4.What Does The Bible Really Say About Moses?

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4.What Does the Bible Really Say About Moses?4.0

Moses and the Exodus: The Rest of the TorahThe Book of Genesis, the first book of the Torah, takes readers from thebeginning of time and space through to the time of the three great Patriarchsof Judaism; Abraham, Isaac and JacobThe remaining four books of the Torah, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers andDeuteronomy describe the events surrounding the greatest of the Jewishprophets Moses and the laws that Judaism derived from that experience. It isthe emphasis of the Laws of Moses, including the Ten Commandments alongwith a number of ritualistic and practical laws, that give the Torah its name.The name of the Book Deuteronomy itself means “second law”. By the timeof Jesus, Jewish believers could count 613 mitzvot derived from “The Law”This section will not devote itself to a discussion of the Jewish Law. It willfocus instead on perhaps the most important event in Jewish history and theman who was the leader of that event, Judaism’s greatest and yet leastprobable prophet, Moses. In fact, Moses had been traditionally believed tothe person who had committed the Torah given to him by God to writing.4.1

Setting the Scene The final chapters of Genesis set the scene for the events that took place inthe land of Egypt-Joseph is sold into slavery to the Ishmaelites (technically hiscousins). They, in turn, sell him to an Egyptian official named Potiphar-Through a series of events, Joseph himself becomes an importantadvisor to a Pharaoh in Egypt who showed favor to Joseph-During a time of famine Jacob/Israel travel to Egypt to buy grain andencounter Joseph whom they fail to recognize-Joseph sells them the grain but hides a cup in their possession and,later, stops them on their way back home accusing them of theft-In the end, Joseph reveals himself and all if forgiven. Jacob and all hisclan settle in the land of Goshen and find favor with Pharaoh-Jacob gives his final testament and dies. Genesis ends with the deathof Joseph4.2

Who Were the Pharaohs Who Showed Favor to Joseph?1720 BCE to 1290 BCE is a period of430 years, exactly the amount of timethat is stated in the Book of Exodus(Ex. 12:40) Not long after the birth of Abraham, the LowerKingdom of Egypt was overrun by a peopleknown as the Hyksos. The word Hyksos wasfirst thought to mean Shepherd Kings. Thecurrent favored translation is Foreign Rulers Hyksos kings were likely Semitic people fromthe land of Canaan. These Hyksos kings wereprobably the kings who knew Joseph. TheJewish historian Josephus suggested that theHyksos were actually the Hebrew peoplethemselves (Against Apion: Bk.1 Sect. 73). The Hyksos seemed to have ruled Lower Egyptfrom @1720 BCE until sometime around 1570BCE when they were driven from Lower Egypt .The new dynasty of Pharaohs re-united Upperand Lower Egypt. They were probably thePharaohs “who did not know Joseph” andbegan to treat the Hebrew people harshly The Pharaoh at the time of Moses was believedto be Ramses II. He began his rule @ 1290 BCE.4.3

What Exactly WasThe Exodus?The story of the Exodus is a familiar one:-The new pharaohs wanted to keep downthe growing population of Hebrews in theLand of Goshen so they first forced theminto slave labor and then ordered theirmale children to be drowned- Moses was a Hebrew child who wasplaced in a basket and set adrift on theNile. He was found by an Egyptianprincess and raised in Pharaoh’s court- Moses killed an Egyptian while trying tosave the life of a Hebrew but was forced toflee Egypt when word got out- Finally, after the Angel of Deathkilled each first-born Egyptian malechild on the night of the Passover,Pharaoh relented and the Exodus ofthe Hebrews out of Egypt was underway- God chose Moses as the instrument bywhich Pharaoh would release the Hebrewpeople from slavery- Pharaoh refused to release the Hebrewpeople despite a series of plagues4.4

When Did the Exodus Take Place?There is no firm agreement about the exact dates of the Exodus. There are twoextremes of estimates:1491 BCEBishop Ussher was the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland from 1625-28 CE.Bishop Ussher is famous for using the Bible to determine when the world wascreated. He selected 4004 BCE for that date, This same Bishop Ussher calculatedthe date of the Exodus as 1491 [email protected] BCEThis more modern estimate point to Exodus 1:11 and its reference to two cities inEgypt, Pi-Thom and Pi-Rameses. Archaeology suggests that these cities were builtat least two centuries after Ussher’s estimated date.None of the AboveThis group falls into two camps: 1) The first camp agrees with the earlier datesuggested by archaeologists but questions the accuracy of those dates. Estimatesfrom this camp usually fall between 1350 BCE and 1150 BCE 2) the second campare also archaeologists but they do not select any date. They find littlearchaeological evidence of any peoples as large as the Exodus would involve andso conclude that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. They don’t believethe Exodus happened at all.4.5

