Oleg Uryupin, Theologian
THE DIVINE MOSES
A theological reconstruction of the personality of Moses, the great God-Seer, and an expansion on its universal and historical significance.
Prologue or Foreword
The Birth of Moses
Moses' Salvation from the Law of Egypt
The Adoption of the Baby Moses by the Daughter of Pharaoh
The First Attempt of Moses to Alleviate his People's Suffering
The Flight of Moses from Egypt
Moses' Stay in the Land of Midian
Moses' First Meeting and Conversation with the Lord God
Moses on the Way to Egypt
Moses and Aaron's Battle with Pharaoh
The Beginning of the Battle, the First Sign of the God of Moses, and the First Plague of the Egyptians
The Second Plague of the Egyptians - the Infestation of Frogs
The Third Plague of the Egyptians - the Infestation of Lice
The Fourth Plague of the Egyptians - the Plague of Flies
The Fifth Plague of the Egyptians - Pestilence
The Sixth Plague of the Egyptians - Boils
The Seventh Plague of the Egyptians - Unprecedented and Murderous Hail
The Eighth Plague of the Egyptians - An Unprecedented Plague of Locusts
The Ninth Plague of the Egyptians - Darkness
The Tenth Plague of the Egyptians - Death of the Egyptian Firstborns
The Theological Comprehension of Moses' Battle with the Pharaoh
Israel's First Days Outside of Egypt
The First Days of Israel's Liberation from Egypt
Israel's Journey from Elim to the Sin Desert
On the Divine Sabbath, Sabbaths, and the Sabbath of All Sabbaths
Solving the Problem of Israel's Daily Subsistence
The Temptation of Israel by Thirst in the Desert of Rephidim
The Battle of Israel with Amalek
Amalek Decides to Attack Israel, the Course of the Battle
After the Battle
Moses Visits His Father-in-Law
Moses' Preparation for his Meeting and Fellowship with God at Mount Sinai
The First Fall of Israel and the Resulting Consequences
The Continued Quest to the Promised Land
The Pinnacle of Moses' Life - Divine Vision
The Death and Afterlife of the Divine Moses
The Wondrous Story of the Ark of the Covenant and the Crystals of Revelation Bestowed Upon Mankind Through Moses
Prologue or Foreword
Peace be unto you, dear reader and admirer of biblical narratives. If you have opened this book with the intent of reading it through to the end, then that implies you are seeking knowledge and understanding of the content and meaning hidden in the Bible. Come along with me, then, as we go through my theological reconstruction into ancient times, to the shores of the Nile, to the country of Egypt, to the blessed Moses and all of the people who surrounded him in order to immerse ourselves in the era and touch on the deeds of this great, wondrous, and divine prophet. We will reach the manifestation of the Almighty God's great power, as well as the divine miracles and phenomena that influenced the entirety of earthly life for all people, for all of humanity, for each and every person.
There is, perhaps, no personality more unique in all of biblical history than that of the Prophet Moses. With the Lord's help and with inspiration from above, I was able to compose a theological reconstruction of Moses' delightful personality and amazing life, which I invite you to acquaint yourself with. If you find it in your heart to do this, then thank the Lord God, the source of all good, for it. If you, my readers, happen across any shortcomings, then I would ask you to criticize me as you would a frail man and not to judge me harshly, remembering that you are human as well, with your own fragilities and imperfections.
I believe that we should take into account the fact that Moses' entire biography was compiled and recorded by Moses himself, the first divinely inspired author of the Holy Scripture. He wrote the following five books: the Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Numbers, and the Book of Deuteronomy. Our journey begins in the Book of Exodus with the birth of the baby that we know as the Great and Holy Prophet and God-Seer - Moses.
The era of Moses and the Exodus of Israel from Egypt under his leadership were important milestones in the maturation of God's people, which was then defined as the one chosen Hebrew people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At that time, a new liturgical community was born - the people of God. God determined that it was Moses who was to lead the people from the captivity of Egypt to sovereign existence in the Promised Land and prepared Moses for this over the course of eighty years through His Special providence. Israel had never seen a prophet such as Moses and never will again. He was God's friend as well as an exceptional leader of the Hebrew people during the time of its formation, but the whole of his life and deeds went to the Christian Church, and they are of lasting importance to us. There are a plethora of different books, articles, plays, movies, cartoons, and historical and biblical studies about Moses and his life. However, the informational and cultural abundance of works about Moses continuously contain him in ancient times, in a museum-like setting, and in silver screen interpretations of the outer canvas of his life. I set it as my task to bring the personality of Moses closer to us, to make him our contemporary, understood and loved by us, the subject of our admiration and veneration. In the book offered to you now, I have tried to do the following: to reveal the Bible's secrets and highlight the relevance of Moses' deeds, which are important for all times, peoples, and for every human being; to reveal the spiritual and theological fruits that he left for us and make them accessible and practical for people living in the twenty-first century; to bring them to the reader with a modernized tone, and to do so in spiritual strength and with divine integrity, preserving the spirit of antiquity, poetry, and beauty of the biblical narrative.
The Birth of Moses
The story of the birth of Moses in the Book of Exodus was written very concisely and sparingly by Moses himself. Moses does not, however, start this book with himself. He instead writes about his forefathers, who temporarily moved to Egypt in accordance with God's providence. Exodus 1: "1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy [five] souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation."
From the passage above, we can see that Moses writes not so much about himself as about the history of God's people, into which he, his life, and his deeds were interwoven through God's providence. It bears mentioning that with the death of Joseph and all his brethren, a certain period of prosperity for the Hebrew people in Egypt ends, and a new period begins that Moses called the Exodus. This is, perhaps, the most fitting word to use when designating the events that Israel underwent while under Moses' leadership. The Exodus was neither an escape from oppression nor simply a way out of a bad set of circumstances; it was a noble transition for the people from an unfavorable situation to an incomparably better one. Today, we know quite well that Moses was both chosen by God and tasked by Him to lead His people, carry out the Exodus of Israel, and guide God's people during this Exodus. To that end, this Exodus was not just a withdrawal from a country where the Hebrew people had begun to live poorly, but a transition (Easter) from one place called Egypt (allegorically meaning "of the place of the people's exile") to another place, namely the Promised Land. Geographically speaking, the Promised Land was the land of Canaan that was revealed to Saint Abraham and here represents the Kingdom of Heaven and the Divine, the mysterious and incorporeal world. This is why the Hebrew people, exemplifying the people of God whom were gathered by Him into the Church, are led to this land by a man named Jesus Navin, who was also called Joshua (when rendered from Hebrew, so as not to confuse him with Jesus Christ), and whose very name means "Savior." Just as Moses and Joshua saved the Hebrew people over the course of their history from both enslavement at the hands of Egypt and the Hebrew people's predilections for Egypt's fleeting boons, so did Moses (who was the spiritual leader of God's people to Jesus Christ the Son of God) and Jesus Christ Himself save the people of God. God's people, assembled from all peoples, were saved by the events of the Easter Triduum, which embodies their transition from temporary life to their eternal, lives - from the Earth, a place of exile, the vale of tears, and sorrows, to the Kingdom of Heaven, a place of bliss, where there is no sorrow, disease, lament, or death! That is why this ancient story about the Hebrew people and their sacred leaders is also the contemporary history of us, the living Christians of today, a history that is formed and shaped by every member of Christ's Church and the entirety of the Church in its current being! This is how we should read and interpret the books written by Moses and the other biblical prophets. A theological understanding of the teachings of Moses will be discussed in a later story.
We will return now to the very narrative of Moses. When reading it we can see how it still speaks of the prosperity of God's people abiding in a foreign land centuries later. Exodus 1: "7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them." This idea demonstrates to us that the immigration of a people to a foreign land can, at times, not only save them from extinction in a physical sense, but also strengthen their spiritual maturation and prosperity. Of course, such an immigration should be carried out in accordance with both God's will and His providence regarding the nation and the specific people who are to immigrate, and this was exactly the case with the Hebrew people! However, the earthly well-being of newly-arrived outsiders often arouses envy and misgivings among local people. In this case, it was precisely this prosperity, along with the increase in the number of Hebrews, which was the reason for both the spiteful envy of the Egyptians and their fear that the Hebrews could force them out of their privileged lives. The pharaoh was especially wary of the fact that the Hebrews could form a coalition with Egypt's enemies in the event of an attack on Egypt. I would like to point out that it was this fear on the part of the Egyptians that providentially caused the Exodus of God's people to the Promised Land; the Hebrews themselves would never have moved there if they had not been compelled to do so by the insurmountable circumstances put in place for them by God, as well as the support He provided to them through Moses.
I would like to note that the so-called "Jewish question" arose for the first time in connection with this Exodus, a question that would go on to torment Jews immigrating to new lands for much of human history, often leading to grave consequences for them. To understand and answer this "Jewish question" in a way that is both righteous and pious, we need to carefully examine the proposed study of the biblical story of Moses. In this exciting narrative, you can find the keys to understanding many modern political processes, excesses, conflicts, and other phenomena.
The dividing line between the two periods in the life of God's people in Egypt was the accession of a new pharaoh who did not know the Almighty God and had no fear before Him.
Exodus 1: "8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." It was this pharaoh who ushered in the humiliation and numerical decline of the Hebrews living in Egypt. Exodus 1: "9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the [our] land. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses, [and On, otherwise known as Heliopolis]."
Nevertheless, none of these measures brought about the result the Egyptians desired. God's favor and blessings, along with His protection, rested on the Hebrew people for the sake of the holy forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, but most of all for the sake of Jesus Christ, who was to come from this people. Exodus 1: "12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they [the Egyptians] were grieved because of the children of Israel." This is why an increase in Egyptian pressure on the Hebrew outsiders then followed. Exodus 1: "13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour. 15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16 And he said [to them], When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live."
In this historical drama, we see not only the tragedy of the ancient Hebrew immigrants, but the confrontation of two completely different and therefore opposing belief systems, civilizations, and conceptual communities. The first is represented by the earthly, temporary, carnal, sinful, magical, devil-worshiping, and evil Egyptians, and the second by the holy, eternal, spiritual, and virtuous Hebrew people who personified all the people of God throughout the entire history of humankind. I will not dwell on the complications introduced by the desire of some representatives of the Hebrew people in Egypt to remain there and be informants for the pharaoh, or the few Egyptians that felt sympathy for the Hebrews and assisted them. It is important for us to note that it is precisely an awe of the Lord and the fear that is born from it that make up the final barrier which separates the salvation and destruction of man! Awe in the face of the Lord is the natural reaction of a person unclouded by sin to the realization of the Lord God's existence, especially when feeling His presence. It is an exalted and essential virtue, as well as a spiritual quality that is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and one of His seven manifestations. Isaiah 8: "13 Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." Isaiah 11: "1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse [meaning Jesus Christ the Savior], and a Branch shall grow out of his roots [meaning the Church of Christ]: 2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. [This should be interpreted in a spiritual sense to mean Satan, and in a historical sense to mean his acolyte, the beast that is the antichrist from the Book of Revelation.] 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins."
The fear of God has two aspects. The first is fear through faith in the Living God, faith in His Word, His promises, and His threats. This fear is based in the horror of physical death and the endless, eternal, indescribably terrible torments that await unrepentant sinners. The second is the awe that arises in a person from their practiced perception of God, God's presence, His power, and His glory! It is this fear that is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This fear is a spiritual quality, and it is the basis for the humility of a person who, through their blessed experience, came to know the Lord God in all of His boundless majesty, endless glory, and incomprehensible perfection! Those who have not experienced a visit by God in their lives or the divine fear and reverential awe arising from such a meeting cannot have true humility, true wisdom, or any understanding of what the fear of God is. They cannot even know what divine humility and wisdom truly are.
Here we will end the story of the confrontation between the pharaoh and the Hebrew people and direct our attention to the virtue of the God-fearing midwives. We do this in order to proceed to the birth of Moses himself, whose life was directly affected by this confrontation from the earliest hours of his life. Exodus 1: "18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. 21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. 22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every [Hebrew] son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive."
The Hebrew midwives (citizens of ancient Egypt) offer two lessons: how God-fearing disobedience of the unrighteous decrees of a godless ruler guarded them from destructive complicity in his sins, and how to use a fear of God and His virtuous deeds to establish a pious house and receive His blessing. Having considered them, we shall proceed to the birth of Moses.
It should be clear to any reader that it is the efforts of two people, a father and a mother, that lead to the birth of a child. That is why Moses begins the story of his arrival to this world with his parents. Exodus 2: "1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months."
It bears noting that Moses intentionally narrates the events of his life as if he were an outside observer and not as the author of his autobiography. Nevertheless, a certain unconventionality in the story catches your eye as soon as you start reading, and this, the fact that Moses does not give the names of his parents, requires clarification. This is especially true of his father, whom he calls "a man of the house of Levi." Why is this so? We should keep in mind that Moses wrote the Book of Exodus after the Exodus itself took place and after the death of its parents, who did not live to see it. I would first point out that Moses puts forward that which he considers most important regarding his parents, namely the fact that they came from the tribe (house) of Levi. This means that he was conceived and born of parents from the house of Levi, which was selected by God to carry out religious rites. But why doesn't Moses mention the names of his parents here? He speaks of his mother's love but says nothing about his father, nor does he include the names of his parents — Amram, his father, and Jochebed, his mother — in the Book of Exodus. He mentions them only in the genealogy in the Book of Numbers, where their inclusion is both fitting and necessary. Numbers 26: "58 These are the families of the Levites: the family of the Libnites, the family of the Hebronites, the family of the Mahlites, the family of the Mushites, the family of the Korathites. And Kohath begat Amram. 59 And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister." I believe that this attitude of Moses toward his father was a result of the fact that Moses was a righteous man and therefore meek and incapable of the slightest manifestation of discourtesy or rudeness. Here we have to take into account that it was Moses who wrote down the story of Ham and his sinful behavior towards his father Noah. In all likelihood, the highest manifestation of the holiness of Moses' father was his familial association to the house of Levi, and there were no other evident virtues worthy of a reader's attention. Therefore, in order to avoid depicting his own father in a bad light, Moses does not mention his name, classify him, or characterize him. He does, however, write about his mother with filial love. Exodus 2: "2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. 5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept [in the ark]. And she [the pharaoh's daughter] had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it."
The reward of Moses' mother for her natural virtue — maternal love — was the act of feeding the baby Moses as a wet nurse. Her son does not make note of any other virtues because they were simply absent. She was, for him, more likely just a wet nurse, as well as his connection to the house of Levi. Circumstances were completely different for his brother Aaron and sister Miriam, as Moses was not the only child in the family nor the eldest among the children. His siblings, who were born before the pharaoh's decree to kill male Hebrew newborns, became the adult Moses' closest and most reliable assistants in carrying out his divine mission to lead the people of Israel from Egypt. Miriam was the first of the three children, then Aaron, then Moses. There is a legend that says the Holy Spirit came to Miriam when she was three years old, and she prophesized that her father would soon give birth to a son who would deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery. That child was Moses.
So, let us note for ourselves that Moses was born in Egypt at a time when the pharaoh had commanded all of his subjects to slaughter newborn Hebrew males by drowning them in the Nile River. Why drowning, and not, for example, or death by the sword? It is appropriate here to mention blood in relation to both Egypt and to the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. The first mention of the shedding of human blood on the Earth is detailed in the story of Cain's murder of his brother Abel in the Book of Genesis, and the Lord Himself approaches the topic. Genesis 4: "10 And he [the Lord] said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth." From these words, which God spoke and Moses recorded, we learn of the terrible truth for the killers of man - that the blood of a murdered person cries out to God from the earth and demands revenge on the killer(s). A murderer of man is damned by the Lord Most High and cannot receive any more strength from the earth. The priests of Egypt, who possessed great hermetic knowledge, knew this "law of blood" well. That is why they advised the pharaoh to not spill the blood of the Hebrew people needlessly, especially the blood of the innocent. And what kind of fault could be found in the Hebrew newborns? Furthermore, babies killed by the sword would have had to be buried, which would have left behind a monument testifying to the crimes of the pharaoh and his subjects! For that reason, the priests advised the pharaoh to kill the Hebrew babies by drowning them in the Nile River. When a baby drowned, the crocodiles swarming in the Nile ate him or her. This allowed the Egyptians to avoid two negative consequences: shedding the blood of innocent people on the earth, and the presence of their burial site as evidence of the genocide. Later we learn that blood appeared in Egypt when Moses transformed all of its waters into blood. It was also used by the Hebrews in the shape of a cross on their dwellings to save themselves from the destroyer, who smote all the firstborns in Egypt. This will all be discussed in the corresponding sections of this narration. In the meantime, let us return to the newborn Moses. I will refer to the story that tells of how, immediately after Moses was born, a light emanated from him that was strong enough to illuminate the entire room. In this phenomenon of light radiating from a newborn baby, a direct parallel with Jesus Christ is visible, who was born in the cave in Bethlehem that then shone with an unearthly light. The mother of Moses, seeing the unearthly beauty of her baby, disobeyed the pharaoh's command and hid the babe for three months. Regarding these three months, one existing theory suggests that this was the result of flooding on the Nile, during which it was difficult to visit the Hebrew settlements. According to the Hebrew tradition, Moses' mother managed to summon the man who circumcised him during those three months, which then placed him among the people of God. Allow me to remind you that Aaron, Moses' brother, was born before both Moses and the pharaoh's order to drown Hebrew children, and he and his sister therefore stayed with their parents. More precisely, they stayed with their mother, because their father was engaged in hard labor. An entirely different fate awaited Moses, one that was wondrous, unique, and full of God's miracles, a fate that was prepared for him and all of God's people through Divine providence! The first miracle in the life of Moses occurred when he was three months old - his rescue from death in the waters of the Nile and his consequent adoption by the daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh. Moses' salvation was achieved through his placement in the palace of the pharaoh, and the salvation of the Infant Jesus from the hands of the wicked king Herod was achieved through the Holy Family's flight to Egypt.
Let us temporarily depart from the biblical narrative in order to see what ancient Egypt was, what significance it had in the ancient world, and why Divine providence connected it so closely to God's people as represented by the Hebrews, their forefather Jacob, Moses, and the Divine Infant Jesus Christ.
The Land of Egypt is a unique place. It is adjacent to the land of Canaan, which was a projection of heaven on Earth. In antediluvian time, the land of Egypt was one of the centers of civilization, the traces of which have been passed to us in the forms of the world-famous "Egyptian" pyramids and figures of the mysterious sphinx. Scientists to this day cannot understand how the pyramids were built, by whom they were built, and for what purpose. Today we know that antediluvian people created a Cainite, godless civilization that had close ties with the world of fallen spirits, with the help of whom it made great strides in science, engineering, and technology. Their development far exceeded all that we have today in the 21st century! We need to remember that scientists of their day lived for up to a thousand years! Imagine what Nikola Tesla, for example, could have done if he could have lived on earth for a thousand years! But unlike the scientists of today, twenty-one centuries after the birth of Christ, antediluvian scientists were more like magicians than scientific researchers. It was then that the institute of the priesthood was created, which maintained ties with fallen spirits, and it was these priests who brought sacrifices of animals and people to demons. The priests did this in order to attract the demons to themselves, and the traditions of post-flood paganism arose from this demon-worshiping practice. Demons taught the post-flood people to practice idolatry and make sacrifices in their honor, thereby restoring the sin of serving demons that had been interrupted by the waters of the global flood. Thus, they also recreated the institute of the priesthood, which guarded all the secrets of communion between people and demons. As a result of their diabolical power, priests became the most influential social class of ancient times. These priests, whose roots stretch from the antediluvian world to our time, for some reason chose to inhabit the land of Egypt. We will encounter their strength and influence when we look at the history of their confrontation with Holy Moses. The influence of the Egyptian priests was so great that it had an impact on both ancient Rome and on all of us today, at the beginning of the 21st century. There are indications that some of the influential figures of our time, such as, representatives of the Rothschild family, the Vatican (and the Jesuits), and the Royal Court of Great Britain, come from ancient Egyptian priests. This origin explains their strength, wealth, power, and influence in the modern world. For this very reason, God providently arranged the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt so that Christ would tear out its demonic and idolatrous roots. Nevertheless, such world-famous politicians as Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler turned to Egypt, seeking the power to ascend and conquer the world. After the fall of ancient Egypt and the rise of Rome, the institution of the ancient priesthood first migrated to Babylon, then to Persia, and finally to Rome. It is no coincidence that all modern states and elites trace their "bloodlines" to ancient Rome. Rome's connection with the ancient priesthood is visible by its designation of the Roman Emperor as pontiff, that is, the supreme priest.
Later on, the pope, who retreated from truth and grace, began to refer to himself in the same way. Connections to Rome can be seen throughout history in the designations of various European rulers as "emperors of the great and sacred Roman Empire," as well as in ideas such as "Moscow is the third Rome," and in the name of the Romanov (that is, descending from Rome) dynasty that ruled Russia. The same is apparent in the name for the US legislative body - the "Senate," and in its members as "senators," as well as in architecture, culture, cults, and so on.
It should be noted that at the time of Moses' prominence, Pharaoh Ramesses II the Great ruled Egypt. He was the third king of the XIX Dynasty, the son of Pharaoh Seti I and his wife Tuya, and ruled for about seventy years, waging wars for half of his reign. The oldest of the peace treaties that has been preserved by history is the treaty of Ramesses II with the Hittite King Hattusili III, which was etched into rock and signed a few years after the famous Battle of Kadesh. The text of the treaty, originally written on a silver plaque in cuneiform, was translated into Egyptian and immortalized on the walls of Karnak and Ramesseum. Under Ramesses II, Egypt's borders expanded to their maximum historic reach. During his long reign, rightfully considered one of the epochs of the highest prosperity of Egyptian civilization, a huge number of temple complexes and monumental works of art were created, including the unique rock temples of Nubia in Abu Simbel. To expand the borders of Egypt, Ramesses II conducted many military expeditions, reorganized Egypt's army, and created a navy. Thousands of workers were required to build cities on the Nile Delta in the Land of Goshen, where Hebrews had led their livestock to pasture for several hundred years. Ramesses turned the nomadic Hebrew people who lived in the Land of Goshen into slaves. The Book of Exodus reads: "Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses."
One widespread legend reads thus: "In infancy, while in the hands of Pharaoh Ramesses II, Moses removed the crown from him and placed it on his head. The Pharaoh immediately perceived this act as a bad omen, and so he convened a council of his sages [priests] to seek advice. The sages readily confirmed that the child would pose a threat to the safety of the both the Pharaoh himself and his house, and advised him to get rid of [murder] Moses. To confirm the little Moses' awareness of his actions, the priests placed two dishes in front of him, one with gold (there is also a version of this story with precious stones), and the other with blistering coals. This was done on the advice of the Archangel Gabriel, who had taken the form of an Egyptian dignitary. The child held out his hands toward the gold, but the Archangel Gabriel, who was Moses' Guardian Angel, directed them to the dish with the coals. Moses grabbed one of the embers and put it in his mouth, burning his tongue. Since then, he allegedly suffered from twists of the tongue." Regarding the angel's touching a burning coal to the mouth of the Almighty's prophet, it should be noted that this was not an accident but a defined tradition. This is how people chosen by God for prophetic service were cleansed of impurities: by embers from the heavenly altar. A passage from the Prophet Isaiah will suffice as evidence. Isaiah 6: "5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." Clergymen bearing the Chalice with the Eucharist repeat these words of the seraphim - "behold, I shall bring the coal to your mouth and all your iniquities will be taken away, and all your sins will be purged" - to partakers when they kiss the Chalice at each liturgy.
Moses' Salvation from the Law of Egypt
Exodus 2: "2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him."
Driven by faith in the One True God, the mother of Moses decided to take a risk and conceal her newborn son from the Egyptians. When it became impossible to hide the baby and the risk of being caught became dangerously high, the mother decided to "get rid" of her son in order to avoid punishment. Attempting to save her son's life, the mother decided to employ a certain trick to keep the chances of Moses' rescue quite high. She weaved a basket of reeds and covered it with slime and pitch, which made it watertight and allowed it to float. Her primary motive was the hope that the daughter of the pharaoh himself would find her son and adopt him, because this was the mother's only way to save her son from death. No one except the pharaoh's daughter would dare to disobey the pharaoh's command and save the life of a Hebrew boy, much less adopt him! I would also note that very few mothers would have acted as Moses' mother did. Unfortunately, many women who give birth to children do so only for their own benefit. Some mothers rely on children as they would on a personal assistant, and because of the mothers' selfishness, they do not want to let the children go even for the sake of preserving their children's life and health. They would, however, agree to lose their children completely in order to keep them from other people. Moses' mother thought only about her son's survival, and was ready to part with him if that meant he would be alive and well! In addition, she, as a faithful and God-fearing woman, placed the life of her three-month-old son in the hands of God and His providence, fully entrusting Moses to His will. Not every child loses his living parents and falls under the full will of God at three months of age, but Moses was specially chosen by the Almighty God, and God Himself set the course of Moses' life through His providence.
Here we can add that what pushed Moses' mother, who was risking her own life and the lives of her two other children, to save her youngest son was not just her real hope for his adoption by a noble Egyptian or her inherent maternal instinct. Her motive was his extraordinary fairness, or, rather, the grace of her son. The Scripture testifies to us that the newborn Moses was not only fair, but very handsome, and this was revealed in his entire being. He was handsome in his face, his eyes, the proportions of his body, his glance, reactions, movements, and most importantly, the spirit emanating from him! His fairness was not animalistic cuteness or pleasingness but rather a gift of God's providence. All of this together made him irresistibly fair, and this would play an important role in his life. Saving Moses from pride and arrogance, God preserved one drawback in his nature - a certain mumble or inarticulateness manifested in Moses' speech. Moses' mother not only saw his extraordinary fairness, but also understood that it was a special gift from God, emphasizing the fact that Moses had been chosen to carry out His great works. It can be confidently asserted that Moses' mother and sister often observed where and how the noble Egyptians washed themselves in the river, including the daughter of the ruling pharaoh herself. That is why they deliberately carried Moses in a basket and put him in the water in the exact place where the pharaoh's daughter customarily bathed. Moreover, it was Moses' sister Mariam who remained there on the bank, watching from afar to see what would happen and how God would guide the fate of her younger brother. It was she who, many years later, told Moses the full story of his salvation and how he ended up in the pharaoh's palace as his adopted grandson.
I believe that it would be appropriate to introduce a commentary by the Venerable and God-Bearing father Our Ephrem the Syrian, whose writings on the Book of Exodus I consider the best of all patristic interpretations: "It was during this time of oppression for the Hebrews that Moses was born. When his mother saw that he was fair, she hid him until she could no longer conceal him. She was afraid that it would come to light that they had flouted Pharaoh's command, and their entire family would die while Moses himself would not survive for long. See how carefully the Egyptians were making investigations, in that she was no longer able to conceal Moses! And see how Grace preserved them, in that six hundred thousand went out from Egypt! So his mother put Moses into an ark, went in doors and knelt in prayer. Sobbing, she appealed to the God of Abraham against the Pharaoh: 'You blessed our people so that they would multiply, and now they are as many as your blessing promised. But Pharaoh's scheme is that by slaying little boys the fields will lie fallow for want of farmers, and by killing children the seed that you blessed will die out altogether.' Miriam, Moses' sister, sat by the river to find out what would happen to the child in the ark. She and her mother were trusting in God and the child's beauty that the first person to see the ark would take it out and save him."
The Adoption of the Baby Moses by the Daughter of Pharaoh
Exodus 2: "5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept [in the ark]. And she [the pharaoh's daughter] had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it."
The Venerable Ephrem the Syrian wrote about God's providence in the decision of the pharaoh's daughter to take a Hebrew baby as her own son: "That day Pharaoh's daughter found the weather unbearably hot, and so she went out to bathe in the river earlier than usual. Although she went out freely enough owing to the heat of that day, since she did not go at her usual time she was also going out against her will. She was forcibly led, freely assenting, to draw out of the river the one who was going to take vengeance in the sea for the children who had been cast into the river. When she saw that the boy was fair, she and her maidservants thought that the gods of Egypt had provided her with a son through the river - for she was barren. She was persuaded to adopt him, so that he would take away her shame, bring her consolation, and inherit her father's throne. Miriam came up, neither downcast nor cheerful, as she had distanced herself from either emotion. Adopting the demeanour appropriate to her task, she said to Pharaoh's daughter, 'I will call a Hebrew wet-nurse who has a sincere heart and pure milk, and therefore most suitable for Your Majesty.' She ran and fetched his mother, who behaved with fitting decorum and brought special gifts. She had been willing to give her whole household to prevent Moses from being thrown into the river, and now that he had been given to her for nothing she could not be persuaded to take him away. She picked up her son and did not forget the ark. In anguish she had taken him out, and with joy she brought him indoors. She had gone to the river in darkness, but took him back home in broad daylight. In both the street and the house she held in her arms the baby who had not seen daylight for the three months. It became possible for the mother to see her child, who had been concealed away for three months so no one would see him. He had seen light at the river into which he had been cast to be deprived of that very light."
So, while the nameless baby was lying in a basket on the water, the daughter of the pharaoh went out to the river to perform her ablutions, or, simply, to bathe herself (Old Church Slavonic uses the term "izmytisya" (измытися), meaning 'to wash oneself'). This suggestion alone, conveyed to us by Moses, a contemporary of that distant antiquity, gives us a lot of information about the living conditions and customs of the Egyptians of that time. We learned that even a representative of the pharaoh's family, his daughter, went to the river to bathe. This tells us that the river there was clean and safe from crocodiles and snakes. The pharaoh's servants made sure of this. This fact also reveals to us the cleanliness of the Egyptian nobility, as well as the fact that representatives of the nobility performed ablutions in the Nile River and its tributaries. This shows us that the water supply system in the palace of the pharaoh was not yet developed as it was later in ancient Rome. Commoners and slaves also bathed in the Nile River, but did so at the risk of falling prey to crocodiles or snakes. Whatever the case, the princess noticed a basket among the reeds and sent a slave to fetch it. The slave brought the basket to the princess and opened it in front of her. She saw a beautiful baby who then began to cry. All of this together left such a strong impression on the princess that she took pity on this baby in her heart. She saw that the baby was from among the Hebrew children and said so aloud. The princess knew perfectly well about her father's command to drown all newborn Hebrew males, but this did not stop her; for God had softened her heart to this beautiful child, and his origin and nationality did not matter to her. Only the pharaoh's daughter could afford to break her father's command, which in Egypt had the force of the law! The princess's decision to adopt a Hebrew baby was influenced by the fact that she had no children of her own, and, in all probability, could not have any. The Venerable Ephrem the Syrian also wrote about the infertility of the princess.
As a result of the aforementioned factors, we see that faith and intuition did not fail Moses' mother and sister in their hopes of saving their son and brother from death. Their expectations regarding his salvation and adoption into the house of the pharaoh were, in fact, quite justified. The combination of the baby's wondrous beauty and the unusual circumstances surrounding his discovery in the ark did their job; they attracted the attention of the daughter of the pharaoh and touched her heart such that she would take the child as her own son and not as a slave or servant! A.P. Lopukhin rationally writes the following in regards to her decision: "Having decided to save a Hebrew child through compassion, she is obviously not afraid of punishment for disobeying the pharaoh's decree. In this case, she is relying on the respect enjoyed by Egyptian women in general, particularly by representatives of the royal family. The queen was revered in Egypt more than the pharaoh; the queens and even princesses were given sacred honors when they died." This was the first miracle in the life of Moses. The very name "Moses" was given to him by the princess that adopted him. This name, meaning "taken from the water," was assigned to Moses, and even the Lord God, to whom Moses became a friend, did not change this name as He did with Abram, Sarah, and Jacob. This is exactly what the Lord God intended for His future friend and servant Moses, that he would enter the pharaoh's house as his adopted grandson! Moses was a miraculous phenomenon, not only a Hebrew phenomenon or an Egyptian phenomenon, but also a global and universal one! His mother, sister, brother, fellow tribesmen, the pharaoh's daughter, the pharaoh himself, the royal court, and all the others who came into his life were but instruments of God's providence intended to serve this phenomenon! The closer they adhered to God's providence for Moses, the better it was for them. Divine providence arranged circumstances such that Moses' natural mother fed the adopted son of the princess of Egypt, and even received payment from the princess for this joyful work! So Moses, having done nothing, had already paid his mother for her care, her efforts, and her worries about him! In A.P. Lopukhin's book, the choice of employing a Hebrew woman and Moses' mother as a wet nurse for Moses is rightly noted: "The consent of the pharaoh's daughter to take on a Hebrew woman, and not an Egyptian, as a wet nurse to the rescued Hebrew baby is a continuation of her worries about the child's life. Considering the utter disgust with which the Egyptians regarded the Hebrews, a disgust that was so severe that the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews because it was an abomination to the Egyptians (Genesis 43:32), nothing and no one could guarantee Pharaoh's daughter that the Hebrew child would remain unharmed in the hands of an Egyptian wet nurse. Alternatively, handing him to a Hebrew woman meant his life and health were secure."
To sum up this passage, I would like to note that the pharaoh's decision to drown Hebrew babies, which was allegedly patriotic for the Egyptians but disastrous for the Hebrews, led one such baby to become not only the prince of Egypt, but also the deliverer of the Hebrew people from the captivity, oppression, and slavery of the Egyptians. It should be noted that Moses' adoption by the pharaoh's daughter, which was carried out according to the providence of God, answered the question of what the proper attitude is regarding the adoption of other people's children once and for all. God approved and blessed the adoption of children from other parents in connection with their death or disappearance, as well as in the case that the birth parents are alive but circumstances necessitate adoption by others. This is why Christians should stop entertaining empty arguments about adoption; for God addressed this question long ago for all who believe in Him and His Word, answering in favor of adoption.
By reading the story of the first months of Moses' life, we can see that God's providence marvelously intertwined him, his mother, his sister, and Pharaoh's daughter into Moses' salvation. Divine providence brought Moses' mother to him as a wet nurse. However, the infant's status had already been changed at that time, and Moses was transformed from a Hebrew baby who should have been put to death into the adopted grandson of the Egyptian pharaoh. So, Moses began the period of his life as the prince of Egypt in the house of the pharaoh. The daughter of the pharaoh, his adoptive mother, bestowed upon him the name "Moses," which means "taken from the water."
If the biblical story of Moses is read with care, the God-loving reader may uncover parallels with the childhood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Godless people sought to kill both Moses and Jesus Christ from the very moment they were born. Moses and Jesus Christ spent their early childhood in Egypt. Both Moses and Christ cared for the people of God as their own people. Each of them had their own Easter. Both Moses and Christ came out of Egypt, leading their people out. They were both shepherds watching over their flock. And finally, Jesus Christ and Moses met on Mount Tabor on the day of the Christ's Transfiguration. With them was the prophet Elijah, who had been taken up to heaven while still alive. The prophets of God spoke with Christ the Son of God about His exodus from earthly life, as well as His redeeming sacrifice and incredible suffering for the redemption and salvation of all people. This congress of Christ with His prophets is hugely significant! It shows us that Christ has incredible love for His people! The Son of God wanted to hear their opinion on the most important human and universal questions! He trusts His prophets and takes their opinion into regard! He discusses the fate of this world and the judgments of God with them! Moses ascended the holy mountain during his earthly life to meet with the Almighty God, and was even considered worthy enough to see God from behind. After this meeting with God, he rightly became known as the God-Seer! No holy man on Earth had ever been blessed with such a title, and no one ever would again after Moses! On Tabor, Moses in his glory stood facing the Lord God, whom he had once seen in his earthly life on the holy mountain of Horeb, and only from behind. That is why the meeting with Christ on Mount Tabor, which is described in the Holy Scriptures, is the pinnacle of the achievements of the Holy Prophet Moses. It was on Tabor that God joined the saints together, both living and dead (Moses' soul was present): Grace (Christ), Law (Moses), and Zeal (Elijah), the Old and New Testaments, Heaven and Earth, the prophets and apostles of God! Having admired this spiritual vision, let us humbly come back down to Earth and continue our evaluation of the life and deeds of the Holy Moses.
The First Attempt of Moses to Alleviate his People's Suffering
After describing the miraculous salvation of the baby named Moses by the Egyptian princess, the Scripture immediately moves to his adult years, omitting all of the details of his growth and Egyptian upbringing. Why is this the case? Because for God and His providence, everything that happened to Moses immediately after the time of his adoption was of little importance. A corresponding status - that of a high-ranking and highly educated Egyptian from the house of the pharaoh - was necessary for the Holy Prophet Moses in order for him to be trained in all of the wisdom of Egypt, which was the most powerful and advanced civilization of that time (comparable to the USA of the 20th century). Furthermore, Moses' rejection of this status and position makes it evident that God Almighty and His people are of an incomparably higher value than the highest and most comfortable position among people in earthly, temporary life for a God-loving person. And yet, why did Moses need to become the prince of Egypt? It was necessary so that people could see in Moses an extraordinary man who was marked by God. And not only that, but also so that Moses would testify at the height of his standing in Egypt (which he tore himself from of his own free will) that his choice of the Lord Most High was both a teaching to all future generations of people and incomparably better than his elevated and comfortable position in the most advanced state of his time! Furthermore, the parallel between Moses and Jesus Christ is clearly visible here; for just as the Son of God left His Heaven and glory to help His brothers by reducing Himself to a man, so did Moses, whose life served as a prototype for Jesus, leave the glory and eminence of the Prince of Egypt behind to help his fellow believers. Moses' faith, mindset, desire, and qualities were primed to help free his brothers in faith from onerous slavery, but the Hebrews themselves were not yet ready for such a development. They were not ready to accept help from the Prince of Egypt, even if he was their blood brother. At another point in time, many Hebrews were not prepared to accept salvation from the Galilean who had come from Nazareth, despite all the divine miracles carried out before them. Moses was not yet performing miracles, and this is why the biblical narrative moves directly from the years of the infant Moses to his adulthood, when he was forty years old. Both God and the later author of the Book of Exodus himself were of the opinion that we did not need to know the details of Moses' life over forty earthly years in the pharaoh's palace. The only thing that God has conveyed to us was that Moses was taught all of the wisdom of Egypt. But Moses' spirit longed for his God and for his brothers in faith. His day-to-day environment, which only distracted him from faith in the Living God, served him not as an object of imitation, but as a motive for liberation from it! That which many people of that time would have considered to be the height of their earthly happiness and a great achievement was nothing more than vain trivialities and languor of the spirit for Moses. Nevertheless, it is not entirely clear to us why Moses delayed to offer assistance to his brothers in faith until forty earthly years had passed. And it was not Moses who was waiting for the right time, but rather the Lord God who cared for him! Before going out to his brothers in faith and blood with a proposal to help free them from all the hardships and pains wrought by the Egyptians, Moses had to do two things. He had to both reach an age that the Hebrews would respect, as well as demonstrate to them that his decision was an act of Divine providence as opposed to a spontaneous feeling by categorically rejecting all the great advantages of his Egyptian position. Moses' yearning for the Living God contributed to the fact that his spirit constantly gravitated toward the faith of his fathers, as well as toward his brothers in faith! And then the time came - Moses had matured and was ready for a decisive change in his life. This was the change that his God-loving soul had long awaited, craved, and sought out! Let us see how Moses himself narrates this. Exodus 2: "11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren [the sons of Israel]. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand."
