Moses is one of the most important figures in the Bible. Here are five things you may not know about him:
1. Moses was the youngest of three siblings.
His sister, Miriam, was old enough to watch out to see what would happen with the baby, and then to intercede with Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:1–10). His brother, Aaron, was three years older (compare Num. 33:39 and Deut. 34:6).
2. Moses’ life was divided into three periods of forty years each.
Though Exodus 2 does not mention it, Acts 7:23 tells us that Moses was forty years old when he struck down the Egyptian. Acts 7:30 tells us that forty years passed with Moses tending sheep in the wilderness before God appeared to him in the burning bush. Then, Deuteronomy 34:6 tells us that Moses died at the age of 120. So Moses spent forty years in Egypt, forty years in the wilderness herding sheep, and forty years in the wilderness herding Israelites.
3. Moses married a Cushite woman (Num. 12:1).
We know that he married Zipporah, the daughter of a Midianite priest (Ex. 2:16, 21). But was the Cushite wife mentioned in Numbers 12 Zipporah? Some, such as Augustine and Calvin, have taken the view that Zipporah and the Cushite wife were the same woman. Others have taken the view that the Cushite woman was a second wife since Cush usually refers to Ethiopia. Since the Bible itself does not see fit to give us further illumination on the matter, we must leave it undecided.
4. Moses was “very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3).
This statement, presumably coming from Moses himself, seems a contradiction. Could a meek or humble man properly write about his own meekness? Critical scholars have taken this statement to be an indication that Moses did not write this. But properly understood, the comment is essential to the context. Miriam and Aaron have raised an assault on Moses’ right to leadership. Rather than responding with anger and resentment, Moses allowed God to speak for him. As the Keil and Delitzsch commentary puts it, “Because he was the meekest of all men, he could calmly leave this attack upon himself to the all-wise and righteous Judge, who had both called and qualified him for his office.”1
5. Moses and Elijah appeared along with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36).
Why Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and not other Old Testament worthies is a subject of debate. Some take the view that Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets, respectively. Together, in personal form, they represent the entire Old Testament. Others take the view that they represent the two main periods of miracles in the Old Testament. My own view is that Moses and Elijah were the two men in the Old Testament who met with the Lord on Mount Sinai. It is thus fitting for them to meet with the Lord in His transfiguration, thereby affirming His messianic identity.
This article is part of the 5 Things You Should Know collection.
- Keil, Karl Fredreich and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Numbers, https://biblehub.com/commentaries/numbers/12-3.htm↩