|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Drawn (or Egypt. mesu, "son;" hence Rameses, royal son). On the invitation of Pharaoh (Genesis 45:17-25), Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt. This immigration took place probably about 350 years before the birth of Moses. Some centuries before Joseph, Egypt had been conquered by a pastoral Semitic race from Asia, the Hyksos, who brought into cruel subjection the native Egyptians, who were an African race. Jacob and his retinue were accustomed to a shepherd's life, and on their arrival in Egypt were received with favour by the king, who assigned them the "best of the land", the land of Goshen, to dwell in. The Hyksos or "shepherd" king who thus showed favour to Joseph and his family was in all probability the Pharaoh Apopi (or Apopis).
Thus favoured, the Israelites began to "multiply exceedingly" (Genesis 47:27), and extended to the west and south. At length the supremacy of the Hyksos came to an end. The descendants of Jacob were allowed to retain their possession of Goshen undisturbed, but after the death of Joseph their position was not so favourable. The Egyptians began to despise them, and the period of their "affliction" (Genesis 15:13) commenced. They were sorely oppressed. They continued, however, to increase in numbers, and "the land was filled with them" (Exodus 1:7). The native Egyptians regarded them with suspicion, so that they felt all the hardship of a struggle for existence.
In process of time "a king [probably Seti I.] arose who knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8). (see PHARAOH.) The circumstances of the country were such that this king thought it necessary to weaken his Israelite subjects by oppressing them, and by degrees reducing their number. They were accordingly made public slaves, and were employed in connection with his numerous buildings, especially in the erection of store-cities, temples, and palaces. The children of Israel were made to serve with rigour. Their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour" (Exodus 1:13, 14). But this cruel oppression had not the result expected of reducing their number. On the contrary, "the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" (Exodus 1:12).
The king next tried, through a compact secretly made with the guild of midwives, to bring about the destruction of all the Hebrew male children that might be born. But the king's wish was not rigorously enforced; the male children were spared by the midwives, so that "the people multiplied" more than ever. Thus baffled, the king issued a public proclamation calling on the people to put to death all the Hebrew male children by casting them into the river (Exodus 1:22). But neither by this edict was the king's purpose effected.
One of the Hebrew households into which this cruel edict of the king brought great alarm was that of Amram, of the family of the Kohathites (Exodus 6:16-20), who with his wife Jochebed and two children, Miriam, a girl of perhaps fifteen years of age, and Aaron, a boy of three years, resided in or near Memphis, the capital city of that time. In this quiet home a male child was born (B.C. 1571). His mother concealed him in the house for three months from the knowledge of the civic authorities. But when the task of concealment became difficult, Jochebed contrived to bring her child under the notice of the daughter of the king by constructing for him an ark of bulrushes, which she laid among the flags which grew on the edge of the river at the spot where the princess was wont to come down and bathe. Her plan was successful. The king's daughter "saw the child; and behold the child wept." The princess (see PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER ) sent Miriam, who was standing by, to fetch a nurse. She went and brought the mother of the child, to whom the princess said, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages." Thus Jochebed's child, whom the princess called "Moses", i.e., "Saved from the water" (Exodus 2:10), was ultimately restored to her.
As soon as the natural time for weaning the child had come, he was transferred from the humble abode of his father to the royal palace, where he was brought up as the adopted son of the princess, his mother probably accompanying him and caring still for him. He grew up amid all the grandeur and excitement of the Egyptian court, maintaining, however, probably a constant fellowship with his mother, which was of the highest importance as to his religious belief and his interest in his "brethren." His education would doubtless be carefully attended to, and he would enjoy all the advantages of training both as to his body and his mind. He at length became "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Egypt had then two chief seats of learning, or universities, at one of which, probably that of Heliopolis, his education was completed. Moses, being now about twenty years of age, spent over twenty more before he came into prominence in Bible history. These twenty years were probably spent in military service. There is a tradition recorded by Josephus that he took a lead in the war which was then waged between Egypt and Ethiopia, in which he gained renown as a skilful general, and became "mighty in deeds" (Acts 7:22).
