Moses (meaning "drawn out") was a Hebrew-born "Egyptian" who was chosen by God to be the deliverer of Israel out of Egyptian oppression. Moses was also the agent of God, that organized Israel to be an independent people, governed by the ceremonial law and beliefs of Yahwism. God guided Moses in writing the first five books of the Bible- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy -- known historically as the Torah, but commonly as the Pentateuch.
Hidden in Egypt
Moses was the third child of Amram and his wife Jochebed, both of the tribe of Levi in Egypt, after the Israelites had become enslaved by the Egyptians, because Egyptian government feared the growing Hebrew population would eventually overtake them. The hard labor, however, had not kept the Hebrew population from growing rapidly. This lead to the Egyptian government ordering all newborn Hebrew males to be drowned in the Nile.
This task had been left to the Hebrew midwives, of whom at least two explained that women were having the babies without calling them and subsequently hiding them, as did Amram and Jochebed. The child had been extraordinarily beautiful, and was hidden for three months.
Adopted by the royal family
But when his parents were no longer able to keep Moses hidden, a plan was devised to save him from drowning in the Nile: they constructed a waterproof basket to bear him safely among the reeds near where the Pharoah's daughter regularly bathed . His sister Miriam stood guard, awaiting her opportunity to secure her baby brother's safety.
As expected, the Princess saw the basket floating along the bank and sent a slave to get it. When the basket was opened, the baby's crying moved the Princess to feel sorry for him, even though he was obviously a Hebrew boy. Miriam respectfully approached the princess and asked if she could get a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. When the Princess agreed, the child's sister went back home to get their mother.
The Princess accepted the services of the willing Hebrew slave, even offering just compensation. In this way, Jochebed was able to bond to her son for several years. After the child was weaned, he was taken to be the Princess' son, being named Moses since he was "drawn out of the water".
In this way, Moses was brought up as the son of the Princess, receiving the best education Egypt could provide in both skills and knowledge. Being trained to be a leader from a very early age, he proved to be skilled in all areas: including the ability to write.
Fleeing to Midian
However, it would not be as a Egyptian prince that Moses would rescue the Hebrew people from bondage. In spite his deep rooted faith, instilled in him on his natural mother's lap, Moses had a problem with his temper. His impetuous nature would lead to a life changing moment on the day, when he was forty years old, he decided to visit the fields where the Hebrews, his blood kin were working as slaves.
When Moses saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave, he reacted violently, killing the assailant. Rather than running away, he buried the Egyptian in the sand, thinking he had not been seen. He had acted out of faith, trusting God rather than his position as Pharaoh's grandson,
When doing this, he had shown great faith, in no longer being known as the Princess's child, thinking that his people would realize God was using him to save the Hebrew that was beaten. He had chosen to aid to his fellow Hebrews over the riches of Egypt.
However, when Moses tried to peaceably mediate a fight between two Hebrew slaves, one of them rebuked him, revealing that he had seen what had happened to the Egyptian the day before. Moses knew that he was not above the laws of Egypt, and that word would get back to the Pharaoh, so he fled across the Sinai desert to Midian in the east.
Life as a shepherd
For years the Hebrews had lived in the fertile delta of the Nile, keeping livestock and growing their own food. Life had been good, partially because they were shepherds, a despised class among the Egyptians. While Joseph had ruled things had gone well, but after a time the women and children kept the flocks while the men were worked as slaves for the sake of their hosts.
When Moses reached Midian, though, he found that seven sisters were having trouble with a bunch of shepherds there. It might have reminded him why Egyptians didn't like shepherds in general. Whatever the case, these girls needed help. He stepped in, defending their right to water their flocks. As he stood there, the girls ran inside their father's tent to tell him about 'the Egyptian" who had helped them. Their father, known as Jethro, insisted on their bringing the man in to have a meal.
Moses enjoyed the company of these people, long separated descendants of Abraham, so he agreed to work with this man, also known as Reuel, as a shepherd. In all probability this was to earn a dowry to gain a wife from among the daughters. In the course of time, quite possibly quite some time, Reuel (the high priest of God among the Midianites) gave his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. She would bear him two sons: Gershom and Eliezer.
Prophet of Yahweh
Forty years later, as Moses was tending sheep, he saw a burning bush on a mountain that surprisingly wasn't consumed in the flames. As he went to investigate, God called out to Moses and told him to take off his sandals, for he was standing on holy ground.
He then told Moses that He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt and is now going to send Moses back there to deliver them. Moses felt rather unsure that he was qualified for the task and that the people would even listen to him. God enabled Moses to perform some miraculous signs with His power as proof, and also promised to send Aaron to meet with him so that he could be Moses' spokesperson.
