MOSES, MT. SINAI, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE GOLDEN CALF AND HIS DEATH JUST SHORT OF THE PROMISED LAND

MOSES AND MT. SINAI

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Moses Comes Down from Mount Sinai
After crossing a long expanse of desert, travelling for nearly three months, Moses and the Israelites came to the Mountain of God (commonly said to be Mount Sinai). There, God appeared to Moses; "There was thunder and lightning and a dark cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, and all the people who were in the camp trembled...And Mount Sinai was all smoke because the Lord descended upon it in a fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln. And all the people trembled greatly. And as the trumpet blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the Lord answered him in thunder...Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up." [Source: Exodus 19:16-20]

Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. On the mountain top God spoke to Moses again and told Moses about the covenant (agreement) between God and the Jews. God made a covenant Moses, declaring that the Israelites were his own people and that they must listen to God and obey His laws. These laws were the Ten Commandments which were which were inscribed on two tablets and given to Moses. These laws set out the basic principles that would govern the Israelites lives. God told Moses if the Jews kept the Ten Commandments, God would lead them to the Promised Land.

No less than eight Mt. Sinai's have been identified, two of which aren't even on the Sinai peninsula. The one most associated with Moses is a 7,497-foot purple granite peak called Gebel in the southern Sinai. The famous Byzantine Monastery of St. Catherine is located here on the spot where the burning bush incident is believed to have taken place.

According to the BBC: “The precise location of the Mountain of God has always been a mystery. One suggestion is that it's Mount Sinai, the highest peak in the southern desert. Every night of the year, pilgrims and tourists set off in the cool hours of the morning to make the arduous three hour climb to the top. No-one really knows if this is the Mountain of God.|::|

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

God Comes to Moses at Mt. Sinai

Exodus 19:15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 19:17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]


Mount Sinai

19:18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19:19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 19:20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

19:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 19:22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. 19:23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 19:24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them.

Moses Ascends to Heaven in the Muslim Story

“Israelites then settled in a secure habitation provided with all amenities and comforts. After some time, Moses, accompanied by seventy of his followers, ascended to the heavens to see God, leaving his people in the charge of his brother, Aaron. He bade Aaron to have no dealings with evil-doers and to perform his task with 'an honest heart'. Moses had what the Quran describes as 'a communion with God for thirty nights'. Subsequently, ten more nights were added, to make forty nights in all, which was the appointed time of communication with the Lord. [Source: BBC, September 4, 2009, jews-for-allah.org |::|]

“When Moses came to the appointed place, the Lord blessed him. Moses prayed: 'O my Lord, let me look at You.' The Lord said, 'You cannot see Me when I manifest My glory. But look upon the mountain; if it stays firm in its place, then you shall see Me. Now turn towards it.' And in an instant the mountain crumbled and became dust. Seeing this, Moses fell down in a swoon. [7:143]|::|

“When Moses recovered, God enquired: 'Why have you come in such haste to Us?' 'My people have taken to the path shown by You, my Lord,' he replied. 'I have come to seek Your blessings.' 'In your absence your people have gone astray,' God told him. 'They have been misled by a person called al-Samiri.' Moses was grief-stricken. He begged God to forgive his followers and not to destroy them for their betrayal. God granted his wish and gave him tablets of stone bearing precepts that his people were to follow in order to achieve the best, both on earth and in the hereafter.|::|

Ten Commandments

In the Ten Commandments, Moses outlined a basis for morality which has lasted over 3,000 years and been embraced by two-thirds of the world's population. The most common form of the Ten Commandments is given in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5.


The Ten Commandments are:
1) Thou shalt have no other gods before me
2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
4) Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy
5) Honour thy father and thy mother
6) Thou shalt not kill
7) Thou shalt not commit adultery
8) Thou shalt not steal
9) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
10) Thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbour's|::|

The ban on graven images means that believers may not worship or bow down to idols or even images that attempt to capture the one true God. The understanding is that God is so powerful and overwhelming that he can not be conveyed in an image. He can be worshipped as a spirit.

