(Moʹses) [drawn out; saved out of water].
“The man of the true God,” leader of the nation of Israel, the mediator of the Law covenant, prophet, judge, commander, historian and writer. (Ezra 3:2) Moses was born about 1593 B.C.E., in Egypt, being the son of Amram, the grandson of Kohath and the great-grandson of Levi. His mother Jochebed was Kohath’s sister. Moses was three years younger than his brother Aaron. Miriam their sister was some years older.—Ex. 6:16, 18, 20; 2:7.
EARLY LIFE IN EGYPT
Moses, a “divinely beautiful” child, was spared from Pharaoh’s genocidal decree commanding the destruction of every newborn Hebrew male. He was hidden by his mother for three months, then placed in a papyrus ark on the Nile River, where Pharaoh’s daughter found him. Through the sagacious action of his mother and sister, Moses came to be nursed and trained by his mother in the employment of the daughter of Pharaoh, who then adopted him as her son. As a member of Pharaoh’s household, he was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” becoming “mighty in his words and deeds,” undoubtedly powerful in both mental and physical capabilities.—Ex. 2:1-10; Acts 7:20-22.
In spite of his favored position and the opportunities offered to him in Egypt, Moses’ heart was with God’s enslaved people. In fact, he hoped to be used by God to bring deliverance to them. In the fortieth year of his life, while making observation of the burdens his Hebrew brothers were bearing, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew. In taking up his fellow Israelite’s defense he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. It was at this point that Moses made the most important decision of his life: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ [that is, of being God’s appointed prophet] as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt.” Moses thereby gave up the honor and materialism that he might have enjoyed as a member of the household of mighty Pharaoh.—Heb. 11:24-26.
Actually, Moses felt that the time had come that he would be able to give the Hebrews salvation. But they did not appreciate his efforts, and Moses was forced to flee from Egypt when Pharaoh heard of the slaying of the Egyptian.—Ex. 2:11-15; Acts 7:23-29.
FORTY YEARS IN MIDIAN
It was a long journey across wilderness territory to Midian, where Moses sought refuge. There, at a well, Moses’ courage and readiness to act forcefully to help those suffering injustice again came to the fore. When shepherds drove away the seven daughters of Jethro and their flock, Moses delivered the women and watered the flocks for them. As a result he was invited to Jethro’s house, where he entered Jethro’s employment as a shepherd for his flocks and eventually married one of Jethro’s daughters, Zipporah, who bore him two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.—Ex. 2:16-22; 18:2-4.
Training for future service
Thus, while it was God’s purpose to deliver the Hebrews by the hand of Moses, God’s due time had not yet arrived; neither was Moses yet qualified to serve over God’s people. He had to undergo another forty years of training. The qualities of patience, meekness, humility, long-suffering, mildness of temper, self-control and learning to wait on Jehovah needed to be developed in him to a higher degree, in order for him to be the fitting one to lead God’s people. He had to be groomed and prepared to endure the discouragements, disappointments and hardships he would encounter, and to handle with loving-kindness, calmness and strength the multitude of problems a great nation would present. He possessed much learning, and his training as a member of Pharaoh’s household had doubtless given him dignity, confidence and poise and had accentuated his ability to organize and command. But the lowly occupation of shepherding in Midian provided the training needed to develop fine qualities that would be even more important for the task ahead of him. Similarly, David underwent rigorous training, even after being anointed by Samuel, and Jesus Christ was tried, tested and proven, to be perfected as King and High Priest forever. “He [Christ] learned obedience from the things he suffered; and after he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasing salvation to all those obeying him.”—Heb. 5:8, 9.
HIS APPOINTMENT AS DELIVERER
Toward the end of his forty-year sojourn In Midian, Moses was shepherding Jethro’s flock near Mount Horeb when he was amazed to see a thornbush flaming with fire but not consumed. As he approached to inspect this great phenomenon, Jehovah’s angel spoke out of the flame, revealing that it was now time for God to deliver Israel out of bondage, and commissioning Moses to go in His memorial name Jehovah. (Ex. 3:1-15) Jehovah, through the angel, provided credentials that Moses could present to the older men of Israel. These were in the form of three miracles as signs. Here, for the first time in the Scriptures, we read of a human empowered to perform miracles.—Ex. 4:1-9.
