Moses Drawing Water from the Rock by Tintoretto

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock by Tintoretto

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Italy, Veneto, Venice, Scuola Grande 'Archconfraternity of Saint Roch'. Foreshortening form underneath representing old Moses leading Israelites, the Chosen People. From a rock flows a jet of water, men and women fill leather bottles and amphoras wit

Your Easy-access (EZA) account allows those in your organization to download content for the following uses:

  • Tests
  • Samples
  • Composites
  • Layouts
  • Rough cuts
  • Preliminary edits

It overrides the standard online composite license for still images and video on the Getty Images website. The EZA account is not a license. In order to finalize your project with the material you downloaded from your EZA account, you need to secure a license. Without a license, no further use can be made, such as:

  • focus group presentations
  • external presentations
  • final materials distributed inside your organization
  • any materials distributed outside your organization
  • any materials distributed to the public (such as advertising, marketing)

Because collections are continually updated, Getty Images cannot guarantee that any particular item will be available until time of licensing. Please carefully review any restrictions accompanying the Licensed Material on the Getty Images website, and contact your Getty Images representative if you have a question about them. Your EZA account will remain in place for a year. Your Getty Images representative will discuss a renewal with you.

By clicking the Download button, you accept the responsibility for using unreleased content (including obtaining any clearances required for your use) and agree to abide by any restrictions.

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock by Tintoretto - History

Posted on 07/22/2020 4:23:20 PM PDT by Hebrews 11:6


E X O D U S . . 1 7
New International Version, emphases added
Abridged – the complete text is in your Bible

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Wall painting, c.350, Commodilla Catacombs, Rome, Italy

"Moses Striking the Rock in Horeb"

"Moses Smites the Rock in the Desert "

"Moses Striking Water from the Rock"

"Moses Drawing Water from the Rock"

"Moses Striking Water From The Rock "

"Moses Striking Water From The Rock"

"Moses striking Water from the Rock"

"Moses Draws Water from the Rock"

"Moses Striking the Rock"

"Moses Striking Water from the Rock"


The Second Incident

N U M B E R S . . 2 0

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

"Moses Strikes the Rock"

"The Well of Miriam"

"Moses Striking Water From The Rock"

"Moses Gets Water out of the Rocks"

"Moses Strikes Water from the Rock"

"Moses Strikes Water from the Wall Rocks"

"Moses striking the rock "

"Moses Striking Water From the Rock"

"Moses Strikes the Rock"

"Moses striking the Rock"

"Moses Striking the Rock"

"Moses Striking The Rock"

"Moses Striking The Rock"

"Moses Strikes The Rock"

“Water from the Rock, Twice”

Are These Incidents Also Symbolic?
What Is God Teaching Us Here?

These are peculiar, bizarre events! That in itself signals there might be an important symbolic point that God is making here. Well, on closer inspection it turns out that He is, indeed, and it is marvelous!

Basic rules for understanding the Bible require that we (1) take it literally unless it plainly indicates a figurative meaning, and (2) consider everything the Bible says, remembering that often the New Testament explains the Old.

Note the basic elements in both incidents:
Moses acts on God’s behalf
God gives the people water
The rock delivers the water

However, there is this single difference:
the first time God told Moses to strike the rock, but
the second time God told Moses to speak to the rock.

The way to discover God’s deeper meaning here is simple, if laborious: get out your Concordance and look up every single usage of these four words: ROCK, WATER, STRIKE and SPEAK. Fortunately, that’s already been done* and I’ll share the results with you.

If you check all 180 uses of "rock" and "rocks" in the entire Bible, eventually you arrive at 1 Corinthians 10:1-4:

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

So, here we have a plain statement that the rock did indeed have a symbolic meaning: it was Christ! But if God intended "rock" as a symbol, then what did He intend "water" to represent?

Using the same method of looking up all 617 (!) Bible uses of “water,” we finally find John 7:37-39:

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (see also John 4:14)

Here is yet another plain statement explaining symbolic usage. So, things are becoming clear: rock=Christ , water=Spirit . Further, let us now stipulate the obvious: Moses brought us the Law, so Moses=Law . That only leaves “strike” and “speak,” and we can infer those from what we already know. Let’s restate the scenarios by substituting our discovered symbols:

Incident #1
In actuality: M Moses struck the rock , which then yielded the water
Symbolically: The Law struck Christ , Who then yielded the Holy Spirit

When was Christ struck by the Law? When He was crucified to pay for our transgressions against the Law. But after He rose, He sent us the Spirit on Pentecost. So, struck=crucified.

Incident #2
In intention: M Moses speaks to the rock , which then yields the water
Symbolically: The Law speaks to Christ , Who then yields the Holy Spirit

When does the Law speak to Christ? When Christians, who have now been justified as to the Law, and thus are Lawful, pray to Christ to be refilled by the Spirit. So, speak=pray.

God used these two incidents to illustrate two marvelous truths: that
Christ's death sent us the Spirit, our Comforter and
whenever we need more of the Spirit, we need only to ask Jesus.

Christ could only be struck, crucified, once. God told Moses to speak to the rock on the second occasion instead, Moses got self-righteously angry and struck the rock again—twice this time, for emphasis. (Next time you read Exodus and Numbers, notice Moses' self-righteousness building up toward this "fatal" explosion.) God the Father took exception and punished Moses, by preventing him from entering the Promised Land toward which he’d labored for forty years. (Of course, He has also revealed to us that Moses is in the Real Promised Land, because we see him with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.)

Having said all this, I must express my disappointment here that I have not yet encountered an artist who attempted to portray in some way Christ’s identification with that rock (with possibly the single exception of Ted Larsen's effort, below). What an opportunity, missed! So, if you know of an example, please let me know.

"The Rock of Horeb""

* Our Sunday School class did this entire study 35 years ago under the superb leadership of Dr. Hugh Ross, breaking up into four groups to find the symbolic meanings for rock, water, strike and speak, and then drawing the obvious conclusions. This is another of the many gems God has included in Scripture by which "he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

Again, here is the Bing page
showing various painters' conceptions.
Several are serious works worthy of interest,
by unknown artists except as noted.

Also, here are links to compendia of three masters
who painted Biblical scenes prolifically:


(241 wood engravings for
La Grande Bible de Tours)


Finally, here are links to the

to FReeper left that other site ,
who allowed God to make her His conduit
for incomparable enthusiasm, encouragement,
education, advice and technical assistance!

SNEAK PEEK: Next time,


The Bible encourages us to meditate on it (Ps. 1:1-3, 119:11-16, etc.) these artists have done so, and their works can assist us and enrich our own thoughts about biblical characters, incidents and concepts, and increase our faith in He who is behind it all. As you encounter and consider these images and the related Scriptures and the Spirit enlightens your understanding, please share it with us!

But it is not only oil-on-canvas that can so help us I refer to the astonishing video series The Chosen, which strolls through the four Gospels at the most leisurely pace. The eight episodes of Season 1 are finished, and the second of a planned seven seasons is coming soon. I say "leisurely" because after an entire year’s viewing Jesus still has only seven of the apostles (although He's preparing to call up Thomas from the minor leagues--but Thomas is skeptical, of course). Anticipating a canvas of fifty-plus hours instead of a movie's paltry two hours, The Chosen turns the characters (especially including Jesus!) into three-dimensional humans and brings the Gospels alive--you have never seen anything even remotely like it! Here is the Official Trailer.

Here is a link for free viewing of The Chosen: “Works with your phone, tablet, and you can cast to your Roku or Chromecast.” Last fall I paid $34.98 for DVDs and ongoing internet access—best 35 bucks I’ve ever spent (I don’t recall how much our marriage license cost, but then it was 42 years ago).

To receive an alert for each new posting
in this series, either reply here or FRmail me.

Why was God so upset with Moses for striking the rock the second time in the desert?

In Exodus, God commands Moses to strike a rock, and promises to make water flow in the desert for the people.

Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:6 ESV)

Later on, God tells Moses to speak to a rock, promising to make water flow in the desert again. However, Moses strikes the rock again instead of speaking to it. Because of just this one thing, God tells Moses that he will no longer be permitted bring the people into the Promised Land.

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Numbers 20:8-12 ESV, emphasis added)

Why was the punishment so harsh for what seems like a small infraction? Was there something greater or more symbolic going on here?

Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto Paintings and Biography

Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto, born Jacopo Comin, (1518 – 1594) was a famous Italian painter and one of the most prominent artists of the Venetian school. He was one of the few artists of this school who was actually born and raised in Venice. Because of his techniques and also the speed in which he created his work, he gained a nickname Il Furioso (“The Furious”) and was both admired and condemned by his colleagues.

Little is known about his childhood and life, even the year of his birth is not known with certainty (it’s either 1518 or 1519). Because of his father’s job, the artist was exposed to colors, pigments, and other mediums used in art, from an early age. He even got a nickname by which he is known today – Tintoretto which means “the little dryer” because of his father’s occupation.

When it comes to his training, there are no records of it, but it is believed that he started his apprenticeship in the studio of a famous painter, Titian. However, this collaboration didn’t last for a long time, and there have been some speculations about why this was the case. According to some sources, Titian was jealous of the young artist’s talent, while others believe that their personalities were too different and they just couldn’t work together.

Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti) – Portrait of a Young Man as David

It is believed that this is the only formal education that Tintoretto got, so he continued developing and mastering his skills, firstly by decorating furniture with small paintings and later creating his own work.