The ban on using God’s name in vain is reminder that using God’s name is not something that should be taken lightly. Traditionally, Jews have not even used his name at all. Instead they referred to him as Adonai (The Lord) and HaShem (The Name).

Exodus on The Ten Commandments

Exodus 19:25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them. 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]


Ten Commandments in Austin, Texas

20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

According to the BBC: “We know very little about the ten commandments. We don't know when or where they were written or who wrote them. One theory is that they could only have been written only when the Hebrews had settled in the Promised Land because only then could the commandments have been enforced. But the first commandment seems more likely to have come out of one man's meeting with his God in the desert. Moses himself could have been the author of some of the commandments. He had been taught to read and write in the royal nursery.” [Source: BBC]

More Commandments

There are more than 10 commandments. In all there 613 of them, covering every aspect of life including law, family, and personal hygiene and diet. [Source: BBC]

Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 20:19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 20:21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]

20:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
20:23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.
20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.
20:25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
21:1 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.


21:2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 21:3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 21:4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. 21:5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 21:6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 21:8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. 21:9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. 21:10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 21:11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money. 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

21:13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. 21:14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. 21:15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. 21:16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. 21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

21:18 And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: 21:19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed. 21:20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21:21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

21:23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 21:24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 21:25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. 21:26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. 21:27 And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake. 21:28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. 21:29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.

The list of Commandments then goes on for another 20 pages or so in Exodus alone.

Second Covenant


The second covenant, given by God at Mount Sinai to Moses, reinforced the First Covenant that God had given to Abraham. This told the Jews what they would have to do as their side of the covenant. God promised to stay with the Jews and never to abandon them, because they were his chosen people. [Source: BBC, July 7, 2009 |::|]

Exodus 19: 1-8 reads: “...if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation... God told the Jewish People, that for their part, they must dedicate themselves to serving God for ever, and to making the world a better and holier place by obeying God's laws. The Jewish people agreed to do this by saying, All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”|::|

The heart of the Second Covenant is the Ten Commandments. According to the BBC: The covenant at Sinai sets out in great detail the relationship between God and the Jews. Much of Judaism can be seen as the working out of this relationship and the development of the God's rules into a complete lifestyle. The covenant is made with the Jewish People as a whole, not with each individual Jew - and the result of this is that Jewish history is full of the Jews' attempts to create a good and just society. |::|

Moses and the Golden Calf

The Israelites broke the Commandments and Moses was forced to use both persuasion and force to bring them back in line. Once God told Moses that he was ready to kill all these "stiff-necked people" (the Israelites) and "make you a great new nation" but Moses convinced God that it would be a waste of God's time and hard work.

Moses came down off Mt. Sinai and found his people worshipping a golden calf. Infuriated, he smashed the tablets with the Ten Commandments and had the calf ground into dust which he forced its worshipers to eat. In 1990, Harvard archaeologists working in the ancient city of Ashkelon unearthed a silver-plated bronze calf, a symbol of Baal, reminiscent of the huge golden calf mentioned in Exodus.

On God's order he returned to the mountain and once again the words were inscribed. He then returned to Mt. Sinai for another set of tablets with the Ten Commandments. This time God revealed himself to Moses (he showed Moses his back not his face).


Worshipping the Golden Calf

Moses, a changed man after his encounter with God, descended from Mt. Sinai with a second set of Commandments. According to the Bible the Israelites "shrank from coming near him" and "the skin of his face shone ." For many centuries the Hebrew word meaning "shone" ( qaran ) was translated as "horned" ( qeren ), which gave rise to the Renaissance tradition of showing Moses with horns. The most famous horned statue is Michelangelo's "Moses" in Rome. The horns come from Vulgate and Aquila’s translation into Greek. A closer look at the oldest Hebrew translation indicated Moses face merely glowed from his encounter with God.

