The Israelites rejoiced, after witnessing the many miracles in Egypt, and also the miracle at the sea which destroyed the Egyptian army. Moses, Miriam, and the people of Israel spontaneously burst out into a song!
The complaining Israelites
From Egypt to the land of Canaan was more than 8,000 km, but if the people kept walking every day it would have taken them only about 2 – 4 weeks. Wilderness spread between the two places, so it was not easy finding food and water.
Weary from the long travel, the Israelites start complaining again:
“There’s not water.. What are we supposed to drink?!”
“We had so much to eat in Egypt!”
“We could eat meat while we were in Egypt!”
Each time they complained, God provided. Bringing water out of a rock, directing a flock of quails to their camp, and providing a strange food called Mana(In Hebrew, meaning “What is this?”) 6 days a week.
Battle with the Amalekites
There was a battle on the way to the Promised land. Amalekites were most likely descendants of the grandson of Esau, Amalek. They attack the Israelites when they were weary from travel. Joshua lead the Israel army to face off with the Amalekites.
Here Moses uses an interesting tactic. Moses realized that while he kept his hands up, Joshua’s army was winning. Therefore Aaron and Hur supported Moses by keeping both of his hands up until sun down, and they had victory over their enemy!
It is not easy to look after a large group of people. The people of Israel, including women and children, numbered around 1,000,000 – 2,000,000 people. Moses was the only one who directly communicated with God, so whenever there was a dispute or a problem, everyone went to Moses to hear his decision on the matter. They had been doing this every day, and Moses had started to wear out from this.
Jethro, Moses’ father in law, visited him. He was not an Israelite, but was a descendant of Midian, who was a son of Abraham. Jethro also worshipped the same God. Jethro saw the situation and thought “This is not good”, and gave Moses an advice.
Yes, Moses needed to get organized.
Jethro advised that Moses set up leaders to look after groups of 10, 50, 100, and 1,000. In other words, he advised to set up “Middle-management” to reduce the workload on Moses. By doing so, Moses was able to delegate responsibilities and thus reduce the workload on himself. “Middle management” is important in past just as in present!
Talking with God on Mount Sinai
After wandering the wilderness for 3 months or so, they arrive at Mount Sinai. Moses and Aaron climb Mount Sinai, and receive words directly from God. If you read carefully, Moses actually climbs up and down the mountain several times here. The talk with God continues for quite a long time, and Moses ends up being on the mountain for 40 days.
Of the many words that Moses receives, he also receives the famous “Ten commandments”. The Catholics and Protestants list differs slightly, but mainly consist of the following :
- You shall have only One God
- You shall not make an idol
- You shall not call on God’s name in vain
- You shall keep the Sabbath
- You shall honor your father and your mother
- You shall not murder
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false testimony
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s things
The ten commandments consist of commands related to our relationship with God(1-4), and our relationship with each other(5-10). Moses receives many more words from God, and 2 stone tablets with these words written by the hand of God himself. With God’s words, it seemed like a good start of God’s people the Israelites. However, Moses was about to see a horrifying scene when he climbs down the mountain..
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