After the termination of the war in Ethiopia, Moses returned to the Egyptian court, where he might reasonably have expected to be loaded with honours and enriched with wealth. But "beneath the smooth current of his life hitherto, a life of alternate luxury at the court and comparative hardness in the camp and in the discharge of his military duties, there had lurked from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, a secret discontent, perhaps a secret ambition. Moses, amid all his Egyptian surroundings, had never forgotten, had never wished to forget, that he was a Hebrew." He now resolved to make himself acquainted with the condition of his countrymen, and "went out unto his brethren, and looked upon their burdens" (Exodus 2:11). This tour of inspection revealed to him the cruel oppression and bondage under which they everywhere groaned, and could not fail to press on him the serious consideration of his duty regarding them. The time had arrived for his making common cause with them, that he might thereby help to break their yoke of bondage. He made his choice accordingly (Hebrews 11:25-27), assured that God would bless his resolution for the welfare of his people. He now left the palace of the king and took up his abode, probably in his father's house, as one of the Hebrew people who had for forty years been suffering cruel wrong at the hands of the Egyptians.
He could not remain indifferent to the state of things around him, and going out one day among the people, his indignation was roused against an Egyptian who was maltreating a Hebrew. He rashly lifted up his hand and slew the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand. Next day he went out again and found two Hebrews striving together. He speedily found that the deed of the previous day was known. It reached the ears of Pharaoh (the "great Rameses, " Rameses II.), who "sought to slay Moses" (Exodus 2:15). Moved by fear, Moses fled from Egypt, and betook himself to the land of Midian, the southern part of the peninsula of Sinai, probably by much the same route as that by which, forty years afterwards, he led the Israelites to Sinai. He was providentially led to find a new home with the family of Reuel, where he remained for forty years (Acts 7:30), under training unconsciously for his great life's work.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush (Exodus 3), and commissioned him to go down to Egypt and "bring forth the children of Israel" out of bondage. He was at first unwilling to go, but at length he was obedient to the heavenly vision, and left the land of Midian (4:18-26). On the way he was met by Aaron (q.v.) and the elders of Israel (27-31). He and Aaron had a hard task before them; but the Lord was with them (ch. 7-12), and the ransomed host went forth in triumph. (see EXODUS.) After an eventful journey to and fro in the wilderness, we see them at length encamped in the plains of Moab, ready to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. There Moses addressed the assembled elders (Deuteronomy 1:1-4; 5:1-26:19; 27:11-30:20), and gives the people his last counsels, and then rehearses the great song (Deuteronomy 32), clothing in fitting words the deep emotions of his heart at such a time, and in review of such a marvellous history as that in which he had acted so conspicious a part. Then, after blessing the tribes (33), he ascends to "the mountain of Nebo (q.v.), to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho" (34:1), and from thence he surveys the land. "Jehovah shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar" (Deuteronomy 34:2-3), the magnificient inheritance of the tribes of whom he had been so long the leader; and there he died, being one hundred and twenty years old, according to the word of the Lord, and was buried by the Lord "in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor" (34:6). The people mourned for him during thirty days.
Thus died "Moses the man of God" (Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:6). He was distinguished for his meekness and patience and firmness, and "he endured as seeing him who is invisible." "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel" (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).
The name of Moses occurs frequently in the Psalms and Prophets as the chief of the prophets.
In the New Testament he is referred to as the representative of the law and as a type of Christ (John 1:17; 2 Corinthians 3:13-18; Hebrews 3:5, 6). Moses is the only character in the Old Testament to whom Christ likens himself (John 5:46; Comp. Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19; Acts 7:37). In Hebrews 3:1-19 this likeness to Moses is set forth in various particulars.
In Jude 1:9 mention is made of a contention between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses. This dispute is supposed to have had reference to the concealment of the body of Moses so as to prevent idolatry.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
(n.) A large flatboat, used in the West Indies for taking freight from shore to ship.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mo'-zez, mo'-ziz (mosheh; Egyptian mes, "drawn out," "born"; Septuagint Mouse(s)). The great Hebrew national hero, leader, author, law-giver and prophet.
