Moses - revisited!

By James C

Moses and the Burning BushImage by Loci Lenar via Flickr

Just about everyone has some knowledge of Moses, be it from the Bible, the Qur'an, or movies. A historical figure, credited with leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt as well as reputedly being the author of the first few books of the bible and famous enough that he is mentioned more times in the New Testament than any other Old Testament character; and is the most mentioned name in the Qur'an.

You know the story... as a newborn, placed in a basket in the river to save him from Pharaoh’s death sentence on Hebrew babies (shades of future Herod). Then saved and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the palace. Later, kills an Egyptian for "smiting a Hebrew" and flees to Midian where he chances upon the seven daughters of Reuel, a Midian priest. He helped them withstand some unfriendly shepherds and then assisted them in watering their father's flock. When Reuel hears this he gives his daughter Zipporah as a wife (that's faster than online dating!). But there's a slight problem. In Exodus 2 (supposedly written by Moses himself) his father-in-law was Reuel as mentioned above. But in Ex 3, 4 & 18 it's supposedly Jethro... and over in Numbers 10 (also claimed to be a Moses effort) the father-in-law is called Hobab -- go figure?

And the last chuckle? That anyone with a working brain could call this anything beyond mythology! But if you really want to get a bit discombobulated concerning Moses, drop by Wikipedia at
and check out what the Rabbis have to say.

There, in addition to his connections to the creation and water, you'll find that he was born circumcised and walked immediately after birth! Except another story has him snipped after eight days. AND.... he spoke on the day of birth and began prophesying at age three! Just imagine what a successful televangelist he would have been. And was his birth an important day?? You bet! At least according to one of the stories, some 600,000 Hebrew children had already been thrown into the river but were saved by Moses birth... hey, maybe they were the 600,000 that left Egypt with Moses some years later.

And I guess it would be a bit of problem growing up in the royal household when it came to giving names. Bithiah, his adoptive mother gave him the handle of Moses. But, depending on which story you follow, he had either seven or ten names. Among them, Jared, Abi Gedor, Heber, Abi Soko, Jekuthiel, Abi Zanoah, Shemaiah and Heman. Can you just imagine the confusion in a classroom full of Pharaohonic kids when the teacher has to conduct a roll call?

As he grew up he became quite sensitive to the plight of Hebrew slaves, helping them when the load was too great or their strength too low. Even convinced the Pharaoh that the slaves were entitled to some rest and got him to give them one free day a week... VOILA! The SABBATH!

And this sensitivity toward the Hebrew slaves is what caused him to flee Egypt. Ex 2 says Moses saw an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew and so killed him. But the Rabbis have a far more interesting take on this phase. Seems the dude he killed had forced a Hebrew woman to "commit adultery with him." Pharaoh was a bit upset and delivered Moses to the executioner who had a very sharp sword. But Moses' neck became like marble and dulled the sword. Or.... according to another version, angel Michael gave the shape of Moses to the executioner and thereby killed him (did the executioner/Moses lookalike kill himself????? Doesn't say).

Tho Ex 2 takes Moses to the land of Midian, the Rabbis seem to disagree on the timing. Evidently he went to Ethiopia, spent nine years in their army, was proclaimed king, married Adoniya (with whom he had no relations for 40 years) and when she complained about that to the princes and generals they dismissed Moses, gave him treasures and THEN.... he went to the land of Midian. And there, it really gets confusing!

In the next few paragraphs we find the following caveats to confusion…. “Moses was then twenty, or possibly forty, years of age” and “Moses lived for twenty years in Pharaoh's house” and “Moses lived for forty years in Pharaoh's house” and “kept him prisoner for seven, or ten” and “only seven years in Jethro's hands” and “must have been Jethro's captive for ten years” and finally, “After ten (or seven) years.”

And remember Ex 4:24-25 when Moses was headed back to Egypt and God sought to kill him. Moses’ wife, Zipporah grabbed a sharp stone and circumcised their eldest son. The Rabbinical stories claim that: “On the way he met Satan, or Mastema, as he is called in the Book of Jubilees (xlviii. 2), in the guise of a serpent, which proceeded to swallow Moses, and had ingested the upper part of his body, when he stopped.[14] Zipporah seeing this, concluded that the serpent's action was due to the fact that her son had not been circumcised, whereupon she circumcised him and smeared some of the blood on Moses' feet.[14] A heavenly voice was then heard commanding the serpent to disgorge the half-swallowed Moses, which it immediately did.

Let’s see, now… your husband is being swallowed by a giant snake and so you INSTANTLY CONCLUDE that it’s because of #1 son not having been circumcised???? Quite a jump to conclusion. Just imagine how upset (and pained) that kid would have been if her conclusion had been wrong!!

Anyway, all of the above speculations and disagreements occurred before Moses spoke to Pharaoh about letting his people go. But no sense bothering you with more and more. Those interested can go to the Wiki link above and chuckle through the rest.

And the last chuckle? That anyone with a working brain could call this anything beyond mythology!

Pageviews this week: