MOSES: HIS AGE, CHARACTER AND THE DEPICTION OF HIM IN THE KORAN AND BLACK THEOLOGY

MOSES

20120502-Moises3 michelangelo.jpg
Michelangelo's Moses
Moses is one of the founding fathers of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. A Jew brought up as an Egyptian prince, he opened the way for monotheism by banning magic and abolishing idol worship; rescued the Israelites from slavery and brought them to the promised land; authored the Torah, the Jewish equivalent of the Bible; and delivered the Ten Commandments "the basis of modern man's moral and ethical code." [Source: Harvey Arden, National Geographic, January 1976 [☼].

Moses and his adventures are described in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy in the Bible and the Torah. He is called Moses by Christians and Moshe by Jews, and Musa to the Moslems. The names are believed to be derived from the Egyptian word mose , or mosu , which means "is born" or "child of somebody." Ancient priests called him the Prince of Egypt and said he learned to speak 70 languages.

Most of the text of the Old Testament (and the Torah) are believed to have been delivered by God through Moses. While people of religion view him as the messenger of the news of Creation, scholars regarded him as the Creator himself because he is source of the texts, which form the cornerstones of Jewish, Christianity and Islam. The Bible reported Moses "wrote all the words of the Lord" but modern Biblical scholar attributes about a fifth of the text to him.

Moses holds a high position not only in three of the world’s great religions but also is a monumental figure in Western civilization and culture. One of the most famous Michelangelo statues in Rome is of Moses. Moses also presides over the main entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. and is found on the Capitol and the White House. The parting of the Red Sea by Moses, played by Charleston Heston, in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 version of Ten Commandments , is one of cinema’s classic moments. DeMille made another classic version of the Ten Commandments ---this one silent--- in 1923. Many Christians in Africa see Moses as a black man.

Moses is called Moshe Rabbenu ('Moses our teacher') in Hebrew. An intermediary between God and the Jews, through whom the Jews received a basic code of conduct for living as God's people, Moses led two million out of slavery in Egypt and led them to the Holy Land that God had promised them. The first five books of the Bible are traditionally ascribed to him. Moses is important in other religions —not only to Christians but also to Muslims, who regard Islam him as the prophet him Musa. [Source: BBC July 6, 2009 |::|]


13th century Moses icon from the Sinai

Book: Moses: A Life by Jonathan Kirsh. Film: Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments with Charleston Heston; Prince of Egypt , a Dreamworks animation with the voice of Moses supplied by Val Kilmer and his friend Ramses by Ralph Fiennes.

Websites and Resources: Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Bible History Online bible-history.com ; Biblical Archaeology Society biblicalarchaeology.org ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) ccel.org ; Judaism Judaism101 jewfaq.org ; Aish.com aish.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; torah.org torah.org ; Chabad,org chabad.org/library/bible ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/judaism ; BBC - Religion: Judaism bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica, britannica.com/topic/Judaism; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline jewishhistory.org.il/history ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Jewish History Resource Center dinur.org ; Center for Jewish History cjh.org ; Jewish History.org jewishhistory.org ; Christianity and Christians Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Christianity.com christianity.com ; BBC - Religion: Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/ ; Christianity Today christianitytoday.com; Biblical Images: Bible in Pictures creationism.org/books ebibleteacher ebibleteacher.com ; Bible-History.com bible-history.com ; Pictures from the Bible lavistachurchofchrist.org ; Bible Blue Letter Images blueletterbible.org/images ; Biblical Images preceptaustin.org

Moses and History

Many scholars believe that Moses was a real person, perhaps a priest or a judge, even though there is no historical evidence of his existence or the events described in Exodus. Neither Moses or the Exodus is described in ancient Egyptian records, which are fairly extensive.

20120502-Head_of_Rameses_II.jpg
Rameses II
There are references to “Asiatic slaves in Egypt that may have been a reference to the Israelites. An Egyptian stele found in 1990 and dated to 1207 B.C., recounting the military victory of Pharaoh Merneptah, says, "Israel is laid waste." But other than that there is little evidence of even the Israelites existing in Moses’s time. No evidence comes from the Israelites themselves because they were a nomadic people with no material culture for archaeologists to dig up

Many scholars believe that the Exodus story was created for theological reasons: to give the Jews a point of origin and provide them with divine blessing to distinguish them from other people. They say that Exodus was intended to be taken metaphorically. They also point that many episodes found in Exodus are found in stories in other ancient Middle Eastern cultures. Stories about babies in baskets, locusts and great plagues were fairly common.