1. Son of Levi
2. Foundling Prince
3. Friend of the People
4. Refuge in Midian
5. Leader of Israel
II. WORK AND CHARACTER
1. The Author
2. The Lawgiver
3. The Prophet
The traditional view of the Jewish church and of the Christian church, that Moses was a person and that the narrative with which his life-story is interwoven is real history, is in the main sustained by commentators and critics of all classes.
It is needless to mention the old writers among whom these questions were hardly under discussion. Among the advocates of the current radical criticism may be mentioned Stade and Renan, who minimize the historicity of the Bible narrative at this point. Renan thinks the narrative "may be very probable." Ewald, Wellhausen, Robertson Smith, and Driver, while finding many flaws in the story, make much generally of the historicity of the narrative.
The critical analysis of the Pentateuch divides this life-story of Moses into three main parts, J, E, and the Priestly Code (P), with a fourth, D, made up mainly from the others. Also some small portions here and there are given to R, especially the account of Aaron's part in the plagues of Egypt, where his presence in a J-document is very troublesome for the analytical theory. It is unnecessary to encumber this biography with constant cross-references to the strange story of Moses pieced together out of the rearranged fragments into which the critical analysis of the Pentateuch breaks up the narrative. It is recognized that there are difficulties in the story of Moses. In what ancient life-story are there not difficulties? If we can conceive of the ancients being obliged to ponder over a modern life-story, we can easily believe that they would have still more difficulty with it. But it seems to very many that the critical analysis creates more difficulties in the narrative than it relieves. It is a little thing to explain by such analysis some apparent discrepancy between two laws or two events or two similar incidents which we do not clearly understand. It is a far greater thing so to confuse, by rearranging, a beautiful, well-articulated biography that it becomes disconnected-indeed, in parts, scarcely makes sense.
The biographical narrative of the Hebrew national hero, Moses, is a continuous thread of history in the Pentateuch. That story in all its simplicity and symmetry, but with acknowledgment of its difficulties as they arise, is here to be followed.
1. Son of Levi:
The recorded story of Moses' life falls naturally into five rather unequal parts: "And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi" (Exodus 2:1). The son of Levi born of that union became the greatest man among mere men in the whole history of the world. How far he was removed in genealogy from Levi it is impossible to know. The genealogical lists (Genesis 46:11 Exodus 6:16-20 Numbers 3:14-28; Numbers 26:57-59 1 Chronicles 6:1-3) show only 4 generations from Levi to Moses, while the account given of the numbers of Israel at the exodus (Exodus 12:37; Exodus 38:26 Numbers 1:46; Numbers 11:21) imperatively demand at least 10 or 12 generations. The males alone of the sons of Kohath "from a month old and upward" numbered at Sinai 8,600 (Numbers 3:27, 28). It is evident that the extract from the genealogy here, as in many other places (1 Chronicles 23:15; 1 Chronicles 26:24 Ezra 7:1-5; Ezra 8:1, 2; compare 1 Chronicles 6:3-14 Matthew 1:1-17 Luke 3:23-38) is not complete, but follows the common method of giving important heads of families. The statement concerning Jochebed: "And she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister" (Numbers 26:59) really creates no difficulty, as it is likewise said of Zilpah, after the mention of her grandsons, "And these she bare unto Jacob" (Genesis 46:17, 18; compare 46:24, 25).
The names of the immediate father and mother of Moses are not certainly known. The mother "saw him that he was a goodly child" (Exodus 2:2). So they defied the commandment of the king (Exodus 1:22), and for 3 months hid him instead of throwing him into the river.
