The Biblical Moses: Discover the real man and true character

Moses and the Burning Bush
Holman Bible, 1890

Biblical Archaeology Society

Who is the Moses behind closed doors–when he’s at home?

This is one of the most interesting questions a biblical scholar can explore, mostly because so much study has been done on Moses’ public life as a leader of the Israelites.

The Moses we know goes from floating in a basket among the reeds along the Nile as an infant to murdering an Egyptian to becoming the majestic tribal leader parting the Red Sea.

That’s why it’s fascinating to dig deeper into the Hebrew Bible commentary on Moses for clues to his personal life. Was he deeply religious as a young man? Was he a natural shepherd of men? Are these the reasons that YHWH chose him to lead His people?

In fact, the answers are murky, but Professor H. Daniel Hays gives us the best possible understanding of the mysteries of Moses in the Hebrew Bible in “Moses: The Private Man Behind the Public Leader.”

Hays delivers a close reading of the biblical passages related to the inner Moses: His violent streak. His identity as an Egyptian, not an Israelite, when he arrives in Midian. His marriage into another pagan community. This is not YHWH’s Moses that Hays has unearthed in Exodus!

That Moses emerges, of course, as he encounters his God in the burning bush, and departs Midian on God’s command to return to Egypt to rescue his people. Yet even then, Moses does a strange thing, Hays notes: He asks his father-in-law permission to go, even creating an excuse that he must “go back to my kinsmen in Egypt and see how they are faring.”

Until this moment, Moses was anything but a devout Jew. And in following Hays’s reading of Exodus, it can certainly be startling to realize this about one of the Bible’s most heroic leaders!

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