Moses not disqualified for his diffidence
But Moses showed diffidence, arguing his inability to speak fluently. Here was a changed Moses, quite different from the one who had, on his own accord, offered himself as Israel’s deliverer forty years earlier. He continued to remonstrate with Jehovah, finally asking Jehovah to excuse him from the task. Although this aroused God’s anger, he did not reject Moses but provided Moses’ brother Aaron as a mouthpiece. Thus, as Moses was representative for God, so Moses became as “God” to Aaron, who spoke representatively for him. In the ensuing meeting with the older men of Israel and the encounters with Pharaoh it appears that God gave Moses the instructions and commands and Moses, in turn, relayed them to Aaron, so that Aaron did the actual speaking before Pharaoh (the successor of the Pharaoh from whom Moses had fled forty years previously). (Ex. 2:23; 4:10-17) Later, Jehovah spoke of Aaron as Moses’ “prophet,” meaning that, as Moses was God’s prophet, directed by him, so Aaron should be directed by Moses. Also, Moses was told that he was being made “God to Pharaoh,” that is, given divine power and authority over Pharaoh, so that there was now no need to be afraid of the king of Egypt.—Ex. 7:1, 2.
Though reproving him, God did not cancel Moses’ assignment because of his reluctance to take up the tremendous task as deliverer of Israel. Moses had not demurred because of old age, even though he was eighty. Forty years later, at the age of 120 years, Moses still had full vigor and alertness. (Deut. 34:7) During his forty years in Midian Moses had had much time to meditate, and had come to see the mistake he had made in trying to deliver the Hebrews on his own initiative. He now realized his own inadequacy. And after this long time, detached from all public affairs, it was doubtless quite a shock to be suddenly offered this role.
Later the Bible tells us: “The man Moses was by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.” (Num. 12:3) As a meek person, he recognized that he was a mere human, with imperfections and weaknesses. He did not push himself forward as Israel’s invincible leader. He expressed, not fear of Pharaoh, but an acute awareness of his own limitations.
BEFORE PHARAOH OF EGYPT
Moses and Aaron were now key figures in a ‘battle of the gods.’ In the persons of the magic-practicing priests (the chiefs of whom were apparently named Jannes and Jambres [2 Tim. 3:8]), Pharaoh summoned the power of all the gods of Egypt against the power of Jehovah. The first miracle that Aaron performed before Pharaoh at Moses’ direction proved Jehovah’s supremacy over the gods of Egypt, even though Pharaoh became more obstinate. (Ex. 7:8-13) Later, when the third plague fell, even the priests were forced to admit “It is the finger of God!” And they were so severely stricken by the plague of boils that they were altogether unable even to appear before Pharaoh to oppose Moses during that plague.—Ex. 8:16-19; 9:10-12.
Plagues do softening and hardening work
Moses and Aaron became the announcers of each of the ten plagues. The plagues came as announced, proving Moses’ commission as Jehovah’s representative. Jehovah’s name was declared and much talked about in Egypt, accomplishing both a softening and a hardening work toward that name—softening on the part of the Israelites and some of the Egyptians; hardening of Pharaoh and his advisers and supporters. (Ex. 9:16; 11:10; 12:29-39) Rather than believing that they had offended their gods, the Egyptians knew that it was Jehovah who was judging their gods. By the time nine plagues had been executed, Moses too had become “very great in the land of Egypt, in the eyes of Pharaoh’s servants and in the eyes of the people.”—Ex. 11:3.
There was a marked change in the men of Israel also. They had at first accepted Moses’ credentials, but, after experiencing harder working conditions at the order of Pharaoh, they complained against him to the point that Moses in discouragement appealed to Jehovah. (Ex. 4:29-31; 5:19-23) Jehovah at that time strengthened him by revealing that He was now going to fulfill that for which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had looked, namely, to reveal fully the meaning of his name Jehovah in delivering Israel and establishing it as a great nation in the land of promise. (Ex. 6:1-8) Even then the men of Israel did not listen to Moses. But now, after the ninth plague, they were solidly behind him, cooperating so that, after the tenth plague, he could organize them and lead them out in an orderly way, “in battle formation.”—Ex. 13:18.