Potential Paths Available for the Exodus:Ancient Trade Routes Through the Promised Land;The Jezreel Valley and The Valley of Megiddo4.6

What Route did the ExodusTake? No one is certain of theexact route but some placeswere named;a. Desert of Paranb. Kadeshc. Midiand. Moab What seems clear is that theIsraelites avoided the usualroutes between Egypt andCanaan By the time of the Exodus,The “Sea People” (amongthem, the Philistines?) likelyhad already arrived in theregion and taken over thecoastal plain and the traderoute that passed through itNote: If the Exodus took place somewhat earlier thanthe late 1200s BCE, the coastal road was blocked aswell at that time by a number of regularly-spacedEgyptian garrisons along the coastal road throughCanaan. Note the traditional location of Mt. Sinai. The inland people werecalled “nephilim” (Num.13:33 and Gen. 6:4) takento mean giants4.7

Did the Exodus Take Place At All?Some scholars (Albrecht Alt, Martin Noth) have gone beyond wonderingabout the route taken by the Exodus. They have called into questionwhether there ever was an Exodus. They have even questioned whetherMoses ever really existed. They point out two serious problems;1. There seems to be no archaeological evidence of the passage ofsuch a large group of people across the eastern Sinai even by Israeliarchaeologists during the time that Israel controlled the land2. The story of Moses has elements in it similar to other regional stories;the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe and the Akkadian tale of SargonRather than a single great Exodus, they offer what has become known asthe Migration Theory. This theory holds that there was no Moses norwas there was there a single mass Exodus event. They suggest thatdifferent groups of people in separate waves migrated from Egypt overtime to Israel. Supporters of this theory see the “Children of (Jacob’swife) Leah” representing one wave, “Jacob’s concubine children” asecond wave and the “Children of (Jacob’s other wife) Rachel” a thirdwave. These different peoples united into a confederation after theyarrived. They then made up stories to unify the various peoples into onenation4.8

Or Did a Single True MassExodus Take A Different Route? Scholar Frank Moore Crossoffers a reason why therewas scant evidence of anExodus in the eastern Sinai.He believed the Israelitesdidn’t pass that way Cross points out that whenMoses fled from Egypt, hefled to Midian. Mosesmarried the daughter of apriest of Midian. Moseslived in Midian for a longtime and encountered theburning bush there. Midianalso shows much evidenceof developed civilization inthe time frame of the Exodus Cross speculated that Jebel*al-Lawz in Saudi Arabiamight be the location of thetrue Mt. Sinai and not thetraditional Jebel al-Musa inthe Sinai* Sometimes spelled Jabel4.9

Jebal al Lawz In Modern Day Saudi Arabia ?These drawings,found at the foot ofJebal al Lawz aresuggestive ofExodus 32This split rock in thearea of Jebal al Lawzis suggestive ofExodus 17This blackened topof Jebal al Lawz issuggestive ofExodus 194.10

Why Was Moses anImprobable Prophet?Moses was an improbable person to have played suchan important role in the history of the Jewish people.Consider these facts;- Moses was a Hebrew (born to Amram of thetribe of Levi. He had a brother Aaron and asister, Miriam) but;- While it is commonly believed that Moses’ namecomes from a Hebrew root word משה “drawn” as in “drawn from the water”. SincePharaoh’s daughter named him, some scholarshold that the name Moses was more likely from anEgyptian root (mss) meaning “child of”(Thutmosis child of Thoth and Rameses childof Ra)- Moses married two women, neither of whomwas of Hebrew ancestry (Numbers 12:1 andExodus 2 and 3)- Moses sons, Gershom and Eliezer, were simplyLevites, not kohanim as were Aaron’s sons,A common speculation is thatMoses was an Egyptian priest ofmonotheistic sun God Akhenaten(Atenmosis?) When Egypt bannedthe worship of Aten, he becamesimply Moses- Exodus (4:24) mentions that God consideredkilling Moses during the journey to Egypt toconfront Pharaoh- Unlike Joseph, even Moses’ bones were notallowed to enter the Promised Land4.11

Who Was Moses’ Wife?Exodus 2 tells us that Moses married a Midianitewoman, Zipporah, daughter of Jethro/Reuel, aMidianite priest but In the Book of Numbers (12:1-2), Miriam, Moses’sister and Aaron his brother mentioned that Moseswas known to have a Cushite (Ethiopian) wife.Did Moses have two wives? It seems so.Many readers of the Bible may have missed thispassage in Numbers. Director Cecil B. DeMille clearlydid not miss it as shown by this scene from The TenCommandmentsIn Book II of Josephus’ work, Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 10 tells thestory of how Moses, then still a Prince of Egypt, led Egyptian troops inbattle against Ethiopian armies. Moses was so successful that he laidsiege to Saba, a royal Ethiopian city. A woman named Tharbis was thedaughter of the king of the Ethiopians and was living in Saba during theattack. She fell in love with Moses and Moses took her as his wife inexchange for her surrender of the city. A legend can be found in a workof Sir Walter Raleigh “History of the World IV”, that Moses forged tworings; one that would make Tharbis forget the marriage and the other toensure that Moses would remember it.4.12