In any case the exodus from Egypt was a central event of the Bible. It is referred to not only in the Pentateuch but also in Prophets and the Psalms. Many historians feel that it marked the consolidation of the Hebrew tribes into a single nation and people.

Egypt, Israel, Moses and History

The Exodus---if it happened--- is believed to have occurred around 1290 B.C., which roughly corresponds with the era of the Trojan War and the rule of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II. The Exodus was written along with many other parts of the Old Testament in the 7th century B.C. during the reign of King Josiah of Judah.

Some scholars believe the concept of monotheism dates to Moses time rather than Abraham’s time. Monotheism appeared in Egypt under the pharaoh Akhenaten (1388 B.C. to 1336 B.C.), who lived rough 50 years before the time that Moses is thought to have been alive. Akhenaten attempted to introduce a form of monotheism to ancient Egypt. After his death there was a period of chaos and instability and for a while Egypt was ruled by high priests.

According to the Bible, Joseph and the Israelites were welcomed into Egypt by a pharaoh around the 16th century B.C. after their homeland in Canaan was stricken by drought and famine. Between 1630 and 1521 B.C., Egypt was ruled by the Hyksos, a Semitic people from western Asia. Some scholars have suggested the Hyksos may have included Israelites. Egyptian chronicles later refer to a people called the “Apiru,” which some scholars believe may have included the Hebrews and Israelites.

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Menephthah,
the Pharaoh of the Exodus
In Egypt, the Israelites were enslaved, a fate which they endured more than 300 years. The Egyptians "made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks." When the pharaoh viewed the Israelites as a threat he ordered that all male children be killed at birth by throwing them in the Nile. Cuneiform tablets refer ancient nomads for the Near Eat that were put to work building places and temples. Archaeologists believe that the Israelites were include in these nomadic groups.

The 19th Egyptian dynasty was founded in 1335 B.C. at a time when the Egyptian empire was breaking up as result of pressure from the Hittite Empire to the north. Some scholars have suggested that the Israelites may have been enslaved during this period by the Egyptians because they may have presented a threat.

Many scholars believe Ramses the Great (Ramses II, ruled 1279 to 1213 B.C.) was one of the pharaohs described in the story of Moses---either the Pharaoh of the Oppression, who enslaved the Israelites, or the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who pursued them into the sea after the Ten Plagues. Many scholars believe the pharaoh mentioned in Exodus was Ramses II (ruled 1279 to 1213). In the historical record there is no mention of Israel until the reign of Ramses son and successor Mernetah. By then Israel was a nation, not a group of displaced people.

Significance of Moses

“Dr R. W. L. Moberly of the University of Durham wrote for the BBC: “Moses' appearance marks a kind of new beginning in the biblical story. Israel's ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in the past. In time of famine their descendants went down to Egypt, the largest and wealthiest neighbouring country, and settled there. These Hebrews became numerous, but Egypt's ruler, the Pharaoh, decided that they would be a good source of cheap labour, and began to exploit them in building projects; he also decided to make them less dangerous by keeping their numbers down through killing their male children at birth (Exodus 1). When Moses was born, his mother sought to protect him by putting him in a basket to float on the river Nile. Here he was providentially found by the Pharaoh's daughter who took pity on him and brought him up as her own child (Exodus 2).|::|

“One day Moses saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting. He intervened and killed the Egyptian. But when this became known he fled for his life. In the land of Midian, probably somewhere in the Sinai peninsula, he married the daughter of a priest, had two children, and settled down to life as a shepherd. That might have been the end of his story - except that his compatriots were still enslaved in Egypt, and God resolved to do something about it.” |::|

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: The human writers of the Bible “expanded the role of Moses, exalting him as the founder of law, religious faith and the nation Israel. There can be little doubt that Moses played an important role in bringing at least some of the tribes into a unity centered in the worship of Yahweh and in leading his followers away from Egypt to the outskirts of Palestine. The idealization of his savior role by later generations points back to some kind of charismatic greatness. Historically, almost nothing can be known of him for certain; there remains only the impact of his personality, amplified generation by generation as men looked backward with reverent awe to their founder. To argue that Moses was a monotheist and to attempt to trace specific laws to him pushes the evidence too far. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,”1968, infidels.org <=>]

