Other than Jesus, Moses might be the most well-known character from the Bible. He played multiple roles throughout his life and I’ll touch on a few. It’s easy to glamourize Biblical characters who accomplish great things, but they were people just like us.
Let’s look at eight things about Moses – who he was in the Bible and some details regarding his life.
1. Moses was a Hebrew.
He was born to Jochebed and Amram, both from the tribe of Levi, when the children of Israel lived in Egypt as slaves. He was the youngest of three children, with a sister named Miriam and a brother named Aaron.
2. Moses was a special baby.
The Pharaoh was afraid of the Israelite slaves because there were so many of them and ordered all the boy babies to be killed. Moses mother protected him. “She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months” (Exodus 2:2).
When she couldn’t hide him anymore, she made a little boat, placed him in it, and hid baby Moses in the reeds on the banks of the Nile River. He didn’t stay there long before being rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Being unable to nurse him, she hired a Hebrew woman to do the job. This woman just so happened to be Moses’ mother.
3. Moses was raised as royalty.
After Moses was weaned, the Pharaoh’s daughter raised him in the palace surrounded by all the luxuries of Egypt.
4. Moses was a murderer.
He grew up in the palace but knew he was a Hebrew. When Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave the Bible says, “Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Exodus 2:12).
Not the greatest coverup because the next day a Hebrew slave called him out on it.
5. Moses was afraid.
We know we deal with fear, but so did Moses. Pharaoh found out what Moses had done and tried to kill him. Moses ran for his life. He lived out in the desert of Midian for 40 years, became a husband to Tharbis and Zipporah, and a father to Gershom and Eliezer.
Fear showed up again when God “…appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up”(Exodus 3:2).
God wanted Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Moses was afraid and gave excuse after excuse, one being that he stuttered. Moses told God, “Please send someone else”(Exodus 4:13). God didn’t want to send someone else and got angry with Moses.
6. Moses was a courageous leader.
To overcome Moses’ fear, God recruited his brother Aaron to assist, promising to help them both. Moses rose to the challenge. Through the long story of the 10 plagues and the Pharaoh’s opposition; he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
When trapped between the Pharaoh—who’d changed his mind and pursued the newly freed slaves—and the Red Sea, Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today” (Exodus 14:13).
He also prophesied, “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again…” (Exodus 14:13), and he was right. Moses led them through the Red Sea on dry ground by the power of the God. That was just the beginning of Moses’ courageous leadership.
7. Moses was close with God.
The job God called Moses to do was full of difficulties and challenges. Moses never hid his emotions and questions from God. They spent 40 days together on top of Mount Sinai and God gave Moses “…the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God”(Exodus 31:18).
Meanwhile, the people got tired of waiting for Moses, made an idol, and started worshiping it. This made God angry, and He offered to kill them all, making Moses into a great nation instead. “But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God”(Exodus 32:11).God heard Moses and didn’t act on His emotions.
In response to Moses’ request to see God’s glory, he saw parts of God no one ever had before. “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…’” (Exodus 34:6-7).
For 40 years Moses led the Israelites, and God kept His promise to always be with him. Even when Moses messed up, due to his anger, which disallowed him from entering the promised land. The Bible says Moses “whom the LORD knew face to face”(Deuteronomy 34:10).
8. Moses was buried by God.
God was with Moses to the very end, burying him in secret. Moses lived to be 120 years old and was completely healthy. “…his eyes were not weak, nor his strength gone”(Deuteronomy 34:7). The people grieved 30 days for him until God put a stop to it, instructing Joshua to take the leadership position.
“And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is”(Deuteronomy 34: 5-6).
It’s speculated that God secretly buried Moses body so the Israelites couldn’t make a shrine to it, worshiping it as an idol. That may be true, or it might be God burying his friend. Only God knows.