32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Wickedness in the World
6 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Noah and the Flood
9 This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.14 So make yourself an ark of cypress[c] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.[d]16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit[e] high all around.[f] Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
7 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family,because I have found you righteous in this generation.2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground,9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings.15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.
17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.[g][h]21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth.Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
8 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down,4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground.9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark.11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
15 Then God said to Noah,16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the groundbecause of humans, even though[i] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”
God’s Covenant With Noah
9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands.3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
The Sons of Noah
18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.)19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[j] to plant a vineyard.21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside.23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him,25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend Japheth’s[k] territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years.29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.
The Table of Nations
10 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.
Fearing God means to have respect for Him and to obey Him. It means that you acknowledge Him to be your Creator and thus to have the right to be your Lord. It means that you act out of reverence for Him. In the Old Testament, a clear connection is made between fearing God and keeping His commands and serving Him: ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).’ ( See also: Deuteronomy 4:10; 6:2.)
In the New Testament, ‘fearing God’ comes up a couple of times too. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 it says: Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.’ Here fearing God is connected to holiness. Fearing God means that you keep in line with his will and are kept from grave sins. It gives direction to your life. It can lead to salvation, as was the case with Noah, who in reverent fear of God built the ark: Hebrews 11:7. This passage brings us to the following theme connected to fearing God: judgment.
In Luke 23: 40 the one thief rebuked the other, saying: ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?’These two men were dying, they would soon stand before God in judgment and they were both under the sentence of condemnation. God has the right to judge. But as we know, Jesus offered the thief grace and he was saved from condemnation.
In Revelation 14:7 fearing God is connected to judgment again: And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
So what will happen to us if we don’t fear God? He has the right to judge us. Do not defy Him, but acknowledge Him as your Creator, Saviour and Lord. Give over your life to Him, live it out of reverence to Him and be saved from condemnation.
Read Elie Wiesel’s essay on Cain and Abel in the Bible as it originally appeared in Bible Review, February 1998.—Ed.
Cain and Abel: The first two brothers of the first family in history. The only brothers in the world. The saddest, the most tragic. Why do they hold such an important place in our collective memory, which the Bible represents for so many of us? Mean, ugly, immoral, oppressive—their story disturbs and frightens. It haunted mankind then and still does, working its way into our nightmares.At first we become attached to Cain. He shares with his younger brother, Abel, the generous idea of offering gifts to the Lord. But for this, Abel might never have felt the need to do the same. For reasons the text does not bother to explain, however, God accepts the gift from Abel after refusing the gift from Cain.
An unjust Creator of the World? Already? How can we understand this favoritism? What did Abel do so great, beautiful or praiseworthy as to merit the divine sympathy denied to his brother? Cain, innocent victim of unprecedented heavenly discrimination—how can we not wonder about his fate?
As always, the midrasha comes to the rescue in our attempt to fill the gaps left by the biblical text. There we learn that God would have preferred Abel’s gifts—they were of choicer quality.
Until then brothers united, surely devoted one to the other, the two would never be close again. A fight erupted. And Cain killed Abel.
In the free eBookExploring Genesis: The Bible’s Ancient Traditions in Context, discover the cultural contexts for many of Israel’s earliest traditions. Explore Mesopotamian creation myths, Joseph’s relationship with Egyptian temple practices and three different takes on the location of Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.
For the first time in history, death occurs. And the first death in history, it is worth underlining, was a murder. Of course we are angry at Cain. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to understand his resentment, even his rage. But he should have restrained himself. One does not kill an innocent person, and certainly not one’s brother. If Cain wished to reproach someone, he should have addressed God, and not his younger brother. Abel succeeded in winning God’s favor? Cain, the older brother, should have been pleased for Abel! Was Cain unable to control his anger? Well, that is understandable. But to throw himself on his more fortunate brother and kill him! Too much!In the midrashic literature, the antagonism between the two brothers is not limited to the story about their offerings to the Lord. In the midrash, they inherited their dispute from their parents: Cain took the land for himself, and Abel received everything else. Another midrashic suggestion: Cherchez la femme—so let us look for the woman. According to this explanation, the two brothers were both in love with their mother; in another version, with their sister. A third theory: Each wanted to have the Temple of Jerusalem built in his domain. In short, the first fight in human history was also the first religious war.
These three hypotheses suggest an interesting viewpoint—that Cain is not the sole guilty party. God’s role in this quarrel is no longer the main issue. We can now consider each of the participants as an accomplice.
