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The Holy Prophet and Lawgiver Moses, the God-seer and faithful servant of God receiving the Law Before the Burning Bush (Mt. Sinai, ca.1050–1100)

The glorious Prophet and God-seer Moses ((Hebrew)

מֹשֶׁה Mōsheh, Mōsheh ben Amram;[1] (Greek)
Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs in both the Septuagint and the New Testament; (Arabic)
موسىٰ , Mūsā), meaning one who draws forth, is drawn out, or is saved from the water,[2] ca.1570 BC - ca.1450 BC,[note 1][note 2] was the deliverer,[3] prophet, legislator, judge, and leader of the Israelites from the period of the Exodus of Israel from slavery in Egypt, to their arrival on the doorstep of Canaan near the Jordan River. He is best known for leading the Israelites out of Egypt, bringing the Ten Commandments (Decalogue) down from Mount Sinai, establishing the Mosaic Covenant and founding the religious community known as Israel.[4][note 3]

His life is narrated in the Septuagint from Exodus 2 through to Deuteronomy 34:10-12. Considered something more than a prophet, for God spoke face-to-face with Moses (Exodus 33:11), he was a true servant of the Lord in every sense of the word and is the supremely wise Lawgiver ((Greek)

Ο Νομοθέτης), the most ancient historian of all to whom the authorship of the Pentateuch is traditionally attributed (ca.1491-1451 BC),[note 4] and through whom the Seven Old Testament Feasts of Lord were instituted by God's command as described in Leviticus Chapter 23.[5][note 5][note 6]
The Holy Prophet and Lawgiver Moses, the God-seer and faithful servant of God.

For forty years, Moses lived at the court of the Pharaoh (his Egyptian training); for the next forty years, he lived as a shepherd in contemplation of God and the world (his exile in Arabia); and for his remaining forty years, he led the people through the wilderness to the Promised Land (his government of the Israelite nation). He beheld the Promised Land, but was not allowed to enter it, for he had once sinned against God (Numbers 20:12). Thus Moses reposed at the age of 120.[6]

As a miracle-worker, he was a prefiguration of Christ, according to St. Basil the Great,[6][note 7] and is looked upon as a precursor to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) and as a witness to him (John 1:45) in the seamless, unified history of God's relationship to and interaction with humanity throughout the ages.[7] In Saint Augustine's homily on Psalm 90, which is entitled "The prayer of Moses the man of God," he writes that Moses was the "Minister of the Old, and the Prophet of the New Testament".[8] Moses' influence continues to be felt in the religious life, moral concerns, and social ethics of civilization today.[4]

The Orthodox Church commemorates his sacred memory annually on September 4/17,[9][10] the day that Moses saw the Land of Promise,[11] as well as on the Sunday of the Forefathers.[12]

He is likewise commemorated on September 4 in the respective Calendars of Saints of the Roman Catholic Church,[13][14][note 8] and Lutheran (LCMS) churches.[15]

In the Coptic Orthodox Calendar his feast day is observed on Thout 8 (September 18),[16] and in the Ethiopian Orthodox Calendar on Mäskäräm 8 (September 18) as well.[17]

In the Armenian Apostolic Church Moses is commemorated together with the The Holy Forefathers of the Old Testament on July 26.[18][note 9]


The life of the Holy Prophet and God-Seer Moses is narrated in the Septuagint in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, which provides the chief authentic account of his luminous life.[19] In addition he is mentioned in the Jewish traditions preserved throughout the New Testament, in particular in Acts 7:20-44, and Heb. 11:23-28.[20][note 10]

In non-biblical writings, references to the role of Moses first appear at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world, from 323 BC to about 146 BC. Judeo-Hellenic or Judeo-Roman historians who mention him include Artapanus, Eupolemus, Josephus, and Philo.

A few non-Jewish historians also make reference to him including Hecataeus of Abdera (quoted by Diodorus Siculus), Alexander Polyhistor, Manetho, Apion, Chaeremon of Alexandria, Tacitus and Porphyry. The extent to which any of these accounts rely on earlier sources is unknown.

Several Church Fathers refer to Moses including Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Hilary of Poitiers, John Cassian, Cyprian of Carthage, Lactantius, Aphrahat the Persian Sage, Ephrem the Syrian (Nisibene Hymns; Fifteen Hymns for the Feast of Epiphany), and Gregory of Nyssa (Life of Moses).

Included among the Jewish pseudepigraphical group of writings attributed to Moses are the Apocalypse of Moses, and the Ascension of Moses.[20]



Illuminated manuscript with a conflation of events from Moses' life: Left: the basket is taken from the Nile River by the daughter of Pharaoh; Right: the death of Moses on Mt. Nebo overlooking the Jordan River. (Menologion of Basil II)

Moses was born of the Levite tribe of Israel, the son of Amram and Jochabed (Exodus 6:20). According to Genesis 46:11, Amram's father Kohath had immigrated to Egypt with 70 of Jacob's household, making Moses part of the second generation of Israelites born during their time in Egypt. The name of his mother, Jochebed implies the knowledge of the name of Jehovah in the bosom of the family. It is its first distinct appearance in the sacred history.[20]

Moses was born around 1570 BC, having one older sister, Miriam (by seven years), and one older brother, Aaron (by three years).[21] According to Manetho the place of his birth was at the ancient city of Heliopolis.[20] He was born at a time when an unnamed Egyptian Pharaoh had commanded that all the male Hebrew children born be killed by drowning in the river Nile (Exodus 1:22).[note 11]

The Finding of Moses by Pharaoh's Daughter. (Edwin Long, 1886).

His mother Jochebed kept the baby Moses concealed for three months, but when she could keep him hidden no longer, rather than deliver him to be killed, she set him adrift on the Nile River in a small craft of bulrushes coated in pitch.[22][note 12]

The daughter of Pharaoh (Bithiah, Thermuthis[23]), coming opportunely to the river to bathe, discovered the babe, was attracted to him, adopted him as her son, and named him "Moses." His sister Miriam, who had observed the progress of the tiny craft until it had reached the Pharaoh's daughter, came forward and asked Pharaoh's daughter if she would like a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby.[21] According to Josephus the child had refused the milk of Egyptian nurses,[20] and thereafter, Jochebed was employed as the child's nurse.

Thus it came about that the future deliverer of Israel was reared as the son of an Egyptian princess (Exodus 2:1-10).[22]

Prince of Egypt

In the Pentateuch this period is unrecorded, however in the New Testament it states that in his new surroundings Moses was schooled "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians", and was "mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22).[19]

According to non-biblical literature, he was educated at Heliopolis and grew up there as a priest, under his Egyptian name of Osarsiph (according to Manetho)[note 13] or Tisithen (according to Chaeremon).[20]

In his adulthood, Flavius Josephus suggests that Moses commanded Egyptian troops and led them to victory against the forces of neighboring Ethiopia.[24] According to that account, the Ethiopians were raiding the Egyptians, and the Pharaoh ordered Moses to lead an army to stop the raiders once and for all. Moses then used a remarkable tactic to take the Ethiopians by surprise. The Ethiopians were expecting Moses to attack by marching along the river, rather than by land, because the land between the two armies was so thick with snakes that it was impassable. For that very reason, Moses was determined to march over land. He ordered his artificers to construct cages and to carry Ibis birds (a sacred bird in Egypt) with them. The ibis is a natural enemy of snakes, and so they scattered the snakes, and the army was safe. Thus the army crossed the land, surprised the enemy, and defeated them.

According to Artapanus he founded the city of Hermopolis in Lower Egypt to commemorate his victory, and advanced to Saba (Sheba), the capital of Ethiopia, and gave it the name of Meroë, from his adopted mother Merrhis, whom he buried there.

Tharbis,[note 14] the daughter of the king of Ethiopia, fell in love with him, and he returned in triumph to Egypt with her as his wife.[20] Irenaeus of Lyons states that Moses' Ethiopian wife prefigures the Church: "by means of the marriage of Moses, was shown forth the marriage of the Word; and by means of the Ethiopian bride, the Church taken from among the Gentiles was made manifest."[25]

Yet, the adult Moses did not forget his origins.[7] The nurture of his mother is probably the unmentioned link which bound him to his own people, and the time had at last arrived when he was resolved to reclaim his nationality. Here again the New Testament preserves the tradition in a more distinct form than the account in the Pentateuch:

"By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward." (Hebrews 11:24-26)

One day when he was about 40 years old, Moses had gone to see how it fared with his brethren, bondservants to the Egyptians.[22] Upon seeing an Egyptian maltreating a Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. Moses soon discovered that the affair was known, and that Pharaoh was likely to put him to death for it. He then fled in exile from Egypt across the Sinai Peninsula and went to Midian (Exodus 2:1-15, Acts 7:23-29).[note 15]

In this regard, it is worth noting that the ancient historians of the Pharaohs tended to exaggerate minor events that favoured reigning monarchs, and dismissed as "border incidents" such monumental achievements as the flight from Egyptian slavery under Moses. As a common practice, the names of opponents were wiped out from the temples and public works, in an attempt to erase their memory from history. Despite this practice however, the shining truth has emerged of God's prophet Moses, the legislator, judge, and leader of the Israelites.[26]

Shepherd in Midian

When he first arrived in Midian he stopped at a well where he protected seven shepherdesses from a band of rude shepherds. He settled with the shepherdesses' father Hobab, or Jethro (Raguel),[19] a Kenite shepherd and priest of Midian, whose daughter Zipporah he married in due time. As descendants of Abraham and his second wife, Keturah, the Midianites were distantly related to the Israelites.[7] The alliance between Israel and the Kenite-branch of the Midianites, now first formed, was never broken.[20]

Moses sojourned there for forty years, following the occupation of a shepherd, during which time his first son Gershom was born (Exodus 2:11-22).[22] Moses' second son was named Eliezer (Exodus 18:4), named in commemoration of his successful flight from Pharaoh.[19]

The chief effect of his stay in Arabia was on Moses himself. It was in the seclusion and simplicity of his shepherd-life that he received his call as a prophet.[20] During this period in Moses' life we see a man who was a desperately thirsting God-Seeker, long before he was a God-Seer — forty years — in the desert, before God first began to reveal Himself to him, reminding us of the faithful early Desert Fathers of the Christian dispensation. This was four decades of intense ascetical suffering, and it was a penance endured willingly by Moses for his sin — having killed a man in anger while still in Egypt. Moses’ long years of exile in the desolate desert were used by him for purification, first of his sins, then of his passions, so that, in this terrible crucible of heat and suffering, he could be made ready to have his astonishing encounter with the Living God.[27]

The Burning Bush

The Holy Prophet Moses before the Burning Bush.
(Byzantine mosaic).

