The name of the illustrious prophet and legislator of the Hebrews, who led them from Egypt to the Promised Land. Having been originally imposed by a native Egyptian princess, the word is no doubt Egyptian in its origin, and Josephus gives its true derivation - from the two Egyptian words, MO, water, and USE, saved. With this accords the Septuagint form, MOUSES. The Hebrews by a slight change accommodated it to their own language, as they did also in the case of some other foreign words; calling it MOSHIE, from the verb MASHA, to draw. See Ex 2:10. Moses was born about 15.71 B. C., the son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi, and the younger brother of Miriam and Aaron. His history is too extensive to permit insertion here, and in general too well known to need it. It is enough simply to remark, that it is divided into three periods, each of forty years. The first extends from his infancy, when he was exposed in the Nile, and found and adopted y the daughter of Pharaoh, to his flight to Midian. During this time he lived at the Egyptian court, and "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was nightly in words and in deeds," Ac 7:22. This is no unmeaning praise; the "wisdom" of the Egyptians, and especially of their priests, was then the profoundest in the world. The second period was from his flight till his return to Egypt, Ac 7:30, during the whole of which interval he appears to have lived in Midian, it may be much after the manner of the Bedaween sheikhs of the present day. Here he married Zipporah, daughter of the wise and pious Jethro, and became familiar with life in the desert. What a contrast between the former period, spent amid the splendors and learning of a court, and this lonely nomadic life. Still it was in this way that God prepared him to be the instrument of deliverance to His people during the third period of his life, which extends from the exodus out of Egypt to his death on mount Nebo. In this interval how much did he accomplish, as the immediate agent of the Most High.
The life and institutions of Moses present one of the finest subjects for the pen of a Christian historian, who is at the same time a competent biblical antiquary. His institutions breathe a spirit of freedom, purity, intelligence, justice, and humanity, elsewhere unknown; and above all, of supreme love, honor, and obedience to God. They molded the character of the Hebrews, and transformed them from a nation of shepherds into a people of fixed residence and agricultural habits. Through that people, and through the Bible, the influence of these institutions has been extended over the world; and often where the letter has not been observed, the spirit of them has been adopted. Thus it was in the laws established by the pilgrim fathers of New England; and no small part of what is of most value in the institutions which they founded, is to be ascribed to the influence of the Hebrew legislator.
The name of this servant of God occurs repeatedly in Greek and Latin writings, and still more frequently in those of the Arabs and the rabbinical Jews. Many of their statements, however, are mere legends without foundation, or else distortions of the Scripture narrative. By the Jews he has always been especially honored, as the most illustrious personage in all their annals, and as the founder of their whole system of laws and institutions. Numerous passages both in the Old and New Testament show how exalted a position they gave him, Ps 103:7; 105:26; 106:16; Isa 63:12; Jer 15:1; Da 9:11; Mt 8:4; Joh 5:45; 9:28; Ac 7:20,37; Ro 10:5,19; Heb 3; 11:23.
In all that he wrought and taught, he was but the agent of the Most High; and yet in all his own character stands honorably revealed. Though naturally liable to anger and impatience, he so far subdued himself as to be termed the meekest of men, Nu 12:3; and his piety, humility, and forbearance, the wisdom and vigor of his administration, his unfailing zeal and faith in God, and his disinterested patriotism are worthy of all imitation. Many features of his character and life furnish admirable illustrations of the work of Christ - as the deliver, ruler, and guide of his people, bearing them on his heart, interceding for them, rescuing, teaching, and nourishing them even to the promised land. All the religious institutions of Moses pointed to Christ; and he himself, on the mount, two thousand years after his death, paid his homage to the Prophet he had foretold, De 18:15-19, beheld "that goodly mountain and Lebanon," De 3:25, and was admitted to commune with the Savior on the most glorious of themes, the death He should accomplish at Jerusalem, Lu 9:31.
Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, as it is called, or the first five books of the Bible. In the composition of them he was probably assisted by Aaron, who kept a register of public transactions, 7/14/type/sawyer'>Ex 17:14; 24:4,7; 34:27; Nu 33:1-2; De 31:24, etc. Some things were added by a later inspired hand; as for example, De 34. Ps 90 also is ascribed to him; and its noble and devout sentiments acquire a new significance, if received as from his pen near the close of his pilgrimage.
drawn (or Egypt. mesu, "son;" hence Rameses, royal son). On the invitation of Pharaoh (Ge 45:17-25), Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt. This immigration took place probably about 350 years before the birth of Moses. Some centuries before Joseph, Egypt had been conquered by a pastoral Semitic race from Asia, the Hyksos, who brought into cruel subjection the native Egyptians, who were an African race. Jacob and his retinue were accustomed to a shepherd's life, and on their arrival in Egypt were received with favour by the king, who assigned them the "best of the land", the land of Goshen, to dwell in. The Hyksos or "shepherd" king who thus showed favour to Joseph and his family was in all probability the Pharaoh Apopi (or Apopis).