As a matter of fact, at a still higher level, the Talmud does not hesitate to insinuate precisely this. It asks, “Since there is no death without sin, why did Abel merit death?” There is a marvelous answer. It relies on the text, which says, “Cain spoke to his brother Abel. And when they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother and killed him.” But the text makes no mention of what Cain told Abel before killing him, nor what Abel answered. Is it possible that Abel did not pay attention to what his brother said? That Abel’s mind was elsewhere? Was that his sin? His brother, rebuffed, rejected, needed to tell someone of his grief—and he, Abel, was not even listening! This insensitivity is what makes him guilty.
Some of our sources go very far in pleading Cain’s case. When God accused him of murder, he could have made a convincing argument: “How was I to know that by hitting Abel he would die, since no one had lost his life before him?” Or, “Since You did not want me to kill my brother, why didn’t You stop me from going all the way? If a thief penetrates into a forbidden garden, is it not the guard’s fault?”Cain nevertheless remains the archetypal murderer. His flash of anger is not enough to make it a crime of passion worthy of extenuating circumstances. If he was justified in holding a grudge, it should have been against God; he was wrong to lay the blame on his brother. Had he cried out to the heavens to express his pain, even to vent his rage, all would have been forgiven. Powerless against God, Cain took vengeance on the only being near him. That was his fault. And his crime.
Is this the lesson, profoundly human and humanistic, we should draw from this somber story? Perhaps. But there is a second lesson: Two men may be brothers and still become the victim or the killer of the other. And a third: He who kills, kills his brother.
a. Midrash (plural, midrashim) is a genre of rabbinic literature that includes nonliteral elaborations of biblical texts, often for homiletic purposes.
The author of more than 30 novels, plays and profiles of Biblical figures, Elie Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. This online publication is adapted from Wiesel’s article “Supporting Roles: Cain & Abel,” which was published in Bible Review in February 1998. The article was first republished in Bible History Daily on June 1, 2015. At the inception of Wiesel’s Supporting Roles series in Bible Review, BAS editors wrote:
We are pleased—and honored—to present our readers with the first of a series of insightful essays by Elie Wiesel, the world-renowned author and human rights advocate. Wiesel is best known for his numerous books on the Holocaust and for his profiles of Biblical figures and Hasidic masters. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His occasional series for BR will focus on characters in the Bible that do not occupy center stage—those who play supporting roles.
More “Supporting Roles” by Elie Wiesel in Bible History Daily:
Here are lists of the 10 Commandments as recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. We also include a list of the commandments in short form.
These 10 beneficial laws were given by the Creator God to show us how to live a better life now and please God forever.
God gave the 10 Commandments from Mount Sinai, accompanied by smoke, earthquakes and the blast of a trumpet to emphasize the importance of these laws. Moses recorded God’s words in Exodus 20 and recounted the event again in Deuteronomy 5. There are only slight differences of emphasis in the accounts. Both versions are listed below, along with a list of the commandments in short form.
The numbering of the commandments below reflects the numbering used in much of the Christian world, though Catholics, Jews and others use various numbering systems.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet.
The 10 Commandments List in Exodus 20:2-17
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
The 10 Commandments List in Deuteronomy 5:6-21
“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
Billy Graham was an evangelist at revival meetings, and on radio and television for over 40 years.
Born on November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Billy Graham was preaching at an L.A. revival and was a guest on Stuart Hamblen’s radio show in 1949. The publicity made Graham a superstar and he began broadcasting his sermons globally. Though detractors have criticized Graham for being too liberal, one Time reporter dubbed him “the Pope of Protestant America.” Billy Graham retired in 2005.
Religious figure and Christian evangelist William Franklin Graham, Jr. was born on November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to parents William and Morrow Graham. Billy Graham was the first of four children raised on the family’s dairy farm in Charlotte. In hindsight there was little indication that Graham would one day preach the Christian gospel to as many as 215 million people in live audiences over 185 countries. Graham has been credited with preaching to more individuals than anyone else in history, not counting the additional millions he has addressed through radio, television and the written word.
While Graham’s parents were strict Calvinists, it would be an unfamiliar traveling evangelist who would set Graham on a profound spiritual path. At the age of 16, Graham attended a series of revival meetings run by evangelist Mordecai Ham. Despite the fact that Graham was a well-behaved adolescent, Ham’s sermons on sin spoke to young Graham. After high school Graham moved to Tennessee to enroll in the conservative Christian school, Bob Jones College. However, he felt disconnected from the school’s rigid doctrine and soon transferred to the Florida Bible Institute. While in Florida, Graham joined a Southern Baptist Convention church, where he was ordained in 1939.
After graduating from the Florida Bible Institute with a bachelor’s in theology, Graham moved to Illinois and enrolled at Wheaton College for further spiritual training. Here he would meet his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell. Ruth was the daughter of a missionary, and lived with her family in China until she turned 17. After graduating with a bachelor’s in anthropology, Graham and Bell were married on August 13, 1943. They would eventually raise five children together.
