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Moses (s) ( Hebrew מֹשֶׁה Mosque ; ancient Greek Μωϋσῆς, Μωσῆς Mō (y) sēs ; Arabic مُوسَى Mūsā ) is the central figure in the Pentateuch . According to biblical tradition, the prophet Mose ( Dtn 34,10  EU ), as a commissioner from God, led the people of the Israelites on a forty-year migration from Egyptian slavery to the Canaanite land.

Up until the Enlightenment , Moses was considered to be the author of the books of the Pentateuch ( 1st to 5th book of Moses , the books of Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy ) and of Psalm 90 . Despite all the confusion about a possible historical personality for Moses, the majority of today's biblical scholars are of the opinion that such a historical Moses is out of the question as an author of the Pentateuch.

The Moses story

The stories about Moses in the Old Testament are closely connected with the traditions of the Exodus from Egypt , the legislation during the wandering through the desert and the stay of the Israelites in Kadesh-barnea . They are scattered over large parts of the books of Moses and, according to the traditional document hypothesis, belong to different layers of tradition that predominantly existed between the 10th and 6th centuries BC. To be dated.

Finding of Moses (wall painting from the synagogue of Dura Europos )

Birth, Suspension, and Salvation

Sébastien Bourdon : Finding of Moses (around 1650; National Gallery of Art )
Lawrence Alma-Tadema : The finding of Mose (1904; private collection)

The narrative of the birth of Moses is in Ex 2.1–10  EU , which does not contain any personal names and attributes Moses' parents to the tribe of Levi . The family tree of Moses is given in Ex 6,14-27  EU . This passage is attributed to the priestly editing and names Amram as the father, his aunt Jochebed as the mother and Aaron as the brother of Moses (6.20; cf. 4.17 EU ), the sister of the two was called Mirjam . According to the narration in Ex 2.1-10, Moses was abandoned on the bank of the Nile after his birth , the Pharaoh's daughter found him and had a Hebrew woman - the birth mother of the child - appointed as a wet nurse. After the nursing period, Pharaoh's daughter adopted the child as a son and gave him the name Moses.

In the biblical account of the birth of Moses, the same motif of the suspension and salvation of the “heroic child”, “king's child” or at least “child of fate” has been recognized, which occurs in all mythologies of antiquity with different characteristics and the best-known examples of which are childhood stories of Romulus and Remus , Oedipus , Sargon of Akkad and Cyrus II . The abandonment of the child, which in these myths is often connected with a ritual offense or with an oracle of doom, is in the case of Moses in the context of the killing of the male children of the Israelites ordered by the Pharaoh ( Ex 1.15f.  EU ) and represents an attempt to save the child - as is the case in other legends of the ancient Middle East. However, the Targum pseudo Jonathan and - probably dependent on it - Flavius ​​Josephus ( Ant II, 205) report an oracle of doom in connection with the birth of Moses .

Several exegetes have taken the view that the legend of Sargon of Akkad, known from Neo-Assyrian texts (around the 8th century BC), is the model or the "closest parallel" to Ex 2.1-10. The similarities have been seen mainly in the fact that in both cases the child is found in a watertight reed box in the river and that the rescuer adopts him (lines 5-9):

“My mother, a high priestess, became pregnant with me. She secretly gave birth to me. She put me in a reed box. She sealed my dwelling with bitumen . She left me at the river that did not wash over (me). Akki, the water scoop, pulled me out when he dipped his water bucket. Akki, the water creator, raised me as his adopted child. "

Other authors have seen analogies with a version of the Horus legend known from late texts of the Greco-Roman period , according to which, according to the Osiris myth, Horus is raised protected from Seth in Chemmis by his mother Isis , or have suggested an early emergence of the core of the story in Egyptian Context, which is reflected in the use of Egyptian words in the pericope of the birth of Moses - especially in Ex 2,3  EU - and not in the borrowing of motifs from Egyptian mythology .

The name of Moses

The folk etymological name derivation made in the narrative of the birth , which refers to the Hebrew root mšh ("to pull"), is incorrect. Ancient authors tried to associate the name Moses with the ancient Egyptian equivalent of mu-wedja ("unscathed water"). From a historical point of view, however , those hypotheses are unfounded. According to more recent research, the name Mose is related to the ancient Egyptian root * mesi / mesa / mes ("to give birth"), which is often associated with a divine name in numerous personal names, for example Ramses II. ( Rˁ msj sw - Ra-mesi -su) for Ramses or Ramose (" Re is the one who gave birth to him" or "the one born of Re"), Thutmose ( Ḏḥwtj msj sw - Djehuti mes , " Thoth is the one who gave birth to him").

