Israelites’ sufferings in Egypt were not ignored by God and therefore, he sent Moses not only to free His people from bondage and led them to the Promised Land, but also to mediate the reception of the Divine Law, in the form of the Ten Commandments. By sending them the Law, God clearly showed to the Israelites His favor unto them, because He expected them to get closer to God, and worship Him as their forefathers did before them. Therefore, Moses’ role as a mediator meant that he was meant to help establish a more personal relationship with the Israelites. It was not easy for him to do so, because the Israelites’ faith was rather weak and easily extinguished. However, his own example and his own faith in his people, as well as his strength and wisdom, did help him to succeed I the mission God had entrusted him with. Moses’s role as a mediator was a successful one because through him, the Israelites could establish a more personal relationship with God and yet by knowing God better, the Israelites could understand how far and insignificant they were in fact.
After their escape from Egypt, Moses went to Mount Sinai in search of guidance for him and his people. On Mt. Sinai, God spoke to Moses, taking the form of a bush on fire, and gave him the Law (Exod. 19: 1-3; 20:1-17). This meeting between Moses and God, when God revealed Himself, represents the perfect proof of God’s willingness of a more personal relationship between Himself and humans. The fact that He took the form of a burning bush means that people cannot get too close to God, and there is a barrier that humans cannot cross, in their relationship with God. This is also shown in Likhṭenshṭain’s argument that, “although this may be paradoxical, the closer the relationship between God and man, and the more they “dwell together”, the less autonomous stature man has, because the overwhelming presence of God makes man insignificant in the face of God’s infinite greatness” (250). This could be interpreted to mean that, rather than creating a more personal relationship, God’s choice to reveal Himself actually determined the gap between God and his people to become wider, because the inability of the human being to get close to God, or even to understand His nature, or His power, is a separating force.
However, this is not true, because by communicating with the Israelites through their leader, Moses, and by sending them the Laws, God clearly expressed His wish to guide His people directly, and for them to get to know Him and His will. It may even be argued that a more personal relationship does not require physical closeness, or a more equal relation, but rather, it requires mutual desire for communication, faith and obedience from humans for God. In return, God kept his promise unto the people of Israel by taking them to a new, flourishing land, where they could thrive.
God’s willingness to form a more personal relationship with the people of Israel was clear when He sent Moses to rescue them, because by enabling Moses to perform miracles, and by bringing the misfortune on Egypt, while sparing the Israelites, He clearly communicated not only with Moses, but with each Israelite that He spared, ensuring them that they would be safe and that He is with them. However, despite this willingness and Moses’ own determination in serving God, the Israelites seemed unwilling on their own side, to form a more personal relationship with God, because, during the forty days that Moises was on Mount Sinai, they failed God by creating a fake god in the form of a golden calf, and bringing offerings to it (Exod. 32:1-6). God was displeased with this behavior to a great extent, and He was ready to end his favor unto the Israelites, and if Moses had not loved his people dearly, this would have been the case.
Yet, Moses again acted as a mediator between God and the people of Israel and convinced God to give the Israelites another chance. Therefore, Moses for the third time, after working as God’s messenger in front of the Pharaoh, and after bringing the Divine Law, worked as a mediator between God and the Israelites and facilitated the creation of a more personal relationship between humans and Divinity. However, his task was not easy because the Israelites, by their nature, were disobeying and their faith was frail. This is a human flaw which defines people I general, and despite God’s favor unto them, the Israelites could not overcome this weakness. This is also Sicker’s argument, according to which, “the relationship between Israel and God remained testy at best, with the Israelites constantly trying his patience, culminating in the popular complicity in the perfidy of the spices that caused the people to be condemned to remain in the wilderness for an additional thirty-eight years” (150). This lengthy punishment was not only well-deserved, it was also useful, because after so many years of wonderings, the Israelites learnt to trust God, and truly developed a stronger relationship with Him.
During the long walk in the wilderness, Moses and his people were sustained by God’s willingness, and they were only able to find food and water with His help. By sending them constant signs, and by showing them that He did not forsake them, God preserved the Israelite’s faith, and constantly showed his favor. However, these miracles were accomplished through Moses, who remained virtuous and pure in his heart and therefore, he remained a worthy mediator. Moses’ wisdom and his guidance showed the Israelites to follow the correct path, even though their nature was human, and therefore weak. Apart from food, the Israelites also needed God’s word and His spiritual guidance in order to be able to reach the Promise Land. While all life on Earth needs food, people need God’s word in order to give life meaning, purpose and value (Sicker 150). Before God decided to save them from Egypt, the Israelites were surviving without a scope, from day to day, in great suffering and humiliation. However, with God’s will, and Moses’s mediating mission, the Israelites were able to find a higher purpose, not only in reaching their Promised Land, but in preserving God’s Law, and obeying it as much as their human nature allowed them to.
God therefore offered manna to the Israelites in order to sustain them in the wilderness. However, in order to have manna every day, the Israelites needed to be strong in faith, and as long as they believed in God, the manna was there for them, every day. The manna did not only nourish them, it helped them to understand the crucial need for a close relationship between God and human communities (Sicker 151). Strong faith communities have a strong relationship with God, not only as a group, but also, each individual member in particular. This is because, within a group, each member is supported by the others to develop a personal relationship with God, and the religious leader of the group is able to group all members in developing this relation, like Moses did for his people.
Therefore, as shown above, Moses was successful in helping the people of Israel in developing a more personal relationship with God. He accomplished this task by acting as a mediator between God and his people and by being a role model of faithfulness, obedience and strength. However, God’s own willingness to develop a more personal relationship with humans was crucial in Moses’s success and it is through His will that the Israelites came to know God.
Likhtensain, Mosheh. Moses: The Envoy of God, Envoy of His People. Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publishing. 2008. Print.
Sicker, Martin. The Theopolitical Discourses of Moses: The Book of Deuteronomy in Political Perspective, Part One. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. 2009. Print.
The English Standard Version Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.