One day, Moses led his flock to Mount Horeb (Exodus 3), the Mountain of God, usually identified with Mount Sinai. There was already some recognition of the sacredness of Sinai both by Israel and by the Arabs at this time.[20] There he saw a bush that burned, but was not consumed.

"Upon the Sinaitic mountain tops, his home, Yahweh revealed himself to Moses. He saw his glory in the heavenly fire; he heard his voice in the thunder; the storm-clouds were his Kerubim, the lightnings were his seraphim. At last there came to him on Horeb, by some sacred tree, illumined strangely by the fire from heaven, a message to his inmost soul to go back into Goshen on the twofold errand of making Yahweh known and delivering his people. It was the prophet's call. It was a real ecstatic experience, like that of David under the baka-tree, Elijah on the mountain, Isaiah in the temple, Ezekiel on the Khebar, Jesus in the Jordan, Paul on the Damascus road. It was the perpetual mystery of the divine touching the human."[28]

Saint Basil the Great affirms that "you have in the Angel Who appeared from the bush, Him Who is Lord and God."[29]

The location, in the desert solitude, was appropriate as a sign that the divine protection was not confined either to the sanctuaries of Egypt or to the Holy Land, but was to be found with any faithful worshiper, fugitive and solitary though he might be.[20]

When Moses approached to look more closely, God spoke to him from the bush saying: "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:4-5).

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob then designated Moses to deliver the Hebrews from the Egyptian yoke of bondage, and to conduct them into the "land of milk and honey", the region long since promised to the seed of Abraham.[19] Moses argued that he was not worthy of such responsibility, did not know the Lord's true name, and could not persuade the Hebrews to follow him.[7] God then revealed his name to Moses, the Tetragrammaton, referring to the Hebrew written form of YHWH ((Hebrew)

יהוה‎), as a "memorial unto all generations":[19]
"So Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I go to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His name?' what shall I tell them? Then God said to Moses, "I AM the Existing One." He also said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The Existing One sent me to you.' " "[30][note 16]
Moses and the Burning Bush
(Mt. Sinai, 12th c.)

Although it was at this time that the name of YHWH was revealed, nevertheless it is frequently used throughout the patriarchal narratives, from the second chapter of Genesis. According to Very Rev. Fr. George Poulos, Moses was a protagonist of monotheism, and brought together the two sects that worshipped "Yahweh" and "Jehovah" since the names applied to the living God.[26]. In Deuteronomy 6:4 he instructs them: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!..." (Shema Yisrael).[note 7]

In Orthodox Christian tradition, as defined by the Church Fathers and the Ecumenical councils, the flame Moses saw was in fact God's Uncreated Energies/Glory, manifested as light, thus explaining why the bush was not consumed. It is not interpreted as a miracle in the sense of an event, which only temporarily exists, but is instead viewed as Moses being permitted to see these Uncreated Energies/Glory, which are considered to be eternal things. The Orthodox definition of salvation is this vision of the Uncreated Energies/Glory, and it is a recurring theme in the works of Greek Orthodox theologians such as John S. Romanides. In addition, Moses saw foreshadowed the great mystery of our Savior’s virginal Conception and of his coming in the flesh, which has overturned the laws of nature at the same time as preserving them.[27]

Armed with this new name, and carrying in his hand the "rod of God" to attest to his mission, he returned to Egypt (Exodus 4:1-9,20). In the transformation of his shepherd's staff is the glorification of the simple pastoral life, of which that staff was the symbol, into the great career which lay before it. The humble yet wonder-working crook is, in the history of Moses, what the despised cross is in the first history of Christianity. In this call of Moses, as of the Apostles afterwards, the man is swallowed up in the cause.[20]

On the way Moses was nearly killed by God because his son was not circumcised, but Zipporah, Moses' wife, circumcised her son and threw the foreskin at Moses' feet, saying that Moses had become a "bridegroom of blood" to her, and God's anger abated (Exodus 4:24-26).[note 17]

Pharaoh, the Plagues of Egypt and Passover

Moses was met and assisted on his arrival in Egypt by his elder brother, Aaron, and readily gained a hearing with his oppressed brethren (Exodus 4:27-31),[22] who believed Moses and Aaron after they saw the signs that were performed in the midst of the Israelite assembly.

Moses Speaks to Pharaoh (James Tissot, ca.1896-1902).

It was a more difficult matter, however, to persuade Pharaoh to let the Hebrews depart. When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him that the Lord God of Israel wanted him to permit the Israelites to celebrate a feast in the wilderness (Exodus 5:3), Pharaoh, who was himself considered a deity in an official state religion with numerous gods,[7] replied that he did not know their God and would not permit them to go. Worse, he added to their burdens by increasing their work quotas and decreeing that they would henceforth have to gather their own straw for making bricks.[7]

Although they gained a second hearing with Pharaoh, the Lord had already disclosed that the king would not yield, declaring:

“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:3-5)
The firstborn of the Egyptians are slain (Exodus 12:29-30), with death "passing over" the houses of the Israelites.
(Gustave Doré, 19th c.)

When Aaron's rod was changed into a serpent, and Pharaoh's magicians did the same with their rods, Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. When the people were still not freed, Moses caused a series of Divine manifestations to come upon the Egyptians, described as ten in number, in which he humiliates the sun and river gods, afflicts man and beast, and displays such extraordinary control over the earth and heavens that even the magicians are forced to recognize in his prodigies "the finger of God" (Exodus 7-12).[19][22][note 18] These took place in the last year of the enslavement of the Israelite people in that land, and included:

  1. The Plague Upon the River (Plague of blood) - (Exodus 7:14–25)
  2. The Plague of Frogs - (Exodus 7:25–8:11)
  3. The Plague of Lice or Gnats - (Exodus 8:16–19)
  4. The Plague of Flies - (Exodus 8:20–32)
  5. The Plague Upon the Cattle (Plague of pestilence) - (Exodus 9:1–7)
  6. The Plague of Sores (Plague of boils) - (Exodus 9:8–12)
  7. The Plague of Hail and Fire - (Exodus 9:13–35)
  8. The Plague of Locusts - (Exodus 10:1–20)
  9. The Plague of Darkness - (Exodus 10:21–29)
  10. The Plague Upon the First-born (Death of the firstborn) - (Exodus 11:1–12:36)

These plagues culminated in the slaying of the Egyptian first-born (Exodus 12:29), whereupon such terror seized the Egyptians that they urged the Hebrews to leave. The events are commemorated as Passover (Pesach), referring to how the plague "passed over" the houses of the Israelites while smiting the Egyptians.[31]

Thus the formidable power of paganism, in its conflict with the theocracy, was obliged to bow before the apparently weak people of the Lord.[20]

The Exodus and Parting of the Red Sea

The Israelites Leaving Egypt, by Orientalist painter David Roberts (1828).

The Exodus ((Hebrew)

יציאת מצרים, Yetsi'at Mitzrayim "[the] exit [from] Egypt"; (Greek)
ἔξοδος, exodos "way out") is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt as described in the Bible.[note 19] After 430 years in a foreign land, the Israelites trekked northeastward toward their spiritual home in Canaan.[7] According to Exodus 12:37-38, the Israelites numbered "about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children," plus many non-Israelites and livestock. Numbers 1:46 gives a more precise total of 603,550.[note 20]

Before the Israelites departed from Egypt, they acquired a great store of precious metal, gemstones, linens, and other stuffs of luxury, which would later be used to furnish the material for the Tabernacle. Although some of these items also furnished the material for the golden calf.

Moses and the Israelites pass through the Red Sea and the army of Pharaoh is drowned.
(Paris Psalter, mid-10th c.)

Thus the children of Israel, with their flocks and herds, started toward the eastern border at the southern part of the Isthmus of Suez. The long procession moved slowly, and found it necessary to encamp three times before passing the Egyptian frontier — some believe at the Great Bitter Lake, while others propose sites as far south as the northern tip of the Red Sea.

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud to guide them on their way, and by night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the Pillar of Cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people (Exodus 13:21-22).

Passage of the Red Sea
(Jerusalem, Armenian Patriarchate Library, 1266 AD).

Meanwhile Pharaoh had repented of freeing them, and was in pursuit of them with a large army (Exodus 14:5-9). Shut in between this army and the Red Sea (or "Sea of Reeds"), or the Bitter Lakes, which were then connected with it, the Israelites despaired, but God divided the waters of the sea so that they passed safely across on dry ground.[note 21]

Map showing the 3 standard alternative possible routes for the first part of the Israelite Exodus.

