Images of Joshua and Moses

A couple of weeks ago as I was reading the first five books of the Bible, I thought about the images of Moses.

In South Kansas City, Temple B’nai Jeudah had this magnificent bronze image of Moses towering over the passer’s by with the Torah in his hands.  It was a strong image reminding me that Moses was the law giver.  As I have read those five books of law, the pentateuch, I see that Moses led the Hebrews people in wars against other peoples.  I thought about how we honor people in the modern era.  Napoleon is a leader but he is seen upon a horse.  Wander across Washington DC and old city parks in the US, you will see images of leaders upon horseback.  The military side of the accomplishments are lifted up.  Washington is a General. 

As the story of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible is told after Moses, Joshua who leads after Moses is lifted up for his military conquests.  He dwarfs Moses and the Bible makes mention of that.  Maybe, this is somebody trying to squelch the cult of nostalgia.  Maybe it is our disposition towards conquest of others, celebrating the warrior.

Perhaps, as the story is told the power of Judaism is not its victory, but its foundation the Torah.  The tradition of Judaism Moses is a larger figure than Joshua.  As I teach my kids, I need to remind them, show them, and model for them that ultimate success is not found in military or athletic conquest.  I need them to model themselves as Moses more than Joshua.


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