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Moses: A political leader and his transgenerational impact

by Church Times

By Oyewole Sarumi PhD



Moses is a significant figure in the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is most famously known as the leader of the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt, as detailed in the biblical book of Exodus.

Moses was born in Egypt during a time when the reigning Pharaoh had ordered the killing of all Hebrew male children.

To save Moses from this fate, his mother placed him in a basket and set him afloat on the Nile River, where he was discovered by the daughter of the Pharaoh who raised him as her own.

As an adult, Moses became aware of his Hebrew heritage and was called by God to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. Through a series of miracles and plagues, Moses convinced the Pharaoh to release the Israelites, who then embarked on a long journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land.


Several layers of Moses’ leadership

Moses played a key role in creating the laws and regulations that would govern the Israelites as they travelled through the wilderness and eventually settled in the Promised Land.

These laws, known as the Mosaic Law or the Law of Moses, included regulations for religious practices, social interactions, and criminal behaviour. The Ten Commandments, which are widely recognized as a foundation of Western legal systems, are part of this law.

  1. Judicial System: Moses established a system of judges and courts to handle disputes and enforce the law among the Israelites. He served as the highest judge, hearing cases that could not be resolved at lower levels. This system helped to maintain order and stability within the community.
  2. Military Leadership: Moses led the Israelites in military battles against their enemies, including the Amalekites and Canaanites. He also organized and trained an army that would continue to defend the Israelites after his death.
  3. Negotiation: Moses negotiated with foreign leaders on behalf of the Israelites, including the Pharaoh of Egypt and the King of Moab. He was able to secure favourable terms for his people through these negotiations, including safe passage through foreign territories and access to resources necessary for their survival.
  4. Organization: Moses organized the Israelites into tribes and clans, assigning leaders to each group and establishing rules for their governance. This structure helped to maintain unity and cooperation within the community during their long journey through the wilderness.

Read also: Moses: A perspective as a labour leader: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/moses-a-perspective-as-a-labour-leader-1/#google_vignette

Thesis Statement

Moses’ political leadership was instrumental in guiding the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. Through his legislation, judicial system, military leadership, negotiation skills, and organizational abilities, Moses established a stable and just society for his people despite facing numerous challenges along the way.

Encounter with God at the Burning Bush:

One of the pivotal moments in Moses’ life was his encounter with God at the burning bush. According to the Book of Exodus, while tending his father-in-law Jethro’s flock, Moses saw a bush that was on fire but was not consumed by the flames. As he approached it, God spoke to him from the bush, revealing His divine presence and instructing Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. This encounter marked the beginning of Moses’ journey as a chosen leader by God.

Transition into a Political Leader:

After receiving his divine calling at the burning bush, Moses initially hesitated due to his insecurities and doubts about his abilities. However, with God’s guidance and support, he eventually embraced his role as a political leader for the Israelites. Moses confronted Pharaoh multiple times, demanding the release of his people and warning of divine consequences if Pharaoh refused. Through a series of miraculous events known as the Ten Plagues, Moses demonstrated God’s power and authority over Egypt, ultimately leading to the liberation of the Israelites from slavery.

Moses’ leadership style was characterized by humility, faithfulness to God’s commands, and a deep sense of justice for his people. He led the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years, facing numerous challenges and tests of faith along the way. Despite facing rebellion and opposition from within his own community, Moses remained steadfast in his commitment to fulfilling God’s plan for the Israelites.

Overall, Moses’ journey from humble beginnings to becoming a revered political leader exemplifies themes of faith, obedience, courage, and perseverance that continue to inspire believers across different traditions.

Confrontation with Pharaoh

Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh is a pivotal moment in the biblical narrative, showcasing his political leadership skills. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses, along with his brother Aaron, repeatedly approached Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This act of defiance against the ruler of Egypt demonstrates Moses’ courage, determination, and willingness to challenge authority for the greater good of his people.

Moses’ interactions with Pharaoh also highlight his strategic thinking and negotiation abilities. Despite facing resistance and hostility from Pharaoh, Moses remained steadfast in his mission to secure freedom for the Israelites. Through persuasive arguments and divine interventions, Moses attempted to sway Pharaoh’s heart and convince him to let the Israelites go.

Plagues and Negotiations

The series of plagues unleashed upon Egypt is another significant aspect of Moses’ political leadership. Each plague was not only a demonstration of divine power but also a strategic move to pressure Pharaoh into releasing the Israelites. The plagues served as both a warning and a negotiation tactic, showing Pharaoh the consequences of defying the will of God.