It is vital to point out here that Moses "went out" consciously, knowing whom he was going to and why. The Holy Apostle Paul confirms this in his epistles. Hebrews 11: "23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned."
The reader may take this opportunity to ask what Moses really did in this situation. Who was he? A traitor? A murderer? A lawbreaker? A criminal? The deliverer of his people? This is a very difficult and provocative place in the Scripture. It is especially seductive for traditionalists and patriots who would do anything for their people, countries, and states. From their point of view, Moses is a would-be enemy of the fatherland: a traitor, a felonious criminal, a murderer, a conspirator and initiator of an uprising against the local government, local customs, and traditions. And if Moses had not been moved by God to act on his faith in God and in His glory in defense of God's people, then all of this would be true! But in our existence, the Author and Master of which is the Lord God, the truth of man does not matter! People who are faithful to the Lord God, find His truth, and execute it for his Glory are always right! A man of God feels God's will and finds His truth, and therefore he is always right, as he is righteous before the Lord God! What is God's truth and why are we commanded by God to seek it out? God's truth for a person is all of their actions, deeds, thoughts, feelings, and aspirations that are directed at accomplishing the will of the Lord God within the bounds of God's providence for this person, thereby contributing to the fulfillment of this providence in the best possible way. If we look at Moses' deed bearing this statement in mind, then we can confidently say that he, through his genius, intuition, and acumen, found the only correct resolution of that moment, which he then implemented. God was both with Moses and supported Moses at that time! But the life and expression of a person's will are actually much more complex. They are often wicked and displeasing to God. That is why Moses' act was a criminal offense against the state and its people if you examine the situation from the point of view of the Egyptians. From the Hebrews' point of view, for whose sake Moses committed this "crime," depriving himself of his elevated and comfortable position in Egyptian society and condemning himself to death, this act was erroneous because it would lead only to the deterioration and aggravation of the Hebrews' already difficult situation. Moses' brothers in faith and blood did not understand this act of his! The meek Moses was always determined to thwart evil and defend the oppressed. Acts 7: "25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not." However, the Hebrews did not understand the fact that God had moved Moses and did not see that he had not forgotten his brothers in faith and blood or the faith of their fathers, despite the fact that he had grown up in the house of the pharaoh. It was this devotion to true faith that transformed the Prince of Egypt into Moses the God-Seer, whom we know and honor today. His brothers in faith did not understand that Moses, by defending a Hebrew who was aggrieved by an Egyptian, had irrevocably crossed a line, beyond which awaited his complete break with Egypt and, if his brothers did not support him, death! Why did Moses fail to help his brothers the first time, even though the Lord God Himself moved him to? The reason for this was the unpreparedness of both Moses himself and the people of Israel, although their stay in Egypt had lasted more than 400 years by this time. The meek and truth-loving Moses lacked wisdom and divinity.
He needed more polishing and growth in his spirit, his qualities, and his abilities. He sought that which was good and pleasing to the Lord, but his zeal for God and his brothers led him to try to succeed on his own, by the strength of his own will, as opposed to the strength of God! The Hebrews were not ready because their torments in Egypt had not yet led them to a breaking point, and so both they and Moses needed another forty years of earthly life to prepare. We see that Moses' first departure to his people brought Moses new standing. Exodus 2: "11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren [the sons of Israel], and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian [yesterday]? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses."
It turned out that Moses' zeal regarding the faith of his fathers and the circumstances that God's people contended with led him to protect a specific member of his people by killing the Egyptian overseer and hiding his body. One legend tells us that the killing of the most vile and cruelest of the Egyptian overseers was carried out by Moses through the Word. According to this legend, the Almighty God revealed to Moses one of His Names, which Moses then uttered, killing the Egyptian instantly. If we interpret the Egyptian as representing the source of all evil and the taskmaster of all sinners (the Devil), then we can see how a person invoking the Name of God may use His Name conscientiously to confront, resist, and deliver themselves from the Devil! This is an indication of the inner work that is based on the invocation of the Name of God. And inasmuch as it became clear later in the spiritual practice of God's people that the name "Jesus Christ" was the name for inner work, it would be appropriate to believe that Moses invoked precisely this Name! The Hebrews who have not accepted Jesus Christ and detest His name are trying to challenge this truth. They continue to offer a version of the story where Moses killed the Egyptian with the Name of God, specifically with the "four-letter pronunciation of this Name." This is a glaring hint at the name "Yahweh." But "Yahweh" is not the name of God, but the written abbreviated form of the name "Jehovah," meaning 'The Being'.1 This is not the proper name of God, but is His essential name, meaning 'I am the one who is'. However, from the narrative of Moses himself, we know that he learned this name from God at the age of eighty, when God appeared to him to send him off to Egypt. That is why this name could not have been used by Moses forty years prior, because he simply did not know it then. And the name "Jesus" was revealed to him in personal revelation, just as it was later to the Prophet Elijah. This has been pointed out by the holy fathers of the Church. On this basis, we can conclude that the Prophet Moses was the first person on Earth to speak the Jesus Prayer! For such an act of prayer, the most fitting place was not the royal chambers, but rather, the desert. Regarding the killing power that was revealed in the word of Moses, we should recall the indication from the Book of Revelation that our Lord Jesus Christ will kill the soldiers of the Beast's army with the breath2 of his mouth. Revelations 19: "21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth." Having understood the method by which Moses killed the Egyptian, who personified the Devil, the Beast, and the sinner, we begin to understand why he hid the body in the sand. Moses was the prince and heir to the throne of Egypt, and therefore he could legally and with impunity put to death any Egyptian whom he considered deserving of it. What sense did it make for him to fear punishment for this implementation of his rights and standing, or much less fear the pharaoh, who would defend the interests of his house no matter the case? There must have been something that compelled the pharaoh to threaten Moses' life despite the customs regarding the honor of his house. How could the pharaoh, who was supposedly divine in the eyes of the Egyptians, announce to everyone that his heir had done something that deserved immediate death without a trial or investigation? The motive for the pharaoh's decision was the report presented to him and his priests by Hebrew spies that described how the slaver was killed. It was the fear of the unexpected and newly revealed power of Moses, the nature of which they did not understand, that pushed the pharaoh and his court to kill Moses immediately. Moses realized this and fled from the pharaoh, not because of he feared for his life, but because of his desire to preserve the power of God that had been revealed through him, as well as to continue mastering this power. That is why he was so wounded by the rejection of his brothers in faith and flesh, who saw the revealed power of God with their own eyes when Moses killed the slaver who was hated by all of the Hebrews. They not only rejected the bearer of this power, who had volunteered to save them from Egyptian slavery but also reported this supernatural power to the pharaoh! Having killed the Egyptian, Moses rightly counted on his fellow Hebrews to understand this act committed by the power of the God of Abraham, as well as for their support in the movement to liberate the Hebrew people from Egyptian oppression. This did not come to pass. The people not only failed to understand his act, they rejected it because they were more afraid of the possible consequences it would invite. And Moses, in spite of his divine power, was not yet ready to lead the liberation of his people from Egyptian slavery. Moses still had to be prepared, and the Hebrews had to ripen for their exodus from Egypt. Nevertheless, this act of Moses has a spiritual meaning, as well as a figurative and allegorical one. There are miraculous parallels to draw between Christ and Moses. Just as Christ went out to preach the Gospel to his brothers and lead them out of the land of sin and eternal death, so did Moses go out to his brothers in faith to free them from the slavery of the Egyptians, which represented the slavery of all people by demons. The slain Egyptian then represents Satan, whom the Lord Jesus Christ cast into the Earth and down to Hell. Let's take a look at how this is reflected in church services. We can see this in the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, in the fifth song: "You, wretched soul, have not struck and killed your Egyptian mind, like great Moses. Say, then, how will you dwell in that desert solitude where the passions desert you through repentance?" The question can be more simply put in the following way: Like the Great Moses who defeated the Egyptian, you, unhappy soul, did not kill your proud mind; tell me how, then, to dwell in the wilderness through repentance and away from passions? The Egyptian who was killed by Moses represents the proud mind in the spiritual life of a person, and Moses represents the God-loving soul that kills this proud mind with its repentance, which is performed by invoking the name of Jesus Christ. Saint Basil the Great explains the act of Moses thus: "Having hated the pride of tyranny and returned to the humble state of his fellow tribesmen, Moses chose 'rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;' (Hebrews 11:25). Having received a love for the truth from nature itself, Moses, through an instinctual aversion to evil, was prepared to surrender his life in order to persecute evil even before he was entrusted with the command of the people. Having been driven out by God's favored people and having happily left the Egyptian upheaval behind, he retired to Ethiopia, where he spent forty whole years in deep contemplation of the world, perfectly free from other obligations." We can now draw an important conclusion for ourselves: Moses was both the prototype of the Lord Jesus Christ and a true Christian who called on the name of Jesus Christ and thereby mastered not only himself but also performed great miracles.
The Flight of Moses from Egypt
Moses was forced to flee from Egypt in order to save his life and the holiness he bore. Exodus 2: "15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and [when he arrived there] he sat down by a well." One legend tells us that the pharaoh immediately sent a man to kill Moses, who was unarmed and never carried weapons with him; Moses killed the wicked overseer with his own word. When the man raised his sword to smite Moses, the Archangel Michael, taking the form of an Egyptian chain boss, knocked the sword out of the executioner's hands and took off his head. Then he led Moses by his right hand as far as forty versts (26.5 miles, 42.7 kilometers) beyond Egypt and left him there. Another legend says that the swords of the men sent to kill Moses were smashed to pieces after being struck by something invisible above Moses' head. Some of the Egyptians then became deaf, some went blind, and some lost their minds so that none of them could pursue Moses. This legend conveys that the power of the Lord God's Name thus saved him. Moses later testified to this when naming his son. Exodus 18: "4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh[.]"
From the moment Moses left Egypt, he began a new forty-year period of his life away from his family and brothers in the faith in their arduous work, humility, and humiliation. What did he receive from those forty years he lived in the pharaoh's palace in Egypt? Why did God allow him this to have this period as the "Prince of Egypt"? Scripture only gives us a brief explanation. Acts 7: "22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." This teaching was necessary for Moses in order to eventually become the leader of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land so that he could oppose the pharaoh and his priests, who were powerful magicians that performed "miracles" with their demonic power. It was also necessary so that Moses could become a chronicler and write five books on the stories of God's creation of the world and man, the fall of man, God's elect, and God's people! That is why this story of the change of Moses' life and his flight from Egypt is very instructive. It is repeated in the Book of the Acts of the holy apostles by the holy saint Stephen before his martyrdom. Acts 7: "23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons."
What does this teach us? It teaches us that even the charitable nature of a cause and a desire to execute the will of God can lead a person to make a mistake if they are not yet ready to carry out the task that their zeal and desire to please God prompted them to. As well as the readiness of a single person, the state of the people, circumstances, and conditions corresponding to a good deed must also coincide. In this case, we are dealing with the fate of God's chosen people. That is why it was not enough to simply desire their release from the oppression of Egypt, nor was that desire alone enough to achieve their liberation from the yoke of oppression. It was important to know where to lead the people when they were freed from slavery! The people had to be given a plan of action, but it was first necessary to reveal the existential meaning of both the plan's implementation and God's very assignment of this divine task to His chosen people. Moses understood that it would be impossible to drive people who were used to living, first and foremost, rather well in the most civilized and developed country of the ancient world to be wild shepherds once again. These people, spoiled in spirit by Egyptian prosperity, had to be shown a high and true purpose from God, and both their liberation as well as their lives after said liberation had to be given some meaning.
I will also add the thoughts of St. John Chrysostom to all that has been said, which clarify a perplexing and obscure place about Moses' flight from Egypt from the epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews:
"By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). How can you say he was not afraid? The Scripture, on the contrary, says that when he heard of the Pharaoh's wrath he became afraid. He therefore sought refuge in flight, ran away, and hid himself, after which he lived in fear. Take a closer look at what has been said - the words 'not fearing the king's wrath' tell us that he appeared once again before the Pharaoh, for taking responsibility and action is not characteristic of a person who is afraid, but rather, of a person who relies on God in all things. Moses did not say: 'The king has devoted his full efforts to searching for me, I cannot undertake such a thing again.' Consequently, his flight was an act of faith. Why didn't he stay? In order not to expose himself to the obvious danger. Rushing headlong into danger and saying 'I will see if God saves me' would be appropriate for one who tempts God. Just as the Devil said to Christ: 'If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:' (Matthew 4:6). Can you see that it is a diabolical affair to fecklessly endanger oneself for no reason other than to simply test whether God will save you? The prelate's thought on this is clear. He attributes the motive for Moses' escape from the Pharaoh's wrath to his wisdom in avoiding obvious danger, and confirms this via the assertion that one cannot expose oneself to dangers in the hope that God will simply save them. It is impossible to disagree with Saint John's thoughts regarding the danger. As for the motivation for Moses' escape, however, I would add that the main reason for Moses' disappearance from Egypt was his failure in his mission to free Israel from Egyptian slavery. This failure was the result of the Hebrews' unpreparedness to leave Egypt, especially considering that it would have been under the leadership of a 'Prince of Egypt' who had come from the Israeli people. The threat from the Pharaoh was only an adjunct to this motivation. After all, the Scripture of the New Testament (the Book of Acts) tells us: 'For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.' And later: 'Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian.'"
That is, Moses fled not because of his fear of the Pharaoh, but from the words of the Israelite who rejected his saving mission. How can one not recall the words of the Gospel here? John 1: "11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
It turns out that the very Israel that did not accept Moses chose to not accept Jesus Christ the Savior centuries later, whom Moses represented throughout his life. Because of the Hebrews' blindness and distrust of Moses, God's work and the mission to liberate his brothers in faith and flesh broke down completely, which aggrieved and even crushed Moses. For him, it was not just a failure in an important matter, but the total collapse of his entire life. It was not for no reason that he fled to the foreign land of Midian, to a people of foreign faith and customs. From that moment on, he considered the whole Egyptian period of his life to have been for naught, and he could have never imagined that someday he would have to return to Egypt to appear before the pharaoh once again and lead the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. But the Lord God prepared him precisely for this momentous and profound act of service.
Moses' Stay in the Land of Midian
However, let us return to Moses, whom we left sitting at a loss next to a well in the land of Midian. A well with water is one of the more reliable places to find a man when in the desert. Therefore, Moses chose a well for himself as a place to wait. God's providence did not leave Moses but arranged a further and completely new stage of his life for him in the land of Midian as a shepherd of sheep. Thus, God humbled His servant, moving him "from hero to zero." And this is how it happened: Exodus 2: "16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters [who herded their father's sheep]: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's [Jethro's] flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away. but Moses stood up and helped them [by gathering water for them], and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said [to them], How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread."
What captures our attention first about this scene? The fact that seven girls were forced to graze their father's flock of sheep. If we recall the standing women had at that time, then this fact will perplex us. For the father to send his daughters out as shepherds meant exposing them to imminent danger from other shepherds and men in general who were stronger than the girls and could harass them or do them wrong. This is exactly what happened at that time in the presence of Moses. The shepherds who had driven the girls away from the well could not have possibly imagined that the lone Egyptian sitting next to them would intercede on the girls' behalf. But unlike Abraham, Moses, whom everyone took for an Egyptian due to his appearance and clothing, protected the poor girls from unjust harassment. He not only drove off the arrogant shepherds who used the water that the girls had scooped out but also gathered water for the girls and watered their sheep. This place begins with the note that the priest of Midian had seven daughters. Nothing is said about the priest's sons because he did not have any. The Scripture conveys the priest's names to us; he is Jethro at first, and then Reuel. The name Jethro means "excess," and Reuel means "God's flock."
The Venerable Ephrem the Syrian describes the event at the well and its further consequences: "He sat by a well and saw some lazy shepherds who wanted to snatch the water the girls had drawn. Out of his sense of justice he rescued the girls from the men's violent behaviour, and because he was compassionate by nature he drew water for their flock. When their father asked why they had returned so quickly, they told him about Moses' just and compassionate behaviour. He sent for Moses in order to repay him with a meal in his house for the kindness Moses had shown his daughters at the well. When the priest sent after him, Moses had been wondering where he should go and with whom he should stay. So he knew that the one who had rescued him from death in the river through Pharaoh's daughter and had delivered him from even Pharaoh's hands when he fled from under Pharaoh's very eyes, had put into the priest's mind the idea of taking Moses into his house and making him his son-in-law. Moses had escaped from magicians, only to encounter a pagan priest! But he was no more afraid of the priest than he had been of the magicians. For if he helped them, he would not be harmed by them. Yet Aaron was hurt and Miriam saddened, the very people who had formerly been proud to acknowledge him. Because of Moses' handsome appearance and integrity, and more importantly because God was with him, his hosts persuaded him to take Zipporah in marriage. As Jacob spared Laban's daughters the ignominy of working as shepherdesses, Moses was also to save Zipporah and her sisters from the drudgery of following the flock. He married Zipporah, and she bore him two sons. He circumcised one, but she would not allow him to circumcise the other. She was proud of her father and brothers, and though she had been willing to become Moses' wife she had not agreed to share his faith. She was the daughter of pagan priests, reared on sacrificial meat and accustomed to worshipping many gods. So she neither gave Moses both sons, nor withheld both from him. She gave him one to perpetuate the circumcision of Abraham, and withheld one to continue the uncircumcision of her father's family. Moses did not follow his parents or in-laws in the naming of his sons. The first he named after his sojourn as a refugee for God's sake, and the second he called after his deliverance from Pharaoh. After forty years, during which Moses was in Midian, the Pharaoh who had afflicted the Hebrew people died, and they groaned under their bondage. They remembered God's covenant with Abraham, that the time was completed and another thirty years had already passed. Because of this they prayed and were heard. 'God saw the Israelites, that they were in bondage, and God knew their pain, and what kind of remedy he would bring them.'"
We see that this time the virtue of Moses to protect the weak and downtrodden was rewarded with the establishment of his life in a foreign land. Exodus 2: "21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22 And she [conceived and] bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land." Jethro came to like Moses very much, and he decided to bring him into his family by giving him his eldest daughter Zipporah. Moses enjoyed living with Jethro, and he agreed to be married to the daughter of a Midian priest. Why Moses made this decision is less than obvious to us. A man who despised all the glory and wealth of Egypt could not be seduced by the modest life and belongings of a Midian priest whose daughters were forced to graze his sheep. The Midianites were originally Abrahamites from Keturah, the lawful wife of Abraham but did not enter Israel for they did not fall under the promise of the blessed seed of Isaac and his descendants. This led to a historical envy of Israel and an inferiority complex on the part of the Midianites. The case was similar with the descendants of Ishmael, also called Hagrites and Saracens. They also envied Israel and suffered from similar complexes because of their slave origins. After the adoption of the faith preached by Mohammad, the sons of Ishmael became known as Mohammedans. However, this did not save them from their inner complexes before Israel in the flesh - the Hebrews - or before spiritual Israel - the Church of Christ. That is why they hated Israel and the Church. This hatred often drove them to allow themselves to be used by Satan in order to oppress the descendants of Abraham, whom they always envied and still do to this day. The Midianites were equal in flesh to Israel because they were descended from Keturah, the lawful wife of Abraham, who Abraham took after the death of Sarah. Genesis 25: "1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, [Teman], and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were [Reuel, Navdeil,] Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto [his son] Isaac."
Abraham gave all that he had to his son Isaac, on whom rested the blessing of God, as on the seed from which the Son of God Jesus Christ was to descend in the flesh. How could the legitimate sons of Keturah not be jealous and not bear resentment towards Isaac and Israel? Perhaps this is precisely what afflicted the Midianites so much that they refused to abide by the commands of Abraham to circumcise male babies on the eighth day after their birth and be faithful to the one God of Abraham.
Here the question arises: why did Moses enjoy living with the Midian priest Jethro if the latter was not circumcised and did not keep the faith of Abraham? How can it be good for a man of God to be in the company of a man who tramples on the covenants of Abraham and worships a pantheon of several gods? And why does Moses call Jethro a holy man, unlike the priests of Egypt and other pagan cults? On the one hand, only Israel had true faith at that time. On the other hand, the Midian priest, unlike the Egyptians and other idolaters, worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He honored him along with other "gods," whom he allowed his daughters to worship. According to one version of the story, his daughter Zipporah worshiped one of these "gods" instead of the God of Abraham and therefore refused to circumcise her and Moses' second son. According to another, Jethro himself did not allow Moses to circumcise his firstborn. The second version is more convincing inasmuch as Moses had power over his wife but did not have power over his father-in-law, a priest. The Midianites did not perform the ritual of circumcision that God commanded Abraham to do and therefore could not enter Israel (the Church of God). Nevertheless, the niche allotted by Jethro for worshiping the God of Abraham, albeit along with the worship of idols, served as a sufficient basis for calling him a holy man as opposed to a pagan priest or a sorcerer, as well as for Moses' staying with him as his son-in-law. Moses used this niche of Jethro's to worship the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In fact, the conjunction of Moses and Jethro, arranged for Moses by God's providence, was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Through this arrangement, Moses acquired lodging, a home front, and protection in the land of Midian, as well as the opportunity to engage freely in prayer and contemplation. Jethro received a strong warrior and defender, a robust and healthy worker, a husband for his eldest daughter and a father for his two grandchildren. The union of Moses and Zipporah will be discussed later.
It is appropriate here to provide some information about the land of Midian and about the Midianites themselves. The land of Midian (meaning 'disputes', 'feuds') was a desert area lying around the eastern branch of the Red Sea (Yam Suph) and was believed to be inhabited by the descendants of Midian, the fourth son of Abraham and Keturah. They were defeated by Hadad in the field of Moab (Genesis 36:35). The land of Midian was famous for its camels, and the descendants of Midian had huge herds of single-humped camels known as dromedaries. The Midianites were a nomadic people living on the Sinai Peninsula. At the invitation of the Moabites, the Midianites went to Balaam with their elders to ask him to curse the Israelites. For their hostile attitude towards the Hebrews, the Midianites were severely punished. Their kings and male population were exterminated, cities and fortresses were set ablaze, all of their various properties, along with their wives and children, were brought to the field of Israel and distributed there among the people by Moses and Eleazar. In this case, a certain portion of the Midianites perhaps avoided the general battering, because a little later we see them attacking and tormenting the Israelis for seven years, at least until Gideon defeated them completely. Having witnessed the event, the holy writer of the Book of Judges pointed out that the Midianites humbled themselves before the sons of Israel and lifted up their heads no more (Judges 8:28). The memory of the terrible defeat inflicted by Gideon on the Midianites became a proverb in the centuries to come: "Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison," cries the Psalmist to God seeking revenge on the enemies of His people (Psalms 83:9).
I repeat that the Midianites were not considered part of the Israeli people but instead owed their origin to Abraham, for they descended from his son Midian, who was born of Abraham's second wife Keturah after the death of Sarah. Abraham, then, was the forefather of the Israelites and the Midianites. It was from Abraham's heritage that Zipporah, the wife of Moses, and her father Reuel learned to worship the One True God, even if Reuel allowed the worship of other "gods" at the same time. In this sense, it was useful for Moses to learn the basics of Abraham's ministry from his father-in-law, for he did not have such an opportunity in Egypt. Therefore, the Scripture (written by Moses himself) calls Reuel a holy man and not a sorcerer or pagan priest. Unfortunately, Reuel allowed his daughters to worship whichever of those "gods" that they wanted. Initially, Moses' marriage to Reuel's eldest daughter Zipporah was not based on mutual love but was a mutual concession due to each side's prevailing circumstances. Reuel needed a strong and stalwart man to manage and protect his house, and Zipporah was the eldest of his daughters; therefore, she was given first. There is an Old Testament tale in which Moses came to the land of Midian just when Jethro, the priest of that land, had experienced immense disillusionment regarding his pagan religion. The Lord God brought Moses to the Land of Midian for this reason as well, so that the Prophet of God would instruct this seeker! Moses taught Reuel the true faith, and Reuel passed everything he knew of the priesthood of the God of Abraham to Moses. After all, a single priesthood established by God and a single worship of the One True God did not yet exist. All this came about under Moses' leadership of Israel. The sudden change in the man's name is also indicative of a change in Reuel's religious position. In Verse 16 of the Septuagint the man's name is rendered as "Jethro," which means 'excess' (in other words, "superfluous"), then from Verse 18 onward his name changes to "Reuel," which means 'Friend of God' (in other words, "God's flock"). According to legend, Moses found a rod (staff) in Jethro's garden stuck in the ground that no one could pull out. The history of this rod is very captivating and wondrous. "And Moses came to Reuel's garden, which was behind his house, and prayed to his God, Who worked miracles and freed him from that prison. When he was praying, he lifted his eyes and saw that a staff was stuck in the earth in the middle of the garden. And he went over to the it, and on it was written the Name of the Lord God of Hosts (the strength of this staff lay in the Name of the Lord God!). And going over to it, he then pulled it out, and it happened such that in his hands was the staff by which the miracles of God came to be when He created the heavens and the Earth and everything in them, the sea and the rivers, and all their fish. And when He expelled Adam from the Garden of Eden, Adam took that staff in his hands. And the staff passed from Adam to Noah, Noah passed it to Shem and his offspring, and this continued until the staff reached the hands of Abraham. Abraham gave it to Isaac, and Isaac gave it to Jacob. And Jacob, when he fled to the brink of the Aramean lands, took the staff with him. He gave it to Joseph, bypassing his brothers' legacy. And when the Egyptians ravaged Joseph's house after his death, this club turned out to be at Reuel's house, where he planted it in the middle of his garden. And all of the heroic men who wanted to take his daughter as a wife also wanted to take possession of the staff, but no one managed to do so before Moses, to whom the staff was destined, and who could therefore pull it out of the ground. And it so happened that Reuel saw the staff in the hands of Moses and was surprised. And so he gave his daughter Zipporah to him as a wife."
Zipporah was forced to acquiesce to her father and marry Moses, whom she did not love, and who, unlike Saint James, did not have a penchant for the fairer sex; he had not known a woman before Zipporah (that is, he was a virgin). However, she was still pleased that her husband had once been the prince of Egypt, and the standing of a married woman was much steadier than that of a single woman. In any case, she no longer had to run all over the desert to graze her father's sheep. The stingy lines of Moses' part of The Scripture regarding his relationship with Zipporah imply that their marriage was more so a calculated deal than a union of love and consent. Why did Moses consent to marry a girl he did not love, who did not love him? Indeed, in following the sacraments of marriage, the priest asks God to bless the husband and wife, as Abraham and Sarah, as Isaac and Rebekah, as Jacob and Rachel, as Moses and Zipporah. In this way, the Church of Christ, which is based not only on Scripture but also on lore (which in turn complements and elaborates upon the Scripture) shows us the marriage of Moses and Zipporah (like all other mentioned couples) as a union blessed by God and a model to follow! There may seem to be some discrepancies between the instructions of Scripture and those of the Church of Christ, but this is not so.
The marriage of Moses and Zipporah was realized by God's providence according to the principle of the Covenant, and not according to human love. After all, we first enter into the Covenant with God and only then gradually grow in this Testament to love God, the Creator of the Covenant! A similar thing was visible in the marriage of Moses and Zipporah. It began as a sacred union but then grew into something more, which will be discussed later. In the meantime, I will note that the whole legend about Moses' personal life clearly shows us that he could not exchange the great blessings of Egypt for the minor blessings of the Midian priest's family, given that he rejected them for the sake of the God of his fathers. Moreover, he expected to find no solace in marital relations or in familial happiness. He was not interested in personal happiness, for he was situated much higher than all of that, above all earthly goods and affections. For this reason, he got very little out of the marriage - only two sons. But he was able to introduce his sons, who were Midianites by their mother's line, to Israel, providing the other Midianites with a good example as well as hope for their return to the God of Abraham. There was nothing accidental in the life of Moses, as everything was accomplished within the framework of God's special providence. Even the fact that he only had two sons, one circumcised and the other uncircumcised, was by no means mere happenstance! If we consider it from a prototypical standpoint, then the union of Moses and Zipporah signifies the union of Christ and His Church. Then two sons - circumcised and uncircumcised - represent the two streams of people who entered the Church of Christ. The first stream consists of the number of Hebrews who turned to Christ, and the second the number of pagans who turned to Christ that were permitted to be uncircumcised by the Abrahamic Covenant. This was the result of both the fact that the Covenant was postponed and the New Testament, in which a person's soul and all of its sinfulness are "circumcised" by the sacrament of baptism, came into effect. It is important for us to understand that Moses was irresistibly attracted to only the One True Lord God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He devoted his entire life to serving Him, and we can learn from the example of Moses' gravitation toward God. He uses his whole life to teach us that there is nothing better and more precious on Earth than the Lord God. Therefore, the meaning and purpose of human life is good fellowship with our Gracious God! All our other aspirations, deeds, and wants should be aimed at achieving communion with God, at preserving and strengthening this communion, at developing it to a sonship with God and companionship with Him! But God told the first man He had created that it was not good to be a lone man, and created a companion for him - a wife! This does not at all mean that a married man is better than an unmarried man. All the monks and hermits who flourished through the Lord deny this! Why is it not good for a man to be alone? In what sense? In the sense that man is not an autonomous being that is lonely, but social. And according to God's Plan, this sociability helps a person to perpetuate the Church. That is why woman, brought to man in finished form and given unto him as a wife, was created by God from a piece of man. And marriage fills the Church with new children, completing the Church's divine social cycle. The word "church" comes from the word "circle." Then it turns out that Eve was granted to Adam, and Sarah to Abraham, Rebekah to Isaac, Rachel to Jacob, and Zipporah to Moses, and they were all granted as churches! I will speak on how Zipporah became a church a bit later.
We learn from the biblical narrative that Moses lived in the land of Midian for forty years, and at eighty years of age he was sent to Egypt by God to deliver the people of Israel from Egyptian captivity. It turns out that Moses' entire life, which lasted 120 years, was divided into three equal periods of forty years each: his life in Egypt as a prince, his life in the land of Midian as a shepherd, and his life as a prophet, leader, and judge of the people of Israel during its Exodus from Egypt and their wandering in the wilderness. These periods of his life were all completely different from one another! He essentially managed to live three completely different lives, which we do not observe in any other biblical character. We have been moving toward the end of the forty years allocated by God for Moses' life in the land of Midian. During this time, the Hebrews' already extremely difficult situation in Egypt worsened until it became intolerable. Exodus 2: "23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." We can see that the Israelites were now ready for an escape from the cruel slavery of Egypt, and God looked upon them. They lamented their work to God and cried out from the burden and pain it brought them. As a result, their cry went up to God. God accepted their cry, intensified by their afflictions, and heard it; that is, He accepted their request and decided to fulfill it. The words "God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" mean that He decided to fulfill His earlier promise. The expression "God looked upon the children of Israel" means that He saw them in their current lamentable position, which He then evaluated and found a way to solve. The words "God had respect unto them" mean that God took pity on the suffering Hebrews, showed compassion for them, and began to act to ameliorate their difficult situation. He prepared Moses himself for their deliverance, whom they rejected forty years prior. Moses himself hadn't the slightest idea that God had chosen him to carry out this mission. Moreover, Egypt was the last place on Earth that he wanted to go! Here is what Saint Cyril of Alexandria wrote about the Hebrews' position in Egypt and God's care for them: "The Egyptians committed acts of violence against the Israelites, laying on them the yoke of obligatory slavery and assigning cruel and unmerciful slavers to them that "made their lives bitter from hard bondage," as it is written (Exodus 1:14). They, suppressed by such great violence, crying, weeping, and miserable, finally began to pray that they could be worthy of mercy from above. But God visited them, saying, "God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." (Exodus 2:25). So, when we are in ignorance of God, we then fall under the power of wrongdoers and wallow in the mud of sin, with cruel, severe, and unclean demons watching over us to ensure we remain there. An acquaintance with God is undoubtedly followed by the grace of freedom. But that was accomplished in a prototypical way, "and they were written for our admonition," as it is written (1 Corinthians 10:11). And the prototype consists of one people, namely Israel, but it can teach us very well and very clearly that the goal of unclean spirits and the Devil is to encourage those who live on the Earth to spend time on trivial things and carry out acts of the flesh. A person whose mind is not free to turn upwards to the Heavens will never come to know the Lord or direct its attention to what is pleasing to Him, thus casting off the yoke of the Devil's slavery. Since a love of freedom is inherent in human nature, sometimes we do not give praise to our passions; on the contrary, we often shrink from them, abandoning the ugliness of carnal pleasures and recovering for a short time to crave help from above and from God, as well as weep a great deal for our involuntary slavery. This, I think, is the meaning conveyed in the Scripture: "and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage to God (Exodus 2:23)."
We do not know anything about the spiritual life of Moses in the land of Midian, but we can assume that he, taking advantage of his frequent trips to the wilderness, prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He led, in fact, a strict and ascetic lifestyle that was later inherent to the lives of Christ's monks and hermits. In this sense, he can rightfully be called the first wilderness dweller and monk, for he did not live by his marriage but retained it formally. The austere life of a shepherd and unceasing prayer to God Almighty served to elevate Moses, albeit in a way that was imperceptible to Moses himself, to such spiritual perfection that he was not only ready to commune with the Lord directly, but also reach the zenith of divine communion - seeing God Himself! By the end of the fortieth year of that stage of his life, God finally honors Moses with His visit. In total, eighty years of Moses' life on Earth had passed before this visit! But, despite the spiritual perfection achieved by him over this time, he still had to pass God's most significant test, which he could not have done without Zipporah, his "Church!"
There is a legend about how Moses once lost a little sheep. After searching for a long time, he finally found it near a raging river. The lamb was thirsty, but it did not dare to approach the stream that was so violently rushing along. Out of tenderness, Moses exclaimed: "You poor lamb! I did not realize that you are merely thirsty and therefore ran to the water! You are tired, and see now, I shall help you." After giving the lamb a drink, Moses carried it back to the herd on his shoulders. And then the Lord God said: "You feel compassion for the flock of ordinary mortal man, of flesh and blood! From now on, you shall be the shepherd of Israel, My flock."
Moses' First Meeting and Conversation with the Lord God
Our time in this life passes us by so quickly. The time of Moses' forty-year test as a shepherd of sheep passed, and God prepared Moses for his first meeting with Him, as well as the salvation of His people. Exodus 3: "1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses! Moses! And he said, Here am I [Lord]. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said [to Moses], I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." We see that Moses, grazing his sheep, wandered far into the wilderness to Horeb, the Mountain of God. This mountain would later be called Sinai and the mountain of Moses. One such legend exists in which Moses, while passing by Mount Horeb, noticed that birds were afraid to approach the mountain and circled in the distance instead. When Moses headed towards the mountain, it seemed to him that the mountain itself began to move in his direction, as if in response to him. As soon as Moses took a step back, the mountain also returned to its former place. And when Moses reached the foot of Mount Horeb, it settled and froze in place. So, it is precisely at the Mount of God that an angel of the Lord appears to Moses and performs a miracle with a bush to capture his attention. The miracle consisted of the fact that the large thorn bush was enveloped in flame but was not even touched by the fire, let alone consumed by it. Moses decided to step a bit closer to this phenomenon in order to analyze it, for he was surprised by this ongoing violation of the natural order. And in this moment, he gave a voice to his decision, pronouncing it out loud. He did this by exercising his religious genius, and by doing so, he seemed to inform God of his decision, thereby safeguarding himself against possible dangers. The Lord God expected such a reaction from Moses. Seeing that Moses was going to examine the miracle, He Himself was the first to call to Moses from the bush. God purposely pronounces Moses' name twice. The repetition of a person's name twice by God always speaks to a distinctive divine approval or calling. With this profound proclamation of Moses' name, God not only addresses him by name, but also shows His omniscience, with which he is preparing Moses to communicate with Him and to receive His message expressing His will. Moses recognizes the presence of the Lord and answers him, saying: "Here am I, [Lord]!" And that's how the verbal communication of man with the Lord God took place! This happened for the first time since Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! And God began to call Himself the God of Moses as well, which emphasized Moses' extraordinary chosen status. After that, God halts Moses in his march to the bush, evaluating his obedience and humility and saying: "Draw not nigh hither." He then explains the reason for such a pause to Moses: "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." It is here that we encounter a new phenomenon and concept for the first time, namely that of holy ground. The Lord God Himself called the ground thus! This is very strange for us, for we know that God cursed the earth because of the sins of Adam. We know of only one such case prior to this, when Saint James called a place "the house of God" after having a dream. Genesis 28: "16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. 17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." But these things were said about this place by Jacob as a man under a singular impression. In our case, the Lord God Himself calls all of the earth in the region of God's mountain Horeb one thing - holy land. By doing so, God revealed to us that He has introduced a new phenomenon through His deliberate sanctification of certain pieces of land, which consequently became holy and were referred to as holy. On these tracts of holy land, God appeared to His chosen people in a distinctive way, revealed His will and secrets to them, and performed miracles. In addition, the holy land became a source of sanctification for those people who humbly and reverently stepped onto it and abided there. God teaches all of us this behavior through Moses. Exodus 3: "5 put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Removing one's shoes is a symbolic act of humility and reverence for God's holiness on the Earth. Furthermore, God unites the bare feet of man with the blessed energy of the holy land in order to "charge" His man with holiness from the sacred place. Saint Ambrose uses the example of Moses removing his shoes as an appeal for every believer to shed the hindrances "of the flesh and step forward barefoot in spirit and mind." Saint Gregory of Nazianzus sees in Moses' actions a call for clergy to present themselves to God and reject perishable, temporary things "so as not to bring anything dead between God and people." In any case, God's decree to decisively throw the shoes from one's feet means that a person must decisively and quickly discard everything that is ordinary, human, and habitual before they can enter into communion with the Holy God. This is done so that a person whose entire being is in tune can perceive an utterly new reality through communion with God, one that has been laid bare before them by God in revealing Himself to them! This reality is not new in the sense that it is simply yet another mundane reality (such as the name of a new city, for example) heretofore unknown by the person, but rather one that is entirely, principally new, one that is uncharted and incomparable to any others!
We also know that an entire person can, in a figurative sense, be called "the earth." The same applies to a person's heart. How can we understand the holiness of such "land" and God's presence on it and link this to the holiness of Moses himself? After all, it is evident that God places the holiness of the ground above the holiness of Moses, which is why he commands him to throw off his shoes. If we understand the ground's holiness figuratively as the holiness of the earthly Church of Christ in which the Blessed Virgin Mary shone forth through the unburnt bush, and recall that the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born through her, then everything falls into place.3 For all of his holiness, Moses is not holier than the Church of Christ! And it is not Moses who saves the church, but the church that saves Moses, as well as all its other members!