According to the BBC: “As soon as Moses has rescued Israel from Egypt and brought them to Sinai where they become God's people, things almost unravel. For while Moses is on the mountain with God receiving the law the people persuade his brother Aaron, who had clearly been left in charge, to make a golden calf to symbolize God's presence. They want to worship the calf, instead of God. Consequently the new relationship between God and Israel almost comes to an end. When Moses comes down from the mountain he symbolically smashes the stone tablets which contain the Ten Commandments, Israel's charter. Yet even so Moses does not give up on Israel, but prays for them and asks God to be merciful. He persists in this, and God responds favourably. (Exodus 33:19) [Source: BBC |::|]

“But even Moses gets caught up in a failure to heed God. The story of his failure is told in Numbers 20:2-13. The consequence is that Moses is prohibited from entering the Promised Land with Israel. So he gives a long series of addresses in the book of Deuteronomy, explaining in depth the dynamics of God's relationship with Israel. Then, he ascends Mount Nebo, east of the river Jordan, from where God gives him a panoramic vision of the whole of the Promised Land; and there he dies, as he had lived, in God's presence (Deuteronomy 34). |::|

Exodus on Moses and the Golden Calf

Exodus: 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 32:2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 32:3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]

32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

God Gets Angry Over the Golden Calf


Moses destroys the Golden Calf

Exodus 32:9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]

32:11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 32:12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 32:14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Moses Breaks the Ten Commandment Tablets

Exodus 32:15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 32:16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 32:18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]

32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. 32:20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. 32:21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? 32:22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.

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Moses Breaks the Ten Commandements
32:23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 32:24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Golden Calf in the Muslim Story of Moses

According to Muslim beliefs: “Moses returned to earth with a heavy heart and found that, under the guidance of al-Samiri, his followers had begin to worship the image of a calf made out of their ornaments. More in sorrow than in anger, he chided them and asked why they had broken their pledge to him. They said that al-Samiri had asked them to throw their ornaments into a fire, out of which had come an effigy of a golden calf which made a lowing sound. [Source: BBC, September 4, 2009, jews-for-allah.org |::|]

“They were misled by this and began to worship the calf, believing that it was the God of Moses. Moses asked them if they were so naive to think that the calf had life? It could neither hear nor speak, nor do any good or harm to them. Aaron had warned them of the wrong they were doing, but they had insisted that until Moses returned they would continue to worship the calf.|::|

“Moses threw down the tablets, telling his people that they were not worthy of them. He dragged Aaron by the hair and asked him why he had flouted his command and not prevented his people from being misled. Aaron replied that the people had become so rebellious that they would have killed him had he tried to restrain them. Besides, he did not want to create a division in their ranks.|::|

“Moses asked God to forgive Aaron, and then turned to al-Samiri. 'Begone,' said Moses. 'You will remain an untouchable all your life, and hell shall be your destination.' Taking the effigy of the calf in his hands, Moses consigned it to the fire, which soon reduced it to ashes. He told the Israelites that he had been chosen as the messenger; God had said to him: O Moses! I have chosen you in preference to others, and entrusted you with the mission to convey My words as contained in My revelations to all the people around, and to join the ranks of these who are grateful to Me. [7:144]|::|

Ten Commandments in the Muslim Story of Moses

According to Muslim beliefs: “God imparted knowledge to Moses for the good of Israelites, and inscribed on the tablets 'detailed precepts' of faith in His oneness and the code of righteous conduct. In the tablets We have ordained laws concerning all matters, and We command you to hold to them firmly and be among those who are faithful to the best of the precepts they contain. [7:145] [Source: BBC, September 4, 2009, jews-for-allah.org |::|]


L'Adoration du Veau d'or by Nicolas Poussin


“Moses warned his people that those who repudiated God's Signs and the judgment to come were bound to meet their doom; no one would be able to save them then. He also asked them to remember the grace of God, because of which prophets were raised among them and were made rulers. No other people in the world had had such benevolence from the Lord. God had assigned Palestine to them, and so Moses called on his followers to enter this holy land.|::|