“Moses' significance lay not only in what he represented to those who knew him, but in what he symbolized to generations who never saw him and for whom the interpretation was more important than the historical fact. The legal materials attributed to Moses and often included in J appear to represent settled culture rather than rules for persons living at the edge of agricultural communities; for example, the parts of the ritual decalogue (Exod. 34:10-26) referring to the wheat harvest, ingathering festivals and firstfruit rites.<=>



Age of Moses

Jewish history begins during the Bronze age in the Middle East. The birth of the Jewish people and the start of Judaism is told in the first five books of the Bible. God chose Abraham to be the father of a people who would be special to God, and who would be an example of good behaviour and holiness to the rest of the world. God guided the Jewish people through many troubles, and at the time of Moses he gave them a set of rules by which they should live, including the Ten Commandments. [Source: BBC |::|]

God promised Abraham that he would look after the Jews. But over a thousand years after Abraham, the Jews were living as slaves in Egypt. According to the Bible, the descendants of Jacob had lived in Egypt for more than 450 years, during which time they grew into a nation: the nation of Israel. The Egyptians began to see them as a threat and tightened their control on them, forcing them to work as slaves. At the time of Moses — the 14th century B.C. — the Jews were helped in their escape from slavery Egypt by God and led by Moses. Some regard this period of time as the beginning of a religion|::|

1429 B.C.: Egyptian enslavement of the Hebrews begins
ca. 1400-900 B.C.: Middle Assyrian period
ca. 1400-1300 B.C.: Amarna period (Egypt)
1393 B.C.: Moses born.
1355 B.C.: Joshua born.
1314 B.C.: Moses sees the burning bush.
ca. 1300-1200 B.C.: Mosaic period (Israel)
1280 B.C.: Exodus from Egypt, Sinai Torah, Canaan Entry
1240 B.C.: After setting up the Ark at Shiloh near Shechem (Nablus), Joshua launches foray into Jerusalem (Joshua 10:23, 15:63)
ca. 1200 B.C.: Sea Peoples invade Egypt and Syro-Palestine
ca. 1200-1050/1000 B.C.: Period of the Judges (Israel)

God, Moses and the Hebrews

God parted the Red Sea to help the Jews escape from the Egyptians and helped them in many other ways. When the Jews reached a Mount Sinai, God spoke to Moses on the mountain slopes and made a covenant (a kind of deal) with the Jews that reaffirmed the one he had made with Abraham. At the same time, God gave the Jews a set of rules, including the Ten Commandments, that they should live by. On behalf of Israel, Moses received the Torah, traditionally translated as 'Law'. This is not law in the modern sense but rather authoritative teaching, instruction, or guidance. The most famous of these commandments are the Ten Commandments. [Source: BBC |::|]


According to the BBC: “The Bible contains astonishing accounts of God and Moses speaking face to face begin when Moses is quietly minding his own business as a shepherd. God appears to Moses in a burning bush. Moses sees a bush which burns without being consumed - a symbol of the presence of God which defies usual human experience of things. And he hears a voice which calls him by his own name (Exodus 3:4)|::|

“The point is that God has chosen to effect his plan through a human agent, Moses. It is for this reason that Moses is called the greatest prophet in Israel, for a prophet is someone who speaks and acts on God's behalf. God is calling Moses to embody the pattern of human response to God that becomes basic within the Bible.|::|

“The other great face to face encounter with God is when Moses has brought the Israelites out of Egypt and has returned with them to Sinai where he first met God. The encounter is awesome. When God appears to the people of Israel, a whole mountain burns; for when God comes, Sinai becomes like a volcano (not an actual volcano, but God's coming is so awesome that the only way to depict it is in the language of the most overwhelming of known phenomena):| God then gives the Ten Commandments to Moses as a kind of basic constitution or charter for Israel, together with some more detailed laws that apply the Commandments within everyday situations. Israel responds by promising obedience (Exodus 24:3-7).

“Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, Rabbi of Wimbledon Reform Synagogue, told the BBC: “Moses has an understanding of God that perhaps his ancestors didn't have. On Mount Sinai he asks to see God, and God says "You can only see me from behind". So he hides in a cleft in a rock, and God passes by. As He passes, he defines himself (in 13 ways). Moses understanding of God is that we can only see what God does after the event, we can look back and understand. Moses has a much closer relationship to God than anyone ever had, but it's still an elusive one. We understand through Moses that although we can get very, very close, God remains always beyond us. We can never define God.|::|

Moses' Character

“Reverend John Bell, a leader in the Iona Community and minister of the Church of Scotland, told the BBC: “Some of the things we find out about Moses make him an interesting character. We discover that he owes a lot to women. He would not be alive had five women not defied male authority to allow him to exist. The women are two midwives, his mother, his sister and Pharaoh's daughter. [Source: BBC |::|]

“He is also a displaced person. He is the son of a Hebrew slave who grows up in an Egyptian palace so he never really fits in anywhere. Probably because of his accent and his bearing, he's not seen immediately as a natural Hebrew. He doesn't really fit well within the Egyptian camp, and he's also treated as a kind of royal prince. He also has a stammer and is a murderer and he has gone on the run. We can see that God chooses people not for their problematic nature, but because of the potential which He sees in them.|::|

Moses in the Koran

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Yusuf (Moses) appears before the pharaoh
in a late19th century painting
Moses (known as Musa to Muslims) is mentioned in 73 passages in the Koran and is referred to by name more than Mohammed. Sura 19:51 says that he was “specifically chosen” by Good and Sura 28:14 states that God gave Moses “wisdom and knowledge.” The Book of Moses is described as a “Light and Guide.” Two miracles performed by Moses---the turning of a staff into a serpent and making a hand glow when placed under his arm---are offered as proof of his status as prophet. The Koran describes the Biblical stories of golden calf and plagues of Egypt. The parting of the Red Sea is mentioned twice.

Not all the stories about Moses in the Koran are found in the Bible. When Mohammed takes his night journey after his death from Medina to Jerusalem to heaven it is Moses that suggests the daily number of prayers be reduced from 50 to five. Also while traveling in the Sinai Moses meets with a “servant of God” who instructs Moses about the knowledge of God.

Saulat Pervez wrote in whyislam.org: “The many similarities between the accounts of Moses in the Torah and the Quran signify the common ancestral ties of the two faiths. Just as Muhammad invited the pagan Arabs to worship the One God, Moses also kept steering his wayward people toward monotheism. The Quran, which Muslims believe has been preserved over the centuries, contrasts with the Torah by correcting misconceptions that have developed historically about Moses. As such, God elevates Moses to a position of honor in the Quran (33:69), freeing him from any blame for the actions of his people. [Source: Saulat Pervez, Quran, whyislam.org, December , 2014 <>]

“Musa, known as Moses in the Old Testament, is a prophet, messenger, lawgiver and leader in Islam. In Islamic tradition instead of introducing a new religion, Moses is regarded by Muslims as teaching and practicing the religion of his predecessors and confirming the scriptures and prophets before him. The Quran states that Moses was sent by Allah (one God) to the Pharaoh of Egypt and the Israelites for guidance and warning. Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual, and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other prophet. According to Islam, all Muslims must have faith in every prophet which includes Moses and his brother Aaron (Harun).” <>

“In line with the Judaic view, we find out from the Quran that when Prophet Moses was born in Egypt, his life was in great danger as the Pharoah was persecuting the Israelites. While the Torah maintains that the Pharoah’s daughter adopted Moses, the Quran differs. In fact, the Pharoah’s wife insisted that they adopt him.” The Burning Bush “was the beginning of the prophetic mission of Moses, as also chronicled in the Torah. According to the Quran, assisted by his brother, Aaron (Harun), Moses had a dual task: to deliver the Israelites from Pharoah’s cruelty and to advise the Egyptians to forsake their godless ways by embracing the worship of the One God. Even though Moses had brought clear signs from God (28:31-32), Pharoah accused him of sorcery and persecuted him and the Children of Israel.<>

“God continued to bless the Israelites by bestowing many favors upon them, as well as inflicting punishments on them for their disobedience. Both of these are greatly detailed in the second chapter of the Quran, The Cow.When it was time for them to enter Canaan, the Children of Israel rebelled against Moses and the command of God. In telling this story, the Quran relates Moses’s powerlessness over his own people: “He said: “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother: so separate us from this rebellious people!” (5:25). Despite the many trials and tribulations which came their way, Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them, continued to submit themselves completely to the will of God. Indeed, God exonerates Moses and Aaron of any wrongdoing in the Quran and depicts them as His grateful servants.”<>