Courage and faith required to face Pharaoh
It was only in the strength of Jehovah and due to the operation of his spirit upon them that Moses and Aaron proved equal to the task set before them. Picture the court of Pharaoh, the king of the undisputed World Power of that time. Here was unparalleled splendor, the haughty Pharaoh, supposed to be a god himself, surrounded by his advisers, military commanders, guards and slaves. Moreover, there were the religious leaders, the magic-practicing priests, chief among Moses’ opposers. These men were, aside from Pharaoh himself, the most powerful men in the realm. All this impressive array aligned themselves to back up Pharaoh in support of the gods of Egypt. And Moses and Aaron came before Pharaoh, not only once, but many times, Pharaoh’s heart getting harder each time, determined to keep his valuable Hebrew slaves under his domination. In fact, after announcing the eighth plague Moses and Aaron were driven out from before Pharaoh, and after the ninth were ordered not to try to see Pharaoh’s face again on pain of death.—Ex. 10:11, 28.
With these things in mind, it becomes most understandable that Moses repeatedly appealed to Jehovah for assurance and strength. But it must be noted that he never failed to carry out to the letter what Jehovah commanded. He never diminished one word of that which Jehovah gave him to tell Pharaoh, and Moses’ leadership was such that, at the time of the tenth plague, “all the sons of Israel did just as Jehovah had commanded Moses and Aaron. They did just so.” (Ex. 12:50) Moses is held before Christians as an example of outstanding faith. The apostle Paul says of him: “By faith he left Egypt, but not fearing the anger of the king, for he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.”—Heb. 11:27.
Before the tenth plague, Moses was privileged to institute the Passover. (Ex. 12:1-16) At the Red Sea, Moses had to face further complaints of the people, who appeared trapped and about to be slaughtered. But he expressed the faith of a true leader under Jehovah’s mighty hand, assuring Israel that Jehovah would destroy the pursuing Egyptian army. In this crisis he apparently called out to Jehovah, for God said to him: “Why do you keep crying out to me?” Then God commanded Moses to lift up his rod and stretch his hand out over the sea and split it apart. (Ex. 14:10-18) Centuries later the apostle Paul said, of Israel’s subsequent crossing of the Red Sea: “Our forefathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and of the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:1, 2) Jehovah did the baptizing. To be delivered from their murderous pursuers, the Jewish forefathers had to unite themselves to Moses as head and follow his leadership as he led them through the sea. The entire congregation of Israel was thus, in effect, immersed into the liberator and leader Moses.
MEDIATOR OF THE LAW COVENANT
In the third month after the exodus from Egypt, Jehovah demonstrated before all Israel the greatness of the authority and responsibility that he placed upon his servant Moses, and the intimacy of Moses’ position with God. Before all Israel, gathered at the foot of Mount Horeb Jehovah called Moses into the mountain and, by means of an angel, spoke with him. On one occasion Moses was privileged to have what was probably the most awe-inspiring experience of any man prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. High in the mountain, alone, Jehovah gave him a vision of his glory, putting his “palm” over Moses as a screen, allowing Moses to see his “back,” evidently the afterglow of this divine manifestation of glory. Then he spoke to Moses personally, as it were.—Ex. 19:1-3; 33:18-23; 34:4-6.
Jehovah told Moses: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.” (Ex. 33:20) And centuries later the apostle John wrote: “No man has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18) The Christian martyr Stephen told the Jews: “This [Moses] is he that came to be among the congregation in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai.” (Acts 7:38) So Jehovah was represented on the mountain by an angel. Nevertheless, such was the glory of Jehovah as manifested by Jehovah’s angelic representative, that the skin of Moses’ face emitted rays so that the sons of Israel could not bear to look at him.—Ex. 34:29-35; 2 Cor. 3:7, 13.