“They hesitated and told Moses: 'How can we? The land is inhabited by a mighty people. Until they leave, we cannot possibly enter it.' However, two among them, who were brave and God-fearing, volunteered. Moses asked God for his direction. “He answered: To those who have defied your command, O Moses! this land is proscribed for forty years. They will wander around the world but will have no home of their own. You need not sorrow over them, for that is the fate of rebellious people. [5:29]|::|

“The Israelites were divided into twelve tribes: The Lord commanded Moses to strike the rock with his staff. No sooner was this done than twelve springs gushed forth. Each group then took its own spring to drink, and to each the Lord gave shades of cloud as cover and manna and quail to eat, and all other good things. But the unbelievers rebelled and did not follow the command; they only harmed themselves. The Lord is, indeed, above all harm. [7:160]|::|

Moses Commands His People to Obey God

Exodus 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 32:28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. 32:29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]

32:30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 32:31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

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32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 32:34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. 32:35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

33:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: 33:2 And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 33:3 Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.

33:4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. 33:5 For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. 33:6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

Jews Build a Tabernacle to Honor God

Exodus 33:7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. 33:8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. [Source: King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org]

33:9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. 33:10 And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

33:12 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 33:13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 33:14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 33:15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 33:16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

33:17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 33:21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

Moses and the Promised Land


Moses views the Promised Land

After Mt. Sinai, Moses and the Israelites settled in a place called Kadesh-barnea for 38 years. Here the Israelites tended their flocks and waited or an opportunity to enter the Promised Land. From Kadesh-barnea, the Israelites took a circuitous route to the Promised Land. On the east bank of the Jordan River the defeated the Amorites and captured the city of Heshbon, which provided them with a passage into Canaan.

Forty years after leaving Egypt the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land in Canaan under Moses' second-in-command Joshua. Canaan was described in the Bible as a "land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates."

In Deuteronomy 11:24-25 God promised Moses: “Every spot on which your foot treads shall be yours; your territory shall extend from wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River---the River Euphrates---to the Western Sea [the Mediterranean]. No man shall stand up to you; the Lord Your God will put the dread and fear of you over the whole land in which you set foot, as he promised you.”

But Moses was not was allowed to enter it, only view it from Mt. Nebo in Moab. This was because God told him to bring forth water from a rock by speaking to it. Moses instead hit the rock with his staff, which he had used before to perform many miracles. God interpreted this as a breach of faith. Today any place there is a spring emanating from a rock tradition ascribes the phenomena to Moses.☼

Archaeologists have found evidence of a number of small settlements in the hills to the east and west of Jordan River that date to 1200 to 1000 B.C.”the period after the Exodus described in the Bible’s Book of Judges---that display cultural elements consistent with the Biblical accounts of the Israelites. For example, no pig bones were found, which suggest they didn’t eat pork, which the Israelites didn’t eat.

"During classical times," Rick Gore wrote in National Geographic, "all Palestine, including the Negev desert, was relatively lush, supporting as many as three million people. From 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 the Nabataean civilization terraced the hillsides of the Negev with canals to collect and store flood runoff. They produced bountiful harvests on only three to four inches of rain a year. But as ancient technologies were destroyed, Bedouin life became the only way to survive in the Negev. By the 1800s Palestine's population had fallen to 300,000. [Source: Rick Gore, National Geographic, November 1979]

Death of Moses


After being in desert for 40 years, just as the Israelites were finally approaching the land of Canaan. After gazing upon the Land of Canaan and climbing down from Mt. Nebo, Moses died at the age of a 120. Mt. Nebo is in Jordan east of the Dead Sea. The Israelites mourned his death for 30 days before entering Canaan. He was buried near Bethpeor, but no one knows his burial place. After Moses died and Joshua became the new leader of the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 34:1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, 34:2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 34:3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.

34:4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. 34:5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 34:6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

34:7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. 34:8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. 34:9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. 34:10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 34:11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, 34:12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

Joshua 1:1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, 1:2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

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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