One of the problems that arises from this explanation is the Masoretic spelling of the name Moses with the sibilant š (שׁ) instead of s (ס). The latter is usually used to paraphrase the Egyptian sound š in the Tanach . Based on this spelling, which is, among other things, analogous to the cuneiform description of "Ramses", some authors have suspected an early "entry" of the name Moses into the Hebrew tradition. According to others, however, the later interpretation according to the Hebrew mšh ("to pull") in Ex 2,10 could take account of this writing.

Escape to Midian and shipment

Dirk Bouts : Moses and the Burning Bush (1450–1475)

In Ex 2.11-22  EU is by fleeing Moses to Midian told that he had taken after he killed an Egyptian overseer because that one " Hebrews hit" (it). There "the priest of Midian", whose name was Reguel after 2.18 EU and Jitro after 18.2 EU , gave him his daughter Zippora as his wife. Guided by the episode of the burning bush of thorns in Mount Horeb , the "mountain of God", Ex 3.1  EU –4.17 EU is given by the revelation of YHWH to Moses and by the commission imposed on him to return to Egypt and the people of Israel from to free the bondage, reports: YHWH had revealed himself in Horeb as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (3.6 EU ) and commissioned Moses to gather “the elders of Israel” to the To proclaim liberation from Egypt and the exodus into the "land of the Canaanites" (3:16 f. EU ). Moses appeared as the herald of the name of God YHWH. In the past, JHWH never mentioned his name ( Ex 6,6  EU - Ex 6,8  EU ). Moses should ask Pharaoh to sacrifice the "Hebrews" to their own god for three days in the desert.

This first record of the calling is considered to be a mixture of Yahwist and Elohist sources. The repetitions of the revelation of YHWH and the mission of Moses, which are detached from the Gottesberg and Midian in Ex 6.2–13  EU and in 6.28 EU –7.7 EU , are considered to be the priestly scriptures .

The motive of fleeing to a foreign country and the auspicious return has a correspondence in many legends of the Middle East and was often applied to the biography of a number of historical personalities of the 2nd and 1st millennium (e.g. Hattusili , Assurhaddon , Nabonid and others ). One of the best-known examples, in which close parallels with the story of Moses have been seen, is the Egyptian story of Sinuhe , in which the protagonist flees abroad for fear of the new pharaoh, finds hospitality with Bedouins, the daughter of a Syrian ruler marries and finally returns to Egypt.

Exodus from Egypt and trek through the desert

The request of Moses to let the Israelites go into the desert so that they can "celebrate a festival" was rejected by Pharaoh until the last of the plagues sent over Egypt because of this rejection - the death of all Egyptian firstborns - had come ( Ex 7.14  EU –11.10 EU ; 12.29–34 EU ). The following report in Ex 12.37ff. EU from the departure of the Israelites breaks off with the execution of the regulations for the Passover and other laws (12.43 EU –13.16 EU ) and becomes in 13.17ff. EU resumed. This is followed by the narratives of the sea miracle at the Red Sea in Ex 14  EU , which initiate the desert migration (15.22 EU –18.27 EU ); the appointment by Moses of “judges” over the tribes of Israel (18.13-27 EU ) and - in 19 EU -40 EU - the statements about the covenant agreement on Mount Sinai (24 EU ) with the granting of the Ten Commandments (20.1–21 EU ; cf. Lev 19.1–37  EU ) and the other list of laws.

Moses and the Ten Commandments , pencil drawing by Carl Gottlieb Peschel on paper

The motif of the relapse into idolatry, the discontent of the Israelites and the revolt against the authority of Moses appear in several episodes within the stories of the Exodus from Egypt, the wandering through the desert and the stay in Kadesh-Barnea . So in the episodes of the division of the Red Sea ( Ex 14.10–14  EU ), the water miracles (15.22–26 EU ; 17.1–7 EU and Num 20.1–13  EU ), the quail and the manna ( Ex 16  EU ), in which distress and dissatisfaction are overcome through miraculous events and actions. One of the most famous of these incidents is the story of the golden calf ( Ex 32.1–6; 15–29  EU ): At the pressure of the people and Aaron's instructions, the Israelites melted all kinds of jewelry and gold and created a golden calf for themselves as a divine image . As a punishment for this act, Moses ordered those who had been unfaithful to YHWH to be killed: This order was carried out by the Levites , who are said to have slain around 3000 men (32.25–28 EU ). Another rebellion against Moses is reported in Num 16.35  EU . According to this, 250 Levites under the leadership of Korach , Datan and Abiram rebelled against Moses and were punished with death for this ( Num 16.35  EU ). Moses' sister Mirjam also had to atone for her questioning of the authority of Moses through divine punishment with leprosy before she had repentedly recovered from it ( Num 12  EU ).

