first history of Christianity. In this call of Moses, as of the apostles afterwards, the man is swallowed up in the cause. Yet this is the passage in his history which, more than any other, brings out his external and domestic relations.

Moses returned to Egypt from his exile, B. C. 1658. His Arabian wife and her two infant sons were with him. She was seated with them on the ass (the ass was known as the animal peculiar to the Jewish people from Jacob down to David). He apparently walked by their side with his shepherd's staff. (The Sept. substitutes the general term Τὰ Ὑποζύγια ) On the journey back to Egypt a mysterious incident occurred in the family; which can only be explained with difficulty. The most probable explanation seems to be that at the caravansary either Moses or Gershom (the context of the preceding verses [ Exodus 4:22-23] rather points to the latter) was struck with what seemed to be a mortal illness. In some way, not apparent to us, this illness was connected by Zipporah with the fact that her sos had not been circumcised whether in the general neglect of that rite among the Israelites in Egypt, or in consequence of his birth in Midian. She instantly performed the rite, and threw the sharp instrument, stained with the fresh blood, at the feet of her husband, exclaiming, in the agony of a mother's anxiety for the life of her child "A bloody husband thou art, to cause the death of my son." Then, when the recovery from the illness took place (whether of Moses or Gershom), she exclaimed again "A bloody husband still thou art, but not so as to cause the child's death, but only to bring about his circumcision." So Ewald explains the narrative (Geschichte, volume 2, part 2, page 105), taking the sickness to have visited Moses. Rosenmuller makes Gershom the victim, and makes Zipporah address Jehovah, the Arabic word for "marriage" being a synonym for "circumcision." It is possible that on this story is founded the tradition of Artapanus (Euseb. Pr. Ev. 9:27), that the Ethiopians derived circumcision from Moses. It would seem to have been in consequence of this event, whatever it was, that the wife and her children were sent back to Jethro, and remained with him till Moses joined them at Rephidim ( Exodus 18:2-6), which is the last time that she is distinctly mentioned. In  Numbers 12:1 we hear of a Cushite wife who gave umbrage to Miriam and Aaron. This may be (1) an Ethiopian (Cushite) wife, taken after Zipporah's death (Ewald, Gesch. 2:229); (2) the Ethiopian princess of Josephus (Ant. 1:10, 2; but that whole story is probably only an inference from  Numbers 12:1); (3) Zipporah herself, which is rendered probable by the juxtaposition of Cushan with Midian in  Habakkuk 3:7. The two sons also sink into obscurity. Their names, though of Levitical origin, relate to their foreign birthplace. Gershom, "stranger," and Eliezer, "God is my help," commemorated their father's exile and escape ( Exodus 18:3-4). Gershom was the father of the wandering Levite Jonathan ( Judges 18:30), and the ancestor of Shebuel, David's chief treasurer ( 1 Chronicles 23:16;  1 Chronicles 24:20), Eliezer had an only son, Rehabiah ( 1 Chronicles 23:17), who was the ancestor of a numerous but obscure progeny, whose representative in David's time the last descendant of Moses known to us was Shelomith, guard of the consecrated treasures in the temple ( 1 Chronicles 26:25-28).

After this parting Moses advanced into the desert, and at the same spot where he had had his vision encountered Aaron ( Exodus 4:27). From that meeting and cooperation we have the first distinct indication of Moses's personal appearance and character. The traditional representations of him in some respects well agree with that which we derive from Michael Angelo's famous statue in the church of St. Pietro in Vinculi at Rome. Long, shaggy hair and beard is described as his characteristic equally by Josephus, Diodorus (1, page 424), and Artapanus ( Κομήτης , ap. Euseb. Praep. Ev. 9:27). To this Artapanus adds the curious touch that it was of a reddish hue, tinged with gray ( Πυῤῥάκης , Πολιός ). The traditions of his beauty and size as a child have already been mentioned. They are continued to his manhood in the Gentile descriptions. "Tall and dignified," says Artapanus ( Μάκρος , Ἀξιωματικός ) " Wise and beautiful as his father Joseph" (with a curious confusion of genealogies), says Justin (36:2). But beyond the slight glance at his infantine beauty, no hint of this grand personality is given in the Bible. What is described is rather the reverse. The only point there brought out is a singular and unlooked-for infirmity: "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant; but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue... How shall Pharaoh hear me, which am of uncircumcised lips?" (i.e., slow, without words, stammering, hesitating; Sept. Ἰσχνόφωνος Καὶ Βαρύγλωσσος ); his "speech contemptible," like St. Paul's like the English Cromwell (comp. Carlyle's Cromwell, 2:219) like the first efforts of the Greek Demosthenes. In the solution of this difficulty which Moses offers we read both the disinterestedness, which is the most distinct trait of his personal character, and the future relation of the two brothers. "Send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send" (i.e., "make any one thy apostle rather than me"). In outward appearance this prayer was granted. Aaron spoke and acted for Moses, and was the permanent inheritor of the sacred staff of power. But Moses was the inspiring soul behind; and so as time rolls on, Aaron, the prince and priest, has almost disappeared from view, and Moses, the dumb, backward, disinterested prophet, is in appearance what he was in truth the foremost leader of the chosen people.

3. Moses'S Public Career . Thus , after the solitude of pastoral life, where he was appointed to ripen gradually for his high calling, he was now unexpectedly and suddenly sent back among his people, in order to achieve their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Overruled and encouraged by the above remarkable interview with Jehovah, he resumed his journey into Egypt, where neither the dispirited state of the Israelites nor the obstinate opposition and threatenings of Pharaoh were now able to shake the man of God. Supported by his brother Aaron, and commissioned by God as his chosen instrument, proving, by a series of marvellous deeds, in the midst of heathenism, the God of Israel to be the only true God, Moses at last overcame the opposition of the Egyptians (Exodus 5-12). According to a divine decree, the people of the Lord were to quit Egypt, under the command of Moses, in a triumphant manner. The punishments of God were poured down upon the hostile people in an increasing ratio, terminating in the death of the firstborn, as a sign that all had deserved death. See Bauer, Hebr. Myth. 1:274 sq., and Ausfuhrl. Erklda. der altest. Wundergeschichte, 2:174 sq.; Rosenmuller, Morgenl. 1:275 sq., and Schol. 1:2; J. Bryant, Observ. on the Plagues inflicted on the Egyptians (Lond. 1794); L. Bertholdt, De reb. a Mose in AEgypt. gestis (Erl. 1795); Eichhorn, in the Comment. Soc. Gott reg. 4:35 sq. The formidable power of paganism, in its conflict with the theocracy, was obliged to bow before the apparently weak people of the Lord. The Egyptians paid tribute to the emigrating Israelites ( Exodus 12:35), who set out laden with the spoils of victory. See Harenberg, in the Biblioth. Brem. 7:624 sq.; Kanne, Biblische Untersuch. 2:267 sq.; Hengstenberg, Pent. 2:520 sq.; Justi, Ueb. Die Den Aegypt. Abgenommen Gerathe (Frckf. 1771); Augusti, Theul. Blatter, 1:516 sq.; Zeibich, Vern. Betracht. II, 1:20 sq.). B.C. 1658. The enraged king vainly endeavored to destroy the emigrants. Moses, firmly relying upon miraculous help from the Lord, led his people through the Red Sea into Arabia, while the host of Pharaoh perished in its waves (Exodus 12-15). (See Passage Of Red Sea).

After this began the most important functions of Moses as the lawgiver of the Israelites, who were destined to enter into Canaan as the people of promise, upon whom rested the ancient blessings of the patriarchs. By the instrumentality of Moses, they were appointed to enter into intimate communion with God through a sacred covenant, and to be firmly bound to him by a new legislation. Moses, having victoriously repulsed the attack of the Amalekites, marched to Mount Sinai, where he signally punished the defection of his people, and gave them the law as a testimony of divine justice and mercy. From Mount Sinai they proceeded northward to the desert of Paran, and sent spies to explore the Land of Canaan (Numbers 10-13). On this occasion broke out a violent rebellion against the lawgiver, which he, however, by divine assistance, energetically repressed (Numbers 14-16). The Israelites frequently murmured, and were disobedient during about forty years. In a part of the desert of Kadesh, which was called Zin, near the boundaries of the Edomites, after the sister of Moses had died, and after even the new generation had, like their fathers, proved to be obstinate and desponding, Moses fell into sin, and was on that account deprived of the privilege of introducing the people into Canaan ( Numbers 19:12). He was appointed to lead them only to the boundary of their country, to prepare all that was requisite for their entry into the land of promise, to admonish them impressively, and to bless them. It was according to God's appointment that the new generation also, to whom the occupation of the country had been promised, should arrive at their goal only after having vanquished many obstacles. Even before they had reached the real boundaries of Canaan they were to be subjected to a heavy and purifying trial. It was important that a man like Moses should have been at the head of Israel during all these providential dispensations. His authority was a powerful preservative against despondency under heavy trials. Having in vain attempted to pass through the territory of the Edomites, the people marched around its boundaries by a circuitous and tedious route. Two powerful kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, were vanquished. Moses led the people into the fields of Moab over against Jericho, to the very threshold of Canaan (Numbers 20-21). The oracles of Balaam became, by the instrumentality of Moses, blessings to his people, because by them they were rendered conscious of the great importance of having the Lord on their side. Moses happily averted the danger which threatened the Israelites on the part of Midian (Numbers 25-31). Hence he was enabled to grant to some of the tribes permanent dwellings in a considerable tract of country situated to the east of the River Jordan (Numbers 32), and to give to his people a foretaste of that well-being which was in store for them. Moses made excellent preparations for the conquest and distribution of the whole country, and concluded his public services with powerful admonitions and impressive benedictions, transferring his government to the hands of Joshua, who was not unworthy to become the successor of so great a man. B.C. 1618. For details of these incidents, (See Egypt); (See Exode); (See Law); (See Passover); (See Plague); (See Sinai); (See Wanderings); (See Wilderness).

