In the Holy Bible, where does the story of Moses start and end? In other words, what is the book/chapter/verses? I would like to try to read the whole story of Moses.

The full story of Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible starts in the book of Exodus, continues through the books of Leviticus and Numbers, and ends in the book of Deuteronomy. Specifically, Moses is born in Exodus chapter 2, verse 2 and dies in Deuteronomy chapter 34, verses 5 to 7.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The story of Moses takes place across four of the five books of the Hebrew Bible. These books are called the Pentateuch, meaning five books. While the word Torah can refer to the entire Hebrew Bible, it also specifically refers to these five books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—which are foundational to the Jewish faith.

Moses is an extremely important figure in Jewish history and theology, and the bulk of his story is told in Exodus, including his extraordinary salvation from death and privileged upbringing in Pharaoh's household, as well as his being spoken to by God from a burning bush. We learn that he accepts the mantle of leading his people out of bondage in Egypt to a promised land that God will give them despite deep feelings of being inadequate to the task.

The Exodus story is stirring and is often alluded to: Moses leading his followers across the Red Sea to freedom with the miraculous help of God in parting the sea has become paradigmatic. This means it is a story other freedom narratives use to structure themselves. For example, the early Puritans settling in New England saw themselves as repeating the story of the Israelites crossing to a promised land. This story also structured the Civil Rights narrative, which was framed as a crossing to promised freedom.

Moses is especially important because under him the Israelites were transformed into the Jewish people, united by a share narrative of escape and redemption, and given the Ten Commandments.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The story of Moses begins in the book of Exodus, which is the second book of the Old Testament of the Bible. Specifically, chapter 1 of Exodus offers important background about the children of Israel in Egypt. After Joseph dies, a new king arises who makes the children of Israel slaves and forces them to build cities. The Egyptian king then orders the midwives of Israel to kill all the male babies born to Israelite women.

Within this context, the particular story of Moses begins in Exodus chapter 2. Verse 1 introduces the parents of Moses, and Moses is born in verse 2. The rest of Exodus tells how Moses is hid by his parents, grows up in Pharaoh's household, kills an Egyptian, and has to flee Egypt. In the wilderness, God speaks to him. He returns and frees his people, leads them into the wilderness of Sinai, receives God's law, and oversees the construction of a tabernacle in God's honor.

The next book is Leviticus. This is indirectly part of the story of Moses. However, it mainly consists of more details of the laws that God has given to the Israelites through Moses. For instance, it describes how to use the tabernacle, what animals are unclean and what animals they can eat, and a long list of rewards for obedience and punishments for disobedience to God's laws.

The next book, the book of Numbers, begins with the counting of the children of Israel according to their families. God provides further detail concerning worship and also how the Israelites should travel from one location to another. In this book, starting with chapter 10, they continue their journey led by Moses, murmur about their situation, and because of their complaints are punished by having to wander in the desert wilderness for 40 years. The older generation dies, and the new generation prepares to enter the Promised Land.

The fifth book of the Bible, Deuteronomy, is an address by Moses to the Israelites just before they cross Jordan into the Promised Land. Moses repeats much of the law and exhorts them to have courage. The death of Moses is described in chapter 34, the last chapter of Deuteronomy.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Moses's story begins with the setting being explained in the first chapter of Exodus - the pharaoh's orders that "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live." (Ex. 1:22) The second chapter of Exodus records the birth of Moses and the discovery of his basket in the bulrushes by the pharaoh's daughter.

The remainder of the book of Exodus recounts Moses and Aaron confronting Pharaoh and demanding the release of the Hebrew slaves, the great plagues that God sent to punish Egypt when Pharaoh refused, the Passover of the Angel of Death, the actual exit from Egypt of the Hebrews, receipt of the Ten Commandments, and God's instructions to Moses regarding how His people were to live and conduct themselves. This included rules for daily living and directions for proper worship of Jehovah.

The book of Leviticus continues to expand and explain the requirements laid down by God for the people of Israel, so that they would know what was expected of them and how they could live in harmony with each other and with their God. All these instructions were delivered to Moses while he was on Mount Sinai and passed on to the rest of the people.

The book of Numbers tells of the first census taken by Moses, at God's command. It defines the special duties of the Levites in leading worship and carrying out duties required to maintain the Tabernacle. Numbers records the travels of the Hebrews as they wandered in the desert.

The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses's review of all the events that had happened since God had heard the cry of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. He reminds them of the great love God has shown them and of the great expectations God has set for them to live by. Moses gives them encouragement for the coming battles after they cross the Jordan River into their promised land and he gives his blessing to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Chapter 34 of Deuteronomy tells of Moses going up Mount Nebo, in the land of Moab, and seeing all of the land that God was giving to the people he had led. But Moses was not allowed to enter that land.

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor. (Deut. 34:5-6)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial