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Moses, in order to escape the Pharaoh's death penalty , fled to Midian a desert country south of Judah , where he married Zipporah. Moses returned to carry out God's command, but God caused the Pharaoh to refuse, and only after God had subjected Egypt to ten plagues did the Pharaoh relent.

Historical views of Moses

Moses led the Israelites to the border of Egypt, but there God hardened the Pharaoh's heart once more, so that he could destroy the Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea Crossing as a sign of his power to Israel and the nations. After defeating the Amalekites in Rephidim , Moses led the Israelites to biblical Mount Sinai , where he was given the Ten Commandments from God, written on stone tablets.

However, since Moses remained a long time on the mountain, some of the people feared that he might be dead, so they made a statue of a golden calf and worshipped it , thus disobeying and angering God and Moses.

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Moses, out of anger, broke the tablets, and later ordered the elimination of those who had worshiped the golden statue, which was melted down and fed to the idolaters. Moses delivered the laws of God to Israel, instituted the priesthood under the sons of Moses' brother Aaron , and destroyed those Israelites who fell away from his worship. In his final act at Sinai, God gave Moses instructions for the Tabernacle , the mobile shrine by which he would travel with Israel to the Promised Land. From there he sent twelve spies into the land. The spies returned with samples of the land's fertility, but warned that its inhabitants were giants.

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The people were afraid and wanted to return to Egypt, and some rebelled against Moses and against God. Moses told the Israelites that they were not worthy to inherit the land, and would wander the wilderness for forty years until the generation who had refused to enter Canaan had died, so that it would be their children who would possess the land. When the forty years had passed, Moses led the Israelites east around the Dead Sea to the territories of Edom and Moab.

There they escaped the temptation of idolatry, conquered the lands of Og and Sihon in Transjordan , received God's blessing through Balaam the prophet, and massacred the Midianites , who by the end of the Exodus journey had become the enemies of the Israelites due to their notorious role in enticing the Israelites to sin against God.

Moses was twice given notice that he would die before entry to the Promised Land: in Numbers , once he had seen the Promised Land from a viewpoint on Mount Abarim , and again in Numbers once battle with the Midianites had been won. On the banks of the Jordan River , in sight of the land, Moses assembled the tribes. After recalling their wanderings he delivered God's laws by which they must live in the land, sang a song of praise and pronounced a blessing on the people, and passed his authority to Joshua , under whom they would possess the land.

Moses: In the Bible and Beyond

Moses then went up Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah , looked over the promised land of Israel spread out before him, and died, at the age of one hundred and twenty. More humble than any other man Num. Moses is honoured among Jews today as the "lawgiver of Israel", and he delivers several sets of laws in the course of the four books. The first is the Covenant Code Exodus — , the terms of the covenant which God offers to the Israelites at biblical Mount Sinai.

Moses has traditionally been regarded as the author of those four books and the Book of Genesis , which together comprise the Torah , the first section of the Hebrew Bible. The modern scholarly consensus is that the figure of Moses is a mythical figure, [3] and while, as William G. Dever writes, "a Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan in the mid-late 13th century BC ", archaeology cannot confirm his existence. My mother, the high priestess, conceived; in secret she bore me She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid She cast me into the river which rose over me.

Despite the imposing fame associated with Moses, no source mentions him until he emerges in texts associated with the Babylonian exile. Aidan Dodson regards this hypothesis as "intriguing, but beyond proof. The name King Mesha of Moab has been linked to that of Moses.

Historical views of Moses

Mesha also is associated with narratives of an exodus and a conquest, and several motifs in stories about him are shared with the Exodus tale and that regarding Israel's war with Moab 2 Kings 3. Moab rebels against oppression, like Moses, leads his people out of Israel, as Moses does from Egypt, and his first-born son is slaughtered at the wall of Kir-hareseth as the firstborn of Israel are condemned to slaughter in the Exodus story, "an infernal passover that delivers Mesha while wrath burns against his enemies".

An Egyptian version of the tale that crosses over with the Moses story is found in Manetho who, according to the summary in Josephus , wrote that a certain Osarseph , a Heliopolitan priest, became overseer of a band of lepers , when Amenophis , following indications by Amenhotep, son of Hapu , had all the lepers in Egypt quarantined in order to cleanse the land so that he might see the gods. The lepers are bundled into Avaris , the former capital of the Hyksos , where Osarseph prescribes for them everything forbidden in Egypt, while proscribing everything permitted in Egypt.

They invite the Hyksos to reinvade Egypt, rule with them for 13 years — Osarseph then assumes the name Moses — and are then driven out. Shmuel notes that "a characteristic of this literature is the high honour in which it holds the peoples of the East in general and some specific groups among these peoples. The extent to which any of these accounts rely on earlier sources is unknown. The figure of Osarseph in Hellenistic historiography is a renegade Egyptian priest who leads an army of lepers against the pharaoh and is finally expelled from Egypt, changing his name to Moses.

All that remains of his description of Moses are two references made by Diodorus Siculus , wherein, writes historian Arthur Droge, he "describes Moses as a wise and courageous leader who left Egypt and colonized Judaea. After the establishment of settled life in Egypt in early times, which took place, according to the mythical account, in the period of the gods and heroes, the first Droge also points out that this statement by Hecataeus was similar to statements made subsequently by Eupolemus.

According to theologian John Barclay, the Moses of Artapanus "clearly bears the destiny of the Jews, and in his personal, cultural and military splendor, brings credit to the whole Jewish people.

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Jealousy of Moses' excellent qualities induced Chenephres to send him with unskilled troops on a military expedition to Ethiopia , where he won great victories. After having built the city of Hermopolis , he taught the people the value of the ibis as a protection against the serpents, making the bird the sacred guardian spirit of the city; then he introduced circumcision.

