This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Moses, while he was feeding his father-in-laws sheep, saw a strange sight, a bush that was burning but not being burnt up. Moses approaches the bush to investigate the matter when God spoke to him from the burning bush.
"Verily I am God; there is no god but I; therefore serve [worship] Me, and perform [observe] the prayer of My remembrance." (Koran 20:14)Muhammad writes often of this command from God that the people should obey and perform the stated prayers. He associates this command with many of the Jewish prophets and apostles. However, we fail to see this command being given by any of the Jewish messangers. In fact, no where in the Jewish scriptures do we see the command to observe the ritualistic prayers as given by God.
"God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.' Then He said, 'Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.' He said also, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God." (Exodus 3:4-6)That day, Moses received his commission and ordination from God.
"Hast thou received the story of Moses? When his Lord called to him in the holy valley, Towa: 'Go to Pharaoh; he has waxed insolent [burst all bounds]. And say, "Hast thou the will to purify thyself [become just]; and that I should guide thee to thy Lord, then thou shalt fear?"'" (Koran 79:15-19)However, Moses' mission was not to Pharaoh, to enlighten him and to lead him to godliness, but to free the children of Israel who were in bondage in Egypt.
"The Lord said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey... Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.'" (Exodus 3:7-8, 10)Muhammad tells us that God instructed Moses, and his brother Arron, to provide houses for God's people and to place, in each house, a Kebla so that people might have some direction to pray towards. A Kebla is defined as a point of adoration, a direction that people are to turn to and face when they pray.
"And We revealed to Moses and his brother, 'Take you [provide], for your people, in Egypt certain houses; and make your houses a direction for men to pray to [a Kebla]; and perform the prayer; and do thou give good tidings to the believers.'" (Koran 10:87)
We have no record of such a command in the Jewish narrative of Moses. in fact, the first time we see any mention of a direction in which people should pray is at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem when Solomon asks God to hear the prayers prayed towards the temple. "Your servant prays before You today; that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, 'My name shall be there,' to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive." (1 Kings 8:28-30) We also know that Moses did not build, or provide, "certain houses" for the children of Israel to worship at in Egypt. In fact, when the first Passover was to be kept, each one kept it in their own homes. "You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning." (Exodus 12:22)
Moses was worried that Pharaoh might not believe that he was sent by God. So God gave him signs to perform in the sight of Pharaoh to convince him that Moses was sent by God.
"Thrust thy hand in thy bosom and it will come forth white without evil-among [free from hurt] [one of] nine signs to Pharaoh and his people" (Koran 27:12)
However, only three signs were given to Moses by God to be performed in Pharaoh's presence; his staff that, when thrown down, turned into a snake, his had that became leprous when placed inside his garment, and water that would turn to blood when poured on the ground.
"If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground." (Exodus 4:8-9)
The Koran tells us that Pharaoh's wife believed Moses and his message and plead for her husband to believe as well.
"God has struck a similitude for the believers -- the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, 'My Lord, build for me a house in Paradise, in Thy presence, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and do Thou deliver me from the people of the evildoers [the wicked].'" (Koran 66:11)
However, the Jewish account never mentions Pharaoh's wife in any context at all.
When Moses appeared before Pharaoh, and performed the signs, though Pharaoh did not believe, his magicians, who had been called to reproduce the signs Moses gave, did, according to the Koran, believed Moses and believed in God.
"And the sorcerers were cast down [prostrated], bowing themselves. They said, 'We believe in the Lord of all Being, the. Lord of Moses and Aaron. Said Pharaoh, 'You have believed in Him before I gave you leave. Surely this is a device you have devised in the city that you may expel its people from it. Now you shall know! I shall assuredly cut off alternately your hands and feet, then I shall crucify you all together.' They said, 'Surely unto our Lord we are turning [do we return]. Thou takest vengeance upon us only because we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord, pour out upon us patience [consistency], and gather us unto Thee surrendering [cause us to die Muslims].'" (Koran 7:117-123)
It was not until the plague of gnats that the magicians were unable to reproduce the signs and wonders that were given to Moses to work and there is no indication that they became believers in God.
"The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.' But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said." (Exodus 8:18-19)
We also have no evidence that Pharaoh threatening the magicians for believing in God before he gave them leave to. We also see again the reference to crucifixion. However, it would be several hundred years before crucifixion would be invented as a means of punishment. Moses lived around 1300 BC while crucifixion was not first seen until about 519 BC.
The Koran records that God gave Moses nine signs.
"And We gave Moses nine signs, clear signs." (Koran 17:103)
However, the Jewish text lists the three signs to be performed in Pharaoh's presence: the leprous hand, the staff that turns into a snake, and the water that pours out as blood. The text also list the ten plagues that God sent to force Pharaoh to release the children of Israel: water turning into blood, frogs, flies and gnats, pestilence on the livestock, boils, hail, locust, darkness, and death of the first born. In all, three signs and ten plagues. It seems that Muhammad was a bit off in his addition.
More to come...