Graham briefly pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, before leaving to join Youth for Christ, an evangelical missionary group which spoke to returning servicemen and young people about God. In 1947, Billy Graham became president of Northwestern Schools, a group of Christian schools in Minnesota. In 1948, he resigned from Youth for Christ and focused on Northwestern Schools until 1952, when he resigned to concentrate on preaching.
It did not take long for people to identify with Billy Graham’s charismatic and heartfelt gospel sermons. In 1949, a group called “Christ for Greater Los Angeles” invited Graham to preach at their L.A. revival. When radio personality Stuart Hamblen had Graham on his radio show, word of the revival spread. The publicity filled Graham’s tents and extended the revival for an additional five weeks. At the urging of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, papers around the nation covered Graham’s revival meetings closely.
As a consequence, Graham became a Christian superstar. Sociologically it is believed that Graham’s success was directly related to the cultural climate of post-WWII America. Graham spoke out against the evils of Communism—one of the biggest fears threatening the American consciousness. In a 1954 interview Graham stated, “Either communism must die, or Christianity must die, because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti-Christ.” With the advent of nuclear weapons and the demonstrated fragility of life, people turned to spirituality for comfort, and Graham illuminated their path.
Thus, Graham helped bind together a vulnerable nation through religious revival. By glazing over the finer details of Christianity and focusing on more moderate doctrines, Graham made evangelism enticing, non-threatening, even easy—and the media made his messages accessible to the masses.
In order to expand and maintain a professional ministry, Graham and his colleagues eventually incorporated the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Graham began broadcasting his sermons over the radio during a Christian show called Songs in the Night. Once a week he also hosted a program called The Hour of Decision, a program ABC initially transmitted to 150 stations before reaching its peak of 1,200 stations across America.
Eventually this program was converted into a television show which ran for three years. The success of Graham’s radio and television programs speak to his role as a Christian media visionary. Graham used the media as a means for spreading the gospel of Christ, allowing him to access millions of people around the globe.
With Graham’s success, BGEA opened numerous international offices and started publishing periodicals, records, tapes, films and books. BGEA also accepted invitations from religious figures around the world to hold evangelical “crusades.” Scouts would be sent to these cities to reserve a venue, organize volunteer choirs and arrange speakers. At the end of these events, audience members would be invited to commit to Christ and meet with volunteer counselors.
These new recruits would be given workbooks for at-home bible study and referrals to local evangelist pastors. BGEA eventually began to air footage of these crusades on national television with subscriber information. In 1952, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association created the Billy Graham Evangelistic Film Ministry as a means of distributing personal conversion stories to the public through films. BGEA also acquired several radio stations around America in an effort to broadcast Graham’s radio shows to a wider audience.
In terms of print media, BGEA created Christianity Today in 1955. This magazine continues to be the leading journal for evangelical Christians. In 1958, BGEA started Decision magazine, a monthly mailer with bible studies, articles, church histories and crusade updates. Eventually this magazine was published in Spanish, French and German. Additionally, Graham himself authored numerous books including such titles as Angels: God’s Secret Agents (1975), How to be Born Again (1979), Death and the Life After (1994) and The Journey: Living by Faith in an Uncertain World (2006).
Impact and Criticism
Graham’s detractors have criticized him for being too liberal and refusing to play into partisan politics. Fundamentalists wrote him off when he condemned violence perpetrated by the anti-abortion group “Operation Rescue.” Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr has called him “simplistic,” while evangelist Bob Jones believes Graham has done “more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than any other living man.” President Truman even went so far as to call Graham a “counterfeit.” Some anti-Semitic comments between Graham and President Nixon were also caught on tape in 1972.
However, through his long and extraordinary career, Graham has overwhelmingly been regarded in a positive light, one Time reporter calling him “the Pope of Protestant America.” Another reporter from USA Today writes, “He was the evangelist who did not rip off millions (Jim Bakker) or run with prostitutes (Jimmy Swaggart) or build a megachurch (Joel Osteen) or run for president (Pat Robertson) or run a Christian political lobby (Jerry Falwell).”
Graham’s integrity has encouraged millions to heed his spiritual guidance, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Bono, Muhammad Ali and United States presidents from Eisenhower to Bush. He has been rated by the Gallup organization as “One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World” a staggering 51 times. He is regarded by contemporaries as humorous, non-judgmental, sincere, innocent and accepting.
Graham has been awarded the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion, the Big Brother Award, the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and the Speaker of the Year Award. Additionally Graham was recognized by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for promoting understanding between faiths, and bestowed with the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
In 1992, Graham announced that he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a disease similar to Parkinson’s Disease. His son William Franklin Graham III was chosen to take over BGEA upon his father’s retirement. Billy and his wife Ruth eventually retired to their home in Montreat, North Carolina, in 2005. In 2007, Ruth Graham passed away from pneumonia and degenerative osteoarthritis. She is remembered by her husband, five children and 19 grandchildren. Graham turned 90 in 2008.
