Lawgiver and liberator. Seer and prophet. The only human permitted to converse with God "face-to-face." Moses is the most commanding presence in the Old Testament. Yet as Jonathan Kirsch shows in this brilliant, stunningly original volume, Moses was also an enigmatic and mysterious figure--at once a good shepherd and a ruthless warrior, a spiritual leader and a magician, a lawgiver who broke his own laws, God's chosen friend and hounded victim. Now, in Moses: A Life, Kirsch accomplishes the wondrous feat of revealing the real Moses, a strikingly modern figure who steps out from behind the facade of Sunday school lessons and movie matinees.
Drawing on the biblical text and a treasury of both scholarship and storytelling, Kirsch examines all that is known and all that has been imagined of Moses. In these vivid pages, we see the marvels and mysteries of Moses's life in a new light--his rescue in infancy and adoption by an Egyptian princess; his reluctant assumption of the role of liberator; his struggles to wrest his people from the pharaoh's dominion; his desperate vigil on Mount Sinai. Here too is the darker, more ominous Moses--the sorcerer, the husband of a pagan woman, the military commander who cold-bloodedly ordered the slaying of innocent people; the beloved of God whom God sought twice to murder.
Jonathan Kirsch brings both prodigious knowledge and a keen imagination to one of the most compelling stories of the Bible, and the results are fascinating. A figure of mystery, passion, and contradiction, Moses emerges from this book very much a hero for our time.
About the Author
Jonathan Kirsch, a book columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of the critically acclaimed The Harlot by the Side of the Road, writes and lectures widely on biblical, literary, and legal topics. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, and a former correspondent for Newsweek, he lives in Los Angeles.
Praise for Moses: A Life…
"A brightly written piece of work that shows how much life remains in [the Bible], even as the twenty-first century presses ever closer to us."
--The Washington Post
"MOSES IS AS ENTRANCING TODAY AS HE WAS ON THE DAY PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER PLUCKED HIM FROM THE BULRUSHES."
"A DEEPLY PROBING SEARCH FOR 'THE REAL MOSES' . . . Kirsch has made uses of an extensive range of sources available in English translation . . . [and] has drawn from them selectively and well. . . . This is the Moses, a man at war with himself and with his world, whose image is enshrined in the hearts of all those inspired by him, whose influence has never ceased, and whose life, struggling against himself, Kirsch is compelled to celebrate."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"JONATHAN KIRSCH GIVES NEW LIFE AND PERSONALITY TO MOSES, THE GREATEST OF ALL PROPHETS, OFFERING DELIGHT THAT ONE RARELY EXPECTS FROM BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP."
--PETER J. GOMES
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals
and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church
at Harvard University
"A LIVELY NARRATIVE . . . There is a figure here looming up through the mists of tradition and folk memory that is of compelling significance, complex and disturbing. In Moses, Jonathan Kirsch picks his way with great skill through traditions, conjectures, legends and known historical facts to produce a plausible . . . account of the life and times of the great lawgiver. . . . The urge to seek a real human figure behind the biblical account is frequently and understandably felt, and we must be grateful to a scholar who has been able to extract and skillfully present virtually all that can now be conjectured about this extraordinary figure."
--Los Angeles Times