4. Moses'S Death . In exact conformity with his life is the account of his end. The book of Deuteronomy describes, and is, the long, last farewell of the prophet to his people. It took place on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year of the wanderings, in the plains of Moab ( Deuteronomy 1:3;  Deuteronomy 1:5), in the palm-groves of Abila (Josephus, Ant. 4:8, 1). (See Abel-Shittim). He is described as 120 years of age, but with his sight and his freshness of strength unabated ( Deuteronomy 34:7). The address from chapter 1 to chapter 30 contains the recapitulation of the law. Joshua was then appointed his successor. The law was written out, and ordered to be deposited in the ark (chapter 31). The song and the blessing of the tribes conclude the farewell (chapters 32, 33).

Then came the mysterious close. As if to carry out to the last the idea that the prophet was to live not for himself, but for his people, he is told that he is to see the good land beyond the Jordan, but not to possess it himself. The sin for which this penalty was imposed on the prophet is difficult to ascertain clearly. It was because he and Aaron rebelled against Jehovah, and "believed him not to sanctify him," in the murmurings at Kadesh ( Numbers 20:12;  Numbers 27:14;  Deuteronomy 32:51), or, as it is expressed in the Psalms ( Psalms 106:33), because he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. It seems to have been a feeling of distrust. "Can we (not, as often rendered, can We) bring water out of the cliff?" ( Numbers 20:10; Sept. Μὴ Ἐξάξομεν , "surely we cannot"). The Talmudic tradition, characteristically, makes the sin to be that he called the chosen people by the opprobrious name of "rebels." He ascends a mountain in the range which rises above the Jordan valley. Its name is specified so particularly that it must have been well known in ancient times, though, owing to the difficulty of exploring the eastern side of the Jordan, the exact location has until recently been unidentified. (See Nebo). Hence it is called by the specific name of The Pisgah (q.v.). It was one of those summits apparently dedicated to different divinities ( Numbers 23:14). Here Moses took his stand, and surveyed the four great masses of Palestine west of the Jordan so far as it could be discerned from that height. The view has passed into a proverb for all nations. In two remarkable respects it illustrates the office and character of Moses. First, it was a view, in its full extent, to be imagined rather than actually seen. The foreground alone could be clearly discerned: its distance had to be supplied by what was beyond, though suggested by what was within, the actual prospect of the seer. Secondly, it is the likeness of the great discoverer pointing out what he himself will never reach. To English readers this has been made familiar by the application of this passage to lord Bacon, originally in the noble poem of Cowley, and then drawn out at length by lord Macaulay.

"So Moses, the servant of Jehovah, died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Jehovah, and he buried him in a 'ravine' in the land of Moab, 'before' Beth-peor but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day... And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days" ( Deuteronomy 34:5-8). This is all that is said in the sacred record. Jewish. Arabian, and Christian traditions have labored to fill up the detail. "Amid the tears of the people the women beating their breasts, and the children giving way to uncontrolled wailing he withdrew. At a certain point in his ascent he made a sign to the weeping multitude to advance no farther, taking with him only the elders, the high- priest Eliezar, and the general Joshua. At the top of the mountain he dismissed the elders and then, as he was embracing Eliezar and Joshua, and still speaking to them, a cloud suddenly stood over him, and he vanished in a deep valley. He wrote the account of his own death [so also Philo, V.M. 3:39] in the sacred books, fearing lest he should be deified" (Josephus, Ant. 4:8, 48). "He died in the last month of the Jewish year" in the Arabic traditions, the 7th of Adar (Jalaladdin, page 388). After his death he is called "Melki" (Clem. Alex. Saroin. 1, page 343).

The grave of Moses, though studiously concealed in the sacred narrative, in a manner which seems to point a warning against the excessive veneration of all sacred tombs (see  Judges 1:9), and though never acknowledged by the Jews, is shown by the Mussulmans on the West (and therefore the wrong) side of the Jordan, between the Dead Sea and St. Saba (Stanley, S. And P. page 302). There is some reason, however, to conclude from the appearance of Moses with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration ( Luke 9:30-31) that he was honored with an anticipatory resurrection. See Bauer, Hebr. Gesch. 1:337 sq.; J.A. Schmid, De Morte M. (Helmst. 1703); Abbt, Ob Gott Moses Begraben (Hal. 1757); J.G. Drasde, De Morte Ac Sepultura Mosis (Viteb. 1784); Recherches Sur La Sepulture De Moise, in the Bibl. raisonn. 31:243 sq.; Donauer, De corpore Mosis (Ratisb. 1682); Hech, De Mosis corpore (Jen. 1653); Reusmann, Moses resuscitatus (Gotting. 1747); Rohling, Moses' Abschied (Jena, 1867); J.J. Muller, De morte Mosis (Jena, 1710); Rathlef, De corpore Mosis (Hann. 1733); Zeibich, Von dem Grabe Mosis (Gera, 1758); Heyden, De Mosis resurrectione (Hal. 1723); Dansville Review, September 1861.

III. Character, Work, And Writings Of Moses . It will be best to confine ourselves here to such indications of these as transpire through the general framework of the Scripture narrative, or appear in traditions and profane accounts.

It is important to trace his relation to his immediate circle of followers. In the exodus he takes the decisive lead on the night of the flight. Up to that point he and Aaron appear almost on an equality; but after that Moses is usually mentioned alone. Aaron still held the second place, but the character of interpreter to Moses which he had borne in speaking to Pharaoh withdraws, and it would seem as if Moses henceforth became altogether, what hitherto he had only been in part, the prophet of the people. Another who occupies a place nearly equal to Aaron, though we know but little of him, is Hur, of the tribe of Judah, husband of Miriam and grandfather of the artist Bezaleel (Josephus, Ant. 3:2, 4). He and Aaron are the chief supporters of Moses in moments of weariness or excitement. His adviser with regard to the route through the wilderness, as well as in the judicial arrangements, was, as we have seen, Jethro. His servant, occupying the same relation to him as Elisha to Elijah, or Gehazi to Elisha, was the youthful Hoshea (afterwards Joshua). Miriam always held the independent position to which her age entitled her. Her part was to supply the voice and song to her brother's prophetic power.

But Moses is incontestably the chief personage of the history, in a sense in which no one else is described before or since. In the narrative, the phrase is constantly recurring, "The Lord spake unto Moses," "Moses spake unto the children of Israel." In the traditions of the desert, whether late or early, his name predominates over that of every one else: "The Wells of Moses" on the shores of the Red Sea; "the Mountain of Moses" (Jebel Mufsa) near the convent of St. Catharine; the Ravine of Moses (Shuk Mfusa) at Mount St. Catharine; the Valley of Moses (Wady Mfisa) at Petra. "The Books of Moses" are so called (as afterwards the Books of Samuel), in all probability, from his being the chief subject of them. The very word "Mosaism" has been in later times applied (as the proper name of no other saint of the O.T.) to the whole religion. Even as applied to tessellated pavement ("Mosaic," Musivum, Μουσαϊκόν ) there is some probability that the expression is derived from the variegated pavement of the later Temple, which had then become the representative of the religion of Moses (see an essay of Redslob in the Zeitschrift Der Deutsch. Morgenl. Gesells. 14:663).

It has sometimes been attempted to reduce this great character into a mere passive instrument of the divine Will, as though he had himself borne no conscious part in the actions in which he figures, or the messages which he delivers. This, however, is as incompatible with the general tenor of the scriptural account as it is with the common language in which he has been described by the Church in all ages. The frequent addresses of the Divinity to him no more contravene his personal activity and intelligence than in the case of Elijah, Isaiah, or Paul. In the N.T. the Mosaic legislation is expressly ascribed to him: "Moses gave you circumcision" ( John 7:22). "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you" ( Matthew 19:8). "Did not Moses give you the law?" ( John 7:19). "Moses accuseth you" ( John 5:45). Paul goes so far as to speak of him as the founder of the Jewish religion: "They were all baptized Unto Moses" ( 1 Corinthians 10:2). He is constantly called "a prophet." In the poetical language of the O.T. ( Numbers 21:18;  Deuteronomy 33:21), and in the popular language both of Jews and Christians, he is known as "the Lawgiver." The terms in which his legislation is described by Philo (V.M. 2:1-4) are decisive as to the ancient Jewish view. He must be considered, like all the saints and heroes of the Bible, as a man of marvellous gifts, raised up by divine Providence for a special purpose; but as led, both by his own disposition and by the peculiarity of the revelation which he received, into a closer communion with the invisible world than was vouchsafed to any other in the Old Testament.