Tharbis. Moses’ First WifeDeMille did not follow the details of Josephus’ story but gives us a typical Hollywood“based on” version. In his version, Tharbis and her father are brought to Egypt andpresented as “allies”. Still, DeMille paid enough attention to know about the story foundin Josephus’ work which is more than I and many others did.3.13

What’s This AboutGod Wanting to KillMoses?Chapter 2 of Exodus tells us that when Moses fled Egyptafter killing the cruel Egyptian slave master, he fled toMidian. There he stayed with a priest Reuel (aka Jethro).And marries Jethro’s daughter, Sipporah. In Exodus4:24, God sends Moses to tell Pharaoh to set His peoplefree or suffer the death of the first born male children ofthe Egyptians. Along the way.At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Mosesand was about to kill him. But Sipporah took a flintknife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood tome,” she said. So the LORD let him alone. (At thattime she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring tocircumcision.) Ex. 4:24-26The interpretation of this odd passage of Exodus isthe subject of much debate. One that I foundinteresting is the idea that the Midianites usedcircumcision as a rite of passage into adulthood. As aresult, Sipporah forbade Moses from circumcisingGershom, Moses’ first born (and still a child).Sipporah immediately understood what was going onand performed the circumcision. She then touchedthe foreskin to Moses because Moses himself was notcircumcised since that would have given away the fact4.14that he was a Hebrew child

God Acts Through Men: Moses and the Red SeaOne of the moral truths in both Judaism and Christianity is that God acts throughthose men who have faith in him. The parting of the Red Sea is simply one exampleof the many ways that God acts through Moses, albeit, a most dramatic example.3.15

God Gives Moses the LawAs Moses climbs the mountain to receive God’s Law, even his faith weakens. Thefaith of the people, even his own brother, weakens even more.3.16

DeMille was so detailed that he used the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet on the tablets ratherthan the Assyrian Block Script that we know today.

Moses Gives the Law to the PeopleContinuing the process of God acting through those who have faith in Him,God gives Moses the Law and then Moses delivers the Law to the people. Itis obvious how greatly the incident on Sinai has changed Moses.3.18

Did Moses Even Exist? SargonWho was Sargon?Sargon, strong king, king of Agade, am I. My mother was a high priestess, my father Ido not know. My paternal kin inhabit the mountain region. My city (of birth) isAzupiranu, which lies on the bank of the Euphrates. My mother, a high priestess,conceived me, in secret she bore me. She placed me in a reed basket, with bitumen shecaulked my hatch. She abandoned me to the river from which I could not escape. Theriver carried me along: to Aqqi, the water drawer (origin of Moses’ name?), it broughtme. Aqqi, the water drawer, when immersing his bucket lifted me up. Aqqi, the waterdrawer, raised me as his adopted son. Aqqi, the water drawer, set me to his gardenwork. During my garden work, Istar loved me (so that) 55 years I ruled as kingPoints of ComparisonBorn in secretMoses too was born in secret (but in a different context of secrecy)Placed in a reed basket, covered with bitumenMoses was also placed in a reed basket covered with BitumenSet in a riverMoses was set in a river (but not set into the current but left drifting among the reeds nearthe shore)Recovered, adopted and led his peopleMoses was drawn from the water, adopted and led his people4.19

Did Moses Even Exist? SinuheSinuheSinuhe was a Middle Kingdom Egyptian official who fled Egypt to Syria. As aguardian of Pharaoh Amenemhet's harem, he went on an expedition to Libya. Whenhe learned of the Pharaoh's assassination he fled because he feared falseaccusations. Winds on the Nile blew him northward and he wandered throughPalestine and Lebanon. He finally settled in southern Syria and married the oldestdaughter of a chieftain in the region. Some years later, Pharaoh Sesostris I welcomedSinuhe back to Egypt. The king forgave him and granted him gifts. From that pointforward, Sinuhe remained in Egypt and was granted an honorable burial.Points of ComparisonWas a member of the Royal Court of EgyptMoses was a member of the royal court of EgyptWas involved in a murder and had to fleeMoses was involved in a murder and had to fleeMarried the eldest daughter of a foreignerMoses married either Zipporah the daughter of the Midianite priest Jethro/Reuel orTharbis, daughter of Ethiopian (Cushite) King Merops, or bothReturned to EgyptMoses returned to Egypt (but wasn’t quite welcomed or honored!)4.20