Thus favoured, the Israelites began to "multiply exceedingly" (Ge 47:27), and extended to the west and south. At length the supremacy of the Hyksos came to an end. The descendants of Jacob were allowed to retain their possession of Goshen undisturbed, but after the death of Joseph their position was not so favourable. The Egyptians began to despise them, and the period of their "affliction" (Ge 15:13) commenced. They were sorely oppressed. They continued, however, to increase in numbers, and "the land was filled with them" (Ex 1:7). The native Egyptians regarded them with suspicion, so that they felt all the hardship of a struggle for existence.
In process of time "a king [probably Seti I.] arose who knew not Joseph" (Ex 1:8). (See Pharaoh.) The circumstances of the country were such that this king thought it necessary to weaken his Israelite subjects by oppressing them, and by degrees reducing their number. They were accordingly made public slaves, and were employed in connection with his numerous buildings, especially in the erection of store-cities, temples, and palaces. The children of Israel were made to serve with rigour. Their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour" (Ex 1:13-14). But this cruel oppression had not the result expected of reducing their number. On the contrary, "the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" (Ex 1:12).
The king next tried, through a compact secretly made with the guild of midwives, to bring about the destruction of all the Hebrew male children that might be born. But the king's wish was not rigorously enforced; the male children were spared by the midwives, so that "the people multiplied" more than ever. Thus baffled, the king issued a public proclamation calling on the people to put to death all the Hebrew male children by casting them into the river (Ex 1:22). But neither by this edict was the king's purpose effected.
One of the Hebrew households into which this cruel edict of the king brought great alarm was that of Amram, of the family of the Kohathites (Ex 6:16-20), who with his wife Jochebed and two children, Miriam, a girl of perhaps fifteen years of age, and Aaron, a boy of three years, resided in or near Memphis, the capital city of that time. In this quiet home a male child was born (B.C. 1571). His mother concealed him in the house for three months from the knowledge of the civic authorities. But when the task of concealment became difficult, Jochebed contrived to bring her child under the notice of the daughter of the king by constructing for him an ark of bulrushes, which she laid among the flags which grew on the edge of the river at the spot where the princess was wont to come down and bathe. Her plan was successful. The king's daughter "saw the child; and behold the child wept." The princess (see Pharaoh's daughters ) sent Miriam, who was standing by, to fetch a nurse. She went and brought the mother of the child, to whom the princess said, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages." Thus Jochebed's child, whom the princess called "Moses", i.e., "Saved from the water" (Ex 2:10), was ultimately restored to her.
As soon as the natural time for weaning the child had come, he was transferred from the humble abode of his father to the royal palace, where he was brought up as the adopted son of the princess, his mother probably accompanying him and caring still for him. He grew up amid all the grandeur and excitement of the Egyptian court, maintaining, however, probably a constant fellowship with his mother, which was of the highest importance as to his religious belief and his interest in his "brethren." His education would doubtless be carefully attended to, and he would enjoy all the advantages of training both as to his body and his mind. He at length became "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Ac 7:22). Egypt had then two chief seats of learning, or universities, at one of which, probably that of Heliopolis, his education was completed. Moses, being now about twenty years of age, spent over twenty more before he came into prominence in Bible history. These twenty years were probably spent in military service. There is a tradition recorded by Josephus that he took a lead in the war which was then waged between Egypt and Ethiopia, in which he gained renown as a skilful general, and became "mighty in deeds" (Ac 7:22).
After the termination of the war in Ethiopia, Moses returned to the Egyptian court, where he might reasonably have expected to be loaded with honours and enriched with wealth. But "beneath the smooth current of his life hitherto, a life of alternate luxury at the court and comparative hardness in the camp and in the discharge of his military duties, there had lurked from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, a secret discontent, perhaps a secret ambition. Moses, amid all his Egyptian surroundings, had never forgotten, had never wished to forget, that he was a Hebrew." He now resolved to make himself acquainted with the condition of his countrymen, and "went out unto his brethren, and looked upon their burdens" (Ex 2:11). This tour of inspection revealed to him the cruel oppression and bondage under which they everywhere groaned, and could not fail to press on him the serious consideration of his duty regarding them. The time had arrived for his making common cause with them, that he might thereby help to break their yoke of bondage. He made his choice accordingly (Heb 11:25-27), assured that God would bless his resolution for the welfare of his people. He now left the palace of the king and took up his abode, probably in his father's house, as one of the Hebrew people who had for forty years been suffering cruel wrong at the hands of the Egyptians.
