anna mary robertson moses

Cultural Dictionary

Moses definition


The great leader, lawgiver, and prophet of the ancient Israelites (Hebrews). According to the Old Testament, Moses was born in Egypt, where the Hebrews were living as slaves. When Moses was an infant, the Egyptian ruler, or pharaoh, ordered all the male children of the Hebrews slain. Moses' mother placed him in a small boat made of bulrushes and hid him in a marsh, where he was found by the daughter of the pharaoh, who adopted him.

When Moses was a grown man, he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew and had to flee Egypt to escape punishment. One day, while Moses was living in exile, God spoke to him from a burning bush, commanding him to return to Egypt and bring the Hebrews out of bondage. Moses went back to Egypt and told the pharaoh of God's command; when the pharaoh refused to release the Hebrews from slavery, God sent the plagues of Egypt to afflict the Egyptians. The pharaoh finally relented, and Moses led his people out of Egypt across the Red Sea, on the journey that became known as the Exodus. Shortly afterward, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. Moses and his people wandered in the wilderness for forty years; then, just as they came within sight of the Promised Land, Moses died.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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