The death of Moses

According to Dtn 34  EU , Moses died at the age of 120 on Mount Nebo in the East Bank, after seeing the land on the other side of the Jordan from this mountain: Like all other Israelites of his generation, he was not allowed to enter this land ( cf.Num 14  EU ; 20.12 EU ; Dtn 4.21f.  EU ). Moses was buried “opposite Bet-Pegor” in an unknown place.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the theologian and archaeologist Ernst Sellin put forward the thesis that Moses was killed as a “martyr” by the Israelites. In the later 20th century, the thesis of a collective murder of Moses found an echo with authors such as Sigmund Freud (see below: Moses and the origin of religion in Sigmund Freud ) and René Girard . JW Goethe also assumed in an early book that Moses was murdered by Joshua and Caleb .

In Sellin's opinion , a "Moses tradition" was alive in the prophets - mainly found in Hosea, Deutero-Isaiah and Deuterosacharja , but also perceptible in all other prophets - which was largely independent of the Deuteronomic and priestly traditions of the Pentateuch and essentially with the the oldest of the Yahwist and Elohistic sources. This tradition was largely shaped by the rejection of the bloody cult of sacrifice and the understanding of God's commandments as commandments of love and justice. A permanent part of this Moses tradition was also the martyrdom of Moses. Sellin based his martyrdom thesis on a number of allusions he had taken from the books of the prophets. The decisive factor for him was his own interpretation of some passages at Hosea (5.1 EU ; 9.7–14 EU and 12.14 EU –13.1 EU ), which, according to Sellin, allude to the episode of Shittim in Num 25  EU in who is said to have commanded Moses to stake those Israelites who had fallen away to worship Baal Peor. Num 25 does not speak of an execution of this order, but of a "plague" that cost the lives of 24,000 men. This "plague" was ended by the killing of a man who had gone into his tent together with "the Midianite woman". For Sellin this was the mutilated and defaced account of the killing of Moses: In Shittim - but the episode could also have been in Kadesh-Barnea - Moses was killed as a guilt offering for the sins of the people.

According to Sellin, the songs of the suffering servant of God contained in Deutero-Isaiah ( Isa 42.1–10  EU ; 49.1–13 EU ; 50.4–9 EU and 52.13 EU –53.12 EU ) were about the individual's fate Moses inspires, even if these pieces could not be reduced to the allusions to the martyrdom of Moses. Sellin also interpreted some passages in the 2nd part of the book Zechariah as allusions to the killing of Moses: the so-called “ little shepherd's book ” in Sach 11.4–17  EU (cf. Isa 63.11  EU ), the “sword song ” in 13, 7ff. EU and the lawsuit in 12.10 EU .

Moses in Hellenistic historiography

Several authors from Greco-Roman antiquity mention Moses in connection with the Exodus from Egypt (see →  Excerpt from Egypt ). In almost all of these texts the motives of the plague or the expulsion of “lepers” (Jews or Egyptians) appear: They choose Moses as their head, who gave them a new religion and led them to the Canaanite land. These are almost always slanderous narratives in which, with a few exceptions - such as Hecataus by Abdera and Strabo - the new religion of Moses is described as godlessness, reversal of the "correct" religion or even as a doctrine of hate. The regularity with which these motifs appear in the Greek and Roman documents of historiography suggests that these texts are not always based on independent traditions. According to some interpreters, however, it is obvious that many of these stories fall back on very old, orally transmitted legends.

The portrayal of the person of Moses shows some deviations in these accounts. The alleged mention of Moses as an ancient Egyptian priest from Heliopolis in the Aegyptiaca of Manetho was only added later and cannot be attributed to Manetho's original work. Numerous other authors who only give the name of Moses consider him to be an Egyptian. According to Chairemon, he was a scribe and his Egyptian name was Tisithen. In Pompeius Trogus ' Historiæ Philippicæ , Moses appears as the son of Joseph and is said to have stolen the Egyptian cult objects. According to Tacitus, he was simply one of the displaced.

Additional episodes from the life of Moses were narrated by Jewish authors. For example, Flavius ​​Josephus and Artapanos reported a war that Moses waged against the Ethiopians. Josephus reports that the short war ended with the marriage between Moses and the daughter of the Ethiopian king ( Ant II, 251-253), while Artapanus reports of a ten-year war during which Moses founded the city of Hermopolis, which Ibis sanctified , and is said to have taught the Ethiopians how to circumcise. This tradition seems to be independent of the note of the Cushitic wife of Moses mentioned in Num 12.1  EU .

The question about the figure of Moses

Rembrandt van Rijn : Moses breaks the tablets of the law (1659; Gemäldegalerie , Berlin)

The interpretation of the figure of Moses and the attempts to locate it historically have not only preoccupied exegetes over the past centuries, but also historians, writers, philosophers, Egyptologists, etc. In the 20th century, exegetes and, above all, biblical historians have primarily the function and the role of Moses in the emergence of Israel and its religion moved to the center of the question. In contrast, an understanding of Moses as a “mythological construct” has been largely abandoned by leading Old Testament scholars such as Harrison. Such a view had been held by authors such as de Wette , Winckler , and Jensen from the Enlightenment up to the beginning of the 20th century .

About the role of Moses

In recent historical research, Moses was seen primarily as the founder of a people or religion, as a lawgiver or a reformer. For Martin Noth , however, the understanding of Moses as a legislator and founder of religion was tied to the "deuteronomic-deuteronomistic literature", mainly to the episode of the covenant at Sinai. The narratives of the Pentateuch are the result of a subsequent "adjustment" which, among other things, included the figure of Moses in all episodes from the exodus from Egypt to the arrival in Palestine - also in narrative material that originally had nothing to do with Moses. Thus, in terms of historical content, none of the episodes contained in the Pentateuch should be particularly emphasized. According to Noth, however, the note from the tomb of Moses on the other side of the Jordan ( Dtn 34,5.6a.8  EU ) is the one that most likely has a historical core: Accordingly, Moses belongs "in the context of the preparation for the conquest of the Central Palestinian tribes" inside. The Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1906 affirmed the traditional view that Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch. He did not necessarily write or dictate the work by hand, but approved the work of the scribe ( De mosaica authentia Pentateuchi ).

Moses and the origin of religion with Sigmund Freud

In his last work, The Man Moses and the Monotheistic Religion (1939), Sigmund Freud set up extensive hypotheses about the origin of “Jewish” monotheism and the essence of Judaism in addition to the thesis that Moses was an Egyptian. The considerations presented in this book were referred to by Freud himself as a "construct". However, they were based on the then latest state of Egyptological ( James H. Breasted et al.) And Old Testament research ( Eduard Meyer , Ernst Sellin et al.). Moses is represented as an Egyptian, perhaps governor of the Gosen district in the Nile Delta , but in any case as a follower of Akhenaten (around 1350 BC). As such, after the failure of its reform, he imposed the monotheistic Aton religion on the "Jews" and led them out of Egypt. This explains the lack of images, the spirituality and the ideals of justice which shaped the later (post-exilic) religion of Israel, as well as the view of being chosen by God and superior to other peoples. These are the main characteristics of Judaism, which later contributed to anti-Jewish ideas.

According to Freud, Moses was murdered by the Israelites. This murder was the founding act of the subsequent religious and social order. This thesis repeats the "parricide" already formulated in totem and taboo as a developmental moment of religion. The execution of this murder had a “coercive character”. After the murder of Moses, the Israelite religion gradually adopted the essential characteristics of the other Canaanite religions. It was not until a few centuries later that the "Moser religion" became the religion of Israel, through the work of the prophets. Analogous to the processes of individual psychology, a repression first took place, which had its unconscious expression in the feeling of guilt and in the thematization of Israeli history as a temporal sequence of punishments by God. Later in history, the "return of the repressed" slowly took place as the "father religion" established itself.

Moses as a figure of history

Numerous historians and Egyptologists have tried to identify Moses with figures known from Egyptian sources. One of the proposals that met with a great response is the equation , which goes back to Ernst Axel Knauf , of Moses with Bay (also Beja or Baja), a dignitary of the 19th dynasty who was in office under Seti II (around 1200 BC) and in the enthronement of his successor Siptah is said to have played an important role. His title has been handed down as " Great Treasurer of the whole country ", and he is said to have exercised the function of Chancellor under Sethos. After the artist's name could B3-yy , "by" or "Beja" be a Semitic name, probably a composition with the name of God Yes (hwe) whose shape b e -Yes ( "in YHWH (is my comfort)," De Moor) or an analog of the Hebrew personal nameאֲבִיָּה( abī-ja , "YHWH (is) my father") could have been. In addition to this name, Beja is said to have also had a court name, the first part of which was “Ramses” (Rˁw-msj-sw-hˁ-mn t rw) . This Beja has also been identified with the leader of the Asians mentioned in the stele of Elephantine as "Irsu" - perhaps a mock name - who lived in the time of Ramses III. attempted an uprising against Egyptian rule and were expelled from the country. The correspondence of the notes on Beja-Ramses-Irsu with the Moses traditions are to be sought in some texts of the Exodus, which indicate Moses as "great in the land of Egypt" ( Ex 11.3b  EU ) and of a "plundering" of the Egyptians by the report to the Israelites leaving ( Ex 12,35.36b  EU ).

As a personality in Egyptian history who may have influenced the biblical description of Moses, a "royal butler" or "first stewardess of the king" of Semitic origin has been considered, who is mentioned in documents from the time of Ramses II and Ramses III. with the Egyptian name Ramsesemperre ( Rˁw-msj-sw-m-pr-Rˁ , "Ramses in the house of Ra") occurs and is said to have mainly had diplomatic functions. He also will Bashan as origin, Jwp' as the father name, and the name Bn'zn narrated that has been interpreted as "son of obedience" as an honorary title or name of a tribal affiliation. As a diplomat, Ramsesemperre is said to have represented Egyptian interests towards the Shasu or in their tribal areas.