When the Egyptians attempted to follow, God permitted the waters to return upon them and drown them (Exodus 14:10-31). The charioteers, horses, and foot soldiers of the king were drowned beneath the surging waves.[7] [note 22] The event furnishes the theme of the thrilling "Canticle of Moses" , one of the most magnificent Psalms recorded in the Scriptures, where Moses and his sister Miriam led the people in a victory song of praise to Yahweh (Exodus 15:1–21), chanting: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”[4][note 23] Saint Augustine writes that "in the clouds and the Red Sea there is the baptism consecrated by the Blood of Christ. The enemies following behind perish, as past sins are put away."[32]

The people then continued to Marah marching for three days along the wilderness of the Shur, without finding water; Moses cast a tree into the water, and the water became sweet (Exodus 15:23-25). Later in the journey the people began running low on supplies and again murmured against Moses and Aaron and said they would have preferred to die in Egypt, but God's provision of manna from the sky in the morning and quail in the evening took care of the situation (Exodus 16). Then they came to Elim where twelve water springs and 70 Palm trees greeted them.[note 24]

From Elim they set out again and after 45 days they reached the Wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai. From there they reached the plain of Rephidim, completing the crossing of the Red Sea, and camping before the Holy Mountain of God (Exodus 19:1-2).

The route of the Hebrews is contested by scholars, but the most likely possibility is the southern route to Jabal Mūsā, the traditional location of Mt. Sinai (Horeb), in the granite range at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.[4]

In the meantime Joshua of Navi had become general of the armies of Israel and the special minister, or assistant, of Moses (Exodus 17:9). When Amalekites arrived and attacked the Israelites, in response, Moses bade Joshua to lead the men to fight while he stood on a hill with the rod of God in his hand. As long as Moses held the rod up, Israel dominated the fighting, but if Moses let down his hands, the tide of the battle turned in favor of the Amalekites. Because Moses was getting tired, Aaron and Hur had Moses sit on a rock. Aaron held up one arm, Hur held up the other arm, and the Israelites routed the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-13).

At Mount Sinai — The Ten Commandments

Moses hears the call of God and receives the Tablets of the Law
(Paris Psalter, mid-10th c).

In the third month of their journey, the Israelites reached Mount Sinai, the site divinely chosen for the ultimate goal of their liberation from Egypt, sealing the covenant that formed the religious and ethical foundation of the nation of Israel.[7] By the instrumentality of Moses, they were appointed to enter into intimate communion with God through a sacred covenant, and to be firmly bound to him by a new legislation.[20]

Thus Moses led the Hebrews to Sinai, or Horeb, where Jethro celebrated their coming by a great sacrifice in the presence of Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel (Exodus 18). The meeting with Jethro ends in an alliance with Madian, and the appointment of a corps of Judges subordinate to Moses, to attend to minor decisions.[19]

First Ascent

God summoned Moses upon the sacred mountain and talked with him face to face. Moses stayed on the mountain for 40 days and nights (Exodus 24:12-18), a period in which he received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) directly from God.

While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving instruction on the laws for the Israelite community, the Israelites went to Aaron and asked him to make gods for them. After Aaron had received golden earrings from the people, he made a golden calf and said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." A "solemnity of the Lord" was proclaimed for the following day, which began in the morning with sacrifices and was followed by revelry.

The Israelites Worship the Golden Calf and Moses Breaks the Tablets
(William de Brailes, ca.1250).

When Moses descended from the mountain with intent to deliver the commandments to the people, but upon his arrival he saw that the people were involved in the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). In terrible anger, Moses broke the commandment tablets because of the idolatry of the people (Exodus 32:19),[33] and ordered his own tribe, the Levites, to go through the camp and kill everyone, including family and friends (Exodus 32:27), upon which the Levites killed about 3,000 people (Exodus 32:28). The event itself is described as a crisis in the life of Moses, almost equal to that in which he received his first call. In an agony of rage and disappointment he destroyed the monument of his first revelation, and threw up his sacred mission.

Despite this event, one of Moses' most remarkable characteristics was his concern for the Hebrews, in spite of their stubborn, rebellious ways. When Yahweh was ready to disown them after they reverted to worshipping the golden calf, and to begin anew with Moses and his descendants, Moses rejected the offer. And later, when pleading for the forgiveness of the people, he even asked to have his own name blotted out of Yahweh's Book of Remembrance if the Lord would not forgive them.[4]

All that is told of him indicates a withdrawal of himself, a preference of the cause of his nation to his own interests...He joins his countrymen in their degrading servitude. He forgets himself to avenge their wrongs. He desires that his brother may take the lead instead of himself. He wishes that not he only, but that all the nation were gifted alike...(Numbers 11:29). When the offer is made that the people should be destroyed, and that he should be made "a great nation" (Exodus 32:10) he prays that they they be forgiven — "if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (32:32). His sons were not raised to honor. The leadership of the people passed, after his death, to another tribe. In the books which bear his name, Abraham, and not himself, appears as the real father of the nation. In spite of his great pre-eminence, they are never "the children of Moses."[20]

Second Ascent

God later commanded Moses to inscribe two other tablets, to replace the ones Moses smashed (Exodus 34:1; 34:27-28) so Moses went to the mountain again, for another second period of 40 days and nights, and when he returned, the commandments were finally given, and God entered into a Covenant with Israel through him, by the observance of which Israel was to be moulded into a theocratic nation.[note 25] Moses had received these heavenly revelations within a darkness brighter than the light of this world, and he went down the Mountain with the Law graven by God on two tablets of stone. The divine light had streamed into his heart to overflowing, making his countenance shine with a brightness that the people, uninitiated into the mysteries of God, could not bear to look upon, so that Moses had to veil his face when he spoke to them.[27][note 26]

On Moses' first descent, he exhibits an all-consuming zeal for the purity of Divine worship, by causing to perish those who had indulged in the idolatrous orgies about the Golden Calf; on his second, he inspires the deepest awe because his face is emblazoned with luminous horns.[19]

Moses with a New Testament summary of the Old Testament Law: the two commandments (tablets) read: "Love The Lord Thy God" , and "Love Thy Neighbor" .

The Decalogue

The text of the Commandments is preserved in the Old Testament in two versions, one in Exodus 20:1-17, and the other in Deuteronomy 5:6-22. The Commandments, apart from the prohibition regarding images and the precept of observing the Sabbath, contain rules of life that are the common property of mankind, as a basic moral code of discipline toward God and toward men. As such, the commandments have been deepened by our Lord's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and summed up by Him in the precepts of love toward God and one's neighbor, as it is mentioned in Mark 12:29-31:

  • "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5); and
  • "thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandments greater than these" (cf. Leviticus 19:18).[33]

Tertullian, an early Christian writer, asserted that the Ten Commandments were engraved on the hearts of men even before being written on the tables of stone.[33]

The Content of the Ten Commandments is given in the negative approach, teaching us not to do what is forbidden. It is an excellent teaching and guide in its sphere of negative dominion, opposing evil in its external influence. The Decalogue is considered the "schoolmaster (custodian) to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24). When the Christian faithful ascend the steps of the Decalogue, they are urged to follow the new steps of Christian ideals toward Almighty God and toward their neighbors. Our Lord Jesus Christ stressed the point and said I have come not to abolish them (the law) but fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). The Decalogue is the law which has been fulfilled by the Grace of God through the Person of Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church and the Author of our Faith.[33]

Evidence suggests the Commandments were used in Christian education in the Early Church[34] and throughout the Middle Ages, but with inconsistent emphasis.[35]

The Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle

Moses and the Israelites sojourned at Sinai for about a year (Numbers 10:11-13), during which time Moses had frequent communications from God.

According to the Book of Exodus, God instructed Moses on Mount Sinai during his 40-day stay upon the mountain within the thick cloud and darkness where God was (Exodus 19:20; 24:18) and he was shown the pattern for the Tabernacle and furnishings of the Ark of the Covenant to be made of shittim-wood, to house the Tablets of Stone. Moses instructed Bezalel and Oholiab to construct the Ark (Exodus 31).[36] St Augustine of Hippo Augustine writes that "the Law in the Ark of the Testimony represents holiness in the Lord's body, by whose resurrection is promised to us the future rest; for our receiving of which, love is breathed into us by the Holy Spirit."[37]

As a result, the Tabernacle was constructed according to the last chapters of Exodus, the priestly law was ordained, the plan of encampment was arranged for both the Levites and the non-priestly tribes, and the Tabernacle was consecrated.[22]

Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle
(Tissot, ca.1896-1902)

Immediately after the catastrophe of the worship of the calf, and apparently in consequence of it, Moses removed the chief tent outside the camp, and invested it with a sacred character under the name of "the Tent or Tabernacle of the Congregation" (Exodus 33:7). This tent became henceforth the chief scene of his communications with God.[note 27] The communications within the tent are described as being still more intimate than those on the mountain. "Jehovah spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11). He was apparently accompanied on these mysterious visits by his attendant Hoshea (or Joshua), who remained in the tent after his master had left it. All the revelations contained in the books of Leviticus and Numbers seem to have been made in this manner (Leviticus 1:1; Numbers 1:1).[20]

The Tabernacle was to be the symbol of the Lord's ongoing presence, "for throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel" (Exodus 40:38).[7]

Thus the Covenant with Israel bound God to be Israel's God, if Israel would keep His commandments. In Judaism, "Mosaic law" came to refer to the entire legal content of the Pentateuch, not just the Ten Commandments explicitly connected to Moses in the biblical narrative. The content of this law was excerpted and codified in Rabbinical Judaism as the 613 commandments (613 Mitzvot). By Late Antiquity, the tradition of Moses as being the source of the law in the Pentateuch also gave rise to the tradition of Mosaic authorship and the interpretation of the entire Torah as the work of Moses.

Wandering in the Wilderness for Forty Years

The erection of the Tabernacle and the Sacred vessels, as in Exodus 40:17-19
(Figures de la Bible, 1728).

It is during this period that tradition places the composition of a large part of the Pentateuch.[19] He is also traditionally connected with the first draft at least of the book of Job,[20][note 28] and the 90th Psalm is titled "A prayer of Moses, the man of God."