Such a marvellous character was not exempted from the most virulent attacks of that criticism called the Rationalismus vulgaris, which at one time threatened to devour every fragment of antiquity. The history of Moses was considered merely a tissue of contradictory statements, till Voltaire (in Questions sur l'Encyclopedie, § 127) boldly called his very existence in question. The exodus of Israel, of which Moses was the sole instrument, was deprived of its strictly historical basis. Goethe wantonly reduced the forty years' wandering to two years. Most of the halting-places named in the books of Exodus and Numbers were deemed unhistorical, and the whole chain of events was said to be purely mythical. De Wette (Kritik der israelitischen Geschichte), Gramberg (Religionsideen), Vatke (Biblische Theologie),Von Bohlen (Commentar zum Buche Genesis), and George (Judische Feste) combine to reduce the whole to a fable. Even the best substantiated acts of Moses such as the construction of the tabernacle, the founding of an hereditary priesthood, the appointment of cities of refuge were assumed to have been stripped of every vestige of historical veracity. The finding of the Law ( 2 Kings 22:8) was said to prove nothing of its Mosaic authorship, because the Egyptian priests pretended to have become possessed of the books of Hermes in the same way. The tables of stone, as evidence of the historical activity of Moses, were said to be no evidence, because no mention is made of them at the revelation of the Decalogue (Exodus 20), but only on a later occasion, in chapter 22. The testimony of their existence ( 1 Kings 8:9) in the days of Solomon was thought not worthy to be depended upon, because the author lived after the destruction of Jerusalem! By such frivolous assertions Nork finds himself authorized (see Hebraisch-Chaldaisch-Rabbinisches Worterbuch) to resolve the character of Moses into a mythical personage; and to reduce the marvellous exodus, and the subsequent journey through the wilderness, to a level with the mythological conquests of Osiris or those of Bacchus, in each of whom personifications of the solar year were recognised. Moses is contrasted with Bacchus, whose grandfather Kadmus placed him in an ark and exposed him to the ocean (see J.J. Miiller, De Mose in Bacchum converso [Jena, 1667]). The 600,000 fighting men in Israel are assumed to be so many stars, which ancient astronomers believed to exist. The wonder-working rod of Moses was considered to be as pure a fiction as the serpent-rod of Hermes.

The passage of the Red Sea by Moses and his followers was regarded as a striking parallel to some of the details of Bacchus's expedition to India (Nonnus, 20:253). Bacchus also smites the Hydaspes with a rod, and passes over dry-shod (Nonnus, 23:115, 124,156-188; 24:41). Even the smiting of the rock by Moses is compared to a myth recorded in Euripides (Bacch. 5:703); to Bacchus smiting a rock not indeed in his own person, but by the instrumentality of his priestess, who wielded the thyrsus- rod with a similar result of water flowing from it. These attempts to neutralize history are quoted simply as literary curiosities, and they show by what methods it was thought possible to establish the mythical origin of the Jewish commonwealth. But as the historical veracity of the Gospel history can alone account for the existence and subsistence of Christianity, so the past and present influence of the Mosaic constitution can only be explained by the strictly historical character of its beginnings.

1. There are two main characters in which Moses appears, namely, as a Leader and as a Prophet. The two are more frequently combined in the East than in the West. Several remarkable instances occur in the history of Mohammedanism: Mohammed himself, Abd-elKader in Algeria, Shamyl in Circassia.

(a.) As a Leader his life divides itself into the three epochs of the march to Sinai, the march from Sinai to Kadesh, and the conquest of the trans- jordanic kingdoms. Of his natural gifts in this capacity we have but few means of judging. The two main difficulties which he encountered were the reluctance of the people to submit to his guidance and the impracticable nature of the country which they had to traverse. The patience with which he bore their murmurs is often described at the Red Sea, at the apostasy of the golden calf (the eccentric Beke contends that the idol was a Cone, and not a calf [ The Idol In Horeb, Lond. 1871]), at the rebellion of Korah, at the complaints of Aaron and Miriam (see below). The incidents with which his name was specially connected both in the sacred narrative and in the Jewish, Arabian, and heathen traditions were those of supplying water when most wanted. This is the only point in his life noted by Tacitus, who describes him as guided to a spring of water by a herd of wild asses (Hist. 5:3). In the Pentateuch these supplies of water take place at Marah, at Horeb, at Kadesh, and in the land of Moab. That at Marah is produced by the sweetening of waters through a tree in the desert; those at Horeb and at Kadesh by the opening of a rift in the "rock" and in the "cliff;" that in Moab by the united efforts, under his direction, of the chiefs and of the people ( Numbers 21:18). (See Philo, V.M. 1:40.) An illustration of these passages is to be found in one of the representations of Rameses II (contemporary with Moses), in like manner calling out water from the desert rocks (see Brugsch, Hist. De L'Eg. 1:153). Of the first three of these incidents, traditional sites, bearing his name, are shown in the desert at the present day, though most of them are rejected by modern travellers. One is Ayun Musa, "the wells of Moses ," immediately south of Suez, which the tradition (probably from a confusion with Marah) ascribes to the rod of Moses. Of the water at Horeb, two memorials are shown: one is the Shuk Musa, or "cleft of Moses," in the side of Mount St. Catharine; and the other is the remarkable stone, first mentioned expressly in the Koran (2:57), which exhibits the twelve marks or mouths out of which the water is supposed to have issued for the twelve tribes (Stanley, Syr. and Pal. page 46,47; also Wolff, Travels, page 125, 2d ed.). The fourth is the celebrated "Sik," or ravine, by which Petra is approached from the east, and which, from the story of its being torn open by the rod of Moses, has given his name (the Wady Mfisa) to the whole valley. The quails and the manna are less directly ascribed to the intercession of Moses. The brazen serpent that was lifted up as a sign of the divine protection against the snakes of the desert ( Numbers 21:8-9) was directly connected with his name down to the latest times of the nation ( 2 Kings 18:4;  John 3:14). Of all the relics of his time, with the exception of the ark, it was the one longest preserved. (See Nehushtan).

The route through the wilderness is described as having been made under his guidance. The particular spot of the encampment was fixed by the cloudy pillar; but the direction of the people, first to the Red Sea and then to Mount Sinai (where he had been before), was communicated through Moses, or given by him. According to the tradition of Memphis, the passage of the Red Sea was effected through Moses's knowledge of the movement of the tide (Euseb. Praep. Ev. 9:27). In all the wanderings from Mount Sinai he is said to have had the assistance of Jethro. In the Mussulman legends, as if to avoid this appearance of human aid, the place of Jethro is taken by El Khudhr, the mysterious benefactor of mankind (D'Herbelot, s.v. Moussa). On approaching Palestine the office of the leader becomes blended with that of the general or the conqueror. By Moses the spies were sent to explore the country. Against his advice took place the first disastrous battle at Hormah. To his guidance is ascribed the circuitous route by which the nation approached Palestine from the east, and to his generalship the two successive campaigns in which Sihon-and Og were defeated. The narrative is told so shortly that we are in danger of forgetting that, at this last stage of his life, Moses must have been as much a conqueror and victorious soldier as Joshua.

(b.) His character as a Prophet is, from the nature of the case, more distinctly brought out. He is the first as he is the greatest example of a prophet in the O.T. The name is, indeed, applied to Abraham before ( Genesis 20:7), but so casually as not to enforce our attention. But in the case of Moses it is given with peculiar emphasis. In a certain sense he appears as the center of a prophetic circle, now for the first time named. His brother and sister were both endowed with prophetic gifts. Aaron's fluent speech enabled him to act the part of prophet for Moses in the first inst

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [18]

mō´zez , mō´ziz ( משׁה , mōsheh  ; Egyptian mēs , "drawn out," "born"; Septuagint Μωυσῆ ( ρ Ο2 ςπ ), Mōusḗ ( s )). The great Hebrew national hero, leader, author, law-giver and prophet.

I. Life

1. Son of Levi

2. Foundling Prince

3. Friend of the People

4. Refuge in Midian

5. Leader of Israel

II. Work And Character

1. The Author

2. The Lawgiver

3. The Prophet


The traditional view of the Jewish church and of the Christian church, that Moses was a person and that the narrative with which his life-story is interwoven is real history, is in the main sustained by commentators and critics of all classes.