Graham, who rarely leaves his home, went to a celebration for his 95th birthday in Asheville, North Carolina, in November 2013. Roughly 900 people attended the event. Around this time, Graham released what some have called his final sermon. In a video entitled My Hope America, he expressed concern for the spiritual health of the nation. “Our country’s in great need of a spiritual awakening,” he said, according to a report in USA Today. “There have been times that I’ve wept as I’ve gone from city to city and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God.”
According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in a time when his people, the Israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in numbers and the Egyptian Pharaohwas worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt’s enemies. Moses’ Hebrewmother, Jochebed, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh’s daughter (identified as Queen Bithia in the Midrash), the child was adopted as a foundlingfrom the Nile river and grew up with the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slavemaster (because the slavemaster was smiting a Hebrew), Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which he regarded as the Mountain of God).
God sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses said that he could not speak with assurance or eloquence, so God allowed Aaron, his brother, to become his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.
The Biblical account of Moses’ birth provides him with a folk etymology to explain the ostensible meaning of his name. He is said to have received it from the Pharaoh’s daughter: “he became her son. She named him Moses (Moshe), saying, ‘I drew him out (meshitihu) of the water.'” This explanation links it to a verb mashah, meaning “to draw out”, which makes the Pharaoh’s daughter’s declaration a play on words. The princess made a grammatical mistake which is prophetic of his future role in legend, as someone who will “draw the people of Israel out of Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea.”
The Hebrew etymology in the Biblical story may reflect an attempt to cancel out traces of Moses’ Egyptian origins. The Egyptian character of his name was recognized as such by ancient Jewish writers like Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. Philo linked Mōēsēs (Μωησής) to the Egyptian (Coptic) word for water (mou/μῶυ), while Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, claimed that the second element, -esês, meant ‘those who are saved’. The problem of how an Egyptian princess, known to Josephus as Thermutis (identified as Tharmuth) and in later Jewish tradition as Bithiah, could have known Hebrew puzzled medieval Jewish commentators like Abraham ibn Ezra and Hezekiah ben Manoah, known also as Hizkuni. Hizkuni suggested she either converted or took a tip from Jochebed.
The Israelites had settled in the Land of Goshen in the time of Joseph and Jacob, but a new pharaoh arose who oppressed the children of Israel. At this time Moses was born to his father Amram, son of Kehath the Levite, who entered Egypt with Jacob’s household; his mother was Jochebed (also Yocheved), who was kin to Kehath. Moses had one older (by seven years) sister, Miriam, and one older (by three years) brother, Aaron.[Note 3]
The Pharaoh had commanded that all male Hebrew children born would be drowned in the river Nile, but Moses’ mother placed him in an ark and concealed the ark in the bulrushes by the riverbank, where the baby was discovered and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. One day after Moses had reached adulthood he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. Moses, in order to escape the Pharaoh’s death penalty, fled to Midian (a desert country south of Judah), where he married Zipporah.
There, on Mount Horeb, God revealed to Moses his name YHWH (probably pronounced Yahweh) and commanded him to return to Egypt and bring his chosen people (Israel) out of bondage and into the Promised Land (Canaan). During the journey, God tried to kill Moses, but Zipporah saved his life. Moses returned to carry out God’s command, but God caused the Pharaoh to refuse, and only after God had subjected Egypt to ten plagues did the Pharaoh relent. Moses led the Israelites to the border of Egypt, but there God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart once more, so that he could destroy the Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea Crossing as a sign of his power to Israel and the nations.
From Egypt, 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 worshiped it, thus disobeying and angering God and Moses. Moses, out of anger, broke the tablets, and later ordered the elimination of those who had worshiped the golden statue, which was melted down and fed to the idolaters. He also wrote the ten commandments on a new set of tablets. Later at Mount Sinai, Moses and the elders entered into a covenant, by which Israel would become the people of YHWH, obeying his laws, and YHWH would be their god. Moses delivered the laws of God to Israel, instituted the priesthood under the sons of Moses’ 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 Sinai, Moses led the Israelites to the Desert of Paran on the border of Canaan. From there he sent twelve spies into the land. The spies returned with samples of the land’s fertility, but warned that its inhabitants were giants. 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, 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. Moses was twice given notice that he would die before entry to the Promised Land: in Numbers 27:13, once he had seen the Promised Land from a viewpoint on Mount Abarim, and again in Numbers 31:1 once battle with the Midianites had been won.