Wall paintings “Belshazzar’s Feast” and “Calvary Fight” are believed to be some of his earliest work. Another one, “The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple” can still be seen in a church in Venice called Santa Maria dei Carmini. Here are some of his other famous pieces, and you can learn more about these and other ones online.

The Miracle of The Slave, completed in 1548, is a piece originally ordered by the Scuola Grande di San Marco. It portrays a moment in which, a man (the nude figure) violated his master’s order and prayed to the relics of Saint Mark, patron saint of Venice, is waiting for his punishment. However, every time the executioner attempted to harm him, his tools were broken. At the moment, Saint Mark appears to protect the slave from a painful death.

Here, the masculine figures staged in different positions show us the influence of Michelangelo on Tintoretto’s work, but also we can see other features of the Venetian School such as vivid colors. Without a doubt, this painting had an enormous impact on his career and attracted attention to his work. Today, this painting is kept in the Galleria dell’Accademia, in Venice.

The Crucifixion is oil, life-size painting, from 1565. Here, the artist follows the traditional iconography presenting the pain of St. John the Evangelist, the three Marys, and Joseph Arimathea and Nicodemus, the men who will remove Christ’s body from the cross. Just by looking at the painting, it is as if the viewer can feel the horrors of this scene. This piece was one of the first of around 50 paintings created for the Scoula Grande di San Rocco over the next two decades.

The Origin of the Milky Way (1575) is one of the four Tintoretto’s paintings of the myth of Heracles. According to the story, the god Zeus brought his son to his wife Hera to breastfeed the infant while sleeping. However, when she woke up, she found an unknown infant by her side and pushed him away, spraying the milk across the heavens which then formed the Milky Way.

Tintoretto, Moses Drawing Water from the Rock

The importance of this series of pieces lies in the fact that it was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Hungary, Rudolf II showing the growing popularity of the artist beyond the borders of Italy. Nowadays, this work is housed in the National Gallery in London.

Mosses Striking the Rock (1577) is another painting that portrays the story from the Old Testament. Tintoretto displays the exact moment of the water flowing from the rock after the Mosses had struck it for the second time.

The contrast between light and dark colors represents the difference between heaven and earthly figures below. The power of this painting is in Tintoretto’s harsh brush movements and also the presentation of strong masculine figures. Once again, this piece is a part of a series of three ceiling paintings which present Old Testament stories, created for the Scuola Grande di Roco

Il Paradiso is one of the largest paintings in the world and it is also one of Tintoretto’s final works. A fire in 1577 destroyed the 14th-century work by Guariento illustrating the Coronation of the Virgin. After being chosen to replace Veronese, Tintoretto submitted two sketches that were completely different than the final work.

In this piece, Chris and Mary are presented inside a golden circle at the top. They look down, towards the clouds of angels, saints, and other individuals who had resurrected and are now looking up towards heaven.

Taking into consideration the size of this work and also the fact that it was painted in the Scuola della Misericordia’s main hall, it comes as no surprise that the artist wasn’t able to complete the work on his own. Still, he had created the preparatory version of the piece which was then completed by his son, Domenico.

Last Supper is an oil painting completed in 1594. Unlike the other famous representations of this scene, Tintoretto decided to make the secondary characters the center of the painting. Also, the table where the apostles sit is placed at a sharp angle. Due to this, this work, created for the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, is believed to be the most unusual representation of this scene.

Source: The Eclectic Light Company

Instead of depicting Christ in the center, surrounded by his followers, the artist places him in the far back, behind the secondary figures such as servants. By creating this asymmetrical composition, the artist is actually using some Mannerism characteristics which introduced the Baroque style.

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock by Tintoretto - History

From Abstract to Concrete

There was a rabbi known for his constant preaching about the need to nurture children with warmth and love. One time he noticed some children who were playing in the freshly laid concrete outside his newly renovated home, their little feet leaving lasting impressions. He became irritated and started chastising the children. A congregant asked, “How can you, a person who devoted his entire life to teaching warmth to children, speak this way?” To which the rabbi replied: “You must understand. I love children in the abstract, not the concrete.”

At last, the moment had arrived. For 40 years they had wandered together in a wilderness. Most of the older generation had already passed on. Even the beloved Miriam was no more. By now, the young nation of Israel was finally ready to enter the Promised Land, under the leadership of Moses. But an incident occurred that would transform the nation’s destiny.

“The congregation had no water,” the weekly Torah portion relates[1], “so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses, saying, ‘If only we had died with the death of our brothers before the Lord. Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord to this desert so that we and our livestock should die there? Why have you taken us out of Egypt to bring us to this bad place it is not a place for seeds, or for fig trees, grapevines or pomegranate trees, and there is no water to drink’… “G-d spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the staff and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and speak to the rock in their presence so that it will give forth its water. You shall bring forth water for them from the rock, and give the congregation and their livestock to drink.’

“Moses took the staff from before the Lord as He had commanded him. Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock, and he said to them, ‘Now listen, you rebels, can we draw water for you from this rock?’ “Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, when an abundance of water gushed forth, and the congregation and their livestock drank. “G-d said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Since you did not have faith in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly to the Land which I have given them”.

It was this error of Moses that prevented him from entering the Holy Land. Yet, this explanation leaves us with many more questions. Here are a few of them.

1) What compelled Moses to sin? If G-d instructed him to speak to the rock, why did he choose to strike it? I, for one, know of no particular lust to strike rocks.

2) Why was Moses punished so severely for this sin? Does it really make a difference whether you communicate to a rock verbally or by force? 3) G-d claimed that by striking the rock, Moses and Aaron failed to sanctify His name. How so? 4) Why did Moses need to strike the rock twice before it would emit abundant water? If G-d did not allow the water to come out after the first blow because it was contrary to His will, why did He allow the water flow after the second blow?

Forty years earlier, shortly after the Egyptian exodus, a similar incident occurred. But in that instance, G-d expressed His desire that Moses actually strike the rock.

the people to drink. So the people quarreled with Moses, saying, ‘Give us water that we may drink!’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test G-d?’ “The people thirsted there for water, and complained against Moses, saying, ‘Why have you brought us up from Egypt to make me and my children and my livestock die of thirst?’ “Moses cried out to G-d, saying, ‘What shall I do for this people? Just a little longer and they will stone me!’ “G-d said to Moses… ‘take into your hand your staff, with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I shall stand there before you on the rock in Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, and the people will drink.’ “Moses did so before the eyes of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarreling] because of the quarrel of the children of Israel and because of their testing G-d, saying, ‘Is the Lord in our midst or not?’” This episode might explain why 40 years later Moses was under the impression that striking the rock was not that bad. After all, G-d Himself commanded him once before to smite the rock in order to produce its waters.

But why did G-d indeed change His position? What is the reason that in the first incident G-d instructed Moses to strike the rock, while in the second incident He insisted exclusively on verbal communication?

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that over the centuries, more than one hundred different interpretations have been offered to explain this puzzling episode. Today, I wish to present one interpretation, based on a Midrashic tradition. This particular Midrash, known as Yalkut Shimoni, makes the following comment[3]: “Speak to the rock, do not strike it. G-d told Moses, ‘when a child is young, the educator may [at times] hit the lad in order teach it. When the child grows into adulthood, however, the educator must rebuke him only verbally. Similarly, when the rock was but a ‘small child,’ I instructed you to strike it but now [after 40 years when it has grown larger] you must only speak to it. Teach it a chapter of Torah and it will produce water.”

This a strange Midrash. What in the world is the comparison between a rock and a child? And how are you supposed to teach a rock a chapter of Torah? Obviously, according to the Midrash, the story with the rock was more than a physical event concerning an attempt to draw water from a hard inanimate object. Itwasalsoapsychologicalandmoraltale about how to educate and refine human “rocks” so that they can produce water.

“I am a rock,” goes the famous ballad.

“A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.” So here is the question: How do you impact a rock? How do you transform a crude, coarse and stone-like mind and heart to become sources of water, wisdom and inspiration that could quench the thirst of parched souls? How do you open a sealed heart? Do you smite it or do you speak to it? Do you impact the rock by force and coercion? Or do you negotiate with it verbally, attempting to explain, persuade and enlighten? Some parents, educators and psychiatrists are inclined exclusively toward one of the two paths. On one side are those committed to the path of discipline, severity and punishment. They do not let their children or students get away with any shtick, and if the kids don’t respond, they show them the stick and coerce them to behave until the “troublemakers” learn their lesson for the next time. On the other side are those who embrace the opposite approach of empathy, love and compassion. They believe only in enlightenment and slow persuasion.

They loathe the aggressive path that employs strength and coercion as a medium. In the Kabbalah, these two paths are known respectively as Gevurah (strength) vs. Chesed (loving kindness). Both approaches in and of themselves are flawed.

Judaism always advocated an ethos of education based on the path of love and enlightenment, but it also understood the need, at times, for force and coercion as a means to an end. At times, destructive behavior needs to be stopped immediately, and if the child will not respond to peaceful pleas and explanations, you must employ the minimum amount of required force to set the person and the situation straight. Yet even while employing force, you must never lose focus of your ultimate objective, which is to enlighten the child and educate him or her to internally appreciate the proper way to live.