2. Foundling Prince:
The time soon came when it was impossible longer to hide the child (Josephus, Ant, II, ix, 3-6). The mother resolved upon a plan which was at once a pathetic imitation of obedience to the commandment of the king, an adroit appeal to womanly sympathy, and, if it succeeded, a subtle scheme to bring the cruelty of the king home to his own attention. Her faith succeeded. She took an ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:3, 4; compare ARK OF BULRUSHES), daubed it with bitumen mixed with the sticky slime of the river, placed in this floating vessel the child of her love and faith, and put it into the river at a place among the sedge in the shallow water where the royal ladies from the palace would be likely to come down to bathe. A sister, probably Miriam, stood afar off to watch (Exodus 2:3, 4). The daughter of Pharaoh came down with her great ladies to the river (Exodus 2:5-10). The princess saw the ark among the sedge and sent a maid to fetch it. The expectation of the mother was not disappointed. The womanly sympathy of the princess was touched. She resolved to save this child by adopting him. Through the intervention of the watching sister, he was given to his own mother to be nursed (Exodus 2:7-9). "And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son" (Exodus 2:10). Thus, he would receive her family name.
Royal family names in Egypt then were usually compounded of some expression of reverence or faith or submission and the name of a god, e.g. "loved of," "chosen of," "born of," Thoth, Ptah, Ra or Amon. At this period of Egyptian history, "born of" (Egyptian mes, "drawn out") was joined sometimes to Ah, the name of the moon-god, making Ahmes, or Thoth, the scribe-god, so Thothmes, but usually with Ra, the sun-god, giving Rames, usually anglicized Rameses or Ramoses.
It was the time of the Ramesside dynasty, and the king on the throne was Rameses II. Thus the foundling adopted by Pharaoh's daughter would have the family name Mes or Moses. That it would be joined in the Egyptian to the name of the sungod Ra is practically certain. His name at court would be Ramoses. But to the oriental mind a name must mean something. The usual meaning of this royal name was that the child was "born of" a princess through the intervention of the god Ra. But this child was not "born of" the princess, so falling back upon the primary meaning of the word, "drawn out," she said, "because I drew him out of the water" (Exodus 2:10). Thus, Moses received his name. Pharaoh's daughter may have been the eldest daughter of Rameses II, but more probably was the daughter and eldest child of Seti Merenptah I, and sister of the king on the throne. She would be lineal heir to the crown but debarred by her sex. Instead, she bore the title "Pharaoh's Daughter," and, according to Egyptian custom, retained the right to the crown for her first-born son. A not improbable tradition (Josephus, Ant, II, ix, 7) relates that she had no natural son, and Moses thus became heir to the throne, not with the right to supplant the reigning Pharaoh, but to supersede any of his sons.
Very little is known of Moses' youth and early manhood at the court of Pharaoh. He would certainly be educated as a prince, whose right it probably was to be initiated into the mysteries. Thus he was "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22), included in which, according to many Egyptologists, was the doctrine of one Supreme God.
Many curious things, whose value is doubtful, are told of Moses by Josephus and other ancient writers (Josephus, Ant, II, ix, 3; xi; CAp, I, 31; compare DB; for Mohammedan legends, see Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus, Appendix; for rabbinical legends, see Jewish Encyclopedia). Some of these traditions are not incredible but lack authentication. Others are absurd. Egyptologists have searched with very indifferent success for some notice of the great Hebrew at the Egyptian court.
3. Friend of the People:
But the faith of which the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 11:23-28) was at work. Moses "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (Exodus 2:11-14 Acts 7:24). Whether he did so in word, by definite renunciation, or by his espousal of the cause of the slave against the oppressive policy of Pharaoh is of little importance. In either case he became practically a traitor, and greatly imperiled his throne rights and probably his civil rights as well. During some intervention to ameliorate the condition of the state slaves, an altercation arose and he slew an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11, 12). Thus, his constructive treason became an overt act. Discovering through the ungrateful reproaches of his own kinsmen (Acts 7:25) that his act was known, he quickly made decision, "choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God," casting in his lot with slaves of the empire, rather than "to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season," amid the riotous living of the young princes at the Egyptian court; "accounting the reproach of Christ" his humiliation, being accounted a nobody ("Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?") as "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt" (Hebrews 11:25, 26 Acts 7:25-28). He thought to be a nobody and do right better than to be a tyrant and rule Egypt.
