After the death of Jacob and Joseph, the Pharaoh feared the growing power of the Hebrews and sought to kill all their male children.
One of these, Moses, was hidden in a basket by his mother and floated on the Nile, to be found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who brought him up as her own son. Moses was appointed by God to lead his tribe out of slavery in Egypt to find the Promised Land. When the Pharaoh forbade the Children of Israel to leave, God sent ten plagues to rain on Egypt and Moses performed miracles. He and his brother, Aaron, turned the Nile waters into blood, caused a plague of frogs, then of lice, and of flies. When the Pharaoh still refused to let the Israelites go, he was afflicted with boils, and all the Egyptians’ cattle died, to be followed by hail mixed with fire which fell from the heavens. Then came a plague of locusts, and for three days darkness covered the land. Then all the first- born offspring of the Egyptians, both human and animal, died. These disasters affected everyone except the Children of Israel. After the tenth plague, the Pharaoh relented and gave permission for the Israelites to go. The Children of Israel left immediately, not waiting for the yeast to leaven their bread. This exodus from Egypt, thought to have occurred around 1300 BCE, is commemorated by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, known as the Pesach or Passover. The Children of Israel, pursued by the Pharaoh’s army, were saved by the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, which then flowed back, to drown the pursuing Egyptian soldiers.
Dura Europos fresco of Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea, copy by Herbert Gute.
When the Children of Israel reached the Sinai Desert, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, which are said to have been written by God on stone tablets. Acting on instructions from God, Moses tells the Children of Israel to make the Ark of the Covenant in which to keep these stone tablets, and then It was placed in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Mount Moses, Mount Sinai, Gebel Musa or the Holy Peak believed to be the Biblical Mount Horeb where Moses received the Ten Commandments. On route to the summit of the sacred mountain stand, the Path of Moses, the Spring of Moses, the Amphitheater of the Seventy Wise Man of Israel, two chapels dedicated to Moses and the prophet Elijah. The Path of Moses is traditionally said to have been walked first by Moses when he climbed the mount; the Spring of Moses which gurgles out into a small grotto and then runs past a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary; the Amphitheater of the Seventy Wise Man of Israel who accompanied Moses on his climb stopped here, because only the prophet himself could present himself to the presence of God. The summit of the Mount Moses is occupied by a small mosque that was built in the twelfth century and a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in 1934 on the ruins of an earlier church erected in 532 by Justinian. Tradition has it that on this spot God spoke to Moses. Beneath this mosque is supposedly the cave where Moses spent forty days and where the Lord appeared to the prophet Elijah. Mount Moses rising some 2285 meters above sea level. Egypt – The Sinai Peninsula Photo – South Sinai Collection, MC International
Springs of Jethro or Well of Moses At the age of forty, Moses escaped from Egypt to Mount Horeb, and here he found Jethro’s seven daughters watering their flocks at the well, and the eldest of them later became his wife. The well is one of the principal sources of spring water for the convent and still to be seen today on the north side of the Monastery’s Church. Egypt – The Sinai Peninsula, the Monastery of Mount Sinai – St. Catherine
Portugal – Lisbon, The Church of Madre de Deus, tile panel by William Van Der Kloet, c.1699. The panel illustrates an episode from the Second Book of Moses, called Exodus, Chapter 3, Moses and the Burning Bush. On the Mountain of God, Horeb (or Sinai) Moses kept the flock of his father-in-law, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, the bush was burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. “Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: and I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey’.” The concept of “burning without being consumed” has a parallel in the New Testament and is related to the “immaculate conception”. This cult was brought by the Franciscans to Portugal and the Convent of Madre de Deus belongs to the sect of Santa Clara de Assis.
The Holy Altar of the Chapel of the Burning Bush The Chapel of the Burning Bush is now behind the Altar of the Transfiguration Church. The pilgrim enters this holiest place of the Monastery without shoes, in remembrance of the commandment of God to Moses: ‘’Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”(Ex. 3:5). The chapel is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. The Burning Bush symbolizes the Annunciation: As the Bush was burned with fire but not consumed by it, so the Virgin Mary who was conceived the fire of the deity, yet was not burned; she brought forth the Lord, yet remained forever virgin. The holy altar of the chapel stands not upon the sacred remains of martyrs, which is the rule, but above the roots of the Burning Bush. The Bush flourishes several yards farther from the chapel where it was transplanted in order to build the holy Altar upon its roots. It is the only bush of its kind growing in the entire Sinai Peninsula, and every attempt to transplant a branch of it to another place has been unsuccessful. Egypt – the Sinai Peninsula, the Monastery of Mount Sinai – St. Catherine
A low wall surrounds the site where, according to tradition Moses saw the Burning Bush. Egypt – the Sinai Peninsula, the Monastery of Mount Sinai – St. Catherine