When the Jewish people departed from Egypt after decades of physical and psychological oppression, they were raw and crude. Steeped for two centuries in the immoral culture of Egyptian pagan society and stripped of much of their human dignity, they had developed a profound obstinacy and roughness. Let us recall Moses’ cry to G-d shortly after the Exodus, “What shall I do for this people? Just a little longer and they will stone me!’”

That is why the generation that emerged from Egyptian bondage and abuse was, according to the biblical narrative, constantly rebelling, hollering, fighting and arguing. They had simply been through too much to develop a sense of loyalty, confidence, optimism, hope, and an attitude of trust. They had been beaten slaves for too long.

Ultimately, they were emotionally unequipped to conquer and settle the Holy Land. They died in the desert. The potential for spiritual and psychological refinement was no doubt present.

According to the Kabbalah, the generation that departed Egypt possessed extraordinarily lofty souls, never to be repeated in our history. But before any refinement could be achieved, the outer “rock” needed to be cracked. The “hard skin” they developed over 210 years in exile, needed to be penetrated before its inner vibrant and fresh waters could be discovered. That is why, immediately after the Exodus, G-d instructed Moses to strike the rock. At this primitive point in Jewish history, smiting the “rock” was appropriate, indeed critical. Their hearts were too dense to be pierced in any other way.

Forty years later, their children and grandchildren, born and raised in liberty and in a highly spiritual environment, developed a sense of selfhood quite different from their parents and grandparents. Forty years in wilderness, in the presence of Moses, Aaron and divine miracles, leaves a dent. The nation had spiritually matured.

But suddenly, they, too, began to lament and kvetch about a lack of water. Yet a subtle reading of the text exposes us to a tune quite different from the tune present in their parents’ cry 40 years earlier. This new generation of Jews asks only for water, not for meat or other delicacies. They do not express their craving to

return to Egypt. Nor do they wish to stone Moses. They are simply terrified of the prospects of death by thirst. G-d was sensitive to the nuanced distinctions. He commanded Moses to speak to the rock, rather than strike it. “Now you must speak to it, teach it a chapter of Torah and it will produce water,” in the above recorded words of the Midrash.

The Jews Have Come a long Way

The model of smiting must be replaced with the model of teaching and inspiring. At that critical juncture, Moses was unable to metamorphose himself. Moses, who came to identify so deeply with the generation he painstakingly liberated from Egyptian genocide and slavery and worked incessantly for their development as a free and holy people, could not easily “change his skin” and assume a new model of leadership. Moses, calling the people “rebels,” struck the rock. He continued to employ the method of rebuke and strength. And he struck it twice, because when you attempt to change things through pressure, rather than by persuasion, you must always do it more than once.

This demonstrated that Moses was not the person qualified to take the new generation into its land. Moses belonged to the older generation.

Because of his profound love and attachment to that generation — about whom he told G-d that should He not forgive them, He could erase Moses’ name from the Torah— Moses did not possess the ability to properly assess the transformation that had taken place in the young generation of Jews who had come of age. That is why G-d told Moses, “You did not have faith in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel.”

Instead of trusting G-d’s assessment of the new generation, and exposing their elevated spiritual status, Moses diminished their moral level, creating a crock in their profound and mature relationship with G-d. Moses’ place, it turned out, was in desert with his beloved people, these heroic souls who began the march from slavery to freedom, but could not complete it because of the horrific pain they have endured.

The above explanation will explain another curious anomaly in the biblical description of the two incidents with the water. The description for the “rock” in the first incident is the Hebrew term “tzur.” The description for the rock in the second incident is the Hebrew term “selah.” Why? In English we translate both Hebrew words — tzur and selah — to mean a rock. But in the Hebrew there is a significant difference between the two terms. A tzur is a rock that is hard and solid both in its exterior and interior parts. It is all rock. A selah, on the other hand, is a rock that is hard and rocky on its outside, but its interior contains water or moisture[5].

When you are dealing with a “rock” that has no moisture stored in it, you have no choice but to smite it. However, when you are confronted with a rock that is merely rocky on the outside but soft on the inside, you have no right to smite it. Now, you must speak to it and inspire it to reveal its internal waters of wisdom, love and inspiration.

Clash of Civilizations
Just as this is true in the word of child

rearing and education, it is also true regarding our attempt to eliminate clashes between cultures and civilizations, and create a world of peace.

Here, too, people can be divided into two categories: the strikers and the talkers. Some people are hawks by nature. They are convinced that every clash must be dealt with through force and coercion. You must “strike the rock” until it surrenders. Others are lovey-dovey pacifists who believe exclusively in “speaking to the rock,” never employing aggressive measures. Either perspective used exclusive of the other is wrong. Force and violence ought never be embraced as an ultimate goal. Violence is ugly, painful, and sad. But when other attempts fail, righteous might is the only response to immoral violence. Adolf Hitler was not defeated through negotiation, but through war. There are many innocent men and women alive today solely because others used force to save their lives.

Moral Violence vs. Immoral Violence
A close friend of mine, a Jewish man recently taking a stroll one night in Colombia, was attacked by two men, who tried to stab him. My friend, by nature a very peaceful and emotionally sensitive individual, employed violence. He kicked them hard, stunned the thugs and escaped. He did not tell them, “Hey, guys, I promise you that when I return to the U.S. I will go to therapy to find out why you hate me.” Or, “You must be so deeply frustrated because your father was so poor and your mother an alcoholic let

me give you a big hug.”
Had he done that, it is most likely that his

three children would be orphans today. The key is to distinguish between moral violence and immoral violence.

Violence used by police is what stops violent criminals from murdering and hurting innocent people. In the last few days, IDF soldiers shot dead terrorists trying to fire rockets on civilians. Had these gangsters not been shot, scores of innocent people could have died. If somebody had killed the Muslim savages before they beheaded Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, Paul Johnson and Kim Sunil, that person would have performed the greatest mitzvah in the world: saving an innocent human being from death.

Winston Churchill once said: “Appeasement is feeding the sharks in the hope that you will be eaten last.” When you are dealing with a shark, you must smite the “rock.” If not, innocents will die. At other times, you must speak to the rock. In the wise words of King Solomon: “There is a time for everything under the heaven… A time to kill and a time to heal a time to wreck and a time to build… A time to embrace and a time to shun embrace… A time to love and a time to hate a time for war and a time for peace.” May we add: A time for smiting a rock and a time for speaking to a rock. We must always be ready to change our vision and mentality based on the reality confronting us.

When the opportunity is ripe for love and respect, when you see that you can change the reality through education, enlightenment and words, you must employ this path with the same vigor and passion that you employed previously the method of coercion.

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Yahweh told Moses to get his staff and take it with him when he spoke to the rock?
  2. Do you think Israel could have found enough water for their use if they had run around striking all the rocks around them?
  3. Do you think Moses had a reason to be angry with the chosen people?
  4. What do you think about the story Jewish tradition tells about the death of Aaron? What do you think is the important thing about the account in this book about his death?
  5. Do you think the fact that Eleazar came down the mountain clothed in the garments of the High Priest avoided another uprising about the priesthood?
  6. Why did Israel detour around Edom?
  7. What is the difference between the rock that Moses struck at Rephidim and the one he struck in the Wilderness of Zin?

[2] Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, 15

[3] Beitzel, The Moody Bible Atlas, 37

[4] C. Leonard Woolley and T E. Lawrence, The Wilderness of Zin (London: Jonathan Cape,

[5] Efraim Orni and Elisha Efras, Geography of Israel (3d ed. Jerusalem: The Jewish Publication

[6] Yohanan Aharoni, The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography (Philadelphia:

Westminster 1967), 31 Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev (New

York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1959), 34 Levine, .Numbers.. 487 and Milgrom, Numbers,

[7] George Turner, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973), 292

[8] George Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), 280.

[11] Num 24:21 associates the Kenites with this word for rock. The Kenites are said to live in the Negev (Judg 1:16 and 1 Sam 27:10). The use in Dent 32:13 may well be an allusion to the events of Numbers 20.

[14] It is easy for the human listener to read their own thoughts into what they are being told.

[16] The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

[17] A desolate geological fissure extending from the south end of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.


Several etymologies for the name "Moses" have been proposed.