After instituting the priesthood and erecting the Tabernacle, Moses ordered a census which showed an army of 603,550 fighting men. These with the Levites, women, and children, duly celebrated the first anniversary of the Pascha (Passover), and, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, shortly entered on the second stage of their migration.[19]

Seventy elders — a conjectural origin of the Sanhedrin — are then appointed to assist Moses (Numbers 11:16,25).

Miriam and Aaron then spoke against Moses on account of his marriage to an Ethiopian (Cushite) woman as his second wife, and about him being the only one through whom the Lord spoke. Miriam was punished with leprosy for seven days (Numbers 12:1-15).

From Sinai Moses led the people to Kadesh, from where twelve spies were sent into Canaan as scouts, including most famously Caleb and Joshua. After forty days, they returned to the Israelite camp, bringing back grapes and other produce as samples of the regions fertility. Although all the spies agreed that the land's resources were spectacular, the majority of them gave a pessimistic report, and only two of the twelve spies (Joshua and Caleb) were willing to try to conquer it, and were nearly stoned for their unpopular opinion. Here again, according to tradition, Moses interceded for the people with Yahweh, who threatened to destroy them and raise up another and greater nation.[4] Ultimately since the people were discouraged and refused to go forward, wanting to return to Egypt, they were condemned to remain in the wilderness until that generation had passed away (Numbers 13-14).[22]

The subsequent uprising led by the Tribe of Reuben under Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 Israelite princes suggests that during the thirty-eight years spent in the Badiet et-Tih ("Desert of the Wandering"), habitual discontent continued.[19] They accused Moses and Aaron of raising themselves over the rest of the people. Moses told them to come the next morning with a censer for every man, although Dathan and Abiram refused to come when summoned by Moses. Then Moses went to the place of Dathan and Abiram's tents and after he spoke the ground opened up and engulfed Dathan and Abiram's tents, after which it closed again, and fire consumed the 250 men with the censers. Moses had the censers taken and made into plates to cover the altar. The following day, the Israelites came and accused Moses and Aaron of having killed his fellow Israelites, and the people were struck with a plague that killed 14,700 persons, that was only ended when Aaron went with his censer into the midst of the people (Numbers 16).

Prophet "Aaron the Priest" (אֵהֲרֹן הֵכֹּהֵן), the older brother of Moses and first High Priest of the Israelites.

To prevent further murmurings and settle the matter permanently, Moses had each of the chief princes of the non-Levitic tribes write his name on his staff and had them lay them in the sanctuary. He also had Aaron write his name on his staff and had it placed in the tabernacle. The next day, when Moses went into the tabernacle, Aaron's staff had budded, blossomed, and yielded almonds (Numbers 17:1-8).

After leaving Sinai, the Israelites camped in Kadesh. After more complaints from the Israelites, Moses struck the stone twice, and water gushed forth. However, because Moses and Aaron had not shown the Lord's holiness, they were not permitted to enter the land to be given to the Israelites (Numbers 20:1-13).[note 29]

When the old generation, including Mary, the prophet's sister, was no more, Moses inaugurated the onward march around Edom and Moab to the Arnon (Wadi Mujib),[19] from the area of Kadesh towards the Promised Land.

The Bronze Serpent of Numbers 21:8.
(Gustav Doré, 19th c.)

While the Israelites were making their journey around Edom, they complained about the manna, upon which the Lord sent "fiery serpents" among the people, as a chastisement for renewed murmurings, and many of the people of Israel died. Moses then set up the brazen serpent and set it on a pole, "and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived" (Numbers 21).[note 30] Saint Basil the Great in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith writes that this brazen serpent set up on a pole prefigures the precious Cross:

"...The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise pre-figured this precious Cross. For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree. Jacob, when He worshipped the top of Joseph's staff, was the first to image the Cross, and when he blessed his sons with crossed hands he made most clearly the sign of the cross. Likewise also did Moses' rod, when it smote the sea in the figure of the cross and saved Israel, while it overwhelmed Pharaoh in the depths; likewise also the hands stretched out crosswise and routing Amalek; and the bitter water made sweet by a tree, and the rock rent and pouring forth streams of water, and the rod that meant for Aaron the dignity of the high priesthood: and the serpent lifted in triumph on a tree as though it were dead, the tree bringing salvation to those who in faith saw their enemy dead, just as Christ was nailed to the tree in the flesh of sin which yet knew no sin. The mighty Moses cried, You will see your life hanging on the tree before your eyes, and Isaiah likewise, I have spread out my hands all the day unto a faithless and rebellious people. But may we who worship this obtain a part in Christ the crucified. Amen."[38]

Thus after the lapse of thirty-eight years Moses led the people eastward. Having gained friendly permission to do so, they passed through the territory of Esau (where Aaron died, on Mount Hor; Numbers 20:22-29), and then, by a similar arrangement, through the land of Moab.

At this point two Transjordan kings, Og and Sihon refused them passage. Sihon, king of the Amorites, whose capital was at Heshbon, refused them passage, and was conquered by Moses, who allotted his territory to the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Next, Og, King of Bashan, was similarly overthrown (Numbers 21), and his territory assigned to the half-tribe of Manasseh.[22] The Israelites fought with Og's forces at Edrei, on the southern border of Bashan, where the Israelites were victorious and slew every man, woman, and child of his cities and took spoil for their bounty.[39]

When Balak, king of Moab, heard of the Israelites' conquests over Sihon of the Amorites and Og of Bashan, he feared that his territory might be next. He sent elders of Moab, and of Midian, to Balaam (a powerful and respected prophet), son of Beor), to induce him to come and curse the Israelites. Ultimately Balaam informed Balak and the Midianites that if they wished to overcome the Israelites for a short interval, they needed to seduce the Israelites to engage in idolatry.[40] The Midianites sent beautiful women to the Israelite camp to seduce the young men to partake in idolatry, and the attempt proved successful. Due to the scandalous intercourse with the idolatrous Moabites, God then commanded Moses to kill and hang the heads of everyone who had engaged in idolatry, and Moses ordered the judges to carry out the mass execution, resulting in the slaughter of 24,000 offenders (Numbers 25).

At the same time, one of the Israelites brought home a Midianitish woman in the sight of the congregation. Upon seeing this, Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, took a javelin in his hand and thrust through both the Israelite and the Midianitish woman, which turned away the wrath of God. Moses was then told that because Phinehas had averted the wrath of God from the Israelites, Phinehas and his descendents were given the pledge of an everlasting priesthood (Numbers 25:1-13).

After Moses had taken a census of the people, which showed that the army still numbered 601,730, excluding 23,000 Levites,[note 31] he sent an army to avenge the perceived evil brought on the Israelites by the Midianites. Numbers 31 says Moses instructed the Israelite soldiers to kill every Midianite woman, boy, and non-virgin girl (Numbers 31:17-18). Thus the Israelites killed Balaam, and the five kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba (Numbers 31:8).

Moses then appointed Joshua, son of Nun, to succeed him as the leader of the Israelites (Numbers 27:15-23). Making reference to this, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem writes that "in the days of Moses, the Spirit was given by laying on of hands; and by laying on of hands Peter also gives the Spirit."[41]

At the end of the Book of Numbers the Israelites are on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho ready to enter the land.

Seeing the Promised Land and Moses' Departure

Nabi Musa, the traditional site of Moses' Tomb in the Judean desert.

After all this was accomplished, arriving in the land of Moab, Moses was warned that he would not be permitted to lead Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land, but would die on the eastern side (Numbers 20:12). He therefore assembled the tribes and delivered to them a parting address, which forms the Book of Deuteronomy. In this last official act, it is commonly supposed that Moses recapitulated the Law, renewing the Sinai Covenant with those who had survived the wilderness wanderings.[4][22]

When this was finished, and he had pronounced a blessing upon the people, he went up Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah (Phasga) (Deuteronomy 32:49), looked over the country spread out before him, and died, at the age of one hundred and twenty (120).[22] God Himself buried him in an unknown grave, in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor (Deuteronomy 34:5-8). God kept the location secret so that the Israelites would not make the religious error of turning the site into a shrine of worship.[7]

In Jude 1:9 there is an allusion to an altercation between the Archangel Michael and Satan over the body of Moses.


The epitaph for Moses, who was more meek than any other man (Numbers 12:3), and the summation of traditional Jewish reverence for him and his accomplishments, appears at the very end of the Pentateuch, for: "there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10).[7][22] Moses is the ultimate 'Man of Faith' who in fact rejects being the 'Majestic Man'.[42] It is the everlasting glory of Moses that he should have been the messenger of God. The thundering words of God: "I AM THAT I AM" were echoed by Moses for all time, and will burn in the minds of men as did the bush in the eyes of Moses.[26]

Stained glass window depicting the three stages in Moses' life (Washington National Cathedral)
"In the narrative, the phrase is constantly recurring, "The Lord spake unto Moses," "Moses spake unto the children of Israel." In the traditions of the desert, whether late or early, his name predominates over that of every one else: "The Wells of Moses" — on the shores of the Red Sea; "the Mountain of Moses" (Jebel Mūsá) — near the convent of St. Catharine; the Ravine of Moses (Shuk Mūsá) — at Mount St. Catharine; the Valley of Moses (Wady Mūsá) — at Petra. "The Books of Moses" are so called (as afterwards the Books of Samuel), in all probability, from his being the chief subject of them. The very word "Mosaism" has been in later times applied (as the proper name of no other saint of the O.T.) to the whole religion. Even as applied to tessellated pavement ("Mosaic," Musiuum, μουσειον, μουσαικον) there is some probability that the expression is derived from the variegated pavement of the later Temple, which had then become the representative of the religion of Moses...