He could not remain indifferent to the state of things around him, and going out one day among the people, his indignation was roused against an Egyptian who was maltreating a Hebrew. He rashly lifted up his hand and slew the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand. Next day he went out again and found two Hebrews striving together. He speedily found that the deed of the previous day was known. It reached the ears of Pharaoh (the "great Rameses," Rameses II.), who "sought to slay Moses" (Ex 2:15). Moved by fear, Moses fled from Egypt, and betook himself to the land of Midian, the southern part of the peninsula of Sinai, probably by much the same route as that by which, forty years afterwards, he led the Israelites to Sinai. He was providentially led to find a new home with the family of Reuel, where he remained for forty years (Ac 7:30), under training unconsciously for his great life's work.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush (Ex 3), and commissioned him to go down to Egypt and "bring forth the children of Israel" out of bondage. He was at first unwilling to go, but at length he was obedient to the heavenly vision, and left the land of Midian (Ex 4:18-26). On the way he was met by Aaron (q.v.) and the elders of Israel (Ex 4:27-31). He and Aaron had a hard task before them; but the Lord was with them (ch. 7-12), and the ransomed host went forth in triumph. (See Exodus.) After an eventful journey to and fro in the wilderness, we see them at length encamped in the plains of Moab, ready to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. There
(See AARON; EGYPT; EXODUS.) Hebrew Mosheh, from an Egyptian root, "son" or "brought forth," namely, out of the water. The name was also borne by an Egyptian prince, viceroy of Nubia under the 19th dynasty. In the part of the Exodus narrative which deals with Egypt, words are used purely Egyptian or common to Hebrew and Egyptian. Manetho in Josephus (contrast Apion 1:26, 28, 31) calls him Osarsiph, i.e. "sword of Osiris or saved by Osiris". "The man of God" in the title Psalm 90, for as Moses gave in the Pentateuch the key note to all succeeding prophets so also to inspired psalmody in that the oldest psalm. "Jehovah's slave" (Nu 12:7; De 34:5; Jos 1:2; Ps 105:26; Heb 3:5). "Jehovah's chosen" (Ps 106:23). "The man of God" (1Ch 23:14). Besides the Pentateuch, the Prophets and Psalms and New Testament (Ac 7:9,20-38; 2Ti 3:8-9; Heb 11:20-28; Jg 1:9) give details concerning him. His Egyptian rearing and life occupy 40 years, his exile in the Arabian desert 40, and his leadership of Israel from Egypt to Moab 40 (Ac 7:23,30,36).
Son of Amram (a later one than Kohath's father) and Jochebed (whose name, derived from Jehovah, shows the family hereditary devotion); Miriam, married to Hur, was oldest; Aaron, married to Elisheba, three years older (Ex 7:7, compare Ex 2:7); next Moses, youngest. (See AMRAM; MIRIAM.) By Zipporah, Reuel's daughter, he had two sons: Gershom, father of Jonathan, and Eliezer (1Ch 23:14-15); these took no prominent place in their tribe. A mark of genuineness; a forger would have made them prominent. Moses showed no self-seeking or nepotism. His tribe Levi was the priestly one, and naturally rallied round him in support of the truth with characteristic enthusiasm (Ex 32:27-28). Born at Heliopolis (Josephus, Ap. 1:9, 6; 2:9), at the time of Israel's deepest depression, from whence the proverb, "when the tale of bricks is doubled then comes Moses." Magicians foretold to Pharaoh his birth as a destroyer; a dream announced to Amram his coming as the deliverer (Josephus, Ant. 2:9, section 2-3).