The Egyptologist Rolf Krauss put forward the hypothesis that the biblical story of Moses could be modeled on the story of Amenmesse around 450 BC. Be written in BC. Amenmesse (13th century BC) is a son of Pharaoh Merenptah , for whom he waged a war against insurgents, and is identical to the viceroy of Kush (short name: Mase-saja - full name: Amun-masesa ). His biography largely corresponds to the biography of Moses.

The thesis advocated by Jan Assmann and Donald B. Redford , which connects the biblical Exodus story with the archaeologically verifiable rule of Pharaoh Ahmose I [Jˁḥ ms (jw)] , is controversial . In fact, there are similarities between the Exodus and the archaeologically documented expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt by Pharaoh Ahmose I. During Ahmose I's reign, a natural disaster occurred, which is described on the storm stele. The description of this natural disaster is very reminiscent of the description of the biblical ten plagues . The Papyrus Ipuwer contains a further description of this natural disaster, but there are inconsistencies in the dating in the Egyptian chronology, the storm stele is dated about 100 years later than the Papyrus Ipuwer.

Horned Moses

Depiction of the Horned Moses ( Collegiate Church of St. Georg , Tübingen )
Horned Moses by Michelangelo (Church of San Pietro in Vincoli , Rome )

In the Masoretic text of Ex 34.29  EU , Moses wrote:

כִּי קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו,

which in almost all translations - with the exception of the Vulgate and the Aquila version - is translated as "that his countenance shone". This radiance as a sign of divine splendor instilled fear in the Israelites ( Ex 34.30  EU ). Moses put a veil over his face after his speech. He took off the veil when he spoke to God; he veiled his face when he spoke to the Israelites and they noticed the radiance ( Ex 34,33-35  EU ).

The depiction of Moses with horns in some older Christian works of art in the western church (e.g. the sculpture by Michelangelo in San Pietro in Vincoli ) is based on the extremely literal Greek translation of the Hebrew verbקָרַן qāran back through Aquila. This Hapaxlegomenon must start with the noun Hebrew קרן qeren have to do with “horn”, so Aquila translated accordingly in Greek, and Hieronymus, who is dependent on Aquila here, chose facies cornuta (“horned face”) in the Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate ). A mix-up of cornuta ("horned") and coronata ("wreathed, crowned"), as can sometimes be read, was not. But from Hab 3,4  EU it emerges that it is Hebrew קרן qeren can also mean “bundle of rays” in addition to the basic meaning “horn”, so that the verbקָרַן qāran comes up with the meaningful translation: "shine, spread numinous radiance". This is also the translation of the Septuagint : "... but when he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the color of his face had taken on a shiny expression."

Moses in the Abrahamic religions

José de Ribera : Moses with the tablets of the law (1638)

Based on the various representations in the Old Testament, the image of Moses has found a long-lasting echo in the religions that emerged from the Tanakh or influenced by it - as well as in the theological reflection within them. The promise of Moses, which announces a prophet to Israel, plays an important role in this regard ( Deut. 18.15  EU ): “The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me from among your brethren. You should listen to him. ”Before that, Moses himself had received this promise ( Deut. 18:18  EU ).

In the Old Testament

Paris Psalter : Crossing the Red Sea (book illustration, tenth century)

Moses is mentioned a total of 767 times in the Tanakh, mostly in the context of the traditions of the Exodus from Egypt and the desert wandering (647 times in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy), and 80 times in the New Testament. The bundle of topics that connects the biblical tradition with Moses has its focus in the tradition of Moses as a direct recipient of God's revelation, as the liberator of the Israelite people from slavery and leader on their wandering into the promised land, as a prophet and figure of salvation as a mediator of the words of God and the law.

The mentions of Moses in 1./2. Book of Kings , Ezra - Nehemiah and 1./2. Book of Chronicles can usually be explained by the fact that it is about the "Torah of Moses" or the "Book of Moses". More interesting is the reference to Moses in the Book of Psalms . The fourth book of Psalms, where the evidence is heaped up, is opened by Psalm 90 , which is referred to by the heading as the "Prayer of Moses". Since there is a deep turning point between Psalms 89 and 90, this new beginning with the mention of Moses has additional weight. The following Psalms up to and including Psalm 100 have no author headings and are also attributed to Moses by Jewish tradition. Johannes Schnocks sums up in the sense of the psaltery exegesis oriented towards the final text: Psalm 89 laments the downfall of the David dynasty. For the part of the Psalm book ending here, David was the “outstanding prayer leader.” After the failure of the monarchy, a new prayer leader was sought, and Moses offered himself because he had no group interests connected with him in the presence of the Psalter editors, “so that he can be an identification variable for all of Israel. "

In Christian and Jewish theology

In the modern theology of Christianity it is partly assumed that the biblical representation of Moses has been editorially expanded. The historicity of personality and its connection with the exodus from Egypt are also assessed differently by scientists from the disciplines concerned. Orthodox Jews and various Christian denominations consider its leading role in the exodus as well as in conveying the YHWH faith to be historical. Accordingly, they consider the sometimes very strongly developed Moses traditions as reliable memories of an important historical personality.