A fisherman showed journalist Harvey Edwards two flat flounderlike fish. "He slapped two of the fish together in sandwich fashion. Since each looked rather like half a fish, both of its eyes being on one side, the two together looked remarkably like a sing fish. 'Called samal Musa , Musa fish!' he announced. 'When Musa split the waters, these fish get cut in two. Now that way forever."☼

Moses and Liberation Theology


“Professor Christopher Rowland, fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, wrote for the BBC: “Liberation Theology is from Latin America. Ordinary communities use worship and reflection on scripture with the aim of improving health care, human rights and provision for children, women workers.| Moses is seen as the leader of the Liberation movement. He is brought up in the court of King Pharaoh and changes from being on the side of the Egyptian king to siding with the poor slaves. That's one of the most important paradigms for Liberation Theology: the idea of opting for the poor. The Church in Latin America changed sides, just as Moses changed sides, moving from supporting the status quo, supporting the state, to siding with the poor and the marginal. The story of Moses was a very powerful example for them. [Source: BBC |::|]

“The Exodus is also important as a model of liberation from slavery. One of the interesting aspects of the Exodus story however is that entering the Promised Land meant kicking out the other nations. That's something that Liberation Theology tends not to make much of at all. It tends to concentrate much more on coming out of slavery as a popular movement and having the opportunity to explore the possibilities of a different way of living. Liberation Theology concentrates at how biblical laws offer a vision of a more egalitarian society.|::|

“There's legacy within Christian theology of looking at the laws in the Bible and thinking that they are very oppressive, but if you talk to a Jew, they will say that these laws enable them to have a sense of freedom. In Deuteronomy there is an attempt there to regulate society to create equality among more people. For instance, the release of debts and other mechanisms prevent the growth of an unequal society.|::|

Moses and Black Theology

“Dr Robert Beckford, lecturer in black theology at the University of Birmingham, wrote for the BBC: “The Exodus story is of fundamental importance to black people, because within it we find a group of people who are enslaved and suffering from both economic and political bondage as well as, at times, genocide and infanticide. They call upon God to help, and what God does is respond by liberating them, crushing their oppressors and leading them into freedom. So the Exodus story has functioned as a paradigm for black people throughout slavery. Also in the contemporary world where the black people have found themselves in bondage, they've called upon God to free them as God freed the Israelites in the Exodus account. [Source: BBC |::|]


Moses the Black was a 4th century monk

“The Exodus event, and the life of Moses within it, is a central paradigm for black Christian communities. The reason for this is simple. Within the exodus we have an example of socio-political and economic oppression. We have a people who are enslaved and they cry out to God for help and God doesn't turn away he sends Moses. This story is the story of African people of the last 300 years: the story of slavery and the quest for redemption through belief and faith in God. The vision of God that we have within the Bible is shaped by who we are as people. So if you're someone who is on the top, if you're part of the ruling elite, then God is generally going to be read through elitist eyes and you're going to see God as someone who supports the status quo rather than someone who wants to dismantle the elitism.|::|

“The converse is also true. If you're dispossessed or part of the underclass you're going to see things within it which support your quest for justice and inclusion and that's true in terms of black communities when you read the Bible and the Old Testament. Looking at the Old Testament in the light of the history of slavery, colonialism and its overcoming, then God is a liberator, one who takes enslaved people out of bondage and into land flowing with milk and honey. We read the Bible in response to our own social location and that influences how we understand God.|::|

“I'm a black political theologian so I'm concerned with the ways in which politics and culture gets played out within the Biblical text. When I read the Bible I often try and read against the dominant narrative. If the dominant story is the story of conquest, I'm interested in the people who are being conquered and trying to work out how they understood the process of conquest. A good example of this is to look at the story of Joshua . When I read about Joshua going into the Promised Land I read it from the perspective of the Canaanite in order to get a fuller picture of what's going on. I often encourage my students to read against the Bible - to look for the stories and individuals who are made almost invisible by the dominant narrative and the dominant traditions that have glorified certain people within the Bible and forgotten the significance of others.|::|

Ark Of The Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant, it is said, is a wood-and-gold chest housing the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. It is regarded as the most precious treasure of ancient Judaism while its location and existence has been a source of controversy for centuries. It is best known today for its presence in the 1981 Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

According to The Times of London “The Ark was made, according to the Bible, of gold-plated acacia wood and topped with two golden angels. It is said to be a source of great power. In about 586 B.C., when the Babylonians conquered the Israelites, the Ark vanished. For many centuries finding it has been one of the great quests, but also for countries seeking to position themselves in the mainstream of ancient civilization.


