‘Like unto Moses’

It means that the promised prophet should have such a unique and specific prophetic peculiarity or characteristic in common with Moses (pbAh) which no other forthcoming prophet can claim. There is a most conspicuous singular peculiarity of Moses, which no other prophet from among the Israelites can claim to possess and in which no other prophet after Moses can be ‘like unto him’. What is that? It is only Moses who brought the ‘LAW’ of the Lord for the people. After him there had been no other prophet from among the descendants of Abraham in the whole of the history of the humankind who could claim to have brought a complete divine ‘LAW’ for the people, revealed to him by the Lord, except Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh). Neither anyone ever claimed it, nor it is true about anyone. There did not even exist any claimant or candidate of having been ‘a prophet from among the brethren of the Israelites with a ‘Fiery Law for them’[1] ‘like unto Moses’, that could have been presented as a rival to the single and sole Prophet from among the Ishma‘elites, who are the genuine ‘brethren of the Israelites’. Any impartial and unbiased scholar would endorse it. Here is an excerpt to illustrate the theme:

The Scriptural record of Moses is clear and precise, and he is the dominant character of the books from Exodus to Deuteronomy. (…). He (…) received the education and upbringing of an Egyptian prince. He (…) received from God the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. (…), and that he certainly performed a work which still affects the life and thought of the world. He stands right at the beginning of monotheism–(…), but he is the one who persuaded the Hebrews that there is but one God, and so made it possible for them to produce, and then to reject the Son of God. He is one of the shapers of world thought; he is a religious pioneer. (…). His leadership, and the conquest, are historic. It is worth noting that when the prophets railed[2] against the twists and turns that religion had taken, their accusation was that the nation had fallen away from something old, simple and pure–namely, the faith that had been taught them by Moses. As a statesman and Lawgiver Moses is the creator of the Jewish people. He found a loose conglomeration[3] of Semitic people, none of whom had ever been anything but a slave, and whose ideas of religion were a complete confusion. He held them out and he hammered them into a nation, with a law and a national pride, and a compelling sense of being chosen by a particular God who was supreme. The only man of history who can be compared even remotely to him is Mahomet [stress added].[4] The Scripture account tends to elaborate for the sake of impression, but behind all the elaborations stands a man of tremendous worth and achievement, whose mark upon the life of the world is as important as it is incalculable.[5]


Jesus Christ is by no means

‘a Prophet like unto Moses’

From the very birth to his death Jesus is ‘unlike Moses’ rather than being ‘like unto Moses’ in most of the conspicuous features. On the other hand Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) is ‘like unto Moses’ in most of the conspicuous features. Some of them are common in most of the prophets including Moses (pbAh) and Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), but Jesus is an exception. The first of the conspicuous features is that Moses (pbAh) and Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) and all the other prophets were born in ordinary way whereas Jesus had an unusual and extra-ordinary birth of a virgin mother having no father. The second point is that Moses (pbAh) and Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh) and almost all the other prophets had an ordinary death whereas the death of Jesus was of a quite different type. The third point is that Moses (pbAh) was appointed to the ‘call’ at Mount Sinai and Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh) received the revelation for the purpose in the cave of Mount H~ira which is now called Mount Nur. Both of them received revelation outside the city life at some mountains. The case of Jesus Christ (pbAh), whatsoever, is different from it.    

The other category deals with the most specific peculiarity of Moses (pbAh) and Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), which is not to be found in any other prophet including Jesus; and that is the revelation of the divine ‘Law’ only to Moses (pbAh) and Prophet Muh~ammad(pbAh), as noted above.

A probe into the theme reveals that ‘likeness unto Moses’ can exclusively be claimed about Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), whereas it can by no means be claimed about Jesus (pbAh). This writer has addressed only some specific and distinguishing features otherwise a lot of other features can also be presented, but it is uncalled for, keeping in view the limited scope of the present write up.


The Claim of the Jews:

‘Joshua is that Promised Prophet’

There is another point which is being briefly discussed here. Some Jews assert that the prophecy relates to and is fulfilled in the person of Joshua[6]. But the wording of the prophecy and the context do not allow it. Joshua was the contemporary of and junior to Moses (pbAh). Moses (pbAh) himself had nominated him as his successor under the instructions of the Lord. He was a disciple, attendant, and successor of Moses and not an independent prophet himself. No ‘Law’ was revealed unto him. So he was in no way ‘like unto Moses’. The words of the prophecy, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy Brethren, like unto me;’ clearly denote that they relate to some future event, whereas Joshua physically existed there when this prophecy was uttered. The book of Malachi is the last of the Minor Prophets and of the OT. It records the prophecy uttered by the Lord in the following words [which shows that the messenger of the covenant was yet to come by his time, and, as such, Joshua could not have been this ‘aprophet’]:

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come[7] to his temple[8], even the messenger of the covenant [stress added] whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.[9]

As to the date of Malachi, ‘McKenzie’ observes:

The book is dated by the critics after the rebuilding of the temple in 516 BC, during the Persian period and before the reforms of Nehemiah and Ezra, i.e., before 432 BC.[10]

The recording of the prophecy regarding ‘the messenger of the covenant’ in it shows that till 432 BC the Israelites were still waiting for him and he was yet to come.