An Egyptian root msy ('child of') has been considered as a possible etymology, arguably an abbreviation of a theophoric name, as for example in Egyptian names like Thutmoses ('child of Thoth') and Ramesses ('child of Ra'), [21] with the god's name omitted. Abraham Yahuda, based on the spelling given in the Tanakh, argues that it combines "water" or "seed" and "pond, expanse of water," thus yielding the sense of "child of the Nile" (mw-zꜣ). [22]

The biblical account of Moses's birth provides him with a folk etymology to explain the ostensible meaning of his name. [21] [23] He is said to have received it from the Pharaoh's daughter: "he became her son. She named him Moses (מֹשֶׁה Mōšê), saying, 'I drew him out (מְשִׁיתִֽהוּ mǝšîtihû) of the water'." [24] [25] This explanation links it to the root משׁה mšh, meaning "to draw out". [25] [26] The eleventh-century Tosafist Isaac b. Asher haLevi noted that the princess names him the active participle Drawer-out (מֹשֶׁה Mōšê), not the passive participle Drawn-out (נמשה Nimšê), in effect prophesying that Moses would draw others out (of Egypt) this has been accepted by some scholars. [27] [28]

The Hebrew etymology in the Biblical story may reflect an attempt to cancel out traces of Moses's Egyptian origins. [28] The Egyptian character of his name was recognized as such by ancient Jewish writers like Philo and Josephus. [28] Philo linked Moses's name (Ancient Greek: Μωϋσῆς , romanized: Mōysēs, lit. 'Mōusḗs') to the Egyptian (Coptic) word for 'water' (möu, μῶυ ), in reference to his finding in the Nile and the biblical folk etymology. [29] Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, claims that the second element, -esês, meant 'those who are saved'. The problem of how an Egyptian princess, known to Josephus as Thermutis (identified as Tharmuth) [25] and to 1 Chronicles 4:18 as Bithiah, [30] could have known Hebrew puzzled medieval Jewish commentators like Abraham ibn Ezra and Hezekiah ben Manoah. Hezekiah suggested she either converted or took a tip from Jochebed. [31] [32]

Prophet and deliverer of Israel

The Israelites had settled in the Land of Goshen in the time of Joseph and Jacob, but a new Pharaoh arose who oppressed the children of Israel. At this time Moses was born to his father Amram, son (or descendant) of Kehath the Levite, who entered Egypt with Jacob's household his mother was Jochebed (also Yocheved), who was kin to Kehath. Moses had one older (by seven years) sister, Miriam, and one older (by three years) brother, Aaron. [note 3] The Pharaoh had commanded that all male Hebrew children born would be drowned in the river Nile, but Moses's mother placed him in an ark and concealed the ark in the bulrushes by the riverbank, where the baby was discovered and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, and raised as an Egyptian. One day, after Moses had reached adulthood, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. Moses, in order to escape the Pharaoh's death penalty, fled to Midian (a desert country south of Judah), where he married Zipporah. [34]

There, on Mount Horeb, God appeared to Moses as a burning bush, revealed to Moses his name YHWH (probably pronounced Yahweh) [35] and commanded him to return to Egypt and bring his chosen people (Israel) out of bondage and into the Promised Land (Canaan). [36] During the journey, God tried to kill Moses, but Zipporah saved his life. Moses returned to carry out God's command, but God caused the Pharaoh to refuse, and only after God had subjected Egypt to ten plagues did the Pharaoh relent. Moses led the Israelites to the border of Egypt, but there God hardened the Pharaoh's heart once more, so that he could destroy the Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea Crossing as a sign of his power to Israel and the nations. [37]

After defeating the Amalekites in Rephidim, Moses led the Israelites to biblical Mount Sinai, where he was given the Ten Commandments from God, written on stone tablets. However, since Moses remained a long time on the mountain, some of the people feared that he might be dead, so they made a statue of a golden calf and worshipped it, thus disobeying and angering God and Moses. Moses, out of anger, broke the tablets, and later ordered the elimination of those who had worshiped the golden statue, which was melted down and fed to the idolaters. [38] He also wrote the ten commandments on a new set of tablets. Later at Mount Sinai, Moses and the elders entered into a covenant, by which Israel would become the people of YHWH, obeying his laws, and YHWH would be their god. Moses delivered the laws of God to Israel, instituted the priesthood under the sons of Moses's brother Aaron, and destroyed those Israelites who fell away from his worship. In his final act at Sinai, God gave Moses instructions for the Tabernacle, the mobile shrine by which he would travel with Israel to the Promised Land. [39]

From Sinai, Moses led the Israelites to the Desert of Paran on the border of Canaan. From there he sent twelve spies into the land. The spies returned with samples of the land's fertility, but warned that its inhabitants were giants. The people were afraid and wanted to return to Egypt, and some rebelled against Moses and against God. Moses told the Israelites that they were not worthy to inherit the land, and would wander the wilderness for forty years until the generation who had refused to enter Canaan had died, so that it would be their children who would possess the land. [40] Later on, Korah was punished for leading a revolt against Moses.

When the forty years had passed, Moses led the Israelites east around the Dead Sea to the territories of Edom and Moab. There they escaped the temptation of idolatry, conquered the lands of Og and Sihon in Transjordan, received God's blessing through Balaam the prophet, and massacred the Midianites, who by the end of the Exodus journey had become the enemies of the Israelites due to their notorious role in enticing the Israelites to sin against God. Moses was twice given notice that he would die before entry to the Promised Land: in Numbers 27:13, once he had seen the Promised Land from a viewpoint on Mount Abarim, and again in Numbers 31:1 once battle with the Midianites had been won.

On the banks of the Jordan River, in sight of the land, Moses assembled the tribes. After recalling their wanderings he delivered God's laws by which they must live in the land, sang a song of praise and pronounced a blessing on the people, and passed his authority to Joshua, under whom they would possess the land. Moses then went up Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah, looked over the promised land of Israel spread out before him, and died, at the age of one hundred and twenty. More humble than any other man (Num. 12:3), "there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom YHWH knew face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10). The New Testament states that after Moses's death, Michael the Archangel and the Devil disputed over his body (Epistle of Jude 1:9).

Lawgiver of Israel

Moses is honoured among Jews today as the "lawgiver of Israel", and he delivers several sets of laws in the course of the four books. The first is the Covenant Code, [41] the terms of the covenant which God offers to the Israelites at biblical Mount Sinai. Embedded in the covenant are the Decalogue [42] and the Book of the Covenant. [43] [44] The entire Book of Leviticus constitutes a second body of law, the Book of Numbers begins with yet another set, and the Book of Deuteronomy another. [ citation needed ]

Moses has traditionally been regarded as the author of those four books and the Book of Genesis, which together comprise the Torah, the first section of the Hebrew Bible. [45]

Scholars hold different opinions on the status of Moses in scholarship. [11] [46] For instance, according to William G. Dever, the modern scholarly consensus is that the biblical person of Moses is largely mythical while also holding that "a Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in the southern Transjordan in the mid-late 13th century B.C." and that "archeology can do nothing" to prove or confirm either way. [12] [46] However, according to Solomon Nigosian, there are actually three prevailing views among biblical scholars: one is that Moses is not a historical figure, another view strives to anchor the decisive role he played in Israelite religion, and a third that argues there are elements of both history and legend from which "these issues are hotly debated unresolved matters among scholars." [11] According to Brian Britt, there is divide amongst scholars that threatens gridlock when discussing matters on Moses. [47]

Jan Assmann argues that we cannot know if Moses ever lived because there are no traces outside tradition. [48] Though the names of Moses and others in the biblical narratives are Egyptian and contain genuine Egyptian elements, no extrabiblical sources point clearly to Moses. [49] [50] [14] No references to Moses appear in any Egyptian sources prior to the fourth century BCE, long after he is believed to have lived. No contemporary Egyptian sources mention Moses or the events of Exodus–Deuteronomy, nor has any archaeological evidence been discovered in Egypt or the Sinai wilderness to support the story in which he is the central figure. [51] David Adams Leeming states that Moses is a mythic hero and the central figure in Hebrew mythology. [52] However, according to John van Seters, any mythical elements in sources on Moses do not mean that there was no Moses or that the tales do not include historical information, but that in the Torah, memory revises history and makes myth out of history. [15]

The Oxford Companion to the Bible states that the historicity of Moses is the most reasonable assumption to be made about him as his absence would leave a vacuum that cannot be explained away. [53] Oxford Biblical Studies states that although few modern scholars are willing to support the traditional view that Moses himself wrote the five books of the Torah there are certainly those who regard the leadership of Moses as too firmly based in Israel's corporate memory to be dismissed as pious fiction. [54]

The story of Moses's discovery picks up a familiar motif in ancient Near Eastern mythological accounts of the ruler who rises from humble origins. [55] Thus Sargon of Akkad's Akkadian account of his own origins runs:

My mother, the high priestess, conceived in secret she bore me
She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid
She cast me into the river which rose over me. [56]

Moses's story, like those of the other patriarchs, most likely had a substantial oral prehistory, [57] and his name is apparently very ancient, as the tradition found in Exodus no longer understands its original meaning. [21] [58] Nevertheless, the completion of the Torah and its elevation to the centre of post-Exilic Judaism was as much or more about combining older texts as writing new ones – the final Pentateuch was based on existing traditions. [59] Isaiah, [60] written during the Exile (i.e., in the first half of the 6th century BCE), testifies of tension between the people of Judah and the returning post-Exilic Jews (the "gôlâ"), stating that God is the father of Israel and that Israel's history begins with the Exodus and not with Abraham. [61] The conclusion to be inferred from this and similar evidence (e.g., Ezra–Nehemiah), is that the figure of Moses and the story of the Exodus must have been preeminent among the people of Judah at the time of the Exile and after, serving to support their claims to the land in opposition to those of the returning exiles. [61] Yet, despite the imposing fame associated with Moses, no source mentions him until he emerges in texts associated with the Babylonian exile. [62]

A theory developed by Cornelis Tiele in 1872, which has proved influential, argued that Yahweh was a Midianite god, introduced to the Israelites by Moses, whose father-in-law Jethro was a Midianite priest. [63] It was to such a Moses that Yahweh reveals his real name, hidden from the Patriarchs who knew him only as El Shaddai. [64] Against this view is the modern consensus that most of the Israelites were native to Palestine. [65] Martin Noth argued that the Pentateuch uses the figure of Moses, originally linked to legends of a Transjordan conquest, as a narrative bracket or late redactional device to weld together 4 of the 5, originally independent, themes of that work. [62] [66] Manfred Görg [de] [67] and Rolf Krauss [de] , [68] the latter in a somewhat sensationalist manner, [69] have suggested that the Moses story is a distortion or transmogrification of the historical pharaoh Amenmose (c. 1200 BCE), who was dismissed from office and whose name was later simplified to msy (Mose). Aidan Dodson regards this hypothesis as "intriguing, but beyond proof." [70] Rudolf Smend argues that the two details about Moses that were most likely to be historical are his name, of Egyptian origin, and his marriage to a Midianite woman, details which seem unlikely to have been invented by the Israelites in Smend's view, all other details given in the biblical narrative are too mythically charged to be seen as accurate data. [71]