After his return to Memphis , Moses taught the people the value of oxen for agriculture, and the consecration of the same by Moses gave rise to the cult of Apis. Finally, after having escaped another plot by killing the assailant sent by the king, Moses fled to Arabia , where he married the daughter of Raguel [Jethro], the ruler of the district. Artapanus goes on to relate how Moses returns to Egypt with Aaron, and is imprisoned, but miraculously escapes through the name of YHWH in order to lead the Exodus.

Moses: In the Bible and Beyond

This account further testifies that all Egyptian temples of Isis thereafter contained a rod, in remembrance of that used for Moses' miracles. He describes Moses as 80 years old, "tall and ruddy, with long white hair, and dignified. Some historians, however, point out the " apologetic nature of much of Artapanus' work," [56] with his addition of extra-biblical details, such as his references to Jethro: the non-Jewish Jethro expresses admiration for Moses' gallantry in helping his daughters, and chooses to adopt Moses as his son.

Strabo , a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher, in his Geographica c. He writes, for example, that Moses opposed the picturing of the deity in the form of man or animal, and was convinced that the deity was an entity which encompassed everything — land and sea: [58]. An Egyptian priest named Moses, who possessed a portion of the country called the Lower Egypt , being dissatisfied with the established institutions there, left it and came to Judaea with a large body of people who worshipped the Divinity.

He declared and taught that the Egyptians and Africans entertained erroneous sentiments, in representing the Divinity under the likeness of wild beasts and cattle of the field; that the Greeks also were in error in making images of their gods after the human form. For God [said he] may be this one thing which encompasses us all, land and sea, which we call heaven, or the universe, or the nature of things By such doctrine Moses persuaded a large body of right-minded persons to accompany him to the place where Jerusalem now stands In Strabo's writings of the history of Judaism as he understood it, he describes various stages in its development: from the first stage, including Moses and his direct heirs; to the final stage where "the Temple of Jerusalem continued to be surrounded by an aura of sanctity.

Egyptologist Jan Assmann concludes that Strabo was the historian "who came closest to a construction of Moses' religion as monotheistic and as a pronounced counter-religion. The Roman historian Tacitus c. His primary work, wherein he describes Jewish philosophy , is his Histories c.

By his account, the Pharaoh Bocchoris , suffering from a plague , banished the Jews in response to an oracle of the god Zeus - Amun. A motley crowd was thus collected and abandoned in the desert. While all the other outcasts lay idly lamenting, one of them, named Moses , advised them not to look for help to gods or men, since both had deserted them, but to trust rather in themselves, and accept as divine the guidance of the first being, by whose aid they should get out of their present plight.

In this version, Moses and the Jews wander through the desert for only six days, capturing the Holy Land on the seventh. The Septuagint , the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, influenced Longinus , who may have been the author of the great book of literary criticism, On the Sublime. The date of composition is unknown, but it is commonly assigned to the late 1st century C. In Josephus ' 37 — c. IV, describes Solomon's Temple , also known as the First Temple, at the time the Ark of the Covenant was first moved into the newly built temple:. When King Solomon had finished these works, these large and beautiful buildings, and had laid up his donations in the temple, and all this in the interval of seven years, and had given a demonstration of his riches and alacrity therein; The Feast of Tabernacles happened to fall at the same time, which was kept by the Hebrews as a most holy and most eminent feast.

So they carried the ark and the tabernacle which Moses had pitched, and all the vessels that were for ministration to the sacrifices of God, and removed them to the temple. Now the ark contained nothing else but those two tables of stone that preserved the ten commandments , which God spake to Moses in Mount Sinai , and which were engraved upon them According to Feldman, Josephus also attaches particular significance to Moses' possession of the "cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.

In addition, he "stresses Moses' willingness to undergo toil and his careful avoidance of bribery. Like Plato 's philosopher-king , Moses excels as an educator. Numenius , a Greek philosopher who was a native of Apamea , in Syria, wrote during the latter half of the 2nd century CE.

Moses Parts The Red Sea

Historian Kennieth Guthrie writes that "Numenius is perhaps the only recognized Greek philosopher who explicitly studied Moses, the prophets, and the life of Jesus Numenius was a man of the world; he was not limited to Greek and Egyptian mysteries , but talked familiarly of the myths of Brahmins and Magi.

It is however his knowledge and use of the Hebrew scriptures which distinguished him from other Greek philosophers. He refers to Moses simply as "the prophet", exactly as for him Homer is the poet. Plato is described as a Greek Moses.

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The Christian saint and religious philosopher Justin Martyr — CE drew the same conclusion as Numenius , according to other experts. Theologian Paul Blackham notes that Justin considered Moses to be "more trustworthy, profound and truthful because he is older than the Greek philosophers. I will begin, then, with our first prophet and lawgiver, Moses Most of what is known about Moses from the Bible comes from the books of Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Moses is also given a number of bynames in Jewish tradition.

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The Midrash identifies Moses as one of seven biblical personalities who were called by various names. Jewish historians who lived at Alexandria , such as Eupolemus , attributed to Moses the feat of having taught the Phoenicians their alphabet , [82] similar to legends of Thoth. He named the princess who adopted Moses as Merris, wife of Pharaoh Chenephres.

Jewish tradition considers Moses to be the greatest prophet who ever lived.

Arising in part from his age of death according to Deut. Moses is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament figure. For Christians , Moses is often a symbol of God's law , as reinforced and expounded on in the teachings of Jesus. New Testament writers often compared Jesus' words and deeds with Moses' to explain Jesus' mission. In Acts —43, 51—53, for example, the rejection of Moses by the Jews who worshipped the golden calf is likened to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews that continued in traditional Judaism.