God constituted Moses as mediator of the Law covenant with Israel, an intimate position such as no man has ever held before God except Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant. With the blood of animal sacrifices Moses sprinkled the book of the covenant, representing Jehovah as one “party,” and the people (no doubt the representative older men) as the other “party.” He read the book of the covenant to the people, who replied, “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do and be obedient.” (Ex. 24:3-8; Heb. 11:19) In his office of mediator Moses was privileged to oversee the building of the tabernacle and the making of its utensils, the pattern of which God gave to him, and to install the priesthood in office, anointing the tabernacle and Aaron the high priest with the oil of special composition. Then he took oversight of the first official services of the newly consecrated priesthood.—Ex. chaps. 25-29; Lev. chaps. 8, 9.
A fitting mediator
Moses made several trips into Mount Horeb, two of them occupying periods of forty days and nights. (Ex. 24:18; 34:28) After the first of these he returned with two stone tablets “written on by God’s finger,” containing the “Ten Words” or Ten Commandments, the basic laws of the Law covenant. (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 4:13) On this first occasion Moses showed himself to be fittingly qualified as mediator between Jehovah and Israel and leader of this great nation of perhaps three million or more. Jehovah informed Moses while in the mountain that the people had turned to idolatry, and said: “Now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them, and let me make you into a great nation.” Moses’ immediate reply revealed that the sanctification of Jehovah’s name was the thing of primary importance to him—that he was completely unselfish, not desiring fame for himself. He asked nothing for himself, but, rather, showed concern for Jehovah’s name that He had recently exalted by the Red Sea miracle, and regard for God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jehovah, in approval of Moses’ plea, spared the people. Here it is seen that Jehovah counted Moses as satisfactorily filling his mediatorial role, and that He respected his arrangement in which he had appointed Moses to that office. Thus, Jehovah now decided upon a different course as regards “the evil that he had spoken of doing to his people.”—Ex. 32:7-14.
Moses’ zeal for true worship as mediator in behalf of God was displayed when Moses got down from the mountain. Seeing the idolatrous revelers, he threw the tablets down, breaking them, and called for those who would take his side. The tribe of Levi joined him and he commanded them to put to death those engaging in the false worship, resulting in the slaying of about three thousand men. Then he returned to Jehovah, acknowledging the people’s great sin, and pleading: “But now if you will pardon their sin,—and if not, wipe me out, please, from your book that you have written.” God was not displeased at Moses’ mediatorial plea, but answered: “Whoever has sinned against me, I shall wipe him out of my book.”—Ex. 32:19-33.
Many were the times that Moses represented Jehovah’s side of the covenant, commanding true, clean worship and executing judgment on disobedient ones. More than once he also stood between the nation, or individuals thereof, and their destruction at Jehovah’s hand.—Num. chap. 12; 14:11-21; 16:20-22, 43-50; 21:7; Deut. 9:18-20.
UNSELFISHNESS, HUMILITY, MEEKNESS
Moses’ chief interests were in Jehovah’s name and His people. Consequently he was not one to seek glory or position. When Jehovah’s spirit came upon certain men in the camp and they began to act as prophets, Moses’ assistant Joshua wanted to restrain them, evidently because he felt that they were detracting from Moses’ glory and authority. But Moses replied: “Are you feeling jealous for me? No, I wish that all of Jehovah’s people were prophets, because Jehovah would put his spirit upon them!”—Num. 11:24-29.
Although he was Jehovah’s appointed leader of the great nation of Israel, Moses was willing to accept counsel from others, particularly where it would be of value to the nation. Shortly after the Israelites left Egypt, Jethro visited Moses, bringing with him Moses’ wife and sons. Jethro observed how hard Moses was working, wearing himself out handling the problems of everyone who came to him. He wisely suggested an orderly arrangement wherein Moses would delegate degrees of responsibility to others, to lighten his load. Moses listened to Jethro’s advice and accepted it, and organized the people into thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, with a chief over each group as a judge. Only the difficult cases were then brought to Moses. It is noteworthy also that Moses, explaining to Jethro what he was doing, said: “In the event that [the people] have a case arise, it must come to me and I must judge between the one party and the other, and I must make known the decisions of the true God and his laws.” In this Moses indicated that he recognized his duty to judge, not according to his own ideas, but according to Jehovah’s decisions and that, moreover, he had the responsibility to aid the people to know and recognize God’s laws.—Ex. 18:5-7, 13-27.