Why Was Moses Never Allowed to Enter the Promised Land?Unlike the Patriarchs who lived in andtravelled through the Promised Land, unlikeJoseph whose bones were carried by theIsraelites into the promised land, Moses wasnot allowed to enter into the promised landThe reason for not allowing Moses to enter thePromised Land was that, when the peoplereached the Desert of Sin, they needed water andbegan to complain. The Lord told Moses togather the people then speak to a certain rockand command it to bring forth water. InsteadMoses struck the rock with his staff and watercame forth. Moses failed to honor God whoseword, not Moses’ staff, was to have brought forththe water. For this, neither Moses nor Aaroncould enter the Promised Land (Numb. 20)And Moses went up from the plains ofMoab unto the mountain of Nebo, tothe top of Pisgah, that is over againstJericho. And the Lord shewed him allthe land of Gilead, unto Dan, (Deut.34:1)Yet, the words of Deuteronomy 34:10 stillring loudest concerning Moses; “Since then,no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses,whom the LORD knew face to face.”4.21

The Israelite CampENThere is a debate about thelocation of the Tent ofMeeting, the Tabernaclewhere the Ark of theCovenant was kept.SW1.*According to Exodus 33:8and Number 11:26, it seemedto have been located outsidethe camp.However, according toNumbers 2:2, it was locatedin the middle of the camp,as illustrated here.The tribe of Joseph was split in two, Ephraim and ManassehExodus 33 places the Tabernacle (the Tent of Meeting) outsidethe camp.4.22

Joshua Enters the Promised LandThe Torah ends with the death of Moses. The Book of Joshua begins the Nevi’im (thesection of The Prophets) and the Deuteronomic History (more later)Moses was only allowed to see the Promised Land, but not enter it The task ofconquering and then settling the Promised Land fell, not to Moses’ aging brother Aaronnor to either of Moses’ sons but to Joshua (Y’hoshua)Joshua accomplished this task by waging three campaigns against the Canaanite tribesthat lived there. Joshua put most of the tribes “to the ban” then divided the conqueredterritories among the twelve tribes of Israel. Archaeological remains of many (not all)cities in Canaan do show evidence of major destruction. Yet.(later slide).An interesting phrase in Joshua (Josh.22:22) shows God being addressed by three ofhis biblical names; El, Elohim and YHWH4.23

Controversies Over the Capture of the PromisedLand by Joshua (I) Steles in Egypt and clay tablets from Ugarit tell of invasions of “Peoples of theSea” to both the north and the south of Israel The Egyptians were successful in defeating the invaders. Some scholars havesuggested that the Exodus of the Hebrews (and others) from Egypt may have beenan attempt to flee from these invasions Ugarit, north of the land of Canaan (Lebanon area?), wasn’t so lucky. It wasburned to the ground sometime around 1190 BCE The “Sea People” who invaded from the north swept south along the coastalplain and established their pentapolis (Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Gath)along that plane. Pottery excavated from these cities was much like the potterymade by the Mycenean Greeks with one exception. The clay used to make thepottery proved to be of local origin. So, were these Sea-Peoples Greeks? The Bible calls this particular group of Sea People Philistines. They provedbothersome to the people of Israel for centuries. When the Romans controlledIsrael during the time of Christ, they called this region Palestina4.24

Controversy Over the Exodus and the Capture ofthe Promised Land (II)Another group of scholars who question the historical reliability of the Exodus and theconquest of the Promised Land by Joshua hold to a different theory. They claim thatthere was neither an Exodus from Egypt nor a conquest of Canaan, at least not fromoutside invaders.These scholars believe that the Tribes of Israel represent a loose confederation ofstates that rebelled against the ruling Canaanites while the Canaanites were busyfighting off the Peoples of the Sea. They point to the names of the some of theTribes of Israel as evidence;-Asher (from Assur, the god of Assyria or Assherah a Canaanite goddess?)-Gad ( Gad was the name of a Canaanite God)-Zebulon ( a Canaanite phrase meaning “of the princes”, an epithet of Baal Hadad)-Dan (perhaps one of the first tribes of Sea Peoples pushed inland by tribesarriving later. Dan is a root name often used to refer to Greeks. Recall thefamous line from Vergil’s Aeneid “Timeo Danaos dona ferentes”)Interestingly, the Bible indicates that Dan’s original allotment of land was theterritory that became settled by the Sea Peoples, later known as the Philistines.Dan was forced to relocate to the northernmost part of the Promised Land whenthey were unable to conquer these Sea Peoples.4.25

The Hyksos seemed to have ruled Lower Egypt from @1720 BCE until sometime around 1570 BCE when they were driven from Lower Egypt . The new dynasty of Pharaohs re-united Upper and Lower Egypt. They were probably the Pharaohs “who did not know Joseph” and began to treat the Hebrew people harshly