How many Jews did Moses kill?


Moses with the tablets of the law on a church window in Wales
This is how a painter imagined it: Moses divides the Red Sea so that his people can pass through.

Moses was a man who appears in the Bible. He is also called Moses. For the Jews, Christians and Muslims he is considered an important prophet. So he told people what God had told him.

For a long time, Moses was considered to be the one who received the first part of the Bible from God and wrote it down. That is why this part is called the Five Books of Moses. Most scientists see it differently today. It is more likely that there were several authors who wrote this part of the Bible. Some of the stories also deal with what happened after Moses died.

What Does the Bible Tell About Moses' Life?

The Bible says that Moses was one of the Jews who lived in ancient Egypt. There they had to work as slaves for the Egyptians. The Egyptian king, the Pharaoh, then found that there were too many Jews in his kingdom. That is why he had all the newborn babies of the Jews killed. The Bible tells that Moses was placed in a basket as an infant and carried away by the River Nile.

Pharaoh's daughter found him and took him away. So it came about that he grew up at the royal court. But soon he had to flee Egypt because in his anger he had killed an overseer of the slaves. There she tended goats in the desert. The Bible tells that a voice told him from a burning bush to lead the Jews out of Egypt.

So Moses returned to Egypt. At first the Pharaoh did not want to let the Jews go. But God, the Bible tells us, caused ten plagues to break out on the Egyptian people: For example, the water turned into blood, there was a plague of locusts and the oldest children of the Egyptians died.

Eventually Moses led the Jews out of Egypt just as God had told him to do. First, God divided the Red Sea so that they could walk through it with dry feet. For forty years they wandered about in the desert. They fed on bread that came from heaven and drank the dew that they found on the leaves in the morning. They are also said to have built a large temple and carried it on and on, like a tent.

On the way, Moses received two stone tablets from God. It said the Ten Commandments. That was the bulk of the later collection of laws. Moses brought these tablets to his people. The Jews celebrate their exodus from Egypt today with the feast of Passover. It is also called the Passover.

Eventually Moses and his people reached a mountain. From there they could see the land that God had promised them. In between was only the Jordan River. Moses himself was not allowed to enter the promised land because he himself had made mistakes towards God. Therefore he died before the people crossed the Jordan and was buried there too.

Are these stories really true?

If we read these stories with our eyes today, only a few scientists would say that they happened that way. It is very unlikely, for example, that a sea will split or that so much bread rained down from heaven all the time. But back then in the Orient these stories were not meant in that way either. They should just show how great God was and how much He loved the Jews. They are also intended to show that the people of the Jews are special.

Archeology cannot prove these stories either. There are no traces for many events. However, there are traces that speak against the biblical narratives.

The one hero Moses who experienced all of this probably didn't exist either. Some of his experiences and heroic deeds appeared in older stories. But they were later woven into other stories as well. It is also possible that different stories were later portrayed as if a single man had experienced them.

  • Moses was discovered by a princess on the River Nile.

  • Moses killed the Egyptian overseer for mistreating a Jew.

  • The second plague: it rains frogs.

  • With the burning bush, God commanded Moses to lead his people out of Egypt.

  • While Moses was on the mountain talking to God, his people worshiped a golden calf.