The Lord Speaks to MosesLeviticus 23:26-28
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
Burning BushOne day while tending his flock, Moses saw a burning bush. It was an unusual conflagration because, while the bush burned, it was not consumed. Then the voice of God called to Moses from the bush. God told him to return to Egypt to release his persecuted people and to lead them to the land of milk and honey. Moses pleaded with God not to put him in charge because he wasn't a good speaker. God said that Moses' older brother Aaron could do the speaking, but Moses himself must be the leader.
Ten PlaguesPersuaded that he must lead his people as God ordered, Moses returned to Egypt where he found the pharaoh reluctant to release the Hebrews because they were so hard-working. A bit of coaxing followed by 10 miraculous plagues finally did the trick: After the death of the first-born son of every Egyptian -- but not one of the Hebrew families, pharaoh begged the Hebrews to leave Egypt.
ExodusMoses led more than half a million people through the desert. They crossed the Red Sea easily with the help of another miracle: Moses parted the waters so his followers could walk through. Meanwhile, the pharaoh changed his mind about permitting his excellent brick-makers to leave and sent troops to bring them back. When the troops tried to follow the Hebrews across the parted Red Sea, the waters came together again, drowning the pharaoh's men.
To handle more mundane problems, God provided food and water for the people while Moses set up judges to handle laws.
The Ten CommandmentsWhen they arrived in Sinai, Moses left his people to go talk with God on the mountain. During this forty-day meeting, God gave Moses stone tablets on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments. Angrily, God told Moses his people were behaving in an idolatrous manner.
Golden CalfDescending from his mountaintop conference with God, Moses saw the sacrilegious golden calf that his brother Aaron had constructed using gold jewelry donated by the people whom God had angrily warned Moses about.
The people had worshiped this golden object in Moses' absence. Now witnessing it, he was enraged. Moses smashed the tablets with the 10 Commandments on the ground, destroyed the golden calf, ground it to pieces, mixed it with water and made the impious drink it.
Exodus 32:2-6"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. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 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. 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. 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."
Exodus 32:19-20"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. 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."
Yom KippurMoses then returned to the mountain where he persuaded an angry God not to destroy, but to forgive his people. When God did so, it became the first Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Then, with a second set of divine commandments, Moses again returned to his people from the Mountain-top.
CanaanThe rest of the story of Moses covers approximately another 40 years during which Moses led the people to Canaan. Just before entering the city, Moses, the great lawgiver of the Jewish people, lost faith and so could not enter.
Numbers 20:12"And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
Reader CommentThe Faith of Moses "At conclusion of an excellent synopsis of the life of Moses, the article states that Moses "lost faith." In the modern context, to "lose faith" usually means that we no longer believe in God, have left our religion, become an agnostic, atheist, and so forth.... That lack of steadfastness showed he was no longer fit to lead the people as God's emissary."
Rabbi Mordecai Finley