Ark Of The Covenant

The Ark, the story goes, was built by Moses and recaptured from the Philistines by David. Later it was housed in the Holy of Holies — a central sanctuary that only the high priest could enter once a year on the Day of Atonement — King Solomon's Temple. Solomon's Temple, also called the First Temple, was plundered and torched by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C., according to the Hebrew Bible. The Ark of the Covenant is a chest that, when originally built, was said to have held tablets

It is said Solomon's Temple was partly destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant was lost when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 B.C. In a Babylonian chronicle Nebuchadnezzar boasted theat he “captured the city and...took heavy tributes and brought it back to Babylon." The Bible has a similar account except that the “tributes” are referred to as “all the treasures of the Temple and the royal palace."

The fate of the Ark is not known. Its location has been placed in Egypt, Zimbabwe and even Ireland, where the Hill of Tara was excavated. In the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” it was situated in room the Treasury at ancient city of Petra in Jordan. The Ethiopian holy town of Aksum is regarded as perhaps the most credible site. According to one legend it was stolen by the illegitimate son of Solomon and Sheeba and taken to Ethiopia and placed in a church in Axsum, where only a guardian monk has access to it. Ethiopians believe that it is defended by monks in the church of St. Mary of Zion and is seen only by the guardian of the Ark, making it impossible to verify.

The Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum dates back to A.D. forth century and is regarded as one of the holiest churches in Ethiopia. A small chapel next door purportedly houses the Ark of the Covenant, which, according to legend was brought back from Jerusalem by Ethiopia's first emperor, Menelik I. A monk who lives in the chapel is the only person who is allowed to see the sacred relic, whose sacred light is purportedly powerful enough to kill ordinary people. Women are not allowed in the church.

Fate of Ark of the Covenant Revealed in Ancient Hebrew Text

A Hebrew text called the "Treatise of the Vessels" (Massekhet Kelim in Hebrew), translated in the early 2010s, claims to reveal the locations of treasures from King Solomon's Temple and discusses the fate of the Ark itself but fails to identify its location. The text says the "treasures were concealed by a number of Levites and prophets," James Davila, a professor at the University of St. Andrews wrote in an article in the book "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha More Noncanonical Scriptures Volume 1" (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2013). [Source: Owen Jarus, Live Science, January 7, 2014 <=>]

Davila wrote in the article: "Some of these (treasures) were hidden in various locations in the Land of Israel and in Babylonia, while others were delivered into the hands of the angels Shamshiel, Michael, Gabriel and perhaps Sariel" and said the text states the other treasures, "shall not be revealed until the day of the coming of the Messiah son of David." <=>

Owen Jarus wrote in Live Science, “The treatise is similar in some ways to the metallic "Copper Scroll," one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found near the site of Qumran in the West Bank. The Copper Scroll also discusses the location of hidden treasure, although not from Solomon's Temple. The treatise describes the treasures in an imaginative way. One part refers to "seventy-seven tables of gold, and their gold was from the walls of the Garden of Eden that was revealed to Solomon, and they radiated like the radiance of the sun and moon, which radiate at the height of the world." <=>


carrying the ark

“The oldest confirmed example of the treatise, which survives to present day, is from a book published in Amsterdam in 1648 called "Emek Halachah." In 1876, a scholar named Adolph Jellinek published another copy of the text, which was virtually identical to the 1648 version. Davila is the first to translate the text fully into English. The writer of the text likely was not trying to convey factual locations of the hidden treasures of Solomon's Temple, but rather was writing a work of fiction, based on different legends, Davila told LiveScience. <=> ▪ “The structure of the story is confusing. In the prologue it states that Shimmur the Levite (he doesn't appear to be a biblical figure) and his companions hid the treasures, "but later on the text mentions the treasures being in the keeping of or hidden by Shamshiel and other angels," Davila said. "I suspect the author collected various legends without too much concern about making them consistent..."The writer draws on traditional methods of scriptural exegesis [interpretation] to deduce where the treasures might have been hidden, but I think the writer was approaching the story as a piece of entertaining fiction, not any kind of real guide for finding the lost Temple treasures." <=>