The name King Mesha of Moab has been linked to that of Moses. Mesha also is associated with narratives of an exodus and a conquest, and several motifs in stories about him are shared with the Exodus tale and that regarding Israel's war with Moab (2 Kings 3). Moab rebels against oppression, like Moses, leads his people out of Israel, as Moses does from Egypt, and his first-born son is slaughtered at the wall of Kir-hareseth as the firstborn of Israel are condemned to slaughter in the Exodus story, "an infernal passover that delivers Mesha while wrath burns against his enemies". [72]

An Egyptian version of the tale that crosses over with the Moses story is found in Manetho who, according to the summary in Josephus, wrote that a certain Osarseph, a Heliopolitan priest, became overseer of a band of lepers, when Amenophis, following indications by Amenhotep, son of Hapu, had all the lepers in Egypt quarantined in order to cleanse the land so that he might see the gods. The lepers are bundled into Avaris, the former capital of the Hyksos, where Osarseph prescribes for them everything forbidden in Egypt, while proscribing everything permitted in Egypt. They invite the Hyksos to reinvade Egypt, rule with them for 13 years – Osarseph then assumes the name Moses – and are then driven out. [73]

Other Egyptian figures which have been postulated as candidates for a historical Moses-like figure include the princes Ahmose-ankh and Ramose, who were sons of pharaoh Ahmose I, or a figure associated with the family of pharaoh Thutmose III. [74] [75]

Non-biblical writings about Jews, with references to the role of Moses, first appear at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE. Shmuel notes that "a characteristic of this literature is the high honour in which it holds the peoples of the East in general and some specific groups among these peoples." [76]

In addition to the Judeo-Roman or Judeo-Hellenic historians Artapanus, Eupolemus, Josephus, and Philo, a few non-Jewish historians including Hecataeus of Abdera (quoted by Diodorus Siculus), Alexander Polyhistor, Manetho, Apion, Chaeremon of Alexandria, Tacitus and Porphyry also make reference to him. The extent to which any of these accounts rely on earlier sources is unknown. [77] Moses also appears in other religious texts such as the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), Midrash (200–1200 CE), [78] and the Quran (c. 610–653). [ citation needed ]

The figure of Osarseph in Hellenistic historiography is a renegade Egyptian priest who leads an army of lepers against the pharaoh and is finally expelled from Egypt, changing his name to Moses. [79]


The earliest existing reference to Moses in Greek literature occurs in the Egyptian history of Hecataeus of Abdera (4th century BCE). All that remains of his description of Moses are two references made by Diodorus Siculus, wherein, writes historian Arthur Droge, he "describes Moses as a wise and courageous leader who left Egypt and colonized Judaea." [80] Among the many accomplishments described by Hecataeus, Moses had founded cities, established a temple and religious cult, and issued laws:

After the establishment of settled life in Egypt in early times, which took place, according to the mythical account, in the period of the gods and heroes, the first. to persuade the multitudes to use written laws was Mneves [Moses], a man not only great of soul but also in his life the most public-spirited of all lawgivers whose names are recorded. [80]

Droge also points out that this statement by Hecataeus was similar to statements made subsequently by Eupolemus. [80]


The Jewish historian Artapanus of Alexandria (2nd century BCE), portrayed Moses as a cultural hero, alien to the Pharaonic court. According to theologian John Barclay, the Moses of Artapanus "clearly bears the destiny of the Jews, and in his personal, cultural and military splendor, brings credit to the whole Jewish people." [81]

Jealousy of Moses' excellent qualities induced Chenephres to send him with unskilled troops on a military expedition to Ethiopia, where he won great victories. After having built the city of Hermopolis, he taught the people the value of the ibis as a protection against the serpents, making the bird the sacred guardian spirit of the city then he introduced circumcision. After his return to Memphis, Moses taught the people the value of oxen for agriculture, and the consecration of the same by Moses gave rise to the cult of Apis. Finally, after having escaped another plot by killing the assailant sent by the king, Moses fled to Arabia, where he married the daughter of Raguel [Jethro], the ruler of the district. [82]

Artapanus goes on to relate how Moses returns to Egypt with Aaron, and is imprisoned, but miraculously escapes through the name of YHWH in order to lead the Exodus. This account further testifies that all Egyptian temples of Isis thereafter contained a rod, in remembrance of that used for Moses's miracles. He describes Moses as 80 years old, "tall and ruddy, with long white hair, and dignified." [83]

Some historians, however, point out the "apologetic nature of much of Artapanus' work," [84] with his addition of extra-biblical details, such as his references to Jethro: the non-Jewish Jethro expresses admiration for Moses's gallantry in helping his daughters, and chooses to adopt Moses as his son. [85]


Strabo, a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher, in his Geographica (c. 24 CE), wrote in detail about Moses, whom he considered to be an Egyptian who deplored the situation in his homeland, and thereby attracted many followers who respected the deity. He writes, for example, that Moses opposed the picturing of the deity in the form of man or animal, and was convinced that the deity was an entity which encompassed everything – land and sea: [86]

35. An Egyptian priest named Moses, who possessed a portion of the country called the Lower Egypt, being dissatisfied with the established institutions there, left it and came to Judaea with a large body of people who worshipped the Divinity. He declared and taught that the Egyptians and Africans entertained erroneous sentiments, in representing the Divinity under the likeness of wild beasts and cattle of the field that the Greeks also were in error in making images of their gods after the human form. For God [said he] may be this one thing which encompasses us all, land and sea, which we call heaven, or the universe, or the nature of things.

36. By such doctrine Moses persuaded a large body of right-minded persons to accompany him to the place where Jerusalem now stands. [87]

In Strabo's writings of the history of Judaism as he understood it, he describes various stages in its development: from the first stage, including Moses and his direct heirs to the final stage where "the Temple of Jerusalem continued to be surrounded by an aura of sanctity." Strabo's "positive and unequivocal appreciation of Moses' personality is among the most sympathetic in all ancient literature." [88] His portrayal of Moses is said to be similar to the writing of Hecataeus who "described Moses as a man who excelled in wisdom and courage." [88]

Egyptologist Jan Assmann concludes that Strabo was the historian "who came closest to a construction of Moses' religion as monotheistic and as a pronounced counter-religion." It recognized "only one divine being whom no image can represent. [and] the only way to approach this god is to live in virtue and in justice." [89]


The Roman historian Tacitus (c. 56–120 CE) refers to Moses by noting that the Jewish religion was monotheistic and without a clear image. His primary work, wherein he describes Jewish philosophy, is his Histories (c. 100), where, according to 18th-century translator and Irish dramatist Arthur Murphy, as a result of the Jewish worship of one God, "pagan mythology fell into contempt." [90] Tacitus states that, despite various opinions current in his day regarding the Jews' ethnicity, most of his sources are in agreement that there was an Exodus from Egypt. By his account, the Pharaoh Bocchoris, suffering from a plague, banished the Jews in response to an oracle of the god Zeus-Amun.

A motley crowd was thus collected and abandoned in the desert. While all the other outcasts lay idly lamenting, one of them, named Moses, advised them not to look for help to gods or men, since both had deserted them, but to trust rather in themselves, and accept as divine the guidance of the first being, by whose aid they should get out of their present plight. [91]

In this version, Moses and the Jews wander through the desert for only six days, capturing the Holy Land on the seventh. [91]


The Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, impressed the pagan author of the famous classical book of literary criticism, On the Sublime, traditionally attributed to Longinus. The date of composition is unknown, but it is commonly assigned to the late 1st century C.E. [92]

The writer quotes Genesis in a "style which presents the nature of the deity in a manner suitable to his pure and great being," however he does not mention Moses by name, calling him 'no chance person' ( οὐχ ὁ τυχὼν ἀνήρ ) but "the Lawgiver" ( θεσμοθέτης , thesmothete) of the Jews," a term that puts him on a par with Lycurgus and Minos. [93] Aside from a reference to Cicero, Moses is the only non-Greek writer quoted in the work, contextually he is put on a par with Homer,. [85] and he is described "with far more admiration than even Greek writers who treated Moses with respect, such as Hecataeus and Strabo. [94]


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

When King Solomon had finished these works, these large and beautiful buildings, and had laid up his donations in the temple, and all this in the interval of seven years, and had given a demonstration of his riches and alacrity therein . he also wrote to the rulers and elders of the Hebrews, and ordered all the people to gather themselves together to Jerusalem, both to see the temple which he had built, and to remove the ark of God into it and when this invitation of the whole body of the people to come to Jerusalem was everywhere carried abroad, . The Feast of Tabernacles happened to fall at the same time, which was kept by the Hebrews as a most holy and most eminent feast. So they carried the ark and the tabernacle which Moses had pitched, and all the vessels that were for ministration to the sacrifices of God, and removed them to the temple. . Now the ark contained nothing else but those two tables of stone that preserved the ten commandments, which God spake to Moses in Mount Sinai, and which were engraved upon them. [95]