The Catholic Church and Orthodoxy revere Moses as an Old Testament patriarch and saint . Certain churches are dedicated to him (e.g. the Šuplja crkva in Croatia).

Remembrance days :

Some Jews and Christians, on the other hand, see Moses as a symbolic figure who essentially formed the Israelites and the Jewish people into a unity, founded the cult and the commandments to be observed, and pointed the way to true faith in God. For these Christians and Jews, the historicity of Moses does not play an essential role unless it is denied at all, but he is a figure from whom strength for faith can be drawn.

As the founder of identity, Moses is one of the most important figures not only for the religious, but also for the national self-image of the Jews, alongside the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob and King David .

In Islam

For the Islamic faith, Moses ( Mūsā ) is next to Abraham ( Ibrāhīm ) , Jesus ( ʿĪsā ) and Mohammed an important prophet of God and is referred to in the Koran as the recipient of “the book” ( Sura 2 , 53.87; Sura 28 , 43; cf. The Torah in Islam ). According to a legend, the stick of Moses was found in the Kaʿba after the Ottoman conquest of Mecca .

The biblical episodes of the Moses story and the Exodus are mentioned repeatedly in the Koran. In Sura 2 (49-71) there are a number of stories and anecdotes that allude to the legislation, the covenant at Sinai and the disobedience of the Israelites. Sura 5 (20-26) also speaks of the Israelites' distrust of Moses and "his God" and of their punishment . In Sura 20 there are the stories of birth (39-40), of the flight to Midian (40), the revelation of God and the mission of Moses (9-37; 42-48), also in Surah 28 (3–35) occur. The plagues sent over Egypt only appear in sura 7 (133–135) - without the death of the firstborn. The most common motif is the confrontation of Moses with the Egyptian magicians, followed by the punishment of Pharaoh and the Egyptians by the miracle at the Red Sea (Sura 7, 103-136; 10, 75-92; 20, 57-79 ; 28, 36-40; 43, 46-56). Of the other episodes of the desert wandering in the Koran come the miracles of the manna and the quail (Sura 2, 57), the water miracle (2, 60) and the decline of the Israelites into idolatry in connection with the encounter of Moses with God (Sura 7 , 138-156; 20, 83-98).

Peter Anton von Verschaffelt: Statue of Mose by Michelangelo (after 1737)

Reception in the arts

Visual arts

At the beginning of the 16th century, Michelangelo created the sculpture of Moses in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in the center of the tomb for Pope Julius II , which can be classified as one of his most famous sculptural works.


Giovanni Battista Bassani wrote the oratorio Mosè risorto dalle acque in 1694 . Other oratorios that deal with the subject of Moses are by Georg Friedrich Handel ( Israel in Egypt , 1739), Franz Lachner ( Moses , op. 45, 1833) and Max Bruch ( Moses , op. 67, 1893/94).

Arnold Schönberg depicted the figure of Moses in his opera fragment Moses and Aron . The libretto also goes back to the Jewish composer. The plot is based on the second book of Moses.

The character meets in the rock oratorio Moses by Tobias Seyb and Richard Geppert, created in 1985, as well as in the pop oratorio The 10 Commandments of 2010 by Dieter Falk . The musical association in Jägerwirth also produced a Moses musical in 2005 .

Go Down Moses , also known as When Israel Was in Egypt's Land and Let My People Go , is an American Negro Spiritual who addresses the mandate of Moses to lead his people out of Egyptian captivity.