It is needless to mention the old writers among whom these questions were hardly under discussion. Among the advocates of the current radical criticism may be mentioned Stade and Renan, who minimize the historicity of the Bible narrative at this point. Renan thinks the narrative "may be very probable." Ewald, Wellhausen, Robertson Smith, and Driver, while finding many flaws in the story, make much generally of the historicity of the narrative.

The critical analysis of the Pentateuch divides this life-story of Moses into three main parts, J, E, and P, with a fourth, D, made up mainly from the others. Also some small portions here and there are given to R, especially the account of Aaron's part in the plagues of Egypt, where his presence in a J-document is very troublesome for the analytical theory. It is unnecessary to encumber this biography with constant cross-references to the strange story of Moses pieced together out of the rearranged fragments into which the critical analysis of the Pentateuch breaks up the narrative. It is recognized that there are difficulties in the story of Moses. In what ancient life-story are there not difficulties? If we can conceive of the ancients being obliged to ponder over a modern life-story, we can easily believe that they would have still more difficulty with it. But it seems to very many that the critical analysis creates more difficulties in the narrative than it relieves. It is a little thing to explain by such analysis some apparent discrepancy between two laws or two events or two similar incidents which we do not clearly understand. It is a far greater thing so to confuse, by rearranging, a beautiful, well-articulated biography that it becomes disconnected - indeed, in parts, scarcely makes sense.

The biographical narrative of the Hebrew national hero, Moses, is a continuous thread of history in the Pentateuch. That story in all its simplicity and symmetry, but with acknowledgment of its difficulties as they arise, is here to be followed.

I. Life.

The recorded story of Moses' life falls naturally into five rather unequal parts:

1. Son of Levi

"And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi"  Exodus 2:1 . The son of Levi born of that union became the greatest man among mere men in the whole history of the world. How far he was removed in genealogy from Levi it is impossible to know. The genealogical lists  Genesis 46:11;  Exodus 6:16-20;  Numbers 3:14-28;  Numbers 26:57-59;  1 Chronicles 6:1-3 show only 4 generations from Levi to Moses, while the account given of the numbers of Israel at the exodus   Exodus 12:37;  Exodus 38:26;  Numbers 1:46;  Numbers 11:21 imperatively demand at least 10 or 12 generations. The males alone of the sons of Kohath "from a month old and upward" numbered at Sinai 8,600   Numbers 3:27-28 . It is evident that the extract from the genealogy here, as in many other places ( 1 Chronicles 23:15;  1 Chronicles 26:24;  Ezra 7:1-5;  Ezra 8:1-2; compare  1 Chronicles 6:3-14; Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38) is not complete, but follows the common method of giving important heads of families. The statement concerning Jochebed: "And she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister"  Numbers 26:59 really creates no difficulty, as it is likewise said of Zilpah, after the mention of her grandsons, "And these she bare unto Jacob" (  Genesis 46:17-18; compare  Genesis 46:24-25 ).

The names of the immediate father and mother of Moses are not certainly known. The mother "saw him that he was a goodly child"  Exodus 2:2 . So they defied the commandment of the king  Exodus 1:22 , and for 3 months hid him instead of throwing him into the river.

2. Foundling Prince

The time soon came when it was impossible longer to hide the child (Josephus, Ant. , II, ix, 3-6). The mother resolved upon a plan which was at once a pathetic imitation of obedience to the commandment of the king, an adroit appeal to womanly sympathy, and, if it succeeded, a subtle scheme to bring the cruelty of the king home to his own attention. Her faith succeeded. She took an ark of bulrushes (  Exodus 2:3-4; compare Ark Of Bulrushes ), daubed it with bitumen mixed with the sticky slime of the river, placed in this floating vessel the child of her love and faith, and put it into the river at a place among the sedge in the shallow water where the royal ladies from the palace would be likely to come down to bathe. A sister, probably Miriam, stood afar off to watch  Exodus 2:3-4 . The daughter of Pharaoh came down with her great ladies to the river  Exodus 2:5-10 . The princess saw the ark among the sedge and sent a maid to fetch it. The expectation of the mother was not disappointed. The womanly sympathy of the princess was touched. She resolved to save this child by adopting him. Through the intervention of the watching sister, he was given to his own mother to be nursed  Exodus 2:7-9 . "And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son"  Exodus 2:10 . Thus, he would receive her family name.

Royal family names in Egypt then were usually compounded of some expression of reverence or faith or submission and the name of a god, e.g. "loved of," "chosen of," "born of," Thoth, Ptah, Ra or Amon. At this period of Egyptian history, "born of" (Egyptian mēs , "drawn out") was joined sometimes to Ah, the name of the moon-god, making Ahmes, or Thoth, the scribe-god, so Thothmes, but usually with Ra, the sun-god, giving Rames, usually anglicized Rameses or Ramoses.

It was the time of the Ramesside dynasty, and the king on the throne was Rameses II. Thus the foundling adopted by Pharaoh's daughter would have the family name Mes or Moses. That it would be joined in the Egyptian to the name of the sungod Ra is practically certain. His name at court would be Ramoses. But to the oriental mind a name must mean something. The usual meaning of this royal name was that the child was "born of" a princess through the intervention of the god Ra. But this child was not "born of" the princess, so falling back upon the primary meaning of the word, "drawn out," she said, "because I drew him out of the water"  Exodus 2:10 . Thus, Moses received his name. Pharaoh's daughter may have been the eldest daughter of Rameses II, but more probably was the daughter and eldest child of Seti Merenptah I, and sister of the king on the throne. She would be lineal heir to the crown but debarred by her sex. Instead, she bore the title "Pharaoh's Daughter," and, according to Egyptian custom, retained the right to the crown for her first-born son. A not improbable tradition (Josephus, Ant. , II, ix, 7) relates that she had no natural son, and Moses thus became heir to the throne, not with the right to supplant the reigning Pharaoh, but to supersede any of his sons.

Very little is known of Moses' youth and early manhood at the court of Pharaoh. He would certainly be educated as a prince, whose right it probably was to be initiated into the mysteries. Thus he was "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians"  Acts 7:22 , included in which, according to many Egyptologists, was the doctrine of one Supreme God.

Many curious things, whose value is doubtful, are told of Moses by Josephus and other ancient writers (Josephus, Ant. , II, ix, 3; Apion , I, 31; compare Smith, Dictionary of the Bible  ; for Mohammedan legends, see Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus , Appendix; for rabbinical legends, see Jewish Encyclopedia ). Some of these traditions are not incredible but lack authentication. Others are absurd. Egyptologists have searched with very indifferent success for some notice of the great Hebrew at the Egyptian court.

3. Friend of the People

But the faith of which the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks  Hebrews 11:23-28 was at work. Moses "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter"   Exodus 2:11-14;  Acts 7:24 . Whether he did so in word, by definite renunciation, or by his espousal of the cause of the slave against the oppressive policy of Pharaoh is of little importance. In either case he became practically a traitor, and greatly imperiled his throne rights and probably his civil rights as well. During some intervention to ameliorate the condition of the state slaves, an altercation arose and he slew an Egyptian  Exodus 2:11-12 . Thus, his constructive treason became an overt act. Discovering through the ungrateful reproaches of his own kinsmen  Acts 7:25 that his act was known, he quickly made decision, "choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God," casting in his lot with slaves of the empire, rather than "to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season," amid the riotous living of the young princes at the Egyptian court; "accounting the reproach of Christ" his humiliation, being accounted a nobody ("Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?") As "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt"   Hebrews 11:25-26;  Acts 7:25-28 . He thought to be a nobody and do right better than to be a tyrant and rule Egypt.

4. Refuge in Midian

Moses fled, "not fearing the wrath of the king"  Hebrews 11:27 , not cringing before it or submitting to it, but defying it and braving all that it could bring upon him, degradation from his high position, deprivation of the privileges and comforts of the Egyptian court. He went out a poor wanderer  Exodus 2:15 . We are told nothing of the escape and the journey, how he eluded the vigilance of the court guards and of the frontier-line of sentinels. The friend of slaves is strangely safe while within their territory. At last he reached the Sinaitic province of the empire and hid himself away among its mountain fastnesses  Exodus 2:15 . The romance of the well and the shepherdesses and the grateful father and the future wife is all quite in accord with the simplicity of desert life  Exodus 2:16-22 . The "Egyptian" saw the rude, selfish herdsmen of the desert imposing upon the helpless shepherd girls, and, partly by the authority of a manly man, partly, doubtless, by the authority of his Egyptian appearance in an age when "Egypt" was a word with which to frighten men in all that part of the world, he compelled them to give way. The "Egyptian" was called, thanked, given a home and eventually a wife. There in Midian, while the anguish of Israel continued under the taskmaster's lash, and the weakening of Israel's strength by the destruction of the male children went on, with what more or less rigor we know not, Moses was left by Providence to mellow and mature, that the haughty, impetuous prince, "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," might be transformed into the wise, well-poised, masterful leader, statesman, lawgiver, poet and prophet. God usually prepares His great ones in the countryside or about some of the quiet places of earth, farthest away from the busy haunts of men and nearest to the "secret place of the Most High." David keeping his father's flocks, Elijah on the mountain slopes of Gilead, the Baptist in the wilderness of Judaea, Jesus in the shop of a Galilean carpenter; so Moses a shepherd in the Bedouin country, in the "waste, howling wilderness."

