moses with the ten commandments
by philippe de champaigne
), ancient egypt
- zipporah / cushite woman
- amram (father)
- jochebed (mother)
- pharaoh's daughter (adoptive mother)
- aaron (brother)
- miriam (sister)
moses (/)[note 1], also called moshe rabbenu in hebrew (מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, lit. "moses our teacher"), is the most important prophet in judaism. he is also an important prophet in christianity, islam, the bahá'í faith, and a number of other abrahamic religions. in the biblical narrative he was the leader of the israelites and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the torah, or acquisition of the torah from heaven, is traditionally attributed.
according to the book of exodus, moses was born in a time when his people, the israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in population and, as a result, the egyptian pharaoh worried that they might ally themselves with egypt's enemies. moses' hebrew mother, jochebed, secretly hid him when the pharaoh ordered all newborn hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the israelites. through the pharaoh's daughter (identified as queen bithia in the midrash), the child was adopted as a foundling from the nile river and grew up with the egyptian royal family. after killing an egyptian slavemaster who was smiting a hebrew, moses fled across the red sea to midian, where he encountered the angel of the lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on mount horeb, which he regarded as the mountain of god.
god sent moses back to egypt to demand the release of the israelites from slavery. moses said that he could not speak eloquently, so god allowed aaron, his brother, to become his spokesperson. after the ten plagues, moses led the exodus of the israelites out of egypt and across the red sea, after which they based themselves at mount sinai, where moses received the ten commandments. after 40 years of wandering in the desert, moses died within sight of the promised land on mount nebo.
rabbinical judaism calculated a lifespan of moses corresponding to 1391–1271 bce; jerome gives 1592 bce, and james ussher 1571 bce as his birth year.[note 2] scholarly consensus sees moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person, while retaining the possibility that a moses-like figure existed in the 13th century bce.