According to Feldman, Josephus also attaches particular significance to Moses's possession of the "cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice." He also includes piety as an added fifth virtue. In addition, he "stresses Moses' willingness to undergo toil and his careful avoidance of bribery. Like Plato's philosopher-king, Moses excels as an educator." [96]


Numenius, a Greek philosopher who was a native of Apamea, in Syria, wrote during the latter half of the 2nd century CE. Historian Kennieth Guthrie writes that "Numenius is perhaps the only recognized Greek philosopher who explicitly studied Moses, the prophets, and the life of Jesus. " [97] He describes his background:

Numenius was a man of the world he was not limited to Greek and Egyptian mysteries, but talked familiarly of the myths of Brahmins and Magi. It is however his knowledge and use of the Hebrew scriptures which distinguished him from other Greek philosophers. He refers to Moses simply as "the prophet", exactly as for him Homer is the poet. Plato is described as a Greek Moses. [98]

Justin Martyr

The Christian saint and religious philosopher Justin Martyr (103–165 CE) drew the same conclusion as Numenius, according to other experts. Theologian Paul Blackham notes that Justin considered Moses to be "more trustworthy, profound and truthful because he is older than the Greek philosophers." [99] He quotes him:

I will begin, then, with our first prophet and lawgiver, Moses. that you may know that, of all your teachers, whether sages, poets, historians, philosophers, or lawgivers, by far the oldest, as the Greek histories show us, was Moses, who was our first religious teacher. [99]


Most of what is known about Moses from the Bible comes from the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. [100] The majority of scholars consider the compilation of these books to go back to the Persian period, 538–332 BCE, but based on earlier written and oral traditions. [101] [102] There is a wealth of stories and additional information about Moses in the Jewish apocrypha and in the genre of rabbinical exegesis known as Midrash, as well as in the primary works of the Jewish oral law, the Mishnah and the Talmud. Moses is also given a number of bynames in Jewish tradition. The Midrash identifies Moses as one of seven biblical personalities who were called by various names. [103] Moses's other names were Jekuthiel (by his mother), Heber (by his father), Jered (by Miriam), Avi Zanoah (by Aaron), Avi Gedor (by Kohath), Avi Soco (by his wet-nurse), Shemaiah ben Nethanel (by people of Israel). [104] Moses is also attributed the names Toviah (as a first name), and Levi (as a family name) (Vayikra Rabbah 1:3), Heman, [105] Mechoqeiq (lawgiver) [106] and Ehl Gav Ish (Numbers 12:3). [107] In another exegesis, Moses had ascended to the first heaven until the seventh, even visited Paradise and Hell alive, after he saw the Divine vision in Mount Horeb. [108]

Jewish historians who lived at Alexandria, such as Eupolemus, attributed to Moses the feat of having taught the Phoenicians their alphabet, [109] similar to legends of Thoth. Artapanus of Alexandria explicitly identified Moses not only with Thoth/Hermes, but also with the Greek figure Musaeus (whom he called "the teacher of Orpheus"), and ascribed to him the division of Egypt into 36 districts, each with its own liturgy. He named the princess who adopted Moses as Merris, wife of Pharaoh Chenephres. [110]

Jewish tradition considers Moses to be the greatest prophet who ever lived. [111] [112] Despite his importance, Judaism stresses that Moses was a human being, and is therefore not to be worshipped. [ citation needed ] Only God is worthy of worship in Judaism. [ citation needed ]

To Orthodox Jews, Moses is called Moshe Rabbenu, `Eved HaShem, Avi haNeviim zya"a: "Our Leader Moshe, Servant of God, Father of all the Prophets (may his merit shield us, amen)". In the orthodox view, Moses received not only the Torah, but also the revealed (written and oral) and the hidden (the `hokhmat nistar teachings, which gave Judaism the Zohar of the Rashbi, the Torah of the Ari haQadosh and all that is discussed in the Heavenly Yeshiva between the Ramhal and his masters). [ citation needed ]

Arising in part from his age of death (120 according to Deut. 34:7) and that "his eye had not dimmed, and his vigor had not diminished," the phrase "may you live to 120" has become a common blessing among Jews, especially since 120 is elsewhere stated as the maximum age for Noah's descendants. (one interpretation of Genesis 6:3) [ citation needed ]


Moses is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament figure. For Christians, Moses is often a symbol of God's law, as reinforced and expounded on in the teachings of Jesus. New Testament writers often compared Jesus's words and deeds with Moses's to explain Jesus's mission. In Acts 7:39–43, 51–53, for example, the rejection of Moses by the Jews who worshipped the golden calf is likened to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews that continued in traditional Judaism. [113] [114]

Moses also figures in several of Jesus's messages. When he met the Pharisee Nicodemus at night in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, he compared Moses's 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. [115]

Moses, along with Elijah, is presented as meeting with Jesus in all three Synoptic Gospels of the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, respectively. In Matthew 23, in what is the first attested use of a phrase referring to this rabbinical usage (the Graeco-Aramaic קתדרא דמשה), Jesus refers to the scribes and the Pharisees, in a passage critical of them, as having seated themselves "on the chair of Moses" (Greek: Ἐπὶ τῆς Μωϋσέως καθέδρας , epì tēs Mōüséōs kathédras) [116] [117]

His relevance to modern Christianity has not diminished. Moses is considered to be a saint by several churches and is commemorated as a prophet in the respective Calendars of Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran churches on September 4. In Eastern Orthodox liturgics for September 4, Moses is commemorated as the "Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses, on Mount Nebo". [118] [119] [note 4] The Orthodox Church also commemorates him on the Sunday of the Forefathers, two Sundays before the Nativity. [121]

The Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates him as one of the Holy Forefathers in their Calendar of Saints on July 30. [122]


Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially called Mormons) generally view Moses in the same way that other Christians do. However, in addition to accepting the biblical account of Moses, Mormons include Selections from the Book of Moses as part of their scriptural canon. [123] This book is believed to be the translated writings of Moses, and is included in the Pearl of Great Price. [124]

Latter-day Saints are also unique in believing that Moses was taken to heaven without having tasted death (translated). In addition, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery stated that on April 3, 1836, Moses appeared to them in the Kirtland Temple (located in Kirtland, Ohio) in a glorified, immortal, physical form and bestowed upon them the "keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north." [125]


Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other Islamic prophet. [126] Islamically, Moses is described in ways which parallel the Islamic prophet Muhammad. [127] Like Muhammad, Moses is defined in the Quran as both prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul), the latter term indicating that he was one of those prophets who brought a scripture and law to his people. [128] [129]

Moses is mentioned 502 times in the Quran passages mentioning Moses include Q2:49–61, 7:103–60, 10:75–93, 17:101–104, 20:9–97, 10–66, 27:7–14, 28:3–46, 40:23–30, 43:46–55, 44:17–31, and 79:15–25 and many others. Most of the key events in Moses's life which are narrated in the Bible are to be found dispersed through the different chapters (suwar) of the Quran, with a story about meeting Khidr which is not found in the Bible. [126]

In the Moses story related by the Quran, Jochebed is commanded by God to place Moses in an ark and cast him on the waters of the Nile, thus abandoning him completely to God's protection. [126] [130] The Pharaoh's wife Asiya, not his daughter, found Moses floating in the waters of the Nile. She convinced the Pharaoh to keep him as their son because they were not blessed with any children. [131] [132] [133]

The Quran's account has emphasized Moses's mission to invite the Pharaoh to accept God's divine message [134] as well as give salvation to the Israelites. [126] [135] According to the Quran, Moses encourages the Israelites to enter Canaan, but they are unwilling to fight the Canaanites, fearing certain defeat. Moses responds by pleading to Allah that he and his brother Aaron be separated from the rebellious Israelites. After which the Israelites are made to wander for 40 years. [136]

One of the hadith, or traditional narratives about Muhammad's life, describes a meeting in heaven between Moses and Muhammad, which resulted in Muslims observing 5 daily prayers. [137] Huston Smith says this was "one of the crucial events in Muhammad's life". [138]

According to some Islamic tradition, Moses is believed to be buried at Maqam El-Nabi Musa, Jericho. [139]

Baháʼí Faith

Moses is one of the most important of God's messengers in the Baháʼí Faith being designated a Manifestation of God. [140] An epithet of Moses in Baháʼí scriptures is the One Who Conversed with God. [141]

According to the Baháʼí Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the faith, is the one who spoke to Moses from the Burning bush. [142]

Abdul’l-Baha, has highlighted the fact that Moses, like Abraham, had none of the makings of a great man of history, but through God's assistance he was able to achieve many great things. He is described as having been "for a long time a shepherd in the wilderness," of having had a stammer, and of being "much hated and detested" by the Pharaoh and the ancient Egyptians of his time. He is said to have been raised in an oppressive household, and to have been known, in Egypt, as a man who had committed murder – though he had done so in order to prevent an act of cruelty. [143]

Nevertheless, like Abraham, through the assistance of God, he achieved great things and gained renown even beyond the Levant. Chief among these achievements was the freeing of his people, the Hebrews, from bondage in Egypt and leading "them to the Holy Land." He is viewed as the one who bestowed on Israel 'the religious and the civil law' which gave them "honour among all nations," and which spread their fame to different parts of the world. [143] [ failed verification ]