It has sometimes been attempted to reduce this great character into a mere passive instrument of the divine Will, as though he had himself borne no conscious part in the actions in which he figures, or the messages which he delivers. This, however, is as incompatible with the general tenor of the scriptural account as it is with the common language in which he has been described by the Church in all ages. The frequent addresses of the Divinity to him no more contravene his personal activity and intelligence than in the case of Elijah, Isaiah, or Paul. In the N.T. the Mosaic legislation is expressly ascribed to him : "Moses gave you circumcision" (John vii, 22). "'Moses', because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you" (Matt. xix, 8). "Did not Moses give you the law?" (John vii, 19). "'Moses' accuseth you" (John v, 45). Paul goes so far as to speak of him as the founder of the Jewish religion: "They were all baptized unto Moses" (1 Cor. x,2). He is constantly called "a prophet." In the poetical language of the O.T. (Numb. xxi,18; Deut. xxxiii,21), and in the popular language both of Jews and Christians, he is known as "the Lawgiver." The terms in which his legislation is described by Philo (V.M. ii,1-4) are decisive as to the ancient Jewish view. He must be considered, like all the saints and heroes of the Bible, as a man of marvellous gifts, raised up by divine Providence for a special purpose; but as led, both by his own disposition and by the peculiarity of the revelation which he received, into a closer communion with the invisible world than was vouchsafed to any other in the Old Testament."[20]

It is the constant teaching of the Holy Fathers that what Moses encountered on Mt. Sinai was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in pre-incarnate state, for God the Father has never at any time made contact with or revealed Himself, except through the Son, And it is the Son who makes the Father known to us. It is only after the Incarnation of Christ that it becomes again permissible to make images of Christ God, and the saints and angels, not in order to worship them, as did pagans and idolaters, but as a reminder to us of heavenly realities.[27]

When Exodus 33:11 states that God "...spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend", the phrase "face to face" is not used to refer to their physical position in relation to one another, but to the intimate nature of the Lord’s discourse with Moses. Deuteronomy 34:10 again states that the Lord "knew" Moses "face to face"; and again, the phrase is not being used of physical position, but of their relationship – that is:

"In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel." (34:11-12).[27]

The first two Biblical Odes are attributed to Moses:[10]

  1. "Let us sing to the Lord…" (Exodus 15:1-9), which was sung on the shores of the Red Sea after the Hebrews had crossed it. And:
  2. "Attend, O heaven…" (Deuteronomy 32:1-43), which was sung in the land of Moab, a few days before Moses' death.

Apparitions of Moses

The holy Prophet Moses performed many miracles during his lifetime, and also after his death. He appeared on Mount Tabor with the Prophet Elijah at the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6).[10]

"Jewish-minded Peter, when he saw the ancient worthies about to pass away (Luke 9:33), was troubled, and proposed to build three tabernacles to keep the Christ and Moses and Elijah on the same equality; but a cloud overshadowed him while he spoke, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my Son, my chosen, hear ye him (rather than Moses and the prophets). And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone." Let us not misapprehend the far-reaching significance of that heavenly vision. Moses and Elijah remain in the picture in a glory of their own, as old schoolmasters of blessed memory who led the way to Christ. But we should be like the three disciples who, after they heard the voice out of the cloud, "suddenly looking round about, saw no one any more save Jesus only with themselves" (Mark 9:8). He remains with us in all his glory still. He is the end of the law and the fulfilment of prophecy for the Christian ages. He is now sitting on his heavenly throne, and he saith: "Behold, I make all things new."[43]

In addition, on the day that St John of the Ladder (March 30) was installed as abbot of Mt. Sinai (late 6th century AD), the Prophet Moses was seen going around St. Catherine's Monastery during the feast and giving orders to the cooks, stewards, and servants. When the guests had gone and the monks were sitting at table, they wondered what had become of the stranger who had been giving orders. St John said, "Our Lord Moses does nothing strange by serving in the place which belongs to him."[10]

There is also an apparition of Moses recorded in the hagiography of Saint Gregentios of Himyaritia, the missionary Bishop of Himyaritia in Sourthern Arabia, in the sixth century. During a debate on faith that was held between the Jews of that region and the Orthodox Christians, the leading Rabbi among the Jews, named Ervan (Herban, Ervas) beheld the holy Prophet Moses, who worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ; the prophet Moses told Ervan that he (Ervan) was in opposition to the truth and would be defeated.[44]

Furthermore, it has been considered that Moses will be one of the Two Witnesses, together with Elijah, who will appear during the Second woe in the Book of Revelation 11:1-14. In a homily given by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko on the Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation Within Orthodox Christian Tradition, in discussing the mystagogical and liturgical character of the Book of Revelation, he posits that the two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah because they represent or symbolize the whole of the Hebrew religion; Moses symbolizes the Law and Elijah the Prophets; Moses represents the earth because he is buried and Elijah the heavens because He is taken-up; Moses represents the dead because he died and Elijah represents the living because he did not die; they represent the totality / economia / plan of God; and at the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus to show that He is the fulfillment of the whole history of Israel.[note 32]

Theological considerations

Prefiguring Jesus

Moses' role as a prophet is complex and diverse, but one of the predominant themes of relevance to the Early Church is prefigured in Deut 18:15, his chief utterance relating to a future Prophet, like to himself, whom the people are to receive. He is often in Jewish tradition known as the 'Redeemer'. This symbolized two things. He did redeem the Jews from Egypt, but he is also seen as the model of the 'Redeemed Man', a forerunner of the Davidic Messianic model.[42]

The Syriac-Christian Church Father Aphrahat the Persian Sage draws attention to numerous occasions where Moses prefigures Christ:

  • Moses also was persecuted, as Jesus was persecuted.
  • When Moses was born, they concealed him that he might not be slain by his persecutors. When Jesus was born they carried Him off in flight into Egypt that Herod, His persecutor, might not slay Him.
  • In the days when Moses was born, children used to be drowned in the river; and at the birth of Jesus the children of Bethlehem and in its borders were slain.
  • To Moses God said: "The men are dead who were seeking thy life; and to Joseph the angel said in Egypt: Arise, take up the child, and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead who were seeking the life of the child to take it away.
  • Moses brought out his people from the service of Pharaoh; and Jesus delivered all nations from the service of Satan.
  • Moses grew up in Pharaoh's house; and Jesus grew up in Egypt when Joseph brought Him there in flight.
  • Miriam stood on the edge of the river when Moses was floating in the water; and Mary bare Jesus, after the Angel Gabriel had made the annunciation to her.
  • When Moses sacrificed the lamb, the firstborn of Egypt were slain; and when they crucified Jesus the true Lamb, the people who slew Him perished through His slaying.
  • Moses brought down manna for his people; and Jesus gave His Body to the nations.
  • Moses sweetened the bitter waters by the wood; and Jesus sweetened our bitterness by His cross, by the wood of the tree of His crucifixion.
  • Moses brought down the Law to his people; and Jesus gave His covenants to the nations.
  • Moses conquered Amalek by the spreading out of his hands; and Jesus conquered Satan by the sign of His cross.
  • Moses brought out water from the rock for his people; and Jesus sent Simon Cephas (the rock) to carry His doctrine among the nations.
  • Moses lifted up the veil from his face and spake with God; and Jesus lifted up the veil from the face of the nations, that they might hear and receive his doctrine.
  • Moses laid his hand upon his messengers (apostles), and they received priesthood; and Jesus laid His hand upon His apostles, and they received the Holy Spirit.
  • Moses ascended the mountain and died there; and Jesus ascended into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of His Father."[45]

In addition, as the author of the Law, Moses is contrasted with Christ, the Author of the Gospel. The Gospel writers make an effort at several points to highlight the role of Jesus as the "new Moses," the fulfillment of the prophecy. The New Testament's view goes beyond paralleling that of the Old Testament, in that Moses is looked upon as a precursor to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) and as a witness to him (John 1:45), in the seamless, unified history of God's relationship to and interaction with humankind throughout the ages.[7]

"During his whole life and ministry Jesus showed a becoming respect for the rites of the Mosaic law. He himself was "born under the law" (Gal. 4:4), and after having been circumcised he was formally presented at the temple with the appropriate offerings required by the law (Luke 2:21-24). He submitted to John's baptism, declaring that thus it became him "to fulfil all righteousness." When he cleansed a leper, he bade him go to the priest and "offer the gift that Moses commanded" (Matt. 8:4). He admonished his disciples that "the scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat," and their teachings were therefore to be duly observed. He even represented father Abraham as speaking to the rich man in Hades about "Moses and the prophets" (Luke 16: 29). He enjoined upon those who asked him what they must do to inherit eternal life, to keep the commandments of the Decalogue; and he condensed them into the two great commandments of love (Matt. 19:16-19; Luke 10:26-28). These two commandments are found in Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18; but the superior wisdom of our Lord is seen in the discrimination which assigns to these two the substance of "the whole law and the prophets." The Lord's Prayer is made up of petitions which had probably been uttered in substance and in separate parts a thousand times before, but only the wisdom of Jesus was sufficient to collect and combine them into one short universal prayer."[46]

Furthermore, the Law of Moses is contrasted with and fulfilled by the grace of Christ (John 1:17).[26] Although Jesus declared that he came not to destroy but to fulfil the law and the prophets, his fulfilling the law and the prophets, as contradistinguished from destroying them, has been strangely misunderstood.