5. Leader of Israel

(1) The Commission

One day Moses led the flocks to "the back of the wilderness" ( Exodus 3:1-12; see Burning Bush ). Moses received his commission, the most appalling commission ever given to a mere man  Exodus 3:10 - a commission to a solitary man, and he a refugee - to go back home and deliver his kinsmen from a dreadful slavery at the hand of the most powerful nation on earth. Let not those who halt and stumble over the little difficulties of most ordinary lives think hardly of the faltering of Moses' faith before such a task   Exodus 3:11-13;  Exodus 4:1 ,  Exodus 4:10-13 . "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you"  Exodus 3:14 , was the encouragement God gave him. He gave him also Aaron for a spokesman  Exodus 4:14-16 , the return to the Mount of God as a sign  Exodus 3:12 , and the rod of power for working wonders  Exodus 4:17 .

One of the curious necessities into which the critical analysis drives its advocates is the opinion concerning Aaron that "he scarcely seems to have been a brother and almost equal partner of Moses, perhaps not even a priest" (Bennett, Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), III, 441). Interesting and curious speculations have been instituted concerning the way in which Israel and especially Pharaoh were to understand the message, "I Am hath sent me unto you" ( Exodus 3:13-14; compare  Exodus 6:3 ). They were evidently expected to understand this message. Were they to so do by translating or by transliterating it into Egyptian? Some day Egyptologists may be able to answer positively, but not yet.

With the signs for identification  Exodus 4:1-10 , Moses was ready for his mission. He went down from the "holy ground" to obey the high summons and fulfil the great commission  Exodus 4:18-23 . After the perplexing controversy with his wife, a controversy of stormy ending  Exodus 4:24-26 , he seems to have left his family to his father-in-law's care while he went to respond to the call of God  Exodus 18:6 . He met Aaron, his brother, at the Mount of God  Exodus 4:27-28 , and together they returned to Egypt to collect the elders of Israel  Exodus 4:29-31 , who were easily won over to the scheme of emancipation. Was ever a slave people not ready to listen to plans for freedom?

(2) The Conflict with Pharaoh

The next move was the bold request to the king to allow the people to go into the wilderness to hold a feast unto Yahweh  Exodus 5:1 . How did Moses gain admittance past the jealous guards of an Egyptian court to the presence of the Pharaoh himself? And why was not the former traitorous refugee at once arrested? Egyptology affords a not too distinct answer. Rameses Ii was dead  Exodus 4:19; Merenptah Ii was on the throne with an insecure tenure, for the times were troublous. Did some remember the "son of Pharaoh's daughter" who, had he remained loyal, would have been the Pharaoh? Probably so. Thus he would gain admittance, and thus, too, in the precarious condition of the throne, it might well not be safe to molest him. The original form of the request made to the king, with some slight modification, was continued throughout  Exodus 8:27;  Exodus 10:9 , though God promised that the Egyptians should thrust them out altogether when the end should come, and it was so  Exodus 11:1;  Exodus 12:31 ,  Exodus 12:33 ,  Exodus 12:39 . Yet Pharaoh remembered the form of their request and bestirred himself when it was reported that they had indeed gone "from serving" them  Exodus 14:5 . The request for temporary departure upon which the contest was made put Pharaoh's call to duty in the easiest form and thus, also, his obstinacy appears as the greater heinousness. Then came the challenge of Pharaoh in his contemptuous demand, "Who is Yahweh?"  Exodus 5:2 , and Moses' prompt acceptance of the challenge, in the beginning of the long series of plagues (see Plagues ) ( Exodus 8:1 ff;   Exodus 12:29-36;  Exodus 14:31 ). Pharaoh, having made the issue, was justly required to afford full presentation of it. So Pharaoh's heart was "hardened" ( Exodus 4:21;  Exodus 7:3 ,  Exodus 7:13;  Exodus 9:12 ,  Exodus 9:35;  Exodus 10:1;  Exodus 14:8; see Plagues ) until the vindication of Yahweh as God of all the earth was complete. This proving of Yahweh was so conducted that the gods of Egypt were shown to be of no avail against Him, but that He is God of all the earth, and until the faith of the people of Israel was confirmed  Exodus 14:31 .

(3) Institution of the Passover

It was now time for the next step in revelation  Exodus 12;  13:1-16 . At the burning bush God had declared His purpose to be a saviour, not a destroyer. In this contest in Egypt, His absolute sovereignty was being established; and now the method of deliverance by Him, that He might not be a destroyer, was to be revealed. Moses called together the elders  Exodus 12:21-28 and instituted the Passover feast. As God always in revelation chooses the known and the familiar - the tree, the bow, circumcision, baptism, and the Supper - by which to convey the unknown, so the Passover was a combination of the household feast with the widespread idea of safety through blood-sacrifice, which, however it may have come into the world, was not new at that time. Some think there is evidence of an old Semitic festival at that season which was utilized for the institution of the Passover.

The lamb was chosen and its use was kept up  Exodus 12:3-6 . On the appointed night it was killed and "roasted with fire" and eaten with bitter herbs  Exodus 12:8 , while they all stood ready girded, with their shoes on their feet and their staff in hand  Exodus 12:11 . They ate in safety and in hope, because the blood of the lamb was on the door  Exodus 12:23 . That night the firstborn of Egypt were slain. Among the Egyptians "there was not a house where there was not one dead"  Exodus 12:30 , from the house of the maid-servant, who sat with her handmill before her, to the palace of the king that "sat on the throne," and even among the cattle in the pasture. If the plague was employed as the agency of the angel of Yahweh, as some think, its peculiarity is that it takes the strongest and the best and culminates in one great stunning blow and then immediately subsides (see Plagues ). Who can tell the horror of that night when the Israelites were thrust out of the terror-stricken land  Exodus 12:39 ?

As they went out, they "asked," after the fashion of departing servants in the East, and God gave them favor in the sight of the over-awed Egyptians that they lavished gifts upon them in extravagance. Thus "they despoiled the Egyptians"  Exodus 12:36 . "Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people"  Exodus 11:3;  Exodus 12:35-36 .

(4) The Exodus

"At the end of 430 years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt"  Exodus 12:41 . The great oppressor was Rameses II, and the culmination and the revolution came, most probably, in connection with the building of Pithom and Raamses, as these are the works of Israel mentioned in the Bible narrative  Exodus 1:11 . Rameses said that he built Pithom at the "mouth of the east" (Budge, History of Exodus , V, 123). All efforts to overthrow that statement have failed and for the present, at least, it must stand. Israel built Pithom, Rameses built Pithom; there is a synchronism that cannot in the present knowledge of Egyptian history even be doubted, much less separated. The troublous times which came to Egypt with the beginning of the reign of Merenptah Ii afforded the psychological moment for the return of the "son of Pharaoh's daughter" and his access to the royal court. The presence and power of Yahweh vindicated His claim to be the Lord of all the earth, and Merenptah let the children of Israel go.

A little later when Israel turned back from the border of Khar (Palestine) into the wilderness and disappeared, and Merenptah's affairs were somewhat settled in the empire, he set up the usual boastful tablet claiming as his own many of the victories of his royal ancestors, added a few which he himself could truly boast, and inserted, near the end, an exultation over Israel's discomfiture, accounting himself as having finally won the victory:

"Tehennu is devastation, Kheta peace, the Canaan the prisoner of all ills;

"Asgalon led out, taken with Gezer, Yenoamam made naught;

"The People of Israel is ruined, his posterity is not; Khar is become as the widows of Egypt."

The synchronisms of this period are well established and must stand until, if it should ever be, other facts of Egyptian history shall be obtained to change them. Yet it is impossible to determine with certainty the precise event from which the descent into Egypt should be reckoned, or to fix the date Bc of Moses, Rameses and Merenptah, and the building of Pithom, and so, likewise, the date of the exodus and of all the patriarchal movements. The ancients were more concerned about the order of events, their perspective and their synchronisms than about any epochal date. For the present we must be content with these chronological uncertainties. Astronomical science may sometimes fix the epochal dates for these events; otherwise there is little likelihood that they will ever be known.

