MOSES

Moses
Philippe de Champaigne - Moses with the Ten Commandments - WGA04717.jpg

Moses with the Ten Commandments by Philippe de Champaigne.
Born GoshenLower EgyptNew Kingdom of Egypt
Died Mount NeboMoab
Nationality Israelite
Known for Prophet
Spouse(s)
Children
Parent(s)
Relatives

Russian Orthodox icon of the prophet Moses, gesturing towards the burning bush; 18th-century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia)

Moses (/ˈmzɪz, –zɪs/)[2][Note 1] is a prophet in the Abrahamic religions. According to the Hebrew Bible, he was adopted by an Egyptian princess, and later in life became the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the Torah, or acquisition of the Torah from Heaven is traditionally attributed. Also called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew (מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּlit. “Moses our Teacher”), he is the most important prophet in Judaism.[3][4] He is also an important prophet in ChristianityIslam, the Bahá’í Faith, and a number of other Abrahamic religions.

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.[5] 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,[6] 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,[7] 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.

Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person.[8]Rabbinic Judaism calculated a lifespan of Moses corresponding to 1391–1271 BCE;[9]Jerome gives 1592 BCE,[10] and James Ussher 1571 BCE as his birth year.[11][Note 2]

Name

The Biblical account of Moses’ birth provides him with a folk etymology to explain the ostensible meaning of his name.[14][15] 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.'”[16][17] This explanation links it to a verb mashah, meaning “to draw out”, which makes the Pharaoh’s daughter’s declaration a play on words.[17][18] 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.”[19]

Several etymologies have been proposed. An Egyptian root msy, “child of”, has been considered as a possible etymology, arguably an abbreviation of a theophoric name, as for example in Egyptian names like Thutmoses (Thoth created him) and Ramesses (Ra created him),[14] with the god’s name omitted. Abraham Yahuda, based on the spelling given in the Tanakh, argues that it combines “water” or “seed” and “pond, expanse of water”, thus yielding the sense of “child of the Nile” (mw-še).[20]

The Hebrew etymology in the Biblical story may reflect an attempt to cancel out traces of Moses’ Egyptian origins.[19] The Egyptian character of his name was recognized as such by ancient Jewish writers like Philo of Alexandria and Josephus.[19] 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)[17] and in later Jewish tradition as Bithiah,[21] 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.[22][23]

Biblical narrative

Prophet and deliverer of Israel

Finding of Moses (detail), 1638, by Nicolas Poussin

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.[citation needed]

Moses strikes water from the stone, by Francesco Bacchiacca

There, on Mount HorebGod 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).[25] 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.[26]

Moses before the Pharaoh, a 6th-century miniature from the Syriac Bible of Paris

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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

Lawgiver of Israel

Moses is honoured among Jews today as the “lawgiver of Israel”, and he delivers several sets of laws in the course of the four books. The first is the Covenant Code (Exodus20:1923:33), the terms of the covenant which God offers to the Israelites at biblical Mount Sinai. Embedded in the covenant are the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:1–17) and the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:22–23:19).[30] The entire Book of Leviticus constitutes a second body of law, the Book of Numbers begins with yet another set, and the Book of Deuteronomy another.[citation needed]

Moses has traditionally been regarded as the author of those four books and the Book of Genesis, which together comprise the Torah, the first and most revered section of the Hebrew Bible.[citation needed]

Moses lifts up the brass serpent, curing the Israelites from poisonous snake bites in a painting by Benjamin West

Historicity

The scholarly consensus is that the figure of Moses is legendary, and not historical,[8]although a “Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan in the mid-late 13th century B.C.”[31] 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.[32] The story of his discovery picks up a familiar motif in ancient Near Eastern mythological 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.[33]

