Sept. 4 is the Feast of Moses the Lawgiver

“Now go! I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” ―Exodus 3:10

John Everett Millais, “Victory O Lord,” 1871
John Everett Millais, “Victory O Lord,” 1871 (photo: Public Domain)

Moses is a profoundly prominent character within the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). He was born to a Hebrew family during the horrible years of harsh slavery in Egypt. Moses was rescued from a murderous death as an infant by Pharaoh’s daughter, who found him in a basket in the Nile River and later adopted him. When Moses grew up, he embraced his Hebrew people; he once even killed an Egyptian for having abused a Hebrew. However, when he realized his crime had been observed, he fled to Midian, where he ultimately married into a Midianite family and settled down.

Many years later, Moses came across an unusual fire-engulfed bush on Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai). As he approached the remarkable shrub, he heard God’s voice speak from the flames. God explained that he wanted Moses to lead the Hebrews away from their oppressive slavery in Egypt.

Although reluctant at first, Moses with the help of his brother Aaron began the process of rescuing the Israelites from their cruel lives. Initially, Pharaoh scorned the brothers and refused to release the Hebrew slaves. Over time, however, with the miraculous help of God, some terrifying plagues forced the Egyptian ruler to finally order the Hebrews to leave Egypt. More miracles abounded as Moses led the group toward its new homeland.

When the group arrived at Mount Sinai (Mount Horeb), Moses went back up the mountain, whereupon God presented to him the Ten Commandments.

Sadly, the Israelite people often doubted the power of God, and so Moses had to work hard to keep his people focused and trusting. The Israelites lacked trust in God when it came time to take over the Promised Land. God punished them by forcing them to wander the desert for forty years.

Moses continued to show the way during these forty long years, and finally, when the long banishment was about to end, God guided Moses to Mount Nebo in Moab, where he was able to view the longed-for Promised Land. Soon afterward, the great prophet-leader died in Moab, leaving Joshua to bring the people into their new homeland.


A Biblical Novena to St. Moses

The memorial of St. Moses is Sept. 4. This great Old Testament saint offers plenty to ponder, contemplate, and study within the pages of scripture. Below are just nine passages. Consider spending a bit of time each day for a novena of days with St. Moses. Imagine yourself at each scene, think of how you might react if you were really there. If inspired, read the footnotes and jot down a few thoughts. Consider how these actions of Moses might influence you as a Catholic, and be sure to ask St. Moses to pray for a special need of yours!

  • Day 1) Exodus 2:1–25
  • Day 2) Exodus 3:1–10
  • Day 3) Exodus 7:1–24
  • Day 4) Exodus 12:1–36
  • Day 5) Exodus 14:10–22
  • Day 6) Exodus 20:1–21
  • Day 7) Exodus 34:27–35
  • Day 8) Numbers 20:1–13
  • Day 9) Deuteronomy 34:1–12