Some prophecies probably accompanied his birth. These explain the parents' "faith" which laid hold of God's promise contained in those prophecies; the parents took his good looks as a pledge of the fulfillment. Heb 11:23, "by faith Moses when he was born was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper (good-looking: Ac 7:20, Greek 'fair to God') child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment" to slay all the males. For three months Jochebed hid him. Then she placed him in an ark of papyrus, secured with bitumen, and laid it in the "flags" (tufi, less in size than the other papyrus) by the river's brink, and went away unable to bear longer the sight. (H. F. Talbot Transact. Bibl. Archrael., i., pt. 9, translates a fragment of Assyrian mythology: "I am Sargina the great king, king of Agani. My mother gave birth to me in a secret place. She placed me in an ark of bulrushes and closed up the door with slime and pitch. She cast me into the river," etc. A curious parallel.) Miriam lingered to watch what would happen.
Pharaoh's daughter (holding an independent position and separate household under the ancient empire; childless herself, therefore ready to adopt Moses; Thermutis according to Josephus) coming down to bathe in the sacred and life giving Nile (as it was regarded) saw the ark and sent her maidens to fetch it. The babe's tears touched her womanly heart, and on Miriam's offer to fetch a Hebrew nurse she gave the order enabling his sister to call his mother. Tunis (now San), Zoan, or Avaris near the sea was the place, where crocodiles are never found; and so the infant would run no risk in that respect. Aahmes I, the expeller of the shepherd kings, had taken it. Here best the Pharaohs could repel the attacks of Asiatic nomads and crush the Israelite serfs. "The field of Zoan" was the scene of God's miracles in Israel's behalf (Ps 78:43). She adopted Moses as "her son, and trained him "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," Providence thus qualifying him with the erudition needed for the predestined leader and instructor of Israel, and "he was mighty in words and in deeds."
This last may hint at what Josephus states, namely, that Moses led a successful campaign against Ethiopia, and named Saba the capital Meroe (Artapanus in Eusebius 9:27), from his adopted mother Merrhis, and brought away as his wife Tharbis daughter of the Ethiopian king, who falling in love with him had shown him the way to gain the swamp surrounding the city (Josephus Ant. 2:10, section 2; compare Nu 12:1). However, his marriage to the Ethiopian must have been at a later period than Josephus states, namely, after Zipporah's death in the wilderness wanderings. An inscription by Thothmes I, who reigned in Moses' early life, commemorates the "conqueror of the nine bows," i.e. Libya. A statistical tablet of Karnak (Birch says) states that Chebron and Thothmes I overran Ethiopia. Moses may have continued the war and in it wrought the "mighty deeds" ascribed to him.
When Moses was 40 years old, in no fit of youthful enthusiasm but deliberately, Moses "chose" (Heb 11:23-28) what are the last things men choose, loss of social status as son of Pharaoh's daughter, "affliction," and "reproach." Faith made him prefer the "adoption" of the King of kings. He felt the worst of religion is better than the best of the world; if the world offers "pleasure" it is but "for a season." Contrast Esau (Heb 12:16-17). If religion brings "affliction" it too is but for a season, its pleasures are "forevermore at God's right hand" (Ps 16:11). Israel's "reproach" "Christ" regards as His own (2Co 1:5; Col 1:24), it will soon be the true Israel's glory (Isa 25:8). "Moses had respect unto" (Greek apeblepen), or turned his eyes from all worldly considerations to fix them on, the eternal "recompense." His "going out unto his brethren when he was grown and looking on their burdens" was his open declaration of his taking his portion with the oppressed serfs on the ground of their adoption by God and inheritance of the promises.
It came into his heart (from God's Spirit, Pr 16:1) to visit his brethren, the children of Israel (Ac 7:23). An Egyptian overseer, armed probably with one of the long heavy scourges of tough pliant Syrian wood (Chabas' "Voyage du Egyptien," 119, 136), was smiting an Hebrew, one of those with whom Moses identified himself as his "brethren." Giving way to impulsive hastiness under provocation, without regard to self when wrong was done to a brother, Moses took the law into his own hands, and slew and hid the Egyptian in the sand. Stephen (Ac 7:25,35) implies that Moses meant by the act to awaken in the Hebrew a thirst for the freedom and nationality which God had promised and to offer himself as their deliverer. But on his striving to reconcile two quarreling Hebrew the wrong doer, when reproved, replied: "who made thee a prince (with the power) and a judge (with the right of interfering) over us? (Lu 19:14, the Antitype.) Intendest thou to kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian?"
