Moses was born c. 1390 B.C. His father was Imran, a descendant of Jacob whose father was Isaac, son of Abraham.
Jews were employed as slaves in Egypt and greatly suffered under the cruel administration of Pharoahs. The people chosen by God had been enslaved by idolaters. After Joseph, who had contributed to the welfare of the Egyptian people and been favored by the Pharoah who had elevated him to the rank of vizier, the Jewish population had considerably increased. The Pharoah felt restless as he thought they might join hand with the enemy and expel him from the land. This led him to issue a decree according to which every newborn male would be killed. Moses who was given by God the charge of taking his people out of Egypt was born under this ban. Mose's mother, to protect her child from the massacre of soldiers, put him in a basket when he was but three months old and abandoned him to the waters of the Nile :« And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive. »(Exodus 1/22) Pharaoh's daughter who happened to be swimming in the river found him; although she knew that the child was a Hebrew child, she took pity of him. Moses' sister who had been watching the incident suggested to the daughter of the Pharoah that she could find a wet-nurse for him; whereupon the child was returned to his own mother. Moses had become the son of Pharoah's daughter and was called Mosche (Moses). Thus, the savior of the Jewish people was brought up in the palace of the Pharoah, enemy of the Jewish nation, under the protection and affection of his mother. This was surely a miracle of God.
Moses, who had been brought up by his mother, had been a witness to the cruelty the Hebrews suffered. One day, as he saw a soldier beat a Jew, he could not help intervening and killed the soldier with a single blow. The incident was reported to the Pharaoh and Moses was obliged to leave the country. (Exodus 3/11, 15)
God's First Call to Moses
Moses had to run for his life to Midian where he settled for a while and married the daughter of a flock-master.
Moses, just like his ancestors, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham had been a shepherd which had lasted for 10 years. While there and at Mount Horeb, he had the vision of the burning bush and heard God command him to return to Egypt and liberate Israel.« Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?» (Exodus 6-12)
Whereupon, Moses, appointed Prophet, went back to Egypt to Egypt. He and his brother Aaron went to see the Pharoah. Moses said to him that he would take the Jewish people out of the country and lead them to Canaan as this had been commanded by God. « And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.» (Exodus 5/2) For the Egyptians who adored such gods as the Nile god, the Sun God, the Cat god, the Sheep god, the idea of One Single Absolute God was beyond their conception.
Flight from Egypt
God surely knew what Pharaoh's answer would be. « And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. »(Exodus 3/19-20)
Jehovah showered ten disasters on Egypt. Pharoah who witnessed these cataclysms had to permit the Jewish people to leave Egypt. God commanded Moses and his brother Aaron to lead their people immediately out of Egypt. That very night the people who had taken with them their herds of animals left Egypt in the direction of the Red Sea. They camped by the bank of the Red Sea. Pharoah, who had realized that the Israelites had left, changed his decision as he realized that he was being deprived of his mass of slaves. So he commanded his army to go after them. As the Israelites saw the approach of the enemy they were panic stricken. « And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.» (Exodus 14/11-13)
Moses extended his rod toward the Sea and the Sea was cleft in two forming two walls of water on each side, while in between there was dry land which permitted the Israelites to tread along it. They were pursued by Pharoah with his army. Once the mass of people under the command of Moses reached the opposite bank, Moses extended his rod once again over the Sea and the waters with great roar invaded Pharoah's men, drowning them all.
Although Ramses had before giving up his ghost believed in a Creating Power it had not served him. « We took the Children of Israel across the sea: Pharaoh and his host followed them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: "I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israel believe in: I am of those who submit (to Allah in Islam)." (It was said to him): "Ah now!- But a little while before, wast thou in rebellion!- and thou didst mischief (and violence)! »(Surah 10/90-91)
The exodus took place in 1312 B.C. They were liberated after long years of servitude in Egypt led by Moses by the grace of God.