The tradition of Moses as a lawgiver and culture hero of the Israelites may go back to the 7th-century BCE sources of the Deuteronomist, which might conserve earlier traditions. Kenneth Kitchen, described as a distinguished but lonely voice among British Egyptologists on the subject,[34] argues that there is an historic core behind the Exodus, with Egyptian corvée labourexacted from Hebrews during the imperialist control exercised by the Egyptian Empire over Canaan from the time of the Thutmosides down to the revolt against Merneptah and Rameses III.[35] William Albright believed in the essential historicity of the biblical tales of Moses and the Exodus, accepting however that the core narrative had been overlaid by legendary accretions.[36] Biblical minimalists such as Philip R. Davies and Niels Peter Lemche regard all biblical books, and the stories of an Exodus, united monarchyexile and return as fictions composed by a social elite in Yehud in the Persian period or even later, the purpose being to legitimize a return to indigenous roots.[37]

Despite the imposing fame associated with Moses, no source mentions him until he emerges in texts associated with the Babylonian exile.[36] 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.[38]It was to such a Moses that Yahweh reveals his real name, hidden from the Patriarchs who knew him only as El Shaddai.[39] Against this view is the modern consensus that most of the Israelites were native to Palestine.[40] 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.[36][41] Manfred Görg[42] and Rolf Krauss,[43] the latter in a somewhat sensationalist manner,[44] 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.”[45]

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”.[46]

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.[47]

Moses in Hellenistic literature

Memorial of Moses, Mount Nebo, Jordan

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.”[48]

In addition to the Judeo-Roman or Judeo-Hellenic historians ArtapanusEupolemusJosephus, and Philo, a few non-Jewish historians including Hecataeus of Abdera (quoted by Diodorus Siculus), Alexander PolyhistorManethoApionChaeremon of AlexandriaTacitus and Porphyry also make reference to him. The extent to which any of these accounts rely on earlier sources is unknown.[49] Moses also appears in other religious texts such as the Mishnah(c. 200 CE), Midrash (200–1200 CE),[50] and the Quran (c. 610–53).[citation needed]

The figure of Osarseph in Hellenistic historiography is a renegade Egyptian priest who leads an army of lepers against the pharaoh and is finally expelled from Egypt, changing his name to Moses.[citation needed]

In Hecataeus

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.”[51] 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.[52]

Droge also points out that this statement by Hecataeus was similar to statements made subsequently by Eupolemus.[52]

In Artapanus

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.”[53]

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.[54]

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.”[citation needed]

Some historians, however, point out the “apologetic nature of much of Artapanus’ work,”[55] 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.[56]

In Strabo

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:[57]

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….[58]

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.”[59] 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.”[59]

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.”[60]

In Tacitus

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.”[61] 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 ZeusAmun.

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.[62]

In this version, Moses and the Jews wander through the desert for only six days, capturing the Holy Land on the seventh.[62]

In Longinus

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.[63]

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” (θεσμοθέτηςthesmothete) of the Jews,” a term that puts him on a par with Lycurgus and Minos.[64] 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,[65] and he is described “with far more admiration than even Greek writers who treated Moses with respect, such as Hecataeus and Strabo.[66]

In Josephus

In Josephus‘ (37 – c. 100 CE) Antiquities of the Jews, Moses is mentioned throughout. For example Book VIII Ch. IV, describes Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, at the time the Ark of the Covenant was first moved into the newly built temple:

When King Solomon had finished these works, these large and beautiful buildings, and had laid up his donations in the temple, and all this in the interval of seven years, and had given a demonstration of his riches and alacrity therein; …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…[67]

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.”[68]

In Numenius

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…”[69] 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.[70]

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.”[71] 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.[71]

Abrahamic religions

Judaism

Moses on the Knesset Menorah

Most of what is known about Moses from the Bible comes from the books of ExodusLeviticusNumbers and Deuteronomy.[72] 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.[73][74]There is a wealth of stories and additional information about Moses in the Jewish apocrypha and in the genre of rabbinical exegesis 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.[75] 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).[76] Moses is also attributed the names Toviah (as a first name), and Levi (as a family name) (Vayikra Rabbah 1:3), Heman,[77] Mechoqeiq (lawgiver)[78] and Ehl Gav Ish (Numbers 12:3).[79]

Jewish historians who lived at Alexandria, such as Eupolemus, attributed to Moses the feat of having taught the Phoenicians their alphabet,[80] similar to legends of ThothArtapanus 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.[81]

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)”.[82] 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.[83][84]

“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).