They went out from Succoth (Egyptian "Thuku," Budge, History of Egypt , V, 122,129), carrying the bones of Joseph with them as he had commanded   Exodus 13:19;  Genesis 50:25 . The northeast route was the direct way to the promised land, but it was guarded. Pithom itself was built at "the mouth of the East," as a part of the great frontier defenses (Budge, op. cit., V, 123). The "wall" on this frontier was well guarded Exo 14, and attempts might be made to stop them. So they went not "by the way of the land of the Philistines ... lest peradventure the people repent when they see war"  Exodus 13:17 . The Lord Himself took the leadership and went ahead of the host of Israel in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night  Exodus 13:21 . He led them by "the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea"  Exodus 13:18 . They pitched before Pi-hahiroth, over against Baal-zephon between Migdol and the sea  Exodus 14:2 . Not one of these places has been positively identified. But the Journeys before and after the crossing, the time, and the configuration of the land and the coast-line of the sea, together with all the necessities imposed by the narrative, are best met by a crossing near the modern town of Suez (Naville, Route of the Exodus  ; Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus ), where Ras ‛Ataka comes down to the sea, upon whose heights a migdhōl or "watch-tower," as the southern outpost of the eastern line of Egyptian defenses, would most probably be erected.

Word was carried from the frontier to Pharaoh, probably at Tanis, that the Israelites had "fled"  Exodus 14:5 , had taken the impassioned thrusting out by the frenzied people of Egypt in good faith and had gone never to return. Pharaoh took immediate steps to arrest and bring back the fugitives. The troops at hand  Exodus 14:6 and the chariot corps, including 600 "chosen chariots," were sent at once in pursuit, Pharaoh going out in person at least to start the expedition   Exodus 14:6-7 . The Israelites seemed to be "entangled in the land," and, since "the wilderness (had) shut them in"  Exodus 4:3 , must easily fall a prey to the Egyptian army. The Israelites, terror-stricken, cried to Moses. God answered and commanded the pillar of cloud to turn back from its place before the host of Israel and stand between them and the approaching Egyptians, so that while the Egyptians were in the darkness Israel had the light  Exodus 14:19-20 .

The mountain came down on their right, the sea on the left to meet the foot of the mountain in front of them; the Egyptians were hastening on after them and the pillar of cloud and fire was their rearward. Moses with the rod of God stood at the head of the fleeing host. Then God wrought. Moses stretched out the rod of God over the sea and "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night"  Exodus 14:16-21 . A pathway was before them and the sea on the right hand, and on the left was a "wall unto them," and they passed through  Exodus 14:21-22 . Such heaping up of the waters by the wind is well known and sometimes amounts to 7 or 8 ft. in Lake Erie (Wright, Scientific Confirmations of the Old Testament , 106). No clearer statement could possibly be made of the means used and of the miraculous timing of God's providence with the obedience of the people to His command to Moses.

The host of Israel passed over on the hard, sandy bottom of the sea. The Egyptians coming up in the dark and finding it impossible to tell exactly where the coastline had been on this beach, and where the point of safety would lie when the wind should abate and the tide come in again, impetuously rushed on after the fleeing slaves. In the morning, Yahweh looked forth and troubled the Egyptians "and took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily"  Exodus 14:24-25 . The wind had abated, the tide was returning and the infiltration that goes before the tide made the beach like a quicksand. The Egyptians found that they had gone too far and tried to escape  Exodus 14:27 , but it was too late. The rushing tide caught them  Exodus 14:28 . When the day had come, "horse and rider" were but the subject of a minstrel's song of triumph Exo 15:1-19;  Psalm 106:9-12 which Miriam led with her timbrel   Exodus 15:20 . The Bible does not say, and there is no reason to believe, that Pharaoh led the Egyptian hosts in person further than at the setting off and for the giving of general direction to the campaign  Exodus 15:4 . Pharaoh and his host were overthrown in the Red Sea  Psalm 136:15 . So Napoleon and his host were overthrown at Waterloo, but Napoleon lived to die at St. Helena. And Merenptah lived to erect his boastful inscription concerning the failure of Israel, when turned back from Kadesh-barnea, and their disappearance in the wilderness of Paran. His mummy, identified by the lamented Professor Groff, lies among the royal mummies in the Cairo Museum. Thus at the Red Sea was wrought the final victory of Yahweh over Pharaoh; and the people believed  Exodus 14:31 .

(5) Special Providences

Now proceeded that long course of special providences, miraculous timing of events, and multiplying of natural agencies which began with the crossing of the Red Sea and ended only when they "did eat of the fruit of the land"  Joshua 5:12 . God promised freedom from the diseases of the Egyptians  Exodus 15:26 at the bitter waters of Marah, on the condition of obedience. Moses was directed to a tree, the wood of which should counteract the alkaline character of the water   Exodus 15:23-25 . A little later they were at Elim ( Wâdy Gharandel , in present-day geography), where were "twelve springs of water and three score and ten palm trees"  Exodus 15:27 . The enumeration of the trees signifies nothing but their scarcity, and is understood by everyone who has traveled in that desert and counted, again and again, every little clump of trees that has appeared. The course of least resistance here is to turn a little to the right and come out again at the Red Sea in order to pass around the point of the plateau into the wilderness of Sin. This is the course travel takes now, and it took the same course then  Exodus 16:1 . Here Israel murmured  Exodus 16:2 , and every traveler who crosses this blistering, dusty, wearisome, hungry wilderness joins in the murmuring, and wishes, at least a little, that he had stayed in the land of Egypt  Exodus 16:3 . Provisions brought from Egypt were about exhausted and the land supplied but little. Judging from the complaints of the people about the barrenness of the land, it was not much different then from what it is now  Numbers 20:1-6 . Now special providential provision began. "At even ... the quails came up, and covered the camp," and in the morning, after the dew, the manna was found (Exo 16:4-36; see Manna; Quails ).

At Rephidim was the first of the instances when Moses was called upon to help the people to some water. He smote the rock with the rod of God, and there came forth an abundant supply of water  Exodus 17:1-6 . There is plenty of water in the wady near this point now. The Amalekites, considering the events immediately following, had probably shut the Israelites off from the springs, so God opened some hidden source in the mountain side. "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel"  Exodus 17:8 . Whether the hand which Moses lifted up during the battle was his own hand or a symbolical hand  Exodus 17:9-12 , thought to have been carried in battle then, as sometimes even yet by the Bedouin, is of no importance. It was in either case a hand stretched up to God in prayer and allegiance, and the battle with Amalek, then as now, fluctuates according as the hand is lifted up or lowered  Exodus 17:8-16 .

Here Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, met him and brought his wife and children to him ( Exodus 18:5-6; compare  Numbers 10:29 ). A sacrificial feast was held with the distinguished guest  Exodus 18:7-12 . In the wise counsel of this great desert-priest we see one of the many natural sources of supply for Moses' legal lore and statesmanship. A suggestion of Jethro gave rise to one of the wisest and most far-reaching elements in the civil institutions of Israel, the elaborate system of civil courts  Exodus 18:13-26 .

(6) Receiving the Law

At Sinai Moses reached the pinnacle of his career, though perhaps not the pinnacle of his faith. (For a discussion of the location of Sinai, see Sinai; Exodus .) It is useless to speculate about the nature of the flames in the theophany by fire at Sinai. Some say there was a thunderstorm ( Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes)); others think a volcanic eruption. The time, the stages of the journey, the description of the way, the topography of this place, especially its admirable adaptability to be the cathedral of Yahweh upon earth, and, above all, the collocation of all the events of the narrative along this route to this spot and to no other - all these exercise an overwhelming influence upon one (compare Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus ). If they do not conclusively prove, they convincingly persuade, that here the greatest event between Creation and Calvary took place

Here the people assembled. "And Mount Sinai, the whole of it, smoked," and above appeared the glory of God. Bounds were set about the mountain to keep the people back  Exodus 19:12-13 . God was upon the mountain: "Under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness"  Exodus 19:16-19;  Exodus 24:10 . 16-17, "and God spake all these words" Exo 20:1-17. Back over the summit of the plain between these two mountain ridges in front, the people fled in terror to the place "afar off"  Exodus 20:18 , and somewhere about the foot of this mountain a little later the tabernacle of grace was set up  Exodus 40:17 . At this place the affairs of Moses mounted up to such a pinnacle of greatness in the religious history of the world as none other among men has attained unto. He gave formal announcement of the perfect law of God as a rule of life, and the redeeming mercy of God as the hope through repentance for a world of sinners that "fall short." Other men have sought God and taught men to seek God, some by the works of the Law and some by the way of propitiation, but where else in the history of the world has any one man caught sight of both great truths and given them out?