"(Jesus') fulfilling the content and purport of the Old Testament involves the complete displacement of the statutes and rites of the old covenant as a norm of religious life in Christ. His saying that "one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law till all things be accomplished" (Matt. 5:I8) does not mean or imply that the law in all its parts is to remain in force forever. On the contrary the great Teacher made it very clear and positive that he himself is the end of the law; and his fulfillment, accomplishing, or consummation of the law and the prophets is a making of all things new in the gospel of a new and better covenant. Law and prophets are swallowed up and superseded by the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. The distinction between destroying and fulfilling is illustrated by the obvious impropriety of putting a piece of new undressed cloth upon an old garment, and of putting new wine into old wineskins. It is equally incongruous for an invited guest to be found fasting at the time of the wedding-feast when the bridegroom and his friends are expected to rejoice together (Matt. 9:14-17). And so we are taught that the gospel carries with it a new spirit and a new life. It is not a dispensation of partial reforms, with the omission or modification of a number of old customs, but a deep, radical, and permanent uplift from the bondage of the letter to a glorious freedom of the Spirit. Jesus came not to set aside an indefinite portion of the Old Testament regulations, and to institute a sort of eclectic system in which the old law and the prophets were, with a few exceptions, to remain as the authoritative guides of Christian life and thought. He came as the Mediator of a new and better covenant, enacted upon better promises (Heb. 8:6). He made the old things pass away in order that all things might become new (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17 and Rev. 21:5). The old is not destroyed; it remains as an invaluable object-lesson, showing how God did at sundry times and in divers ways reveal himself of old. But every jot and tittle of the former revelations have been taken up, as by a process of living growth, and incorporated by the power of a new and higher life into the gospel of our Lord."[47]

Therefore while Moses is looked upon as a precursor to Christ, we are also reminded of his humanity, as influential writer Franz Kafka writes in his Diaries :

"He is on the track of Canaan all his life; it is incredible that he should see the land only when he is on the verge of death. This dying vision of it can only be intended to illustrate how incomplete a moment is human life, incomplete because a life like this could last forever and still be nothing but a moment. Moses fails to enter Canaan not because his life was too short but because it is a human life."[42]


Moses — mentioned more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament figure — 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 worshiped the golden calf is likened to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews that continued in traditional Judaism.

Stone armchair at Chorazin, Israel, an exemplary illustration of the “seat of Moses” mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 23.

Moses also figures in several of Jesus' messages. When he met the Pharisees Nicodemus at night in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, he compared Moses' lifting up of the bronze serpent in the wilderness, which any Israelite could look at and be healed, to his own lifting up (by his death and resurrection) for the people to look at and be healed.

In the sixth chapter, Jesus responded to the people's claim that Moses provided them manna in the wilderness by saying that it was not Moses, but God, who provided. Calling himself the "bread of life", Jesus stated that He was provided to feed God's people.

Moses, along with Elijah, is presented as meeting with Jesus in all three Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, respectively.

Later Christians found numerous other typological parallels between the life of Moses and Jesus to the extent that Jesus was likened to a "second Moses." For instance, Jesus' escape from the slaughter by Herod in Bethlehem (December 29) is compared to Moses' escape from Pharaoh's designs to kill Hebrew infants.

Moses' Seat

It is unknown whether the roots of the “seat of Moses” are Israelite, pagan, or Christian. Nothing alike to this is found described in the Old Testament. The earliest account of "Moses' seat" is found in the New Testament (Matthew 23). Cyril of Jerusalem writes that Moses' seat "signifies not his wooden seat, but the authority of his teaching."[48] Thus in terms of "Moses' seat" one may conclude that the unity that the synagogal community saw and today sees in Mosheh Rabbenu ("Moses our teacher"), so the Orthodox churches see in its overseer, the bishop (Episkopos).


The Finding of Moses
The Burning Bush
The Burning Bush as the Theotokos
The Tablets of Stone
Worship of The Golden Calf


[note 33]
Apolytikion (Tone 3)[49]

The memory of Your prophet Moses,
We celebrate today, O Lord.
By his prayers, we beseech You,
O Christ God, save our souls!
The Holy Prophet and Lawgiver Moses the God-seer.

Troparion (Tone 2)[50]

You ascended to the heights of the virtues, Prophet Moses;
therefore, you were deemed worthy to see the glory of God.
Having received the grace-filled tablets of the Law,
and bearing the grace of the writing within yourself,
you were the honorable praise of prophets,
and a great mystery of piety.

Kontakion (Tone 2)[50]

The choir of prophets rejoices with Moses and Aaron today,
for the fulfillment of their prophecy is in our midst.
The Cross, by which You have saved us, shines forth today.
By their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us.

Moses in the Pentecostarion

Ode 1: Canon in the Fourth Tone.

Covered by the divine cloud,
he that was slow of tongue Proclaimed the Law written by God;
For having shaken off the impurity from the eye of his mind,
He beholdeth Him, That Is, and he is initiated into the knowledge of the Spririt,
While giving praise with God-inspired songs.[51]

Ode 8: Canon in the Grave (7th) Tone.

The bush that was unconsumed by fire on Sinai
spake unto the tardiloquent and inarticulate Moses,[note 34]
and made God know unto him;
and zeal for God showed forth the three Children
who chanted hymns to be unconsumed by fire.
O all ye His works, praise ye the Lord
and supremely exalt Him unto all the ages.[52]

