By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
It sounds far-fetched, but Bruce Feiler—author of the bestselling Walking the Bible—makes a convincing case that Moses has been a hugely influential role model for American political and social leaders.
A few bits that may rile strict church/state separationists:
- The Moses image was so pervasive that on July 4 , after signing the Declaration of Independence, the Congress asked Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to propose a seal for the United States. Their recommendation: Moses, leading the Israelites through the Red Sea as the water overwhelms the pharaoh. In their eyes, Moses was America's true Founding Father.
- [J]ust as a reluctant Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, then handed down the Ten Commandments, a reluctant George Washington led the colonists to victory, then presided over the drafting of the Constitution. The parallel was not lost. Two-thirds of the eulogies at Washington's death compared the "leader and father of the American nation" to the "first conductor of the Jewish nation."
- [Abraham] Lincoln's assassination initiated an even more long-lasting tribute to Moses, the Statue of Liberty, given to America by the French to honor the slain President. The sculptor, Frédéric Bartholdi, chose the goddess of liberty as his model, but he enhanced her with two icons from Moses: the nimbus of light around her head and the tablet in her arms, both from the moment Moses descends Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. The message: Freedom comes with law.
Learn more about Feiler's new book, America's Prophet, out tomorrow.