Moses repeatedly pointed to Jehovah as the real Leader, and not himself. When the people began to complain about food, Moses told them: “Your murmurings are not against us [Moses and Aaron], but against Jehovah.” (Ex. 16:3, 6-8) Possibly because Miriam felt her prominence might be eclipsed by the presence of Moses’ wife, she and Aaron jealously and disrespectfully began to speak against Moses and his authority. The record shows that their speech was all the more contemptible because it is at this point that it says: “The man Moses was by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.” Moses apparently was hesitant to assert himself, meekly enduring the abuse. But Jehovah was incensed at this challenge, which was actually an affront to Jehovah himself. He took up the issue and severely chastised Miriam. Moses’ love for his sister moved him to intercede for her, crying out: “O God, please! Heal her, please!”—Num. 12:1-15.
OBEDIENCE, WAITING UPON JEHOVAH
Moses waited upon Jehovah. Though he is called Israel’s lawgiver, he recognized that the laws did not originate with him. He was not arbitrary, deciding matters on his own knowledge. In legal cases in which there was no precedent or where he could not discern exactly how to apply the law he presented the matter to Jehovah to establish a judicial decision. (Lev. 24:10-16, 23; Num. 15:32-36; 27:1-11) He was careful to carry out instructions. In the intricate work of constructing the tabernacle and making its utensils and the priests’ garments Moses exercised close oversight. The record reads: “And Moses proceeded to do according to all that Jehovah had commanded him. He did just so.” (Ex. 40:16; compare Numbers 17:11.) Repeatedly we find other statements remarking that things were done “just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” (Ex. 39:1, 5, 21, 29, 31, 42; 40:19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29) It is good for Christians that he did so, for the writer of the book of Hebrews points out that these things constituted a “shadow” and an illustration of heavenly things.—Heb. 8:5.
It was while Israel was encamped at Kadesh, probably in the fortieth year of their wanderings, that Moses made a serious mistake. A consideration of the incident magnifies in our eyes the fact that Moses not only was in a highly privileged position, but was under very heavy responsibility to Jehovah as leader and mediator for the nation. Because of a water shortage the people began to quarrel bitterly with Moses, putting the blame on him for leading them up out of Egypt into the barren wilderness. Moses had endured much, putting up with the perverseness and insubordination of the Israelites, sharing their hardships and interceding for them when they sinned, but here he momentarily lost his meekness and mildness of temper. Exasperated and embittered in spirit, Moses and Aaron stood before the people as Jehovah commanded. But instead of calling attention to Jehovah as the Provider, they spoke harshly to the people and directed attention to themselves, Moses saying: “Hear, now, you rebels! Is it from this crag that we shall bring out water for you?” With that Moses struck the rock and Jehovah caused water to flow forth, sufficient for the multitude and their flocks. But God was displeased with the conduct of Moses and Aaron. They had failed of their primary responsibility, namely, to magnify His name. They “acted undutifully” toward Jehovah, and Moses had ‘spoken rashly with his lips.’ Later Jehovah decreed: “Because you did not show faith in me to sanctify me before the eyes of the sons of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the land that I shall certainly give them.”—Num. 20:1-13; Deut. 32:50-52; Ps. 106:32, 33.
Moses was the writer of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. His writership has been acknowledged by the Jews throughout their history, this section of the Bible being known by them as the Torah, or Law. Jesus and the Christian writers frequently speak of Moses as giving the law. He is generally credited with writing the book of Job, also one of the Psalms (90) and possibly another (91).—Matt. 8:4; Luke 16:29; 24:27; Rom. 10:5; 1 Cor. 9:9; 2 Cor. 3:15; Heb. 10:28.