Throughout the plague narrative, Moses acted as a mediator between God and Pharaoh, showcasing his role as a political leader who could navigate complex diplomatic situations. Despite Pharaoh’s initial resistance, the escalating severity of the plagues eventually forced him to reconsider his stance and negotiate with Moses for the release of the Israelites.

Exodus of the Israelites

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is the culmination of Moses’ political leadership journey. After enduring hardships and witnessing divine interventions, Pharaoh finally relented and allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt. This momentous event not only marked the liberation of the Israelites but also solidified Moses’ legacy as a visionary leader who led his people to freedom.

Moses’ role in organizing and guiding the Israelites during their exodus further exemplifies his political acumen. From managing logistics to maintaining morale among the people, Moses exhibited the qualities of a capable leader who could navigate challenges and inspire others toward a common goal.

PS: It is noteworthy that Moses’ story as a political leader in Egypt is one of courage, resilience, diplomacy, and faith. His confrontations with Pharaoh, management of negotiations through plagues, and successful leadership during the Exodus all contribute to his enduring legacy as one of history’s most revered leaders.

Establishing Governance in the Wilderness

  1. Organization of the Tribes

Moses played a crucial role in organizing the tribes of Israel during their time in the wilderness. After leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses faced the challenge of establishing order and structure among the people. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses appointed leaders from each tribe to assist him in governing and managing the community. These leaders helped maintain order, distribute resources, and address the needs of the people.

Moses also implemented a system of tribal organization, where each tribe had its own responsibilities and roles within the community. The tribes were arranged around the Tabernacle, which served as a central place of worship and governance. This organizational structure helped create a sense of unity and cohesion among the Israelites, despite their diverse backgrounds and histories.

  1. Legal and Judicial Systems

As a political leader, Moses was responsible for establishing legal and judicial systems to govern the Israelites. According to the biblical narrative, Moses received divine guidance on matters of law and justice, including the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. These commandments formed the basis of Israelite law and provided a moral framework for society.

In addition to the moral laws given by God, Moses also set up a system of judges and officials to help administer justice among the people. The Book of Exodus describes how Moses appointed judges to hear disputes and settle conflicts according to God’s laws. This judicial system helped ensure fairness and equity within the community.

  1. Role in Conflict Resolution

Moses played a significant role in resolving conflicts among the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. As a political leader and mediator, Moses was tasked with addressing disputes and maintaining peace within the community. The biblical narrative recounts several instances where Moses intervened to resolve conflicts and prevent further discord among the people.

One notable example is the story of Korah’s rebellion, where a group of Israelites challenged Moses’ leadership. In response to this rebellion, Moses demonstrated his authority as a political leader by calling upon God to judge between him and his opponents. Through divine intervention, Moses was able to quell the rebellion and reaffirm his position as the chosen leader of Israel.

Overall, Moses’ role as a political leader in establishing governance in the wilderness was characterized by his ability to organize the tribes, implement legal and judicial systems, and resolve conflicts among the people. His leadership laid the foundation for Israelite society during their journey through the wilderness towards the Promised Land.

Challenges and Triumphs

  1. Managing dissent and rebellion:

Moses faced numerous challenges in managing dissent and rebellion among the Israelites during their journey through the wilderness. One of the most notable instances was the rebellion led by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who challenged Moses’ authority as the leader appointed by God.

Despite facing opposition from within his own community, Moses remained steadfast in his leadership role. He relied on his close relationship with God to guide him in handling these situations with wisdom and humility.

Moses demonstrated his political acumen by addressing dissent through a combination of dialogue, negotiation, and decisive action when necessary. For example, when faced with complaints about lack of water, Moses sought divine guidance and struck a rock to provide water for the people. This not only resolved the immediate crisis but also reaffirmed his position as a leader chosen by God.

  1. Military strategies and victories:

Moses also exhibited strong military leadership skills during the Israelites’ encounters with hostile nations such as the Amalekites. In the battle against the Amalekites, Moses stood on a hill with his staff raised towards heaven, symbolizing his reliance on God’s power for victory. This strategic move not only inspired the Israelite warriors but also ensured their success in battle.

Moreover, Moses displayed tactical prowess in organizing the Israelite army and devising strategies to defend against external threats. His ability to lead the Israelites to victory in battles against formidable enemies showcased his effectiveness as a military leader under divine guidance.