Prophet Moses
MosesStrikingTheRock GREBBER.jpg

Moses striking the rock
Prophet, Saint, Seer, Lawgiver, Apostle to Pharaoh, Reformer
Born GoshenLower Egypt
Died Mount NeboMoab
Venerated in JudaismChristianityIslamBahá’í Faith
Feast Orthodox Church & Catholic Church: Sept 4
Attributes Tablets of the Law

Christianity

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. [85] [86]

Moses also figures in several of Jesus’ messages. When he met the Pharisee Nicodemusat 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.[citation needed]

Moses, along with Elijah, is presented as meeting with Jesus in all three Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17Mark 9, and Luke 9, respectively. Jesus refers to the scribes and the Pharisees of the Temple as “seated in the chair of Moses” (Greekεπι της μωυσεως καθεδραςepi tēs Mōuseōs kathedras[87]

Moses appearing at the Transfiguration of Jesus

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.[citation needed]

His relevance to modern Christianity has not diminished. Moses is considered to be a saint by several churches; and is commemorated as a prophet in the respective Calendars of Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran churches on September 4. In Eastern Orthodox liturgics for September 4, Moses is commemorated as the “Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses, on Mount Nebo”.[88][89][Note 4] The Orthodox Church also commemorates him on the Sunday of the Forefathers, two Sundays before the Nativity.[91]

The Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates him as one of the Holy Forefathers in their Calendar of Saints on July 30.[92]

Mormonism

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially called Mormons) generally view Moses in the same way that other Christians do. However, in addition to accepting the biblical account of Moses, Mormons include Selections from the Book of Moses as part of their scriptural canon.[93] This book is believed to be the translated writings of Moses, and is included in the Pearl of Great Price.[94]

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.”[95]

Islam

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.[96] In general, Moses is described in ways which parallel the Islamic prophet Muhammad,[97] and “his character exhibits some of the main themes of Islamic theology,” including the “moral injunction that we are to submit ourselves to God.”[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[98]

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.[96]

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.[96][99] 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.[citation needed]

The Quran’s account has emphasized Moses’ mission to invite the Pharaoh to accept God’s divine message[100] as well as give salvation to the Israelites.[96][101] 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.[102]

According to Islamic tradition, Moses is buried at Maqam El-Nabi MusaJericho.[citation needed]

Baha’i Faith

Moses is one of the most important of God’s messengers in the Bahá’í Faith being designated a Manifestation of God.[103] An epithet of Moses in Baha’i scriptures is the One Who Conversed with God.[104]

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.[105]

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.[105]

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.”[105]

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.[106]

Legacy

Politics and law

Statue of Moses at the Library of Congress

In a metaphorical sense in the Christian tradition, a “Moses” has been referred to as the leader who delivers the people from a terrible situation. Among the Presidents of the United Statesknown to have used the symbolism of Moses were Harry S. TrumanJimmy CarterRonald ReaganBill ClintonGeorge W. Bush and Barack Obama, who referred to his supporters as “the Moses generation.”[107]

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.[108] 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.[109]

American history

Pilgrims John CarverWilliam Bradford, and Miles Standish, at prayer during their voyage to America. Painting by Robert Walter Weir.

Pilgrims

References to Moses were used by the Puritans, who relied on the story of Moses to give meaning and hope to the lives of Pilgrims seeking religious and personal freedom in America. John Carver was the first governor of Plymouth colony and first signer of the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote in 1620 during the ship Mayflowers three-month voyage. He inspired the Pilgrims with a “sense of earthly grandeur and divine purpose,” notes historian Jon Meacham,[110] and was called the “Moses of the Pilgrims.”[111] Early American writer James Russell Lowell noted the similarity of the founding of America by the Pilgrims to that of ancient Israel by Moses:

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.[112]

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?”[113] 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.”[114][115]