4. Refuge in Midian:
Moses fled, "not fearing the wrath of the king" (Hebrews 11:27), not cringing before it or submitting to it, but defying it and braving all that it could bring upon him, degradation from his high position, deprivation of the privileges and comforts of the Egyptian court. He went out a poor wanderer (Exodus 2:15). We are told nothing of the escape and the journey, how he eluded the vigilance of the court guards and of the frontier-line of sentinels. The friend of slaves is strangely safe while within their territory. At last he reached the Sinaitic province of the empire and hid himself away among its mountain fastnesses (Exodus 2:15). The romance of the well and the shepherdesses and the grateful father and the future wife is all quite in accord with the simplicity of desert life (Exodus 2:16-22). The "Egyptian" saw the rude, selfish herdsmen of the desert imposing upon the helpless shepherd girls, and, partly by the authority of a manly man, partly, doubtless, by the authority of his Egyptian appearance in an age when "Egypt" was a word with which to frighten men in all that part of the world, he compelled them to give way. The "Egyptian" was called, thanked, given a home and eventually a wife. There in Midian, while the anguish of Israel continued under the taskmaster's lash, and the weakening of Israel's strength by the destruction of the male children went on, with what more or less rigor we know not, Moses was left by Providence to mellow and mature, that the haughty, impetuous prince, "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," might be transformed into the wise, well-poised, masterful leader, statesman, lawgiver, poet and prophet. God usually prepares His great ones in the countryside or about some of the quiet places of earth, farthest away from the busy haunts of men and nearest to the "secret place of the Most High." David keeping his father's flocks, Elijah on the mountain slopes of Gilead, the Baptist in the wilderness of Judea, Jesus in the shop of a Galilean carpenter; so Moses a shepherd in the Bedouin country, in the "waste, howling wilderness."
5. Leader of Israel:
(1) The Commission.
One day Moses led the flocks to "the back of the wilderness" (Exodus 3:1-12; see BUSH, BURNING. Moses received his commission, the most appalling commission ever given to a mere man (Exodus 3:10)-a commission to a solitary man, and he a refugee-to go back home and deliver his kinsmen from a dreadful slavery at the hand of the most powerful nation on earth. Let not those who halt and stumble over the little difficulties of most ordinary lives think hardly of the faltering of Moses' faith before such a task (Exodus 3:11-13; Exodus 4:1, 10-13). "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:14), was the encouragement God gave him. He gave him also Aaron for a spokesman (Exodus 4:14-16), the return to the Mount of God as a sign (Exodus 3:12), and the rod of power for working wonders (Exodus 4:17).
One of the curious necessities into which the critical analysis drives its advocates is the opinion concerning Aaron that "he scarcely seems to have been a brother and almost equal partner of Moses, perhaps not even a priest" (Bennett, HDB, III, 441). Interesting and curious speculations have been instituted concerning the way in which Israel and especially Pharaoh were to understand the message, "I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:13, 14; compare 6:3). They were evidently expected to understand this message. Were they to so do by translating or by transliterating it into Egyptian? Some day Egyptologists may be able to answer positively, but not yet.
With the signs for identification (Exodus 4:1-10), Moses was ready for his mission. He went down from the "holy ground" to obey the high summons and fulfill the great commission (Exodus 4:18-23). After the perplexing controversy with his wife, a controversy of stormy ending (Exodus 4:24-26), he seems to have left his family to his father-in-law's care while he went to respond to the call of God (Exodus 18:6). He met Aaron, his brother, at the Mount of God (Exodus 4:27, 28), and together they returned to Egypt to collect the elders of Israel (Exodus 4:29-31), who were easily won over to the scheme of emancipation. Was ever a slave people not ready to listen to plans for freedom?
(2) The Conflict with Pharaoh.