Moses holding up his arms during the battle, assisted by Aaron and Hur; painting by John Everett Millais
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 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. 12:3), “there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom YHWH knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). The New Testament states that after Moses’ death, Michael the Archangel and the Devil disputed over his body (Epistle of Jude 1:9).
The scholarly consensus is that the figure of Moses is legendary, and not historical,although a “Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan in the mid-late 13th century B.C.” Certainly no Egyptian sources mention Moses or the events of Exodus-Deuteronomy, nor has any archaeological evidence been discovered in Egypt or the Sinai wilderness to support the story in which he is the central figure. The story of his discovery picks up a familiar motif in ancient Near Easternmythological accounts of the ruler who rises from humble origins: Thus Sargon of Akkad‘s Sumerian account of his origins runs;
My mother, the high priestess, conceived; in secret she bore me
She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid
She cast me into the river which rose over me.
Despite the imposing fame associated with Moses, no source mentions him until he emerges in texts associated with the Babylonian exile. A theory developed by Cornelius Tiele in 1872, which had proved influential, argued that Yahweh was a Midianite god, introduced to the Israelites by Moses, whose father-in-law Jethro was a Midianite priest.It was to such a Moses that Yahweh reveals his real name, hidden from the Patriarchs who knew him only as El Shaddai. Against this view is the modern consensus that most of the Israelites were native to Palestine.Martin Noth argued that the Pentateuch uses the figure of Moses, originally linked to legends of a Transjordan conquest, as a narrative bracket or late reductional device to weld together 4 of the 5, originally independent, themes of that work.Manfred Görg and Rolf Krauss, the latter in a somewhat sensationalist manner, have suggested that the Moses story is a distortion or transmogrification of the historical pharaoh Amenmose (ca. 1200 BCE), who was dismissed from office and whose name was later simplified to msy (Mose). Aidan Dodson regards this hypothesis as “intriguing, but beyond proof.”
The name King Mesha of Moab has been linked to that of Moses. Mesha also is associated with narratives of an exodus and a conquest, and several motifs in stories about him are shared with the Exodus tale and that regarding Israel’s war with Moab (2 Kings:3). Moab rebels against oppression, like Moses, leads his people out of Israel, as Moses does from Egypt, and his first-born son is slaughtered at the wall of Kir-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.
Non-biblical writings about Jews, with references to the role of Moses, first appear at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE. Shmuel notes that “a characteristic of this literature is the high honour in which it holds the peoples of the East in general and some specific groups among these peoples.”
The earliest existing reference to Moses in Greek literature occurs in the Egyptian history of Hecataeus of Abdera (4th century BCE). All that remains of his description of Moses are two references made by Diodorus Siculus, wherein, writes historian Arthur Droge, “he describes Moses as a wise and courageous leader who left Egypt and colonized Judaea.” Among the many accomplishments described by Hecataeus, Moses had founded cities, established a temple and religious cult, and issued laws:
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… to persuade the multitudes to use written laws was Mneves [Moses], a man not only great of soul but also in his life the most public-spirited of all lawgivers whose names are recorded.
Droge also points out that this statement by Hecataeus was similar to statements made subsequently by Eupolemus.
The Jewish historian Artapanus of Alexandria (2nd century BCE), portrayed Moses as a cultural hero, alien to the Pharaonic court. According to theologian John Barclay, the Moses of Artapanus “clearly bears the destiny of the Jews, and in his personal, cultural and military splendor, brings credit to the whole Jewish people.”
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. 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,” 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. 24 CE), wrote in detail about Moses, whom he considered to be an Egyptian who deplored the situation in his homeland, and thereby attracted many followers who respected the deity. He writes, for example, that Moses opposed the picturing of the deity in the form of man or animal, and was convinced that the deity was an entity which encompassed everything – land and sea:
35. 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….
36. 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.” Strabo’s “positive and unequivocal appreciation of Moses’ personality is among the most sympathetic in all ancient literature.” His portrayal of Moses is said to be similar to the writing of Hecataeus who “described Moses as a man who excelled in wisdom and courage.”
Egyptologist Jan Assmann concludes that Strabo was the historian “who came closest to a construction of Moses’ religion as monotheistic and as a pronounced counter-religion.” It recognized “only one divine being whom no image can represent… [and] the only way to approach this god is to live in virtue and in justice.”
The Roman historian Tacitus (c. 56–120 CE) refers to Moses by noting that the Jewish religion was monotheistic and without a clear image. His primary work, wherein he describes Jewish philosophy, is his Histories (c. 100), where, according to Arthur Murphy, as a result of the Jewish worship of one God, “pagan mythology fell into contempt.” Tacitus states that, despite various opinions current in his day regarding the Jews’ ethnicity, most of his sources are in agreement that there was an Exodus from Egypt. By his account, the Pharaoh 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 Ist century C.E.
