Great Prophet Moses
According to the Bible, Great Prophet Moses lived in the XIII century BC at a time when the powerful neighboring countries could not imagine any other faith than polytheism. All the major powers of that time were pagan – Egypt, Babylon … Later states – Greece, Rome were also pagan. And only a small Israelite kingdom positioned itself as a country with faith in one God. Only one person managed to make such a revolution in the minds of the Jews – the great prophet and liberator of the nation.
To tell the truth, it is very difficult to fight old beliefs. They tend to come back. Only miracle could help. Even the birth of this biblical hero happened in the frame of miracles.
Moses was born in that ill-fated year when the Jews were in Egyptian captivity and the pharaoh made a cruel decision to destroy the Jewish children. The Egyptians believed that there were too many Jews. And they decided to get rid of the “extra” slaves. Baby Moses was also threatened with death because of this order. Sheltering a child from Pharaoh’s soldiers was mortally dangerous for the whole family. To save the future prophet, his mother desperately put the newborn in a basket and hid it in a thicket of reeds – she hoped someone would take pity and take a cute baby.
A pitying soul was found – it turned out to be the daughter of that very Pharaoh. She went to swim and saw a tarred basket. At that moment, the elder sister of Moses appeared from the thickets and praised the beauty of the baby, advising the royal person to take the baby to the palace and hire a Jewish nurse for him. The girl was delighted with the advice, took the foundling to her place and hired a nurse. She, as you might guess, turned out to be the mother of Moses. So he was lucky as a child: he survived and was even fed by his own mother.
The boy was brought up as the adopted son of Pharaoh. He did not know his people (except for his mother-nurse). The “son” of Pharaoh was taken to the construction site, and he saw how hard it was for the slaves, how cruelly the Egyptians were treating them. Obviously, Moses still had an idea of his origin, so he stood up for the worker … and in the heat of a dispute killed the overseer. Moses was frightened, decided not to return home and fled to Midian (north-west of Arabia). There he was sheltered by priest Jethro and looked after livestock, matured and even managed to marry Jethro’s daughter. Later he had another wife, Ethiopian. In any case, Moses considered the Midianites to be enemies, and when the time came, he destroyed them. But it was in that land that Moses began to talk with God.
While grazing cattle near Mount Horeb Moses saw Almighty who appeared to him and ordered to release the Jewish people from Egyptian captivity. However, Moses was confused and began to demand proof that the Creator himself was talking to him. Then God worked a miracle – he turned the stick of Moses into a snake, and then a snake into a stick. This did not really convince the future prophet, since miracles with snakes were widely known in Egypt. Then Yahweh (God) told Moses to put his hand under the clothes. When he pulled his hand back, he saw that it turned white with leprosy. Moses got scared and pleaded for help. God ordered him to put his hand under his clothes and take out again – the leprosy disappeared. So Moses was convinced that his interlocutor was the Almighty himself.
Moses and his elder brother Aaron carried out the mission of freeing the Jews. Together they went to Pharaoh and explained that all the people should be released in order to offer sacrifice there to the God of Israel. But Pharaoh refused. Then Yahweh sent ten plagues on the Egyptians: first the water in the Nile turned into blood, then hordes of toads, midges, flies appeared, people and animals were covered with boils, hail and fire destroyed the harvest, the rest was eaten by the locusts, the day became night, the firstborn – children and animals – began to die. Pharaoh was afraid that his land would be empty and sent the Jews away for sacrifice.
Since Moses faithfully fulfilled divine instructions, God continued to communicate with him. The Creator swam in a cloud in front of the travelers and guided their path, and when it got dark – a pillar of fire illuminated the road. In addition, he took care of the food of the people faithful to him – he gave them fowl meat and heavenly semolina, as well as water, which in hot areas is sometimes more important than food. When the Jews reached Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa), new revelations were given to Moses: how to believe, how to live correctly, how to build a temple. The laws of heaven were written for the Jews on tablets of stone and are now known as the ten commandments. Moses and his people lived near Mount Sinai for about forty years. During that period, the prophet, with God’s help, led his disobedient people from paganism to monotheism.
The process was complicated. But after forty years, the old faith was completely eliminated. When the time came for the Jews to return to the Promised Land, Moses’ life came to an end. The Almighty ordered him to climb Mount Nebo, from where he showed the prophet a beautiful country in which the descendants of the Egyptian fugitives would live, but warned that Moses himself would not live to see that day. And soon he died (they say he was 120 years old), and Joshua became the head of the Jewish people.
Although the Bible describes in detail the origin of Moses and all his family ties, the Egyptian sources of antiquity do not know any Moses. The Greeks, who are not familiar with the Hebrew texts, call him completely different names – Osarsif, Disifen, etc. Scholars – other than orthodox biblical scholars – are of the opinion that no historical figure like Moses ever existed. As there was no Exodus itself, described in the Bible. And instead of the executions of the Egyptians and the return of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, there were long and bloody years of civil war, when the Egyptians fell under the rule of the Hyksos and only with great difficulty defeated the Asian invaders.
At the same time, the transition of the Jews from polytheism to monotheism fits very well into the framework of the failed reform of Pharaoh Akhenaten. This ruler also tried to introduce monotheism, even rebuilt a new capital and a temple complex for the single god Aton, but the Egyptians preferred the old simple faith.
After the death of Akhenaten, his name was carefully scraped out and knocked out of all memorable inscriptions. It is difficult to say who borrowed the idea of monotheism from whom – the Jews from Akhenaten or Akhenaten from the Jews. Only one thing is clear: it was monotheism that led to the severance of relations between Jews and Egyptians and, probably, caused the wars. And the prophet Moses is most likely a collective image, the personification of this religious innovation, which was successful in Israel and failed in Egypt. However, Jewish monotheism put this people in a very difficult relationship with all the countries surrounding the Promised Land, and not only with the old enemies – the Egyptians.