Moses

"Born a slave and raised by kings, he was chosen to lead. His name is revered by millions......Moses. By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict." Hebrews 11:23

Revered as a prophet but even more importantly as a teacher and a lawgiver, Moses was the leader of the Israelite people 3,300 years ago during their journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom as a nation in the land of Israel. For 40 years Moses led the people through the desert on their way to Israel and helped shape them into a nation that could live under the laws of God. Moses oversaw the creation and development of the first Israelite systems of worship, the anointing of the family line of his brother Aaron as priests, and the creation of a legal system of governance for the community. Ancient Israel had a long oral tradition of laws and legends, and it is likely that some parts of the story of Moses were written long after his lifetime. Modern scholarship recognizes that while the core of the biblical story of Moses contains real history, there is disagreement as to the accuracy of every action and every word attributed to Moses by the biblical writers. Whether one views the Bible as the revealed word of God or as the writing of inspired people, the figure of Moses towers over the early history of the Jewish people. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions revere Moses for his central role in communicating the Ten Commandments and the Torah directly from God to the Jewish people soon after their escape from Egypt. Thus, the Torah is also known as the Five Books of Moses. According to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the Israelite people first came to Egypt in search of food during a famine that affected the entire ancient Near East. At first welcomed by the Egyptians, after about 400 years the Israelites, or Hebrews, were perceived as a threat and were enslaved. In addition, the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, decreed that all newborn male Israelites were to be killed. It was at this time that Moses was born. His older siblings, Aaron and Miriam, would join him later in his life to help lead the Israelite people. Moses was saved from death when his mother, Yocheved, floated him down the Nile River in a small basket, where he was discovered and saved by the daughter of Pharaoh. The name Moses is actually an Egyptian name. Little is known about the childhood of Moses. Following his adoption into the royal household the Bible next mentions him as an adult who killed an Egyptian taskmaster for abusing an Israelite slave. Forced to flee Egypt, Moses became a shepherd in the neighboring land of Midian, where he met and married his wife, Zippora. While tending his flock, as the Bible relates, Moses had his first encounter with God, who would ultimately free the Israelite people from Egyptian slavery. At a bush that miraculously burned but was not burnt up, Moses heard God call him to go to Pharaoh and demand that the Israelite people be set free. At first reluctant and afraid, Moses was convinced by a series of divine signs and was reassured by the presence of his brother Aaron, who came to assist him. Moses' first confrontation with Pharaoh was a failure. The Egyptians relied on slave labor for their massive building projects, and Pharaoh was reluctant to lose such a large number of workers. Angry with Moses, Pharaoh decreed that the Israelite slaves should work even harder. The consequent increasing oppression of the Israelites caused them to reject Moses as their deliverer. The Bible then tells of God 's visiting upon the Egyptians a series of divine punishments in the form of ten plagues. The final plague took the life of Pharaoh's own son. Pharaoh then relented and let the Israelites leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses. However, Pharaoh soon regretted his decision and set out in pursuit with his army to bring the Israelite slaves back to Egypt. At the Sea of Reeds, with the Egyptians closing in on them, the Israelites miraculously passed through the divided waters to freedom, while the Egyptians were drowned. Moses and Miriam led the people in