See also



  1. The following are variously given as the birth dates of Moses:
  2. Saint Augustine in the City of God records the names of the kings when Moses was born:
    "When Saphrus reigned as the fourteenth king of Assyria, and Orthopolis as the twelfth of Sicyon, and Criasus as the fifth of Argos, Moses was born in Eygpt,..."
    (St Augustine. The City of God. Book XVIII. Chapter 8 - Who Were Kings When Moses Was Born, And What Gods Began To Be Worshipped Then.)
    Thus the dates of the aforementioned kings agree in overlapping with the date of Moses' birth as given in the Great Synaxaristes, namely c.1570 BC:
    • Criasus reigned as the 5th King of Argos for 54 years, from 1637-1583.
    • Orthopolis reigned as the 12th King of Sicyon for 63 years, from 1596-1533.
  3. He is the most important prophet in Judaism, also called Moshe Rabbenu ((Hebrew)
    מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, Lit. "Moses our Teacher/Rabbi").
  4. The Pentateuch consists of:
    • The Book of Genesis, also known as the First Book of Moses, is the first book of the Old Testament and contains extremely old oral and written traditions of the people of Israel.
    • The Book of Exodus tells how Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where God reveals himself and offers them a Covenant: they are to keep his Torah (i.e. law, instruction), and in return He will be their God and give them the Land of Canaan.
    • The Book of Leviticus records the laws of God.
    • The Book of Numbers tells how the Israelites, led now by their God, journey onwards from Sinai towards Canaan, but when their spies report that the land is filled with giants they refuse to go on. God then condemns them to remain in the desert until the generation that left Egypt passes away. After thirty-eight years at the oasis of Kadesh Barnea the next generation travel on to the borders of Canaan.
    • The Book of Deuteronomy tells how, within sight of the Promised Land, Moses recalls their journeys and gives them new laws. His death (the last reported event of the Torah) concludes the 40 years of the Exodus from Egypt.
  5. A typological connection exists between the Seven Feasts of Lord in the Old Testament and their corresponding fulfillment by Christ in the New Testament - both during His First Coming as well as in events prophecied surrounding His Second Coming.
  6. Three of the major festivals of ancient Judaism were known as the "Three Pilgrimage Festivals," including:
    • Pesach (Passover),- Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. In particular referring to how the tenth plague "passed over" the houses of the Israelites while smiting the Egyptians.
    • Shavuot (Weeks / Pentecost) - Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.
    • Sukkot (Tents / Booths / Tabernacles) - The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The Tabernacle (Hebrew: משכן‎, mishkan, "residence" or "dwelling place"), according to the Hebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Saint Basil the Great comments on Moses' prayer in Deuteronomy 6:4 that the Lord is one ("Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one." - Shema Yisrael), stating that Moses confirms the Godhead of the Son and the lesson of the Gospels, which tell of God and God:
    "...For the Gospels tell us that Moses taught the truth when he proclaimed that God is One; and Moses by his proclamation of One God confirms the lesson of the Gospels, which tell of God and God. Thus we do not contradict our authorities, but base our teaching upon them, proving that the revelation to Israel of the unity of God gives no sanction to the refusal of Divinity to the Son of God; since he who is our authority for asserting that there is One God is our authority also for confessing the Godhead of His Son."
    (Basil the Great. St Basil the Great on the Trinity. Book V, 1.)
    The Orthodox Study Bible has the following commentary on this as well:
    "By Moses saying 'one Lord', we understand the simple, blessed and incomprehensible essence of God" (AthanG). Moses is not saying the one Lord is one solitary person (HilryP). Rather, he is saying He is one undivided essence or nature. For person and nature are not the same thing (JohnDm). The divine nature exists undividedly in three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Son is begotten before all time and ages from the essence of the Father, but His begetting does not divide the Father's essence. The Holy Spirit proceeds before all time and ages from the Father, but His procession does not divide the Father's essence. The Persons are distinct or different, but the essence is one and undivided. Therefore, we believe in the Holy Trinity, our one God and Lord.
    (The Orthodox Study Bible. St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Elk Grove, California, 2008. p.220.)
    • "MOSES (St.) Patriarch. (Sept. 4). (12th cent. B.C.) The Hebrew leader and lawgiver. What we know of him we learn from the inspired text of Holy Scripture, especially from the Book of Exodus. He died at the age of one hundred and twenty years, on the borders of the Promised Land. Where he was buried no man knows. The Epistle of St. Jude speaks of the altercation of the devil with St. Michael concerning the body of Moses. He is one of the few Saints of the Old Law whom the Catholic Church includes by name in her Kalendars and Martyrologies."
    (The Book of Saints. The Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate (Comp.). p.198.)
    • "The Fourth Day of September: "ON Mount Nebo, in the land of Moab, the holy lawgiver and prophet Moses." "
    (The Roman Martyrology, Baltimore, 1916. p.270.)
  8. Armenian Apostolic Church. July 26 - "The Holy Forefathers: Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Eleazar, Joshua, Samuel, Samson, Jephthah, Barak, Gideon, and others. Genesis 4:1-50:26 (selections); Numbers 20:23-30; Deuteronomy 34:5-12; Joshua 24:29-33; 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13; Hebrews 11:1-31; Luke 20:34-40."
  9. References to Moses in the New Testament include the following:
  10. This event prefigures the Massacre of the 14,000 Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem, the first Christian martyrs (commemorated on December 29).
    • Great Synaxaristes: (Greek)
    Τὰ Ἅγια Νήπια (περίπου 14.000) ποὺ ἐσφάγισαν μὲ διαταγὴ τοῦ Ἡρώδη. 29 Δεκεμβρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  11. "Perhaps significantly, other great national heroes in the ancient Middle East, such as Sargon of Akkad and Cyrus II of Persia, were said to have been saved in infancy by being set afloat in a crude basket. Most probably, the folktale quality of these stories, of which more than 30 survive today, is meant to foreshadow the career of an extraordinary individual who will someday have to deal with ominous events." (Who's Who in the Bible, p. 301.)
  12. Osarseph or Osarsiph is a legendary figure of Ancient Egypt who has been equated with Moses. His story was recounted by the Ptolemaic Egyptian historian Manetho in his Aigyptiaca (first half of the 3rd century BC); Manetho's work is lost, but the 1st century AD Jewish historian Josephus quotes extensively from it.
  13. A Cushite princess of Kingdom of Kush, Tharbis (alternatively Adoniah) is said to have married the Hebrew Moses prior to his ascendancy to prophethood and better-known marriage to Zipporah.
  14. Josephus suggests that Moses had to flee Egypt because a rival prince had hatched a plot to kill him in order to remove him as a rival for the throne.
  15. "The name I AM the Existing One is the name for the Essence of God, which is one and undivided (AthanG, JohnDm). This Essence is like a boundless sea, containing all things yet not contained by anything. The Son is eternally begotten from the Essence of the Father. When Jesus said He was the Existing One, the Jews who were listening took up stones to stone Him, for they knew this passage in Exodus (Jn 8:57-59). He is acknowledged as the Existing One is every Vespers service of the Church."
    ("The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today's World. Ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008. p.69. ISBN 9780718003593 )
  16. It is possible that on this story is founded the tradition of Artapanus (Euseb. Pr. Er. ix, 27), that the Ethiopians derived circumcision from Moses. (McClintock & Strong. Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. p.680.)
  17. Each of them was a direct strike at part of the Egyptian religious system and everything the Egyptians held sacred.
  18. Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan described in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
  19. The modern "scholarly" consensus is that there was never any exodus of the proportions described in the Bible, and that the story is best seen as theology instead of history, illustrating how the God of Israel acted to save and strengthen his chosen people.
    • Walton, John H.. "Exodus, date of". In: Alexander, T.D.; Baker, David W.. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. InterVarsity Press, 2003. p.258.
    • Redmount, Carol A.. "Bitter Lives: Israel In And Out of Egypt". In Coogan, Michael D.. The Oxford History of the Biblical World. OUP, 1998. p.64.
  20. There is some contention about this passage, since an earlier incorrect translation of Yam Suph to Red Sea was later found to have meant Reed Sea ("Sea of Reeds").
  21. Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata makes reference to how Moses discharged the part of a military leader in this instance:
  22. "Although phrased in the first person, the verses nowhere mention Moses' name. Moses was making certain that God alone was given the credit for Israel's victories and good fortune. He steadfastly refused to let himself become idolized as the center of a cult of personality." (Who's Who in the Bible, p.306.)
  23. Elim and Elat are plurals of the word El in Phoenician and again associated with Asherah worship. The words Elim and Elat refer to the power of the high and mighty terebinth trees that the Phoenicians used for masts and Asherah poles. William Albright has associated Asherah groves with the incense trade spices and perfumes such as frankincense and myrrh.
  24. In relation to this event, Professor Nathaniel Schmidt commenting on the origins of script (history of writing), wrote the following in his paper of 1896:
    "Tradition says that in his hands he held two stones, afterwards kept within the ark. Was there a writing on these stones? Could Moses write? This question is not easily answered. The Egyptians, Babylonians and Hittites had their systems of writing and their scribes who knew the art. In Palestine, while under Egyptian rule, the Amorites had scribes acquainted with Babylonian script and language. Assyria, Mitani and other kingdoms likewise had adopted the cuneiform characters, and a modification of the Hittite hieroglyphics was early introduced in Cyprus. On the other hand, no Aramaic or Chaldaean inscriptions from this age have yet been found, and it is almost certain that in spite of their achievements in other arts the men of Mycenae, Tiryus, Orchomenos, and Troy knew not how to write their own euphonious names. Whether the Minaean inscriptions date back to this time is yet a mooted question; and even if citizens of Main knew the alphabet, it is far from certain that Midian had acquired the knowledge. It is said that Moses may have learnt the art in Egypt. But Egyptian hieroglyphics written by him would have been as unintelligible in the Israel of the next century as they were to the European nations of the last. When the alphabet was introduced among the Semites and how it originated we do not know. The earliest alphabetic inscriptions, aside from the Minaean possibly, are Hiram's of Tyre, of the tenth century, Mesa's of Moab, and the elder Panamu's of Yaudi, of the ninth. Many signs seem to show that the alphabet had been in use for some time then."
    • (Rev. Professor Nathaniel Schmidt, Ph.D.. "Moses: His Age and His Work. II." The Biblical World. Vol. 7, No. 2 (Feb., 1896), pp. 112-113.)
  25. In regards to the splendor that shone on Moses' face on his final descent from Mount Sinai, after his second long seclusion, as if from the glory of the divine Presence, there are two different versions given:
    • (1.) In the A.V. and most Protestant versions Moses is said to wear a veil in order to hide the splendor. In order to produce this sense, the A.V. of Exodus 34:33 reads, "and [till] Moses had done speaking with them" — and other versions, "he had put on the veil"
    • (2.) In the Septuagint and the Vulgate, on the other hand, he is said to put on the veil, not during, but after, the conversation with the people — in order to hide, not the splendor, but the vanishing away of the splendor; and to have worn it till the moment of his return to the Divine Presence in order to rekindle the light there. With this reading agrees the obvious meaning of the Hebrew words, and it is this rendering of the sense which is followed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:13-14, where he contrasts the fearlessness of the apostolic teaching with the concealment of that of the Old Testament: "We have no fear, as Moses had, that our glory will pass away." (McClintock & Strong. Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. p.684.)
  26. In certain passages, it seems that the tabernacle is synonymous with the so-called Tent of Meeting, which was pitched outside the encampment. There the Lord appeared to Moses in order to give advice or hear prayers. At other times, the tent and tabernacle are treated as separate structures. (Who's Who in the Bible, p.307)
  27. The Talmudic tradition (tractate Bava Batra (15a-b)) maintains that Job was written by Moses, although nowhere does it name its author.
  28. Apparently, Moses was being punished for speaking so angrily, for not stating that God was responsible for the miracle, and for striking the rock as if he himself wielded the supernatural power to bring forth water. (Who's Who in the Bible, p.310).
  29. According to the Biblical Book of Kings this brass serpent remained in existence until the days of King Hezekiah, who destroyed it after persons began treating it as an idol, burning incense to it, and calling it Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:1-4).
  30. Of these Moses allows the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasses to settle in the east-Jordan district, without, however, releasing them from service in the west-Jordan conquest.
  31. On the other hand, most modern scholars would say that the two witnesses represent Enoch and Elijah because they were the two taken up into heaven.
  32. For the hymns in Greek from the Great Synaxaristes, see:
    Ἀπολυτίκιον. Ἦχος γ’. Θείας πίστεως.
    Γνόφον ἄϋλον, τεθεαμένος, νόμον ἔνθεον, πλαξὶν ἐδέξω, ὡς θεάμων μυστηρίων τοῦ Πνεύματος•
    καὶ καταπλήξας τὴν Αἴγυπτον θαύμασι, δημαγωγὸς Ἰσραὴλ ἐχρημάτισας.
    Μωσῆ ἔνδοξε, Χριστὸν τὸν Θεὸν ἱκέτευε, δωρήσασθαι ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.
    Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος πλ. δ’. Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ.
    Ὡς θεωρὸν τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐνανθρωπήσεως
    Καὶ μυστογράφον τῆς αὐτοῦ συγκαταβάσεως
    Μακαρίζομεν Θεόπτα σε ἐπαξίως.
    Ἀλλ’ ὡς πέφυκας μεσίτης ἀξιόθεος
    Ἐκ παντοίων ἡμᾶς λύτρωσαι κακώσεων,
    Ἵνα κράζωμεν• χαίροις μάκαρ Μωσῆ σοφέ.
    Τὸν χρηματισθέντα ἐν τῷ Σινᾷ,
    καὶ ἐξαγαγόντα, ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τὸν Ἰσραήλ,
    τὸν ὑπερκοσμίων, ἐπόπτην θεαμάτων,
    Μωσέα τὸν θεόπτην, ὕμνοις τιμήσωμεν.
  33. Exodus 4:10.