Founding Fathers of the United States

First proposed seal of the United States, 1776

On July 4, 1776, immediately after the Declaration of Independence was officially passed, the Continental Congress asked John AdamsThomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin to design a seal that would clearly represent a symbol for the new United States. They chose the symbol of Moses leading the Israelites to freedom.[116] The Founding Fathers of the United Statesinscribed the words of Moses on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim Liberty thro’ all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof.” (Levit. 25)

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.”[117]

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.[118] 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.[119]

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States, stated why he relied on the laws of Moses over Greek philosophy for establishing the United States Constitution: “As much as I love, esteem, and admire the Greeks, I believe the Hebrews have done more to enlighten and civilize the world. Moses did more than all their legislators and philosophers.[110] Swedish historian Hugo Valentin credited Moses as the “first to proclaim the rights of man.”[120]

Slavery and civil rights

Historian Gladys L. Knight describes how leaders who emerged during slavery time and after often personified the Moses symbol. “The symbol of Moses was empowering in that it served to amplify a need for freedom.”[121] Therefore, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 after freeing the slavesBlack Americans said they had lost “their Moses”.[122] Lincoln biographer Charles Carleton Coffin writes, “The millions whom Abraham Lincoln delivered from slavery will ever liken him to Moses, the deliverer of Israel.”[123]Similarly, Harriet Tubman, who rescued approximately seventy enslaved family and friends, was also described as the “Moses” of her people.[124]

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.”[125]

Popular culture

Literature

Thomas Mann‘s novella The Tables of the Law (1944) is a retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, with Moses as its main character.[citation needed]

In Freud

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 patricidal guilt 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.[126][page needed][127]

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,[128] although this has been countered by a variety of arguments, e.g. pointing out the similarities between the Hymn to Atenand Psalm 104.[126][page needed][129] Freud’s interpretation of the historical Moses is not well accepted among historians, and is considered pseudohistory by many.[130][page needed]

Art

Sculpture in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Depiction in the American government

Moses is depicted in several U.S. government buildings because of his legacy as a lawgiver. In the Library of Congress stands a large statue of Moses alongside a statue of the Paul the Apostle. Moses is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in marble bas-reliefs in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. The plaque’s overview states: “Moses (c. 1350–1250 B.C.) Hebrew prophet and lawgiver; transformed a wandering people into a nation; received the Ten Commandments.”[131]

The other twenty-two figures have their profiles turned to Moses, which is the only forward-facing bas-relief.[132][133]

Statue by Michelangelo Buonarotti— in Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

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.[134]

Michelangelo’s statue

Michelangelo‘s statue of Moses in the Church of San Pietro in VincoliRome, is one of the most familiar masterpieces in the world.[citation needed] 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.”[135] In early Jewish art, moreover, Moses is often “shown with rays coming out of his head.”[136]

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.[137][138] 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.'”[139] 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.[140]

Film and television

Moses was portrayed by Theodore Roberts in Cecil B. DeMille‘s 1923 silent film The Ten Commandments. Moses appeared as the central character in the 1956 DeMille movie, also called The Ten Commandments, in which he was portrayed by Charlton Heston. A television remake was produced in 2006.[citation needed]

Burt Lancaster played Moses in the 1975 television miniseries Moses the Lawgiver.[citation needed]

In the 1981 comedy film History of the World, Part I, Moses was portrayed by Mel Brooks.[141]

Sir Ben Kingsley was the narrator of the 2007 animated film, The Ten Commandments.[citation needed]

Moses appeared as the central character in the 1998 DreamWorks Pictures’ animated movieThe Prince of Egypt. He was voiced by Val Kilmer.[142]

In the 2013 television miniseries The Bible, Moses was portrayed by actor William Houston.[143]

Christian Bale portrayed Moses in Ridley Scott‘s 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings[144] which portrayed Moses and Rameses II as being raised by Seti I as cousins.[citation needed]

Guilherme Winter portrayed Moses in Alexandre Avancini and Vivian De Oliveira 2015-2016 Brazilian miniseries Moisés y los diez mandamientos (original title: Os Dez Mandamentos).

