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Moses

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Moses receiving the tablets of the law by João Zeferino da Costa. 1868;
Moses receiving the tablets of the law by João Zeferino da Costa. 1868;

Moses or Moishe is the lawgiver and prophet recognized in Judaism, Christianity and Islam who went up to Mount Sinai and emerged with the 10 Commandments. He is petitioned when there is a need for justice, righteous law, court case work and spiritual leadership.

The story of Moses' birth and early years is told in the biblical Book of Exodus. According to this book, Moses was born in Egypt at a time when young Israelite boy babies had been sentenced to death. This was due to the fact that the Israelites had grown in numbers and were perceived as a threat to the Egyptians who had enslaved them. In fear for her child's life, Moses' mother hid him in a basket in the bullrushes, where his sister Miriam pretended to find him, and presented him to the Pharaoh's daughter, who took him in as her own adopted son. After he killed an Egyptian, Moses -- now a young man -- fled into the wilderness where he encountered JHVH, Yahweh in the form of a burning bush. From this point onward, Moses became a messenger of the Lord, requesting that the Jews be set free from their slavery. The Pharaoh denied this request and as a result Moses predicted ten plagues that overcame all of Egypt. After the final plague -- the death of the first-born children -- the Israelites were finally freed from slavery, crossed the Red Sea, and made their way out of Egypt with Moses as their leader, and his brother Aaron and sister Miriam the Prophetess as his supporters. During the 40 years that the Jews wandered in the wilderness, Moses went up to Mount Sinai and returned with the Ten Commandments or rules of moral conduct. Authorship of the Torah -- the first five books of both the Jewish and Christian Bibles -- is also attributed to him.

Moses is often depicted on secular buildings, such as the United States Library of Congress and Supreme Court, in his role as a supreme lawgiver. He is generally shown with two tablets in his hands, representing the Ten Commandments as they were handed down to him on Mount Sinai.

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