The writer quotes Genesis in a “style which presents the nature of the deity in a manner suitable to his pure and great being,” however he does not mention Moses by name, calling him ‘no chance person’ (οὐχ ὁ τυχὼν ἀνήρ) but “the Lawgiver” (θεσμοθέτης, thesmothete) of the Jews,” a term that puts him on a par with Lycurgus and Minos. Aside from a reference to Cicero, Moses is the only non-Greek writer quoted in the work, contextually he is put on a par with Homer, and he is described “with far more admiration than even Greek writers who treated Moses with respect, such as Hecataeus and Strabo.
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; …he also wrote to the rulers and elders of the Hebrews, and ordered all the people to gather themselves together to Jerusalem, both to see the temple which he had built, and to remove the ark of God into it; and when this invitation of the whole body of the people to come to Jerusalem was everywhere carried abroad, …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.” He also includes piety as an added fifth virtue. In addition, he “stresses Moses’ willingness to undergo toil and his careful avoidance of bribery. Like Plato‘s philosopher-king, 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. Historian Kennieth Guthrie writes that “Numenius is perhaps the only recognized Greek philosopher who explicitly studied Moses, the prophets, and the life of Jesus…” He describes his background:
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.
In Justin Martyr
The Christian saint and religious philosopher Justin Martyr (103–165 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.” He quotes him:
I will begin, then, with our first prophet and lawgiver, Moses… that you may know that, of all your teachers, whether sages, poets, historians, philosophers, or lawgivers, by far the oldest, as the Greek histories show us, was Moses, who was our first religious teacher.
Most of what is known about Moses from the Bible comes from the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The majority of scholars consider the compilation of these books to go back to the Persian period, 538–332 BCE, but based on earlier written and oral traditions.There is a wealth of stories and additional information about Moses in the Jewish apocrypha and in the genre of rabbinicalexegesis known as Midrash, as well as in the primary works of the Jewish oral law, the Mishnah and the Talmud. Moses is also given a number of bynames in Jewish tradition. The Midrash identifies Moses as one of seven biblical personalities who were called by various names. Moses’ other names were: Jekuthiel (by his mother), Heber (by his father), Jered (by Miriam), Avi Zanoah (by Aaron), Avi Gedor (by Kohath), Avi Soco (by his wet-nurse), Shemaiah ben Nethanel (by people of Israel). Moses is also attributed the names Toviah (as a first name), and Levi (as a family name) (Vayikra Rabbah 1:3), Heman, Mechoqeiq (lawgiver) and Ehl Gav Ish (Numbers 12:3).
Jewish historians who lived at Alexandria, such as Eupolemus, attributed to Moses the feat of having taught the Phoenicianstheir alphabet, similar to legends of Thoth. Artapanus of Alexandria explicitly identified Moses not only with Thoth/Hermes, but also with the Greek figure Musaeus (whom he called “the teacher of Orpheus“), and ascribed to him the division of Egypt into 36 districts, each with its own liturgy. He named the princess who adopted Moses as Merris, wife of Pharaoh Chenephres.
To Orthodox Jews, Moses is called Moshe Rabbenu, `Eved HaShem, Avi haNeviim zya”a: “Our Leader Moshe, Servant of God, Father of all the Prophets (may his merit shield us, amen)”. In the orthodox view, Moses received not only the Torah, but also the revealed (written and oral) and the hidden (the `hokhmat nistar teachings, which gave Judaism the Zohar of the Rashbi, the Torah of the Ari haQadosh and all that is discussed in the Heavenly Yeshiva between the Ramhal and his masters). He is also considered the greatest prophet.
“Moses was one hundred and twenty (120) years old when he died” (Deut. 34:7), and no one knows his burial place to this day (Deut. 34:6).
Arising in part from his age and that “his eye had not dimmed, and his vigor had not diminished,” the phrase “may you live to 120” has become a common blessing among Jews, especially since 120 is elsewhere stated as the maximum age for Noah‘s descendants (one interpretation of Genesis 6:3).
Moses striking the rock
Prophet, Saint, Seer, Lawgiver, Apostle to Pharaoh, Reformer
Moses is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testamentfigure. 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 7:39–43, 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. 
Moses also figures in several of Jesus’ messages. When he met the PhariseeNicodemusat night in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, he compared Moses’ lifting up of the bronze serpent in the wilderness, which any Israelite could look at and be healed, to his own lifting up (by his death and resurrection) for the people to look at and be healed. In the sixth chapter, Jesus responded to the people’s claim that Moses provided them manna in the wilderness by saying that it was not Moses, but God, who provided. Calling himself the “bread of life“, Jesus stated that He was provided to feed God’s people.