On the question of historical Moses

  • Herbert Donner , History of the People of Israel and its Neighbors in Fundamentals (Outlines of the Old Testament, Volume 4/1), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 3-525-51679-7
  • Sigmund Freud , The Man Moses and the Monotheistic Religion (de Lange, Amsterdam: 1939), Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main: 1975, (14th edition) 2006. ISBN 3-596-26300-X
  • Meik Gerhards, About the origin of the wife of Moses , in: Vetus Testamentum. Brill, Leiden 55.2005, 162-175. ISSN  0042-4935
  • Martin Noth , History of Israel , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen: 1956
  • Hartmut Gese , From Sinai to Zion. Old Testament contributions to biblical theology (contributions to evangelical theology; 64), Munich 1974 ISBN 3-459-00866-0
  • Eckart Otto (Ed.), Mose. Egypt and the Old Testament , Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart: 2000, ISBN 3-460-04891-3
  • Eckart Otto, Moses - history and legend , CH Beck, Munich: 2006. ISBN 3-406-53600-X
  • Rudolf Smend , Moses as a historical figure. in: R.Smend: Bible, Theology, University. Small Vandenhoeck series. Vol. 1582. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1997, 5-20.
  • Peter van der Veen, Biblical Archeology at the Crossroads? Hänssler, Holzgerlingen: 2002, 2004. ISBN 3-7751-3851-X

To the history of the impact

  • Jan Assmann , Moses the Egyptian Hanser, Munich 2000, 2001. ISBN 3-446-19302-2
  • Jan Assmann, The Mosaic Distinction Hanser, Munich 2003. ISBN 3-446-20367-2
  • Sigmund Freud, The Moses of Michelangelo (1914). Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1964.
  • John G. Gager, Moses in Greco-Roman Paganism (SBLMS 16), Abingdon, Nashville / New York: 1972 ISBN 1-58983-216-7
  • Martin Buber , Moses , Verlag Lambert Schneider, Heidelberg: 2nd edition 1952 (first edition in Hebrew)
  • Friedrich Schiller , Die Sendung Moses , Leipzig: 1772–1801, 1934; Hamburger Kulturverlag, Hamburg: 1960; Publishing house for holistic research: Viöl 1998; (Repr.) Neckargemünd: 2001; (Online: )
  • Ernst Sellin , Moses and its significance for the history of Israeli-Jewish religion , A. Deichersche Verlagsbuchhandlung Dr. Werner Scholl, Leipzig: 1922

Other literature


  • Thomas Mann : The Law (story, 1944)
  • Wolfram zu Mondfeld: Moses. Son of Promise (Roman, 1999)

