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By Paul Johnson

A countrywide bestseller, this impressive 4000 12 months survey covers not just Jewish heritage yet he impression of Jewish genius and mind's eye at the global. through the writer of recent occasions: the realm From the Twenties to the Eighties.

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He established his military reputation during the wanderings in a desperate encounter at Rephidim with a band commanded by the sheikh Amalek. Moses commanded Joshua to ‘go out, fight with Amalek’, while he himself stood ‘on top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand’. Aaron and Hur held up the old prophet’s hands to encourage the warriors, ‘and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. ’124 Just ISRAELITES / 43 before his death, Moses transferred the leadership to Joshua and ‘set him over the congregation’ at a solemn public ceremony.

In Mosaic theology, man is made in God’s image, and so his life is not just valuable, it is sacred. To kill a man is an offence against God so grievous that the ultimate punishment, the forfeiture of life, must follow; money is not enough. The horrific fact of execution thus underscores the sanctity of human life. Under Mosaic law, then, many men and women met their deaths whom the secular codes of surrounding societies would have simply permitted to compensate their victims or their victims’ families.

Jewish writers and sages, fighting against the strong tendency in antiquity to deify founder-figures, often 28 / A HISTORY OF THE JEWS went out of their way to stress the human weaknesses and failings of Moses. But there was no need; it is all in the record. Perhaps the most convincing aspect of the Biblical presentation is the way in which it shows Moses as hesitant and uncertain almost to the point of cowardice, mistaken, wrong-headed, foolish, irritable and, what is still more remarkable, bitterly conscious of his shortcomings.

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