Slavery had debased them, and Moses dispirited gave up as hopeless the enterprise which he had undertaken in too hasty and self-relying a spirit. His impetuous violence retarded instead of expedited their deliverance. He still needed 40 more years of discipline, in meek self-control and humble dependence on Jehovah, in order to qualify him for his appointed work. A proof of the genuineness of the Pentateuch is the absence of personal details which later tradition would have been sure to give. Moses' object was not a personal biography but a history of God's dealings with Israel. Pharaoh, on hearing of his killing the Egyptian overseer, "sought to slay him," a phrase implying that Moses' high position made necessary special measures to bring him under the king's power. Moses fled, leaving his exalted prospects to wait God's time and God's way. Epistle to the Hebrew (Heb 11:27) writes, "by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." Moses "feared" (Ex 2:14-15) lest by staying he should sacrifice his divinely intimated destiny to be Israel's deliverer, which was his great aim.
Son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi, brother of Aaron and Miriam. He was born after the mandate by the king that all male children of the Hebrews were to be killed, but his parents by faith hid him three months, and when he could no longer be hidden he was put in an ark of bulrushes and placed among the reeds in the river. Being found there by Pharaoh's daughter he was named by her MOSES, signifying 'drawn out,' and adopted as her son, being nursed for her by his own mother. He became learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and was mighty in words and deeds.
When forty years of age he visited his brethren, and seeing one ill-used he defended him, and slew the Egyptian; but the next day, on seeing two of the Israelites contending, he reminded them that they were brethren, and would have judged between them; but the wrong-doer repulsed him, and asked whether he would kill him as he had killed the Egyptian. Moses, finding that his deed was known, feared the wrath of the king, and fled from Egypt. He had acted with zeal, but without divine direction, and had therefore to become a fugitive for forty years (being the second period of forty years of his life, as the forty years in the wilderness was the third). In the land of Midian he married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, by whom he had two sons.
At the end of the forty years God spoke to him out of the burning bush, telling him to go and deliver Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians. He who had once used an arm of flesh is now conscious of his own nothingness, but learns that God would be with him. He is to make known to the people the name of Jehovah, and to attest his mission, as sent by the God of their fathers, by doing certain signs in their sight.
No trace of timidity is apparent in his dealings with Pharaoh, he boldly requests him to let the people go into the wilderness to sacrifice to Jehovah; but Pharaoh refused and made the burdens of the Israelites greater. Ten plagues followed, when the Egyptians themselves, on the death of all their firstborn, were anxious for them to depart.
God constantly spoke to Moses and gave him instructions in all things. Though Aaron was the elder brother, Moses had the place of leader and apostle. He conducted them out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea. He led the song of triumph when they saw their enemies dead on the sea shore. The N.T. declares that it was by faith he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. He forsook Egypt, not now fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Heb 11:24-27.
Moses needed such faith, for the murmurings and rebellion of the people were great, and they charged him with causing their trials: why had he brought them out to perish in the wilderness? When God's anger was kindled against them, he pleaded for them. When God spake of consuming all the people, and making a great nation of Moses, he besought God to turn from His anger, urging what a reproach it would be for the Egyptians to say that He had led them out only to slay them; and he reminded God of what He had sworn to His servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He thus acted as intercessor with God for the people. Ex 32:7-13.
When Miriam and Aaron complained of Moses because he had married an Ethiopian woman, and said, "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?" it does not appear that Moses rebuked them; but on that very occasion it is recorded, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." God had, however, heard them, and He defended Moses, and declared, He "is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches." Nu 12:1-8.
When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company rose against Moses and Aaron, 'he fell on his face,' and left the matter in God's hands. "Even to-morrow the Lord will show who are his and who is holy;" and they were all consumed. Nu 16:1-35. God also called Moses up into the mount, dictated to him the law, gave him the ten commandments written on stone by the finger of God, and showed him the pattern of the tabernacle. He was the mediator, that is, he received all communications from God for the people. He was also called 'King in Jeshurun' (or Israel), De 33:5; and was a prophet of a unique type. De 34:10.
In one instance Moses failed. When without water, God told him to take the rod (namely, that of priesthood), and speak to the rock, and water would come forth. Moses took "the rod from before the Lord as he commanded him," and with Aaron said unto the people, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly." Moses then had to hear the voice of God saying "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." It was called the water of Meribah, that is 'strife.' Nu 20:7-13. After this Moses besought the Lord saying "I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." But the Lord told him to speak no more to Him of that matter. He was to go up to the top of Pisgah, and view the land. There the Lord showed him all the land: after which he died in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knew where. He "was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." De 3:25-27; 34:1-7.
In the N.T. it is said respecting the body of Moses that Michael, the archangel, contended with the devil about it, the object of Satan probably being to make his tomb to be regarded as a holy place, to which the people would go for blessing, as people do still to the tombs of saints. Jude 1:9.