Saint Clement of Alexandria received the vision of the unburnt bush, covered in thorns and Christ-centered: "For when the Almighty Lord of the universe began to legislate by the Word, and wished His power to be manifested to Moses, a godlike vision of light that had assumed a shape was shown him in the burning bush. The bush is a thorny plant; but when the Word ended the giving of the law and His stay with men, the Lord was again mystically crowned with thorn. On His departure from this world to the place whence He came, He repeated the beginning of His old descent, in order that the Word beheld at first in the bush, and afterwards taken up crowned by the thorn, might show the whole to be the work of one power, He Himself being one, the Son of the Father, who is truly one, the beginning and the end of time." Liturgical theology observes the Blessed Virgin Mary herself in the unburnt bush, who accepted in herself He who is everlasting. Isaiah 64: "1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 As when the melting fire burneth... " Saint John of Damascus also speaks to this: "The bush was the image of the Mother of God, and to Moses who was intending to approach her, God said: 'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet...'" So, if the land on which the image of the Virgin was revealed to Moses is holy, then how much holier can this image be said to be? For it is not simply holy, but I dare say it is holy among the holy.
Having prepared Moses with his humility, the Lord God immediately sets to work. Exodus 3: "6 Moreover he said [to him]: I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the Lord said [to Moses], I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, [and the Girgashites,] and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them." At first, God appears to Moses as the God of his father, as well as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It is unlikely that the Lord God would choose to call Himself the God of Moses' father from the flesh of Amram here. If Moses' father is present somewhere, then he is only present as one of God's many people. It is not worth it for God to talk about the flesh, and therefore He first speaks of Abraham, Moses' father in faith and the father of all believers, highlighting Moses' connection to Abraham. Afterward, He calls Himself God three times, transferring the general to the specific, that is, His belonging to the people of God that descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - the one God in three persons. The mention of God's elect - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - in God's self-designation speaks to the importance of these people in the eyes and Providence of God, as well as in the history of mankind. History is formed not by nations and crowds of people, but by God's chosen people. Therefore, God is not ashamed to call Himself the God of these people - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. After Moses discerned whom he was interacting with and realized what God he was facing, he immediately covered his face because he was afraid to glance at God. He was not yet ready to see the Lord and considered himself both incapable of doing so and unworthy of Him. In this case, we must consider Moses as both an individual and a human being in general inasmuch as we are interested in the historical communion of God and Moses as well as the general relationship between God and man! Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses were not only God's holy elected, His saints, and His prophets but also accomplices in the creation of a concept that had yet to begin to exist (before Christ) - theanthropism! They helped God work out the essential integration of two natures - the divine and the human. By communicating with each of these saints, the son of God seemed to "try on" human nature! Why did He do this? He did this so that the power and supreme transcendence of His Godship would not destroy or damage this nature but rather make it capable of connecting with the Divine, or to deification! It is clear that He first redeemed it and saved it with His Godly deed [the Crucifixion]. We are firmly taught by God and His church the truth that the being of God is, in His true nature and strength, unavailable not only to people living in the flesh but also to the brightest of spirits themselves - God's angels. If they see the presence of God, then it is either in a certain likeness, or in the incarnate Christ ("he who hath seen Me hath seen the Father"), or His glory, but not His inherent essence. A mere man's attempt to glance upon that which is impossible for him to fathom would lead to his immediate death. God-seeing is the most exalted gift granted by God, which He can only give to those who are worthy, those who are able to accept it, and those who would be unharmed by bearing it. It is through God-seeing that a person's true spiritual growth and purity are determined. The purer, holier, more spiritual, and more divine a person is, the more they can look at God and see what they can see in Him. Nobody can or will ever see the full perfection of God! Only people who have been maximally prepared by God can even see God "in part" (for Moses, it was "from behind"), and these people have been remarkably few across the entire span of human history! Everything that the Lord God does in His appearances to man has a benevolent effect on him, influencing him and changing him for the better. After each act of communion with God, a person becomes more pure, enlightened, refined, spiritual, wise, and humble. They receive completely new knowledge and are deified to one degree or another. This transcendence also took place with Moses. In the case of the bush, he did not dare to look at God with his own eyes, but glanced at Him with his spirit, sensing His presence and goodness in a way that was incomprehensible to him! But God does not stop His influence on Moses, and continues to tell him about things that are earthly and familiar to him, namely the current suffering of the Hebrews in Egypt. He adds that He is going to deliver them from the hands of the Egyptians to the Promised Land, which He calls by the name of the peoples living there. This name, on the one hand, emphasizes the exact coordinates of a specific land so that it could not be confused with any other. And on the other hand, God lists these wicked nations who irrevocably turned from Him, doing so in order to cleanse the Promised Land of them, for it is impossible to enter a land that has not yet been freed from its inhabitants. The nations enumerated by God, which by their own will brought themselves to an animalistic and inhuman state, were doomed by God's judgment to be completely eradicated from the face of the earth. In this case one cannot allow for mistakes in terms of location, and therefore God designates them specifically to Moses, who was prepared by God as a cleanser of nonhumans from the Earth. Israel should have had its first experience of such a purification in Egypt, which was gravely unclean but had not yet reached a point that would require its complete and utter destruction. It is written: "And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters;" - the Lord God shows Moses a change in the position of God's people, and most importantly, a change in their frame of mind. They had already prayed so much that their prayers merged into a single aggregate cry reaching up to God. God sees and understands the Hebrews' circumstances and brings news of this to Moses. He also informs Moses that the Egyptian persecution against the Hebrews has acquired a comprehensive and country-wide character. God therefore plans to deliver His people not only from the pharaoh and his servants but from all of the Egyptians. All of them, through their hatred of God's people, placed themselves among the ranks of God's opposition and enemies. Moses listens to this revelation of his faith, which is pleasing to the ear, but is left at a loss regarding one thing - what he has to do with it. And then God, at long last, reveals Moses' mission and participation in the liberation of Israel to him. Exodus 3: "10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt." That is, God asks Moses to start the process right away, to start heading toward Egypt, and He will send him to the pharaoh along the way. With these words, God emphasizes to Moses that the pharaoh will be his main opponent. At first, God simply commands Moses: "Come now therefore;" that is, 'humbly accept My command and go to Egypt in obedience, doing everything that I tell you.' And then He explains to Moses what he has to do. Moses must do what God said about Himself just a little earlier: "And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey..." It turns out that God entrusts Moses with His work, which he must do instead of and alongside God! This puts Moses on the level of God, making him a God to the Egyptians and to Israel! Moses realized this and was perplexed, for he did not consider himself capable or worthy of performing such a task. He then expressed this to God. Exodus 3: "11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" Or, in other words, who am I to be God instead of You? The Lord God accepted Moses' humility, and then addressed his bewilderment. Exodus 3: "12 And he [God] said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." 'I shall be with you' - this is the kind of symbiosis God proposed to Moses! 'And for this reason, it is exactly you, Moses, who will be God for the people.' To this, God added a sign and a promise - 'when you lead My people out of Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain. That is, it is certain that you will fulfill the mission that I have assigned to you and take Israel out of Egypt, and it is on this exact mountain that you will serve Me.' However, even after this assurance, Moses continues to search for a reason to refuse this considerably honorable mission, which he perceives as an extremely uncomfortable and difficult one for him. Exodus 3: "13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" After the complete collapse of his first attempt to help God's people, Moses did not consider himself suitable for such a mission, as he had seen that he was completely incapable of doing God's work before. He rightly believed that if they did not listen to him when he was still young, noble, and strong, then they would not listen now that he had aged, having become weak and unknown to them. But in such cases, one must not trust oneself and one's own assessment of things but rather trust God and His assessment of things! It is precisely this trust in God, and not the humble refusal of what He has proposed, that makes up true and pious humility. The humility of man from within himself and for himself, diminishing him on the grounds that his blessed vision allows him to see himself as sinful, unworthy, and worse than all others - this is not accepted by God. In this case, Moses expresses his reservation to God that the people of Israel will reject him again, doing so for two reasons. On the one hand, he is looking for an excuse to abandon the mission, and on the other, when he realizes that he still has to carry it out, he wants to be prepared for any complications that could lead his Divine mission to be called into question. To this end, Moses, knowing the importance and power of God's name, asks God which name He wants to use when introducing Himself to His people. This is why God answers Moses' objection in the following way. Exodus 3: "14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." In His answer to Moses about His name, God reveals two of His names to him and all the people. One is essential or absolute, and the other is commonly used in connection with God's chosen ones, and through them, with the people (the church). The words "thus shalt thou say" establish for Moses that he must repeat God's words verbatim, without the slightest distortion. First, God teaches the truth about His being to Moses: I AM THAT I AM. In human, rational language, this means "I am the One who is the Only One, I always Exist [I have a place to be, I always am, was, and shall be]." But all human explanations are insufficient in this case, because it is impossible to express the inexpressible with human speech and conceptualizations! The words "I AM THAT I AM" are spoken by God not to our minds or sense of reason but to our spirit. Only the spirit of a person who has been sufficiently purified by God and connected to Him in an ineffable way can feel this truth, but they cannot utter it! That is why after this theological monolith, this unattainable summit, the Lord God gives His middle name, suitable for comprehension and use by people. This is not the intrinsic, co-existing with the essential name of God, but it is the name He gives to His connection with certain individuals and the whole of God's people: the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Through this name, the Lord God tells the people that He is the very God who chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who was with them in their lives and who therefore is the God of all who descended from them (these descendants being the people named after one of the chosen ones of God - Israel, who was named by God). Moreover, God emphasized that this is His name forever, "and this is [His] memorial unto all generations;" that is, for many hundreds of years of earthly life and for many generations of God's people. It is important for us to note that God did not speak His name as "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" but as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." This is not an accidental repetition of the word "God" three times but an indication of the Trinity of the One God who appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is, this is a concealed expression of the Holy Trinity of the One God. For sake of convenience, we can say the following: "The God of Abraham" refers to God the Father, "the God of Isaac" refers to God the Son, and "the God of Jacob" to God the Holy Spirit; all together, they refer to the One God in Three Persons, distinct, inseparable, and immiscible. In the time of Mosaic Law, this name was extremely important for the each and every one of God's people. In the time of grace, through which we have the happiness to live and create, this name bears only historical significance for us, for Christ teaches us about the divine and active names of God: God the Father; God the Son; God the Holy Spirit; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Jesus Christ; the Lamb of God.
In connection with these established names for God, the following question arises: why is the people of God called Israel and not derived from the names of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or from a combination of these three names together? Why is it Israel, and not Jacob, for example? To understand this, we must recall that Jacob was renamed Israel by God after his overnight struggle with the Son of God! This "fight" was not a duel between two rivals in which one was supposed to defeat the other. This struggle, featuring a strong embrace between humanity and the divine, was a struggle to unite two inherently irreconcilable and incompatible natures - the divine and the human! After this embrace with God, God gives Jacob a completely new name - Israel! What happened to Jacob that required him to have a new name? Jacob was the first of all people to forge ahead through the inception of the theandric into human nature! After Jacob, this work was continued by the Church through itself! It is, therefore, called the New Israel! The lameness of Israel does not then mean injury or illness, but the eternal, sacred, and natural concession of human nature to divine nature, which is the case even in their divisible and indivisible union in the God-man Jesus Christ! In this unity, God does not emerge as the victor with man as the loser, but God will forever preserve in Himself His natural superiority over human nature, which will always be "lame" before God. That is why in the theological sense it is impossible to attribute an atheistic quality or name to the people of Israel, for the containment of God through tenacious embraces is not an act of atheism. It is instead an act of creating the theandric unity that was fully manifested in Jesus Christ as well as in His church, which, according to the apostle Paul, is the divine and human body of Christ! Moses could advance this creation further than Israel, but could not change anything about it. That is why the name of the first performer of this act, Israel, and not Moses, who simply improved upon it, is preserved in the Church and Its people.
Then the Lord God proceeds to more concrete matters. Exodus 3: "16 Go, and gather the elders [sons] of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, [the God] of Isaac, and [the God] of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, [the Girgashites] and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God."
God makes Moses an intermediary between Him and His people, as well as between Him and the pharaoh. To confirm Moses' authority, the Lord God advises him to refer to His appearance to Moses, as well as to the immutability of a blessed exodus of Israel from Egypt under the guidance of the Lord God Himself. God bolsters Moses with the promise that the elders of the sons of Israel will heed his voice. On top of that, God indicates specific details such as the place, time, and reason for Israel's exodus from Egypt.
The Lord God then reveals to Moses that there will be problems with Pharaoh and that Moses will have to humble him with a firm hand, smiting the people of Egypt with miracles. Exodus 3: "19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians."
First, the Lord displays his knowledge of the pharaoh's state of mind and mood, and that because of the quality of his soul he will not let Israel go unless he is forced to do so by a mighty hand, that is, with such force and circumstances that he cannot fail to yield. God forecasts to Moses what He will do so that Pharaoh will let Israel go, and how He will situate the Egyptians to voluntarily give the people of God gold, silver, and other expensive things and clothes at the request of their women. God's instruction, reinforced by the words "and ye shall spoil the Egyptians," will puzzle or even outrage many prosaic readers, especially the "patriots," "statesmen," "right-wingers," "legalists," "moralists," and others like them. Their minds, accustomed to certain systems, will be exposed to a break in their pattern in their misunderstanding of truth, justice, goodness, and legality. And as time goes on, this befuddlement of theirs will only increase, reaching its limit when reading about the killing of all the firstborns in Egypt, from humankind to cattle, by the destroyer. In fact, if you set the fulcrum of your mind correctly and reinforce it with faith in the Living God, then everything will be clear and simple. The fact is that the measure of truth, justice, mercy, kindness, virtue, and legality is not the opinions of people, whoever or whatever they are, but only the one Lord God! It is He who determines His laws, rules, commandments, courts, and decisions. He and only He gives us the concepts of what sin and evil are and what is virtuous and good. He builds His eternal, blissful, and endless world according to His plan (Providence) and designs. We can either subserve Him, humble ourselves before Him, and remain within the framework of His Providence for each of us, or choose to leave His Providence and care behind (which is a sin, as well as a foolish choice with ugly consequences), thereby dooming ourselves to eternal isolation from Him and His creation. In this light, it is not human opinion, judgment, and feelings which matter, but that which pleases God and has been revealed and confirmed by the Lord God Himself. Everything that is done in accordance to the will of God and within the limits of His Providence regarding His creations is pleasing to Him and therefore beneficent, good and useful to us. But the opposite, that which does not please Him, is sinful, evil, and harmful to us. In this case, God, in looking after Moses, looks after the whole of God's people, the future Church of Christ, and the good of all mankind. That is why everything that is done within the framework of this providence in accordance with His truth and His will (i.e. commands) is a true good, the immutable truth, and supreme justice! All the punishments of the wicked Egyptians, all of their sorrows, deaths, illnesses, and woes, were a just recompense of what they sowed with their evil and godless interference in the divine providence of Moses and the people of God. In this, there is no cruelty, no falsehood, no sinfulness, and no evil. This is the implementation of God's truth, His righteous judgment, and the guarantee of God's dispensation! That is why you should never rush to a conclusion or rush to judge and act on a circumstance before you see whom the Lord God is behind in the affair! Always stay on the side of God and not on the side of people, be they your relatives, friends, countrymen, colleagues, or whoever else. God alone is always right and everything depends on Him only! Do not turn on Him, for it is insane, useless, futile, ruinous, agonizing, grievous, and destructive! It would seem that after God gives such answers that the question should be resolved, but Moses is not satisfied with what God has said and continues his line of questioning regarding the forthcoming future. This demonstrates his thoroughness and the seriousness which with he regards God's work, as well as his sense of zeal for his success. Exodus 4: "1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, the Lord hath not appeared unto thee. [And so what do I tell them?]" We can see that Moses' doubts were not in God and not in himself, but in the people, and these doubts had a foundation. God continues to convince Moses and reinforces his mission by giving him three wonderful signs that Moses can use repeatedly to assure the people. Exodus 4: "1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. [And so what do I tell them?] 2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it [by the tail], and it became a rod in his hand: 5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. 6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. 7 And he [the Lord] said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land."
Each of us can put ourselves in Moses' place and consider what would happen if we started running around and telling people that the Living God appeared to us and sent us personally to do this and that. It is unlikely that even one person would believe this. The mere assurances of a man himself, testifying about himself, is not enough, especially when you are dealing with people who do not know you, your God, or your relationship with Him. Why didn't God anticipate this question, and why didn't He propose a solution? Because He trusts Moses completely with not only His work, but also with the set of so-called tools that he needs to carry it out. This set of tools should be selected by Moses himself, and this is what he is doing in conversation with the Lord God. In response to the problem posed, God gives Moses three miraculous signs that will corroborate his divine mission. The first sign was the miraculous transformation of Moses' wooden staff (rod) into a large serpent, as well as the reverse transformation of the living serpent into Moses' staff. We do not know the mechanism or nature of this transformation, but we believe that the natural order can be violated if God wills it so. And such a violation of the natural order by God both is and is called a divine miracle and a wonderful sign when it is done to fulfill His will. This divine miracle serves as a sign that Moses is truly God's chosen one and that his mission comes from God and is therefore irrevocable. Why did God offer the miraculous sign of turning a stick into a snake and a snake into a stick? We can recall the Bible's first mention of a snake and a tree. That's right, it was in Paradise, where Adam and his wife were seduced by Satan, who took the form of the serpent. In this sense, the serpent represents the allurement and the threat of a lethal bite, and the tree (or the staff as a prototype of the Christ's cross and the tree of life) represents the healing of all the serpent's temptations and demonic provocations. With this sign, Moses is seemingly brought to Paradise (and he was taken to heaven by God afterward so that he could describe everything that happened there to us) as one secure in his faith, reverence, and obedience to God, as one who could control his passionate inclinations until they were curbed entirely, and as one who was able to withstand the crafty snake (Satan) and all its wiles. Without such power and authority over unclean spirits, he would not have been able to cope with the task assigned to him by God. The gift of exorcising demons from people was first granted by Jesus Christ to His apostles and then followed by the gift to heal all sorts of ailments. The same gift was granted to Moses by God, which was visually manifested as the sign of the transformation of a serpent into a staff and a staff into a serpent. It is no accident that the sign of healing "in the form of a snake wrapped around the stem of a cup" has been preserved in medicine as its emblem - the bowl of Hygieia. What interests us is not the origin of this symbol, but its conceptual essence; the serpent that brings death to a person can turn into a cure that saves their life. In other words: "Death is remedied by death."
So, Moses received from God the gift of casting out demons and curing his people's ails, that is, the gift of true healing. In addition to its practical benefits, this gift served as a sign of Moses' divine origin and mission.
Understanding that people could still not believe Moses even having witnessed a sign like that, God affixes a second sign to the first sign, which was Moses' ability to place his hand on his chest to make it leprous, and then place it on his chest again to make it totally healthy. One should be aware that in those ancient times, a disease such as Hansen's disease was considered not only incurable but also a punishment from God for someone's sin. That is why this disease and being cleansed of it stood apart from all other diseases and restorations. By giving Moses a sign with leprosy, God simultaneously granted him power over this disease. Now, Moses could both cure any leper among his people of even the most severe form of leprosy, as well as bring the disease to any sinner of his own free will. So, with this sign, just as with the previous one, he stood before people like a god!
With the third miraculous sign, God granted Moses the ability to turn water into blood. This sign showed everyone the divine power of Moses, who was capable of changing one liquid (water) into a completely different one (blood). A transformation such as this does not exist in the natural world around us. This miraculous sign should not be confused with the natural phenomenon of water in a reservoir acquiring a red hue when a natural substance introduces the color into the reservoir. Moses did not just change the water's color to red but turned water into actual blood. This sign can be performed by the leaders of the second and final sermon of the Gospel on Earth, John the Apostle, the Prophet Elijah, and the Prophet Enoch. Revelations 11: "6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." This sign, and even more so the assortment of these signs, validated Moses' divine origin as well as his work to liberate Israel from Egyptian slavery. In addition, this sign had a Eucharistic significance inasmuch as it prepared people for the next miracle, the conversion of water into red wine, which can be done only by Christ in His earthly ministry. This sign then served to strengthen his disciples' faith in the divine origin of Christ, as well as prepare them for the next, purely Eucharistic and miraculous conversion (or offering) of red grape wine into the sacred and immaculate blood of the Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. In a sense, Moses was one of the originators of our Eucharist.
Now prepared for his forthcoming mission with the three miraculous signs, Moses once again speaks to God about himself, expressing his personal inability to address the people even with the help of these signs, and referring to his speech impediment (namely, his mumble). Exodus 4: "10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." But the Lord God easily parried this thrust and excuse of Moses. " 11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."
Instead of yielding to God, thanking Him for his trust and heretofore unheard-of gifts, and going to fulfill His command, Moses continues to ask God to find a replacement. Exodus 4: "13 And he [Moses] said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send." Moses' words were entirely unjustified, and so the anger of God fell upon Moses. Exodus 4: "14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well [instead of you]. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. 15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put [My] words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. 17 And thou shalt take this rod [that turned into a serpent] in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs." One should never interpret "the wrath of God" as the hot-headedness characteristic of people, for God is impassive and abides in a constant, unperturbed world. The expression "God's wrath" is a turn of phrase that is accessible to people to demonstrate God's displeasure. In this case, this dissatisfaction shows us that even the highest virtue of humility is not pleasing to God if it becomes an obstacle to His work or is inconsistent with His providence. With his last accord, God makes Aaron, the brother of Moses, into his assistant in the matter of addressing the people, turning him into Moses' lips and his prophet. Moses himself then takes the place of God for Israel and the Egyptians instead of God. Only after that did Moses finally agree with God and accept the service that He appointed to him. He then returned to his father-in-law. Exodus 4: "18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. [After a long time, the Egyptian Pharaoh died.]" We see that Reuel, who is successful in the faith, believes in Moses and therefore releases him in peace. But Moses did not reveal the whole truth about God's future work to this third party. He was accompanied on his journey by his wife Zipporah and his two sons, one of whom had not yet been circumcised.
Moses on the Way to Egypt
God appears to Moses for the second time and commands him to go to Egypt, assuring him of his safety. Exodus 4: "19 And the Lord said unto Moses in [the land of] Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life."
We do not know how the Lord God appeared to Moses this time, but the ethereality of His appearance, which was not noted by anything external, tells us that God and Moses became friends and the Lord God appeared to him as a friend. And for an appearance such as this, no formalities or ceremony would be required. This time, Moses immediately obeyed God's command. Exodus 4: "20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand." There is something strange, incomprehensible, and inexplicable happening here. Moses and his family are traveling to Egypt, and the Lord God continues to speak with Moses. Judging by the words "Moses took" in regards to his wife and sons, his family went with him without much joy or personal desire to do so. He used his power over them, and this is reflected in the word "took." The words "and Moses took the rod of God in his hand" mean that he armed himself and enveloped himself in the extraordinary and miraculous power of God, which his rod both symbolized and manifested. God then spoke to Moses simply, as He would to a friend. It is not apparent to us when and how God appeared to Moses, but His visits began to take on a natural and routine character. This time, He briefly told Moses about how to exert influence on the pharaoh. Exodus 4: "21 And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. 22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, [the God of Israel]: Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn." Moses humbly, without question or objection, accepts the words of the Lord God and saves them in his heart and memory in order to carry them out exactly in due time. We seem to not recognize Moses, who until recently dared to object to God, refuse His offers, ask questions, and demand his own personal conditions be fulfilled. He seems to have been replaced, even. Before us we see a humble, meek, obedient, quiet, reverent, and God-fearing man. What happened here, and what brought about this dramatic change in Moses? What I will tell you now is vital for anyone who wishes to be saved. It is all about communion with God. The communion of God with man, according to His will and desire, is an incomprehensible mystery accompanied by unforeseeable consequences for man! This communion has nothing to do the forms of communication known to us, namely that between people. This is not just a conversation or receiving a command or directive, but the special influence of God on a person that changes a person for the better and often very drastically! God, obviously, does not and will not commune with just anyone, with proud and sinful people, or with those who are not at all ready to do so. Any good visit by God to a person leaves an indelible mark on them and affects the person somehow, altering them in accordance with the desire of the Lord God. God valued Moses highly and held him in great esteem. He regarded his opinion, and had His plans for him; that is why He shaped a compliant Moses according to the model that He wanted to see in him with every visit. God preserved the most necessary qualities, sealing them and strengthening them, removed the unnecessary ones, and added those that Moses did not yet have. Thus, through His visits, God created the very Moses whom we know as the prophet, miracle worker, and leader of Israel. Moses' busy schedule notwithstanding, he and his family continued on their journey and found a place to sleep. Something incredible then happens - the Lord God meets Moses and tries to kill him. Exodus 4: "24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him." How should we understand this contradiction in God's actions? On the one hand, He calls Moses for exceptional service and carefully prepares it for him, and on the other, He wants to put him to death. Why did God want to kill Moses? Did He even want to? By failing to circumcise his son, Moses personally violated God's order to the people of Israel, which was a sign of the covenant between Abraham (and all his descendants) and the Lord God! The ancient historical writer Josephus Flavius makes the point that the Midianites also circumcised their male children according to Abraham's directive, only not on the eighth day after their birth, but at thirteen years of age. It then turns out that the threat of punishment by death was not for Moses' general failure to circumcise the boy, but for the delay of this ritual by which the child would have been included in the covenant with God. God knew quite well why Moses did not circumcise one of his sons, as well as about all his familial difficulties and complicated circumstances, but He did not consider this sufficient to justify Moses' deed. Why? Is our Lord God not a conventionalist and a bureaucrat? Because there are divine things that cannot be neglected no matter the circumstances! Circumcision, and especially holy baptism, are examples of such divine institutions. They were established by God not for Himself, but for the good of His people! They cannot be delayed even for the smallest of children! Therefore, in following the Lord God, we resolutely reject all of the nonsense of those people who, with their human feeble-mindedness, try to interfere with God's providence without understanding either God's truth or His divine secrets! This applies to all those who, with their "humanism," refuse to allow their babies to be circumcised or receive the sacrament of baptism under the pretext of the babies' alleged unwillingness to participate in divine sacraments and processes, in their inability to express their will. Yes, they have already been birthed without their will, knowledge, consent, and desire, and even in sin and in expectation of a short and mournful life that ends only in death and the prospect of endless torment! And after all that, should we expect their consent to improve their lives and improve their perspectives on eternity? No! We must do everything we can to help every child born in this world to enter into God's providence for them and be as close as possible to their creator and God! But why are circumcision in the Old Testament and baptism in the New Testament so important that they must be observed even on the smallest babies (recall that circumcision is performed on the eighth day after birth) without fail? The fact is that through these actions of the church, the infant is introduced into the covenant with God by His Will, and therefore falls under the purview of God's divine providence about them. There is no such providence regarding an uncircumcised and unbaptized person, which is why such babies will live on a layman's foundation and any eventuality can happen to them, including an early death far from God and outside the church. That is why those adults who have already entered into the covenant with God but keep their newborn children from doing so are attributed with a grave, mortal sin, which not only tears such parents out of His divine providence for them but also calls for punishment by death. On top of this, Moses violated God's truth, thereby revealing his inconsistency with the work of God that he was called to by God. It is not for nothing that, in relation to God's priests, it is said that they may be clothed in truth. And the Lord God commanded all people to, first and foremost, seek out the kingdom of heaven and its truth. In this case, we are contending with a combination of God's grace and God's truth. "I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord" - so the psalmist David conveyed this confluence. God is simultaneously just and merciful, and He does not have one quality without the other. That is why He shows mercy to His people in choosing Moses for their deliverance, but at the same time preserves His justice, which prompted Him to kill Moses for the serious violation of His spiritual truth. God knew, of course, that this contradiction would be resolved, and resolved it was with the help of Moses' wife Zipporah, who was, if not the culprit, than an accomplice in this sinful act of refusing to circumcise their son. Exodus 4: "25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26 So he [the Lord] let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision."
Let's first take a look at this dramatic moment episodically and then theologically. When Zipporah saw the Lord and realized His intention to kill Moses and possibly her uncircumcised son, she was very frightened, particularly for the latter. By acting upon this fear, she instantly stepped over her religious tastes and preferences and did what she had resisted and held off - she circumcised her son with a stone knife! She did not ask Moses about this, but corrected this violation (which she errantly believed to be unimportant) on her own and against her will. For the first time in her religious experience, she encountered a reality that suddenly revealed itself to her and demonstrated her erroneousness in matters of faith, as well as the correctness of her husband Moses. It was a tough lesson for Zipporah inasmuch as it was one administered by fear, and she quickly and decisively reacted to it, promptly finding the only correct solution to keep her loved ones alive. This incident reminds us a little of the instance of Christ's appearance to Saul on his way to Damascus. In this case, Zipporah's instant reaction, self-sacrifice, acumen, and ingenious resourcefulness evoke great admiration in me. In addition to the aforementioned episodic canvas, a great theological event took place as well, which shocked both Moses and Zipporah. But before laying out a great theology, I will conclude with a worldly outline. This incident left Zipporah with such a strong impression and sense of embarrassment that she could not think of anything better to do than return to her father with her children. The reason for this decision will remain a mystery to us for now, but it will become clear during the theological reconstruction of this event. Purely through human perception, Zipporah could have imagined that if such a threat would rise up to threaten Moses' life, then it would happen in Egypt, where the threat to Moses' life and well-being would logically increase with every passing day. Their situation was complicated by the fact that Zipporah and her children did not have any shelter there. She did not see Moses as a refuge. She did not believe that he would be able to fulfill his mission, for she witnessed God's near-murder of Moses with her own eyes. And from this incident, she could draw the incorrect conclusion that Moses was of little value in the eyes of God and therefore could not protect them, which would mean that life with him would become quite dangerous. It quickly becomes apparent that in the face of this adversity, Zipporah was not guided by her faith but rather by personal take on the situation and her emotions. We can then assume that when the rumor of Moses' greatness spreads throughout the Earth and he is leading millions of Hebrews out of Egypt, walking in front of them like a god on Earth, she will then rush to join him as a wife in order to bathe in the light of his glory. But it only seems that way to us! After she saw the Lord advancing on Moses, she underwent a radical internal upheaval, thereby becoming the Zipporah about whom the Church of Christ still sings. Let's look at this event moment by moment, as if we were watching it in slow motion. Imagine that you and I are there, right next to Moses and his family, looking on as invisible spectators. What is really unfolding before our eyes? Exodus 4: "20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt." And so an eighty-year-old Moses goes to Egypt by God's command. His whole family is walking along with him, his wife Zipporah, and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. One of his sons is not circumcised. This is the initial setting before the great, universal event and test that is now approaching, a test that each of these participants had to undergo (much like a quest) and that had to be solved very quickly. Let's briefly go over each participant in this biblical drama. Moses was walking in front, holding the sacred staff that he had received in his right hand - the material embodiment of the great divine phenomena and eminent people of God who carried it, each in their own time. Exodus 4: "20 and Moses took the rod of God in his hand." On this rod was written the name of the Lord God of hosts, the king of angels, the most high. This sacred rod was forged from a tree by God. We do not know how or when God created it, but we know that it played a part in the creation of the world that is visible to us, and is therefore a great mystery of God. This rod represented the sacred and life-Giving tree of Christ's cross, that is, that cross on which our Lord and Savior was crucified. With his left hand, Moses was leading the donkey on which his sons were seated. What was Moses thinking about and reflecting on? Maybe about the imminent meeting with his people and their Exodus from Egypt. Or maybe he was thinking about the rod and the great power of God that was contained therein? Or maybe he was simply praying to God? Only the Lord God and Moses can know. In any case, he was occupied with contemplation or prayer. Zipporah rode behind the donkey carrying the children, sitting sidesaddle on her own donkey. What was she thinking about? Most likely, about her stay in a foreign land with her children and what could be awaiting them there. What could the sons of Moses and Zipporah have been thinking about? They most likely wondered when it would be possible to get down from the donkey, have a bite to eat, and rest. The day faded into evening, and Moses had to choose a place to rest for the night. At this time, the Lord God interrupted Moses' contemplation or prayer to Him. Suddenly appearing perceptibly and only to Moses, He began to tell him about the forthcoming battle with the pharaoh. Exodus 4: "21 And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. 22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, [the God of Israel]: Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn." These words were most likely God's answer to Moses' thoughts and prayers. Now, through the words of the Lord God, we can see precisely what Moses was thinking about before God appeared to him. Everything was going quite well. The Lord God then either left Moses or became imperceptible to him. Moses continued to reflect on what God had said to him, and he could have never expected what would soon happen to him and his family. And the narrative of the Scripture makes a bit of a wondrous leap here! Omitting all the banal details about the arrangement of Moses' family for the night, we then move to the following, seemingly out of nowhere. Exodus 4: "24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him."
At this point I need to make an important deviation in order to bring our sources into harmony. We are talking about coordinating the two available versions of the same story. The first was translated from a (Hebrew) Masoretic source, and the other was translated from the Greek language of the so-called Septuagint, or the very body of Scripture that was translated by seventy-two translators before Christ walked the earth. I would refer those who wish to learn more about these sources to specialists. I myself will only note that in my humble opinion, the Masoretic source by itself is not satisfactory inasmuch as it was assembled (and corrected) by Jews who rejected Christ, and is a medieval edition of one of the groups of Tanakh's ancient texts (the 'Pentateuch' or 'the five books of Moses') adopted by the rabbinate as the only holy text. It should be clear to Christians that this edition was drafted to conceal any indication of our Lord Jesus Christ as Israel's promised Messiah. That is why the text of this edition was deliberately changed and garbled in many places. The King James Bible's Old Testament is drawn from this Masoretic source, which means the English translation drawn from this text then turned out to be even weaker. Here is what Saint Theophan (Georgiy Vasilievich Govorov), known as the recluse, points out regarding the Masoretic text: "My thoughts are such: the Hebrew text is corrupted; behind this corruption there remains the most authentic text of the Old Testament Scriptures in the translation of seventy; the Hebrew text, however, should not be left entirely; it can be referred to when interpreting the Scriptures as a manual for consideration. The same thoughts were expressed by His Eminence Metropolitan Filaret." In this sense, the Septuagint, conveyed to us in certain editions of the Bible (as well as the KJV New Testament), is in my view the primary source and superior to the Masoretic text. However, the Greek translation does contain a flaw. The seventy-two translators who translated the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch into the ancient Greek language did not dare to translate the text as it was written in several challenging places, but softened the existing expressions, which led subsequent researchers slightly astray. This inevitably affected the accuracy of the theological reconstruction of such places, so in this case, the Masoretic text is more reliable theologically than the Septuagint text. We will now see how important it is to not to distort the truth here, and account for the variation that inevitably occurs when comparing texts that have been translated across multiple languages. For this reason, I prefer to evaluate this spot while referencing the Masoretic text.
Let us return to Egypt, to that night and that resting place where a great event took place. It is important for us to note that the Scripture omits many details with the exception of the fact that it was nighttime, and the family of Moses was preparing to rest. This scene hints at another, which took place much earlier with Saint James and his family. Genesis 32: "22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." We see that even then it was nighttime, and that Jacob took care of the safety of his family, ensuring their rest. Jacob was then left alone in the night, and someone appeared and fought with him all night long until the dawn. We already know that someone was the Lord God, or rather, the Son of God before His incarnation in the flesh. It's worth remarking that it was God who started the fight, not Jacob. Jacob served as a sort of "test material" in this case through which God worked out His version of unifying divine nature with the human, doing so in this order specifically. Therefore, the Son of God was the initiator of this struggle to overcome the ontological abyss between divine and human natures, as well as for the possible coupling of these natures in Jesus Christ. Why is it important for us to remember and know this right now, when considering the events of the night with Moses and Zipporah? Because this night is a continuation of the night when the Son of God tested the ultimate limits of human beings through Jacob and his contact with the nature of God! There was a drastic turning point in the resolution of this most important problem of mortal life, which was reflected in both the renaming of Jacob to Israel and in his inherited lameness as a memorial to God Almighty's overwhelming perfection. On this night, the Son of God, who had just parted with Moses as a friend after counseling him about the Exodus, suddenly appears to Moses and Zipporah in some perceptible way to them and demonstrates His intention to put Moses to death. I intentionally omit the aforementioned section about the earthly causes and motives of this phenomenon in order to move to a purely theological reconstruction of it. What strikes us here? The fact that the chain of events is almost instantaneous and happens discretely, that is, the events quickly jump from one to another. This convention of the Scripture is applied here quite intentionally. The Son of God conducted this test in the most intense (extreme) way possible for the human natures of Moses and Zipporah. Let's immediately direct our attention to the differences between this night and the night of Jacob. Whereas in the first example, a God-tested Jacob was standing alone, in this instance Moses was tested directly and Zipporah was indirectly as well. This is a significant difference, the significance of which will be revealed to us at this very moment! For clarification's sake, we should return to Eden, which God created along with Adam and His wife. It is vital for us to recall the words of the Lord God here. Genesis 2: "18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." To whom did the Lord God say such a thing? It's clear that it's not Adam, because then the following logical interpretation emerges: "we will make him an assistant, but we will not make you an assistant." It then follows that the Son of God said this to the two other persons of the Holy Trinity! Therefore, the creation of the wife is narrated in the plural "we will create," and not in the singular "I will create!" Let me take a moment here to congratulate all the representatives of the female sex with a revelation that will prove joyful to them - all three persons of the One God took part in the decision to create womankind, just as before the creation of the man Adam. According to tradition, the first man (Adam) was created by the Son of God on the first of March. The calendar that measures the years from the creation of Adam started on that specific day. Sometimes it is incorrectly said to have started "from the creation of the world," but the creation of the world ended with the creation of the first man! According to this calendar, the new year comes precisely on the first of March, the day when Adam was created, because the calendar was made for us, and not we for it. No one has conveyed to us how long Adam was by himself in Paradise, but it clearly was not for long; the Fall of him and his wife occurred on September 1, that is, exactly six months after the creation of Adam. On that very day, Adam and his wife were expelled to the earth and thus began a new period in the lives of people - living in exile for their repentance. That is why church's new year begins on the first of September in the Russian Orthodox Church. This way, the Church of Christ emphasizes to us that the meaning of our earthly lives is repentance, which is to be carried out in order to lift us from a decrepit and fallen state to one that was revealed on the Earth in the person of Jesus Christ. September 1, then, should not be the day of "knowledge" (as it is now), but the Day of Repentance! The church testifies to itself that it is the church of penitent people on this New Year's Day! Then we can be so bold as to make another assertion regarding another calendar substitution - the so-called "International Women's Day" - the holiday for all women everywhere. The substitution here took place not only in the date, day, and month, that is, the shifted date of March 8 from the Julian calendar (accepted by the church) to the Gregorian calendar. The difference between the eighth of March of these calendars is thirteen of our modern days; that is, Women's Day is celebrated thirteen days earlier than it should be. But why are we even going on about March 8th? After all, the Soviet holiday March 8, celebrated 13 days earlier than it was supposed to be, was established by the communists. As a result, it was based not on the day the Lord God created the first woman as Adam's wife but on invented or glorified political and feminist events of the late 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. So, we will retain the viewpoint that the first girl and bride was created by God from the rib of Adam and brought to him after seven days in the garden, on March 8th.
Why did God create Eve, whose name derives from Adam's, as a companion and eventual wife to the first man in the form of a beautiful woman? What help is God talking about extending to Adam, and why did God say that it is not good for a man to be alone? The theological conceptualization of these questions sets the following scene. Could God have created man in a single quantity if He had wanted to? The answers "He could" or "He could not" are not entirely fitting here. It would be correct to say "He could and could not." "He could" because God is the Almighty and can do everything, including this. "He could not" for He established limits for Himself after consulting the persons of the most Holy Trinity. Genesis 1: "26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." What is the imagery of man in relation to God? The fact that God is one, but in three persons, and human nature is the same for all people but manifests itself in a large number of persons, the finite number of which is known to God alone. To put it even simpler, God did not create man as a single being, but as a multifaceted or social one. It was God's plan to create not only a lot of people, but also in such a way that they live in common unity through love and God. Later, this plan of God manifested itself as the church of God, which is historically manifested in the church of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is why, speaking on the indissolubility of the union between husband and wife, the holy apostle Paul wrote the following. Ephesians 5: "29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Let us leave the carnal interpretation to moralizers and turn our attention to theological matters. We are speaking about the comparison of the union of husband and wife with the union of the Lord and His bride, the church. This union, in relation to Christ and the church, is a great mystery. Regarding the union of husband and wife, we can say that it is a minor secret that represents the great secret and imitates it in some respects. The union of Christ and His Church gives birth to spiritual and bodily children of this church, who then fill its ranks. The unions between husbands and wives in the flesh give birth to the people who fill the Earth and are candidates to be born once again through the church. The difference in the purpose of the birth and in the quality of the birth itself (either spiritual or earthly) is reflected in the names of the soon-to-be-mothers. Women giving physical birth to the children of their legal husbands are called wives and mothers. The church, spiritually giving birth on high to its earthly children, is rightly called the bride! This bride, unlike ordinary human girls who are preparing to marry their grooms, remains a virgin and bride even after the birth of their children, after becoming their mother. That is why the church is primarily a mother to us, and to Christ - the bride and the virgin! From this reasoning, the union of Christ and the church based on their eternal virginity arises! The birth of the church's children from this union does not dissolve virginity, and therefore the church that gave birth and became our mother remains Christ's bride, and not Christ's wife in a familiar, ordinary sense. In eternity, the motherhood of the church will cease to function. The earthly motherhood of earthly wives will also cease to function according to the word of Christ. Matthew 22: "29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." From these words we learned that motherhood and childbearing have no place in eternity, but virginity does! Nevertheless, the female sex does not come to an end in the kingdom of heaven, but its maternal function is eliminated, and women themselves are transferred to the ranks of eternal brides! The same will happen with the male gender. The motherhood of the church and the motherhood of the Virgin Mary (if I may refer to them in this way) will be preserved only for the sake of the children they created in earthly life, which will never be repeated! In terms of their quality, they both remain eternal brides, non-brides and everlasting virgins! That is why in historical reality, which has a place only in the Church of Christ, the priority of virginity and the virtue of chastity is constantly on the rise (as measured by the increasing number of children saved by the church), because only they have a future in eternity. But for now, we are only interested in the phenomenon of the bride who gave birth to her children in order to study the case of Moses and Zipporah. Let us return to the events of that night.
The appearance of God before Moses and Zipporah occurred at night, when their children were already either sleeping or falling asleep. Why did God choose the night again, as He did with Jacob? Because the night is a symbol of sleep, the veil, and death. When God created a wife for Adam, He first put Adam to sleep. The wife He created did not sleep! When the Son of God was working on the creation of a divine-human nature, He chose night as a sign of sleep; Jacob and Moses, however, were not sleeping at that time, for they were "creative material" to God. The night also symbolizes the veil that closes off a person's vision and understanding of what is happening to them and in them. Indeed, neither Jacob nor Moses saw or understood what was happening to them. Everything happened at night, as if in a dream, and only through sense of touch. And finally, the night was a symbol of human death. Exodus 33: "20 ...for there shall no man see me, and live." The darkness of the night served as a mantle for Jacob and Moses, preventing them from seeing God and thus preserving their lives! And bearing this in mind, we can take note of something strange about Moses. On the one hand, God has taken all possible measures to keep Moses from dying at the sight of Him, and on the other, we clearly see "the Lord sought to kill him!" We are once again faced with an apparent contradiction. In this case, the word "kill" should be understood allegorically, just as the word "struggle" was in the case of Jacob. It should be clear to us that it is one thing to seek to kill and quite another to factually kill! In examining God's intent to seek to kill Moses, we have reason to believe that Moses' death was not the sole situational outcome that God sought.
It is, of course, clear that the Lord God had the ability to simply end Moses' life right then and there. This, however, was not His aim, for Zipporah had enough time to act to save her husband.
I suggest that God instead sought to challenge the intermixing of divine and human natures in Moses.
For this juxtaposition is such that no lone man can remain alive in the presence of God if God begins to unite His divine nature with their human nature. From here, the following theologically expressions should become much more clear: "It is not good that the man should be alone," "Extra Ecclesium nulla salus [outside the church there is no salvation]," "a woman shall compass a man," and the like! This is why God created Adam's wife and aide, in order for her to act as a church and thus save her husband! And she saves her husband from both loneliness and the death that can befall him in loneliness when the being of God approaches his human nature! In other words, a husband needs a wife as a church for his own safe deification. Under the conditions prevailing after the fall of man, the deification of man had to borrow from the salvation of man. Living people could be deified, and fallen people died on the day of their fall. That is why they first needed to be revived by salvation in the church, and only then work toward their deification. In our case, God took Moses into His arms and began to "squeeze" or "strangle" him in order to test the measure of the human limit of Moses' endurance by "mixing" the divine nature into it.
Moses had no chance of escaping from God's embrace alive. However, God did not intend to put an end to Moses, for He still needed him for other industrious activities in the divine economy. And in any case, what point was there in killing His friend and a good man? To save Moses from imminent death, God prepared a safeguard for him by connecting his wife Zipporah to the salvation of Moses as a saving church! But how could a woman who had already given birth to two sons become a virgin again? She could not! But the Church of Christ, represented by Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Zipporah and the Virgin Mary was both the Virgin and the Mother! According to the natural conditions, Zipporah could not become a virgin again, but this was not necessary. For her to become like the church, it was enough to become the bride of Christ, for she was already a mother! Let's see how she handled this task. God opened the eyes and mind of Zipporah to allow her to see the image of the Lord who had appeared, the Son of God. She saw that the Son of God had taken her husband into his arms and begun to squeeze him. As the result of such an imperfect but still divine vision, a decisive change occurred with her. If Moses was "paralyzed" in the arms of the Lord, then Zipporah was still free to act! We remember that the first attempt of the first human couple to achieve self-deification by uniting not with the True God, but with His creation - the tree of knowledge of the good and the evil - led them to death and mortality, not to deification. The wife-church did not save her husband then, but she herself served as a source through which she transferred not the truth, but enticement and seduction. The church is the pillar and affirmation of the truth! If it does not affirm and support the truth, then it ceases to be the Church of God! That's why the crafty serpent (Satan), duplicitously portraying himself as a healer and a good counselor, directed his seduction to Eve as a church! If he had chosen Adam as his initial goal and Adam would have accepted his flattery, his wife would have certainly saved her husband by stopping the actions born from Satan's lies, as well as the subsequent Fall! Since Satan was able to disable the first wife-church, Adam no longer had a companion who could save him from death! Eve could not cope with her task as a church, and therefore, the first people fell.
In our case with Moses, God allows for an intermittent alternation of events in order to show their significance and enduring importance for the whole universe and all people.
Let's observe what is happening before our eyes. Exodus 4: "25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26 So he [the Lord] let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision."
Let's slice the current picture into frames. Then - when was then? Then - meaning after what? After realizing that the Lord is trying to kill Moses for some unknown reason, Zipporah was supposed to instantly identify and then eliminate the cause of Moses' apparent death sentence. It is clear that she had no time for theological research. The mother in her, afraid for the fate of her children, began to act decisively, especially for her one son, who was uncircumcised in defiance to the establishment of God who had appeared to them! First, she recognized the very God of Abraham in the image that appeared. From this recognition she went on to the realization that since God was expressing his displeasure with Moses' family, it means that they had allowed something that could not be allowed! Zipporah did not become like Eve, hiding from the Lord and thrusting all the blame on Moses as the head of the family to justify herself. She went the way of active repentance! This repentance and divine vision made her so strong that by this humble wisdom she becomes the pillar and affirmation of truth, resolutely rejecting all doubts, excuses, and other deceptions of the evil one. The pillar and affirmation of the truth that is the church is just one step short of becoming the church of salvation! Saving whom? Her husband and children! Saving them from what? From a well-deserved death. There were two reasons for this death. The first and most obvious was the violation (regardless of who was more or less at fault, who started it and who was just an accomplice, and so on) of God's truth by Moses and Zipporah, which led all members of the family away from God's divine providence for them, with the exception of the circumcised son. The second reason for death was the natural frailty of man, which Moses manifested in the fact that he, with all his strength and holiness, was not and could not be ready for deification on his own. The idea of deification always arises in the presence of a couple - husband and wife, Adam and Eve, Christ and the church. In this case, Zipporah could not immediately present herself as the church that could save Moses because she did not have the status of a bride. The providence of God marvelously interwove these two reasons for death into one knot, which was then cut in two by the one right decision of Zipporah. Zipporah, wiser and humbled by her repentance, sees this solution as the only way out of the circumstances of God's providence. And so God, calculatingly squeezing Moses to his very limit, glanced at Zipporah "out of the corner of his eye," expecting a decision from her to save him. In the next "frame," we see Zipporah's solution; Zipporah grabbed a stone knife. We can explain this as her taking the first stone she saw or the knife that she had in her possession, but this is not the case. Do not forget that there were no accidents in the life of Moses, and everything had been planned by the Lord God to the minutest details. God's providence also accounted for the one son being uncircumcised, as well as the presence of a stone knife. A knife, a spearhead, the need for surgery, cutting flesh - all of this speaks to us about the seriousness of neglecting a "disease" that could no longer be healed by anything other than surgical intervention. We recall that Moses could not circumcise his son in this case, thereby restoring the truth of God, for he was in the arms of God, which left him completely incapacitated and clinging to life. It was Zipporah who had to act, and act immediately. The knife was made from stone. We can recall the following from the Scriptures on Moses' stone tablets: about Peter the rock, on which the Lord Jesus promised to create His church; the cornerstone (Christ) laid in the foundation of the house (church); the stone vessels filled with water that the Lord turned into beautiful wine in Cana; the stone that sealed off access to the cave in which the body of Jesus was buried; the precious stones on the Ephod of the High Priest; the gems in New Jerusalem, and so on. What does a stone mean by itself? Solidness, strength, reliability, indestructibility, unwaveringness, immutability, staying power, and eternity.
In taking the stone knife, Zipporah demonstrated the firmness, unwaveringness, reliability, and immutability of her active repentance and her decision to save her husband and children. Onto the next frame. Exodus 4: "[She] cut off the foreskin of her son." And here we see the recognition of her parental, maternal guilt, her mistake, oversight, unrighteousness, and sin, along with her decisive repentance of the committed sin, as well as the active correction of the deed and restoration of God's truth. It would seem that she could have stopped at that, but she did not. She found the truth and carried it out, thereby becoming righteous, but she still lacked the appropriate confession for her salvation. Romans 10: "10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." And Zipporah then finds these words for her confession and salvation. Exodus 4: "25 ... and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me." And that's it! By confessing to the Lord via her bridegroom and confirming this confession of his mouth with the blood and sacrifice of her son's flesh, Zipporah becomes the bride of Christ, and therefore, the church! The Lord, however, cannot offend His church in any way, let alone by the death of her children or husband (a bishop, the heads of the church), but having accepted the sacrifice of Zipporah and the blood of her son as the blood of His testament, he seals this covenant with her based on the mutual agreement of all parties. It was then that God's test for Moses ended, which remains for us a mystery of the union of the divine and human in the one being of Jesus Christ, mortal and immortal, of heaven and of the earth, temporary and forever! What do we see in the next moment? Exodus 4: "26 So he [the Lord] let him go." The Lord, having received everything that He wanted from this turn of events, departs joyously, thereby testifying to His forgiveness, grace, and the blessing of Moses' entire family. But Zipporah does not stop in her religious work. On to the last frame of this drama. Exodus 4: "26 ... then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision." The Lord has already departed from them. To whom did she say these final words? To Moses. But why, and to what end? She does this in order to inform him of the change to her status from a wife to an untouchable bride, and so that he knew that their union had changed in purpose. They could no longer engage in physical childbearing, and Moses no longer had power over her as his wife. The marriage in its formerly carnal form was circumcised, turning into a union similar to that of Christ and the church. And since Zipporah became a church and a bride, then Moses became the Christ and the head of this church! Acting on his new standing, Moses sends Zipporah back to her father with the children.
Let's summarize what we have experienced. God appeared to Jacob as the Lord (Elohim). Jacob's task was to contain God within himself. The main result of Jacob's "struggle" with God was that human nature could hold God within itself. The will of God was also revealed in that a man held Him, the Creator, the Savior, and Benefactor within himself. Jacob proved that man can contain God in himself, and more specifically, that man can contain God as the Lord. Therefore, we, trying to hold the Lord Jesus Christ in ourselves, pray in His name: "Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on us (me)." God appeared to Moses as Jehovah, and when this being manifests before a man, the man cannot remain alive. An appearance such as this will certainly kill a person if they do not receive some sort of help.
God sought a man to kill in Moses in order to make this man into God. This meant that Moses had to place himself in mortal peril on behalf of all mankind, where his life (that had been deified by God) was in such a state that he could not suffer death or be killed by it. Life is that which cannot die, and only Jehovah has such a life, for it is inseparably connected by the divine spark. For Moses to survive a meeting with Jehovah, this divine-human spark had to be uncovered in him! But this spark was not in Moses, for he was just a holy man. This spark was later discovered only in Jesus Christ, made incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary! That is why He could vanquish our human death through His death on the cross. Moses, during this Epiphany of Jehovah, had the opportunity to choose one of two things: die, or find in himself a life that does not give way to death. Moses could not save his own life. He was in need of outside help and therefore experientially came to understand an important law of human existence, that it is impossible for a person by themselves to be saved, let alone attain deification. Experiential comprehension of this law is the most important conclusion we can draw from the drama we have been through with Moses and Zipporah - that it is impossible for a person to be saved alone, and for a single person there can be no eternal life! Moreover, the only form of eternal life is life in the Church of Christ!
The prototypes of this Church are all the legal unions of husbands and wives in which the wives are saved by bearing children. A person can realize on a fundamental level that his or her origin lies in God, possess miraculous faith, fulfill all of God's commandments, experience the fullness of knowledge, the gift of prophecy, and even the gift of divine love, but as soon as the Origin of Jehovah approaches His image, the person will certainly die. No piety, no perfection of human nature, no penetration into the depths of the conscious and the unconscious, no teachings, understandings, service, changes, efforts, pains taken, tricks, or observances will save a person. For when the "being" approaches, the person remains defenseless and feeble, and there will be no struggle! A person can only be saved by divine incarnation, in which there is a new, unprecedented, and previously unknown quality - the divine-human! Zipporah, declaring herself a mother and a bride, thus acknowledged the virgin, the bride and the mother who will give birth to the world of God in human flesh! It was through this educated and prophetic reference to the virgin savior that she saved Moses. From this, we must understand what saves us, leads us to life, and sanctifies life, but does not have power over life! And so here is Zipporah, who saved her husband and then departed from him. And Moses, who understood what had happened, lets her go. Why did Moses send Zipporah to her father? Because she is no longer his wife. Although she has two children, she acquired chastity as a bride. One fundamental conclusion follows from all this, that a person is saved by God only in the church! Both Abraham and Moses learned from their own experience that the church was given to man by God for his salvation. Moses was clearly shown that only in the church can a person (as an image of God) endure the presence of his origin. Therefore, during the Eucharist, the members of the church, worthily partaking of the most holy and sacred body and blood of Christ, are sanctified and deified in both their immortality and in eternal life, and do not die! Man is not created such that he alone could have fellowship with God and be deified. Only after meeting with Jehovah did Moses understand what life and the church are! Henceforth, the concepts of man, life, and the church become much clearer in that they are defined through one another. As a result, Moses became the bearer of his people's ecclesiastic consciousness. He became the plenipotent and pious leader of his people. In Moses, the church of God grew to sizes and heights never seen before. The name of Moses was recorded in the Book of Life, and the Lord God told him this: "I know you by name." Upon entering the church by baptism and partaking of the cup of life, a person receives their name, which is then recorded in the Book of Life. God knows His people by name and calls them by name! Moses ended the era of God's experiential knowledge of man. The result of this knowledge was the appearance of the Son of God Jesus Christ in the flesh. Since that time, it was not God who came to know man, but rather, God permitted man to come to know Him and to see Him. The first people who were able to safely come to know God were the Most Holy Virgin Mary and the great apostle John the Theologian. They made up the family of Jesus Christ the God-man. God gave John the Theologian the opportunity to lie on Jesus' chest, as John contained God within himself after the Eucharist of His sacred and immaculate body and blood. In doing so, God revealed the abyss of the knowledge of Himself to mankind, a source of knowledge that will never run dry or end! From this knowledge, John wrote the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ and recorded the revelation of Jesus Christ (Apocalypse). In the Church of Christ, there are no breaks or interruptions in life. Life in the church flows continuously and inexhaustibly, and this life is divine and eternal. It is through the church that a person on earth begins to live their eternal life! The church is the place of God's constant presence. In the church, God and man are so connected that they constitute the body of Christ. Therefore, the Church of Christ is conciliar in its essence and has a collective, conciliar history. We must know and be aware of the fact that the history of the church and the church tradition is richer than what is shown to us in the holy Scriptures. This is a very important point of Orthodox teaching, which distinguishes it from Protestants, who neglect tradition. The church tradition helps us supplement and clarify the Scriptures, to put into place what is written mysteriously or prophetically in the Scriptures, or is said nebulously in the text. A similar example from the Scripture is the story about Moses and Zipporah that we examined together. Let us return to this story.
While Moses and Zipporah were going through their test, the Lord was preparing Aaron to meet with his brother, who was now traveling alone towards Egypt after escorting his wife and children to his father-in-law's home. Exodus 4: "27 And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him."
It would seem that this is a simple conveyance of a simple fact, but we need to look closer. God, by sending the elder brother Aaron to meet his younger brother Moses, placed them in a newly established hierarchical position; and indeed, the younger brother not only became older than his elder brother, but, having surpassed him spiritually, became a spiritual father and mentor to him, with the elder brother becoming an obedient assistant. The brotherly kiss was sealed the new tandem of "Moses as a God, and Aaron as his prophet." Note the obedience of Aaron and the fact that the meeting of the holy brothers occurred at the Mountain of God, that is, at the foot of Mount Horeb.
Exodus 4: "28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him." First of all, Moses bolstered his brother and assistant with a retelling of all that the Lord God had told him.
Exodus 4: "29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: 30 And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped."
Finally, Moses and Aaron entered Egypt and gathered all the elders of the sons of Israel. On behalf of Moses, Aaron then conveyed to them all the words that the Lord God had spoken to Moses. The people believed all the words and understood that the Lord had visited them in order to deliver from the hands of the Egyptians. Therefore, they worshiped God and Moses, bowing to Moses, and therefore, bowing to their God. Thus, the exodus was joyfully accepted and endorsed by all the people.
Moses and Aaron's Battle with Pharaoh
God intentionally leads Moses to the ferocious Egyptian pharaoh. Ancient Egypt is a symbol of the kingdom of man under the control of the ancient serpent (Satan), and the pharaoh is a symbol of the serpent itself, manifested as the ruler of this world, as both the Antichrist and an enemy to God. This historical event is then revealed to us in a completely new form, namely that of a detailed depiction of the battle raging across the universe between God and His kingdom (for people who are not of this world) and the kingdom of this world, which is ruled by Satan. The glories of God in Heaven are the holy angels, and on earth, they are God's holy people. This is why it is said that God is wonderful in His saints. The glory of Satan lies in his demons and those people who obey him. It is not worth it to God to just instantaneously vanquish all of the fallen spirits; He wants people, with the help of the holy angels, to be victorious against Satan and his demons, conquering them once and for all! For this victory, a person needs not only to mobilize the fullness of their strength and capabilities but also to manifest their supernatural abilities (a manifestation of the power of God within them). These abilities dwell within each of us in accordance with our creation in the image and likeness of God, the works of Jesus Christ, and the blessed gifts God bestows on each of us specifically. Through God's providence, Moses emerged in full preparedness for the upcoming battle. He not only represented God, but he was a god for the people by the grace of Yahweh. A battle with humankind's primordial enemy awaited him, and Moses was to claim victory in this battle. All the holy denizens of Heaven beheld this battle and this victory. Later, after the appearance of the Scriptures, all of this world's people could do the same, witnessing the battle and triumph of God and Moses. This standoff between the forces of light (good) and the forces of darkness (evil) and the battle between them, as it were, returned mankind to the ancient circumstances of the very first people, which ended in their Fall. There, among the participants, was God, an ancient serpent, and two people: Adam, and his wife Eve. And here we see "God" in the figure of Moses, his assistant in the figure of Aaron, the serpent in the transfigured rod of Moses, Satan in the form of the pharaoh, and Satan's glory in the figures of Pharaoh's priests. This whole battle is presented to us through a series of successive scenes, starting with the presentation of Moses and Aaron to the pharaoh and his priests. The immense panorama of the struggle between good and evil opens before us here, a conflict that began with Satan's rebellion in Heaven and continues to this day. The struggle is taking place on a personal level between the pharaoh and Moses, on a national level between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and on a universal level between holy angels and evil demons. Before continuing the narrative of the course of the battle, a few things should be pointed out about Moses and his place in the struggle. God made Moses into a god for Aaron, Israel, and the Egyptians, and made Aaron into his prophet and aide. However, this appointment is not strictly a hierarchical one with Moses at the highest possible position of earthly authority. It is, rather, a manifestation of both God's power and the attribute within Moses that makes him capable of controlling this power. In this case, it is not God acting under the guise of Moses, but Moses doing God's work just as He would! What happened to Moses the man that he became capable of carrying out the great acts of God and commanding His power? After the Fall described by Moses in the book of Genesis, humanity and all human nature were so badly damaged that humankind could not endure the standing God intended for us, as we had fallen to a level far below it, down to the level of cattle. But, since man was created by the Creator as a rational, free being destined to live in eternity, he fell so far under the judgment of the Creator that he was doomed to remain in eternal torment and isolation from Him. The Lord God did not desire the Fall of man, but provided for the possibility of this manifestation of man's free choice. Therefore, He also provided for the possibility of salvation from the ensuing catastrophe by turning the Son of God into man to perform the act of ultimate redemption. But in order to carry out the salvation of mankind, man, who had just recently become mankind as we know it, had to exist for a long time in the new conditions of a world changed so drastically by the Fall. To this end, God created the planet Earth as well as the time where the first people were established, from which all people born after the Fall descend. Before the Fall, people had a 'trial period' and enjoyed their standing as lords over the animal kingdom, inasmuch as they were positioned between God and all of the animals. When comparing the animal kingdom and the Creator, people had to strive to Godliness, to become gods through grace and deification, to acculturate to and adopt Him. Unfortunately, people accepted the Devil's temptation, and their access to a life leading to deification and abiding with God was no more. Through their middling position, people could stay both in Heaven and on earth. This was given to them so they could perceive and prepare for any possible change in their lives in the event of their Fall, which indeed came to pass. In Paradise, people could partake of the prepared fruits of heavenly trees planted by the Lord God. On Earth, people could eat the grains that the earth brought forth for them. In this way, people were made by God to be temporarily dependent on plant-based foods until the time of their complete deification. Naturally, the fruits of Paradise differed from the food we make from earthly grains. Each fruit from the trees of Paradise provided man with not only energy, but also unique knowledge (i.e. perception). God allowed man to receive any knowledge he wanted by eating any fruits he wanted, save for those on the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Man had open access to this tree, even though God forbade partaking of its fruit. The tree of life was inaccessible until such time that man fully determined his choice. Man did not work in Paradise and could only pluck the already-prepared fruit and taste it. This tasting was different from what people know through their own experience, living on earth after the Fall. In Paradise, a person did not have to fill their bellies with fruits like animals do. They bit off a piece of the fruit and tasted it, which gave them the knowledge stored in the fruit. It was a type of energy-based occurrence, not the simple processing of a material fruit. That is why man in Paradise did not eject anything from his body. On Earth, people had to acclimate to a different type of nutrition, namely the processing of grains by the human body. But before tasting such a thing, it had to be produced. Therefore, the following commandment was given: "dress it and keep it". Man had to make bread, and keep his grain harvest. Man did not have to cultivate the land, as it was enough to utter (or shout) a word and the earth would obediently produce whatever crop or grain was needed. The only thing man had to do was collect the heads, extract the grains, grind them into flour, and bake bread. All of this was effortless and joyful for man. God thusly prepared man to survive in the event of his Fall, which did indeed happen. Regarding the procreation of people, God determined that this would be done on Earth and not in Paradise; in the Kingdom of Heaven people neither marry nor encroach on one another, but abide like angels. The number of people who were supposed to be brought into this world through birth was large but finite. The value of this number was determined by the size of the earth that people were meant to fill. Since people were conditionally mortal and immortal, they did not know physical death before the Fall, which is the violent separation of a person's soul from their body. Accordingly, the earth's population would have increased endlessly. The Fall led to death cutting down each generation of people, and human life was then subject to a cycle of successive generations. People born after the Fall were mortal and knew only the temporary life that comes and goes with the generations. This led people to forget about eternal life as well as the importance of setting goals for the sake of their children and future generations; that was the only existing way to extend human life on Earth. Childbearing changed after the Fall as well. People did not know farmyard copulation before the Fall, as the husband could bless his wife with his own word so she would conceive and give painless, blissful birth. After the Fall, God put people in "leather garments" and left us with this farmyard method of conception and childbirth, in illness and in sorrow. In addition to likening us to cattle, the Fall brought about yet another great misfortune for mankind and to the whole of God's creation. God wanted every person who came into this world, despite the common nature of all people, to be a unique and perfect person, irreplaceable by any other. God did not provide for duplicates or copies of human beings, and furthermore, he did not consider people to be homogenized and interchangeable creatures like ants or bees. With the Fall, the value of man fell significantly in the eyes of God, and it was then the task of man to raise it once again. Relying on the human portion that still remained within the newly created animal-human being, God used the gift of faith to call on man to return to Him in Heaven through the repentant process of transforming himself into a new human being. A new human being, one who would overcome the Fall and all of its terrible consequences, could thus return their human dignity and strive for deification. But on top of the damage done to man's soul, character, and nature on the whole, there was a change in the world around him. While man occupied a middling position during the 'trial period', the world around him was created by God as unique, indestructible, and beyond compare. The Fall led to a change in the fundamental principles of the material world. For the period known as the salvation of man, or mankind's escape from the Fall and subsequent return to God, God envisaged a different basis for all material creation. If before the Fall any and all creations were unique, indestructible, and inseparable, that is, they were aggregate or integral, then after the Fall they became divisible all the way down to their most fundamental elements. In man, the material body was first separated from the immaterial soul by death and then decayed into incredibly small particles. All material creations were composed of the smallest fundamental elements and could be reduced to such elements through fragmentation and decomposition. This led to the possibility of replacing creations with one another, as well as the transformation of one creation into another. In time, this manifested itself in a form of repetition known as cyclicism. All of this together created the multi-point basis of complex being, in which all material strives to decompose down to the fundamental parts from which all creations are formed. Man established such a vicious existence for himself, and he therefore had to find a way out of this circumstance in order to return to the integrity and inseparability of his nature, to the uniqueness and individuality of every human being who has come into this world. In accordance with their level of spiritual maturity, a person could, with God's help, reach a state through which they could master the ability to turn one material creation into a completely different one. Obtaining such an ability signified that this person had returned to their wholeness and stood above the inconsistency of the material world as its lord and master. Fallen spirits also have the ability to modify the material creations of God, but only to a limited extent. They teach this to their servants from among the people — wizards, witches, sorcerers, magicians, pagan priests, and others. Phenomena such as shapeshifting, alchemy, astrology, the influence of Zodiac signs, shamanism, druidism, yoga, occultism, and spiritualism are based on this demonic ability. In the battle of Moses against the pharaoh and his priests, these abilities were used on two sides. But if Moses used them in all of their power and fullness as a blessed god, then the priests could only do what the demons helped them to. The priests could not do anything at all without the demons, and even with their help, their power was limited to the extent that God permitted it. In this regard, Moses is revealed to us as a person who has achieved oneness, who has emerged from under the power of demons, from the animalistic state of fallen human nature and the inconsistent basis of the material being of this world. That is why Moses truly became God in this world so damaged by the Fall! Now that we are armed with the above knowledge, let us return to our contemplation of the battle between Moses and the pharaoh with his priests.
The Beginning of the Battle, the First Sign of the God of Moses, and the First Plague of the Egyptians
Exodus 5: "1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. 3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword."
The Most High God made the first move in the battle with force, but also very delicately, for He offered the pharaoh a way out rather than provoking him to answer harshly. Through Aaron, Moses immediately expressed his desire on behalf of the God of Israel: "Let my people go." Moses then explains the reason for his God's request: "...that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." Please note that this was a celebration in honor of God, not a celebration about war or aggression. Pharaoh supplied the following answer from the side of the enemy: "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let [the sons of] Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." This answer displays the pharaoh's cunning. He immediately and humiliatingly presents the question "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?" He then adds "I know not the Lord." But if you do not know the Lord, then why ask "who is the Lord?" Why wouldn't you first ask who He is? Why hide behind your ignorance? Simply because you do not want to know Him, and can therefore place yourself above Him from the outset; otherwise, how could you refuse His request? After this refusal, Moses and Aaron told the pharaoh more precisely: "The God of the Hebrews hath met with us." They then repeated the request, presenting a more serious reason and referring to the possibility of people being smitten by God. "Let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword." In response to this, Pharaoh craftily shifts the conversation elsewhere, changing the subject and speaking of the material world. "4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens." This answer was given in such a way that accuses Moses and Aaron — why are you, Moses and Aaron, distracting [my] people from their everyday affairs? In accusing God's messengers, the pharaoh is slyly sheltering behind his apparent concerns for the welfare of his state and his people. He then points out the large number of people and their general busyness, thereby rendering Moses's request as a mere distraction. For him, everyday profits from the labor of his people is more important than Hebrews serving their God. Having said this, however, the pharaoh had to back up his words with actions. "6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. 9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words." Pharaoh used Moses's request in order to burden the Hebrew people further. The people, having received this new and unbearable burden, began to grumble about Moses and Aaron, who they considered the authors of their misfortune. "20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 21 And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us." In this way, the pharaoh turned the people away from Moses with Aaron, setting them against one another. It was a crushing move by Pharaoh, and it had a great impact on Moses. He turned to God with sorrow in his heart. "22 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all." We see Moses presenting serious accusations to God: "Neither hast thou delivered thy people at all." Moses did not know and did not see the whole picture of the Exodus, but he survived every stage of the incipient battle, which led him to an erroneous assessment of the final outcome. The Lord does not judge or rebuke Moses, but simply tells him what will take place. Exodus 6: "1 Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. 2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers." How simple: "Now shalt thou see!" See what? That "what [God] will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go." The Lord demonstrates the strength of His hand and predicts the pharaoh's inevitable defeat, along with his expulsion of Israel from Egypt. In his argument, the Lord refers to His previous appearances before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, comparing these phenomena with His appearances before Moses and pointing out Moses' advantage - God appeared to him with the new name "Jehovah," which He was not known by before. Then God referred to His covenant to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Afterward, the Lord gives Moses His words to the people. "6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord." Through this message, we see that Israel was still not God's people, for God promises to accept the people unto Himself and be their God only after their liberation from the captivity of Egypt. God's demonstration of His promise is the liberation of the people from the Egyptians and their guidance to the promised land. Moses is reinvigorated and conveys the words of God to the people, but the people do not believe him. "9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage."
The Lord then appears once again before Moses and tells him the following: "10 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 11 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land." Moses takes exception to Him, as he would to a mere man. "12 And Moses spake before the Lord, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?" Moses is telling the truth and, drawing his argument from that truth, doubts the success of his mission with the Pharaoh by referring to his speech defect. The Scripture then moves to a more general description of events. "13 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt."
Then comes the enumeration of the generational leaders of Israel, which serves to confirm that all God's words will invariably come to pass. The Lord again demands that Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and request the liberation of Israel. "28 And it came to pass on the day when the Lord spake unto Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 That the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I am the Lord: speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say unto thee. 30 And Moses said before the Lord, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?" The Lord once again says the following to Moses: I am the Lord, go to Pharaoh and tell him everything that I told you. Moses again uses his speech defect to justify himself and expresses bewilderment about why the pharaoh would listen to him. From Moses' answer, it is clear that he has yet to understand that he is God, with divine power and abilities. In this case, Moses' humility works against him. God therefore tells Moses bluntly that he is a gGod. Exodus 7: "1 And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them." In this declaration, God not only assured Moses that he would be God for the pharaoh but also revealed the course of the forthcoming battle to him. God told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh would then offer resistance for a long time. But this 'hardening' is not superficial, as there is implied permission from God given to the demons who will use the Pharaoh in their battle against Him. The Lord explains that He will permit the pharaoh's bitterness in order to reveal many of His signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Since the pharaoh will not listen, God will have a pretext to lay His hand upon Egypt and subject Pharaoh to His great judgments, so that all Egyptians (and all of humanity) learn that the God of the Hebrews is the Lord of all peoples. Moses and Aaron were thus strengthened in their faith and decided to do everything that the Lord commanded them. The Lord continued addressing Moses and Aaron. "8 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle [or sign] for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it [on the ground] before Pharaoh [and his slaves], and it shall become a serpent." God commands Moses to give commands himself and for Aaron to fulfill them. The verbal phase of the battle thus gave way to the active phase, when each of the parties proved its strength through its deeds. "10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent." So, Moses (through Aaron) performed the first sign before Pharaoh and his slaves, turning the rod into a serpent. This was followed by an unexpected reaction on the part of the pharaoh, which confirmed the words of the Lord about his bitterness. "11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said." Pharaoh relied on the Egyptian magi and sorcerers, who were servants of the devil, to counterpose their magical arts against the power of the God of Moses. With their spell, they turned their rods into snakes. Despite the fact that Moses' serpent consumed all of the sorcerers' snakes, the Pharaoh latched on to his sorcerers' duplication of Moses' feat and refused to listen to him. God both knew about this and expected this, and therefore continued his onslaught against the pharaoh. He carefully coordinated Moses and Aaron and prepared them for the second round of the battle. "14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. 17 Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river. 19 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone." For the first sign, Moses turned a wooden rod into a living serpent, showing that he not only possesses the power to resist the ancient serpent but also transform the inanimate into the animate in this world, or the material of the plant world into an animal and vice versa. This is something only God can do, but the magi copied a similar sign by using their demonic power. In these signs of the two warring parties, not only the sources of their power were different - one being God and the other being demons - but the qualities of the signs were also different. If Moses actually turned a dry rod into a living serpent, then the magicians of Egypt utilized the power of demonic illusion to turn their rods into snakes. Having swallowed these fake serpents, Moses' serpent showed everyone that it was genuine and therefore had the advantage, but Pharaoh was content with the facade of a sign by his sorcerers. The signs of the magi seemed quite real to those with ordinary sight.
In the new, second round, God commanded Moses and Aaron to strike the water with the rod to turn all the water of the Nile, all its tributaries, the lakes of Egypt, and all other reservoirs into actual blood.
Moses and Aaron carried out the Lord's commandment. "20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also." The first sign did not harm of the Egyptians, but the conversion of water into blood had an immediate impact on the Egyptians' daily lives. The Egyptian magi performed a similar sign with their spells, but in only one vessel filled with water. That was enough for Pharaoh to refuse Moses again, for his heart was hardened, but there was a new factor in play that was plain for all to see - the discontent of the Egyptians, because they needed to drink water. "24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the Lord had smitten the river." Seven days passed before the next sign. The pharaoh's heart hardened further. This means that the pharaoh, who was dependent on his "gods" (demons), turned away from the God of Moses, who in turn had to resort to the second plague. The spiritual meaning of the plague is obvious. Water is a source of life for all people and spiritually symbolizes the grace of the Holy Spirit. The transformation of water into blood is a symbolic indication that the Egyptians will be deprived of the grace of God, and their water shall be replaced with blood for their shedding of the blood of Israel.
The Second Plague of the Egyptians - the Infestation of Frogs
Exodus 8: "1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt."
We see that the course of this battle is determined by the Lord God Himself; Moses and Aaron are doing everything under God's command. This time, God commanded them to go to Pharaoh and once again demand that His people be released, armed with the threat of a plague of frogs in case the pharaoh refuses. Moses then (through Aaron) describes in detail how everything will come to pass and that this plague will affect the house of the pharaoh himself, for the frogs will enter his house and his bedchambers. Frogs were considered to be unclean animals by both the Hebrews and the Egyptians. They come from water but can move about on land. The pharaoh did not agree, and the Scripture does not even make mention of this. Therefore, Moses and Aaron immediately get down to business. The Lord tells Moses to instruct his brother Aaron to take the rod in his hand and extend his arm, directing it toward the streams and lakes of Egypt. Aaron did so, and a huge number of frogs immediately emerged, covering the whole land of Egypt. There was only one small hitch. Exodus 8: "7 And the [Egyptian] magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt." It is not difficult for demons to summon toads, mice, rats, and snakes, because these are their favorite animals to send after people. Despite the supposed success of his magi, though, the pharaoh calls on Moses and Aaron and asks them to remove the frogs. The issue was that the magi summoned an additional mass of frogs to what was already an enormous number of frogs, and rather than solving the problem, this only exacerbated it. If Moses and Aaron could dispose of the frogs, they would be victorious in this round. The magi could not force the demons to remove the toads, for the demons themselves could only direct them, and not remove them. The pharaoh therefore made a sly move, promising Moses that he would let the people of Israel go although he knew that he had no intention of doing so. Moses needed a victory at this stage of the battle, and the pharaoh's request that Moses pray to the Lord to remove the frogs was clear evidence of the God of Moses's victory. For that reason, Moses agreed to accept the pharaoh's recognition of defeat, but, keeping his trickery in mind, asked Pharaoh to tell him the exact time to dispose of the frogs. Exodus 8: "9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only? 10 And he said, Tomorrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only." Moses demonstrated his divine force and capacity in this stage of the battle through his power over the world of amphibians, which allowed him to rapidly increase their numbers to the point that Egyptian homes overflowed with them. In this case, God brought frogs (animals considered to be unclean) to the homes of the Egyptians and the pharaoh to show them the extent of how unclean and filthy they were in His eyes as worshipers and servants of evil spirits. This plague of frogs was not only disgusting to the Egyptians but also desecrated their homes, dwellings, stockrooms, and literally everything else. Furthermore, they had to clean up all of the corpses of the dead frogs, which afflicted their entire land. All these extremely unpleasant consequences for the Egyptians fell, in their eyes, on the shoulders of their pharaoh, for all of this was made to happen because of his obstinacy. Having finally cleaned up all of the frogs, the pharaoh broke his word and refused to let Israel go, thus displaying his lying nature. Exodus 8: "12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the Lord because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. 14 And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said." We see that Satan (the father of lies) and his servant, the pharaoh, made use of Satan's most fundamental tool - lies. God and Moses had to resort to the next plague.