Moses gathered the people together to make the covenant  Exodus 24:1-8 , and the nobles of Israel ate a covenant meal there before God  Exodus 24:11 . God called Moses again to the mountain with the elders of Israel  Exodus 24:12 . There Moses was with God, fasting 40 days  Exodus 34:28 . Joshua probably accompanied Moses into the mount  Exodus 24:13 . There God gave directions concerning the plan of the tabernacle: "See ... that thou make all things according to the pattern that was showed thee in the mount" ( Hebrews 8:5-12 , summing up  Exodus 25:40;  Exodus 26:30;  Exodus 27:8 ). This was the statement of the architect to the builder. We can only learn what the pattern was by studying the tabernacle (see Tabernacle ). It was an Egyptian plan (compare Bible Student , January, 1902). While Moses was engaged in his study of the things of the tabernacle on the mount, the people grew restless and appealed to Aaron  Exodus 32:1 . In weakness Aaron yielded to them and made them a golden calf and they said, "These are thy gods, [[O I]] srael, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" ( Exodus 32:2-6; compare Calf , Golden ). This was probably, like the later calf-worship at Bethel and Dan, ancient Semitic bull-worship and a violation of the second commandment  Exodus 20:5; compare Bible Student , August, 1902). The judgment of God was swift and terrible 32:7-35, and Levi was made the Divine agent  Exodus 32:25-29 . Here first the "tent of meeting" comes into prominence as the official headquarters of the leader of Israel  Exodus 33:7-11 . Henceforth independent and distinct from the tabernacle, though on account of the similarity of names liable to be confused with that building, it holds its place and purpose all through the wanderings to the plain of Moab by Jordan  Deuteronomy 31:14 . Moses is given a vision of God to strengthen his own faith  Exodus 33:12-23; 34:1-35. On his return from communion with God, he had such glory within that it shone out through his face to the terror of the multitude, an adumbration of that other and more glorious transfiguration at which Moses should also appear, and that reflection of it which is sometimes seen in the life of many godly persons  Matthew 17:1-13;  Mark 9:2-10;  Luke 9:28-36 .

Rationalistic attempts to account for the phenomena at Sinai have been frequent, but usually along certain lines. The favorite hypothesis is that of volcanic action. God has often used natural agencies in His revelation and in His miracles, and there is no necessary obstacle to His doing so here. But there are two seemingly insuperable difficulties in the way of this naturalistic explanation: one, that since geologic time this has not been a volcanic region; the other, that volcanic eruptions are not conducive to literary inspiration. It is almost impossible to get a sane account from the beholders of an eruption, much less has it a tendency to result in the greatest literature, the most perfect code of laws and the profoundest statesmanship in the world. The human mind can easily believe that God could so speak from Sinai and direct the preparation of such works of wisdom as the Book of the Covenant. Not many will be able to think that Moses could do so during a volcanic eruption at Sinai. For it must be kept in mind that the historical character of the narrative at this point, and the Mosaic authorship of the Book of the Covenant, are generally admitted by those who put forward this naturalistic explanation.

(7) Uncertainties of History

From this time on to the end of Moses' life, the materials are scant, there are long stretches of silence, and a biographer may well hesitate. The tabernacle was set up at the foot of the "mountain of the law"  Exodus 40:17-19 , and the world from that day to this has been able to find a mercy-seat at the foot of the mountain of the law. Nadab and Abihu presumptuously offered strange fire and were smitten  Leviticus 10:1-7 . The people were numbered ( Numbers 1:1 ff). The Passover was kept   Numbers 9:1-5 .

(8) Journey to Canaan Resumed

The journey to Canaan began again  Numbers 10:11-13 . From this time until near the close of the life of Moses the events associated with his name belong for the most part to the story of the wanderings in the wilderness and other subjects, rather than to a biography of Moses. (compare Wanderings; Aaron; Miriam; Joshua; Caleb; Brazen Serpent , etc.). The subjects and references are as follows:

The March Num ( Numbers 2:10-18;  Numbers 9:15-23 )

The Complaining ( Numbers 11:1-3 )

The Lusting ( Numbers 11:4-6 , 18-35)

The Prophets ( Numbers 11:16 )

Leprosy of Miriam ( Numbers 12:1-16

(9) The Border of the Land

Kadesh-barnea ( Numbers 13:3-26 )

The Spies ( Deuteronomy 1:22;  Numbers 13:2 ,  Numbers 13:21;  Numbers 23:27-28 -33; 14:1-38)

The Plagues ( Numbers 14:36-37 ,  Numbers 14:40-45

(10) The Wanderings

Korah, Dathan and Abiram ( Numbers 16:1-35 )

The Plague ( Numbers 16:41-50;  Numbers 17:1-13 )

Death of Miriam ( Numbers 20:1 )

Sin of Moses and Aaron ( Numbers 20:2-13;  Psalm 106:32 )

Unfriendliness of Edom ( Numbers 20:14-21 )

Death of Aaron ( Numbers 20:22-29 )

Arad ( Numbers 21:1-3 )

Compassing of Edom ( Numbers 21:4 )

Murmuring ( Numbers 21:5-7 )

Brazen Serpent ( Numbers 21:8-9;  John 3:14

(11) Edom

The Jordan ( Numbers 21:10-20 )

Sihon ( Numbers 21:21-32 )

Og ( Numbers 21:33-35 )

Balak and Balaam ( Numbers 22:4;  Numbers 24:25 )

Pollution of the People ( Numbers 25:6-15 )

Numbering of the People ( Numbers 26 )

Joshua Chosen ( Numbers 27:15-23 )

Midianites Punished ( Numbers 31 )

(12) Tribes East of Jordan

( Numbers 32 )

(13) Moses' Final Acts

Moses was now ready for the final instruction of the people. They were assembled and a great farewell address was given  Deuteronomy 1-30:20 . Joshua was formally inducted into office  Deuteronomy 31:1-8 , and to the priests was delivered a written copy of this last announcement of the Law now adapted to the progress made during 40 years ( Deuteronomy 31:9-13; compare  Deuteronomy 31:24-29 ). Moses then called Joshua into the tabernacle for a final charge  Deuteronomy 31:14-23 , gave to the assembled elders of the people "the words of this song"  Deuteronomy 31:30; 32:1-43 and blessed the people Deut 33. And then Moses, who "by faith" had triumphed in Egypt, had been the great revelator at Sinai, had turned back to walk with the people of little faith for 40 years, reached the greatest triumph of his faith, when, from the top of Nebo, the towering pinnacle of Pisgah, he lifted up his eyes to the goodly land of promise and gave way to Joshua to lead the people in  Deuteronomy 34:1-12 . And there Moses died and was buried, "but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day"  Deuteronomy 34:5-6 , "and Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died"  Deuteronomy 34:7 .

This biography of Moses is the binding-thread of the Pentateuch from the beginning of Exodus to the end of Deuteronomy, without disastrous breaks or disturbing repetitions. There are, indeed, silences, but they occur where nothing great or important in the narrative is to be expected. And there are, in the eyes of some, repetitions, so-called doublets, but they do not seem to be any more real than may be expected in any biography that is only incidental to the main purpose of the writer. No man can break apart this narrative of the books without putting into confusion this life-story; the one cannot be treated as independent of the other; any more than the narrative of the English Commonwealth and the story of Cromwell, or the story of the American Revolution and the career of Washington.

Later references to Moses as leader, lawgiver and prophet run all through the Bible; only the most important will be mentioned:  Joshua 8:30-35;  Joshua 24:5;  1 Samuel 12:6-8;  1 Chronicles 23:14-17;  Psalm 77:20;  Psalm 99:6; 105; 106;  Isaiah 63:11-12;  Jeremiah 15:1;  Daniel 9:11-13;  Hosea 12:13;  Micah 6:4;  Malachi 4:4 .

The place held by Moses in the New Testament is as unique as in the Old Testament, though far less prominent. Indeed, he holds the same place, though presented in a different light. In the Old Testament he is the type of the Prophet to be raised up "like unto" him. It is the time of types, and Moses, the type, is most conspicuous. In the New Testament the Prophet "like unto Moses" has come. He now stands out the greatest One in human history, while Moses, the type, fades away in the shadow. It is thus he appears in Christ's remarkable reference to him: "He wrote of me"  John 5:46 . The principal thing which Moses wrote specifically of Christ is this passage: "Yahweh thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me" ( Deuteronomy 18:15 ,  Deuteronomy 18:18 ). Again in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which is the formal passing over from the types of the Old Testament to the fulfilment in the New Testament, Jesus is made to stand out as the Moses of the new dispensation Heb 3; 12. 24-29. Other most important New Testament references to Moses are  Matthew 17:3;  Mark 9:4;  Luke 9:30;  John 1:17 ,  John 1:45;  John 3:14;  Romans 5:14;  Judges 1:9;  Revelation 15:3 .

II. Work and Character

So little is known of the private life of Moses that his personal character can scarcely be separated from the part which he bore in public affairs. It is the work he wrought for Israel and for mankind which fixes his place among the great ones of earth. The life which we have just sketched as the life of the leader of Israel is also the life of the author, the lawgiver, and the prophet.

1. The Author

It is not within the province of this article to discuss in full the great critical controversies concerning the authorship of Moses which have been summed up against him thus: "It is doubtful whether we can regard Moses as an author in the literary sense" ( Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), III, 446; see Pentateuch; Deuteronomy ). It will only be in place here to present a brief statement of the evidence in the case for Moses. There is no longer any question concerning the literary character of the age in which Moses lived. That Moses might have written is indisputable. But did he write, and how much? What evidence bears at these points?