The law having been given through Moses, his name is often used where the law is alluded to; and Moses is mentioned by the Apostle John when contrasting the dispensations of the law and the gospel: "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Joh 1:17. The fact of the two dispensations being entirely different furnishes the reason why Moses was not allowed to enter into Canaan. That being a type of the heavenly blessings of Christianity, it would not have agreed with Moses, as the dispenser of the law, leading the Israelites into the land: that must be done by JOSHUA, type of Christ risen. Moses had his proper line of service, and was greatly honoured of God. He was faithful in that service amid great discouragements and trials; he was faithful in all God's house. On the mount of transfiguration Moses still represented the law, as Elias did the prophets.
That Moses was the writer of the first five books of the O.T., called the Pentateuch, there are many proofs in scripture; such as "have ye not read in the book of Moses?" Mr 12:26; "If they hear not Moses and the prophets," Lu 16:31; 24:27; "When Moses is read," 2Co 3:15. Of course the section where his death is recorded was added by a later hand. When the inspiration of scripture is fully held, God is known as the author of His word, and it becomes a secondary question who was the instrument that God used to write down what He wished to be recorded. Respecting some of the books of scripture we know not who wrote them; but that in no way touches their inspiration. It is plain, however, from the above and other passages that Moses was the writer of the Pentateuch, which is often called "the law of Moses."
(Heb. Mosheh, "drawn," i.e. from the water; in the Coptic it means "saved from the water"), the legislator of the Jewish people, and in a certain sense the founder of the Jewish religion. The immediate pedigree of Moses is as follows: Levi was the father of:
Gershon -- Kohath -- Merari Kohath was the father of: Amram = Jochebed Amram = Jochebed was the father of: Hur = Miriam -- Aaron = Elisheba -- Moses = Zipporah Aaron = Elisheba was the father of: Nadab -- Abihu -- Eleazar -- Ithamar Eleazar was the father of: Phineas Moses = Zipporah was the father of: Gershom -- Eliezer Gershom was the father of: Jonathan The history of Moses naturally divides itself into three periods of 40 years each. Moses was born at Goshen, In Egypt, B.C.
1571. The story of his birth is thoroughly Egyptian in its scene. His mother made extraordinary efforts for his preservation from the general destruction of the male children of Israel. For three months the child was concealed in the house. Then his mother placed him in a small boat or basket of papyrus, closed against the water by bitumen. This was placed among the aquatic vegetation by the side of one of the canals of the Nile. The sister lingered to watch her brother's fate. The Egyptian princess, who, tradition says, was a childless wife, came down to bathe in the sacred river. Her attendant slaves followed her. She saw the basket in the flags, and despatched divers, who brought it. It was opened, and the cry of the child moved the princess to compassion. She determined to rear it as her own. The sister was at hand to recommend a Hebrew nurse, the child's own mother. here was the first part of Moses' training, --a training at home in the true religion, in faith in God, in the promises to his nation, in the life of a saint, --a training which he never forgot, even amid the splendors and gilded sin of Pharaoh's court. The child was adopted by the princess. From this time for many years Moses must be considered as an Egyptian. In the Pentateuch this period is a blank, but in the New Testament he is represented as "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and as "mighty in words and deeds."
this was the second part of Moses' training. The second period of Moses' life began when he was forty years old. Seeing the sufferings of his people, Moses determined to go to them as their helper, and made his great life-choice, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt."
Seeing an Israelite suffering the bastinado from an Egyptian, and thinking that they were alone, he slew the Egyptian, and buried the corpse in the sand. But the people soon showed themselves unfitted as yet to obtain their freedom, nor was Moses yet fitted to be their leader. He was compelled to leave Egypt when the slaying of the Egyptian became known, and he fled to the land of Midian, in the southern and southeastern part of the Sinai peninsula. There was a famous well ("the well,")
surrounded by tanks for the watering of the flocks of the Bedouin herdsmen. By this well the fugitive seated himself and watched the gathering of the sheep. There were the Arabian shepherds, and there were also seven maidens, whom the shepherds rudely drove away from the water. The chivalrous spirit which had already broken forth in behalf of his oppressed countrymen broke forth again in behalf of the distressed maidens. They returned unusually soon to their father, Jethro, and told him of their adventure. Moses, who up to this time had been "an Egyptian,"
now became for a time an Arabian. He married Zipporah, daughter of his host, to whom he also became the slave and shepherd.