The Third Plague of the Egyptians - the Infestation of Lice
The battle between the forces of evil and good develops in intensity here. Now, for the new plague, God commanded the invasion of lice, which was much more afflictive than the plague of frogs. Exodus 8: "16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt." In this round of the battle, there was an important, and one might even say radical, turning point in Moses and Aaron's confrontation with the Egyptian magi. For the first time, the sorcerers could not repeat what Aaron did at Moses' command, to make lice from the dust of the earth. From that moment on, they could no longer repeat anything that Moses did, and were thereby simply withdrawn from the fight, recognizing both their utter defeat and the superiority of the God of Moses over them and their leader (the Devil). Exodus 8: "18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said." They directly testified to the pharaoh that this was truly the finger of God, and that further resistance against Him was futile and impossible.
From the Scriptures of the very same Moses, we know that God created man out of dust, and it turns out that Moses repeated this feat to a certain extent. In this scenario, however, the lice made from the dust of the earth signified the Egyptians themselves in the eyes of the Lord God. Despite all this, the pharaoh remained hardened and refused to listen even to his own magi and advisers. Moses had no choice but to resort to a new, even more powerful and painful plague for the Egyptians.
The Fourth Plague of the Egyptians - the Plague of Flies
The flies of the fourth plague were of the sort that drink the blood of people and cattle, leaving behind agonizing bites that turn into painful abscesses. Exodus 8: "20 And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me [in the wilderness]; 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be." We see that in applying this plague, the Lord God makes use of a dividing action between the Egyptians and His people. The people of Israel are protected from the plague of flies! With this division, the Lord God shows everyone not only that He is the Lord God over the whole earth and all of its people,but that His people Israel stands apart and therefore enjoys His special protection from all evil and harm. Under the pressure of this plague, the pharaoh was forced to call upon Moses and Aaron and promised them to release the people of Israel. Exodus 8: "24 And the Lord did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies. 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land." Knowing full well of the Pharaoh's inconsistency, Moses tries to secure the three days he needs. Exodus 8: "26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, as He shall command us." In fact, Moses had no intention of returning to Egypt with the people of Israel. He only needed three days to lead the Israelites from Egypt, and from then on things would be "as He shall command [them]." Moses did not inform the crafty pharaoh of his plans and instead asked for three days. Three days in the spiritual sense signifies the three future days of Christ (in relation to Moses' time), when He rose on the third day, thereby conquering both the devil and the death of man. Three more days also signify the three millennia counted from the Nativity of Christ, for on the third day of God ("that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years") Christ will defeat Satan and all of his demons, as well as death (man's last enemy) through the total resurrection of all deceased people. In this sense, Moses did not lie to Pharaoh by talking about three days, for after these three days there would be a fundamental transition in Israel's being. In this case, the pharaoh was so subdued by the plague that he even hesitated in his lie, believing that he would actually let the Israelites go. Exodus 8: "28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me [to the Lord]. 29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. 30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord. 31 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go." Despite Moses' appeal to Pharaoh for him to cease his lies, the pharaoh, after the flies' disappearance, hardened his heart again and did not let the people go. This led to a more severe plague for the Egyptians. In this case, Moses proved himself stronger than the demonic prince Beelzebub (the lord of flies), and this was very much a victory for Moses and his Lord God.
The Fifth Plague of the Egyptians - Pestilence
Exodus 9: "1 Then the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4 And the Lord shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel." This time, circumstances led to God's use of a biological weapon - pestilence, which caused the death of the all living creatures that contracted it. The pestilence only afflicted the Egyptians' cattle, but it left a clear impression in the Egyptians' minds - next time, it may be the Egyptian people who suffer. Exodus 9: "5 And the Lord appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the Lord shall do this thing in the land. 6 And the Lord did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go." Pharaoh was convinced that the plague did not affect the Israelites' cattle, but his heart was hardened again, and he did not fulfill his promise to let the people go. This was another defeat for the pharaoh, but he pressed on and continued to expose his people to an ever-worsening series of plagues. In this plague, Moses manifested himself as possessing the power to send a great and deadly disease (and, therefore, to also heal and protect people from it), as well as the manager of life and death, which is characteristic only of God.
The Sixth Plague of the Egyptians - Boils
Exodus 9: "8 And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians."
This plague was the first that afflicted the Egyptians directly. It also afflicted the magicians, and they could not defend themselves or rid themselves of it. Moses had commanded Aaron to perform all of the actions that resulted in the plagues in all the previous cases, but this time Moses himself was the executor of the plague, which showed Pharaoh and all the Egyptians that this plague was sent by the Lord God. With this plague, Moses defeated the sorcerers of Egypt, and thus indirectly defeated the demons who stood at their backs as well. Once again, the pharaoh lied and did not let the people of Israel go. Exodus 9: "12 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses." However, in this case, Moses wrote that "the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh." In any case, the pharaoh was already a hard-hearted and sly man, but even a man like that could be touched by the plagues that had fallen upon the Egyptians because of his obstinacy. For this reason, in spite of his evil qualities, he could have made a decision that would have relieved God's pressure on the Egyptians. To prevent this from happening and display the fullness of His anger, God, in a way that is incomprehensible to us, does not allow the pharaoh to conceal the anger and bitterness he expressed in his resistance against the Lord. In the Scripture, this is simply encapsulated by the phrase "the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh."
The Seventh Plague of the Egyptians - Unprecedented and Murderous Hail
Exodus 9: "13 And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19 Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die."
God wants to reveal Himself here as the One God without equal in Heaven or Earth. At the same time, God precedes this deadly plague with a warning to the Egyptians, leaving the matter to their faith and their decisions. God not only wants to destroy the Egyptians but also teach them veneration and fear of the true God. The Lord tells Pharaoh that He could easily destroy both the pharaoh and all of the Egyptians, but that He has preserved the pharaoh to demonstrate His power over him, so that His name would be proclaimed across the whole world. It turns out that the battle is now for the name of the Lord God and for His exaltation over all other gods and names.
Exodus 9: "20 He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21 And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail." This plague left a strong impression on the pharaoh, and for the first time he was forced to acknowledge the God of Moses as righteous, his deed as a sin, and himself and his subjects as guilty. Exodus 9: "27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Intreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer." As always, this was followed by the pharaoh's assurance that he would release the people of Israel and no longer hold them back. But his word was worthless, and he could no longer be trusted at all. Nevertheless, Moses removes the plague this time. Exodus 9: "29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the Lord; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the Lord's. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord God. 31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. 32 But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth." However, as Moses had predicted, the Pharaoh and his people showed demonic fearlessness and continued to sin against God. Exodus 9: "34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses."
The Eighth Plague of the Egyptians - An Unprecedented Plague of Locusts
Exodus 10: "1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: 2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord. 3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he [Moses] turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh."
The Lord affirms His dominion in the hearts and minds of Moses, Aaron, and all the sons of Israel so that they know that their God is the sovereign master of this world and Lord over all creatures living in it. He does this through wondrous signs. In order for these signs to be realized, He "burdens" the hearts of the pharaoh and his servants, allowing them to remain in their true state - consumed by wicked and cunning spirits. However, the pharaoh's servants were afraid, not of the Lord God of Israel, but of the plague itself and its consequences. They forced Moses to return to Pharaoh and pressed the pharaoh to let the people of Israel go. Exodus 10: "7 And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go?" Seeing the inevitability of the Israelites' release, the pharaoh tries to find out which of the people will go specifically in order to retain at least a portion of the people. Moses then answers the pharaoh in full honesty. Exodus 10: "9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the Lord. 10 And he said unto them, Let the Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. 11 Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence." As we can clearly see, Moses' answer did not satisfy the pharaoh. He found fault with the need to let the children and wives go, and therefore, having driven Moses and Aaron away from him, refused to let the people go at all. Moses had to resort to teaching the pharaoh yet another lesson through the plague indicated above. Exodus 10: "12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb [and fruit] of the land, even all that the hail hath left. 13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt." This time, the pharaoh once again turned to his time-tested tactics of unfulfilled promises. Exodus 10: "16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the Lord your God, that he may take away from me this death only." He admitted that he had sinned once again and even asked for forgiveness for his sin and prayers to the Lord for the plague to cease. Moses then fulfills the pharaoh's request. Exodus 10: "18 And he [Moses] went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord. 19 And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt." However, everything remained the same. Exodus 10: "20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go." By doing so, he invited yet another plague.
The Ninth Plague of the Egyptians - Darkness
Exodus 10: "21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." This time the plague was in the form of an impenetrable and palpable darkness, inside of which no light source was visible and no lamp could be lit. Only the sons of Israel had light. With this plague, God showed the pharaoh and the Egyptians that they are trapped in the same darkness through their resistance to God, for only the Lord God is the light and all light comes from Him. This plague also left a strong impression on the pharaoh, and he again promised to let the people go, bargaining not for the Hebrew children this time, but for their cattle. Exodus 10: "24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord, until we come thither." Moses did not yield to the pharaoh, who in turn hardened his heart yet again. Exodus 10: "27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go." Moreover, the altercation between Moses and Pharaoh escalated to a death threat against Moses if he appeared before Pharaoh again. Exodus 10: "28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die." Moses humbly accepts the pharaoh's demand. Exodus 10: "29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more." We should understand that the pharaoh's murderous threat will be answered by God in the form of the Egyptians' final plague.
The Tenth Plague of the Egyptians - Death of the Egyptian Firstborns
The period of plagues came to an end, and the Lord declared directly to Moses that he would impose yet another plague, after which the pharaoh would not only let the whole people free along with their cattle but would drive them out of Egypt. Exodus 11: "1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. 2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold [and clothing]. 3 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people." Assuring Moses of the inevitability of an Exodus from Egypt after the impending plague, God, taking care of the future of His people, instructs him to ask the Egyptians for gold and silver items as payment for all of their labor and torment under Egyptian slavery. Moses then speaks with rage for the last time about the final and most terrible plague of Egypt. Exodus 11: "4 And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger." The firstborns were all the sons and daughters of the Egyptians who were born first in their families, and this principle applied to the Egyptians' cattle as well. Age and position did not matter; the plague struck all of the Egyptians, including the house of the pharaoh. Before carrying out the final plague on the Egyptians, the Lord prepares the people of Israel for it. To do this, He establishes the obligatory consumption of the Passover lamb, which must be slain at a certain time and in a certain way, for all of His people. This institution was designed by God to stretch over eternity, and it has become central to the religious life of the Israelites. But, for the very first time, the Passover was to be observed before the plague was carried out against the Egyptians. Exodus 12: "21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they." Today, we Christians know well that the ancient Passover was a prototype of Christ's Easter, the Easter lamb a prototype of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the blood of the lamb a prototype of the blood of the New Testament and Christ, with whom He redeemed the human race from perdition. For the first time, every residence of the sons of Israel had to put three signs on their door, drawn in the blood of an Easter lamb - in the form of a cross on the crossbar and two doorposts. The seal of the cross saved all the inhabitants of the house from death. The destroyer then went through the dwellings of the Egyptians, bringing death to every house. Exodus 12: "29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men." Pharaoh and all the surviving Egyptians feared for their lives, and therefore rushed to expel all the Hebrews from Egypt. To be delivered from death, they were forced to give away their gold, silver, and clothes to the Hebrews. Exodus 12: "35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians." The Exodus of the people of Israel took place at night exactly 430 years after the arrival and settlement of their forefather in Egypt. The number of people leaving Egypt was quite large. The number of men (not counting children and wives) came to 600,000. There were foreigners among them. Thus began a new period in the life of Moses and the people of Israel, but their battle with the pharaoh and the Devil was not yet over.
The Theological Comprehension of Moses' Battle with the Pharaoh
Moses' battle with the Egyptian pharaoh was a battle of the True God with untrue gods, the names of the True God with the names of the untrue gods. It was a battle of God's people against the pagan people, a battle of light against darkness, a battle of God's truth and lies, Christ against Belial and the Beast. Moses' victory was inevitable, as well as the pharaoh's defeat, for God is stronger than any man! God's people, Israel, as personified in Moses and Aaron, represented Him. The pharaoh and his magicians were godless people who clung to demons through their weakness, blindness, and ignorance. The Lord God could not reveal Himself through the Gospel to all nations and people, for people had many different gods back then. That is why He, descending to the feebleness of people, revealed Himself in the beginning to only one people - Israel. He was forced to declare himself the tribal God of Israel. For this reason, the pagans, the pharaoh, and others like him, perceived Him and His Name as one of many tribal gods and believed that He was not stronger than the Egyptian gods. For this reason, God commanded Moses to wage battle with the pagans gradually, in stages, so that His power and supremacy over the gods of the pagans (i.e. demons) would be revealed comprehensively and indisputably! In this task, He was assisted by the pharaoh, who had a cold heart. The Lord God used the pharaoh's obduracy to convince him of his defeat at Moses's hand once and for all, as well as the glory of His name over the whole earth. God calls this nonmalleability of the Pharaoh's heart obstinacy, at times attributing this obstinacy to His own actions. God was against Egyptian paganism but not against the people who were blinded by it. Therefore, He did not annihilate the entire population of Egypt, as was the case with Sodom and the other surrounding cities. God had a hope for them that was fully justified in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Israel and the Gentiles were irreconcilable enemies who constantly fought with each other. This feud was not ordinary human squabbling. Israel kept God in itself and represented Him to the entire pagan world. The pagans were people who had been abandoned by God, and were consequently a godless group, that is, the only way they could factually be without God. Distanced from the True God, they instead purveyed false gods, of whom there were many, for there are many demons and demon lords. This division of people into two parts and the hostility between them lasted until Christ's appearance on the earth. Israel contained the True God, who manifested Himself in the power of His name, but could not be truly united with this God because they still carried their human nature with all its inherent weaknesses. Venerating and invoking the name of God could produce miracles and signs, but could not connect a person with God. The pagans had the same human nature but lacked God, and therefore did not even have the slightest hope of connecting with Him. Whereas the Israelites invoked the Lord's Name, the pagans invoked and called upon demons, which could never have led to the union of their human nature with God or their consequent victory over human death. This problem was solved by the Son of God, who took upon Himself every aspect of human nature save for sin. He not only took our nature upon Himself, but combined it with his divinity inside of Himself in such a way that the human portion did not disappear or dissolve in Him, but instead remained in its entirety. After that, He voluntarily went with this flesh to the cross to glorify His theanthropism before all the people and all the angels. This feat of His granted us humans not only redemption and salvation, but also the reconciliation of two warring parties, whose representatives participated in the act of killing the God-man. The Apostle Paul described the scene in his writings. Ephesians 2: "11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Let us consider these words line by line. "11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world…" Paul wrote to the former Gentiles and thus reminded them that before they were Gentiles in the flesh before they converted to Christ. The sin of paganism is a sin of the flesh. And through his spirit, a man created in the image and likeness of God cannot bow to demons. Paul emphasizes that the other group, or those who have been physically circumcised by human hands (so as not to be confused with spiritual circumcision performed by Christ when a person enters the Church), called the Gentiles "uncircumcised", thereby emphasizing their godlessness, their non-entry into the covenant with God, and their separation from God's people. As pagans, they were without Christ, who was known to Israel by the Name 'Yahweh', and to those chosen few as the coming Jesus Christ. As non-participants of the covenant with God, they were unfamiliar with the Covenant of Promise, and had no hope for a life with God or any of His other blessings!
"13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
With the Gentiles' conversion to Christ and their entry into the Church of Christ, everything changed for them! Once so far from God and His people, they then entered the ranks of those who formed the New Testament with God, and through the Blood of Christ, became close to Him! Why did this happen? "14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:" Because Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the God of peace, reconciled both sides by Himself, having made of two things - the Israelis and the former Gentiles - one, His Church as His Theanthropic Body, thereby destroying the barrier between the two previously irreconcilable sides. What is this partition? This is the disconnectedness, the impossibility of combining human nature and Divine nature! How did Christ destroy (i.e. overcome) this partition? Through His incarnation, and more precisely, through the incongruous and inseparable union of the divine and human natures in Himself, in the One Being of the God-man! Paul therefore writes that Christ abolished the enmity of His flesh, which He gave to the Church for the communion of all its faithful members. The flesh and blood of Christ becomes a new center (new Israel) for the people of God - the Church, as well as the new meaning of its life, for the Communion of the flesh and blood of Christ tells every worthy partaker about the properties of the God-man, namely incorruption, immortality, etc. It also unites all members of the Church who partake of the Sacrament (and there should be no other members) into His One Church, as in the God-man's mystical body of Christ: "15 ... for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity (the assumption that both Israelites and Gentiles redeemed by His god-man's reunion with His God's suffering) thereby." It was for this coming reconciliation, through the union of man and God in the God-man Jesus Christ, that Moses fought the Egyptian pharaoh (who personified the Devil, who loathes all people without exception), as well as for our modern Eucharist and our deification in Christ.
So, the battle of the forces of good and evil, which was carried out in Egypt by Moses and Aaron (on the side of good) and Pharaoh and his sorcerers (on the side of evil) ended in evil's complete defeat, as did each of the battle's ten stages. This battle was not limited to Egyptian territory and the interests of Israel but took place across the entire universe with the inclusion of angelic forces and regiments of demons. Moses' battle with the pharaoh was conducted in a format that was comprehensible for the pagans of the day, be they Egyptian or of another tribe, namely in the form of a competition between representatives of the magical arts from each of the warring parties. We need to consider the fact that the Hebrews had lived in Egypt for 430 years to the day of the Exodus. During that time, they retained their faith in their tribal God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Retaining their faith in a foreign land over the course of so many years was extremely difficult. We see that first, with Joseph's help, the Lord God elevates Egypt over all other states of that time. God was preparing for a decisive battle, and therefore it was important for Him to defeat not just any state, kingdom, or human society, but the most powerful and mighty pagan and magical civilization of demonic people. In this battle, God intended to go beyond the limits of the single tribal God of the Hebrews in order to reveal Himself to all people. He also sought to show that He alone is the very God who created the whole world, visible and invisible, and everything in it, and that He, despite the preponderance of demons, magicians, and pagans, is the absolute Lord and Master. He sought to make it clear that everything, except for the temporary divergences of mad fallen angels and people, is carried out according to His will and providence, which no one in this world can stop! And according to God's providence, the Son of God was to appear in this material world, in the world of people, and take upon Himself all of human nature with the exception of sin. In this battle, the Lord God wished to demonstrate His complete superiority over all of the other gods of the Gentiles (all of whom are demons), revealing the invincible power of His name, and glorifying His name across the Earth and all people. This victory of God and Moses was to be recorded in both the memory of the people of the time and for future generations in the Holy Scripture, and Moses indeed did so. In addition, the fates of the future Church of Christ, its meaning, and the center of its life - the Sacraments of the Eucharist - as well as the fate of Israel, which was a prototype of the Church of Christ, were decided in this battle. It was truly a monumental and grandiose battle for the ages, greater than anything the Earth had seen before! In the end, this battle was fought for the establishment of Israel, for its exaltation and preservation as the human environment in which the divine flower of the Virgin Mary, who was to become the Mother of God and give birth to the Son of God, was to bloom. It was Jesus Christ, after all, who combined within Himself the divinity of God and human nature, doing so for the exaltation and deification of that human nature. That is, this battle was fought for the Nativity of Christ and for His Passover, or the victory over human death and corruption! For His Ascension to Heaven, and for peoples' discovery of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, and for the eternally blessed life of people with the Lord God! For the creation of the mystical body of Christ, consisting of the head of Christ and the Church with all of Her faithful members! That is why this battle was essentially a kind of fundamental transition from the magical-pagan world to a world of divine structure and providence in which God revealed a great many new things through Moses: God's people as represented by Israel; a new religion in honor of the true God; the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is in them; a new form of worship; a new priesthood; the Tabernacle as the new temple of God; a new language and culture; the Torah as the body of Holy Scripture and record of God's word through the Holy Spirit; biblical history as the new, true history of mankind; the synagogue as the new system of training and education of God's people; a new kind of government of the people led by God; a new type of state and military structure of the life of the people, who faced brutal people and non-humans in the battle for the Promised Land. More details about all of Moses' accomplishments will be provided at the end of this book. In the meantime, let's wrap up our review of the battle that has taken place and the Egyptian plagues, and move on to consider the future life of Moses and the fate of the people of Israel that he now leading.
Israel's First Days Outside of Egypt
Exodus 13: "17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt."
We see that Pharaoh had at last let the people go, and so new problems and questions arose in connection to the Israelites' new situation, all of which required solving. Determining where to go was not a problem, for Israel had waited for the Exodus to the Promised Land of their forefather Abraham for 430 years. But, having received their freedom, the first question for Israel was which road (route) to take to get to this land. The Lord God took it upon Himself to answer this question, and we need to see the importance of the path that was chosen right off the bat. The Lord God does not intervene in the life of His people for trivial things, but if He indicated specifically what path the people should take, then the path is very important and some sort of secret lies behind it. The road through the Philistine land was the closest and shortest to Israel's destination. The Lord God, however, cut this route off immediately for Israel, pointing out the high probability that the Israelites would return to Egypt upon seeing the war, thus undoing all of God's providence about humanity and the whole of creation. The land of the Philistines was a constant state of war, which is why God's reference to the conflict was quite appropriate and accurate. And while that was true, God's explanation, for all its objective reality, served only as a cover for a more important motive for changing the Israelites' route. We don't explain all of our adult secrets to our children right away either but instead conceal them with talk of "storks" or Santa Claus, and this case was exactly the same. God redirected the first step that Israel was supposed to take, concealing the true reason for such a route, which, incidentally, took forty Earth years to walk. But this initial concealment was very important, for Israel's embarking on the wrong path would have affected the entire universe, inasmuch as it could have led to the suppression of God's providence. This was on a much higher plane than a simple Shakespearean "to be or not to be" - this was about whether Christ was to be or not to be on the Earth! That is why God led the people along a deserted road to the Red Sea.
Exodus 13: "19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness."
Moses takes the bones of Joseph with him to carry them out of Egypt and transfer them to the Promised Land. This transfer of Joseph's bones was not only the fulfillment of the oath of Joseph, who prophetically foresaw the Israelites' departure from Egypt and their fundamental transition from an ethnic people to the people of God, but also a prototype of the Kingdom of Heaven - the culmination of faith in God and in His Promised Land. The carrying of the bones of Saint Joseph served as clear evidence of the fulfillment of God's promises and prophecies. Thus, the Exodus was transformed from the resolution of a national problem of the Hebrews into the process by which God's providence for all of humanity was manifested. The movement of the sons of Israel (a name that is not accidental, as God binds the people to the holy Israel-Jacob with this name) from Succoth of Egypt to the edge of the desert at Epham was in accordance with God's providence, and the geographical accuracy of this movement as recorded in the Scriptures speaks to God's scrupulous leadership and detailed consideration of the Exodus. All of this is evidence that God has nothing accidental or ill-considered in His providence for us, and that everything that happens in accordance with this providence is carefully recorded.
Exodus 13: "21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."
We see that the Lord (represented by the Archangel Michael) led His people by both day and night, which illustrates the fact that God cares for His people both at the time of their prosperity (day) and at the time of their sorrows, troubles, and disorder (night). Moreover, this guidance was more obvious at night, for it was manifested in the form of a luminous pillar of fire. This leadership was ever-present and uninterrupted, supporting the fact (namely the fact, and not just faith) of the Lord God's divine guidance and patronage.
Exodus 14: "1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. 4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so." God continues to communicate with Moses and guide His people, or rather, the people from among whom He wants to create His people with Moses' help, making it truly His. The turn of phrase "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying" was used by Moses himself in order to show everyone that it was the Lord who initiated this conversation and that He asked Moses to convey His words in direct speech, without any distortion. God calls the people "the sons of Israel," pointing out their descent from the holy Jacob-Israel and showing them that they still have no merits before Him apart from this. He indicates their geographically accurate location to them using the names of localities that people had given to them. In full knowledge of what He plans to do next, he commands the people to set up camp by the sea. The people do not know what is going to happen, and God only requires their faith in Him and their obedience. Then God transfers the conversation to the pharaoh, describing to Moses how Pharaoh reacted to Israel's incomprehensible route. It should be noted that Pharaoh used his spies to track the Hebrews' movement and location. The pharaoh, however, draws an erroneous conclusion from the reports he received, believing that the sons of Israel lost their way in the wilderness (even after the considerable manifestations of the power of God for the sake of these people), for the passage of the nearly three million Israelites through the Red Sea was impossible. The pharaoh, in his delusion, thought that it was his gods who arranged all of this in order to punish Israel. The fact that this was a trap for his army arranged by the God of Moses never crossed his mind. But God tells Moses directly that He will harden Pharaoh's heart so that he would pursue the sons of Israel as 'easy prey', doing so to demonstrate to all the world His power over Pharaoh and his army, the strongest and most technically equipped of all the armies of the ancient world. The hardening of one's heart is the revelation of the heart's true essence, realized by keeping one's heart on a straight and true path, and not deviating from it due to some secondary influences or the advice of earthly sages. We see that the war that was started in Egypt was still ongoing, and the defeat of the Egyptian army was to be the crown jewel of God's final victory. This defeat was indeed inflicted, and not by military means, but by the power of the God of Moses! In the meantime, the conflict between the Abrahamic monotheists (Israel) and the pagan polytheists (Egyptians), between the 'Cainites' (Egyptians) and the 'Abelites' (Israel) continued, and opposing sides were arranged in a very specific way before the decisive battle took place. From a human point of view, the sons of Israel had no chance in the coming battle, as the Egyptians had a well-trained and well-armed professional army. The Israelites, although they were somewhat armed, knew nothing of handling weapons and had no combat experience. Moreover, their ranks largely consisted of women and children, and they were burdened with their many cattle and heavy loads. Events continued to unfold, seemingly not in favor of the Israelites. Exodus 14: "5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6 And [the Pharaoh] made ready his chariot, and took his people with him[.]" The pharaoh was informed that the people of Israel had fled, which to him was an indication of their fear of the Egyptians. This feeling then provoked an attack on the fearful, and here Satan turned the heart of Pharaoh and his servants against Israel. The influence of demons led the Egyptians to have an overwhelming regret for their release of their labor force - the Israelites. They no longer had any memory of the former plagues, nor any fear of the God of Moses. Cainites differ from Abelites in that they themselves have no consistency whatsoever, and live only in the moment. They are very attached to their land and to their rituals. The Egyptian army pursuing the Israelites was led by Pharaoh himself. We remember that all of the Egyptian cattle, including war horses, died during the plagues, so the pharaoh had to quickly organize replacement horses for the war chariots. The Scriptures indicate that Pharaoh handpicked six hundred chariots, but he took all of the other chariots (up to two and a half thousand in total) along with him.
Exodus 14: "8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. 9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon." We see that Moses repeats the fact that it was the Lord who hardened the pharaoh's heart such that he would pursue the Israelites with his army. Under the influence of demons and passions, Pharaoh and his people took great pains to rush on horseback and in chariots to the Israelites' location. But in regard to the sons of Israel, there is clear emphasis that they were going along under a hand most high, that is, they were led and protected by God Almighty. Exodus 14: "10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. 11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Moses, an eyewitness and direct participant in these events, describes what is happening simply and precisely. The pharaoh approached the camp of the Israelites with his formidable army. The sons of Israel looked around and beheld a terrible sight - the entire Egyptian army rushing toward them in chariots and on horses. Naturally, they were very frightened and began to cry out in desperation to the Lord, as well as rebuke Moses for having led them to die in the wilderness. They already regretted that they had listened to Moses and had gone with him. They would have been glad to remain slaves to the Egyptians as opposed to dying in the wilderness, even at the expense of their faith and their God. This was the first, but not the last, feeble attempt of the Israelites to betray their faith and return to their dwellings in Egypt. The 430 years these people spent in Egypt did not pass unheeded and left a deep imprint on their consciousness. They had become so Cain-like, so Egyptian, that they continued to look back over their shoulders toward Egypt despite all of God's miracles and signs. The people could be brought out of Egypt, but getting Egypt out of the people was a monumental task. For many, this task was impossible, which is why those people who were infected with this "Egyptian-ness" had to be cleansed from the Israelites through their death in the wilderness. So the people determined that they were to wander through the wilderness for forty years. Moses calms and bolsters the people, promising the help of the Lord God and prophesizing the annihilation of the attacking Egyptians. He makes it clear to them that the Lord will do battle with the Egyptians on the side of Israel!
Exodus 14: "15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen." Despite having renewed his people's spirits, Moses nonetheless cried out to the Lord for help and protection. This did not please the Lord, for it represented a lack of faith in Moses, and He therefore began His answer to Moses with the words of reproach: "Wherefore criest thou unto me?" He commanded Moses to tell the sons of Israel to go straight into the sea, and then personally raise his rod and cut the sea in two so that a strip of land forms in the middle along which all of Israel, with all its cattle and property, shall pass. The Lord promises that the Egyptians will pursue Israel, after which He will then display His power and glory over the pharaoh, all of his army, and all the chariots and horsemen.
Exodus 14: "19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night." In addition to the passage through the Red Sea, there was the direct threat that the Egyptians would reach the Israelites before they could cross over via the newly and miraculously formed land. In order to address this issue, God uses that angel (who, according to legend, was the Archangel and Prince of Heavenly Host Michael), who led Israel in the form of a cloud pillar by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Since it was daytime, the Angel of God stood between Israel and the Egyptians in the form of a pillar of clouds, holding back the latter until all of Israel crossed the sea. Moreover, he was a cloud of darkness for the Egyptians, and a cloud of light for the Israelites, as their movement across the sea continued until night had fallen.
Exodus 14: "21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians." By all estimates, the description of this miraculous rescue was written by an eyewitness. Moses extended his arm with the rod to the sea and made a separating motion. The Lord drove the sea with a strong east wind to the point that the waters of the sea parted on both sides and a strip of land was opened along the bottom of the sea that was wide enough for Israel to pass over. The waters of the sea stood in the form of massive walls. But if the Israelites had nowhere to go, if we believe Moses and the Lord, then the actions of the Pharaoh and other Egyptians, who rode right after Israel in between the walls of water with their entire army and all their chariots, should evoke surprise in us. Why didn't they have the fear of such a terrible and unusual phenomenon that any rational person ought to have? There is no way to explain this unless we remove all reasoning and fear from the Egyptians. They were under the influence of demonic fearlessness. The Lord himself began to act against the Egyptians, at first bringing them to a state of alarm and confusion, and then taking the wheels from the Egyptians' chariots, that is, making the friction in the moving parts so great that the chariots had to be dragged with great difficulty. Thus, the distance between the Egyptians and the Israelites did not change. Upon seeing this and realizing that the Lord would fight for the Israelites, the Egyptians tried to organize an escape from them.
Exodus 14: "26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. 29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore." We see that Aaron is not involved at all in case, only the Lord and Moses. God commands Moses to reach out and close the waters of the sea, bringing them down upon the Egyptians. Moses makes a lateral motion with the rod, which, together with the previous motion, forms a clearly defined four-pointed cross, and the waters surged toward the Egyptians at the bottom of the sea such that not one of them was spared. The Israelites saw the corpses of the dead Egyptians who had been cast ashore.
Exodus 14: "31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses. After all this, the Israelites saw the great hand of the Lord, and the people of the Lord feared Him and believed Him and Moses, His servant. The spiritual union of Moses and the people took place here at long last, and they, without a word, sang a song to the Lord, the words of which Moses brought to us. Exodus 15: "1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. 3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is His name. 4 Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. 6 Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. 8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. 10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. 11 Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. 18 The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. 19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea." This song was written as if by one person, so any number of people could sing it so long as they sang it from one heart. The Lord is called the strength, glory, and salvation of man, the performer of miracles, and so on. In addition to praising and describing one particular miracle, this song contains elements of prophecy and details the consequences of this miraculous event for other nations that Israel was to face in the future.
This great, miraculous salvation of Israel from the Egyptians, rumors about which swept among all the peoples and the description of which passed through thousands of years to meet us, also had a spiritual component. Firstly, it was the complete and decisive victory of the Lord God over Satan and his hordes, as well as the faith and name of God over the pagan and magical lifestyle of the people, which was particularly cultivated in Egypt. In addition, this victory was necessary for the Israelites as a people who were reawakening as the people of God. The Holy Apostle Paul wrote about all of this later. 1 Corinthians 10: "1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." So, we see that the Apostle Paul calls Israel's presence under a cloud (from the Spirit) and its passage through the sea (and water) the baptism of the whole people into Moses! Why into Moses? After all, you can only be baptized into God. That must mean that Moses was a God for Israel! He represented the coming Christ, and prepared the Israelites for His coming through his teachings. The baptism of the Israelites into Moses also refers to the baptism of Christ's Church into Him. The unity in eating the same spiritual food and drinking of one and the same spiritual drink served as a prototype of the Eucharist, for the rock of Christ was the source of this food and drink.
The First Days of Israel's Liberation from Egypt
Immediately after the salvation of Israel's people by God's power and miracles, Moses and the other sons of Israel sang a song glorifying their God. Then the prophetess Miriam, sister of Aaron, took a drum in her hand and began to sing hymns of praise to God, and all the women of Israel sang with her. There was an amazing, charitable separation of the male and female praises sung to God for their wondrous salvation, and it was done in the proper order - first the husbands, and then the wives. This hymn of the Israeli people, newly liberated from Egyptian slavery, laid the foundation of musical and singing culture, which is inextricably linked with the veneration of God. This spiritual and musical culture eventually turned into the phenomenon known as the Psalter, which is a collection of religious songs called psalms, for they were performed with the accompaniment of a stringed musical instrument known as a psaltery. These songs were written and performed by different people at different times. King David gathered many psalms into one book, and wrote some psalms himself. After that, the Psalter entered the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament as an inspired and prophetic book that the Lord Jesus Christ referred to during His conversation with Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. The foundation for this Psalter was laid by the Divine Moses.
Exodus 15: "22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. 23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying: What shall we drink? 25 And [Moses] cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there [God] made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there [God] proved them, 26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. 27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters."