“The Copper Scroll, which dates back around 1,900 years, and is made of copper, shows several "striking parallels" with the newly translated treatise, Davila said. The treatise says that the treasures from Solomon's Temple were recorded "on a tablet of bronze," a metal like the Copper Scroll. Additionally, among other similarities, the Treatise of the Vessels and Copper Scroll both refer to "vessels" or "implements," including examples made of gold and silver. <=>

“These similarities could be a coincidence or part of a tradition of recording important information on metal. "My guess is that whoever wrote the Treatise of Vessels came up with the same idea [of writing a treasure list on metal] coincidentally on their own, although it is not unthinkable that the writer knew of some ancient tradition or custom about inscribing important information on metal," Davila tolf LivScience, noting that metal is a more durable material than parchment or papyrus. <=>

“The study of the treatise is ongoing, and discoveries continue to be made. For instance, in the mid-20th century a copy of it (with some variations) was discovered and recorded in Beirut, Lebanon, at the end of a series of inscribed plates that record the Book of Ezekiel. Those plates are now at the Yad Ben Zvi Institute in Israel, although the plates containing the treatise itself are now missing. Recent research has revealed, however, these plates were created in Syria at the turn of the 20th century, about 100 years ago, suggesting the treatise was being told in an elaborate way up until relatively modern times.” <=>

Ark of the Covenant in the Queen of Sheba’s Palace in Ethiopia?

In 2008, German researchers from the University of Hamburg claimed they had found the remains of the Palace of the Queen of Sheba — and an altar that may have held the Ark. The discovery, however, was greeted with a great deal skepticism from the archaeological community. According to The Times of London, the claim also “is at the heart of a debate about whether archaeology should chronicle the rise and fall of civilizations or explore the boundaries between myth and ancient history.” [Source: Rogers Boyes, The Times, May 13, 2008 /*/]


Ark arrives in Ethiopia

Professor Helmut Ziegert, of the archaeological institute at the University of Hamburg, has been supervising a dig in Aksum, northern Ethiopia, since 1999. "From the dating, its position and the details that we have found, I am sure that this is the palace," he said, meaning the palace of the Queen of Sheba, who is believed to have lived in the 10th century B.C. /*/

According to The Times of London, after the Queen of Sheeba died, her son and successor, Menelek, replaced the palace with a temple dedicated to Sirius. The German researchers believe that the Ark was taken from Jerusalem by the queen — who had a liaison with King Solomon — and built into the altar to Sirius. "The results we have suggest that a Cult of Sothis developed in Ethiopia with the arrival of Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant, and continued until 600 A.D.," an announcement by the University of Hamburg on behalf of the research team said. Sothis is the ancient Greek name for the star Sirius. /*/

“Many archaeologists believe that their profession should not be in the business of myth-chasing. Even if the Ark were found, it would be impossible to establish scientifically whether it was the original receptacle for the Ten Commandments. Iris Gerlach of the German Archaeological Institute in Sanaa, Yemen, believes the religious centre of Sheba is in present-day Yemen. Although she does not go head-to-head with her colleague Professor Ziegert, the message is clear: A relic such as the Ark would have been stored in an important religious city rather than in Aksum.” /*/

Latest Film Version of Moses

Christian Bale as Moses in Ridley Scott’s film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” was yet again another version of the epic Biblical story of Moses. Adam Woods wrote in The Telegraph, “As a central figure in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, Moses may very well be the most revered individual of all time. And as the subject of masterpieces by Michaelangelo, Rembrandt and Cecil B. DeMille, his image has been with us from Renaissance Italy to the golden age of Hollywood and beyond. Such a figure might make for a one-dimensional modern hero, but as Christian Bale’s Moses is only the latest to show, Moses was, by all accounts, the world’s first anti-hero – a man with blood on his hands and dark deeds to perform. [Source: Adam Woods, The Telegraph, December 3, 2014 ==]

“With its cast of oppressive kings, a lone, tormented chosen one and a furious God, the story of Moses lends itself naturally to the epic treatment. Indeed, there may never have been a more ripping tale. The life of Jesus, as played in 1965 by Max von Sydow, was characterised as The Greatest Story Ever Told, but everyone knows the Old Testament is where most of the action yarns are. Bale’s Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings is not only an avenging hero of the Jews, but a man apparently on a mission to outdo all comparable classical blockbusters, animated not only by the God of the Hebrews, but by Ridley Scott, a god of movie epics. ==


A principled dark sheep to the vain golden prince of his half-brother Ramses, this is a Moses who is at home in a chariot, and more than tough enough to lock swords with his gilded sibling (Joel Edgerton). The brotherly rivalry is a new detail in Scott’s vision, which is reasonable enough, given the cloudiness of the Moses legend. In the Old Testament account, Moses was indeed a Hebrew foundling who grew up in the court of a pharaoh, but the biblical Moses did not return to lead his people out of Egypt until the age of 80. So it is not surprising that any modern dramatisation of the Exodus will readily turn to a little artistic licence.

