Moses From The Bible: Life, Facts and Important Stories

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Here is a survey of Moses’ life and important events of this great man of God.

The Meaning of Moses’ Name

Moses’ name is of Hebrew origin, which shouldn’t surprise us but some scholars believe it actually means “savior” but we do know for sure that the Hebrew word “Mosheh” (Moses) is related to the Hebrew root word for “drawn”. So the idea that his name means “drawn” or “drawn out of water” would seem to fit the biblical context of the event of Moses birth as he was saved out of water by Pharaoh’s daughter who appropriately named him Moses (Ex 2:10).  The only reason she saved him was that she had pity on the crying infant (Ex 2:6).  At that time Israel had been increasing in number so Pharaoh had given directions for all the male children to be put to death but Moses’ mother didn’t have the heart to do this. When she set the child adrift in the Nile River, Pharaoh’s daughter took the child for herself so Moses surviving is seen as a miraculous intervention.

At Mount Sinai Moses brought down the Ten Commandments directly from the hand of God.

At Mount Sinai Moses brought down the Ten Commandments directly from the hand of God.

Moses, an Egyptian Prince

Since Moses survived and was raised in Pharaoh’s house, he became a prince of Egypt and as such was educated in the highest form of education available anywhere in the world at that time.  This meant that Moses learned geometry, science, agriculture, architecture, history, world religions, mathematics and nearly every major discipline that existed at the time.  Being born into the house of Pharaoh, he was highly literate in the Egyptian and likely, the Hebrew language.  Moses must have known of his Hebrew lineage because “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people” (Ex 2:11) so “He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?”  He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian” (Ex 2:12-14a).  “Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”  When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian” (Ex 2:14b-15). Like the time of Jesus birth when Herod the Great was killing babies near and in Bethlehem, Moses birth came at a time when there was the edict to have all male children killed.

Moses Meets God

Moses and Jesus have many similarities as we just read about their youth and many more to follow.  They were both shepherds, they both led people out of Egypt (which is symbolic of sin) and they both were saviors of their people and great leaders, acknowledging of course the greater of these two is Jesus.  Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in Egypt getting the best education available in the world at that time which would later serve him well in leading Israel.  The next 40 years he spent tending sheep and thought that the rest of his life would be spent doing this until one day, from a distance, Moses saw a burning bush.  There was nothing unusual about a burning bush in the desert except this bush was not consumed so he went to take a closer look (Ex 3:2-3).  This was when “God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”  Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Ex 3:4-5).  God tells Moses that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex 3:6) and that He had heard the sufferings of the nation Israel who are enduring severe hardships under Egyptian bondage and wanted Moses to lead His people into a land of milk and honey, later known as the Promised Land (Ex 3:7-8) just as Jesus is still doing today (Rev 21, 22).

The Ten Plagues

Pharaoh did not want to let Israel go and so God visited 10 plagues upon Egypt to force Pharaoh’s hand.  Each of these plagues corresponded to Egypt’s false gods (Ex 7-1).  This was to show that Egypt’s gods were no gods at all and that there was only One, True God and that was the Great I AM.  The final plague was the one that finally forced Pharaoh to let God’s people go (Ex 11) and it was the firstborn of every man and beast that died.  It took the severest of the plagues to finally free the nation of Israel and so God led Israel out of the land of Egypt with Moses leading them and that was the first Passover.  The Passover was based upon the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of all who believed God and those who had this blood on their doorposts were spared from having their firstborn die.  This typified Jesus Christ’s shed blood where God’s wrath would “pass over” all those who put their trust in Him.

The Red Sea Crossing

When Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he went after the nation of Israel, God had Moses raise his staff and the Red Sea parted and allowed the nation of Israel to pass through it safely but when Pharaoh’s army entered the sea relented and drowned Pharaoh’s army (Ex 14:15-21). This is another proof that God would go with and before the nation of Israel and keep her and protect her and “so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Ex 14:31b).

The Bread of Heaven

When the nation of Israel grumbled about what they were to eat in the wilderness, God sent manna from heaven (Ex 16).  The people proclaimed “what is it” and that is exactly what the word manna means.  It was then that “the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not” (Ex 16:4). This “bread from heaven” pictured Jesus who would later say “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  He would also say “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:51).  There is much symbolism that prefigured the work of Christ thousands of years later but the Jews refused to see it and like the ancient Israelites in the Wilderness, they too grumbled against God and since Jesus is God, once again the Jews were grumbling against Jesus (John 6).  Israel was tested in the wilderness for 40 years and failed but Jesus was tempted by the Devil for 40 days and nights and resisted the temptations perfectly.

Water from the Rock

When the Israelites once again grumbled, this time about their lack of water, the Lord told Moses “you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink” (Ex 17:6).  Paul, in writing to the Corinthians said of Christ “all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:4) once again showing that the events of the nation of Israel’s deliverance and sustenance prefigured the work of Christ Who was said to be the source of the “living water” telling the woman at the well “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).  Jesus is both the source of living water and also referred to as the Rock upon which the church was built (Matt 16:18).

The Ten Commandments and Civil Laws

At Mount Sinai Moses brought down the Ten Commandments directly from the hand of God.  The Ten Commandments were different from the Mosaic Law as they were written in stone by the very finger of God indicating their Authorship is from God and their permanence being written in stone and not on parchment or animal skins.  These commandments reflect the moral character of God and His perfection and standards for all people for all time.  The civil or social laws were exceedingly far ahead of their time and reflected proper sanitation procedures, the civil treatment of the people relating to social justice, laws regulating daily activities, the humane treatment of animals, and the standards for building the tabernacle of God, the priesthood, and the Sabbath day commands (Ex 21-40).  Even though God Himself was the Lawgiver, Moses became known as a prophet and the Lawgiver; at least he is considered as such by the Jews.

The Death of Moses

“Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended” (Ex 34) and thus ended the life of one of the greatest men in the Bible.  Moses had been a great leader and was still going strong even at 120 years of age.  Today, Moses is still revered as one of the greatest people of Israel and of him it was said “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (Num 12:3).  The idea of meekness is not weakness but as has been described, it is strength under control.


Today we have someone Who is greater than Moses. He is the God-Man, Jesus Christ.  Today He is still leading people out of sin.  His shed blood still allows God’s fierce wrath to “pass over” those who have repented and put their trust in Him.  If you haven’t yet done so, someday you can cross over into the Promised Land, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21,22) and have eternal life that is found only in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).  That will be the best decision you will ever make in your whole life.

Take a look at another Bible character profile here: Story of Abraham of the Bible

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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