When he grew up Moses found out that he was
a Jew, and he tried to defend his people. He killed an Egyptian, though
unintentionally, but had to flee into the desert. He was taken into the
house of Jethro and became his son-in-law. While Moses was guarding the
flock God came to him as a Burning Bush and ordered him to return to Egypt
and save his people.
The first thing to become a leader of Israelites was to convince his own people that he was chosen by God. Moses' elder brother, Aaron, came to his side and convinced the people that God had sent them a deliverer. Though not only the words of Aaron convinced the people, they were supported by some miracles: thus, Moses, by God's sign, turned Aaron's staff into a serpent and back.
See: Nicolas Poussin. Moses Turning the Aaron's Staff into a Serpent.
Moses came to Pharaoh and asked him to let
his people go. The Pharaoh refused and God sent different punishments to
the people of Egypt, known as the Ten Plagues of Egypt (Ex. 12:3-11). Egypt
suffered severely, and the Pharaoh let them free.
The Jews left Egypt in Exodus, crossing the Red Sea, which had divided by Moses’ plea and God’s will. Moses led his people; when it was intolerably difficult Moses asked for God’s help and He always helped: gave manna for food and fresh water from the rock to drink (Exodus 17:3-7).
Dieric Bouts the Elder Gathering Manna.
Agnolo Bronzino. Moses Striking the Rock and the Gathering of the Manna.
Nicolas Poussin. Gathering of Manna, Moses Striking the Rock for Water.
God also made himself known to Moses on the
summit of Mount Sinai and spoke to him, and instructed him for a long time
(Ex.19-31). "When Lord had finished speaking with Moses on Mount sinai,
the Lord gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, stone tablets written
with the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18)
The people, however, had again rebelled and made a golden calf, and prayed to it. (Ex. 32:1-6). God wanted to put an end to these stubborn people and start a great nation from Moses, but Moses pleaded Him not to do this. As Moses " approached the camp, he saw the bull-calf and the dancing, and in a burst of anger he flung down the tablets and shattered them at the foot of the mountain." (Exodus 32:19). Then Moses "took the calf they had made and burnt it; he ground it to powder, sprinkled it on water, and made the Israeites drink it." (Exodus 32:20)
Rembrandt Moses Smashing the Tables of the Law.
Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto. The Worship of the Golden Calf.
God tired of people’s constant complaints and
improper behavior sent on them numerous poisonous snakes. Moses prayed
for his people, then on His command made a serpent of brass, which he fixed
to the top of the shaft. All those who gazed on it were safe from the snake
See: Botticelli Scenes from the Life of Moses.
Giorgione Moses' Trial by Fire.
Anthony van Dyck Moses and the Serpent.
Mikhail Vrubel. Moses.