The next move was the bold request to the king to allow the people to go into the wilderness to hold a feast unto Yahweh (Exodus 5:1). How did Moses gain admittance past the jealous guards of an Egyptian court to the presence of the Pharaoh himself? And why was not the former traitorous refugee at once arrested? Egyptology affords a not too distinct answer. Rameses II was dead (Exodus 4:19); Merenptah II was on the throne with an insecure tenure, for the times were troubled. Did some remember the "son of Pharaoh's daughter" who, had he remained loyal, would have been the Pharaoh? Probably so. Thus he would gain admittance, and thus, too, in the precarious condition of the throne, it might well not be safe to molest him. The original form of the request made to the king, with some slight modification, was continued throughout (Exodus 8:27; Exodus 10:9), though God promised that the Egyptians should thrust them out altogether when the end should come, and it was so (Exodus 11:1; Exodus 12:31, 33, 39). Yet Pharaoh remembered the form of their request and bestirred himself when it was reported that they had indeed gone "from serving" them (Exodus 14:5). The request for temporary departure upon which the contest was made put Pharaoh's call to duty in the easiest form and thus, also, his obstinacy appears as the greater heinousness. Then came the challenge of Pharaoh in his contemptuous demand, "Who is Yahweh?" (Exodus 5:2), and Moses' prompt acceptance of the challenge, in the beginning of the long series of plagues (see PLAGUE) (Exodus 8:1; 12:29-36; 14:31; compare Lamb, Miracle of Science). Pharaoh, having made the issue, was justly required to afford full presentation of it. So Pharaoh's heart was "hardened" (Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3, 13; 9:12, 35; 10:01; 14:08; see PLAGUE) until the vindication of Yahweh as God of all the earth was complete. This proving of Yahweh was so conducted that the gods of Egypt were shown to be of no avail against Him, but that He is God of all the earth, and until the faith of the people of Israel was confirmed (Exodus 14:31).
(3) Institution of the Passover.
It was now time for the next step in revelation (Exodus 12; Exodus 13:1-16). At the burning bush God had declared His purpose to be a saviour, not a destroyer. In this contest in Egypt, His absolute sovereignty was being established; and now the method of deliverance by Him, that He might not be a destroyer, was to be revealed. Moses called together the elders (Exodus 12:21-28) and instituted the Passover feast. As God always in revelation chooses the known and the familiar-the tree, the bow, circumcision, baptism, and the Supper-by which to convey the unknown, so the Passover was a combination of the household feast with the widespread idea of safety through blood-sacrifice, which, however it may have come into the world, was not new at that time. Some think there is evidence of an old Semitic festival at that season which was utilized for the institution of the Passover.
The lamb was chosen and its use was kept up (Exodus 12:3-6). On the appointed night it was killed and "roasted with fire" and eaten with bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8), while they all stood ready girded, with their shoes on their feet and their staff in hand (Exodus 12:11). They ate in safety and in hope, because the blood of the lamb was on the door (Exodus 12:23). That night the firstborn of Egypt were slain. Among the Egyptians "there was not a house where there was not one dead" (Exodus 12:30), from the house of the maid-servant, who sat with her handmill before her, to the palace of the king that "sat on the throne," and even among the cattle in the pasture. If the plague was employed as the agency of the angel of Yahweh, as some think, its peculiarity is that it takes the strongest and the best and culminates in one great stunning blow and then immediately subsides (see PLAGUE). Who can tell the horror of that night when the Israelites were thrust out of the terror-stricken land (Exodus 12:39)?
As they went out, they "asked," after the fashion of departing servants in the East, and God gave them favor in the sight of the over-awed Egyptians that they lavished gifts upon them in extravagance. Thus "they despoiled the Egyptians" (Exodus 12:36). "Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people" (Exodus 11:3; Exodus 12:35, 36).
(4) The Exodus.
"At the end of 430 years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:41). The great oppressor was Rameses II, and the culmination and the revolution came, most probably, in connection with the building of Pithom and Raamses, as these are the works of Israel mentioned in the Bible narrative (Exodus 1:11). Rameses said that he built Pithom at the "mouth of the east" (Budge, History of Exodus, V, 123). All efforts to overthrow that statement have failed and for the present, at least, it must stand. Israel built Pithom, Rameses built Pithom; there is a synchronism that cannot in the present knowledge of Egyptian history even be doubted, much less separated. The troubled times which came to Egypt with the beginning of the reign of Merenptah II afforded the psychological moment for the return of the "son of Pharaoh's daughter" and his access to the royal court. The presence and power of Yahweh vindicated His claim to be the Lord of all the earth, and Merenptah let the children of Israel go. A little later when Israel turned back from the border of Khar (Palestine) into the wilderness and disappeared, and Merenptah's affairs were somewhat settled in the empire, he set up the usual boastful tablet claiming as his own many of the victories of his royal ancestors, added a few which he himself could truly boast, and inserted, near the end, an exultation over Israel's discomfiture, accounting himself as having finally won the victory:
"Tehennu is devastation, Kheta peace, the Canaan the prisoner of all ills;
"Asgalon led out, taken with Gezer, Yenoamam made naught;
"The People of Israel is ruined, his posterity is not; Khar is become as the widows of Egypt."
The synchronisms of this period are well established and must stand until, if it should ever be, other facts of Egyptian history shall be obtained to change them. Yet it is impossible to determine with certainty the precise event from which the descent into Egypt should be reckoned, or to fix the date B.C. of Moses, Rameses and Merenptah, and the building of Pithom, and so, likewise, the date of the exodus and of all the patriarchal movements. The ancients were more concerned about the order of events, their perspective and their synchronisms than about any epochal date. For the present we must be content with these chronological uncertainties. Astronomical science may sometimes fix the epochal dates for these events; otherwise there is little likelihood that they will ever be known.
They went out from Succoth (Egyptian "Thuku," Budge, History of Egypt, V, 122, 129), carrying the bones of Joseph with them as he had commanded (Exodus 13:19 Genesis 50:25). The northeast route was the direct way to the promised land, but it was guarded. Pithom itself was built at "the mouth of the East," as a part of the great frontier defenses (Budge, op. cit., V, 123). The "wall" on this frontier was well guarded (Exodus 14), and attempts might be made to stop them. So they went not "by the way of the land of the Philistines.... lest peradventure the people repent when they see war" (Exodus 13:17). The Lord Himself took the leadership and went ahead of the host of Israel in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). He led them by "the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea" (Exodus 13:18). They pitched before Pi-hahiroth, over against Baal-zephon between Migdol and the sea (Exodus 14:2). Not one of these places has been positively identified. But the Journeys before and after the crossing, the time, and the configuration of the land and the coast-line of the sea, together with all the necessities imposed by the narrative, are best met by a crossing near the modern town of Suez (Naville, Route of the Exodus; Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus), where Ras `Ataka comes down to the sea, upon whose heights a migdhol or "watch-tower," as the southern outpost of the eastern line of Egyptian defenses, would most probably be erected.
Word was carried from the frontier to Pharaoh, probably at Tanis, that the Israelites had "fled" (Exodus 14:5), had taken the impassioned thrusting out by the frenzied people of Egypt in good faith and had gone never to return. Pharaoh took immediate steps to arrest and bring back the fugitives. The troops at hand (Exodus 14:6) and the chariot corps, including 600 "chosen chariots," were sent at once in pursuit, Pharaoh going out in person at least to start the expedition (Exodus 14:6, 7). The Israelites seemed to be "entangled in the land," and, since "the wilderness (had) shut them in" (Exodus 4:3), must easily fall a prey to the Egyptian army. The Israelites, terror-stricken, cried to Moses. God answered and commanded the pillar of cloud to turn back from its place before the host of Israel and stand between them and the approaching Egyptians, so that while the Egyptians were in the darkness Israel had the light (Exodus 14:19, 20). The mountain came down on their right, the sea on the left to meet the foot of the mountain in front of them; the Egyptians were hastening on after them and the pillar of cloud and fire was their rearward. Moses with the rod of God stood at the head of the fleeing host. Then God wrought. Moses stretched out the rod of God over the sea and "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night" (Exodus 14:16-21). A pathway was before them and the sea on the right hand, and on the left was a "wall unto them," and they passed through (Exodus 14:21, 22). Such heaping up of the waters by the wind is well known and sometimes amounts to 7 or 8 ft. in Lake Erie (Wright, Scientific Confirmations of the Old Testament, 106). No clearer statement could possibly be made of the means used and of the miraculous timing of God's providence with the obedience of the people to His command to Moses. The host of Israel passed over on the hard, sandy bottom of the sea. The Egyptians coming up in the dark and finding it impossible to tell exactly where the coastline had been on this beach, and where the point of safety would lie when the wind should abate and the tide come in again, impetuously rushed on after the fleeing slaves. In the morning, Yahweh looked forth and troubled the Egyptians "and took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily" (Exodus 14:24, 25). The wind had abated, the