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Another Moses? Beginning ministry, Matthew 3—8.1

In the picture of Matthew in the Lindisfarne Gospels, there is another bearded figure peering out from behind the curtain, holding a book. Some scholars and art historians suggest this might be Moses, with the Law. Certainly, Old Testament allusions in the next section develop further the picture of Jesus as the Teacher of Israel, as another Moses. Chapters 3—8.1 move around the river Jordan, the wilderness, and the mountain – all immediately reminding us of the stories in Exodus. Israel in Egypt was described by God to Pharaoh as ‘my firstborn son’ (Exod. 4.22); they went across the waters of the Red Sea (Exod. 14.21–22), and were tested by God in the wilderness for forty years (Deut. 8.2); Moses went up on to the mountain to receive the teaching of God (Exod. 19.20), and afterwards came down to the people (Exod. 19.24–25); at the end of the testing in the wilderness, Moses was taken by God to the top of a mountain to survey the country he could not enter (Deut. 3.27; 34.1–4); after his death, the Israelites crossed the river Jordan led by Joshua, whose name means ‘God is salvation’ (Josh. 3)…

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