  1. Relationship with God as a source of authority:

Central to Moses’ leadership as a political figure was his intimate relationship with God, which served as the foundation of his authority. From the burning bush encounter where God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, Moses consistently sought divine guidance for his decisions and actions.

Moses’ unwavering faith in God’s promises and commands empowered him to lead with confidence and conviction. His obedience to God’s instructions not only solidified his authority among the Israelites but also established a moral framework for governance based on divine principles.

It is clear from above that Moses’ role as a political leader was defined by his ability to navigate challenges, implement effective military strategies, and uphold his authority through his close relationship with God. By managing dissent with wisdom, achieving military victories through divine intervention, and grounding his leadership in faith, Moses exemplified a model of political leadership guided by divine purpose.

Legacy and Impact

Moses, one of the most prominent figures in the Bible, is revered for his leadership qualities and the impact he had on future leaders, both religious and political. His legacy transcends time and continues to influence individuals across various spheres.

  1. Influence on Future Leaders

Moses’ leadership style and actions have served as a model for numerous leaders throughout history. His unwavering commitment to his people, his courage in the face of adversity, and his ability to communicate with a higher power have inspired leaders to lead with integrity, compassion, and faith.

One significant aspect of Moses’ influence on future leaders is his role as a lawgiver. The giving of the Ten Commandments is a pivotal moment in the Bible, showcasing Moses as a conduit between God and his people. This act established a foundation for ethical governance and moral leadership that has resonated through the ages.

Moreover, Moses’ dedication to justice and liberation has inspired leaders in social justice movements worldwide. His fight against oppression and his quest for freedom for the Israelites serve as a powerful example for leaders advocating for human rights and equality.

  1. Religious Significance of Moses’ Leadership

In religious contexts, Moses is revered as a prophet, a messenger of God who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt towards the Promised Land. His leadership is seen as divinely guided, emphasizing the importance of faith and obedience to God’s will in governance.

Moses’ relationship with God, characterized by intimate communication through prayer and divine revelation, underscores the significance of spiritual guidance in leadership. His ability to receive guidance from God and translate it into action serves as a testament to the power of faith in shaping effective leadership.

Furthermore, Moses’ role in establishing the covenant between God and the Israelites symbolizes the importance of upholding moral principles and honouring commitments in leadership. The Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai, represent a moral code that continues to inform ethical decision-making for leaders in religious communities.

  1. Lessons for Contemporary Political Leadership

The story of Moses offers valuable lessons for contemporary political leaders navigating complex challenges in governance. His emphasis on justice, compassion, and liberation provides a blueprint for ethical leadership grounded in principles of fairness and equality.

One key lesson from Moses’ leadership is the importance of empathy and solidarity with marginalized communities. His advocacy for the oppressed Israelites reflects a commitment to social justice that remains relevant in addressing contemporary issues of inequality and discrimination.

Additionally, Moses’ ability to unite diverse groups under a common vision highlights the significance of inclusive leadership in fostering unity amidst diversity. His role in leading a multicultural community towards a shared goal exemplifies the power of collaboration and cooperation in achieving collective progress.

  1. Leadership Style

Moses’ leadership style can be characterized by qualities such as courage, resilience, humility, and faith. His willingness to confront authority, challenge injustice, and persevere through adversity demonstrates his strength as a leader committed to his people’s well-being.

Moreover, Moses’ approach to decision-making, often seeking guidance from God through prayer and reflection, exemplifies a leadership style rooted in spiritual discernment and moral clarity. His ability to balance divine guidance with practical wisdom showcases a holistic approach to governance that considers both spiritual values and pragmatic considerations.

In summary, Moses’ legacy as a political leader extends far beyond his historical context, offering timeless lessons for contemporary leaders seeking to govern with integrity, compassion, and faith.

Summary of Moses’ Political Leadership Journey

Moses is a central figure in the Abrahamic religions, revered for his role as a political leader in the biblical narrative. His journey as a political leader begins with his birth during a time when Hebrew male infants were ordered to be killed by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Moses was saved by being placed in a basket and set adrift on the Nile River, eventually being found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter.

As Moses grew up, he became aware of his Hebrew heritage and witnessed the oppression of his people at the hands of the Egyptians. This awareness led him to intervene when he saw an Egyptian taskmaster mistreating a Hebrew slave, resulting in Moses killing the taskmaster. Fearing retribution, Moses fled to Midian, where he married and lived as a shepherd for many years.

It was during his time in Midian that Moses encountered God in the form of a burning bush and was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Despite his initial reluctance due to feelings of inadequacy, Moses eventually accepted this divine mission and returned to Egypt to confront Pharaoh.

Through a series of miraculous events and ten plagues, Moses successfully led the Israelites out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea and eventually arriving at Mount Sinai. There, he received the Ten Commandments from God, establishing a moral and legal framework for the newly liberated nation.

Lasting Impact on History and Governance

Moses’ leadership had a profound impact on both history and governance. His role as a political leader laid the foundation for the nation of Israel and influenced subsequent political systems and leaders throughout history. The Exodus story, with Moses at its helm, became a symbol of liberation and resistance against oppression.

Moses’ establishment of laws and principles, such as the Ten Commandments, provided a basis for ethical governance and societal order. These principles continue to influence legal systems and moral codes around the world today.

Furthermore, Moses’ leadership exemplified qualities such as courage, faith, humility, and perseverance, which serve as timeless lessons for leaders in various fields. His ability to communicate with both God and his people, mediate conflicts, and navigate challenges demonstrates effective leadership strategies that are still relevant in contemporary political contexts.


  1. Lessons Learned from Moses As a Political Leader


Moses played a crucial role as a political leader in governing the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Here are some key areas in which he governed, ruled, and administered governance throughout this significant period:

  1. Liberation from Egypt: Moses started his leadership by leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Through his interactions with Pharaoh and the Ten Plagues, he demonstrated strong leadership skills and determination to secure the freedom of his people.
  2. Lawgiver: One of Moses’ most significant roles was that of a lawgiver. He received the Ten Commandments directly from God on Mount Sinai, establishing a moral and legal framework for the Israelites to follow. These commandments formed the basis of Mosaic Law, which governed various aspects of Israelite society.
  3. Judicial Leader: Moses also served as a judicial leader, resolving disputes and conflicts among the Israelites. He appointed judges to assist him in administering justice and ensuring that the laws were upheld within the community.
  4. Military Leader: During their journey, the Israelites faced external threats from neighbouring tribes and nations. Moses displayed military leadership by organizing the Israelite army and leading them to victory in battles against their enemies, such as the Amalekites.
  5. Administrative Leader: In addition to his spiritual and moral guidance, Moses also had to oversee the day-to-day administration of the Israelite community. This included organizing their camps, managing resources such as food and water, and ensuring order and discipline among the people.
  6. Prophet and Intercessor: Beyond his political leadership roles, Moses also served as a prophet who communicated with God on behalf of the Israelites. He interceded for them during times of crisis and sought divine guidance to lead them effectively on their journey.


 Moses: Key Leadership Lessons from His Life


Moses’ life revealed the following virtues as essentials for leadership – political, religious, business and in other life pursuits:


  • Courage: Moses demonstrated courage in standing up against injustice and leading his people out of oppression despite facing immense challenges.
  • Faith: His unwavering faith in God guided his decisions and actions as a leader, inspiring trust and confidence among his followers.
  • Humility: Despite his pivotal role, Moses remained humble before God and sought guidance when faced with difficult situations.
  • Perseverance: The journey of leading the Israelites through adversity required perseverance and resilience, qualities essential for effective leadership.
  • Communication: Moses’ ability to communicate with both God and his people highlights the importance of clear and effective communication in leadership roles.

Throughout their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, Moses exhibited a combination of political, judicial, military, administrative, and prophetic leadership qualities that were essential for guiding the Israelites through challenging times and toward their ultimate destination. Moses’ legacy as a political leader transcends time and continues to inspire individuals in positions of authority to lead with integrity, compassion, and vision.




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  13. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy: Offers scholarly articles analyzing the political leadership aspects of historical figures like Moses, providing in-depth research and critical perspectives on their governance styles.
  14. Historical Commentaries: Various historical commentaries and scholarly works on ancient Near Eastern history provide context and analysis of Moses’ leadership within the broader political landscape of that time. These sources help to place Moses’ actions and decisions in a historical perspective, highlighting his significance as a political leader in ancient Israelite society.


Dr Oyewole Sarumi first delivered this paper as a guest speaker at the annual leadership and minister’s conference of Christ the King Rescue Global Ministry

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