Moses, along with Elijah, is presented as meeting with Jesus in all three Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, respectively. Jesus refers to the scribes and the Pharisees of the Temple as “seated in the chair of Moses” (Greek: επι της μωυσεως καθεδρας, epi tēs Mōuseōs kathedras) 
Later Christians[who?] found numerous other parallels between the life of Moses and Jesus to the extent that Jesus was likened[by whom?] to a “second Moses.” For instance, Jesus’ escape from the slaughter by Herod in Bethlehem is compared[by whom?] to Moses’ escape from Pharaoh’s designs to kill Hebrew infants. Such parallels, unlike those mentioned above, are not pointed out in Scripture. See the article on typology.
Latter-day Saints are also unique in believing that Moses was taken to heaven without having tasted death (translated). In addition, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery stated that on April 3, 1836, Moses appeared to them in the Kirtland Temple (located in Kirtland, Ohio) in a glorified, immortal, physical form and bestowed upon them the “keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”
Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other Islamic prophet. In general, Moses is described in ways which parallel the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and “his character exhibits some of the main themes of Islamic theology,” including the “moral injunction that we are to submit ourselves to God.”
Moses is defined in the Quran as both prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul), the latter term indicating that he was one of those prophets who brought a scripture and law to his people.
Huston Smith describes an account in the Quran of meetings in heaven between Moses and Muhammad, which Huston states were “one of the crucial events in Muhammad’s life,” and resulted in Muslims observing 5 daily prayers.
Moses is mentioned 502 times in the Quran; passages mentioning Moses include 2.49–61, 7.103–160, 10.75–93, 17.101–104, 20.9–97, 26.10–66, 27.7–14, 28.3–46, 40.23–30, 43.46–55, 44.17–31, and 79.15–25. and many others. Most of the key events in Moses’ life which are narrated in the Bible are to be found dispersed through the different Surahs of the Quran, with a story about meeting Khidr which is not found in the Bible.
In the Moses story related by the Quran, Jochebed is commanded by God to place Moses in an ark and cast him on the waters of the Nile, thus abandoning him completely to God’s protection. The Pharaoh’s wife Asiya, not his daughter, found Moses floating in the waters of the Nile. She convinced the Pharaoh to keep him as their son because they were not blessed with any children.
The Quran’s account has emphasized Moses’ mission to invite the Pharaoh to accept God’s divine message as well as give salvation to the Israelites. According to the Quran, Moses encourages the Israelites to enter Canaan, but they are unwilling to fight the Canaanites, fearing certain defeat. Moses responds by pleading to Allah that he and his brother Aaron be separated from the rebellious Israelites. After which the Israelites are made to wander for 40 years.
Important figures in the Baha’i religion, such as Abdul’l-Baha, have highlighted the fact that Moses, like Abraham, had none of the makings of a great man of history, but through God’s assistance he was able achieve many great things. He is described as having been “for a long time a shepherd in the wilderness,” of having had a stammer, and of being “much hated and detested” by the Pharaoh and the ancient Egyptians of his time. He is said to have been raised in an oppressive household, and to have been known, in Egypt, as a man who had committed murder – though he had done so in order to prevent an act of cruelty.
Nevertheless, like Abraham, through the assistance of God, he achieved great things and gained renown even beyond the Levant. Chief among these achievements was the freeing of his people, the Hebrews, from bondage in Egypt and leading “them to the Holy Land.” He is viewed as the one who bestowed on Israel ‘the religious and the civil law’ which gave them “honour among all nations,” and which spread their fame to different parts of the world.
Furthermore, through the law, Moses is believed to have led the Hebrews ‘to the highest possible degree of civilization at that period.’ Abdul’l-Baha asserts that the ancient Greek philosophers regarded “the illustrious men of Israel as models of perfection.” Chief among these philosophers, he says, was Socrates who “visited Syria, and took from the children of Israel the teachings of the Unity of God and of the immortality of the soul.”
Moses is further described as paving the way for Bahá’u’lláh and his ultimate revelation, and as a teacher of truth, whose teachings were in line with the customs of his time.
In subsequent years, theologians linked the Ten Commandments with the formation of early democracy. Scottish theologian William Barclay described them as “the universal foundation of all things… the law without which nationhood is impossible. …Our society is founded upon it.Pope Francis addressed the United States Congress in 2015 stating that all people need to “keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation… [and] the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being.
Next to the fugitives whom Moses led out of Egypt, the little shipload of outcasts who landed at Plymouth are destined to influence the future of the world.
Following Carver’s death the following year, William Bradford was made governor. He feared that the remaining Pilgrims would not survive the hardships of the new land, with half their people having already died within months of arriving. Bradford evoked the symbol of Moses to the weakened and desperate Pilgrims to help calm them and give them hope: “Violence will break all. Where is the meek and humble spirit of Moses?”William G. Dever explains the attitude of the Pilgrims: “We considered ourselves the ‘New Israel,’ particularly we in America. And for that reason we knew who we were, what we believed in and valued, and what our ‘manifest destiny‘ was.”