Criticism of Moses

Thomas Paine and Numbers 31:13-18

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”.[145] 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.[146]

The prominent atheist Richard Dawkins also made reference to these verses in his 2006 book, The God Delusion, concluding that Moses was “not a great role model for modern moralists”.[147]

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,[148] 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.[149] 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”.[150]

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AMERICA IN GOD WE TRUST

 

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THE STORY OF NOAH

 

Genesis 5:32-10:1New International Version (NIV)

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Wickedness in the World

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 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.”

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.

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. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 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.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Noah and the Flood

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.

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family,because I have found you righteous in this generation. 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, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 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.”

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 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.

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.Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down,and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 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.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 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

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 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.Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 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.

“Whoever sheds human blood,
    by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
    has God made mankind.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 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.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 6:3 Or My spirit will not remain in
  2. Genesis 6:3 Or corrupt
  3. Genesis 6:14 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  4. Genesis 6:15 That is, about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high or about 135 meters long, 23 meters wide and 14 meters high
  5. Genesis 6:16 That is, about 18 inches or about 45 centimeters
  6. Genesis 6:16 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
  7. Genesis 7:20 That is, about 23 feet or about 6.8 meters
  8. Genesis 7:20 Or rose more than fifteen cubits, and the mountains were covered
  9. Genesis 8:21 Or humans, for
  10. Genesis 9:20 Or soil, was the first
  11. Genesis 9:27 Japheth sounds like the Hebrew for exten

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FEAR GOD

 

fear God

Why Is It Important To Fear God?

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.

CAIN AND ABEL

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Cain and Abel in the Bible

Bible Review’s Supporting Roles by Elie Wiesel

Read Elie Wiesel’s essay on Cain and Abel in the Bible as it originally appeared in Bible Review, February 1998.—Ed.


georg-grosz-cain

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 eBook Exploring 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.


Read “What Happened to Cain in the Bible?” and “Who Was the Wife of Cain?”in Bible History Daily.


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.

Translated by Alissa Martin.


Read an interview BAR Editor Hershel Shanks conducted with Elie Wiesel and Biblical scholar Frank Moore Cross, republished from BAR, July/August 2004 >>


Notes:

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 ReviewBAS 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:

Joshua

Aaron

Seth

Jethro


Posted in People in the Bible.

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  • Tammy says

    The Lord clothed Adam and Eve with animal hide after their sin, which meant blood was shed. Cain presented an offering which was bloodless and the fruit of his own labor, Abel presented a substitutionary sacrifice of an animal, understanding the need to atone for sin. Cain and Abel inherited the sin nature from their parents.They both had probably been instructed by their parents that this was the proper approach to the Lord. Cain’s way was the prideful way…like the serpent of old. The Lord did counsel Cain on this but Cain rejected that counsel. Abel presented a better offering showing that he sought redemption based on the Lord’s way.

  • jim says

    Hi did you notice that God camanded mercy for Kane like it wasn’t all his fault .when it should have been an eye for an eye ? Like God knew that Satan had infected him with his spirit .nothing about Adam and Eve going south or any other of there children .just Kane. Also the oldist in the last supper was on the left side of Jesus and betrayed him who Jesus said had a demon .and the one Jesus loved was on his right John the youngest this is a picture of first Adam Judest and second Adam John. Jesus is second Adam as are all born from above and he was betrayed by first Adam Judest .the theim of right hand and left hand is seen here.the right to life the left to death .

  • edward says

    Are Mica, Isaiah and Amos wrong. Micah said that blood sacrifice was much less important than doing justice and loving mercy. Isaiha at one point denounced sacrifice
    And Amos quoted God, “I hate your feasts”. God did not hate the feast because the Israelites were sacrificing to the wrong God, but because the rich were abusing the poor
    Thus, sacrifice without good works is no good. This vindicates Jakobus, and goes back to Zarathustra, who denounced multiple sacrifices, but championed the poor and the environment