HIS DEATH AND BURIAL
Moses’ brother Aaron died at the age of 123 years while Israel was encamped at Mount Hor, on the frontier of Edom, in the fifth month of the fortieth year of their journey. Moses took Aaron into the mountain, stripped off Aaron’s priestly garments and clothed Eleazar with them, as Aaron’s oldest living son and successor. (Num. 20:22-29; 33:37-39) About six months later, Israel arrived at the plains of Moab. Here Moses, in a series of discourses, explained the Law to the assembled nation, enlarging upon it with adjustments that would be necessary when Israel changed from a nomadic camp life to a settled one in their own land. In the twelfth month of the fortieth year (in the spring of 1473 B.C.E.), he announced to the people that, according to Jehovah’s appointment, Joshua would succeed him as leader. Joshua was then commissioned and exhorted to be courageous. (Deut. 31:1-3, 23) Finally, after reciting a song and blessing the people, Moses went up into Mount Nebo according to Jehovah’s command, first to view the Promised Land from this mountain vantage point, then to die.—Deut. 32:48-51; 34:1-6.
Moses was 120 years of age at the time of his death. Testifying to his natural strength, the Bible comments: “His eye had not grown dim, and his vital strength had not fled.” He was buried by Jehovah in a location never since discovered. (Deut. 34:5-7) Likely, this was to prevent the Israelites from being ensnared into false worship by making a shrine of his grave. Evidently the Devil desired to use Moses’ body for some such purpose, for Jude, the Christian disciple and half brother of Jesus Christ, writes: “When Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.’” (Jude 9) Before crossing over into Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Israel observed a thirty-day mourning period for Moses.—Deut. 34:8.
A PROPHET JEHOVAH KNEW “FACE TO FACE”
When Miriam and Aaron challenged Moses’ authority Jehovah told them: “If there came to be a prophet of yours for Jehovah, it would be in a vision I would make myself known to him. In a dream I would speak to him. Not so my servant Moses! He is being entrusted with all my house. Mouth to mouth I speak to him, thus showing him, and not by riddles; and the appearance of Jehovah is what he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant, against Moses?” (Num. 12:6-8) The conclusion of the book of Deuteronomy describes Moses’ privileged standing with Jehovah: “But there has never yet risen up a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face, as respects all the signs and the miracles that Jehovah sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land, and as regards all the strong hand and all the great awesomeness that Moses exercised before the eyes of all Israel.”—Deut. 34:10-12.
According to Jehovah’s words, Moses, though he never literally saw the very person of Jehovah, as mentioned in the foregoing, had a more direct, constant, intimate relationship with Jehovah than any prophet prior to Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s statement: “Mouth to mouth I speak to him,” revealed that Moses had personal audience with God (by means of angels, who have access to the very presence of God [Matt. 18:10]). As Israel’s mediator he enjoyed a virtually continuous two-way conversational communication arrangement. He was able at any time to present problems of national importance and to receive God’s answer. Jehovah entrusted Moses ‘with all His house,’ using Moses as his intimate representative in organizing the nation. (Heb. 3:2, 5) The later prophets simply continued to build on the foundation that had been laid through Moses.
The manner in which Jehovah dealt with Moses was so impressive that it was as if Moses actually had beheld God with his own eyes, instead of merely having a mental vision or a dream in which he heard God speak, which was the usual way in which God communicated with his prophets. Jehovah’s dealings with Moses were so real that Moses reacted as if he had seen “the One who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27) Evidently the impression made on Moses was similar to the effect of the transfiguration vision on Peter centuries later. As he, with James and John, observed, the vision was so real to Peter that he began to participate in it, speaking but not realizing what he was saying. (Luke 9:28-36) And the apostle Paul likewise experienced a vision that was so real that he later said of himself: “Whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows.”—2 Cor. 12:1-4.
No doubt Joshua’s extraordinary success in establishing Israel in the Promised Land came, to an extent, by reason of the fine qualities inculcated in him by Moses’ training and example. Joshua was Moses’ minister “from his young manhood on.” (Num. 11:28) Evidently he was army commander under Moses (Ex. 17:9, 10) and was close to Moses as his attendant in many experiences.—Ex. 24:13; 33:11; Deut. 3:21.
PREFIGURED JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ made clear that Moses had written about him, for on one occasion he told his opponents: “If you believed Moses you would believe me, for that one wrote about me.” (John 5:46) “Commencing at Moses and all the Prophets,” when in the company of his disciples, Jesus “interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures.”—Luke 24:27, 44; see also John 1:45.