Upon the death of George Washington in 1799, two thirds of his eulogies referred to him as “America’s Moses,” with one orator saying that “Washington has been the same to us as Moses was to the Children of Israel.”
Benjamin Franklin, in 1788, saw the difficulties that some of the newly independent American states were having in forming a government, and proposed that until a new code of laws could be agreed to, they should be governed by “the laws of Moses,” as contained in the Old Testament. He justified his proposal by explaining that the laws had worked in biblical times: “The Supreme Being… having rescued them from bondage by many miracles, performed by his servant Moses, he personally delivered to that chosen servant, in the presence of the whole nation, a constitution and code of laws for their observance.
In the 1960s, a leading figure in the civil rights movement was Martin Luther King Jr., who was called “a modern Moses,” and often referred to Moses in his speeches: “The struggle of Moses, the struggle of his devoted followers as they sought to get out of Egypt. This is something of the story of every people struggling for freedom.”
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Freud believed that Moses was a former adherent to the religion of the sun disc Aten instituted by the pharaoh Akhenaten (shown above), a notion now discredited by modern scholars.
Sigmund Freud, in his last book, Moses and Monotheism in 1939, postulated that Moses was an Egyptian nobleman who adhered to the monotheism of Akhenaten. Following a theory proposed by a contemporary biblical critic, Freud believed that Moses was murdered in the wilderness, producing a collective sense of patricidalguilt that has been at the heart of Judaism ever since. “Judaism had been a religion of the father, Christianity became a religion of the son”, he wrote. The possible Egyptian origin of Moses and of his message has received significant scholarly attention.[page needed]
Opponents of this view observe that the religion of the Torah seems different from Atenism in everything except the central feature of devotion to a single god, although this has been countered by a variety of arguments, e.g. pointing out the similarities between the Hymn to Atenand Psalm 104.[page needed] Freud’s interpretation of the historical Moses is not well accepted among historians, and is considered pseudohistory by many.[page needed]
Moses appears eight times in carvings that ring the Supreme Court Great Hall ceiling. His face is presented along with other ancient figures such as Solomon, the Greek god Zeus and the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. The Supreme Court Building’s east pediment depicts Moses holding two tablets. Tablets representing the Ten Commandments can be found carved in the oak courtroom doors, on the support frame of the courtroom’s bronze gates and in the library woodwork. A controversial image is one that sits directly above the Chief Justice of the United States‘ head. In the center of the 40-foot-long Spanish marble carving is a tablet displaying Roman numerals I through X, with some numbers partially hidden.
Michelangelo‘s statue of Moses in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, is one of the most familiar masterpieces in the world. The horns the sculptor included on Moses’ head are the result of a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible into the Latin Vulgate Bible with which Michelangelo was familiar. The Hebrew word taken from Exodus means either a “horn” or an “irradiation.” Experts at the Archaeological Institute of America show that the term was used when Moses “returned to his people after seeing as much of the Glory of the Lord as human eye could stand,” and his face “reflected radiance.” In early Jewish art, moreover, Moses is often “shown with rays coming out of his head.”
Another author explains, “When Saint Jerome translated the Old Testament into Latin, he thought no one but Christ should glow with rays of light — so he advanced the secondary translation. However, writer J. Stephen Lang points out that Jerome’s version actually described Moses as “giving off hornlike rays,” and he “rather clumsily translated it to mean ‘having horns.'” It has also been noted that he had Moses seated on a throne, yet Moses was never given the title of a King nor ever sat on such thrones.
In the late eighteenth century, the deist Thomas Paine commented at length on Moses’ Laws in The Age of Reason (1794, 1795, and 1807). Paine considered Moses to be a “detestable villain“, and cited Numbers 31:13–18 as an example of his “unexampled atrocities”. In the passage, the Jewish army had returned from conquering the Midianites, and Moses has gone down to meet it:
And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp; and Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle; and Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him; but all the women-children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
However, some Jewish sources defend Moses’ role. The Chasam Sofer emphasizes that this war was not fought at Moses’ behest, but was commanded by God as an act of revenge against the Midianite women, who, according to the Biblical account, had seduced the Israelites and led them to sin. Rabbi Joel Grossman argued that the story is a “powerful fable of lust and betrayal“, and that Moses’ execution of the women was a symbolic condemnation of those who seek to turn sex and desire to evil purposes. Alan Levin, an educational specialist with the Reform movement, has similarly suggested that the story should be taken as a cautionary tale, to “warn successive generations of Jews to watch their own idolatrous behavior”.