tide was returning and the infiltration that goes before the tide made the beach like a quicksand. The Egyptians found that they had gone too far and tried to escape (Exodus 14:27), but it was too late. The rushing tide caught them (Exodus 14:28). When the day had come, "horse and rider" were but the subject of a minstrel's song of triumph (Exodus 15:1-19 Psalm 106:9-12) which Miriam led with her timbrel (Exodus 15:20). The Bible does not say, and there is no reason to believe, that Pharaoh led the Egyptian hosts in person further than at the setting off and for the giving of general direction to the campaign (Exodus 15:4). Pharaoh and his host were overthrown in the Red Sea (Psalm 136:15). So Napoleon and his host were overthrown at Waterloo, but Napoleon lived to die at Helena. And Merenptah lived to erect his boastful inscription concerning the failure of Israel, when turned back from Kadesh-barnea, and their disappearance in the wilderness of Paran. His mummy, identified by the lamented Professor Groff, lies among the royal mummies in the Cairo Museum. Thus at the Red Sea was wrought the final victory of Yahweh over Pharaoh; and the people believed (Exodus 14:31).
(5) Special Providences.
Now proceeded that long course of special providences, miraculous timing of events, and multiplying of natural agencies which began with the crossing of the Red Sea and ended only when they "did eat of the fruit of the land" (Joshua 5:12). God promised freedom from the diseases of the Egyptians (Exodus 15:26) at the bitter waters of Marah, on the condition of obedience. Moses was directed to a tree, the wood of which should counteract the alkaline character of the water (Exodus 15:23-25). A little later they were at Elim (Wady Gharandel, in present-day geography), where were "twelve springs of water and three score and ten palm trees" (Exodus 15:27). The enumeration of the trees signifies nothing but their scarcity, and is understood by everyone who has traveled in that desert and counted, again and again, every little clump of trees that has appeared. The course of least resistance here is to turn a little to the right and come out again at the Red Sea in order to pass around the point of the plateau into the wilderness of Sin. This is the course travel takes now, and it took the same course then (Exodus 16:1). Here Israel murmured (Exodus 16:2)
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MOSES, SONG OF
The name given to the song of triumph sung by Moses and the Israelites after the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of the hosts of Pharaoh (Exodus 15:1-18). The sublimity of this noble ode is universally admitted. In magnificent strains it celebrates the deliverance just experienced, extolling the attributes of Yahweh revealed in the triumph (Exodus 15:1-12), then anticipates the astonishing effects which would flow from this deliverance in the immediate future and later (Exodus 15:13-18). There seems no reason to doubt that at least the basis of the song-possibly the whole-is genuinely Mosaic. In the allusions to the guidance of the people to God's holy habitation, and to the terror of the surrounding peoples and of the Canaanites (Exodus 15:13-18), it is thought that traces are manifest of a later revision and expansion. This, however, is by no means a necessary conclusion.
Driver, who in LOT, 8th edition, 30, goes with the critics on this point, wrote more guardedly in the 1st edition (p. 27): "Probably, however, the greater part of the song is Mosaic, and the modification or expansion is limited to the closing verses; for the general style is antique. and the triumphant tone which pervades it is just such as might naturally have been inspired by the event which it celebrates."
The song of Moses is made the model in the Apocalypse of "the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb," which those standing by the sea of glass, who have "come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name," sing to God's praise, "Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty," etc. (Revelation 15:2-4). The church having experienced a deliverance similar to that experienced by Israel at the Red Sea, but infinitely greater, the old song is recast, and its terms are readapted to express both victories, the lower and the higher, at once.
ASSUMPTION OF MOSES
a-sump'-shun. See APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE.
MOSES, ASSUMPTION OF
See APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE.
Moses (9295 Occurrences)
Moses is found 9295 times in 12 translations.
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