Among the things Moses wrote concerning Christ Jesus are Jehovah’s words: “A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you; and I shall indeed put my words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18, 19) The apostle Peter in quoting this prophecy left no doubt that it referred to Jesus Christ.—Acts 3:19-23.
In the transfiguration scene that Peter, James and John were permitted to view, Moses and Elijah were seen talking with Jesus. In Moses, the three apostles would see represented the Law covenant, the theocratic arrangement of the congregation, the deliverance of the nation and its being safely transferred to the Promised Land. Thus the vision indicated that Jesus Christ would do a work like Moses did, but greater; also the visionary appearance of Elijah showed that he would do a work like Elijah accomplished, but in a larger way. It was there plainly manifested that the Son of God was indeed the ‘prophet greater than Moses,’ and worthy of the title Messiah.—Matt. 17:1-3; see TRANSFIGURATION.
In many ways there was pictorial correspondency between these two great prophets, Moses and Jesus Christ. Both in infancy escaped the wholesale slaughter ordered by the respective rulers of their time. (Ex. 1:22; 2:1-10; Matt. 2:13-18) Moses was called out of Egypt with Jehovah’s “first-born,” the nation of Israel, Moses being the nation’s leader. Jesus was called out of Egypt as God’s firstborn Son. (Ex. 4:22, 23; Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15, 19-21) Both fasted for forty days in wilderness places. (Ex. 34:28; Matt. 4:1, 2) Both came in the name of Jehovah, Jesus’ name itself meaning “Salvation (or Help) of Jehovah.” (Ex. 3:13-16; Matt. 1:21; John 5:43) Jesus, like Moses, ‘declared the name of Jehovah.’ (Deut. 32:3; John 17:6, 26) Both were exceptional in meekness and humility. (Num. 12:3; Matt. 11:28-30) Both had the most convincing credentials that they were sent by God—astounding miracles of many sorts, Jesus Christ going farther than Moses by raising dead persons to life.—Ex. 14:21-31; Ps. 78:12-54; Matt. 11:5; Mark 5:38-43; Luke 7:11-15, 18-23.
Moses was mediator of the Law covenant between God and the nation of Israel. Jesus was Mediator of the new covenant between God and the “holy nation,” the spiritual “Israel of God.” (1 Pet. 2:9; Gal. 6:16; Ex. 19:3-9; Luke 22:20; Heb. 8:6; 9:15) Both served as judges and lawgivers. (Ex. 18:13; Mal. 4:4; John 5:22, 23; 13:34; 15:10) Moses was entrusted with and proved faithful to his stewardship in the ‘house of God.’ Jesus likewise showed faithfulness in God’s house; Moses, however, did so as an attendant, Christ as a Son. (Num. 12:7; Heb. 3:2-6) And even in death there was a parallel, God disposing of the bodies of both Moses and Jesus.—Deut. 34:5, 6; Acts 2:31; Jude 9.
After Moses took his stand as being a Hebrew rather than an Egyptian, Jehovah God anointed, that is to say, appointed Moses to be his prophet, and as such Moses was “the Christ” or “the Anointed (Appointed) One.” Jehovah’s spirit, of course, was upon Moses as a prophet. (Num. 11:16, 17, 24, 25) In that way Moses was “the Christ” of that time; but in order to come into that privileged position he had to give up the “treasures of Egypt” and let himself “be ill-treated with the people of God” and thus suffer reproach. But to Moses such “reproach of the Christ” was riches greater than all of Egypt’s wealth.—Heb. 11:24-26.
A parallel to this is found in Jesus Christ. According to the angel’s announcement at his birth in Bethlehem he was to become a “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” He became Christ or “Anointed One” after the prophet John baptized him in the Jordan River. (Luke 2:10, 11; 3:21-23; 4:16-21) Thereafter he acknowledged that he was “the Christ” or Messiah. (Matt. 16:16, 17; Mark 14:61, 62; John 4:25, 26) Jesus Christ also kept his eye on the prize and despised the shame, as Moses had done. (Phil. 2:8, 9; Heb. 12:2) It is into this Greater Moses that the Christian congregation is baptized—into Jesus Christ, the foretold Prophet Liberator and Leader.—1 Cor 10:1, 2.