Furthermore, through the law, Moses is believed to have led the Hebrews 'to the highest possible degree of civilization at that period.’ Abdul’l-Baha asserts that the ancient Greek philosophers regarded "the illustrious men of Israel as models of perfection." [ failed verification ] Chief among these philosophers, he says, was Socrates who "visited Syria, and took from the children of Israel the teachings of the Unity of God and of the immortality of the soul." [143]

Moses is further described [ by whom? ] as paving the way for Bahá'u'lláh and his ultimate revelation, and as a teacher of truth, whose teachings were in line with the customs of his time. [144]

In a metaphorical sense in the Christian tradition, a "Moses" has been referred to as the leader who delivers the people from a terrible situation. Among the Presidents of the United States known to have used the symbolism of Moses were Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who referred to his supporters as "the Moses generation." [145]

In subsequent years, theologians linked the Ten Commandments with the formation of early democracy. Scottish theologian William Barclay described them as "the universal foundation of all things… the law without which nationhood is impossible. …Our society is founded upon it. [146] Pope Francis addressed the United States Congress in 2015 stating that all people need to "keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. [and] the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. [147]

In US history


References to Moses were used by the Puritans, who relied on the story of Moses to give meaning and hope to the lives of Pilgrims seeking religious and personal freedom in North America. John Carver was the first governor of Plymouth colony and first signer of the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote in 1620 during the ship Mayflower's three-month voyage. He inspired the Pilgrims with a "sense of earthly grandeur and divine purpose," notes historian Jon Meacham, [148] and was called the "Moses of the Pilgrims." [149] Early American writer James Russell Lowell noted the similarity of the founding of America by the Pilgrims to that of ancient Israel by Moses:

Next to the fugitives whom Moses led out of Egypt, the little shipload of outcasts who landed at Plymouth are destined to influence the future of the world. [150]

Following Carver's death the following year, William Bradford was made governor. He feared that the remaining Pilgrims would not survive the hardships of the new land, with half their people having already died within months of arriving. Bradford evoked the symbol of Moses to the weakened and desperate Pilgrims to help calm them and give them hope: "Violence will break all. Where is the meek and humble spirit of Moses?" [151] William G. Dever explains the attitude of the Pilgrims: "We considered ourselves the 'New Israel,' particularly we in America. And for that reason we knew who we were, what we believed in and valued, and what our 'manifest destiny' was." [152] [153]

Founding Fathers of the United States

On July 4, 1776, immediately after the Declaration of Independence was officially passed, the Continental Congress asked John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin to design a seal that would clearly represent a symbol for the new United States. They chose the symbol of Moses leading the Israelites to freedom. [154] The Founding Fathers of the United States inscribed the words of Moses on the Liberty Bell: "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof." (Leviticus 25)

After the death of George Washington in 1799, two thirds of his eulogies referred to him as "America's Moses," with one orator saying that "Washington has been the same to us as Moses was to the Children of Israel." [155]

Benjamin Franklin, in 1788, saw the difficulties that some of the newly independent American states were having in forming a government, and proposed that until a new code of laws could be agreed to, they should be governed by "the laws of Moses," as contained in the Old Testament. [156] He justified his proposal by explaining that the laws had worked in biblical times: "The Supreme Being… having rescued them from bondage by many miracles, performed by his servant Moses, he personally delivered to that chosen servant, in the presence of the whole nation, a constitution and code of laws for their observance. [157]

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States, stated why he relied on the laws of Moses over Greek philosophy for establishing the United States Constitution: "As much as I love, esteem, and admire the Greeks, I believe the Hebrews have done more to enlighten and civilize the world. Moses did more than all their legislators and philosophers." [148] Swedish historian Hugo Valentin credited Moses as the "first to proclaim the rights of man." [158]

Slavery and civil rights

Historian Gladys L. Knight describes how leaders who emerged during and after the period in which slavery in the United States was legal often personified the Moses symbol. "The symbol of Moses was empowering in that it served to amplify a need for freedom." [159] Therefore, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 after the passage of the amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery, Black Americans said they had lost "their Moses". [160] Lincoln biographer Charles Carleton Coffin writes, "The millions whom Abraham Lincoln delivered from slavery will ever liken him to Moses, the deliverer of Israel." [161] Similarly, Harriet Tubman, who rescued approximately seventy enslaved family and friends, was also described as the "Moses" of her people. [162]

In the 1960s, a leading figure in the civil rights movement was Martin Luther King Jr., who was called "a modern Moses," and often referred to Moses in his speeches: "The struggle of Moses, the struggle of his devoted followers as they sought to get out of Egypt. This is something of the story of every people struggling for freedom." [163]

Moses often appears in Christian art, and the Pope's private chapel, the Sistine Chapel, has a large sequence of six frescos of the life of Moses on the southern wall, opposite a set with the life of Christ. They were painted in 1481-82 by a group of mostly Florentine artists including Sandro Botticelli and Pietro Perugino. Because of an ambiguity in Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, where Moses's face is described as cornutam (meaning either "shining" or "horned") when descending from Mount Sinai with the tablets, Moses is usually shown in Western art until the Renaissance with small horns, which at least served as a convenient identifying attribute. [164]

With the prophet Elijah, he is a necessary figure in the Transfiguration of Jesus in Christian art, a subject with a long history in Eastern Orthodox art, and popular in Western art between about 1475 and 1535. [165]

Michelangelo's statue of Moses (1513–15), in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, is one of the most familiar statues in the world. The horns the sculptor included on Moses's head are the result of a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible into the Latin Vulgate Bible with which Michelangelo was familiar. The Hebrew word taken from Exodus means either a "horn" or an "irradiation." Experts at the Archaeological Institute of America show that the term was used when Moses "returned to his people after seeing as much of the Glory of the Lord as human eye could stand," and his face "reflected radiance." [166] In early Jewish art, moreover, Moses is often "shown with rays coming out of his head." [167]

Depiction on U.S. government buildings

Moses is depicted in several U.S. government buildings because of his legacy as a lawgiver. In the Library of Congress stands a large statue of Moses alongside a statue of the Paul the Apostle. Moses is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in marble bas-reliefs in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. The plaque's overview states: "Moses (c. 1350–1250 B.C.) Hebrew prophet and lawgiver transformed a wandering people into a nation received the Ten Commandments." [168]

The other twenty-two figures have their profiles turned to Moses, which is the only forward-facing bas-relief. [169] [170]

Moses appears eight times in carvings that ring the Supreme Court Great Hall ceiling. His face is presented along with other ancient figures such as Solomon, the Greek god Zeus and the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. The Supreme Court Building's east pediment depicts Moses holding two tablets. Tablets representing the Ten Commandments can be found carved in the oak courtroom doors, on the support frame of the courtroom's bronze gates and in the library woodwork. A controversial image is one that sits directly above the Chief Justice of the United States' head. In the center of the 40-foot-long Spanish marble carving is a tablet displaying Roman numerals I through X, with some numbers partially hidden. [171]


    , in his last book, Moses and Monotheism in 1939, postulated that Moses was an Egyptian nobleman who adhered to the monotheism of Akhenaten. Following a theory proposed by a contemporary biblical critic, Freud believed that Moses was murdered in the wilderness, producing a collective sense of patricidalguilt that has been at the heart of Judaism ever since. "Judaism had been a religion of the father, Christianity became a religion of the son", he wrote. The possible Egyptian origin of Moses and of his message has received significant scholarly attention. [172] [page needed] [173] Opponents of this view observe that the religion of the Torah seems different from Atenism in everything except the central feature of devotion to a single god, [174] although this has been countered by a variety of arguments, e.g. pointing out the similarities between the Hymn to Aten and Psalm 104. [172] [page needed] [175] Freud's interpretation of the historical Moses is not well accepted among historians, and is considered pseudohistory by many. [176] [page needed] 's novellaThe Tables of the Law (1944) is a retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, with Moses as its main character. [177] 's novel All the Trumpets Sounded (1942), told a fictionalized life of Moses. [178] 's novel Stone Tables (1997) is a novelization of the life of Moses. [179]

Film and television

  • Moses was portrayed by Theodore Roberts in Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 silent filmThe Ten Commandments. Moses also appeared as the central character in the 1956 remake, also directed by DeMille and called The Ten Commandments, in which he was portrayed by Charlton Heston. A television remake was produced in 2006. [180] played Moses in the 1975 television miniseriesMoses the Lawgiver. [181]
  • In the 1981 comedy filmHistory of the World, Part I, Moses was portrayed by Mel Brooks. [182]
  • Sir Ben Kingsley was the narrator of the 2007 animated film, The Ten Commandments. [183]
  • Moses appeared as the central character in the 1998 DreamWorks Pictures' animated movie, The Prince of Egypt. He was voiced by Val Kilmer. [184]
  • In the 2009 miniseriesBattles BC, Moses was portrayed by Cazzey Louis Cereghino. [185]
  • In the 2013 television miniseries The Bible, Moses was portrayed by actor William Houston. [186] portrayed Moses in Ridley Scott's 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings[187] which portrayed Moses and Rameses II as being raised by Seti I as cousins. [188] portrayed Moses in Alexandre Avancini and Vivian De Oliveira 2015–2016 Brazilian miniseries Os Dez Mandamentos and its film version The Ten Commandments: The Movie.

In the late eighteenth century, the deist Thomas Paine commented at length on Moses's Laws in The Age of Reason (1794, 1795, and 1807). Paine considered Moses to be a "detestable villain", and cited Numbers 31 as an example of his "unexampled atrocities". [189] In the passage, after the Israelite army returned from conquering Midian, Moses orders the killing of the Midianites with the exception of the virgin girls who were to be kept for the Israelites.

