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Old Testament Notes

Moses

Moses is the prophet, whom God entrusted to save the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Many years have passed after Joseph invited his people to Egypt. During this time they gradually became slaves. Moses was born in Egypt. The Pharaoh found out about the birth of a Hebrew savior and ordered the massacre of all newly born Jewish babies. Moses’ mother saved him, by putting him in a basket, which she floated down the Nile. The Pharaoh’s daughter found him and brought him to the palace. Josephus Phlavius in his Antiquitatis Judaicae, tells that the Pharaoh’s daughter presented the child to her father. The Pharaoh, playing with him, placed his crown on the baby’s head. Moses threw the crown to the ground, so that it broke. The high priest, recognized the boy as the one who had been prophesied to overthrow the Pharaoh, and rushed to kill him. But the appeal of women saved Moses. Moses was raised in the palace as an Egyptian prince. (Ex.2:3-10)
See: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema The Finding of Moses.
Hogarth Moses Brought to Pharaoh's Daughter.
Nicolas Poussin. Pharaoh's Daughter Finds Baby Moses, Baby Moses Trampling on the Pharaoh's Crown, The Baby Moses Saved from the River. Baby Moses Saved from River, Baby Moses Saved from the River.
Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto. Moses Saved from the Waters of the Nile.
Paolo Veronese. Moses Saved from the Waters of the Nile.

     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 venom.
See: Botticelli Scenes from the Life of Moses.
Giorgione Moses' Trial by Fire.
Michelangelo Moses.
Anthony van Dyck Moses and the Serpent.
Mikhail Vrubel. Moses.
 

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