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    Who was Moses?

    Moses speaks to the Israelites, engraving by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

    Moses’ life and career span four books of the Torah, Sh’mot to D’varim.

    He enters our history as Ish Mitzri, “an Egyptian man”, when he protects Israelite girls from the attentions of shepherd boys. His career ends with him as Ish HaE-lo-him, “The Man of God” (Deut. 33:1).

    This is in fact the only place in the whole of the Torah where he is called The Man of God, and it is precisely where one might have thought the title would have been inappropriate.

    The people have given him forty years of anxiety. Time after time they have mutinied against Moses and rebelled against God. Now he is an old man he would have had every right to abandon them and worry about himself.

    Instead he actually gives them a blessing. Nothing can induce him to give them up and to give up on them. They are still God’s people and he is still God’s chosen servant.

    His life could end on a sour note, but it doesn’t, and the great leader goes out with dignity.

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