Here for forty years Moses communed with God and with nature, escaping from the false ideas taught him in Egypt, and sifting out the truths that were there. This was the third process of his training for his work; and from this training he learned infinitely more than from Egypt. Stanely well says, after enumerating what the Israelites derived from Egypt, that the contrast was always greater than the likeness. This process was completed when God met him on Horeb, appearing in a burning bush, and, communicating with him, appointed him to be the leader and deliverer of his people. Now begins the third period of forty years in Moses' life. He meets Aaron, his next younger brother, whom God permitted to be the spokesman, and together they return to Goshen in Egypt. From this time the history of Moses is the history of Israel for the next forty years. Aaron spoke and acted for Moses, and was the permanent inheritor of the sacred staff of power. But Moses was the inspiring soul behind. he is incontestably the chief personage of the history, in a sense in which no one else is described before or since. He was led into a closer communion with the invisible world than was vouchsafed to any other in the Old Testament. There are two main characters in which he appears --as a leader and as a prophet. (1) As a leader, his life divides itself into the three epochs --the march to Sinai; the march from Sinai to Kadesh; and the conquest of the transjordanic kingdoms. On approaching Palestine the office of the leader becomes blended with that of the general or the conqueror. By Moses the spies were sent to explore the country. Against his advice took place the first disastrous battle at hormah. To his guidance is ascribed the circuitous route by which the nation approached Palestine from the east, and to his generalship the two successful campaigns in which Sihon and Og were defeated. The narrative is told so briefly that we are in danger of forgetting that at this last stage of his life Moses must have been as much a conqueror and victorious soldier as was Joshua. (2) His character as a prophet is, from the nature of the case, more distinctly brought out. He is the first as he is the greatest example of a prophet in the Old Testament. His brother and sister were both endowed with prophetic gifts. The seventy elders, and Eldad and Medad also, all "prophesied."
But Moses rose high above all these. With him the divine revelations were made "mouth to mouth."
Of the special modes of this more direct communication, four great examples are given, corresponding to four critical epochs in his historical career. (a) The appearance of the divine presence in the flaming acacia tree.
(b) In the giving of the law from Mount Sinai, the outward form of the revelation was a thick darkness as of a thunder-cloud, out of which proceeded a voice.
on two occasions he is described as having penetrated within the darkness.
(c) It was nearly at the close of these communications in the mountains of Sinai that an especial revelation of God was made to him personally.
God passed before him. (d) The fourth mode of divine manifestation was that which is described as beginning at this juncture, and which was maintained with more or less continuity through the rest of his career.
It was the communication with God in the tabernacle from out the pillar of cloud and fire. There is another form of Moses' prophetic gift, viz., the poetical form of composition which characterizes the Jewish prophecy generally. These poetical utterances are --
1. "The song which Moses and the children of Israel sung" (after the passage of the Red Sea).
2. A fragment of the war-song against Amalek.
3. A fragment of lyrical burst of indignation.
4. The fragments of war-songs, probably from either him or his immediate prophetic followers, in
preserved in the "book of the wars of Jehovah,"
and the address to the well. ch.
and the address to the well. ch.
5. The song of Moses,
setting forth the greatness and the failings of Israel.
6. The blessing of Moses on the tribes,
7. The 90th Psalm, "A prayer of Moses, the man of God." The title, like all the titles of the psalms,
MOSES. This illustrious legislator of the Israelites was of the tribe of Levi, in the line of Koath and of Amram, whose son he was, and therefore in the fourth generation after the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt. The time of his birth is ascertained by the exode of the Israelites, when Moses was eighty years old, Ex 7:7. By a singular providence, the infant Moses, when exposed on the river Nile, through fear of the royal decree, after his mother had hid him three months, because he was a goodly child, was taken up and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, and nursed by his own mother, whom she hired at the suggestion of his sister Miriam. Thus did he find an asylum in the very palace of his intended destroyer; while his intercourse with his own family and nation was still most naturally, though unexpectedly, maintained: so mysterious are the ways of heaven. And while he was instructed "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and bred up in the midst of a luxurious court, he acquired at home the knowledge of the promised redemption of Israel; and, "by faith" in the Redeemer Christ, "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ," or persecution for Christ's sake, "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect to the recompense of reward," Ex 2:1-10; Ac 7:20-22; Heb 11:23-26; or looked forward to a future state.