So, by the grace and power of God, Israel's liberation from Egyptian slavery took place. The Lord God cut Israel's dependence on Egypt off quite literally with the waters of the Red Sea, simultaneously drowning the Pharaoh's chariots and horsemen. Now free Israel had to get used to their newly begotten freedom, as well as learn to live without Egypt and all of its worldly achievements. At this time, perhaps only Moses knew and foresaw what awaited Israel. He anticipated serious challenges, for he was tasked with the creation of God's new people on the go. Moses had led the people from the Red Sea to the desert of Shur - a lifeless and waterless wasteland. The people had no water for three days, and this was the first test of both the people and Moses. To understand at least a fraction of their troubles, try to refrain from water and other drinks for three days in the comfort of your own home (and not even in the desert). All the same, the Israelites moved through the waterless desert in the heat every single day until they reached a place called Marah, where they finally found water. But, alas, it turned out to be so bitter that even though the people were exhausted from thirst, it was impossible to drink it. The collapse of such a vital expectation, especially when it is literally a matter of life and death, is a very dispiriting thing. The Israelis, after regaining the hope that they may return to life, were struck with water that was unsuitable for drinking. The name of the locality "Marah" indicated the water's bitterness, and the place came to be known as Marah after this specific incident. Is it any wonder that the people resented Moses after all they had been through? And wouldn't you, my reader, also personally rebuke any person who led you to such a place in such conditions? I have no doubt that you would. I myself would have grumbled, not understanding what was happening or why. What was left for Moses to do when his divinity had faded so drastically (but not entirely) in the eyes of the desperate people because of this failure with the water? How could he not cry out to his God and Savior? God solved this problem in a flash. Furthermore, He put this problem in place deliberately, but to what end? Explaining why is tremendously difficult. It was important for God that the people believe in Moses as a God by grace. He also needed to provide a prototype of the true cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore He showed Moses which tree (wood) to throw into the water to make it sweet. After all, God could simply change the quality of water without any sort of action on Moses' part whatsoever. However, it was vital for Him to prove how important Moses was, as well as to indicate that the Sacrificial Lamb of God would be brought on the cross-tree long before the actual sacrifice took place. This use of wood was also a nod to the miraculous combination of the great tragedy that befell the first people in Paradise because of the forbidden tree and their salvation (and the salvation of all other people as well) by the Son of God on the cross-tree! Why did God seek to bolster the peoples' faith in Moses' divinity through such a trial (and those that followed)? He intentionally set things up so that all the people saw that it was the tongue-tied Moses who gave them life-giving water. This way, God established a hierarchy of His relationships with people. He does not communicate personally and directly with everyone, and instead communicates through the person that He chooses. God thusly established the institution of spiritual eldership for humanity. An elder is a person authorized by God to spiritually rule over His people. To do this, he is provided with divine gifts, properties, and strength by God so that the elder can really be a God for the people he feeds! And a god-like elder is exactly what Moses was. His status cannot be reduced to that of a prophet, miracle worker, or leader of the people of God. He was, of course, a prophet, a miracle worker, and a leader, but he did not limit himself to that. He really was a God for Israel, but this truth was difficult (but not impossible) to accept in a world where idolatry and demon worship flourished. In this way, Moses represented the very Christ Himself, to whom he was a schoolmaster! In addition to soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) and Christology, the content of which Moses fully represented, he also pointed out one aspect that is critically important for people in their communication with God - pneumatology, or the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The people of Christ know from the Gospel that the Holy Spirit has an allegory in water and air. We know that air consists of a mixture of gases that turn into liquids under pressure. The Holy Spirit is represented by both the light composition of air and the denser air - water. We can live without breathing air for several minutes, and without water for several days, but in our spiritual lives the Holy Spirit serves as all of this for us - that which fills our lungs and quenches our thirst. That is why this life itself is called 'spiritual!' For us, the Holy Spirit really is both the breath of eternal life and the living water flowing into this life. Why did God allow the water in Marah to be bitter? This was an important teaching moment that pointed out how the people of Israel were not ready to receive the Holy Spirit in their current state. Because of their wonderful past as represented by the holy servants Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, as well as their preservation of their faith in the true Lord God, they believed that God simply chose them to be His people. This belief was erroneous, as were their beliefs that God was therefore indebted to them and owed them various gifts and grace despite their total ignorance regarding the Holy Spirit. To be frank, they were in a state of spiritual falsehood (or delusion) in that they expected God to give them His blessings, particularly those that could be transformed into worldly gain. This is why the Lord God allows them to admire the beautiful (yet deceptive) vision of the drinkable water, which, due to its bitterness, cannot sate their thirst or save them from death. A similar situation would repeat itself in their future (or our past and present) more than once, including among members of the Church of Christ. More than once it has happened where a once-blessed church that had rivers of living water (the abundant grace of the Holy Spirit) imperceptibly lost this grace and drank of the bitter water of delight, all the while continuing to think that it remained with God and His grace. The people of Israel were then in a state of delusion, and they had to be taught a visual lesson in order to reveal the truth within this delusion. They had to learn that without Moses (God's chosen and His friend) and without faith in God's providence (depicted here as a prototype of the future for Israel in the form of the pure and life-giving tree of Christ), it was impossible for people to cast off the deadly illusion of the bitter and undrinkable water in order to partake of the life-giving water of the grace of the Holy Spirit! Therefore, after dispelling the delusion that had afflicted Israel, God immediately strengthens everything necessary for their communion with God, establishing His rules, commandments, and laws. At the same time, God makes the people of Israel dependent on His command with a pedagogical device by indicating that they may be subject to the same diseases that afflicted Egypt if their obedience wavers. And the Israelis, who were eyewitnesses to all the plagues of Egypt, knew very well what exactly Egypt had been subject to. At the same time, the Lord calls Himself the healer of Israel, that is, the one who keeps the people safe and sound. All diseases, decay, decomposition, and other torments that deprive a person of their peace are a consequence of the destruction of that person's divine integrity, which occurs when a person turns away from or resists God through sin or autonomy. The Lord concludes this universal teaching by bringing the people of Israel to Elim (a divine oasis) to give the Israelites rest and strengthen them by their faith in Moses. Among His gifts here were twelve water sources, which symbolized the twelve blessed sources of the Holy Spirit, and seventy date trees, symbolizing the spiritual nutrition of the people. Even in a strictly biological sense, offering a gift that was so vital for the Israelites' survival was a great mercy of their generous God. If, however, you look closely and see the spiritual component in these gifts, you can see that it was not by chance that God chose his twelve apostles in the New Testament, or the seventy disciples for His ministry - the Gospel of His salvation and sacrificial love for man and all people. The twelve apostles of Christ directly correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel. It is amazing that the Lord did not hide this spiritual and providential connection between the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles from us in His Holy Scriptures but revealed it to us in His Gospel and Book of Revelation. Luke 22: "28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Here we see through the promise of Christ that His twelve apostles will judge all the representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel at His terrible and final judgment. Why is that? Because, according to God's truth, His providence for people is inseparable into New or Old Testaments, or any other such subdivisions. He vanquished any hostility in people through His death on the Cross, reconciling all people without exception! Spiritually speaking, however, all of humanity is divided into twelve tribes (parts) by God. This separation also existed in ancient Israel, which served as a prototype for the Church of Christ, as well as all of humankind redeemed and called by Christ (from death, corruption, and dependence on demons) to eternal life in His Church! Through Christ, God connected the Old and New Testaments as well as all the saints of both Testaments into a wonderful union for us that is manifested in the form of His Holy Church, the head of which He decided to be forever! Christ thereby establishes the spiritual law of Christ-centeredness in His Church and His universe, for it is the Christ God, born of the Virgin Mary as a perfect being during His Nativity, who is for all people the source and safeguard of their integrity and entirety (and therefore, not torment, but bliss). As a result, He is also the safeguard of eternal, blissful life in His creation - the kingdom of heaven. This threefold, nine-dimensional and twelve-part likeness of the pure and life-giving cross unites all of humanity (the Church, filling everything in every way), which is biblically manifested in the form of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of Christ, and fulfilled in the eternal establishment of the city of God - heavenly Jerusalem. Christ also revealed heavenly Jerusalem, which was not built by human hands, to His beloved disciple, brother, and friend John the Apostle. Revelation 21: "12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." What a wonderful integration of God! The twelve gates of heavenly Jerusalem tell us that you can enter the City in twelve different ways. These paths in the Old Testament signified the twelve tribes of Israel, and in the era of the Christ's grace, they signified His twelve apostles, who were the foundation of the Church. The Church of Christ, by its nature, inasmuch as it consists of people (including its head - Christ), is based on God's chosen people, His apostles. Therefore, in the Creed, the Church is rightly called Apostolic. We know that it is these apostles who are the eternal foundation of heavenly Jerusalem! But the twelve tribes of Israel historically broke through the gates to this city, guided by the twelve angels of God. Therefore, these twelve gates, twelve tribes, and twelve angels are brought to us by Christ God as represented by His eternal city! The twelve angels are an indication of the twelve angelic ranks in their world. Only nine angelic ranks have been revealed to us, but this does not mean that only nine of them exist. God always has a surprise in store for us! Therefore, in His final revelation, He alludes to twelve angelic ranks, and it is our task to learn about the three angelic ranks that are new to us. The fact that the three gates stood in the east, in the north, in the south, and in the west is not accidental. We are accustomed to the cross-like division of space into four sides: east, north, south, and west. Only here they are depicted as opposing pairs - east and west, north, and south. There will be no opposition in eternity, but the nine-dimensional space of the Universe will be divided like a cross into the conditional directions east-north-south-west. The directional sequence of east-north-south-west is also not mere happenstance. It is from these four directions that three streams of people will pour into the Church of Christ, and in this very order. Most will come from the east, then from the north, then the south and, finally, the west. People are often confused by this because it is considerably difficult for them to discern who is coming from where, not to mention the fact that people will come from each direction in three separate streams. Even people from one direction cannot distinguish people from their own direction if they belong to another stream. God therefore established the twelve apostles in His Church as the leaders of these twelve streams of people. The four Gospels are also written for the four cardinal directions of the Earth. The Gospel of Matthew (the symbol of man) for the south, the Gospel of John (the symbol of the flying eagle) for the east, the Gospel of Luke (the symbol of the calf) for the north, and the Gospel of Mark (the symbol of the lion) for the west. In ordinary earthly life, southerners are indeed more benevolent, with their hospitality and the warmth when receiving guests. The inhabitants of the east are more exalted to God and the divine. Those living in the north are more sacrificial and persevering. Those living in the west are the most predaceous among people, but also the most regal, law-abiding, and orderly. If the twelve apostles gave air and water for a blessed life with God, then the apostles from the seventy gave people blessed food in word and deed - the Holy Eucharist! The twelve apostles also correlates to the bishops (hierarchs) of the church, and the seventy correlate to the priesthood of the Church of Christ serving the Eucharist. This is what we can learn from the above-mentioned five sentences as taken from Chapter 15 of Moses' Book of Exodus.
Israel's Journey from Elim to the Sin Desert
Exodus 16: "1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger." The people's stay at the oasis ended, and it was time to move on. God acted according to His providence, about which the people of Israel, including Moses himself, knew and understood nothing. It was the Lord God who guided the people. More precisely, the people were led by the Holy Archangel Michael in accordance with the will of God. I would once again point out that this leadership was visible to all the people. Exodus 13: "21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." The Lord was represented by the Archangel Michael, the highest of God's angels known to us, which speaks to the importance of what is happening with Israel and the route presented by God. Moses, as God's faithful and obedient servant, leads the people behind the miraculous pillar. If the pillar stops, then the people stand, and when it moves, then the people begin to move after it. This time the Lord led the people into the Sin desert. The Scriptures mark the exact date of this passage - the fifteenth day of the second month after they left the land of Egypt. That is, Israel had been outside of Egypt for one month and fifteen days, or forty-five days. With the establishment of this date, Israel's outcome is tied to human history, and the narrative of Israel becomes a chronicle. The issue of water had to be urgently resolved on the fourth day of the trip, but the issue of finding a meal could wait a month and a half. Israel camped in Elim for forty days, and during that time all the supplies they had taken with them were consumed. It was impossible to slaughter livestock for food because the livestock were needed to transport the people and their belongings, and were themselves eating sparingly in any case. We should not forget that this was an uninhabited desert and that it was impossible to find food. The real threat of hunger had now materialized, and this served as another occasion for the sons of Israel to be displeased with Moses and grumble at him and his brother Aaron. Unfortunately, ordinary people relate to life in such a way that when everything is fine, they attribute it to themselves, and when it is bad, they look for fault in others, especially their leaders and rulers. With the threat of hunger, the people forgot about the very recent and great miracles and manifestations of God's power through Moses. At the same time, they were still hiding in the name of the Lord, saying "oh, if only we could have died at the hands of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat with plates full of meat and could eat our fill of bread!" After that, they accuse Moses and Aaron of deliberately starving the people, saying "for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger." It's difficult to tell what is more surprising, Moses' patience or the faithlessness of the Israelites. Moses did not even have time to react to peoples' grumbles, as the Lord stepped in to solve the nutritional problems of about three million people. Exodus 16: "4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily." The Lord solves the food problem for Israel in a miraculous way, saying "I will rain bread from heaven for you." The scientific points of the formation of this bread and raining from Heaven are not known to us, nor are they of any importance. What is important is that for the next forty years the problems of nutrition, food production, and cooking had been solved brilliantly by God! The people did not need to work, nor hunt for food, nor cook, but only collect ready-made food that would fall every day from the sky. It is no coincidence that God sent the food from heaven. The coming of bread from heaven is a prototype of the heavenly bread of Christ, which He teaches in the form of His holy body and blood in the Eucharist. With this blessing of bread from heaven, God demonstrates to His people his care and love for them. However, He did this long before he would tell people the following in His human form: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on." Israel, led by God, did not really care about any of this. We need to recognize that Moses, as the leader of the people, was then put in a most disadvantageous position. He was by himself against an angry crowd of more than a million adults. Moreover, he was in a desert, where it was impossible to hide or run away. The people were not preoccupied with anything and did not have any homes to live in or business to go about. Through their grumbling, they turned into an uncontrollable crowd, the entirety of which stood before Moses. It was difficult for Moses to stand against the discontent of an entire people, but God strengthened and inspired him to such an extent that he was able to answer them. Exodus 16: "6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: 7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord." Moses begins his defense with the calming promise that that very night all the people would see that it was the Lord who brought them out of Egypt, and in the morning, they would see the glory of the Lord. Having reassured the people, Moses dismantles their false accusation by transferring it, and with it the people's complaints, from himself and Aaron to the Lord, thereby accusing the people of complaining about the Lord God and His providence. Unsurprisingly, the people were afraid to have a bone to pick with the God who had only recently smitten Egypt. Having pacified the people, Moses then takes matters into his own hands. Exodus 16: "9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings. 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud." God supported Moses immediately, revealing his glory in the form of a cloud. He had heard the murmur of the people and decided to feed them, giving them meat one time to address their complaints and heavenly bread in the form of manna for their entire remaining time in the desert. Exodus 16: "11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. 13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground." The sons of Israel became convinced of the correctness of Moses' promise, as well as in the power of their God. "15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. 18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. 19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them." The people did not believe that it was impossible to stockpile the manna until morning. This act of disobedience greatly angered Moses. He had to solve the problem with the Sabbath day, during which it was impossible to even collect manna for food: Exodus 16: "21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. 22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he [Moses] said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none." We see that some people even violated the Sabbath commandment.
On the Divine Sabbath, Sabbaths, and the Sabbath of All Sabbaths
Before continuing the story, it would be appropriate to step back and discuss the Sabbath. Today we consider Saturday (the Sabbath) one of the days of the week, specifically the day preceding Sunday, which is a day off. In many civilized countries, Saturdays and Sundays are days off. Unfortunately, there is no religious meaning in these days and their names for most people today. In ancient Israel, the Sabbath was not the name of the day, but the name of its essence. Moses had not yet brought the tablets with the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, but the keeping of the Sabbath had already taken its place among the sons of Israel as a pious tradition dating back to their ancestor Abraham. However, the people did not understand the meaning of the Sabbath or rest from their work for the sake of God and their conforming to Him. Moses had not yet written the Book of Genesis, but the oral tradition preserved in Israel conveyed to the people that God created this world in six of His days and rested from all His work on the seventh day. Perhaps this was just what they knew, but it was not enough to understand the importance of keeping the Sabbath by the people of God. The strict establishment of the Sabbath and full comprehension of it will come to them later through Moses' teachings. We, however, can consider this vital question, for keeping a day of rest is very important for those people who seek good fellowship with a generous God. Let's go back to the seven days of God for now. It is clear that they are not familiar to us like the days of our human week. God created the sun, the moon, the solar system, the stars, and the galaxies on His fourth day. The key to understanding the scope of God's day is indicated in the Scriptures in the epistle of the Apostle Peter. 2 Peter 3: "8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." The six days of God's creation of this world are then equal to six thousand human years. The mystery here is not hidden in this fact, though, but rather in the seventh day, during which God rested from all His work. Genesis 2: "2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." We see that God determined certain cycles that He connected to the human calendar on a massive scale, for he initially decided that He would also become man someday and enter the world of people as the Lord Jesus Christ. There is then a mystery to God's seventh day. Why did God divide these cycles up in a proportion of six to one such that He created His six days and rested from work on the seventh? Why did God need to have some rest even for one day, which was equal to a thousand of our earthly years? Is it fitting for us to speak of God in such a way that He is tired and in need of rest? Of course not! It would be both a lie and blasphemy. God is always at continual rest, for He is peace! There are no words that could describe God in our human dictionaries, and so we are forced to use words that reflect reality to at least some degree. That said, using the words "rest" and "create" in relation to God does not reflect the essence of that state (which is unknown to us) that we are trying to express through them. God's peace is a state that is completely obscure to us, as is His creative state. Through God's blessing, we share in two different states of God: a creative state, in which He created the whole world, and a state of rest from these works. We use the word "rest" in relation to God's natural, everlasting state. The mystery of God is then plain to see; it is the mystery of the seventh day rest. Let's try to at least touch on it, for only God can comprehend it in its entirety!
God is an eternal Being of perfect nature and essence who exists outside of time and space, a distinct and inseparable union of three perfect and omniscient persons that is inconceivable to us. God is constant, unchanging, imperturbable by anything, and is in a state of everlasting peace. It can be said that He is peace. And one time, through a unanimous decision of the three persons of the One God, God "left" His peace behind and passed into a "creative state" that was novel for Him, and from which He created the whole world (visible and invisible to us). God began to be known as the Lord God after this divine act, which lasted six thousand earthly years, for intelligent and eternal creations appeared that were subject to Him. Inasmuch as He also made and created everything that was apart from Him, He also began to be known as the Maker and Creator. Since the created world had to be preserved from destruction, chaos, and disorder, God also became the Almighty and began to be called by that name. The intelligent and eternal beings created by God were united by Him into a single system that became known as a kingdom. The Kingdom of these created spiritual beings was founded and named after their ministry as angels. Later, through the incarnation of the Son of God Jesus Christ, God also created the Kingdom for His obedient followers. Accordingly, God was first called the King of Angels and the Lord of Hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth), and then He became the king after the birth of Jesus Christ. He became a king for the angels and people that he decided to unite into a single kingdom, located in relation to the earth in heaven. This kingdom of God began to be called the kingdom of heaven due to its origin and location. Christ both became the Redeemer and began to be known as such after His sacrificial death on the cross. He was known as the Savior and the Messiah (the Anointed One or the Christ) even before His incarnation, for He saved the people and came to them on earth as the Christ at the behest of His Father. It is revealed to us by God that the Son of God was the Creator of the world itself, the second person of the Holy Trinity. The One God is called the Trinity because He consists of three persons who are also called Hypostases among the holy fathers of the Church. It then turns out that, in some incomprehensible way, the Son of God passes into a creative state (defined as being outside of divine peace) without separating from the oneness of the Trinity. We can only identify the two states of God that are known to us - peace and creativity. We do not know what exactly these states are, but we understand that they differ from one another. God differentiates them, and He revealed them to us. At our human level of understanding, it turns out that the Son of God left the peace of the Holy Trinity and entered a creative state, in which He crafted His creations for six thousand years. Having finished the work of creation, the Son of God returns to His natural peace among the Most Holy Trinity, but only for one of His "days," which is equal to a thousand of our years. He rested from all the works of His creation, but why only for one day (a thousand years)? Because He does not want to leave His world without His stewardship, guidance, and contributions, and in order to occupy Himself with this world, the Son of God must be in a creative and active state, which is not a natural state of peace for God. However, God will return to His peace for one day after each six-day period of activity, and after departing from His peace, start the cycle anew. So, for the sake of His creativity and His creations, God established a seven-day cycle in which six days are set aside for work and the seventh day - the Sabbath - is for rest. Looking ahead, we return to the words of the Book of Exodus, which describe the divine institution on the Sabbath. Exodus 20: "8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."
I will not analyze the entire text, but I will highlight what is important for understanding the Sabbath.
The Sabbath day must be held sacred as it is a day of particular holiness. However, essentially speaking, only God is holy, and He therefore commands us to move toward this holiness: "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God." For humankind, the seventh day of a seven-day cycle is dedicated not only to rest from work, that is, simple relaxation, but also to the Lord your God! The Son of God rested on the seventh day, returning to the natural peace of God of the Most Holy Trinity, into some kind incomprehensible divine "fullness." He requires this of humankind — to devote every seventh day of the seven-week cycle to the Lord his God, to abide with him all day, to know him as a God of rest, and to sanctify himself with His holiness! Man emulates God by keeping the Sabbath, and through this likeness to Him becomes equal to God to such a great extent that he can spiritually and reasonably unite with Him! During the Sabbath, God calls every faithful person to Himself, to His rest. Therefore, the seventh day is blessed and sanctified by the Lord God, and we, in keeping it, enter into holiness and fall under the blessing of God. Coming out of a day of rest spent with God, we are blessed and holy enough to last us for the next six days allotted for work.
For a deeper understanding of the Sabbath and its significance for humankind, we will turn to the theological works of the great Father Maximus the Confessor. It is best for you to read his work on the Sabbath yourself, but I will include some quotes that will help us decode the main concepts.
"35. When what has been created in time according to the temporal order has reached maturity, it ceases from natural growth. But when what has been brought about by the knowledge of God through the practice of the virtues has reached maturity, it starts to grow anew. For the end of one stage constitutes the starting-point of the next. He who has put an end to the root of corruption in himself by practicing the virtues is initiated into other more divine experiences. There is never an end, as there is never a beginning, to the good that God does: just as the property of light is to illuminate, so the property of God is to do good. Thus in the Law, which is concerned with the structure of temporal things subject to generation and decay, the Sabbath is honored by rest from work (Exodus 31:14), Whereas in the Gospel, which initiates us into the realm of spiritual realities, luster is shed on the Sabbath by good actions (Luke 6:9; John 5:16-17). This is so in spite of the indignation of those who do not yet understand that 'the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath,' and that 'the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath' (Mark 2:27-28).
36. In the Law and the prophets reference is made to the Sabbath (Isaiah 66:23), Sabbaths (Exodus 31:13), and Sabbaths of Sabbaths (Leviticus 16:31. LXX); and to circumcision and circumcision of circumcision (Genesis 17:10-13); and to harvest (Genesis 8:22) and harvest of harvest, as in the text 'When you harvest your harvest' (Leviticus 23:10). The texts about the Sabbath surely refer to the full attainment of practical, natural, and theological philosophy; the texts about circumcision, to separation from things that are subject to generation and from the inner principles of these things: the texts about harvest, to the ingathering and enjoyment of more exalted spiritual principles on the part of the senses and intellect. Through studying these three sets of texts the person of spiritual knowledge may discover the reasons why Moses, when he dies, Takes his Sabbath rest outside the holy land (Deuteronomy 34:5) , why Joshua carried out the circumcisions after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 5:3), and why those who inherited the promised land brought to God the superabundant fruits of the double harvest (Leviticus 23).
37. The Sabbath signifies the dispassion of the deiform soul that through practice of the virtues has utterly cast off the marks of sin.
38. Sabbaths signify the freedom of the deiform soul that through the spiritual contemplation of created nature has quelled even the natural activity of sense-perception.
39. Sabbaths of Sabbaths signify the spiritual calm of the deiform soul that has withdrawn the intellect even from contemplation of all the divine principles in created beings, that through an ecstasy of love has clothed it entirely in God alone, and that through mystical theology has brought it altogether to rest in God.
40. Circumcision signifies the quelling of the soul's impassioned predilection for things subject to generation.
41. Circumcision of circumcision signifies the complete discarding and stripping away also of even the soul's natural feelings for things subject to generation.
42. Harvest signifies the deiform soul's ingathering and knowledge of the more spiritual principles of created beings in a manner conforming to both virtue and nature.
43. Harvest of harvest signifies the apprehension of God which follows the mystical contemplation of noetic realities and which, inaccessible to all, is consummated in the intellect in a manner beyond understanding. Such apprehension is fittingly reaped by the person who in a worthy manner honors the Creator because of what He has created, whether visible or invisible.
44. There is another more spiritual harvest, which is said to belong to God Himself; there is another more mystical circumcision, and there is another more hidden Sabbath, which God celebrates when he rests from His own labors. This is shown in the following texts: 'The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few' (Matthew 9:37). 'Circumcision of the heart and the spirit' (Romans 2:29). and 'God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it God rested from all the works He had begun to do' (Genesis 2:3. LXX).
45. The harvest of God signifies the total dwelling and stability of the saints in God at the consummation of the ages.
46. Circumcision of the heart in the spirit signifies the utter stripping away from the senses and the intellect of their natural activities connected with sensible and intelligible things. This stripping away is accomplished by the Spirit's immediate presence, which completely transfigures body and soul and makes them more divine.
47. The Sabbath rest of God signifies the complete reversion of created beings to God. It is then that God suspends in created beings the operation of their natural energy by inexpressibly activating in them His divine energy. It is by virtue of this natural energy that each being created naturally acts: and God suspends its operation in each created being to the degree to which that being participates in His divine energy and so establishes its own natural energy within God Himself.
48. One should learn from those imbued with spiritual knowledge what is to be understood by the works which God began to do and what by those which He did not begin to do. For if He rested from all the works which He began to do, clearly He did not rest from those works which He did not begin to do. Perhaps, then, all that participates in being, such as the various essences of creatures, are works of God which began to be in time. For they have non-being as prior to their own being, since participant beings have not always existed. Participable beings in which participant beings participate by grace, such as goodness and all that is included in the principle of goodness, are perhaps works of God which did not begin to be in time. Briefly, these include all life, immortality, simplicity, immutability and infinity, and all the other qualities that contemplative vision perceives as substantively appertaining to God. These are works of God, yet not begun in time. For non-being is never prior to goodness, nor to any of the other things we have listed, even if those things which participate in them do in themselves have a beginning in time. All goodness is without beginning because there is no time prior to it: God is eternally the unique author of its being.
49. God is infinitely above all beings, whether participant or participable. For whatever belongs to the category of being is a work of God, even though participant beings had a temporal origin, whereas participable beings were implanted by grace among things that come into existence in time. In this way participable beings are a kind of innate power clearly proclaiming God's presence in all things.
50. All immortal things and immortality itself, all living things and life itself, all holy things and holiness itself, all blessings and blessedness itself, all beings and being itself are manifestly works of God. Somethings began to be in time, for they have not always existed. Others did not begin to be in time, for goodness, blessedness, holiness, and immortality have always existed. Those things which began in time exist and are said to exist by participation in the things which did not begin in time. For God is the creator of all life, immortality, holiness, and goodness; and He transcends the being of all intelligible and describable beings.
51. The sixth day of creation, according to Scripture, represents the completion of the beings that are subject to nature. The seventh day marks the limit of the flow of temporal existence. The eighth day betokens the quality of that state which is beyond nature and time.
52. He who observes the sixth day only according to the Law, fleeing the active, soul-afflicting domination of the passions, passes fearlessly through the sea to the desert (Exodus 16:1): his Sabbath consists simply of rest from the passions. But when he has crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3:17) and has left behind this state of simply resting from the passions, he enters into possession of the virtues.
53. He who observes the sixth day according to the Gospel, having already put to death the first impulses of sin, through cultivating the virtues attains a state of dispassion which, like a desert, is are of all evil: his Sabbath is a rest of his intellect even from the merest images suggested by his passions. But when he has crossed the Jordan he passes over into the land of spiritual knowledge, where the intellect, the temple mystically built by peace, becomes in spirit the dwelling place of God.
54. He who after the example of God has completed the sixth day with fitting actions and thoughts, and has himself with God's help brought his own actions to a successful conclusion, has in his understanding traversed the condition of all things subject to nature and time and has entered into the mystical contemplation of the eons and the things inherent in them; his Sabbath is his intellect's utter and incomprehensible abandonment and transcendence of created beings. But if he is also found worthy of the eighth day he has risen from the dead - that is, from all that is sequent to God, whether sensible or intelligible, expressible or conceivable. He experiences the blessed life of God, who is the only true life, and himself becomes god by deification.
55. The sixth day is the complete fulfillment, on the part of those practicing the ascetic life, of the natural activities which lead to virtue. The seventh day is the conclusion and cessation, in those leading the contemplative life, of all natural thoughts about inexpressible spiritual knowledge. The eighth day is the transposition and transmutation of those found worthy into a state of deification. The Lord, giving perhaps a mysterious hint of the seventh and eighth days, spoke of a day and an hour of consummation which encompasses the mysterious and the inner essences of all things. Apart from their Creator, the blessed Divinity Himself, there is no power whatsoever in heaven or on earth that can know that day and hour before the actual experience of them (Matthew 24:36).
56. The sixth day betokens the inner, essence of the being of created things. The seventh signifies the quality of the well-being of created things. The eighth denotes the inexpressible mystery of the eternal well-being of created things.
57. Since we know that the sixth day is a symbol of practical activity, let us during this day fully discharge our debt of virtuous works, so that it may also be said of us, 'And God say everything He had made, and behold, it was very good' (Genesis 1:31)."
What an amazing, fascinating, and profound theological interpretation by the distinguished holy father! The Sabbath of Sabbaths is the entry into God by His worthy chosen ones, which makes them Gods by grace through deification. People created by the Son and the Word of God through providence, through the creation of their logos, are brought into the material world. In order to return to God, a person must first remove their material veil as well as their Logos-ian vision of the world around them. After that is done, the person must then reject the ordinary and uniform vision of intelligible things so that they can fade free from their thoughts and senses into the incomprehensible essence of God! This sort of self-dissolution liberates a person from everything except their divine personality, which is then deified in God and rests from any and all future actions.
Solving the Problem of Israel's Daily Subsistence
Now that we have an understanding of the Sabbath and the importance of resting on the seventh day, let us return to the daily life of the Israelites under the guidance of God and Moses.
Exodus 16: "31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah."
The people of Israel are called the "house of Israel" for the very first time. In the spiritual world, the word "house" signifies the living arrangements of a specific people according to their divine providence and God's plan for them. The people of Israel become the house of Israel and receive total food security in this house in the form of heavenly bread. The house of Israel names this bread "manna." Moses announces the Lord God's command to the people regarding the preservation of a certain amount of manna for all future generations, so that all the descendants of Israel could see the bread that the Lord used to feed the people of Israel during their retreat from Egypt. To do so, Moses orders Aaron to take one vessel and put a full omer of manna (approximately 2.2 liters) in it, and place it in front of the Lord. Aaron did as Moses commanded him, and placed a vessel with the manna before the Testimony. The Testimony was a temporary place to store material manifestations of the divine miracles revealed to Israel. It will be replaced later by the Ark of the Covenant, the creation of which (by God) will be described in great detail and accuracy by Moses. Moses notes that the sons of Israel ate manna for forty years before they arrived at the borders of the land of Canaan. Thus, the Scriptures contain authentic testimony that God cares for the wellbeing of His people when they live according to His providence and plan. However, as human beings, we require not only food to sustain us, but other things as well. That is why the people's lives in the desert presented new problems regarding their survival after the food issue had been resolved.
The Temptation of Israel by Thirst in the Desert of Rephidim
Exodus 17: "1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me."
The people then camped in Rephidim. The Lord brought the people to this deserted and waterless place, leading them by cloud pillar during the day and with a pillar of fire at night.
The people, who were then feeling pangs of thirst, began to rebuke Moses and demanded he give them drinking water. Moses answered the people by accusing them of tempting the Lord. His answer, however, denouncing the people for their lack of faith, all the same did not provide them with any water. The people continued to thirst for water, and then began to grumble against Moses, accusing him of killing all the people, including the children and cattle, through dehydration.
The tension grew to the point that Moses became genuinely afraid that he would be stoned. In mournful circumstances, a righteous person always turns to God. Moses shouted a lament to God, questioning what he should do with his people.
Exodus 17: "5 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?"
The Lord tells Moses to go before the people with the rod in his hand, and to take some of the elders of Israel with him. With this instruction, the Lord prepared the people for Moses' miracle of manifesting currents of water in a waterless desert. The elders who accompanied Moses were witnesses of this miracle. By Moses' command, it had been Aaron who performed miracles up to the point that the Israelites were rescued from the pharaoh's army. Starting with the passing of Israel and the drowning of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, however, it was Moses himself who commanded the rod to work miracles. This time it was God who commanded him to strike the rock with his rod in order to drive a stream of water out of it for the thirsting people. Moses did so by striking the rock twice with a rod and drawing a cross in the presence of the elders, after which a stream of water came out of the rock. Moses named the place Massah and Meribah in memory of how the people tempted the Lord, questioning whether the Lord was among them.
It is important to note here that due to the large number of people and livestock, a single stream of water was not enough to allow everyone to drink their fill quickly. That is why this miracle was not only a matter of manifesting water in a waterless area, but also a matter of delivering it to all the tribes of Israel, to all the people and the animals. And it happened so that the stream of water was so large in magnitude and pressure that it quickly rushed to the twelve camps of people, who were divided according to the number of the tribes of Israel, and split into twelve streams, each of which passed through every corner of each camp! The temptation of thirst was thus overcome by the miracle of God as revealed through Moses, and the people drank their fill of marvelous, clear water. From that moment on, Israel was never without water over the course of their forty years of wandering in the desert. When the Israelites approached an area, water began to appear among the rocks, so the people simply believed that it was a natural source.
In addition to its physiological and everyday significance, this miracle with the water has a spiritual sense to it as well. We should understand "people" as to mean the entirety of a person that has been assembled by God into a whole that was then broken by sin into separate pieces of human nature. A person who has been formed by God and filled with the body of Christ as heavenly bread will then thirst strongly for the grace of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ himself referred to the grace of the Holy Spirit as streams of living water, but nobody can receive this water of grace by themselves. In order to do this, people need God to send an intermediary to serve as a holy father and shepherd. A person cannot baptize or confirm themselves in the Church; a priest is required to perform these sacraments. Moses serves as a priest, shepherd, and holy father, and his rod is the image of the cross of Christ. For the first time, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given to mankind in the baptismal font. Once a person is baptized according to the Holy Church of Christ, they are born again and receive the fullness of the grace of the Holy Spirit to support their new divine and eternal life. Even if they partake of the heavenly bread, a believer in God will die of thirst if they do not receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. Once a person feels that their spirit is beginning to perish, they begin to grumble and demonstrate the apostasy and lack of faith living in them, as well as demand that God deliver the grace of the Holy Spirit that will both save and invigorate them. This grace is sent to them by God through His shepherd, who uses the power of the cross of Christ and renews those suffering from spiritual death.
The Battle of Israel with Amalek
Exodus 17: "8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: 16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
Who are the Amalekites? There is no specific information or historical evidence on the origin of the Amalekites, and there are several different versions of events regarding their origin. According to one of them, they were the descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau and brother of Saint Jacob. There is, however, no other confirmation of this in the Scripture apart from the coincidence with this name. In rabbinical literature, one explanation of the Amalekites' origin is justified by Amalek's fierce hatred towards Israel, which passed genetically from Esau to Amalek. But it was the Edomites that came from Esau, and Israel had no quarrel with them. That is why this version does not explain the fact that God declared the Amalekites His enemies and condemned them to complete destruction at the hands of Israel. God's command included the destruction of the Amalekites' women, children, and even their cattle. Israel did not bear such animosity even against the Egyptians, and we are talking about a supposedly Semitic people, so it is unlikely that Israel bore a similar enmity for Amalek. In the Scriptures there is only a single mention of the word "Amalite" in relation to the land, and it is all the way back before the time of Abraham. There have also been attempts by several scholars to explain this name retroactively, but the Scriptures do not refer to the land in that way because Moses authored them. The rabbinists have another theory to provide justification for the hostility between Israel and Amalek, which is outlined in the Book of Esther. The book itself tells of a man named Haman who plotted and tried to destroy all of the Israelites. This Haman comes from the line of Agag, king of the Amalekites. All of his enmity towards Israel is thus explained by his Amalek origin. This is a reasonable theory, but it does not explain something as severe as the mandatory slaying of the Amalekite children or God's demand for their complete destruction. It's obvious to us that Israel's war with Amalek was an unusual one and that Amalek is a special enemy of God's people if He promises to fight until they are completely annihilated. At the same time, it is not entirely clear to us what led to such cruel treatment for Amalek. Ultimately, Amalek was not the only nation to war with Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. However, the aggression of the other nations did not invite such a merciless sentence from God. We can find a few more details about the war with Amalek in the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 25: "17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God." That is, Amalek behaved villainously during the war, attacking the weakened Israelites, brutally torturing them, blaspheming and demanding they renounce God. According to rabbinical scholars, it was precisely this that caused God to address Israel demanding the eradication of Amalek such that their memory would be erased from even heaven (Deuteronomy, 25:19). The fulfillment of this command was entrusted to the first king of Israel - Saul. However, Saul violated the will of God after defeating Amalek in sparing Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and looting the Amalek nation, which was forbidden. For his disobedience, Saul was deprived of his kingdom (1 Samuel 15:2-23). Saul's successor to the throne of Israel, David, also fought with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 27:8-9; 30). According to the Book of Chronicles, the last Amalekites were killed several centuries later during the reign of the Jewish king Hezekiah (1 Chronicles 4:41-43). Thus, we see that the war with Amalek is not a separate vignette in the history of ancient Israel, and is on the contrary very significant. We are talking about a deadly and implacable enmity passing from generation to generation until Amalek completely disappeared from human history in fulfillment of God's oath. However, it is unlikely that this campaign of annihilation can be reduced to just the treachery of Amalek that they showed one time during the war with Israel in the desert. After all, other nations displayed a similar level of deceit and cruelty. Could this treachery be the only reason behind God's oath to erase the memory of Amalek from heaven? No. There is something else here that is not directly stated in the Scriptures, but rather, implied. We can assert that the fierce hatred toward Israel passes to Amalek "by inheritance", and the fire of this hatred burns in the blood of the Amalek nation for the entirety of its existence on the Earth. No one, however, can explain the reason for this hatred. It is clear to us that Amalek's attack on Israel in the desert was predictable or even inescapable, and Israel had no other way to flee from the strife nipping at its heels short of destroying Amalek, but it is not clear why there was such a feud in the first place. God's unprecedented reaction to the Amalek attack implies an exceptional cause, and the killing of the weakened Israelis is nothing but an outward expression of much deeper, hidden motives. The idea that the peoples of the world (by no means only the nation of Amalek) are plotting evil against Israel and trying to destroy it is found in the Bible, and Amalek appears in one of these texts. Psalms 83: "1 Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. 2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. 3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. 4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. 5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: 6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; 7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre[.]" As we can see, Amalek is far from the first nation on this list, and from the text, it absolutely does not follow that it plays the leading role in this "global" conspiracy against the people of God. However, it is precisely this role that Flavius Josephus attributes to Amalek in "The Antiquities of the Jews" (Book 3, Chapter 2, Paragraph 1) as he retells a scene in the desert during the Exodus from Egypt. "The name of the Hebrews began already to be every where renowned, and rumors about them ran abroad. This made the inhabitants of those countries to be in no small fear. Accordingly they sent ambassadors to one another, and exhorted one another to defend themselves, and to endeavor to destroy these men. Those that induced the rest to do so, were such as inhabited Gobolitis and Petra. They were called Amalekites, and were the most warlike of the nations that lived thereabout; <...> they resolved to attack to Hebrews in battle." A similar story is reflected in the rabbinical oral tradition regarding Amalek. "Amalek gathered all the nations of the world and said unto them: Help me to defeat Israel. They replied: we cannot stand against them. For even the Pharaoh could not oppose them, and the Holy One drowned him, blessed is He, in the Red Sea, as it is said: Psalms 136: '15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.' How could we oppose them? And so he [Amalek] said unto them: I shall teach you how to conduct yourselves. If they defeat me, then flee, if not, then come to my aid." It is possible that both Josephus and the authors of the oral tradition combined the tale of Amalek's attack on Israel during the Exodus with the idea of a "global" conspiracy against Israel in their creative imagination, thereby establishing an ominous image of a super-enemy who hates Israel with all of the depth of his soul. However, this amplification still does not explain God's harsh decision regarding Amalek. A certain transitional link is missing in the chain of motivations, without which the metamorphosis of Amalek in the Jewish exegetical tradition cannot be fully spelled out. With this link, some Jewish exegetes tried to create the Book of Esther, but even Haman's anger does not provide an explanation for God's decision, especially since He made the decision long before the events of the Book of Esther. However, there is one moment in the oral traditions regarding Amalek that has remained neglected by researchers and interpreters. This is the fact that the Amalekites were very skilled in witchcraft, which in turn indicates a close relationship with Satan and his demons. It is for good reason that the holy fathers of the Church refer to Amalek as the symbol of the human race's enemy, with whom every one of God's faithful will have to wage war until their extermination is complete. The power of the Amalekite magic was so strong that according to the oral traditions, they could shapeshift into an animal during battle to break out of an enemy's tight embrace. This then implies that the Amalekites were not entirely human, or rather, they were nonhumans who descended from the ancient Nephilim and Rephaites. This explains their fierce hatred of God and God's people, as well as demonstrates the fact that God revealed the bestial and demonic essence of the Amalek people in allowing them to attack the still unorganized and exhausted Israel, thus confirming their culpability. For this exact reason He condemned them to utter annihilation. It is this spiritual reason that explains the enmity and irreconcilability between Israel and Amalek. It is clear that the Amalekites have nothing to do with the historical Amalek, the grandson of Esau, the son of Saint Isaac. According to some researchers, the name "Amalek" for the Amalekites comes from the word "lap" because they lapped up the water from the river in a beast-like way.
Now we can return to the battle itself.
