According to the text in the Book of Exodus, it was mentioned that Moses was born in Egypt to a couple named Amram and Yochebed of the tribe of Levi during the period where the Israelites (Hebrews) had become a threat to the Egyptians due to their large population. Therefore, the Pharaoh decided that all newborn male Hebrew children would be left in the Nile river to drown.
Moses’ parents took him (then, newborn) and placed him in a waterproof basket and hid him within the tall grass of the Nile. A group of women and servants were bathing nearby and heard the crying of the baby. Amongst them was the Pharaoh’s daughter who rescued him and named him “Moses”, which meant “drawn from the water”.
Moses was brought up as an adopted son of the princess and was showered with the best of everything. However, he did not turn his back against his own people as he was aware of his Hebraic roots. There was once when he witnessed an Egyptian slave master beating his Hebrew counterpart and murdered the Egyptian while trying to protect the Hebrew. He then fled the place for fear of the Pharaoh’s wrath and resulted in becoming a shepherd for forty years.
One day, it was recorded that the Lord came to him and he was told that he had been chosen to free the Israelites from the Egyptians as well as to unite the people under one God.
Importance of Moses
So why do people consider Moses to be a monumental figure in the Old Testament? He was said to be the instrument through which Israel witnessed God’s salvation as it was through him that the people were able to be saved from slavery and a life of sufferings.
The Exodus, which was the departure of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, which was mentioned as the land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates was a significant event of the Old Testament as well as to the history of Christianity.
It was said that through the Exodus experience were the Jews finally able to gain a sense of individualism, dissociating themselves from lives as slaves as well as from being under the ruling and oppression of the Egyptians. This allowed them to have freedom to cultivate their own identity which shaped their history and culture as we know now.
To bring the story of Moses into view with Christianity, the Exodus was analogous with what was known as the saving acts of Jesus. For Christians, the main event was the cross of Christ, an event in which a group of people (new People of God) were rid of impurities and born again. It was mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus was evocated as the new Moses, that Jesus was fulfilling instead of destroying the Law. For Christians, Moses was then seen as a pivotal figure because of the fulfilment of the Law that Moses brought down from the mountain by Jesus. While in the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea was evident of God's abilities and power.
The Bible itself characterised Moses at the time of his death: “Since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land, and for the might and the terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel.” (Dt 34:10-12)
Was Moses REAL?
The truth of the series of events that surrounded Moses was highly controversial and debated on. As most of the details that were mentioned in the book of Exodus was referred to was being acts of God and divine intervention, it was hard to scientifically prove the legitimacy of it. Such as parting of the Red Sea and the plagues that were brought on to the Egyptians in order to force them to release the Israelites. Archeological evidences were needed to fully prove the historicity of the events. However, many evidences or lack thereof strengthens the argument that the Exodus might not have actually occurred, or at least not in the way it was recorded.
One finding would be that the places mentioned that the Israelites visited on their way to the Promised Land, Canaan could not be found and did not have any archeological evidence for them. This was used to reject the authenticity of the event and hence the entire Exodus story. However, it was also pointed out that in the Egyptians' written history, several of the sites that the Israelites camped at were recorded as well as other places found in the Bible. Through these, we are unable to settle for either side of the debate but they provide us with the possibility for both.
In conclusion, as many time had passed since the the events in Exodus happened, it is difficult to determine and find evidence to prove them. As numerous incidents was related to acts of God, it was believed no not have any concrete background behind them. It was also hard to reach a conclusion which events is written in a religious scriptures should be taken literally or if they were just analogies or had hidden meanings behind them.
By Ezebel Teo and Ruiying Lim