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Moses and Monotheism


will move rne to set aside truth in favour
of
supposed national interests. Moreover, the
elucidation of the mere facts of the
problem may
be
expected to deepen our insight into the
situation with which
they are concerned.
The man Moses, the liberator of his people, who
gave them their religion and their laws, belonged
to an
age so remote that the preliminary question
arises whether he was an historical
person or a
legendary figure. If he lived, his time was the
thirteenth or fourteenth
century B.C.; we have
no word of him but from the Holy Books and
the written traditions of the
Jews. Although
the decision lacks final historical
certainty, the
great majority of historians have expressed the
opinion that Moses did live and that the exodus
from
Egypt, led by him, did in fact take place.
12 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM
It has been maintained with
good reason that
the later history of Israel could not be understood
if this were not admitted. Science
to-day has
become much more cautious and deals much
more leniently with tradition than it did in the
early days of historical investigation.
What first attracts our interest in the person of
Moses is his name, which is written Mosche in
Hebrew. One may well ask: Where does it
come from ? What does it mean ? As is well
known, the story in Exodus, Chapter ii, already
answers this
question. There we learn that the
Egyptian princess who saved the babe from the
waters of the Nile
gave him his name, adding the
etymological explanation: because I drew him
out of the water. But this
explanation is obviously
inadequate. " The biblical interpretation of the
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