  1. Rev. Professor Nathaniel Schmidt, Ph.D.. "Moses: His Age and His Work. II." The Biblical World. Vol. 7, No. 2 (Feb., 1896), pp. 105-119. p.105.
  2. Gesenius' Lexicon (1906), s.v. מֹשֶׁה . Gesenius was sympathetic towards the Coptic etymology. Likewise Alfred Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names (1990).
  3. Acts 7:35.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Moses." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
  5. Leviticus 23 (New King James Version).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nikolai Velimirovic. Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints, Hymns, Reflections and Homilies for Every Day of the Year. 1928.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 "Moses". In: Who's Who in the Bible: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary. Reader's Digest Association, 1994. pp.300-311.
  8. Augustine of Hippo. St Augustine Homily on the Psalms. Psalm XC. 1.
  9. Great Synaxaristes: (Greek) Ὁ Προφήτης Μωϋσῆς. 4 Σεπτεμβρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses - Life. OCA - Feasts and Saints.
  11. "September 4: The Holy God-seer Moses the Prophet and Aaron His Brother". In: The Menaion: Volume 1, The Month of September. Transl. from the Greek by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Boston, Massachusetts, 2005. pp.67.
  12. Fr. Andrew Anglorus. THE SUNDAY OF THE HOLY FOREFATHERS. St John's Orthodox Church, Colchester, Essex, England.
  13. The Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate (Comp.). The Book of Saints: A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonised by the Catholic Church: Extracted from the Roman & Other Martyrologies. London: A & C. Black Ltd., 1921. p.198.
  14. The Roman Martyrology. Transl. by the Archbishop of Baltimore. Last Edition, According to the Copy Printed at Rome in 1914. Revised Edition, with the Imprimatur of His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons. Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1916. p.270.
  15. Calendar_of_Saints_(Lutheran). Wikipedia. Retrieved: 2012-12-12.
  16. Coptic Orthodox Church Network ( 2. The Departure of Moses the Prophet. St. Mark Coptic Church, Jersey City, NJ. Retrieved: 2012-12-10.
  17. Synaxarium: The Bool of the Saints of The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Transl. Sir E. A. Wallis Budge. Printed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Debre Meheret St. Michael Church, Garland, TX USA. pp.17-18.
  18. Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC) – Eastern Prelacy. 2012 Liturgical Calendar and Daily Bible Readings: According to the Donatsooyts (Typicon) of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Eastern Prelacy. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 Reilly, Thomas à Kempis. "Moses." The Catholic Encyclopedia (New Advent). Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911.
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 20.12 20.13 20.14 20.15 20.16 20.17 Rev. John McClintock, D.D., and Dr. James Strong, S.T.D.. "Mo'ses." In: Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Vol. VI.— ME-NEV. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1882. pp.677-687.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Matthew George Easton (1897). "Moses". in: Illustrated Bible Dictionary. London ; New York: T. Nelson, 1897.
  22. 22.00 22.01 22.02 22.03 22.04 22.05 22.06 22.07 22.08 22.09 22.10 22.11 MOSES. Jewish Encyclopedia (The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia).
  23. "Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, Chapter 9, Paragraph 5."
  24. Josephus. Antiquities 2.10.
  25. Irenaeus of Lyons. Against Heresies. Book IV. Chapter XX, 12.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Fr. George Poulos. "September 4 - Moses". In: Orthodox Saints: Spiritual Profiles for Modern Man: July 1 to September 30. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1991. p.170.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Fr. Ambrose Young. 12th Sunday of Mathew - The Feast of the Holy and Righteous Prophet Moses the God-seer. Entrance of the Theotokos Skete, September 4, 2011.
  28. Rev. Professor Nathaniel Schmidt, Ph.D.. "Moses: His Age and His Work. II." The Biblical World. Vol. 7, No. 2 (Feb., 1896), pp. 105-119. p.108.
  29. Basil the Great. St Basil the Great on the Trinity. Book IV. 32.
  30. Exodus 3:13-14. In: "The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today's World. Ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008. pp.68-69. ISBN 9780718003593
  31. Judaism 101. "Pesach; Passover".
  32. Augustine of Hippo. St Augustine Reply to Faustus the Manichean, 29.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 Fr. George Mastrantonis. The Ten Commandments. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1990-1996.
  34. Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition. University of Chicago Press, 1971. p.60. ISBN 9780226653716.
  35. Bast, Robert James. Honor your fathers. Brill Publishers, 1997. p.4 ISBN 9789004108561.
  36. Fr. Joseph Ponessa (S.S.D.) and Laurie Watson Manhardt (Ph.D.). Moses and The Torah: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Come and See: Catholic Bible Study. Emmaus Road Publishing, 2007. pp.85-86. ISBN 9781931018456
  37. St. Augustine of Hippo. St Augustine's Letters: Letter LIII, Chapter XVI, 30.
  38. St. Basil the Great. An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. Book IV. Chapter IX, 27.
  39. Tromp, Johnannes (1993). The Assumption of Moses: A Critical Edition with Commentary. Brill. ISBN 90-04-09779-1.
  40. "Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter VI, Paragraph 6".
  41. Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lectures with Procatechesis and the 5 Mystagogical Catecheses. Lexture XVI, 26.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Reiss, Moshe (Rabbi). "Moses." Messengers of God: A Theological And Psychological Perspective. Retrieved: 2012-07-07.
  43. Professor Milton S. Terry, D.D., LL.D.. "The Old Testament and the Christ." The American Journal of Theology. Vol. 10, No. 2 (Apr., 1906), pp.233-250. (pp.249-250).
  44. St Gregory the Archbishop of Omirits. OCA - Feasts and Saints.
  45. Aphrahat the Persian Sage. Demonstration XXI, OF PERSECUTION, 10.
  46. Professor Milton S. Terry, D.D., LL.D.. "The Old Testament and the Christ." The American Journal of Theology. Vol. 10, No. 2 (Apr., 1906), pp.233-250. (pp.236-237).
  47. Professor Milton S. Terry, D.D., LL.D.. "The Old Testament and the Christ." The American Journal of Theology. Vol. 10, No. 2 (Apr., 1906), pp.233-250. (pp.239-240).
  48. Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lectures with Procatechesis and the 5 Mystagogical Catecheses. Lexture X, 23.
  49. Moses the Prophet & Godseer. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
  50. 50.0 50.1 Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses - Hymns. Orthodox Church in America.
  51. The Pentecostarion. Transl. from the Greek by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Boston, Mass.: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1990. p.409.
  52. The Pentecostarion. Transl. from the Greek by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Boston, Mass.: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1990. p.414.


Orthodox Sources

Non-Orthodox Sources

Other Languages

Ὁ Προφήτης Μωϋσῆς. 4 Σεπτεμβρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  • (Greek)
Μωυσής. Greek Wikipedia.
  • (Russian)
Моисей. Russian Wikipedia.

External Links

Further Reading


Gregory frames an immensely significant synthesis of the earlier Hellenistic and Jewish traditions in this work. He describes the spiritual ascent as taking place in three stages, symbolized by the Lord's revelation of Himself to Moses, first in light, then in the cloud and, finally, in the dark.

Heterodox - Moses in the New Testament

A study of how Christology has influenced the interpretation of Moses.
The central portion of the book deals with the ascent-descent imagery associating Ps. 68:19 with Moses as found in Targum Psalms, the rabbinic literature, and other early sources.
A study of the NT witness to how Jews and Jewish Christians perceived the relationship of Moses with Israel and with the Jewish people.


  • Bruns, J. Edgar. “The "Agreement of Moses and Jesus" in the 'Demonstratio Evangelica' of Eusebius”. Vigiliae Christianae. Vol. 31, No. 2 (Jun., 1977), pp. 117-125.

Heterodox - Moses in the Old Testament

A classic synthesis of Israel's history and religion in the setting of the ancient Middle East.
A popular historical survey.
A technical analysis contrasting Israelite and Canaanite religion. Reissued 1990.
A classic article. Originally published in German, 1953–59.
  • Auerbach, Elias. Moses. Wayne State University Press, 1975.
Originally published in German, 1953. A search for the historic Moses.
A wide-ranging account both for the general reader and for students.
Originally published in German, 1961. A technical study of biblical sources in Exodus 19–20, 24, 32–34.
A standard work mediating scholarly extremes.
Reissued as: Moses: The Revelation and the Covenant. Humanities Press International, 1988.
A sympathetic treatment with philosophical emphasis but weak in details of the ancient Middle East.
  • Coats, George W.. Moses: Heroic Man, Man of God. Volume 57 of Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series. Continuum International Publishing Group, 1988. ISBN 9781850750956
Traces the development of the Moses nativity story from pre-Biblical sources through its Biblical formulation, and continues to trace its evolution in post-Biblical literature, from the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and Jewish Hellenistic writings, through Rabbinic literature, and up to Medieval Jewish exegesis.
  • Cross, Frank Moore, Jr.. “Yahweh and the God of Patriarchs.” Harvard Theological Review, 55:225–259 (1962).
A scholarly treatment of issues raised by Alt's classic article cited above.
An excellent popular study.
  • Hort, Greta. “The Plagues of Egypt.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. 69(1957):84–103; and 70(1958):48–59.
A landmark study. The historical basis of the plagues.
Originally published in German, 1950. A basic study but with radical treatment of Hebrew history prior to the conquest.
Originally published in German, 1948. A technical study of the biblical sources in the Pentateuch that doubts its accuracy.
  • Silver, Daniel Jeremy. Images of Moses. Basic Books, 1982. ISBN 9780465032013
An examination of literary, artistic, and historical treatments of Moses.
  • Southon, Arthur E.. On Eagles' Wings. London: Cassell and Co., 1937. (Reprinted New York: McGraw-Hill, 1954).
An English minister in the Methodist Church, this book was used as the basis for the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments.
Originally published in German, 1958.
Discusses the relationship between Moses and God, as well as the extent to which the Divine could be swayed by human reason and passion.
  • Wildavsky, Aaron. The Nursing Father: Moses as a Political Leader. University of Alabama Press, 1984. ISBN 9780817301682


  • Feldman, Louis H.. “Josephus' Portrait of Moses”. The Jewish Quarterly Review. New Series, Vol. 82, No. 3/4 (Jan. - Apr., 1992), pp.285-328.
  • Rapoport. David C.. “Moses, Charisma, and Covenant”. The Western Political Quarterly. Vol. 32, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 123-143.
  • Reiss, Moshe (Rabbi). "Moses." Messengers of God: A Theological And Psychological Perspective. Retrieved: 2012-07-07.
  • Ullendorff, Edward. “The 'Death of Moses' in the Literature of the Falashas”. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Vol. 24, No. 3 (1961), pp. 419-443.
(Apocryphal / Pseudepigraphal Literature)
  • Watts, James W.. “The Legal Characterization of Moses in the Rhetoric of the Pentateuch”. Journal of Biblical Literature. Vol. 117, No. 3 (Autumn, 1998), pp. 415-426.