(1) "Moses wrote"

The idea of writing or of writings is found 60 times in the Pentateuch It is definitely recorded in writing purporting to be by Moses. 7 times that Moses wrote or was commanded to write  Exodus 17:14;  Exodus 34:27;  Exodus 39:30;  Numbers 17:2-3;  Deuteronomy 10:4;  Deuteronomy 31:24 and frequently of others in his times   Deuteronomy 6:9;  Deuteronomy 27:3;  Deuteronomy 31:19;  Joshua 8:32 . Joshua at the great convocation at Shechem for the taking of the covenant wrote "these words in the book of the law of God"  Joshua 24:26 . Thus is declared the existence of such a book but 25 years after the death of Moses (compare Bible Student , 1901, 269-74). It is thus clearly asserted by the Scriptures as a fact that Moses in the wilderness a little after the exodus was "writing" "books."

(2) Moses' Library

There are many library marks in the Pentateuch, even in those portions which by nearly all, even the most radical, critics are allowed to be probably the writings of Moses. The Pentateuch as a whole has such library marks all over it.

On the one hand this is entirely consistent with the known literary character of the age in which Moses lived. One who was "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" might have had in his possession Egyptian records. And the author of this article is of that class to whom Professor Clay refers, who believe "that Hebraic (or Amoraic) literature, as well as Aramaic, has a great antiquity prior to the 1st millennium BC" (Clay, Amurru , 32).

On the other hand, the use of a library to the extent indicated by the abiding marks upon the Pentateuch does not in the least militate against the claim of Moses for authorship of the same. The real library marks, aside from the passages which are assigned by the critics to go with them, are far less numerous and narrower in scope than in Gibbon or in Kurtz. The use of a library no more necessarily endangers authorship in the one case than in the other.

(3) The Moses-Tradition

A tradition from the beginning universally held, and for a long time and without inherent absurdity, has very great weight. Such has been the Moses-tradition of authorship. Since Moses is believed to have been such a person living in such an age and under such circumstances as might suitably provide the situation and the occasion for such historical records, so that common sense does not question whether he could have written "a" Pentateuch, but only whether he did write "the" Pentateuch which we have, it is easier to believe the tradition concerning his authorship than to believe that such a tradition arose with nothing so known concerning his ability and circumstances. But such a tradition did arise concerning Moses. It existed in the days of Josiah. Without it, by no possibility could the people have been persuaded to receive with authority a book purporting to be by him. The question of the truthfulness of the claim of actually finding the Book of the Law altogether aside, there must ha

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [19]

Mos´es, the lawgiver of Israel, belonged to the tribe of Levi, and was a son of Amram and Jochebed . According to , the name means drawn out of water, and is therefore a significant memorial of the marvelous preservation of Moses when an infant, in spite of those Pharaonic edicts which were promulgated in order to lessen the number of the Israelites. It was the intention of divine providence that the great and wonderful destiny of the child should be from the first apparent: and what the Lord had done for Moses he intended also to accomplish for the whole nation of Israel.

It was an important event that the infant Moses, having been exposed near the banks of the Nile, was found there by an Egyptian princess; and that, having been adopted by her, he thus obtained an education at the royal court . Having been taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians (; comp. Josephus, Antiq. ii. 9. 7), the natural gifts of Moses were fully developed, and he thus became in many respects better prepared for his future vocation.

After Moses had grown up, he returned to his brethren, and, in spite of the degraded state of his people, manifested a sincere attachment to them. He felt deep compassion for their sufferings, and showed his indignation against their oppressors by slaying an Egyptian whom he saw ill treating an Israelite. This doubtful act became by Divine Providence a means of advancing him further in his preparation for his future vocation, by inducing him to escape into the Arabian desert, where he abode for a considerable period with the Midianitish prince, Jethro, whose daughter Zipporah he married (, sq.). Here, in the solitude of pastoral life, he was appointed to ripen gradually for his high calling, before he was unexpectedly and suddenly sent back among his people, in order to achieve their deliverance from Egyptian bondage.

His entry upon this vocation was not in consequence of a mere natural resolution of Moses, whose constitutional timidity and want of courage rendered him disinclined for such an undertaking. An extraordinary divine operation was required to overcome his disinclination. On Mount Horeb he saw a burning thorn-bush, in the flame of which he recognized a sign of the immediate presence of Deity, and a divine admonition induced him to resolve upon the deliverance of his people. He returned into Egypt, where neither the dispirited state of the Israelites, nor the obstinate opposition and threatenings of Pharaoh, were now able to shake the man of God.

Supported by his brother Aaron, and commissioned by God as his chosen instrument, proving by a series of marvelous deeds, in the midst of heathenism, the God of Israel to be the only true God, Moses at last overcame the opposition of the Egyptians. According to a divine decree, the people of the Lord were to quit Egypt, under the command of Moses, in a triumphant manner. The punishments of God were poured down upon the hostile people in an increasing ratio, terminating in the death of the firstborn, as a sign that all had deserved death. The formidable power of paganism, in its conflict with the theocracy, was obliged to bow before the apparently weak people of the Lord. The Egyptians paid tribute to the emigrating Israelites , who set out laden with the spoils of victory.

The enraged king vainly endeavored to destroy the emigrants. Moses, firmly relying upon miraculous help from the Lord, led his people through the Red Sea into Arabia, while the host of Pharaoh perished in its waves (Exodus 12-15).

After this began the most important functions of Moses as the lawgiver of the Israelites, who were destined to enter into Canaan as the people of promise, upon whom rested the ancient blessings of the patriarchs. By the instrumentality of Moses they were appointed to enter into intimate communion with God through a sacred covenant, and to be firmly bound to him by a new legislation. Moses, having victoriously repulsed the attack of the Amalekites, marched to Mount Sinai, where he signally punished the defection of his people, and gave them the law as a testimony of divine justice and mercy. From Mount Sinai they proceeded northward to the desert of Paran, and sent spies to explore the Land of Canaan (Numbers 10-13). On this occasion broke out a violent rebellion against the lawgiver, which he, however, by divine assistance, energetically repressed (Numbers 14-16).

The Israelites frequently murmured, and were disobedient during about forty years. In a part of the desert of Kadesh, which was called Zin, near the boundaries of the Edomites, after the sister of Moses had died, and after even the new generation had, like their fathers, proved to be obstinate and desponding, Moses fell into sin, and was on that account deprived of the privilege of introducing the people into Canaan. He was appointed to lead them only to the boundary of their country, to prepare all that was requisite for their entry into the land of promise, to admonish them impressively, and to bless them.

It was according to God's appointment that the new generation also, to whom the occupation of the country had been promised, should arrive at their goal only after having vanquished many obstacles. Even before they had reached the real boundaries of Canaan they were to be subjected to a heavy and purifying trial. It was important, that a man like Moses was at the head of Israel during all these providential dispensations. His authority was a powerful preservative against despondency under heavy trials.

Having in vain attempted to pass through the territory of the Edomites, the people marched round its boundaries by a circuitous and tedious route. Two powerful kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, were vanquished. Moses led the people into the fields of Moab over against Jericho, to the very threshold of Canaan (Numbers 20-21).

Moses happily averted the danger which threatened the Israelites on the part of Midian (Numbers 25-31). Hence he was enabled to grant to some of the tribes permanent dwellings in a considerable tract of country situated to the east of the river Jordan (Numbers 32), and to give to his people a foretaste of that well-being which was in store for them.

Moses made excellent preparations for the conquest and distribution of the whole country, and took leave of his people with powerful admonitions and impressive benedictions, transferring his government to the hands of Joshua, who was not unworthy to become the successor of so great a man. With a longing but gratified look, he surveyed, from the elevated ground on the border of the Dead Sea, the beautiful country destined for his people.

Moses died in a retired spot at the age of one hundred and twenty years. He remained vigorous in mind and body to the last. His body was not buried in the Promised Land, and his grave remained unknown, lest it should become an object of superstitious and idolatrous worship.

The Pentateuch is the greatest monument of Moses as an author. Psalms 90 also seems to be correctly ascribed to him. Some learned men have endeavored to prove that he was the author of the book of Job, but their arguments are inconclusive [JOB]. Numerous traditions, as might have been expected, have been current respecting so celebrated a personage. Some of these were known to the ancient Jews, but most of them occur in later rabbinical writers.

The name of Moses is celebrated among the Arabs also, and is the nucleus of a mass of legends. The Greek and Roman classics repeatedly mention Moses, but their accounts contain the authentic Biblical history in a greatly distorted form.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [20]

The great Hebrew law-giver, under whose leadership the Jews achieved their emancipation from the bondage of Egypt, and began to assert themselves as an independent people among the nations of the earth; in requiring of the people the fear of God and the observance of His commandments, he laid the national life on a sure basis, and he was succeeded by a race of prophets who from age to age reminded the people that in regard or disregard for what he required of them depended their prosperity or their ruin as a nation, of which from their extreme obduracy they had again and again to be admonished.