New Catholic Dictionary – Moses

[Moses]
Hebrew: Mosheh, “saved from the waters”

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Hebrew liberator, law giver, and prophet. He belonged to the tribe of Levi and was born in Egypt (10th century B.C.), at a time of grievous persecution, when Pharao had ordered the killing of all male Hebrew children (Exodus 1) Exposed on the waters of the Nile, he was rescued by Pharao’s daughter and educated at court. Having killed an Egyptian to save one of his brethren from ill-treatment, he fled to Madian where he married Jethro’s daughter (Exodus 2). God appeared to him in the burning bush and commanded him to go and deliver his brethren (3), with the help of his brother Aaron, but Pharao stubbornly refused to let the Israelites go, and the terrible chastisements known as the Ten Plagues of Egypt, only hardened his heart (7-10). However the last one, viz., the death of every first born, forced him to yield, and the Hebrews departed, after celebrating the first Pasch (11-13). Then began, under the leadership of Moses, a long and wearisome journey in the direction of the Promised Land, the dramatic episodes of which are related in the remaining chapter of Exodus and in Numbers. Only a few can be enumerated here: The Passage of the Red Sea and the Canticle of Moses (Exodus 14-15); the Manna (16); the promulgation of the Law on Mount Sinai (19-31); the many revolts of the people, who are saved each time by the intervention of their leader (Exodus 16; Numbers 13-14, 21); the march from Mount Sinai to Cades, and the stay at Cades for 38 years during which the present generation is condemned never to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 10-20); Moses himself is excluded from it because of his lack of confidence at the “Waters of Contradiction” (ib., 20); Balaam’s Prophecies (23-24). The Israelites finally reached the banks of the Jordan, after defeating the Amorrhites and Moabites, and Moses died on Mount Nebo after pronouncing the three memorable discourses preserved in Deuteronomy. He was buried in the valley of Moab, but “no man knows his sepulchre” (Deuteronomy 34), and “there arose no more a prophet in Israel like unto Moses” (ib., 10). See also, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

MLA Citation

  • “Moses”. New Catholic Dictionary. Saints.SQPN.com. 22 August 2013. Web. 2 October 2014. <>