Evidence for Moses as the Author of the Law

4 evidence Moses author (2)

All biblical traditions assert that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (“five books” in Greek). The law of Moses includes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Following Ancient Near Eastern practices, Moses rarely named himself as the author.

When he did, he described himself in both the first person (“I”) and the third person (“he” and “Moses”).

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from the Law: ‘The person who does these things will live by them’” (Rom 10:5).

That quotation comes from Lev 18:5 (NIV).

Since Moses grew up as a prince in the courts of the pharaoh (Exod 2:10; Acts 7:20–22), he had unique access to Ancient Near Eastern myths. Gen 1–11 alludes to and refutes many of them.

In addition, some specific features of early Biblical Hebrew follow the pattern of the Egyptian language from the second millennium BC.

For example, only in the Pentateuch does the Hebrew Bible use the same word for “he” and “she.”[1]

Scholars have also found early Hebrew inscriptions at Sinai, where Israel camped for at least a year (Exod 19:1–2; Num 9:1–2).

This supports Moses as the author, rather than a person from a much later time.

Image via Wikimedia Commons This painting of Moses at the burning burn is from the third century AD.

Go to Evidence for a Second Millennium BC Date for the Law Books

Return to Chapter 4: Author and Date of the Law

Return to Old Testament Survey Course main page

[1] Gary A. Rendsburg, “Late Biblical Hebrew and the Date of ‘P’,” JANESCU 12 (1980): 65–80, 78, http://bildnercenter.rutgers.edu/docman/rendsburg/45-late-biblical-hebrew-and-the-date-of-p/file.