In America's Prophet: How the Story of Moses Shaped America author Bruce Feiler, well, gives a lot of coverage to how the biblical story of Moses has played out in American history. I've still got about one hundred twenty five pages to go, but I've been keeping track of who all is compared to Moses. Here's the list I've collected thus far.
|President George Washington|
"'Kind Heaven...pitying the servile condition of our American Israel, gave us a second Moses, who should (under God) be our future deliverer from the bondage and tyranny of haughty Britain.'" (pg. 102)
|Harriet Tubman "the Moses of Her People"|
"The Founding Fathers chose the Exodus as their theme in an attempt to make their lives better. The slaves needed it to make their lives worth living." (pg. 107)
|Uncle Tom, the character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's book|
"On the page he may have been a Christian symbol of martyrdom, but once he entered the culture as the face of American slavery, Uncle Tom became a Mosaic call to action." (pg. 152)
|President Abraham Lincoln|
For his part in freeing America of that "peculiar institution" of slavery.
|Daniel Boone, the "Moses of the West"|
Lead people further into the country so they could settle "the Promised Land" (pg. 148)
"'The Moses story is about the tension between freedom and law,' ... 'between the exhilaration of the Exodus moment followed by the constriction of the Sinai moment. And it seems to me that you can see this tension in the Statue of Liberty, from the broken chain at her feet to the tablet in her right arm to the light around her head. She perfectly embodies the American story - and the Mosaic story.'" (pg. 187)
A nonreligious aristocratic New York City Jew, she became interested in her faith when Jews from Eastern Europe fled persecution for the United States. She penned The New Colossus as an expression of what the Statue of Liberty, what America should mean to oppressed people from other lands.
"A society must gauge its worth not by power, the statue insists, but by how it treats its strangers." (pg. 191)
You may find this next addition out-of-place on the list since he's not typically thought of as a religious figure.
|Recognize the 'Moses' in this picture?|
Jews "began converting Moses into a pillar of American identity" perhaps because their "'greatest fear was that America would become a Christian nation. ... By emphasizing Moses, they showed that Jews belonged here as well. Jews were fortunate that so many American Protestants were Old Testament-focused.'"
Some left-wing Jews even suggested Judaism change its name to Mosaism, "in part because Moses was perceived to be a more appealing figure to Christians. Many Jews had a sense that the words Jew and Judaism had negative connotations.'"
|Yep, it's Uncle Sam!|
"Exactly when the United States was becoming more religiously diverse, Jews subtly redefined what it meant to be American. Instead of a Christian country, they insisted, America was a biblical country. Moses played a key role because he resonated with Protestants and Jews. Jews belonged to the United States, they said, because America and Judaism had the same source: Moses." (pg. 200)
Any surprises? Which is your favorite? Do you agree with these choices? Which is most interesting to you? Who would you take off the list? Add to it? Any other thoughts or observations?