Who was Moses? What did he do? Why the primary foundational story?
Moses is a very important person in Jewish history since he was privileged to receive the Jewish Law, the Torah on Mt. Sinai. He is the only man in the Jewish tradition to have seen God as explained in Exodus 33-34. Despite his miraculous survival when young, he evidences great leadership while still young. He is raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter but once he realizes that he is a Jew, he protects them as much as he can. The first time he sees his people, he is worried by the troubles they experience. When he evidences an Egyptian slave master beating one of his slaves who is a Jew, he kills showing that he is fighting for justice. When fleeing from Egypt, he reaches Midian where he finds young men bullying men and stands to protect them showing that he does not tolerate unfairness. Even though Moses is shown to be brave in these incidents, he does not show the same brevity when God appears to him in the form a burning bush (Aaron, 2013). He only reluctantly accepts the role of leading the Israelites from Egypt. Nevertheless, after accepting the role to free the Israelites, he uses diplomacy, threats, magic, and lastly divine intervention to convince Pharaoh to let the slaves free.
After convincing Pharaoh to let the slaves free, Moses has a hard time convincing the slaves that they should not remain slaves forever and thus embrace freedom. On their way from slavery, Moses is faced with great resistance at the Red Sea when the Israelites doubt their decision of leaving Egypt. In such cases, Moses asks for divine assistance and because of his faith, he receives the help required. When he lifts his rod for the water to divide and the Israelites cross the sea safely, he signifies his strong faith that inspires other people. He receives the Torah on behalf of the Israelites since God considers this the best way after He tries to talk to all the people in vain. At the end of the 40 days and 40 nights he spends on Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah, Moses manages to see God pass in front of him (Ford, 2011).
Moses’ foundational story surrounds his saving of the Israelites and the giving them of the rules that will govern their ethical living. Since God loves the Israelites so much and thus decides to free them, He wants them to show gratitude by obeying His laws (Miller, 2009). Moses acts as the bridge between the Israelites and God. It is not possible for God to talk to all the Israelites at the same time but He can use Moses to talk to them. He knows that Moses has faith in Him and even though he doubts his capability to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, He obeys the rules given by God.
It is notable that Moses has faults like all other human beings. A good example is moment he finds the Israelites worshipping other gods after he goes for the Torah. He lets anger overtake him and instead of speaking to the rock in which the laws are written as commanded by God, he strikes on it (Lim, 1997). Nevertheless, he has a unique experience that no other Jew in the Jewish history has experienced. He sees God severally, through signs and in real life. God passes before him when he is receiving the Torah, something no one in Jewish history has. All other people see God through miracles.
Aaron, C. L. (2013). The Bible’s foundation: An introduction to the Pentateuch. London: Chalice Press.
Ford, D. F. (2011).The future of Christian theology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Lim, J. T. (1997). The sin of Moses and the staff of God: A narrative approach.Assen: Van Gorcum.
Miller, W. T. (2009). The book of Exodus: Question by question. New York: Paulist Press.