Amalek Decides to Attack Israel, the Course of the Battle
So, having learned that Israel had safely left Egypt and produced a wonderful source of water and oasis in the desert (the likes of which the Amalekites did not have), the ruthless people reacted to this news with a level of hatred and blasphemy that was beyond even the Egyptians. They came up with a truly evil plan against God's people and sought to solve three problems through its implementation: 1) evaluate the strength of Israel and its protection by their God; 2) destroy all of the sons of Israel down to the very last infant; 3) seize everything that the people of Israel owned, including their new source of water. It should be noted that the Amalekites were the most combative and skilled in war among all of the other peoples. For starters, they decided upon the following: "let [their] valiant warriors rush into the desert and capture all the water sources and oases along the way. Thus, if [they] do not allow the Israelites to reach the water, they will die out of thirst in a week or two, which will end their quest for the land on which Abraham once lived." God, however, had given them a source of water through Moses, and they were therefore self-sufficient and independent from all the other sources that the Amalekites had captured. Now you can imagine the disquiet and annoyance that the Amalekites experienced when they found out that these Israelites, who were not far from them, miraculously got access to a huge amount of living water with the help of their God. Their small, barely dripping spring in Rephidim was incomparable to the freely flowing stream from which their enemies and their cattle drank their fill whenever they wished. To satisfy the anger, they had only one solution - attack Israel and do battle with them until they were completely wiped out. Nevertheless, fearing the alien and loathed God of Israel, Amalek attacked the people of Israel who had lagged behind the main group. Learning of this, Moses decides to engage the enemy. Moses designates his loyal servant Hoshea, the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim, as his military commander, and providentially gives him the name Joshua. There is a legend that he did this at the order of an angel of God (most likely the Archangel Michael) that was guarding God's people. Moses commands Joshua to gather an army immediately. He, accompanied by Hur (the husband of Moses' sister Miriam), the elderly prince of Judea, and his brother Aaron, climbed a small hill towering above the camp in order to pray to God to come to the aid of His people. Thus began the first battle of Israel, the people of God, for the Amalekites were already rushing forward. The battle ensued, which could not have been won merely with the help of weapons and martial knowledge, for the Angels of God and demons also took part in it. Moses took the rod with him that he and Aaron had used to perform miracles. This rod became a symbol of Israel, for the name of the Living God was written on it. Thus, the name of God became the banner of Israel. During the battle, Moses stood with his eyes raised to the heavens and surveyed the battlefield, with the rod of God that would become a symbol of salvation and heavenly aide in his hands. The holy fathers interpret this as a battle for the inner man. The actions of Moses then show us that man alone cannot defeat the demons who stand in the way of his salvation unless God sends him an experienced mentor and intercessor. Israel did well when Moses occupied this position and defeated their enemies. Amalek was much more experienced in battle than these former Egyptian slaves, and therefore the Amalekites could only marvel at their inability to roll over the Israelite ranks, who inexplicably offered fierce opposition. However, the pendulum of military prowess quickly swung from one side to the other. This happened because the aging Moses began to tire from offering his prayers and physically holding his hands crosswise, depicting the future cross of Christ. He noticed that the momentum of the battle turned in favor of the enemy when he dropped his weakening hands. It was then that Moses, through his genius, instantly identified the cause and effect of this phenomenon. He nodded to Aaron and Hur, who found a nearby stone that they could bring to Moses to give him a perfect vantage point from which to observe the course of the battle. Moses could then sit on the stone and lift both of his arms to the heavens crosswise while holding the rod. His two assistants stood on each side of him, supporting his arms so that they would not fall. From that moment on, favor in the battle passed decisively to the Israelites, which was in and of itself a manifestation of the idea that their victory over Amalek was a gift from God. There could no longer be any doubt about the outcome of the battle. The Amalekites, repelled and wounded by the courage and decisiveness of their opponents, exhausted all of their strength and confidence, and more likely than not wanted only to flee the battlefield as quickly as possible, even leaving their dead and wounded behind. The darkness that fell after the sun went down was the only thing saving them from pursuit and, eventually, total annihilation. The next day, these non-humans rushed to slip quietly into the gorges of Sinai, allowing the Israelites, invigorated with newfound confidence in their abilities, to rest at last.
After the Battle
The next day, the Angel of the Lord commanded Moses to add another entry to his already finished book in order to describe this last work of God, which He did for the sake of His people. This record was especially useful to Joshua as a record of what he had done in the past, for at that moment he was already secretly revered as Moses' successor. But the inhuman and deeply rooted evil of the Amalekites was too detestable to just forget about and leave unpunished. The fact that they strove to erase the memory of Israel from heaven should never be erased. Until Israel inherited the Promised Land forevermore, Amalek would oppose it, and this fact was vital to record in the holy book of Israel. The stone Moses sat on became the cornerstone of the altar they later constructed, and was called the "Throne of the Lord." The Throne serves as a reminder that the Angel of the Lord lifted his hands to heaven on that place, swearing a divine oath that the Almighty would oppose Amalek forever and always because they had raised up their arms against Israel, thereby preventing Israel from lifting their arms in prayer to the Throne of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul referred to all of these events as "prototypes for us," namely all the people living many centuries later. Here, sinful powers were involved that tried to hinder the fulfillment of God's will by impeding Israel's access to living water (redemption). Satan knew that the one who would eventually defeat him would come from Israel, and so he sought Israel's destruction at the hands of nonhumans. Joshua fought until the sun went down, and represented the Jesus Christ the Savior, who conquered sin, hell, and death on the cross. However, total victory was only achievable through the continuous intercession that came from the stone of Israel, on which sat one man - the prophet, priest, and king, thereby representing Jesus Christ. Moses' prayer only had power because this stone was an altar on which a constant sacrifice of prayer was offered with raised hands, as well as the divine oath regarding the unceasing struggle against sin, which can end only when the Earth (mankind) is truly inherited. It was also an oath guaranteeing a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalms 110:4).
After this victory, we can now see Moses as a brilliant military leader, one who organized an army of the sons of Israel that had no equal and won the first victory over a strong and sworn enemy of God, His people, and His work.
Moses Visits His Father-in-Law
Exodus 18: "1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt; 2 Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back, 3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land: 4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh: 5 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: 6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her."
Rumors about Moses' work and what God did for him had reached Jethro, Moses' father-in-law. We recall that Moses sent his wife and sons to his father-in-law's home before visiting Egypt. Now his father-in-law, having learned about the glory and greatness of Moses, brought his wife and sons with him. The Scripture reminds us of the names of Moses' sons as well as the meanings of their names, in which Moses reflected his perception of his own life - alien in a foreign land, and the help and protection of God. Jethro comes into the wilderness to the place where Israel was camping, and makes Moses aware of his arrival as well as that of Moses' wife and children.
Exodus 18: "7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them [from the hands of the Egyptians]. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God."
Hearing about the arrival of his father-in-law, his wife, and his children, Moses went out to meet him, bowing, kissing, and receiving mutual greetings from Jethro. Moses told his father-in-law, who was the priest of Midian, about everything that the Lord had done with Pharaoh and the Egyptians, about all their difficulties and miracles. Jethro rejoiced over all the blessings that the Lord had revealed to Israel. However, since he did not honor this God of Israel, he was forced to worship the God of Moses, recognizing Him over than all other gods that people only worshiped at that time. As a priest and Moses' father-in-law, Jethro brings a burnt offering and sacrifices to the God of Israel, thereby entering into the service of the God of Israel. Having witnessed this offering, all the elders of Israel and Aaron ate bread with Moses' father-in-law, accepting him in sacred fellowship. We can see here the then existing simplicity of one's attitude towards beliefs, remembering that at that time there was no priesthood, no tabernacle, or service to God even in Israel. All of these things would come to the Israelites a little later.
Exodus 18: "13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: 16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace."
We see that Moses' father-in-law, as his senior and his relative, observes how Moses judges the affairs of his people and gives him good advice regarding on changing that entire judicial and administrative process. He divided the judicial power of Moses into different levels so that the sons of Israel were divided into groups of ten, fifty, hundreds, and thousands, and both a judge and a ruler were placed over each of these groups. The cases under consideration were accordingly classified by their importance and complexity. Simpler ones were solved by lower level judges, and only the most important and difficult problems came all the way to Moses. Jethro added a disclaimer to this as well, saying "if God command thee so," leaving everything to the discretion of God and Moses.
Exodus 18: "24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land."
Moses took heed of his father-in-law and did everything as he said. After this, Jethro went back to his land, bringing with him the glory of the God of Israel and the glory of Moses.
Some questions arise in regard to this narrative about Jethro's arrival. Why does the Scripture describe this visit in such detail?
After all, the fact that Moses' family returned could have been captured with just one sentence - Jethro brought Moses' wife and sons to him - and that would have been it. Nevertheless, Moses wrote much more about this visit, pointing out the practical advice of Jethro (a stranger to Israel) in the essential affair of managing people, and that Moses accepted this advice and implemented everything stipulated by it. All of this has been read by the many believers in the Scriptures for centuries and millennia hence. Why do we need to know all of this? The fact is that for leaders like Moses, who are on a level of global importance, even the smallest details of their lives can remain important to many people over many centuries, or even for eternity. In this case, two levels of these peoples' relationships are revealed to us - the level based on their kinship and the level based on their faith in God. These layers are intertwined and influence one another. Moreover, this was happening during the formation of God's people, and Moses' father-in-law had a strong influence on this formation. Jethro learns of the great works of God that took place with the participation of his son-in-law from rumors. He himself was a religious man and even a priest of Midian. At that time, a priest's main job was making sacrifices to God. He did not serve idols, but the One God, and the Midianites retained the concept of God from the influence of Abraham, as they were considered to be his descendants (from Abraham's third wife Keturah through his son Midian - 1 Chronicles 1:32). Only in regards to the circumcision of their males were they lacking in order. However, they began to circumcise their boys under the influence of the Ishmaelites such that they began to identify with the Ishmaelites (Judges 8:24), who also came from Abraham. Therefore, Moses and Jethro were one by the faith and the blood of Abraham. Jethro served the God of Abraham as he knew and could, and thus the grace of God was with him. The faith of Abraham had not yet been organized into a sacred order, but this happened later under Moses, and therefore God still accepted the "amateur" ministry. For God, it was most important that the ministry be dedicated to Him, and not to the demons that lurked behind the idols of the Gentiles. And so the gracious priest of God gave business advice on governance to his son-in-law, who at that time was the leader, prophet, miracle worker, and even God of Israel. Nevertheless, Moses obediently accepts this advice, for the two men had been brought together by their common God. In this case, Jethro displayed wisdom, and Moses - humility, which served for the good of both God's people and Moses himself. Despite the fact that Jethro came to Moses as a relative, he was drawn in to this dangerous journey not by the call of blood, but by the Lord God. God wants people to help people, including in the most important religious, judicial, and state affairs. Every person who has something from God can bring it forth to another person for their benefit. That is why even a person so highly praised by God must humbly consider the advice of other people, regard it and implement it where necessary. God protected His friend Moses from the slightest hint of arrogance, and therefore intertwined instances like this visit from his father-in-law into his life. In addition, the Lord God wants as many sensible people as possible to participate in His Housekeeping and Providence for people, and Jethro was a sensible and God-fearing man. None of the Israelites could correct Moses, for he was the God of their people. All the same, the formation of God's people, which Moses occupied himself with on God's behalf, was a very difficult and complicated matter. That is why God shares His teachings with Moses in an acceptable way, namely through a relative who was not a part of Israel. Moses accepted the amendments from his father-in-law, and governing the people of Israel became more tolerable and more convenient for him. For the people themselves, it became more effective and more useful.
Exodus 18: "21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land."
Numbers 11: "14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness. 16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. 17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone."
From the first passage, we see how the hierarchy of governing God's people came to be. It did not arise according to God's revelation or command, but rather, at the advice of Moses' father-in-law, that is, from human origin, from flesh and blood. Its purpose was to make life easier for Moses.
In the second passage, we see how Moses further developed this idea and turned to the Lord God for its implementation. God yielded to Moses' weaknesses and allowed him to bring a council (assembly) of seventy elders to his aid - a prototype of all future councils, sanhedrin, assemblies, and synods. The "kicker" of this event was then the fact that God took of the Spirit that was on Moses and unexpectedly placed it on seventy elders. Thus, we see that it is preferable in the eyes of God to control one of His saints rather than gatherings of the elect, and also that the number of people governing God's people makes no difference to the Spirit, for He either rests abundantly on one person or is distributed in smaller parts among the members of the council's rulers. Despite all of that, the general leadership still remains with one person!
There are times of growth, when the Spirit is distributed among many, and there are times of decline and scarcity that can lead the people of God (as is the case right now), when He can focus on one modern "Moses" yet again. The conciliarity and pious nature of management and decisions depends on this Spirit, and not on the present number of those who carry It.
Moses' Preparation for his Meeting and Fellowship with God at Mount Sinai
Exodus 19: "1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord."
After pointing out the geography and chronology of the Israelites' movements, Moses ascends the mountain to communicate with God. The mountain is a symbol representing the place of God's presence, the kingdom of heaven. The act of climbing the mountain to meet God also represents the transformation of the ascendant person, their subsequent achievement. A meeting with God is a reward for anyone, but it is a shock for him/her. This meeting was more for resolving technical issues related to the people of Israel, and both Moses and the whole nation of Israel had to prepare for this meeting with God. God calls to Moses from the mountain, speaking the words that Moses must then convey to the people. In this way, He underscores the notion that this meeting was arranged not for Moses, but for the people. In His speech, God recalls how He recently saved the people from slavery and destruction at the hands of Egypt. God speaks poetically and figuratively, comparing His care for the sons and daughters of Israel with being carried on the wings of an eagle, thus indicating that He brought them to Him. God then voiced His conditions for Israel, that it would become God's lot from all of the nations, and the sons of Israel should become both a kingdom of priests and a holy people. We see that God is presenting this nation with a unique offer, the likes of which were never extended to any other nation ever again. Unfortunately, as we know from Israel's subsequent history, it did not maintain its standing, and these promises never came to be. God's promises are immutable, though, and therefore will be fulfilled (at least in a symbolic sense) at the end of time as described in Saint John the Evangelist's Book of Revelation. All of Israel will be represented by 12,000 people from each tribe (except the tribe of Dan) and constitute a group of 144,000 virgins, all of whom are particularly close to Christ. The promises that ancient Israel could not uphold will then be realized with this group.
Moses then goes to the people and conveys all of God's words, and the people unanimously promise to fulfill all of God's commands and obey Him. Regrettably, the people were unable to cope with these promises. The people did not perceive the words of God spiritually but carnally, promising things that they did not understand.
Exodus 19: "9 And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord 10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long [and the cloud moves from the mountain], they shall come up to the mount."
God speaks to Moses again in order to prepare for the meeting. He cares about Moses' reputation among the people, and He wants the people to forever believe Moses' claim that he is God and his leadership comes directly from God. God conceals Himself in a thick cloud, but He wants the people to hear His speech. He commands the people, ordering them to complete a series of actions that would emphasize the gravity of the upcoming meeting. The command concerns the meeting place - Mount Sinai. The mountain was delineated by Moses so that the people, under pain of death, would not cross the line. No one could either climb the mountain or even approach its foot. It was only possible to climb the mountain when God departed and the cloud disappeared, as evidenced by the trumpet sound. This specific relationship to the mountain displayed the significant difference between Moses and any other representative from among the people.
Exodus 19: "14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives."
Moses fulfilled God's requirements for preparing the people.
Exodus 19: "16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them. 23 And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 24 And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them. 25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them."
The day of Moses' communion with God had finally come. For the first and last time, God appeared before all the people and spoke to them with a human voice.
Caring for the safety of His people and priests, God commanded Moses to go down to the people again and offer them a warning such that no one would suddenly decide to rush up the mountain to see God. The Lord came down to Mount Sinai and brought the people of Israel into awe through thunder, lightning, a thick cloud enclosing the foot of the mountain, and the trumpet sound of the Angels. Now Moses' commandment to not climb the mountain had good reason to be followed. Moses descended from the mountain and affirmed God's condition for the people. God then commanded him to take only one person with him - Aaron. Thus, He established a hierarchy of proximity to Him in Israel: first Moses, then Aaron, the priests, and finally, the people. This hierarchy would remain this way for all time.
Exodus 20: "1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 13 Thou shalt not kill. 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15 Thou shalt not steal. 16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."
Moses was once again on the mountain. God was pronouncing His laws to him, and he was heeding them. God spoke the Ten Commandments, the fulfillment of which separated Israel from other nations. God began by presenting Himself, saying that He is the Lord God of Israel, who had brought them out of the house of slavery. Then the Lord pronounced the First Commandment, which prohibited the admission or worship of other gods before God. In this way, God decisively distinguished Himself from other spiritual beings and affirmed Israel in monotheism. God forbade the creation of idols or likenesses for worship through the Second Commandment. At this moment, He called himself a jealous God and spoke of the punishment of children three and four generations on for the errors of their fathers, as well as the promise of mercy to those who love him for a thousand generations. This link can never be broken or only discussed in separate halves. Next, the Lord issued a commandment about His Name - it is so holy and divine that it cannot be pronounced in vain. At the same time, God added that none of those who violated this Commandment would escape punishment. This is how important it is to honor the Name of God correctly and piously. The next commandment was concerned with keeping the Sabbath. God based it on His creation of this world and all that is in it, for He did so in six days and rested on the seventh day from all His labors. In the next commandment, God moved to people and their relationships. His command was to honor one's father and mother, and blessings and longevity are promised to those who fulfill this Commandment. The remaining four commandments are strictly prohibitive in nature. They prohibit killing, stealing, committing adultery, and coveting anything owned by one's neighbor or close associate.
Exodus 20: "18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not."
The outward signs of God's presence frightened the people to such an extent that they even retreated from the place where they were allowed to stand. Therefore, the people entreated Moses, not God, to speak with them, for they feared death. Moses then reassured the people, explaining this was all necessary in order for them to have fear and avoid sin.
Exodus 20: "21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. 22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon."
The next time Moses stepped upon the mountain, God commanded him to proclaim the rules of His sacrifices to them. They were forbidden from casting gods (idols) from silver or gold. The altar had to have been made of earth or uncut stones and placed where God would record His name.
I consciously omit the chapters that describe God's other commandments and requirements for the sons of Israel. Anyone can read this for themselves.
Moses then draws up the covenant of Israel with God. Exodus 24: "1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. 2 And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. 3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. 8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words."
Exodus 24: "9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink."
The chosen ones from the sons of Israel ascended higher than the others and saw the place of God's standing, as well as something that was under His feet. It was made of sapphire, like the clear sky itself. God did not stretch out His hands to the elect; they only saw the place of God, ate, and drank.
Exodus 24: "12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. 14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. 15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights."
Finally, God calls Moses for a special fellowship with him. On the mountain, He promises to give him stone tablets with the commandments and laws written by God's own hand. Joshua, the man who would replace Moses as the leader of Israel, came the closest to the meeting place. The glory of the Lord, which resembled an all-consuming fire, overshadowed Sinai for six days. Moses was waiting for the signal to ascend this entire time. On the seventh day, God called to Moses and ordered him to step into the middle of the cloud and climb to the top of the mountain, which he did. From that moment on, Moses was on the mountain for forty days and nights.
I will not list everything that God said to Moses on the mountain regarding the tabernacle and so on. The reader has likely already read about it, or in any case has the ability to do so. I will instead describe what is not visible in the words of the Scripture. It would take several hours to listen to all that God said and recorded to Moses in the Book of Exodus regarding his ongoing and upcoming deeds. At most, you could spend a full day doing so or even two. But what did Moses do in God's presence for forty days and nights? He clearly did not sleep or eat there. Moses then communicated continuously with God for 960 earthly hours, and this took place fundamentally through God's influence on Moses. History has not ever witnessed a similar event! For comparison, I will integrate the example of the day of the Transfiguration of our Lord, when the same Moses had a meeting with Christ on Mount Tabor that lasted several hours. It is clear that God gave Moses much more information over the course of 960 hours than is recorded in Exodus. God did not just speak to Moses, but He also showed him His works. He showed him how He created the world and everything in it, including humanity. He showed him the story of the Fall and humankind's expulsion from Paradise, as well as their lives on earth right up to Moses' time. Moses recorded all of this in his five books. Moses wrote these books from an eyewitness perspective, and not that of a storyteller. Thus, through Moses, God granted the Scripture to both Israel and the entire world. As Moses noted in his book, God stood on something resembling sapphire, which looked just like a clear, blue sky. This sapphire is the knowledge of all things that only people can know, which God emancipated from Himself. It is from this knowledge that God separates two tablets of pure sapphire for Israel and all humankind. These tablets were sapphire cubes weighing 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) each. Today we know much more about inscriptions on crystals and precious stones, and we can therefore imagine the amount of information that was recorded on these tablets. Imagine a cube with a 1.25-meter (4.1-foot) edge that weighs up to half a ton, and Moses had to carry two of these cubes in his hands! What did these tablets consist of? In modern terms, they were two supercomputers that did not require power, a keyboard, or any other such add-ons. These computers powered on when they detected the reflection of Moses' face. The amount of data in the computers was so huge that it was impossible to imagine. This information was not displayed in letters as a text, but was shown in the form of a hologram or displayed in an entirely immersive way, as if the reader were in another dimension. That is, it was such a unique device that no one has ever come close to recreating it in our time. It was a great and incomparable gift to humanity from God. Unfortunately, the people were not ready to accept such a gift.
However, Moses did describe the first tablets in detail. Exodus 32: "15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables."
There were two tablets, that is, all of the information was divided by God into two equivalent parts. The first half contained knowledge of the universe and the created world, and the other had information about God and all things divine. This was all written on two sides of the tablets - outside and inside - and in human letters. Each letter written by God was like a key on a keyboard that, when a person pressed it, brought them into a new realm of knowledge. This writing also had its own content, which was transferred to the second tablets.
The First Fall of Israel and the Resulting Consequences
While Moses was in fellowship with God, the people did not endure in faith and broke all their promises to listen to God and fulfill His commands.
Exodus 32: "1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play."
We see how difficult it was for God and Moses to shape God's people. It only took one instance of Moses being absent for 960 hours to communicate with God for the people of Israel to fall into idolatry, forcing Aaron to pour them a golden calf as a god for worship and sacrifice. The whole religious system fine-tuned by Moses and consisting of the high priest Aaron (Moses' brother), the priests, the Levites, and the seventy elders could not keep the people from falling; on the contrary, they assisted them in their betrayal of God Almighty. This manifestation of people's will for evil had such an impact on God that He decided to destroy the whole nation and, through Moses, create a new one through which He could fulfill all of the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God's state is described by Moses as one of wrath against Israel, but God also made Himself reliant on the decision of His friend Moses. Therefore, He presented His desire to annihilate the people of Israel to Moses, leaving the final decision to him. Moses began to persuade God to not do this, referring to the fact that His glory would be adversely affected, for the enemies of Israel who had suffered from God's actions would have jumped at the chance to destroy Israel. The last accord was the Moses's self-substitution with the people, a move that was both humble and wise. He told God that if He erased this people from the face of the Earth, then He should also eradicate Moses. Moses' will had such an impact on God that He overturned His decision to instantly destroy Israel. In return, He promised Moses that He would erase the names of the sinners from His book and punish them in this life. Three wills intertwined in this case: the will of God, the will of His friend Moses, and the will of the people. As a result, many of the people were removed from the Book of Life (which meant depriving them of hope for salvation and eternal life), many were punished by snakebites and other misfortunes, and most importantly, in order to wipe out the people who had fallen into idolatry, God commanded Moses to drive them through the desert for forty years. The worst thing that happened to Israel was that God refused to drive them Himself, and instead entrusted this task to His angel. God justified this to Moses with the fact that He saved the people from immediate extermination by refusing to drive them Himself. A terrible truth is revealed to us here, that the closeness of God to man imposes upon man the highest responsibility for his words and actions. By pitying a man and not destroying him, God is forced to withdraw from a person, a group of people, or the church and be away from them so as not to annihilate them. This fully applies to Christians. By making the wrong choice and doing something objectionable to God, a person thereby forces Him to withdraw from them for the sake of their own preservation. Such a person then becomes faithless. They pray in vain to the Holy Spirit: "Come and dwell in me" - but God "stoppeth His ears" so as not to hear their petitions. This is how faithless churches are formed, which are ruled by holy angels in the best-case scenario, and in the worst - surrendered to demons. After just forty days of Moses's absence, the people who had seen the great power of God revealed by Moses then renounced it. Not knowing what had happened to him, they renounced him. The people began to put pressure on Aaron to make them a god of gold. Aaron acquiesced; the golden calf was then cast and carved with a chisel. An altar was placed on the idol and sacrifices were then offered. It is impossible to understand the behavior of Aaron and the sons of Israel here, who saw the great miracles and protection of God with their own eyes. Moses was unaware of what was happening, and God Himself lifted him out of this ignorance. Exodus 32: "7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." The fall of Israel affected God's fellowship with Moses. Moses was forced to cut off his conversation with God and swiftly return to the people. The fall of Israel left such an impression on God that He then decided to destroy this people. Exodus 32: "9 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation." Moses then intercedes on the people's behalf and saves them from destruction. Exodus 32: "11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." We know that Abraham was the first intercessor for sinful people. He begged God to save the sinning city for the sake of a certain number of righteous people in it. Moses became the first protector of a sinful people that had been doomed to total destruction by God. Moses thus becomes the savior of his people.
Exodus 32: "15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. 19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. 20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it."
Moses came down from the mountain and saw his people's idolatry with his own eyes. His wrath is then unleashed and, understanding that his people are not ready to accept God's great gift (God's tablets), destroys these unique technological devices. Next, he destroys the idol - the golden calf - and begins to investigate what had happened. Exodus 32: "21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. 25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) 26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. 29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day. 30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin."
Moses began by questioning Aaron. Aaron justified his actions by pointing out the fury and uncontrollability of the people. Moses was then forced to take unprecedented measures to bring this uncontrollability under control. He commands the sons of Levi to slay up to three thousand people with their swords. Moreover, Moses declared this forced fratricide a consecration to God, sanctifying the hands of the murdering Levite brothers.
After establishing a severe order among the people, Moses returns to God to finally solve the issue of their disobedience. Exodus 32: "31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. 35 And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made."
Moses again stands up for his people, choosing the most humble approach - sacrificially laying himself before God. God accepts Moses' intercession and chooses to preserve the people, commanding him to oversee the future formation of the people and their movement to the Promised Land. However, God did decide to expel sinners from His book. This doomed them to not only physical death, but also deprived them of hope for eternal life. This was evidently the beginning of Israel's wandering in the desert for forty years. Thus, God wanted to remove all of the people that He deleted from His book from both the world of the living and from among His people. There is nothing worse for a person who believes in God than when God erases their name from His book. This applies to all of the members of the Church of Christ. As close as they had come to God, as high as their responsibility was, so was their rejection by God terrible through the blotting out of their names from the Book of Life. This is why the Lord corrects Christ's apostles after they react with happiness to the newfound knowledge that they can bring demons to heel, saying they should rejoice not for this reason, but because their names are written in the heavens.
God promises to visit Israel one day and smite the people for the sin of worshiping the golden calf, and God smote the people by deleting the names of idolaters from His book, which removed their protection from their many surrounding misfortunes. Through this biblical story, we see that a whole nation can sin before God, which means it is fitting to speak of nationwide sin and demand nationwide repentance for it. We also see that God can punish the entirety of a people in their current state or stretch the punishment over many decades, or simply punish the guilty and leave such people without Him.
The Continued Quest to the Promised Land
Exodus 33: "1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: 2 And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3 [And the angel will lead you] unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way."
God commands Moses to lead the people away from Mount Sinai and continue on to the Promised Land in order to fulfill His oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - that their posterity will inherit this land. The Promised Land represents the kingdom of heaven, and then comes a new expression of God's will for the people. God declares to Israel that He will no longer personally lead them, and this is a demonstration of His mercy, for His presence with the people is also accompanied by the fact that God can destroy them for their cruelty and disobedience. Thus, Israel lost divine guidance and began to be led by an angel of God. Christians who read about the fall of Israel must heed all of its consequences and apply all of the lessons to themselves. God, through His mercy, can also leave behind Christians if they live for themselves. In the optimal scenario, He will leave them to be guided and protected by His angels. This can happen both in the personal life of a particular Christian and in the life of a certain group of Christians, be it a community, a monastery, or a local church. Unfortunately, no one in the Christian community took this into account, and therefore could not properly build their life in Christ.
Exodus 33: "4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb. 7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. 8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. 9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. 10 And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. 11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle."
The people came to their senses and, hearing the terrible word of God, began to weep. Through Moses, the Lord conveyed His words that if He were to go among the people, He would annihilate after just a moment. God demanded that the people remove all of their jewelry and promised that He would think about what He needed to do with this people. Moses also demonstrated his indignation for the sin of Israel. He defiantly puts his tent outside the camp and away from them, and calls his tent the tabernacle of the congregation. When the God's people sin, others distance themselves from the crowd of those who have sinned, and the distance between non-sinners and sinners only increases. They wanted to be closer to God and therefore moved away from the people. We see God's tangible support for Moses in the cloud pillar that descended and stood at the entrance of Moses' tabernacle. The people once again understood for themselves who Moses was, and where they stood. All the people stood up, each at their own tent, and watched Moses until he entered the tabernacle. They saw how a cloud pillar descended to the entrance to the tabernacle and bowed to it, knowing that it was God speaking to Moses. The Lord came to Moses and spoke with him face to face, as one would with a friend. And here Moses mentions the young man Joshua, preparing both the people and the reader for his future status as Moses' successor and leader of the people. His true birth name was not Joshua, but we will talk about this later when we reach the death of Moses.
The Pinnacle of Moses' Life - Divine Vision
Exodus 33: "12 And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he [the Lord] said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he [Moses] said unto him [the Lord], If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. 17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18 And he [Moses] said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19 And he [the Lord] said [to Moses], I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen."
It takes just twelve verses to describe the culmination of man's ascension. Nobody before Moses had the boldness to ask to see God's face! Moses was the first of the antediluvian and Old Testament people to see the living God with his own eyes. Before him, only Adam and his wife Eve had seen God, but this was before their Fall, while they were still in Paradise. The Fall deprived human nature of its original ability to see God directly. After the Fall, if there were great people who saw God, then the only saw Him in images. Abraham, for example, saw God in the form of three men and in other ways. The righteous Job saw God through his pure spirit, but not by sight. Moses, too, first saw God in his spirit, then in his image, for example, in the form of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. In this vision, God showed Moses the essence of his future life and ministry to Him. The bush represented the people of Israel, which Moses had the task of forming so that the Holy Virgin, who would give birth to Christ the Son of God, would later come out of it! Therefore, the bush represents the Virgin Mary herself, who received the entire divinity of the Son of God and was not consumed by it, but rather, was deified. The vision of God in images and in the spirit is the inevitable stage of humankind's spiritual perfection, without which divine vision is impossible, as is seeing the face of the living God. Divine vision is the highest form of human communion with God and the extreme limit of our knowledge of the divine; the Lord God established this limit. However, there is a certain mystery and antimony when God is in sight of man. The Scripture has several things to say about this. Exodus 33: "11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." On the other hand, a mere man cannot see the face of God and live. Exodus 33: "17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18 And he [Moses] said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19 And he [the Lord] said [to Moses], I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen." Consequently, there are two different visions of God. The first is when God reveals Himself in some form, and the other is the direct vision of God to whichever extent a person can endure. The holy fathers of the Church have written very little about divine vision, for the fathers themselves did not have any experience with it. The holy fathers instead wrote about the unknowability of God, His incomprehensible nature, and His invisibility to all creations in order to protect the truths revealed by Him from corruption. God has no essential form and cannot be seen by any of His creations. We are not discussing Jesus Christ the God-Man, in whom the Divine is observed through the nature of the Son of Man. The fathers completely separate God from man with such apophatism. Nevertheless, the denial of everything that relates to God leads us to His absence, that is, to practical godlessness. Through such denial, the only thing we can know about God is that we can know nothing about Him. God, however, did not want and does not want to remain cut off from us, even as a result of His immensity, unknowability, and incomprehensibility. Therefore, He creates a person who is not only connected to His other creations, but also in connection with Him. To do this, He creates man in His image and in His likeness, and He has plans to become a Man while remaining the Perfect God. To do so, He puts the ability to contemplate the divine, as well as thinking, logos, and lore inside of people. There is also something mysterious in us that we do not yet know or see in ourselves. Nevertheless, this mysterious characteristic is one that can work and allow a person to do the impossible in moments of higher spiritual exertion - to see God. We do not know what kind of spiritual state Moses was in when he sees the glory of God and then the "back of God." We do not know what the "back of God" is and why He has it, why it is referred to in that way, or why it can be seen by man. We do know that this was possible for Moses, which means that it is potentially possible for each and every one of us. How and in what way did Moses see God? This is unknown to us, but we can judge that Moses did not do this with ordinary human vision, for God is not material; there is, however, the Pure Spirit. If Moses saw something with his physical eyes, then it was not God, but the image of God. That said, there is nothing special about seeing the image of God, for everyone with sight can see icons of Jesus Christ. Moses did not see the image of God Himself, but he saw Him to the extent accessible and possible for him (i.e. from behind). It was an incomprehensible spiritual contemplation, that is, a special vision through the spirit of man. What is the glory of God as an object of spiritual contemplation? It is the uncreated divine light, the very same that the Moses saw with Christ on Mount Tabor on the day of His Transfiguration. Thanks to this light, God becomes visible to man ("in Thy light shall we see light"), and at the same time, He remains invisible in His obscurity, His essence un-seeable. The light of the divine illuminates God and conceals His essence. The glory of God is seen as the light on Tabor, as well as on the "back of God" as something covered by light, as if it were in silhouette. A person cannot see the face of God (that is, His true essence), and any attempt would result in their immediate death, that is, in the termination of their ability to contemplate, perceive, and reflect. This is a result of the boundless dichotomy between the qualities of divine nature and the nature of man (spiritual and deified). Moses was a deified man - the first of all such people, otherwise he could not have seen the "back of God" and His glory. He (his soul) appeared on Tabor in a deified and glorious state. Thus, Sinai was the first Tabor for Moses. At the second Tabor, Moses was blessed not only to see the divine glory of Christ (which His earthly disciples who were present with Christ could not bear), but to also see God in Christ.
God tells Moses that he knows him by name and that he has achieved favor in His eyes. Christ God also knows all of His apostles and friends by name. Therefore, He told His disciples to rejoice in the fact that their names are recorded in heaven. Therefore, the Church of Christ established a memorial commemoration of living people and the souls of the departed. In addition to knowing the name of a person, it is important for a person to have grace in the eyes of God. Benevolence is the favorable arrangement of God's will for a particular person, which arises from the quality of a person, their faith, zeal for God, humility, and their pious, peculiar disposition at the moment that they become interesting, significant, and important to Him. A person who has come to know God's favor can be bold towards Him. Moses uses this boldness and, relying on God's favor, prays to Him with petitions on his own behalf. First of all, he asks God to open the way of God to him so that he can know God and thereby gain even greater favor in His eyes. After that, he asks on behalf of the people, saying to God: "And consider that this nation is Thy people." The Lord understands Moses and all his desires perfectly, and answers him. "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." In this way, God reveals to Moses (and through him, to all of us) the vital truth - that all people are restless, changeable, fluid, and in suffering, and therefore each person must enter into peace. However, man alone cannot enter into peace, for God alone has peace and only He can bring someone into His peace. This is precisely what God promises Moses. Moses uses God's favor and the opportunity at hand to boldly translate the speech to the people with his own voice. "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." The Lord humbly accepts this request and answers Moses, once again shifting the emphasis from the people to his person. "I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name." God seems to say, very well, I will do what you are asking (for the people). He then repeats that He will do so because He knows Moses by name, and that Moses has earned favor in His eyes. Having defended the interests of his people, Moses then dares to ask God to show him His glory. It turns out that Moses stood before God and spoke with Him, realizing that God had not revealed His glory, but was covered before him. God promises to make all of His goodness (glory) pass before Moses. His glory could only be passed before Moses, that is, set in motion before Moses, so that it would become apparent to him. At the same time, God appends the proclamation of His name - Jehovah - to the display of His glory in front of Moses, and because He proclaimed His name, God promises to have mercy on those whom He has mercy, and to pity those whom He will have pity. Thus, God tied His name to His glory, which reflects His glory even though He Himself is invisible. Then God reveals to Moses that he cannot look upon His face, explaining that a person trying to see the face of God will not survive, and He needed Moses alive. Next, God shows Moses the specific place on the rock where he ought to stand. At the moment that God's glory will pass by, God will put Moses on the cliff and cover him with His hand until He passes. When God passes by, He will lift His hand, and Moses will be able to see God from behind. Moses will not, however, be able to see His face. In God's explanation to Moses, we see many things that are mysterious and unclear to us. We cannot understand what "face of God", "God from behind", "the hand of God", "covering Moses with His hand" and "taking away His hands" mean. God is a pure spirit and does not have any type or "parts" inherent to the human body. Nevertheless, God descends the feebleness of man and uses words that are applicable only to man in relation to Himself. Implicit in God's "descent", however, is an indication of the future embodiment and incarnation of the Son of God, after which Jesus Christ will have both a body and hands. This is how God prophetically showed Moses the mystery of His incarnation, as well as the fact that he, in accordance with the goodwill he had acquired, can and should participate in the preparation of the Son of God's incarnation. Later, on Mount Tabor, Moses will be an eyewitness of this incarnation and see the face of God, with whom he spoke on Mount Sinai.
Exodus 34: "1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. 2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. 3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount."
The Lord commands Moses to carve out two stone tablets exactly like the previous ones and ascend the mountain with them. Allow me to take this opportunity to remind you that the first tablets were made by God. Exodus 32: "16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." That is why they were a unique device, technology of the highest order. The second set of tablets was simple material for conveying a written message. They were made by man, Moses, with the help of his skill and the tools available to him at that time. And unlike the lettering on the first set of tablets, the letters on these were written by Moses himself: Exodus 34: "28 And he [Moses] wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments." So the unpreparedness of Israel prevented its people from mastering the divine technology and the information contained therein. The people had to be content with a typical written record of the Ten Commandments that Moses wrote on the stone tablets, which served as the basis and evidence of God's covenant with Israel. Later this covenant became known as the Old Testament, and its law came to be known as the Law of Moses. This time Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and nights talking with the Lord God, eating no food and drinking no water. Basically, he listened to God's commands and later recorded them in the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
Exodus 34: "4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. 5 And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance."
It is important for us to note the following in this passage: when Moses went up to the mountain with the tablets, God came down to him in the cloud so that Moses could not see Him. That means this time there was no divine vision. We see that God was close to Moses, and that He proclaimed His name - Jehovah. This critically important action of God's is the basis for people's honoring the divinity of His name. Then the Lord walked in the face of Moses and pronounced a characterization of Himself, indicating that He is the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundantly benevolent and true, preserving the truth and showing mercy to thousands of generations, forgiving guilt and crime and sin, but not leaving sin unpunished. That is, God demonstrated the balance of His mercy and His judgment. Regarding the punishment for sin, God revealed to us that He punishes the guilt of fathers in their children and in the children of their children, all the way through the third and fourth generations. This manifests the social aspect of the parent's guilt and the consequent punishment of the children of these guilty parents. Serious sins are punished over four generations of offspring, and milder sins are punished over three. If, for example, this law is applied to Russian history, then a compelling analysis can be made. Our people gravely sinned against God and faith in 1917. Their guilt then fell on their children over four entire generations, that is, until 2017. Thus, only children born in February 2017 or after are more innocent in terms of the sins of their ancestors. We will be able to see the social implications of rising above this guilt starting in about 2033-35, when the first innocent generation will be 16-18 years old. If a true revival of New Russia will occur, then it will only occur on the basis of this generation of young people. After hearing of God's law of guilt, Moses uses his humility and God's disposition towards him as an intercession on behalf of his people. He demonstrates his humility by falling to the ground and bowing to God. By doing so, he demonstrates his awareness of the fact that he but earth and ash (dust) before God. Moses also humbly presents his awareness of God's favor toward him in the form of a conditional statement: "if now I have found grace in thy sight." Having received confirmation of this goodwill through God's non-objection to this, Moses immediately asks Him for his people three things that are of the utmost important for the life of the people: God's presence, the forgiveness of the people's sins and lawlessness, and the creation of God's inheritance. At the same time, Moses rightly points out the people's great vice - their stiff-neckedness, or in more modern language, their obstinacy and tendency to be self-willed. Indeed, it is necessary for every person who wants to be led by God and become friends with Him to have the aforementioned three things.
Exodus 34: "10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. 11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: 13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: 14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God[.]"
