Moses, God, and the dynamics of intercessory prayer
The primary objective of this thesis is to reconsider the significance of the canonical portrayal of Moses the intercessor in the aftermath of "documentary" pentateuchal criticism. Not disregarding the diachronic dimension of the text, at the heart of this study is a close theological reading of Exodus 32-34 and Numbers 13-14 in their final form with focus on the nature and theological function of Moses' prayers. The intercessions evoke important theological questions, especially with regard to divine mutability, reputation, purpose, and covenant. It will become evident that Moses’ prayers embody a hermeneutical key to biblical theology. The choice of the two key narratives is endorsed by their strong inner-biblical associations. Two are of particular importance: I) Moses' intercession in Numbers 14:11-19 clearly wants to be understood in relation to Exodus 34:6-7, YHWH's fullest revelation of His name, which in itself is the result of Moses' engaging prayer activity (Ex. 32-33). By appealing to YHWH's name (Nu. 14:18), Moses sets an important biblical paradigm of authentic prayer. II) We shall see that YHWH's disclosure of His name remains a somewhat abstract reality in the context of the golden calf account. I shall advance the thesis, however, that YHWH's fullest revelation of His name (Ex. 34:6-7) is enacted in Numbers 14 in a specific and concrete situation and stands thus as a kind of commentary on Exodus 34:6-7.Another central aspect of this study is to bring Moses' intercessory activity into canonical connection with his prophetic qualities. It has long been noticed that Moses is presented as Israel's archetypal prophet. His prophetic role, however, has rarely been brought into constructive relation with his role as intercessor. Our study of Moses' intercessory prayers is preceded by some hermeneutical reflections and a survey of recent literature on Old Testament intercessory prayers.