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Moses was a Hebrew-born Egyptian who was chosen by God to deliver the nation of Israel out of the oppression of Egypt[7]. Moses was also the agent of God that organized Israel to be an independent nation, governed by the ceremonial laws and beliefs of the Pentateuch

Under the divine influence of God, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible in the Old Testament, commonly called the Pentateuch and historically known as the Torah. These books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Etymology

The name of Moses means "drawn out"[8].

Biography

Early life

Hidden in Egypt

Moses was the third child of Amram and his wife Jochebed, both of the tribe of Levi[9] in Egypt, after the Israelites had become enslaved by the Egyptians,[10] because Egyptian government feared the growing Hebrew population would eventually overtake them.[11] 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.[12]

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[13], 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 Pharaoh's daughter regularly bathed .[14] His sister Miriam stood guard, awaiting her opportunity to secure her baby brother's safety.[15]

As expected, the Princess saw the basket floating along the bank and sent a slave to get it.[16] 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.[17] Miriam respectfully approached the princess and asked if she could get a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her.[18] When the Princess agreed, the child's sister went back home to get their mother.[19]

The Princess accepted the services of the willing Hebrew slave, even offering just compensation.[20] 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".[8]

In this way, Moses was brought up as the son of the Princess,[21] receiving the best education Egypt could provide in both skills and knowledge. He was particularly skilled at speech making and writing [22]. Both of these skills would serve him later on in his duties as a Prophet of God.

Faithful Hebrew

However, it would not be as an Egyptian prince that Moses would rescue the Hebrew people from bondage. Despite his royal status as an Egyptian, Moses did not wish to be known as the son of a princess, nor did he seek the wealth his status gave him[23]. Instead he followed the religion of the Hebrews and had faith in God rather than the Egyptian Pantheon. While he was raised by Egyptian royalty he continued to associate himself with the people of his birth. Rather than enjoying the sinful pleasures that the Egyptians did, Moses chose to live "mistreated" like the Israelites[24].

In Midian

Fleeing Egypt

At the age of forty Moses went to Goshen to see his people doing their slave work. While he observed the slave work of his people he saw an Egyptian slave driver beating a Hebrew slave. Since there was no one in sight Moses approached the Egyptian and killed him in vengeance. Then Moses buried the Egyptian's carcass in the sand to hide him from anyone.[25] By doing this Moses believed that the Israelites would think he was God's instrument in freeing them[26], but to his surprise he was wrong.

The following day Moses went out to observe the slave labor again and saw two Hebrews hitting each other. Moses confronted the two and asked them why they were hitting each other since they were the same ethnic. The Hebrews told Moses that he had no authority over them and they asked if he was going to kill them like he did the Egyptian.[27]

Upon the revelation that his vengeance on the Egyptian was known Moses began to fear for his life. He fled the country in order for him to preserve his life, not fearing the Pharaoh's persecution, but trusting God[28]. Meanwhile back in Egypt the Pharaoh attempted to have Moses killed, but was unable to since he had left Egypt. Moses endured his flight from Egypt until he reached a nearby nation called Midian. Here he rested by a well.[29]

Life as a shepherd

While sitting next to the well, he found seven sisters who were having trouble with rowdy shepherds. When he saw the shepherds driving the sisters away from their own flocks Moses got up and intervened. He then proceeded to water the flocks for the troubled sisters.[30]

The girls' father, Reuel noticed they had finished care for the flocks earlier than usual. His daughters explained to him that an Egyptian had come to their help. At this Reuel invited Moses to stay with him. Eventually Moses was given Reuel's daughter Zipporah in marriage.[31] During his time in Midian Moses became a shepherd for his father-in-law. He may have worked alongside all of the daughters or may have done the shepherding for them.