Taking leave of Reuel, Moses journeyed toward Egypt with his wife and children, only to be met by the Lord intending to kill him. Zipporah, remembering the ancient covenant with Abraham, performed a circumcision on one of their young sons, calling him "a bloody husband". With that, Moses sent Zipporah and the boys back to Midian. As for Moses, he was spared the wrath of God and continued toward Egypt.
In Egypt, after convincing the people of Israel through the signs that God has sent him as their deliverer, Moses spoke to the Pharaoh to let his people go into the wilderness to worship the Lord. However, God hardened the Pharaoh's heart so that he refused to let them go. Instead, keep them from getting any ideas, punished them by withholding stores of straw needed to build bricks, requiring them instead to find straw for themselves while making the same amount of bricks. This made the people of Israel angry with Moses, but God told Moses that now He's going to show the people His power.
Leader and Lawgiver
With Aaron's help, Moses was able to rally the people to follow the Lord up to, and through a path made by God in a large body of water called the Red (or Reed) sea. Even this miracle had not turned the hearts of many among the millions that entered into the Sinai desert. In a matter of weeks battles raged both outside the camps and within them. Moses attempted to be the sole leader, speaking directly to God and meeting people with problems at all hours of the day.
It was sometime during this first year, soon before Moses reached the place where God would give him the Ten Commandments, he would be rejoined by his wife and sons when Reuel, that is Jethro, heard what Lord had been doing for Moses and his people. Jethro noted that the people were wearing his son-in-law out. He counseled him to set up a system of courts that broke the workload up into manageable pieces. With only the most difficult cases reaching him, Moses was able to survive the rigors of leading the people for forty years.
The most important thing Moses had to do, though, was to bring the Law of God -- civil, moral and ceremonial -- to God's people. This was accomplished about one year after leaving Egypt behind. Though the people swore to uphold that Law upon hearing it, they became restless and created a visible representation of Lord in the form of a golden calf when Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the "written copy."
Things did not get much better after that, beginning with a failed spy mission that doomed the whole male population (and probably other adults as well) over twenty years old to die in the wilderness. Only two men of that age group, one of them Moses' successor Joshua, would enter Canaan.
Death and Legacy
Moses' temper, even after forty years, proved his downfall. In the beginning of the journey towards Canaan, Moses had been instructed to strike a rock to bring much needed water out of the ground. The Lord had honored his obedience by allowing that water to follow the people -- a major miracle that they promptly forgot when the need arose decades later. When called on to simply speak to a rock for the water, Moses instead struck it hard, expressing his disdain to such a stubborn people.
So it was that Moses, at the age of 120 years old, went up Mount Nebo from which he could see across the Jordan River to see the land into which nine-and-a-half of the tribes would settle. He would die there, leaving his sons, now grown, to their duties as Levites. He would be succeeded as leader by Joshua, son of Nun. He had overseen the building of the tabernacle and all its furniture, including the ark of the covenant which contained the stone tablets of the Law. His nephews, sons of Aaron, served as priests interceding for the people, while his other tribesmen, the Levites would be servants to the temple.
Over the course of the forty years, Moses had accomplished the writing of the foundational books of the Kingdom of the Lord, the "Books of Moses," known simply as the Torah or "the Law." This came to be also known as the Pentateuch. In years to come the books of history, called "the Former Prophets" by the Jews would finish the narrative leading to the exile. To these would be added "the Latter Prophets" (all the written prophets except Daniel) and "the Writings" would fill in the rest (Job-Daniel, and the Chronicles). This compilation would be the "Bible" of the Apostles, and what is called the Old Testament today.
- ↑ Exo 6:20
- ↑ Exo 2:21
- ↑ Num 12:1
- ↑ Exo 2:22
- ↑ 1 Chron 23:15
- ↑ Exo 3:1
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Exo 2:10
- ↑ Exo 3:10
- ↑ Exodus 2:1
- ↑ Exo 1:11-14
- ↑ Exo 1:10
- ↑ Exo 1:22
- ↑ Exo 2:2; Acts 7:20; Heb 11:23
- ↑ Exo 2:3
- ↑ Exo 2:4
- ↑ Exo 2:5
- ↑ Exo 2:6
- ↑ Exo 1:
- ↑ Exo 2:8
- ↑ Exo 2:9
- ↑ Acts 7:21
- ↑ Acts 7:22
- ↑ Exo 2:11, Acts 7:23
- ↑ Exo 2:12, Acts 7:25
- ↑ Heb 11:24
- ↑ Acts 7:25
- ↑ Heb 11:25
- ↑ Heb 11:26
- ↑ Exo 2:13, Acts 7:26
- ↑ Exo 2:14, Acts 7:27-28
- ↑ Exo 2:15, Acts 7:29, Heb 11:27
- ↑ Exo 7:3,13,22