From God's answer, we see that He is speaking of a covenant with Israel, which then makes Israel His inheritance. At the same time, He promises to perform miracles before the people the likes of which had never been seen by anybody anywhere on the Earth, and that what He will do will be terrible. At the same time, God sets His terms for the Israelites so that they preserve everything that God has commanded them. Among other things, God names each of the seven nations that He will cast out from the land promised to Israel by name. God strictly forbids Israel from entering into an alliance with the inhabitants of that land and mandates that they destroy all of these nations' altars and images, as well as cut down all their sacred groves and burn the statues of their gods down to ash. Why does God demand such an extreme level of social hygiene and sanitation from Israel? Because these peoples mingled with the pervasive Nephilim and Rephaites after the flood, thus turning themselves into nonhumans and undead. By the will of God, Israel was to fulfill the mission of a holy paramedic who could cleanse the Earth of non-humans, as well as their idolatry and worship. This explains the inescapable cruelty of the Israelite people, which manifested in wars with these peoples and fell not only on their soldiers, but on everyone, including pregnant women, infants, and young children.
Many who read the books of the Old Testament are allured by such cruelty, but have no understanding of what caused it. And the issue was such that either humanity, through Israel, would tear out the tares of the Nephilim and thereby save the human race from perdition or perish from a new and universal plague of God. I will not retell everything else that God said to Moses regarding Israel. The readers can consult the text for themselves. I will only point out that which was not directly written down by Moses and is not visible in His books. By this, I mean the uninterrupted, continuous forty-day communion of Moses with God, without sleep, rest, eating, or drinking. After all, it does not take forty days to read what Moses wrote for us in his books. What else happened on the mountain that Moses did not make mention of? God showed Moses a perfect video recording of how He created the world and humanity. Moses subsequently reproduced everything he saw in his books. I will not labor over the details of Israel's forty-year life in the desert, but I will take note of the most important points. So, the forty-day communion of Moses with God was completed, and Moses descended from the mountain. He himself noted the important change that taken place in him this time due to his communion with God.
Exodus 34: "29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he [God] talked with him. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. 31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him."
We see that Moses' face shone with a bright light after talking with God, but he did not know or notice it. This is how God decided to glorify Moses before the people of Israel. However, this blinding radiance was an obstacle for people who wanted to communicate with Moses. The people, seeing the radiance emanating from the face of Moses that was unbearable for their eyes, were simply afraid to approach him. Moses had to cover his head with a veil for the sake of people's feebleness. When he came before the Lord, he removed the veil. I would also like to note that this radiance on Moses' face was reproduced in a distorted way in the sculptures and drawings depicting it. Many artists and sculptors began to depict the light coming from Moses' head in the form of two beams, which eventually developed into an image of him with two horns, which is ludicrous and unacceptable.
Before proceeding to a discussion on the conclusion of the life of the Divine Moses, I will summarize his main deeds and merits before both Israel and all of mankind, as well as what happened to his people due to his work.
Moses brings the Ten Commandments written by him from the words of God to the people. Thus, God substitutes Moses for Himself for the second time in matters concerning the tablets. This shows His great regard for His friend, whom He elevates to the rank of God. But no human can be equal to God. Accordingly, no human's work can be compared with the work of God. That is why the second tablets were no longer a technological breakthrough in the field of computer science and were instead a mere record of the words of the Living God on the basis of which a covenant known as the Old Testament was formed between Him and Israel. Thus, Moses became the founder of a new, divine genre for transmitting information from God to people (knowledge and lore) - the Holy Scripture. It took forty years for Moses to write this body of literature, which was composed of five books of Scripture. All this time, he not only wrote down the words and revelations of God but also organized a teaching system among the people that consisted of field schools. These were synagogues in which the sons of Israel studied the law of God, writing, mathematics, astronomy, fine arts, music, history, cultural studies, languages, the basics of medicine, sanitation, and hygiene, and other subjects. In addition, Moses established a legal system, as well as gifted the people with knowledge of military affairs, the art of warfare, the foundations of government, worship, priesthood, rituals and sacrifices, the basics of temple construction, the tabernacle with all of its installations, and the Ark of the Covenant. These skills and knowledge were maintained in all sorts of trades and practical skills for the people over the course of their forty years of wandering in the desert. For Moses' sake, God took upon Himself the total provision of food, clothing, shoes, water, pastures and health care for the sons of Israel. That way, people's clothes and shoes did not experience wear or tear over all that time. It was Moses who introduced the concepts of dividing soldiers into regiments and using banners to distinguish the regiments, as well as basic statistics, accounting, and monitoring. There is no way to list everything that Moses introduced into the everyday lives of the Israelites. All of these skills and knowledge are still in use today by people who haven't the slightest idea what the Divine Moses provided them with.
The Death and Afterlife of the Divine Moses
The death of Moses is discussed in the Chapter 34 of the Book of Deuteronomy. It is clear that Moses himself could not have written it, and that it was added by Joshua after Moses' death. I will quote this entry. Deuteronomy 34: "1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, 2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. 7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. 9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. 10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, 12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel."
From this description, we see that Moses was the zenith of Israel, and there was never again a prophet equal to him in Israel's history. The location of Moses' burial site is unknown to this day. In the New Testament book, "The Epistle of the Apostle Judas," there are a few short words written about this. Jude 1: "9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." These words are conveyed to us by an ancient legend kept by the Church of Christ, that the Devil appeared after the death of Moses, hoping to receive his fair share. After all, Moses sinned and was punished by God by not being able to enter the Promised Land. However, this happened according to God's Providence, just as it was that a man with the name Joshua introduced the people of God to the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Joshua was also a prototype of the Son of God Jesus Christ, and the Promised Land was heaven and the kingdom of heaven. The Archangel Michael, who is the leader of all the Heavenly Forces, took part in the burial of Moses at the direction of God. Michael also entered into an argument with the Devil about Moses' body, and protected it. When the Devil was disgraced and cast out, Moses' body was buried so that no one could find it. The Lord God took such a measure to ensure that the sons of Israel could not create an idol from Moses' remains for worship.
The holy fathers of the Church of Christ have two typologies: the typology of "Moses - Christ," and the typology of "Joshua - Jesus Christ." In the typology of "Joshua - Jesus Christ," Joshua's ministry to Moses was interpreted as Jesus Christ's submission to the law that the Savior came to fulfill (Matthew 5:17). Moses does not enter the Promised Land, for the law cannot enter into the kingdom of grace, into the Church of Christ, into eternal life. It is Joshua who enters into the Promised Land, who was Moses's faithful servant over the course of his life and abandoned the wilderness to enter the Land of Canaan after his death. According to an early Christian typology, Christ introduces the people of God into the kingdom of grace in the same way, only doing so after the death of the law as personified by Moses. "It was fitting that Moses was the one to lead the people out of Egypt, and that Joshua brought them into their inheritance, and that Moses, like the Law, had an end, and Joshua, as the Word and the unmistakable prototype of the Hypostatic Word, was a preacher for the people." And when the life of Moses had run its course, he was told by God to go up to the mountain and die, for Moses "shalt not go over thither [and bring My people into the earth]." And Moses died according to the word of God, and Joshua, the son of Nun, took his place.
Clement of Alexandria cites a very interesting legend in Stromateis related to the death of Moses. At the very moment of his death, Joshua sees him, now ascended, in two ways: to heaven accompanied by angels (this echoes the apocryphal book The Ascension of Moses and, possibly, therein finds its source) and to the mountain for his subsequent burial in the valley. Caleb also had this vision, but since he was not as pure as Joshua, only the earthly, bodily part of the vision was revealed to him, namely the burial of Moses, and not his ascension. This account, which is clearly of Jewish origin, serves as a way for Clement to illustrate his ability to interpret the Holy Scripture. "One man sees only the body, or the letter of the Scripture, and this is as the body of Moses. Others, on the contrary, understand the innermost and sacrosanct meaning, and these are the people who seek Moses in the company of angels." According to the great Alexandrians Clement and Origen, this allegorical, "spiritual" reading of the Scriptures (as Origen designated it) or the ability to "see the spirit of meaning through the paltry flesh of the letter" would allow someone to see Moses alive and glorified, just as Joshua saw him, and not dead and buried as Caleb saw him. The ascension of Moses' soul to heaven is a great but little-known event. We know that the holy prophet Enoch was taken alive to heaven from the antediluvian world, and then the holy prophet Elijah the Thessian lifted himself up to heaven alive and on a fiery chariot. Between these two events, the soul of the Divine Moses was taken to heaven, which was a unique event in the history of humankind, the likes of which has never been repeated. This is indirectly confirmed by the words of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 16: "22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."
This passage is fascinating because of its relation to the posthumous existence of the Divine Moses. In His words, our Lord revealed to us that before His coming, all righteous people went to an underground place called the bosom of Abraham. From the father of all believers in Abraham, a bosom was formed from the day of his death. This was a special place inside the earth where the angels brought the souls of the righteous dead. Indeed, the heavens were closed to people before the coming of Christ. This place was separated from the place of torment by an impassable abyss, but from each of these places the inhabitants from the other place could be both seen and heard. We learn about the conversation between the soul of the rich man tormented in the hellfire and the soul of Saint Abraham. This conversation is about Moses. But if Moses was next to Abraham, then this would have been pointed out to us. But the Lord does not say anything about Moses' presence in the bosom of Abraham. Why? Simply put, because he was not there. So where did his soul dwell? His soul lived in heaven as an exception. His soul came to Mount Tabor from heaven along with the living prophet Elijah on the day of the Lord's Transfiguration to speak with Jesus Christ about the coming work of atoning for the human race. Moses played a great part in this preparation. After His Resurrection, our Lord not only resurrected all the righteous who were in the bosom of Abraham, including Adam, Eve, Abel, Job the Long-Suffering, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, and others, but also his friend Moses. From that day on, they all abided in the kingdom of heaven as a part of the Church of Christ. Thus, the Divine Moses stood out not only for his uniquely holy life but also with his death and the posthumous presence of his soul and body.
The Wondrous Story of the Ark of the Covenant and the Crystals of Revelation Bestowed Upon Mankind Through Moses
The Scripture itself speaks of the first tablets (crystals). Exodus 32: "16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." I have already written about their capabilities. The second tablets were Moses' work. Exodus 34: "1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first [and ascend the mountain to meet Me]: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. 2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. 3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. 4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone." We see that God commanded Moses to carve out two stone tablets and go up to the mountain with them by himself, where God himself would then write what had been written on the first crystals.
Exodus 34: "5 And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. 10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. 11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: 13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves [and burn down the statues of their gods] 14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods." We see that Moses is on the mountain once again and speaking with the Lord God. However, this time things happen a little differently. The Lord does not descend before Moses in His glory but in a cloud, stopping near Moses and proclaiming the name Jehovah, which had the same power in the Old Testament as the name of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. By doing so, the Lord is indicating the importance of proclaiming His name. Then the Lord walked in the face of Moses and pronounced a characterization of Himself, indicating that He is the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundantly benevolent and true, preserving the truth and showing mercy to thousands of generations, forgiving guilt and crime and sin, but leaving no sin unpunished and extending the guilt of a sinner through three to four generations of their children. Moses was not bound as he was the first time, and therefore fell to the ground and bowed to God. He then began to beg God to go among the people once more. Noting the stiff-necked nature of Israel, Moses asks God to forgive its iniquities and sins and make him His inheritance. In response, God says that He will a covenant with Israel and promises to do miracles that no other peoples on the Earth have seen. He emphasizes that what He does will be frightening, and demands that Israel keep to everything that God commands it to do. God then promises Moses that He will cast out the people who inhabit the Promised Land on behalf of Israel, and he then enumerates these tribes. He forbids Israel from entering into an alliance of any kind with these peoples.
Exodus 25: "10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. 13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. 15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. 16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel."
The Dimensions, Materials, and Structure of the Ark of the Covenant
1. Shittah (pl. "Shittim") wood, believed to be a type of acacia.
2. The length of the Ark assuming a breadth of 43.5 centimeters (17.1 inches): 43.5 + 43.5 + 21.75 = 108.75 centimeters (or 17.1 + 17.1 + 8.55 = 42.75 inches).
3. The width and height assuming a breadth of 43.5 centimeters (17.1 inches): 43.5 + 21.75 = 65.25 cm (or 17.1 + 8.55 = 25.65 inches).
4. The dimensions of the Ark with a breadth of 43.5 centimeters (17.1 inches): 108.75 x 65.25 x 65.25 centimeters (or, in inches, 42.75 x 25.65 x 25.65).
5. The Ark is lined inside and out with sheets of pure gold.
6. There is a golden crown on the top following the contour of the Ark (i.e. around the Ark).
7. Four cast gold rings (not of pure gold, but of a mix of metal for durability). Two rings are fastened on both sides, at the four lower corners.
8. Two poles of shittim wood lined with pure gold, which are inserted into the rings and should never be removed.
9. The testimony of God, which He will give to Moses on the mountain, should be placed in the Ark. This testimony was the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
10. The lid is made of solid gold and has the following size: 108.75 x 65.25 centimeters (or 42.75 x 25.65 inches).
11. Two gold cherubs made of pure hammered (not cast) gold. The images of two cherubs are located on the lateral ends of the lid at its two edges, and are positioned such that they face each other across the lid with wings spread outwards, making the sign of the cross and covering the lid.
12. I (God) will be revealed to you (only Moses) and speak with you over the lid in the middle of the two cherubim that are above the Ark of the Testimony, revealing everything that I will command through you to the sons of Israel.
What is the Ark of Testimony like?
It turns out that for the first time in the history of mankind, God gave the project of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel through Moses. When the Ark was made and consecrated, it became not just a place, but a technological, material device that provided a continuous connection (signal) and means of communication with the Lord God! It was a kind of spiritual implementer that guaranteed not a virtual, but a real connection between God and Moses, and through Moses, between God and His people. The tablets (crystals) of the covenant served as the main shrine of the Ark of the Covenant, which were (according to Jewish tradition) two sapphires of a cubic shape weighing 250 kilograms (551 pounds) each. These crystals were painted with the finger of God from both the outside and the inside. In addition to the information known to everyone about the Ten Commandments, or the ten fundamental commands of God, the crystals revealed all of the information they contained about God's economy in a visual way for all the people who could see. As a result, the amount of information they contained greatly exceeded the body of Holy Scripture, which preserves information about the salvation of humankind at the hands of God. It was not for nothing that Moses, placed a scroll of the Scripture (Torah) in the Ark of the Covenant (also known as the Ark of Testimony) after receiving it.
The Weight of the Ark of the Covenant
Inner Golden Box: 48.2 kilograms (106 pounds); wooden box: 99 kilograms (218 pounds); external gold box: 167.8 kilograms (369.9 pounds); gold rings: 4 x 5 kg = 20 kilograms (44 pounds); gold leaf: 51 kilograms (112.4 pounds) Total: 386 kilograms (850.98 pounds) Lid and cherubims: about 600 kilograms (1,322 pounds). The total weight is about a ton. The dimensions of each Tablet are one cubic breadth. The length of a breadth as a unit of measure is approximately 43.5 centimeters (17.1 inches). The average density of the stones was 2,700-2,900 kilograms / m3. The weight of each tablet was then approximately 250 kilograms (551 pounds). If the dimensions of the golden lid were two and a half breadths by just over one and a half breadths, then its weight was about 1200 kilograms (2,645 pounds) not including the weight of the cherubs. Gold has a density of 19.3 grams/cm3. If the lid is two fingers thick, then its total weight will be about 600 kilograms (1,322 pounds). Together with the two tablets and the ark, the weight (assuming the lid was one palm thick) is almost two tons, and with a thickness of two fingers, it comes to about a ton. Let's consider the smaller option - 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds). However, the ark and the tablets were carried by only four people during the Israel's wandering in the desert! We should also take note of the fact that the bars for carrying the ark were located at the bottom of the ark, which greatly complicated the process of lifting and moving it. It is clear that four people could never bear such a weight on their shoulders without miraculous help from above! This miraculous help was revealed in a violation of the law of gravity, which is a phenomenon known as levitation. Perhaps this word itself comes from the Levites who bore the Ark of Testimony, and from them it went into Latin ('levitas' means "lightness" or "light-weightedness" in Latin).
It is curious that the Jewish wise men came about a legend that says that ārōn haqqōdeš (Aron Hakodesh, the Hebrew name for the Ark of Testimony) not only did not hinder those who carried it, but also helped them walk. When the ark crossed the Jordan, it literally carried those who held onto it to the other side. No wonder it is said that the ark "itself carried its bearers" (Sotah, 35a).
There is an opinion that the Ark of the Covenant will be discovered and re-revealed to the world in the final days, before the end. Before its destruction, corrupted humanity must see the Ten Commandments of God's unchanging law firsthand, shining with the supernatural glory given by God. None of these commandments have been canceled or altered. Just how God "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" is unchanged (James 1:17), so His law is not changed: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18) In those days when the Ark of the Covenant will be found and shown to the world, the beginning of the end shall be nigh. Regarding this opinion, one can add the rationale that if there are only ten commandments, then they are considerably lesser in meaning when compared to the Gospel of Christ, in which there are more of God's commandments that themselves are more exalted. Then the holiness of the tablets and the Ark of Testimony itself cannot be higher than the holiness of the Gospel. If by "tablets" we mean the fullness of God's Scripture, written directly by God on two sapphire crystals, then they are the highest of all the holy books ever written by any means. It can then be assumed that the divine sapphire crystals are the mysterious book mentioned in Revelation. Revelation 5: "1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." The key to this book is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David - Jesus Christ. Now what He said to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob should be clear. John 4: "22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." Salvation is not with the Jews, but of the Jews. Why? Consider the following. Romans 3: "1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." The word of God was recorded by God first on the crystals of revelation, and then by Moses on the leather scroll of the Torah. It is interesting to note that the Lord did not say "Ye worship ye know not whom ...", but ye know not WHAT, we (the Jews) know WHAT we worship, for salvation is of the Jews, because the Jews bowed to the Ark of Testimony containing the entirety of the written word of God! The Torah and the whole Bible are merely a few extracts from this entirety, and give us enough to achieve salvation. John 5: "39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." The rest can be revealed only by the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, who claimed victory and therefore can open this book and remove its seven seals. The seven seals are the total security of book's contents, evidence of its total divine affiliation and authorship, as well as evidence of its inability to be opened until such time that they are removed by the Lamb of God. It then turns out that the tablets of revelation are now in heaven in the hands of He who is seated on the throne. Revelation 5: "7 And he (the Lamb of God) came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne." Since the beginning of the 21st century A.D., a half hour of silence has been committed in heaven (amounting to 21.5 years), during which time the Lamb of God has been gradually removing the seven seals from the Book (crystals) of Revelation, one after the other. All celestial beings have hearkened to the revelations they have received regarding the destiny of this world, which is now passing beyond the history of our species, in order to be prepared for the latest events and phenomena.
A version of events also exists regarding the moment when the crucified Christ cried out with a loud voice and exhaled his last breath "the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;" (Matthew 27:51). At that time, a Roman warrior thrust his spear between Jesus' ribs, and blood and water flowed out, and the blood of Christ sprinkled the lid of the Ark of the Covenant through a crack in the rock. The prototypical ministry of the prototypical priest who sprinkled the lid of the Ark with the blood of the sacrificial lamb for the remission of sins was fulfilled in reality. God arranged the crucifixion of Christ such that it would take place on top of an underground cave that held the Ark of the Covenant. As a result of the earthquake, the earth was split open and the blood of Christ fell on the lid of the Ark. Neither the Scriptures nor the Church of Christ contradicts this version of events, and it can therefore be accepted.
There are some points to be made regarding incorrect depictions of the Ark of the Covenant.
Despite the many drawings and paintings of the Ark of the Covenant that exist, there are practically no accurate depictions of the Ark at all. This is strange, as this Ark is described rather specifically in the Book of Exodus. So, the overwhelming number of drawings depict parallel timbers for carrying the Ark that are positioned in the middle of it or slightly higher, while Moses clearly wrote that God ordered - to affix gold rings to the bottom of the Ark. The second common mistake is the image of two cherubim on the lid of the Ark, whereas God ordered them to be made along the edges of the lid, from its two ends. The cherubim were attached to the edges of the lid, and when the lid was set in place they stood at the entire height of the Ark, with only the topmost part of their upraised wings protruding above the lid. Another mistake is the image of cherubim with one raised wing and one lowered wing, while Moses wrote that all of the wings should be raised up and cover the Ark from above. With this design, Moses had to bend over the lid of the Ark each time, sticking his head under the wings of the cherubim to enter into fellowship with God.
How Moses Used the Ark of the Covenant and the Crystals of Revelation
Only the Levites could carry the Ark of Testimony, and only Moses could use it. No one else could use the Ark of the Covenant (or rather, the crystals of testimony) for its intended purpose after Moses, because it would be necessary for a person to have ascended to the level of Moses, and only Elijah reached this level when the Ark of the Covenant and crystals of revelation had already been transferred to heaven. Is that why Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire? And is it not because of this that Moses and Elijah appeared in their glory on Tabor on the day of the Lord's Transfiguration, so that He could discuss the coming outcome with them? The Scripture also makes reference to Moses' irreplaceability. Deuteronomy 34: "10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, 12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel."
What did the Israelites do with the Ark of the Covenant after Moses left? They kept it as their great material shrine, a sacred relic of their faith and a prototype of the Church. In fact, the Ark was also the first icon (the root of the word being Greek 'eikon', or "likeness, image") before which both Moses and, after his departure, the high priests bowed to God Almighty. It is for this reason that we then return to what our Lord Jesus Christ said in the Book of John. John 4: "22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." The Ark of the Covenant with its golden cherubim was the first man-made Icon on Earth, and Moses was the first Iconographer! That is why this Ark of Moses is the unconquerable destroyer of all iconoclasts! It is not for nothing that icons are placed in icon cases, or arks in the Church. It turns out that icons are small devices that are used to communicate with heaven.
God showed Moses the Ark "device" during his forty-day stay on the mountain and commanded it to be made. And the crystals of revelation, which were to become the soul of the Ark, God created and handed over to Moses, strengthening him with His power in order to bear their half-ton weight. In His command to create the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle with all its adornments, God used the words "ye" and "thou." God initially refers to all of Israel by saying "ye" and "they", instructing them to collect all the necessary materials. He then uses the word "thou" to refer to Moses directly, who is responsible for fulfilling God's commands to the letter. It is clear that Moses himself did not create the ark, but rather, in accordance with Moses' writings, it was the skillful people that God both chose and endowed with the spirit of wisdom. Exodus 31: "1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. 6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; 7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, 8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, 9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, 10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, 11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do." God, however, gives personal instructions to Moses. The Ark is a box, a chest, a case for storing and carrying recorded information in the form of two sapphire crystals. It's a kind of "supercomputer" that can be turned on by Moses, and one could get any information they required directly from its Creator and Master. On the "screen" of this "computer," which was limited by the lid and wings of the golden cherubim, Moses could receive a revelatory video about the creation of the world, the Fall, and anything else that came before him, as well as restore the truth of past events by contemplating their video recording. He used this divine and miraculous "TV of the past" when writing the five books of the Torah.
The Wanderings of the Ark of Testimony
The first miracle on the way to the Promised Land, on top of the generally miraculous conquest of the land, was the passage of Israel over the Jordan. This was similar to the passage through the Red Sea which Moses carried out. The priests carrying the Ark approached the Jordan, and as soon as they entered the water, the water of the river stopped, became a wall, and stood there until all the Israelites crossed. In memory of this event, they erected two monuments after the crossing, one made of twelve stones on the bottom of the Jordan (on which Christ stood during the baptism from John the Forerunner) and the second on the shore. Saint Gregory of Nyssa says that "Joshua, having placed twelve stones in the stream, evidently foretold the twelve disciples, the ministers of baptism." After this wonderful crossing, he continues that the sons of Israel became afraid of Joshua, as they had been afraid of his predecessor Moses during all the days of his life, and rightly so when one considers the impressive nature of the miracle. Joshua's glorification after the miracle on the Jordan serves as a prototype for the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ became renowned also after His baptism in the river Jordan.
The era of God's leadership of Israel through the grace of Moses came to an end. The era of direct divine guidance then began. However, since Israel was vulgar and hard-hearted, they could neither see God, nor feel Him, nor understand Him. Israel was in need of a mediator and interpreter. This posting was occupied by God's prophets. And since God used other peoples to punish Israel, he needed judges who would free Israel from its enemies.
The Beginning of the Conquest of the Promised Land
The conquest began with the capture of Jericho, which dominated the territory of the city. The capture of Jericho was a significant event, as the Israelites walked around the walls for six days with trumpets and the ark. After they walked around and sounded the trumpets seven times on the seventh day and shouted, the walls of Jericho finally collapsed, and not inward, but outward! In this case, the Ark of the Covenant demonstrated its strength, which opened all the walls of Jericho in an instant, destroying them and turning them inside out. The trumpet sound was merely the catalyst and evidence of this miracle, which could not have happened without the Ark.
The Defeat at the Hands of the Philistines. The Story of the Ark in Captivity.
The next event that the Ark was involved in is a war with the Philistines. The battle against the Philistines was once the sole focus of Samson's entire life, but this problem was still not resolved. The Philistines were one of the peoples of the sea who inhabited a coastal strip that Joshua had never managed to conquer. The Philistines were more advanced in their technology than the Israelis. They possessed iron weapons, so their advantage lay in the fact that the Israelis could not only make nothing of the sort, but they also had to turn to the Philistines (or someone authorized by the Philistines) if they needed to sharpen a weapon. And so, the Israelis decided to fight the Philistines, but they were defeated. After the first defeat, they decided to gather their strength in order to win the next battle for sure, as well as bear the Ark in front of them. They did so believing that the very act of presenting this Ark would be a guarantee that God would go ahead and crush their enemies, just as He had done in the past. However, without Moses or Joshua, who had been ordained by him, using of the Ark in that way was an unforgivable mistake and foolish amateurism. Overcome by temptation, the two wicked sons of High Priest Eli took the Ark of the Covenant and went ahead of the Israelites, wholly convinced that God would absolutely go after this Ark. All of that ended in failure. The Israelis were defeated, the sons of Eli were killed, the Ark was captured as a valuable trophy of war. Eli, having learned of the death of his sons, also fell to the ground, broke his spine, and died. This fulfilled the judgment of God on his house.
Further in the Scripture we see a very instructive scene, namely about the fate of the ark among the Philistines. They bring this ark to the temple of their deity, Dagon, and this statue collapses. After the collapse, plagues of deadly diseases are unleashed among them, understanding instantly that the ark was the source of all of their misfortunes as they began to die. Take note of the speed with which this happened if rumors of such events sometimes take ten to twenty years to reach the Israelites as described, say, in the Book of Judges. The Philistines, these pagans, got a handle on what was happening much faster than that, but decided to set up a religious experiment for the sake of fidelity. What kind of experiment? They took recently calving cows, harnessed them to a cart and put the ark on top, and said that if these cows went to their calves, then they needed to search for another reason. If the cows took the ark back to the Israelites, however, that would imply they had reasoned correctly. Their experiment produced the exact result they expected, as the carriage went straight ahead towards the Israelis, and to this ark. As a sacrifice, the Philistines created golden images of the growths that killed them, as well as the mice that had multiplied so suddenly after they carried the ark into the temple.
The wagon came to the city of Beth Shemesh. The residents of the city chopped this cart up for firewood and sacrificed the cows. Unfortunately, though, they turned out to be a curious people and decided to see what lay in this Ark, and for this they were smitten by God. Deciding that there would be no good for them from the Ark, they sent it to another settlement, Kiriath-Jearim, where the ark stood in the house of Abinadab for twenty years. This also characterizes the religious condition of the Israelites, since the ark was in a private house of a rather insignificant settlement for twenty years, and nobody particularly cared about it at all until the time of David.
The fate of the tabernacle is not entirely clear. Judging by the fragmentary indicators contained in the Holy Scriptures, Shiloh, where Eli served his ministry, was plundered and destroyed by the Philistines. After reading such a thing, one can get the feeling that the tabernacle was also destroyed. However, the second Book of Chronicles suggests that Solomon and the rulers who were with him went to Gibeon, where there was both the tabernacle of the congregation that Moses built and a copper altar made during the time of Moses. That is, judging by the Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 3:3-6), the tabernacle remained, but it was also in a neglected state. At the very least, we see that Samuel erects an altar in another place and performs sacrifices there, that is, not on the altar that was built during the time of Moses.
The Ark's Transfer by King David
Having established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom, David decides to make it into a religious center. I would like to note here that Saul was connected to the religious life of his people, albeit with a certain degree of negligence. At this time, God's ministry still reminds us in many ways of how it was carried out during the time of the initial occupation of Palestine, as well as during the Era of Judges (also known as the Bronze Age). David decides to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Since the time of the defeat of the high priest Eli, the Ark had been in Kiriath-Jearim at the house of Abinadab. David sends an expedition there, but they decide to carry the ark not according to the ancient custom, that is, by hand, and instead place it on a wagon. During the transfer, the cart carrying the ark tipped over, which seemed to present the threat of the ark falling, and one of the ministers, Uzzah, decides to steady the tilted ark. For this act of audacity, he was smitten instantly and died on the spot. David, disconcerted by the incident, decides not to carry the ark to Jerusalem, and instead waits to see what will happen next. He then leaves the ark not far from the place where this defeat occurred in the house of Obededom the Gittite. Three months later, when David was informed that the Lord had blessed Obededom and his whole house, he brought the ark to Jerusalem with great triumph. He danced and leapt with joy in front of the ark, thereby incurring the condemnation of his wife Michal, daughter of Saul.
The Holy King David rejoiced and danced when transferring the Ark of the Covenant as an ancient shrine and a relic of their faith, which reminded people of God and the truth of the Jewish faith. It was not, however, a functioning device that provided a connection to God. David felt that the Ark of the Covenant was more than just an ancient shrine, but he was not equal to Moses, and therefore could not control the Ark or its power. Therefore, David focused on the construction of the temple in which the Ark of the Covenant could be kept.
The Promise to David (God's covenant with David)
When moving the ark, David decides to build a temple to worship God. "Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remaineth under curtains." (1 Chronicles 17:1), therefore, David originally built a tabernacle for the ark in Jerusalem (whereas the former was apparently in Gibeon). The Prophet Nathan initially approves this arrangement but then sees a revelation from God that David will not build a house. "Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar? Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." (2 Samuel 7:5-16)
That is, at the very moment that David is denied the opportunity to build a temple, he is given a promise regarding the seed of his loins, about the son who will build the temple. In the short term, of course, this promise concerned Solomon, who actually erected the temple of God, but if you read carefully you can see that what was said about Solomon is not completely fulfilled. For example, the facts that his throne was to be established forever and that he would be called the son of God were absolutely not fulfilled for Solomon. Here, of course, we are talking about Christ, who also comes from the seed of David. During the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel refers to this promise to David when speaking with the Virgin Mary. "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."(Luke 1:32-33) It is no coincidence that the apostles point to these same words in their sermons as a prophecy about Christ.
In response, David offers a prayer of thanks to God, where he glorifies His name. In the Book of Chronicles, while instructing Solomon to build a temple, David adds that the Lord did not bless Solomon alone with this task because he had shed a lot of blood and waged great wars (1 Chronicles 22:6-16). However, David did not remain completely uninvolved in the construction of the temple as he was engaged in getting everything ready for its construction. This was greatly facilitated by his alliance and friendship with Hiram, king of Tyre, who delivered building materials to David.
The Construction of the Temple of Jerusalem by King Solomon
On the very place that David acquired from Araunah and upon which placed an altar, Solomon built a temple. The construction began in the fourth year of his reign. The Eminent Ephraim the Syrian says that this is a prototype for the fact that Jesus Christ laid the cross on the foundation of His Church in the fourth year of his ministry. The palace of Solomon was built over fourteen years, but just seven were enough for the construction of the temple, as the temple was significantly smaller than the palace. In reality, the temple of Solomon only measured 30x10x15 meters (60x20x30 cubits). So when we read about what a magnificent and luxurious temple it was, we must keep in mind that the splendor lay more in the decoration than the temple's size.
When the temple was built, the Ark of Testimony and all the equipment previously stored in the tabernacle were moved there. The temple was built of hewn and fitted stones. According to the Scriptures, the sound of iron striking the stones could not be heard during the construction. This may serve as evidence for us that the last earthly temple of God will begin to function in earnest when the era of the man's reliance on iron and other metals ends and the era of precious stones and crystals begins. Nebuchadnezzar's dream about a statue with a golden head, a silver neck, a copper body and legs from a mixture of clay and iron, as told in the prophecy of Daniel, also speaks to this. This idol, symbolizing the history of the life of post-flood humanity in the era of metal, will be broken with a stone not of human make. But let us return to the temple of Solomon. The construction of the temple itself was upholstered with cedar boards from the inside. A flat roof was also made of cedar. The floor was covered with cypress boards. Everything was then covered in gold trim. The walls, doors, and gates were decorated with precious stones and carved images of cherubim, palm trees, and flowers. A three-story annex with storerooms and vaults was built on three sides of the temple's perimeter.
The internal division was the same as in the tabernacle: the courtyard, or rather, the two courtyards, the outer (lower) and inner (upper), representing the Holy and the Holy of Holies. There was an altar for burnt offerings in the courtyard, as well as a copper "sea," ten mobile lavers, and two richly decorated copper pillars, each of which had its own name. As you can see, there are some differences when you compare this to the tabernacle. The copper "sea" was a huge laver that stood on a stand of twelve bull sculptures. In the Holy there was a golden censer altar, ten menorahs, and ten tables of offering, five on each side. (Indeed, judging by 1 Kings 7:48, it can be assumed that bread was placed on only one table.) There are differences here as well.
In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of Moses and two gilded cherubim carved from wood. When the temple was completed, elders from all over the country gathered to consecrate it. The consecration of the temple took place during the Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. The Ark of the Covenant was solemnly transferred to the Holy of Holies. The dismantled tabernacle was also transferred to the temple.
Neglect. The Retreat of Israel. The Loss of the Ark of the Covenant.
By glossing over the reigns of the wicked kings, we immediately find ourselves in front of the pious king Josiah. It was this king who took it upon himself to restore the temple, which had been neglected for half a century. During the repair of the temple, the Book of the Law was found in the sanctuary. After reading the book and understanding what must follow the rule of his grandfather and father, Josiah is horrified. To inquire of God, the king sends the high priest and dignitaries to the prophetess Huldah. The Lord reveals the truth through her. "Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again" (2 Kings 22:16-20).
Hoping to rectify the situation, Josiah gathered all the people to Jerusalem and read the words of the book of the covenant in front of them in the temple. And the king and all the people made a covenant to follow God and keep His commandments. After that, he celebrates Easter as Hezekiah once did, providing the people with lambs from his property. "And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the Lord, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden upon your shoulders: serve now the Lord your God, and his people Israel." (2 Chronicles 35.3) This means that the ark had previously been removed from the Holy of Holies. This was done either by order of one of the wicked kings or for the sake of security, in order to hide it somewhere. We then see that religious invigoration sweeps across the people as a result of Josiah's efforts. "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him."(2 Kings 23:25)
But, apparently, just like in previous instances, the people's inspiration did not run as deep as Josiah may have hoped for. Despite the hope that pious people placed on Josiah, the Scripture says once again that "Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there." (2 Kings 23:26-27)
The will of God proclaimed by Jeremiah was to submit to Babylon. But no one obeyed because their hearts were hardened in wickedness. King Zedekiah, when asking Jeremiah what to do during the siege, received a simple answer: "If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house[.]" He says: "Look, don't tell anyone, because nobody will listen anyway." Jerusalem was doomed. The ministry of the prophet Ezekiel relates to this time. The Lord shows him a temple in a vision, and he sees in this temple how the elders worship the rising sun, turning their backs to the sanctuary, to the Holy of Holies. He sees how the women at the temple gate cry for the god Tammuz, how priests worship images of different animals in the rooms of the temple. And finally, he sees how the glory of God, on which the Jews had placed all of their hopes, leaves Jerusalem and the temple. And Jeremiah the prophet said: "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these." In other words, do not tell yourself such things, because this whole temple and this whole city are full of wickedness and lies. Jeremiah describes the moment when the Babylonians enter the city, and the masters let their slaves go in a "gesture of goodwill", giving freedom to all their fellow Jews. And he says of course it was a gesture of goodwill, because at that stage there was nothing with which to feed them. And as soon as the siege is lifted, they caught the slaves once again and returned them to their households. And the prophet says: "Do you want the Lord to have mercy on you, you mischievous people?" And that all ends quite badly for them. Upon learning of treason, Nebuchadnezzar suddenly appears in Judea in 588 BC. After a siege lasting a year and a half, Jerusalem fell. Zedekiah tried to escape but was captured near Jericho. His sons were killed before his eyes, and he was blinded and taken to Babylon in chains. Jerusalem, along with the temple, was burned down to ash. Everything that could be carried was looted or taken as trophies. Most of the surviving Jews were taken as prisoners. Only a small number of farmers were then left in Judea. Thus ends the story of the kingdom of Judah in 587 BC. Nowhere else in Scripture was there mention of the Ark of the Covenant. One can assume that the ark vanished for the people on earth during Nebuchadnezzar's siege, but was spirited away by the angels in heaven, where it is later found in the reference to the book "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" as recorded by the Apostle John on Patmos Island. Revelation 11: "19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail."
My dear reader, I thank you that you traveled with me through the amazing life of the holy prophet Moses, God's wondrous saint and friend, a religious genius who changed the course of mankind's history through his deeds. He created God's people for God, in which the Son of God deigned to be incarnated born a perfect Man, remaining the Perfect God, who redeemed the human race and saved all people from destruction and death. Despite the fact that the sons of Israel privatized Moses for themselves, he actually belongs to all of humanity. For our salvation and the restoration of good relations with our Creator Lord God, we owe him much. All of mankind, every person, and every nation should thank God for giving us the holy Moses, and thank Moses for all that he has done for every single person. Unfortunately, the Jews' privatization of Moses diminished his image, significance, and merits in the eyes of other nations. This book was written in order to correct this situation and reinstate pious justice. I hope, my dear reader, that it has been of great use to you as a source of knowledge and learning.
1 = Exodus 3:14 is a verse with a wide range of possible interpretations depending on the linguistic lens used when examining the text.
This author's claim here is based in the Russian Synodal Bible's rendering of the verse, which differs considerably from English-language versions.
Many English-language Bibles use the phrases "I AM WHO I AM" or "I AM THAT I AM" (or other variations with identical denotations) in Exodus 3:14 to convey the essentiality of the Lord.
The Russian Synodal Bible, however, is largely derived from Greek translations including the Septuagint.
If we examine Exodus 3:14 in the English rendering of the Septuagint text, we see the following:
Exodus 3:14 (LXX) And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you.
Considering the Synodal Bible's reliance on the Greek texts and the linguistic influence of the Byzantine Empire (and Greek language) on Old Church Slavonic, one of the progenitors of modern Russian, I do not consider the fact that the Septuagint text and the Russian Synodal Bible are quite alike here to be mere coincidence.
It is for that reason that I retain the words "The Being" in the translation.
2 = The Russian language uses the word 'dukh' for both 'breath' and 'spirit', introducing an additional layer of meaning here.
3 = The Eastern Orthodox Church lends additional significance to the burning bush, drawing parallels with this event on Mount Horeb with the Virgin Mary's giving birth to Jesus Christ. Those interested in further exploration on the topic should consult the history of the Icon 'The Unburnt Bush' (Russian: 'Neopalimaya Kupina').