God's giving the Torah to Moses
Having led his people out of Egypt, Moses conducted them to the desert where the living conditions were harsh. Scarcity of bread and water was deeply felt. « And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. »(Exodus 17/3-4) The Israelites chosen by God were being tried. Whenever they were at the end of their tether, miracles occurred by the intercession of Moses. It took them three months to reach the Sinai and camp before the Mountain. « And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: »(Exodus 19/9-12)
Moses told his people what he had received and they began to wait. In the morning of the third day, thunder was heard and lightning flashed, there was a dark cloud above the mountain's peak. Smoke rose from the summit. Lord had come down upon the summit in the midst of flames. As Moses went towards him the people stood there in awe. « 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. 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. »(Exodus, 19/20-21)
Moses had been addressed by God whose face he could not set eyes upon. And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. « 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. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. »(Exodus 3/18-20)
God began giving his commandments. These included the Ten Commandments, the Laws Related to altars, to the Treatment of slaves, to laws related to shunning violence and to chattels, as well as to the three feasts of obligation. Moses wrote all the precepts he received and read them to his people. He built an altar for the Lord and the Israelite young men presented Him a burned offering and made sacrifices of animals. Moses sprinkled the blood of animals they killed on his people. « And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. (Exodus 24/4-8) And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.» (Exodus 24/12) « And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. »(Exodus 31/18) « With reference to the TEN COMMANDMENTS the Qur'an had the following to say: And We ordained laws for him in the tablets in all matters, both commanding and explaining all things, (and said): "Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin thy people to hold fast by the best in the precepts: soon shall I show you the homes of the wicked »(Surah 7/145). One part of the Torah had been given on the Mount Sinai, while the rest of the Old Testament was completed within the 40 years during which the Israelites wandered in the desert. It is recorded in the Old Testament that Moses had remained with God forty days and nights.
Moses, who had communed with God, had not come back despite long time that had lapsed. People felt the need to pray, and having collected their gold they brought it to Aaron who fashioned a calf with the gold his people had brought him. They worshipped this idol and made sacrifices in its name. « 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. »(Exodus 2/1) « 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:» (Exodus 32/7)
Jahovah wanted absolute obedience without any reserve. He was a jealous God.« Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto 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, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.» (Deuteronomy 5/9-10)
Moses came running down, and seeing his people in adoration of a golden calf, he went mad and destroyed it. His brother Aaron could not master the people and had become the laughing stock of the mass of people. There is an incongruity between the account given in the Old Testament and the account in the Qur'an. The golden calf was made by Aaron according to the Old Testament (Exodus 32/4); and by Samiri according to the Qur'an (Surah 20/85) And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. (Exodus 32/21-22) And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time. (Deuteronomy 9-20)
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. 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. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. (Exodus 32/27-28)
Lord was wrathful to this behavior of the people He had chosen and punished them. According to the Jewish sources, it is estimated that 1% of the 3 million Jewish people had strayed and adored the golden calf.
The Ark of the Covenant
The Israelites had carried along with them the chest containing the Ark of the Covenant during their 40 year journey. It was made of wood and overlaid with gold. Rings were fitted and staves for carrying it. It was covered with a golden lid which bore the figures of two cherubim who faced one another. Moses had put in it two stone tablets on which had been engraved the Ten Commandments and the clauses of the Covenant. God had engraved the said tablets with his own hands. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31/18) In it was also the Torah that Moses had written with his own hand.Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40/34-38)
The revolt and Defense of entry in the Promised Land Canaan (Palestine)
After all sorts of incidents on Mount Sinai, the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, went till the borders of the Promised Land in due compliance with God's order. Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 1/21) People suggested Moses that they should first send secret agent to explore the said country to which Moses gave a favorable answer. The report of the agents was not positive. They said that although the country was fertile, its populaiton was powerful and the city was surrounded by high walls; any attack would likely be fatal for them. One of the secret agents by the name of Caleb hushed the people. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. (Numbers 13/30-31)
Moses regretted to hear the decision of the people despite God's order. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there. (Deuteronomy 1/26-28)
Israelites, whom God had rescued from slavery and provided them with all their needs, the people he had chosen, had been ungrateful and disobeyed. Their last disobedience deserved chastisement. The people were to wander in the desert for forty years and their entry to the Promised Land would be barred; only their children would be able to benefit of this privilege. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.(Deuteronomy 1/35-39)
God Almighty confirms this in the Qur'an (Surah 5/20-26).
Mose's years in the desert
Moses with his people led a life of hardship in the desert. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mout of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. (Deuteronomy 8/2-6)
Moses, in contact with God, had lived an exemplary life and transformed the Israel tribes into a nation. He departed this world at the age of 120. He was succeeded by Joshua. The new generation under the leadership of Joshua conquered the Promised Land Canaan in 1272 B.C.