Have ye saved all the women alive? behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him but all the women-children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Rabbi Joel Grossman argued that the story is a "powerful fable of lust and betrayal", and that Moses's execution of the women was a symbolic condemnation of those who seek to turn sex and desire to evil purposes. [191] He says that the Middianite women "used their sexual attractiveness to turn the Israelite men away from [Yahweh] God and toward the worship of Baal Peor [another Canaanite God]". [191] Rabbi Grossman argues that the genocide of all the Middianite non-virgin women, including those that did not seduce Jewish men, was fair because some of them had sex for "improper reasons". [191] Alan Levin, an educational specialist with the Reform movement, has similarly suggested that the story should be taken as a cautionary tale, to "warn successive generations of Jews to watch their own idolatrous behavior". [192] Chasam Sofer emphasizes that this war was not fought at Moses's behest, but was commanded by God as an act of revenge against the Midianite women, [193] who, according to the Biblical account, had seduced the Israelites and led them to sin.

Moses has also been the subject of much feminist criticism. Womanist Biblical scholar Nyasha Junior has argued that Moses can be the object of feminist inquiry. [194]

  1. ^Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה ‎, romanized: Mōshé, ISO 259-3: Moše Syriac: ܡܘܫܐ ‎, Mūše Arabic: موسى ‎ Mūsā Greek: Mωϋσῆς , Mōÿsēs.
  2. ^ Saint Augustine records the names of the kings when Moses was born in the City of God:
    • "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 Egypt. " [19]
    Orthopolis reigned as the 12th King of Sicyon for 63 years, from 1596–1533 BCE and Criasus reigned as the 5th King of Argos for 54 years, from 1637–1583 BCE. [20]
  3. ^ According to Manetho the place of his birth was at the ancient city of Heliopolis. [33]
  4. ^ According to the Orthodox Menaion, September 4 was the day that Moses saw the Land of Promise. [120]

εἶτα δίδωσιν ὄνομα θεμένη Μωυσῆν ἐτύμως διὰ τὸ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος αὐτὸν ἀνελέσθαι· τὸ γὰρ ὕδωρ μῶυ ὀνομάζουσιν Αἰγύπτιοι

"Since he had been taken up from the water, the princess gave him a name derived from this, and called him Moses, for Möu is the Egyptian word for water."

I want to preach this morning from the subject, 'The Birth of a New Nation.' And I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together, a story that has long since been stenciled on the mental sheets of succeeding generations. It is the story of the Exodus, the story of the flight of the Hebrew people from the bondage of Egypt, through the wilderness and finally, to the Promised Land. …The struggle of Moses, the struggle of his devoted followers as they sought to get out of Egypt.

And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.

Did St. Ambrose Believe in the Real Presence?

On Thursday, I also noted that St. Augustine’s mentor, St. Ambrose, wrote in the late 380s that the Eucharist “ is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body .”” A Protestant reader, H.R. Diaz III, responded:

St. Ambrose

󈬪. Wherefore, too, the Church, beholding so great grace, exhorts her sons and her friends to come together to the sacraments, saying: “Eat, my friends, and drink and be inebriated, my brother.” What we eat and what we drink the Holy Spirit has elsewhere made plain by the prophet, saying, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that hopeth in Him.” In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ, it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Whence the Apostle says of its type: “Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink,” FOR THE BODY OF GOD IS A SPIRITUAL BODY THE BODY OF CHRIST IS THE BODY OF THE DIVINE SPIRIT, for the Spirit is Christ, as we read: “The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord.” And in the Epistle of Peter we read: “Christ died for us.” Lastly, that food strengthens our heart, and that drink “maketh glad the heart of man,” as the prophet has recorded.”

The mistake here is a basic one: yes, the Eucharist is spiritual food. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not the physical Body and Blood of Christ.

St. Paul describes the manna in the desert as spiritual food (1 Cor. 10:3). Does that mean that there wasn’t physical manna? Of course not. Rather, St. Paul’s point is that the manna existed primarily not to feed to the bellies of the wandering Israelites, but to strengthen their souls: it showed them that they had a loving God who cared about them, and that if they trusted in Him daily, He’d never let them down.

Jesus compares Himself to this Manna, and says that His Flesh will nourish us in the same way (John 6:51). So yes, undoubtedly, the Eucharist is spiritual Food. Or put more bluntly: nobody takes Communion because they’re physically hungry. We’re not doing it to fill our bellies (the portions are so tiny!), but to fill our souls (the portions are so infinite!).

That this is Ambrose’s point as well is obvious from reading the passage carefully. Look at the arguments that Ambrose is making one at a time, including the parts that Diaz doesn’t capitalize:

  • Wherefore, too, the Church, beholding so great grace, exhorts her sons and her friends to come together to the sacraments, saying: “Eat, my friends, and drink and be inebriated, my brother.”
  • What we eat and what we drink the Holy Spirit has elsewhere made plain by the prophet, saying, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that hopeth in Him.”
  • In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ, it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual.
  • Whence the Apostle says of its type: “Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink,”
  • for the Body of God is a spiritual Body the Body of Christ is the Body of the Divine Spirit: for the Spirit is Christ, as we read: “The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord.”
  • And in the Epistle of Peter we read: “Christ died for us.” Lastly, that food strengthens our heart, and that drink “maketh glad the heart of man,” as the prophet has recorded.”

In case any more nails were needed in this argument’s coffin, Ambrose provides them here. He just equated the Eucharist with the same Body of Christ that died on the Cross. And obviously, Christ was physically Present there, or our sins weren’t forgiven.

So needless to say, every single thing that Ambrose says argees with “Rome,” or more accurately, the Roman Catholic Church. But let’s go back to the parallel that Ambrose and St. Paul draw between the manna and water in the desert and the Eucharist.

The quote Diaz pulls is from a beautiful sacramental writing by St. Ambrose called On the Mysteries, in which he promises to “ take great pains to prove that the sacraments of the Church are both more ancient than those of the synagogue, and more excellent than the manna. ” After doing the first of those two things, he turns to the second, saying:

Jacopo Tintoretto – Moses Drawing Water from the Rock (1577)

48. Now consider whether the bread of angels be more excellent or the Flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body of life. That manna came from heaven, this is above the heavens that was of heaven, this is of the Lord of the heavens that was liable to corruption, if kept a second day, this is far from all corruption, for whosoever shall taste it holly shall not be able to feel corruption. For them water flowed from the rock, for you Blood flowed from Christ water satisfied them for a time, the Blood satiates you for eternity. The Jew drinks and thirsts again, you after drinking will be beyond the power of thirsting that was in a shadow, this is in truth.

This is rather clear. The spiritual water he’s referring to is the water in the desert which came from the Rock, who St. Paul says was Christ (see 1 Cor. 10:1-4). So the people were being spiritually fed by Christ giving them the bread of angels, and water flowing from Himself. These things, of course, were spiritual food and drink, but were physically present. And Ambrose says that this is only a shadow of the reality of the Eucharist. I don’t see how this passage could possibly make sense unless Ambrose believed that the Eucharist was actually the Body of Christ… like he says.

In case there’s any question that he means physical Presence, not the general spiritual Presence enjoyed wherever two or more are gathered, Ambrose continues:

50. Perhaps you will say, “I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?” And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

So already, we can see that Ambrose is defending the position that the Eucharist is not actually bread, but is the Body of Christ. To support this position, he gives the example of Moses’ miracles, before hitting something of a crescendo:

52. We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet’s blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: “He spake and they were made, He commanded and they were created.” Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

So in saying the words of consecration through the priest, Christ turns the bread and wine into His Flesh and Blood — the same Flesh of Christ that was crucified and buried. This is exactly what Diaz claims Ambrose doesn’t believe. And you know where Ambrose makes this incredibly obvious declaration of faith in the Real Presence of the Eucharist? Five paragraphs before Diaz’s proof-text.

The reason that I bring this up, and address it in full, is because I want readers, both Catholics and Protestants, to remember this when they hear Protestants claiming that such-and-such Church Father denied the Real Presence. Every single time, it has been my experience that said Protestant either had no idea what he or she was talking about, or was stretching the truth. They’d either misunderstood a passage, pulled a sentence out of context, or simply copy-pasted from some Protestant apologetics lists, without ever checking their facts.


Access-restricted-item true Addeddate 2020-07-01 14:07:04 Associated-names Grolier Educational Corporation Boxid IA185752 Camera Sony Alpha-A6300 (Control) Collection_set printdisabled External-identifier urn:oclc:record:1195473063 Foldoutcount 0 Identifier water0000cook Identifier-ark ark:/13960/t8z984r48 Invoice 1652 Isbn 0717276066
9780717275953 Ocr ABBYY FineReader 11.0 (Extended OCR) Old_pallet IA18313 Openlibrary_edition OL10528149M Openlibrary_work OL607506W Page_number_confidence 80.36 Pages 58 Partner Innodata Ppi 300 Rcs_key 24143 Republisher_date 20200701204052 Republisher_operator [email protected] Republisher_time 232 Scandate 20200620093122 Scanner Scanningcenter cebu Scribe3_search_catalog isbn Scribe3_search_id 9780717276066 Tts_version 4.0-initial-155-gbba175a5

Watch the video: The Greatest Works of Tintoretto