Together they had their first child and Moses named him Gershom (meaning foreigner), because he was a foreigner in Midian[32]. Shortly before the age of eighty Moses had his first son. By the time he was eighty he had his second son, Eliezer.[33] He named him this because God had delivered him from Egypt[34]

The God of Egypt

Hesitancy to Go

Sometime after he had his two children, Moses was shepherding his father-in-law Reuel's flock on the far side of Mount Horeb. Here the Angel of the Lord manifested Himself into a bush and caused it catch fire, without burning. Moses observed that the bush was not burning and went over to investigate. Upon approaching the bush, God called out to Moses and asked him to remove his sandals. When the voice told Moses that he was the God of his ancestors he his face, afraid to look directly at Him. God told Moses that He was concerned about Israel, thus He would send him to the Pharaoh to negotiate the release of the Israelites.[35]

At first Moses was hesitant, excusing himself by saying he was not qualified. God reassured him that he would be accompanying him. Still nervous about the assignment, Moses asked how to prove to the Israelites that their God had commissioned him. God instructed Moses that he was to assemble the elders (probably family heads) and tell them that Yahweh had concern for them.[36]

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[37] 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.

At some point in his life, Moses was opposed by two unknown men. According to Paul's second epistle to Timothy, two men named Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses and the truth[38].

Death

Moses' temper, even after forty years, proved to be 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.

At the age of 120 years old, Moses went up Mount Nebo, within the mountain range of Abarim, 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.

Legacy

Impact

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.

Dispute over his body

According to Jude's book after Moses' death there may have been a dispute over his body. Apparently Satan disputed with the Archangel Gabriel over Moses' body, when Gabriel had God rebuke Satan[39]. The exact nature of this dispute is unknown or whether or not this actually happened or if it is an inspired literary example.

The Transfiguration

When Jesus Christ took his three closest Apostles: James, John, and Peter up to a mountain was transfigured so as to be seen to be wearing a garment of light. As the cloud of the glory of the Lord appeared, Moses appeared along with Elijah and they began to talk with Jesus[40]. Moses discussed with Jesus about his planned departure from Earth and Crucifixion in Jerusalem[41]. Before Moses left Peter offered to set up three tents for his Master, Moses and Elijah. Then the cloud of God's overwhelmed the Apostles and Moses disappeared[42].

Verses

  1. Exodus 6:20 (Link)
  2. Exodus 2:21 (Link)
  3. Numbers 12:1 (Link)
  4. Exodus 2:22 (Link)
  5. 1 Chronicles 23:15 (Link)
  6. Exodus 3:1 (Link)
  7. Exodus 3:10 (Link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Exodus 2:10
  9. Exodus 2:1 (Link)
  10. Exodus 1:11-14 (Link)
  11. Exodus 1:10 (Link)
  12. Exodus 1:22 (Link)
  13. Exodus 2:2; Acts 7:20; Hebrews 11:23 (Link)
  14. Exodus 2:3 (Link)
  15. Exodus 2:4 (Link)
  16. Exodus 2:5 (Link)
  17. Exodus 2:6 (Link)
  18. Exodus 1: (Link)
  19. Exodus 2:8 (Link)
  20. Exodus 2:9 (Link)
  21. Acts 7:21 (Link)
  22. Acts 7:22 (Link)
  23. Heb 11:24,26 (Link)
  24. Heb 11:25 (Link)
  25. Exo 2:11-12, Acts 7:23-24 (Link)
  26. Acts 7:23 (Link)
  27. Exo 2:13-14, Acts 7:26-28 (Link)
  28. Heb 11:27 (Link)
  29. Exo 2:15 (Link)
  30. Exo 2:16-17 (Link)
  31. Exo 2:18-21 (Link)
  32. Exo 2:22 (Link)
  33. 1 Chr 23:15, Acts 7:29 (Link)
  34. Exo 18:4 (Link)
  35. Exo 3:1-10 (Link)
  36. Moses 3:11-17 (Link)
  37. Exo 7:3,13,22 (Link)
  38. 2 Timothy 3:8 (Link)
  39. Jude 9 (Link)
  40. Luke 9:28-30, Mark 9:2-4, Matt 17:1-3 (Link)
  41. Luke 9:31 (Link)
  42. Luke 9:32-36, Mark 9:5-8, Matthew 17:4-8 (Link)

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