Web links

Commons : Mose  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Cf. Neue Jerusalemer Bibel , Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1985, on Ex 6,2–7.7.
  2. ^ "Cousin" according to the Septuagint, see: Ex 6.20  LXX
  3. Num 26:59 : Amram's wife was called Jochebed; she was the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in ​​Egypt. She bore Amram the sons Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.
  4. ^ A b Donald B. Redford, The literary motif of the exposed child (cf. Ex. Ii. 1–10) , Numen , 14, 1967, 209–228 (quoted in: JK Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Egypt , p 136).
  5. TgPsJon to Ex 1-6. English translation by JW Etheridge: .
  6. Ant 201-237 (en) .
  7. Cf. M. Noth, The Second Book of Mose. Exodus , Das Alte Testament Deutsch 5, 1958; John Van Seters, The Life of Moses , Philadelphia: 1994 (quoted in: JK Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Egypt , p. 137); WH Schmidt, Exodus ... , p. 34; E. Otto, Mose und das Gesetz , in: ders. (Ed.), Mose , p. 50 ff.
  8. From E. Otto, Mose und das Gesetz , in: ders. (Ed.), Mose , p. 53.
  9. תֵּבַת, tēbath - " small box", äg .: d bʒt ; גֹּמֶא, gōmæ - "reed", "rush", äg .: ḳmʒ or ḳmy ; סוּף, sūph , - "reed" (cf. "Schilfmeer"), äg .: t wfy ; יְאֹר, y e ᾿ōr - the Egyptian name for "Nile", jtrw .
  10. JK Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Egypt , pp. 138-140.
  11. Cf. I pulled him out of the water - Ex 2.10  EU
  12. ms s B3
  13. Manfred Görg: Mose - name and name bearer. Attempt at a historical approximation , p. 24 ff. In: Eckart Otto (Ed.): Mose. Egypt and the Old Testament. Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 2000, pp. 17–42; Herbert Donner: History of the People of Israel 4.1 . Pp. 125-126.
  14. For example in the spelling of the name (Pi-) Ramesse withרַעַמְסֵס, Raʿamsēs in Ex 1.11  OT u. v. a.
  15. Görg: Mose - Name und Namenträger , pp. 32–37. Quoted there: EA Knauf: Midian . In: Treatises of the German Palestine Association , 1988.
  16. Cf. Neue Jerusalemer Bibel , Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1985, on Ex 3.1–4.31.
  17. See JK Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Egypt , p. 143 f.
  18. Cf. R. Girard, Der Sündenbock , Benziger, Zurich: 1988, pp. 128.253 f.
  19. Israel in the wilderness ; Text online on the page: Archived copy ( memento of the original from March 6, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. ^ E. Sellin, Mose , p. 6.
  21. ^ E. Sellin, Mose , p. 7.
  22. ^ E. Sellin, Mose , p. 49.
  23. ^ E. Sellin, Mose , p. 51.
  24. Cf. the Hebrew text in Num 25.6  OT .
  25. ^ E. Sellin, Mose , p. 137.
  26. E. Sellin, Mose , pp. 43-52.
  27. E. Sellin, Mose , pp. 81-113.
  28. E. Sellin, Mose , pp. 116-125.
  29. ^ Fragments of the Aigyptiaka in Diodor, Bibl. Hist. 40.3; Geographica XVI, 35 ( English translation by LacusCurtius ). See J. Assmann, Moses der Egypter, pp. 61.65 f.
  30. See J. Assmann, Moses der Egypter , p. 60. Quoted there: Raymond Weill, La fin du moyen empire egyptien , Paris: 1918.
  31. See J. Assmann, Moses der Egyptter , pp. 60–63.
  32. Quoted in Flavius ​​Josephus, Ap. 1.291 ( 1.288ff (en) ).
  33. Hist 5.3 ( en ).
  34. Ant II, 238-253 J. AJ 2.238 (en.) .
  35. About the Jews , indirectly from Eusebius Praep. euang. 9.27.7-10 cited (English translation of the fragment: ( Memento of May 2, 2007 in the Internet Archive )).
  36. Cf. Étienne Nodet (text, trans. And comm.), Flavius ​​Josèphe. Les Antiquités juives (I – IX) , Vol. I – IV, Les Édition du Cerf, Paris: 1990, 1995, 2001, 2005, vol. IB, p. 110, note 3.
  37. a b R.K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament . Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns Publishing Co., 1996, p. 541
  38. See H. Donner, Geschichte des Volkes Israel , I, p. 126.
  39. See H. Donner, Geschichte des Volkes Israel , I, pp. 126–128.
  40. ^ M. Noth, Geschichte Israels , p. 127.
  41. M. Noth, Geschichte Israels , p. 128 with note 2; there cited: ders. Tradition of the Pentateuch , 1948, 172 ff.
  42. See: S. Freud, Der Mann Moses , esp .: pp. 106-133 ( summary and repetition ).
  43. Görg: Mose - Name und Namenträger , pp. 32–37. Quoted there: EA Knauf: Midian . In: Treatises of the German Palestine Association , 1988.
  44. Görg: Mose - Name und Namenträger , p. 33; quoted there: JC De Moor: The Rise of Yahwism . Leuven 1997.
  45. Görg: Mose - Name und Nameträger , p. 37.
  46. See H. Donner, Geschichte des Volkes Israel , I, p. 128.
  47. See the Hebrew rootיפע, ypʿ , "shine (let it shine)".
  48. See the Hebrew personal name Ozni (אָזְנִי).
  49. Görg: Mose - Name und Namenträger , pp. 38–41.
  50. Rolf Krauss: The Moses Riddle. On the trail of a biblical invention . Ullstein, 2001.
  51. ^ Jan Assmann: Moses the Egyptian, The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Harvard University Press, Cambridge / MA 1997, p. 150; German edition: Moses the Egyptian: deciphering a memory trace. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2000.
  52. ^ Donald B. Redford: Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton University Press, 1992.
  53. Pharaoh Ahmose I and the biblical Moses  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Summary of approaches attempting to reconcile the biblical narratives with archaeological data, accessed December 29, 2012.@1@ 2Template: dead link /  
  54. ^ Israel Finkelstein, Neil Asher Silberman: No Trumpets Before Jericho. The Archaeological Truth About the Bible . CH Beck, Munich 2002.
  55. ^ Latin Word Study Tool: coronata
  56. Rainer Albertz : The forgotten mediation of salvation of Moses . In: Pentateuch Studies . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2018, p. 187ff., Here p. 188f.
  57. Wolfgang Kraus , Martin Karrer (Ed.): Septuaginta German. The Greek Old Testament in German translation . German Bible Society, Stuttgart 2009, p. 92.
  58. Numbers according to the software concordance T according to Ver. 5.2 ( Archived copy ( Memento of the original from April 3, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. ). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  59. Cf.: G. Fischer, Das Mosebild der Hebräische Bibel , in E. Otto (Ed.), Mose , pp. 84–120.
  60. Johannes Schnocks: Psalms (= basic knowledge of theology). Schöningh, Paderborn 2014, p. 77: the so-called messianic psalter is the collection framed by Psalm 2 and Psalm 89.
  61. Johannes Schnocks: Moses in the Psalter . In: Axel Graupner (Ed.): Moses in biblical and extra-biblical traditions. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2012, pp. 79–88, here pp. 86f. ( PDF )
  62. September 4th in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
  63. ^ Musical club Jägerwirth: Moses - the musical
  64. Wolfram zu Mondfeld: Mose. Son of promise. Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1999, ISBN 978-3-404-15615-3 (Bastei Lübbe Verlag 2006).