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by Swami Sivananda

The rapidly increasing population in Egypt caused much concern amongst the Egyptians, so the pharaoh ordered that all male children born to Hebrew women be slain at birth. A Levite woman, fearing for the life of her newborn son, hid him for three months, and when no longer able to do so, made a cradle out of bullrushes, wherein she laid her baby. She then placed the cradle by the banks of the river. While bathing, the pharaoh's daughter found the baby and feeling compassion, she decided to adopt him and called him Moses.

Moses grew up in the pharaoh' s household, but his loyalty to his own people was unshakable. One day, while out watching the Hebrews labouring for their Egyptian masters, he saw an Egyptian cruelly beating one of the Hebrews. Moses killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand, but the pharaoh heard of this and so Moses was forced to flee. He went to the land of Midian where he lived as a humble shepherd and married Zipporah, one of the priest's daughters. It was in this land, at the foot of a rugged, forbidding mountain, that the Lord spoke to Moses from a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Moses was commanded to lead the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. He therefore, returned to Egypt where, joined by his brother, Aaron, they pleaded with the pharaoh to let their people go. But the pharaoh refused, and so God, to prove their divine purpose, manifested himself in many miraculous ways, and pharaoh finally relented.

They had not been gone very long, when pharaoh changed his mind and decided to pursue them, but God told Moses to stretch out his hand, which he did, and the waters of the Red Sea parted allowing the Israelites to cross over, after which, Moses caused the waters to return thus drowning the pursuing Egyptian armies.

Three months after their escape, they arrived at mount Sinai, and it was here, on the slopes of the mountain where Moses went to meditate, that God gave to him the ten commandments which were inscribed on two tablets of stone, and which tenets of the faith have been followed ever since by the children of Israel. According to the Lord's instructions, Moses and the people built an Ark of the Covenant made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, containing the two tablets of stone. They carried this Ark with them on their journey.

Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years in the wilderness before settling in the Promised Land. Moses, now old in years, but not in spirit and ability, was not to enter this land himself.

After giving his people final instructions which make up the major part of the book of Deuteronomy found in the Old Testament of the Bible, Moses gave them his final blessing, made his way to the summit of a mountain about ten miles east of the mouth of the Jordan, and with his eyes gazing at the panoramic view of the land of Israel, this great prophet and servant of God, died.

Moses is known in the history of Israel as the law-giver and as an ideal and faithful leader. 

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