When Moses was grown to manhood, and was full forty years old, he was moved by a divine intimation, as it seems, to undertake the deliverance of his countrymen; "for he supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God, by his hand, would give them deliverance; but they understood not." For when, in the excess of his zeal to redress their grievances, he had slain an Egyptian, who injured one of them, in which he probably went beyond his commission, and afterward endeavoured to reconcile two of them that were at variance, they rejected his mediation; and "the man who had done wrong said, Who made thee a judge and a ruler over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday?" So Moses, finding it was known, and that Pharaoh sought to slay him, fled for his life to the land of Midian, in Arabia Petraea, where he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, or Reuel, prince and priest of Midian; and, as a shepherd, kept his flocks in the vicinity of Mount Horeb, or Sinai, for forty years, Ex 2:11-21; 3:1; 18:5; Nu 10:29; Ac 7:23-30. During this long exile Moses was trained in the school of humble circumstances for that arduous mission which he had prematurely anticipated; and, instead of the unthinking zeal which at first actuated him, learned to distrust himself. His backwardness, afterward, to undertake that mission for which he was destined from the womb, was no less remarkable than his forwardness before, Ex 4:10-13.
At length, when the oppression of the Israelites was come to the full, and they cried to God for succour, and the king was dead, and all the men in Egypt that sought his life, "the God of glory" appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, from the midst of a bush, and announced himself as "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," under the titles of Jahoh and AEhjeh, expressive of his unity and sameness; and commissioned him first to make known to the Israelites the divine will for their deliverance; and next to go with the elders of Israel to Pharaoh, requiring him, in the name of "the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, to suffer the people to go three, days' journey into the wilderness, to sacrifice unto the Lord their God," after such sacrifices had been long intermitted during their bondage; for the Egyptians had sunk into bestial polytheism, and would have stoned them, had they attempted to sacrifice to their principal divinities, the apis, or bull, &c, in the land itself: foretelling, also, the opposition they would meet with from the king, the mighty signs and wonders that would finally compel his assent, and their spoiling of the Egyptians, by asking or demanding of them (not borrowing) jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, (by way of wages or compensation for their services,) as originally declared to Abraham, that "they should go out from thence with great substance," Ge 15:14; Ex 2:23-25; 3:2-22; 8:25-26.
To vouch his divine commission to the Israelites, God enabled Moses to work three signal miracles:
1. Turning his rod into a serpent, and restoring it again:
2. Making his hand leprous as snow, when he first drew it out of his bosom, and restoring it sound as before when he next drew it out: and,
3. Turning the water of the river into blood. And the people believed the signs, and the promised deliverance, and worshipped. To assist him, also, in his arduous mission, when Moses had represented that he was "not eloquent, but slow of speech," and of a slow or stammering tongue, God inspired Aaron, his elder brother, to go and meet Moses in the wilderness, to be his spokesman to the people, Exodus 4:1-31, and his prophet to Pharaoh; while Moses was to be a god to both, as speaking to them in the name, or by the authority, of God himself, Ex 7:1-2. At their first interview with Pharaoh, they declared, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not," or regard not, "the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." In answer to this haughty tyrant, they styled the Lord by a more ancient title, which the Egyptians ought to have known and respected, from Abraham's days, when he plagued them in the matter of Sarah: "The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: Let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword:" plainly intimating to Pharaoh, also, not to incur his indignation, by refusing to comply with his desire. But the king not only refused, but increased the burdens of the people, Ex 5:1-19; and the people murmured, and hearkened not unto Moses, when he repeated from the Lord his assurances of deliverance and protection, for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage, Ex 5:20-23; 6:1-9.
At their second interview with Pharaoh, in obedience to the divine command, again requiring him to let the children of Israel go out of his land; Pharaoh, as foretold, demanded of them to show a miracle for themselves, in proof of their commission, when Aaron cast down his rod, and it became a serpent before Pharaoh and before his servants, or officers of his court. The king then called upon his wise men and magicians, to know if they could do as much by the power of their gods, "and they did so with their enchantments; for they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron's rod swallowed up their serpents." Here the original phrase, ????? ??, "and they did so," or "in like manner," may only indicate the attempt, and not the deed; as afterward, in the plague of lice, "when they did so with their enchantments, but could not," Ex 8:18. And, indeed, the original term, ??????, rendered "their enchantments," as derived from the root ???, or ???, to hide or cover, fitly expresses the secret deceptions of legerdemain, or sleight-of-hand, to impose on spectators: and the remark of the magicians, when unable to imitate the production of lice, which was beyond their skill and dexterity, on account of their minuteness,