Character Sketches » Moses
Moses was born about 1350 BC to Amram and Jochebed who were both of the tribe of Levi. His birthplace was Egypt in a time when Pharoah had ordered that every Hebrew son born should be cast into the Nile River. His mother hid him three months, and when she couldn't hide him any longer she put him in an ark of papyrus she had deftly woven and pitched with bitumen within and without to seal it so it would not sink. She placed the ark among the reeds at the river's edge and her daughter stayed with it to see what happened. It was probably Moses' sister Miriam who stayed with him.
Pharoah's daughter found the baby in the reeds of the river. The child was exceedingly fair, and she was childless and drawn to him and named him Moses which means “drawn out.” His Egyptian name was Mes and was joined to Ra the Egyptian sun god. In court he was probably referred to as Ramoses. Pharoah's daughter decided to raise the baby as her own which was easily accepted because the Egyptians believed that the princesses were given children by the gods.
Miriam seized the opportunity to approach the princess and arrange for the baby's mother to nurse him. So Moses' real mother nursed him. During this time she probably prayed over him and sang songs to him of her faith and spoke words to him about God, even though he could not understand them at the time. After three years he was returned to Pharoah's daughter. Moses was then raised in Pharoah's household with all the advantages and education available amidst the vast luxury of the Pharoah's palace and the schools of education available to him.
At the age of 40 Moses went out and watched his Hebrew brethren with their burdens,
and slew an Egyptian who he caught beating them. When he knew that he had been
seen killing the Egyptian he fled into the desert. From the luxury of the palace he was
now forced to deal with the burning heat of the desert. He traveled to Midian, an area thought to extend from Elanitic Gulf to Moab and Mt. Sinai, or according to others,
Sinaitic Peninsula to the banks of the Euphrates River.
In Midian Moses helped some women at a well who were being harassed by some shepherds while watering their father's flocks of sheep. He was welcomed into the home
of the women and eventually married one whose name was Zipporah, and she bore him two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. He settled in Midian for the next 40 years and kept his father-in-law's flock.
One day he was leading the flock at Mt. Horeb and he heard God speaking to him from
a burning bush. God told him to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. God commanded Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Hebrew nation out of it. Moses began to make excuses as to why he couldn't go but God convinced him in several ways. First of all God turned Moses shepherd's staff into a snake and back again. Then God made his arm leprous and healed it, and finally God told him to take Aaron with him to speak to Pharoah to let his people go. After consulting with his father-in-law, he went to Egypt and convinced the elders of his calling from God through showing them signs.
The next step was to confront Pharoah with God's demand to “Let my people go!” Pharoah refused again and again to let Israel leave Egypt and release them from bondage. Instead
he increased their burdens and made them angry against Moses. God then sent plagues
upon the land of Egypt. The interesting thing about the plagues was that each plague was
an open challenge to one of their gods.
Below is a list of the gods of Egypt connected with the plagues.
1. The Nile water turned into blood – Hapi the god of the Nile
Finally God prepared the people of Israel for the tenth plague with instructions through Moses to the people which instituted the Feast of the Passover later in the lives of the Hebrew nation. An interesting note concerning this preparation was that the people were to put blood on the doorposts and the lintel over the door. This was, in all probability indicative of the cross of Christ. (Envision the blood on both sides and a line running from the lintel over the door to the ground and you will see the inference to the cross of Christ and the blood shed so he could “pass over” our sins and deliver us from eternal death).
Two things to consider at this point are that neither natural or supernatural elements can be excluded during God's dealings with the Egyptians. The passover lamb was to be without spot or blemish as was Jesus our passover lamb. The other interesting thing is contained in the paragraph above concerning the placing of the blood on the doorposts and lintel of the houses. We can only stand in awe as God's plan unfolds to us in every place and in all circumstances shown in scripture.
The death of every firstborn son and baby, human and animal in Egypt including the son of Pharoah finally was enough to convince Pharoah to let the Hebrews go. He no longer resisted God and the Hebrews were freed from bondage, and even were given all the wealth they wanted and supplies for the journey. It was a complete victory for God's people. Shortly after leaving Egypt the nation of Hebrews came to the Red Sea and could go no further. Pharoah came after them and they were caught between the Red Sea and Pharoah's army and began to be terrified and complained against Moses for leading them out of Egypt. God put a cloud of fire between the Hebrews and the Egyptian army and then opened up the Sea and they crossed over to safety while the sea stood up on both sides. After they were across the Lord left the pillar of fire die, and Pharoah's army followed them into the sea. When every Hebrew was safe on the other side God caused the water of the sea to fall upon Pharoah's army and destroy them completely. There are skeptics who say that the water the Hebrews went into was only knee deep so they could walk through it. The best answer I ever heard to that idea was that it was an even greater miracle then because God drowned the Egyptian army in knee deep water. We know of course that it was deep and wide as it is today. There have also been some chariot wheels and other artifacts recovered since then proving the story.
The Hebrews then began their wilderness trek which was marked by many miracles done on their behalf and their continued complaining against God, Moses and Aaron. God took away sickness from their midst, preserved their clothing, changed the bitter waters of Marah, gave them manna and quail, gave them water from a rock and brought them finally into the land of Caanan. During this time God also came and dwelt among them in a tabernacle that the told them how to build. He also gave them victory over the Amalekites. Numerous instances could be expounded upon such as Miriam's leprosy, rebellion of the priests and their subsequent death, the various plagues on the Hebrews during their rebellion, the budding rod, the giving of the Ten Commandments, and so much more that happened during this epic journey. Just considering the host of people, estimated at over two and a half million is overwhelming evidence of God power and ability to provide. His care and protection of them for the 40 years in the wildreness is amazing! But then in comparison to his sustaining the entire universe I guess only two and a half million people wasn't a very big task for God anyway.
Eventually Moses led the people to Caanan but because of his own disobedience he was not allowed to go in with them to the promised land. God had Moses appoint Joshua to this task. Moses rehearsed the travels and the laws, placed Joshua over all the people, and climbed Mount Nebo to look out over the promised land. At the age of 120 years he died in the mountains and nobody knows his burying place although it is possible that he may have been buried in Moab. There is no definite scriptural indication of a burial let alone a burial place.
Moses' character is briefly outlined in scripture. He was a prophet whom the Lord knew face to face, meek above all men on the face of the earth, interceded for his people and was jealous for God's glory. He had weaknesses as all men do but had a deep and enduring faith. He was indeed God's man for eighty years of his life.
C R Lord © 1980