“The wonder, in fact, is that there is so much in the original tale for a director such as Scott to chew on. Moses was indeed a complicated, ambivalent figure, the product of mysterious origins, and the reluctant agent of a furious, avenging God. He is the first individual in the Scriptures to receive direct instruction from God, and their awe-inspiring confrontations, not to mention the Bible’s pitilessly brutal plagues, have offered all the drama to fuel centuries of art.

Jake Coyle of Associated Press wrote: “The 3-D "Exodus" also refashions Moses for modern times, giving us an elite, action-film combatant who's less a conduit for God than a strong-minded individual whose beliefs mostly jibe with the deity who secretly appears to him. (God is seen here as an impatient child, played by the 11-year-old Isaac Andrews). "Exodus" begins promisingly, with a bald John Turturro in makeup. As the Egyptian pharaoh Seti, the father of Ramesses (Joel Edgerton) and king to Moses' prince, Turturro (and the brilliant Ben Mendelsohn's louche viceroy) gives the film a touch of camp, a necessary ingredient to any successful biblical epic. Scott ought to have kept it up. However, the director of "Gladiator" and "Blade Runner" isn't known for his lightness of touch, but rather a monochrome masculinity. His "Exodus" is action-heavy and more interested in the sheer computer-generated scale of the airy Egyptian palaces, the grotesque visitation of plagues (from the bloody Nile to the locust swarms) and the mass movements of the Hebrews. Yet after Seti's death and Ramesses' ascendance to the throne, "Exodus" seems to lessen in scope, turning into a mano-a-mano drama between the stepbrothers Ramesses and Moses, who's exiled after the discovery of his Hebrew birth. [Source: Jake Coyle, Associated Press, December 10, 2014 <<>>]

“The leads, you may have noticed, are uniformly white, which has spawned a good deal of deserved controversy not abetted by Scott's defense that his stars were necessary for financing. The skin color of the ancient Egyptians, it should be noted, isn't known certainly, and historical accuracy is never much a consideration to biblical epics. But that "Exodus" chose to ignore this issue of representation — which has a long dubious history in Hollywood — speaks to the film's general lack of curiosity. It's after spectacle, not questions. ” <<>>

'Zionist' Exodus Film Banned in Egypt and Morocco

At the time of its 2014 release, Egypt banned Ridley Scott’s “Exodus” saying was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that ‘Moses and the Jews built the pyramids’. Egyptian culture minister, Gaber Asfour, said, “This totally contradicts proven historical facts. “It is a Zionist film. “It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that’s why we have decided to ban it.” [Source: Agence France-Presse, 26 December 2014]

AFP reported: The ban was decided by a committee comprising the head of the supreme council for culture, Mohammed Afifi, the head of the censorship committee and two history professors, Asfour said. Afifi said he took issue with the scene showing the parting of the Red Sea in which Moses is seen holding a “sword” like a warrior, instead of a “stick”. Furthermore, he said, the parting of the Red Sea was explained in the movie as a “tidal phenomenon” rather than a divine miracle.

Morocco has also banned the film, despite it having been approved by the state-run Moroccan Cinema Centre, media reported, quoting theatre managers. Hassan Belkady, who runs Cinema Rif in Casablanca, told media24 news website that he had been threatened with the closure of his business if he ignored the ban. “They phoned and threatened they would shut down the theatre if I did not take the film off the schedule,” Belkady said.

In March, Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Islamic body, banned the screening of Noah, starring Russell Crowe, another Hollywood biblical epic, saying it violated Islam by portraying a prophet. The film triggered controversy in the US, where some Christian institutions criticised Crowe’s unconventional portrayal of Noah. Exodus has also sparked unkind reviews and upset some Christian groups, with critics saying Scott took too many liberties with the Bible and cast western actors in middle-eastern roles. Egypt has censored other movies, including the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code after protests from the Orthodox Coptic Church. But it did allow the screening of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons, Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bible in Bildern, 1860

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018


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