Then there is the epilogue of the book of Deuteronomy which reads:

And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.[11]

It is probable that this epilogue might have been written by Ezra eight to nine hundred years after Moses. So the prophecy remained unfulfilled till 8-9 centuries after Moses. It is also probable that it might have been written by some other redactor of the book when the Torah and some other books of the Bible were first compiled in written form about five hundred years after Moses (pbAh). It means that the prophecy remained unfulfilled for not less than 500 years after Moses. It does not mean that it was fulfilled after it. Nobody ever claimed to be ‘the messenger of the covenant’ or fulfilled its pre-requisites at any time after Moses. Almost every scholar of the Bible understands that it stood unfulfilled even after the time of Jesus Christ (pbAh). The Bible Knowledge Commentary observes:

During the first century A.D. the official leaders of Judaism were still looking for the fulfillment of Moses’ prediction (cf. John I: 21).[12]

That it remained unfulfilled during the time of Jesus Christ (pbAh) and the Jews were still waiting for the coming of this prophet, can be ascertained from the following passage of the Gospel According to John:

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet [stress added]? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. (…). And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?[13]

It has become clear from the study undertaken above that this ‘Prophet like unto Moses’ had not been raised up till the time of Jesus Christ (pbAh).


The Claim of the Christians:

‘Jesus is that Promised Prophet’

Now there remains the claim of the Christian scholars that this prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ (pbAh). Setting aside the question of safe preservation and transfer of the NT, it is a fact that throughout the NT Jesus Christ (pbAh) has nowhere claimed to be or presented himself as this promised “Prophet like unto Moses.’ As can be observed from the dialogue between John the Baptist and the Jewish representatives noted above, the Jews had been waiting for three personalities at that time: (1) Elias or Elijah, (2) Christ, and (3) ‘That Prophet’. Elias was John the Baptist as clarified by Jesus.[14] The Christ, according to every Christian, was Jesus himself. There remains, now, only the third one, i.e. ‘That Promised Prophet like unto Moses’. Jesus should naturally have not claimed to be this third personality as he has already occupied the status of the ‘Christ’ (pbAh). The three personalities waited by the Jews were three separate entities, two of which have already been settled in the persons of John the Baptist (pbAh) and Jesus (pbAh). There, obviously, remains the third one to be ascertained. If somebody asserts that Jesus occupied both the entities in his person, i.e., of the ‘Christ’ and of ‘That Prophet’, he should offer, in unequivocal terms, some clear-cut assertion of Jesus Christ (pbAh) in favour of his claim. And no man on earth can ever do it. Rather, quite contrary to it, Jesus did not assert to be ‘That Promised and Waited for Prophet Like Unto Moses’ even when he was asked to clarify his position. The Bible reports:

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? [Stress added. ‘or do we look for another?’ shows that someone was yet to come by that time.] Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And the blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.[15]

It is not quite clear what does John the Baptist mean by the question, ‘Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? ‘He that should come’ may signify both (1) the ‘Christ’ or (2) ‘a Prophet like unto Moses’, because both had been waited for. Whom John (pbAh) had alluded to, is not clear. Jesus should have answered this ambiguous question in unequivocal terms and should have clarified his position once and for all. Instead of it Jesus is reported to have chosen a strange and non-specific style. He gives an ambiguous answer. He had nowhere claimed to be ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’ previously. But ‘Christ’ he was, of course, called by his disciples as has been mentioned in the NT for so many times. He, obviously, could have meant to say, ‘Neither have I ever claimed to be ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’ nor the works I have been performing are like unto Moses. So how can you take me as ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’? As to my being ‘Christ’, everybody knows it and my works also verify this status of mine.’

There is another clear-cut passage in Acts III, in which Peter clarifies that Jesus (pbAh) is not ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’; he is yet to come. He says:

Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration come which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets. Moses, for example, said, ‘From among your brothers the Lord God will raise up a prophet like me; you will listen to whatever he tells you. Anyone who refuses to listen to that prophet shall be cut off from the people.’ In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.[16]

The main features of this passage can be described as:

         1.   Peter advises the people that they must repent and turn to God, so that their sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort.

         2.   From ‘the time of comfort’ Peter means ‘when the Lord will send the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus’.[17]

         3.   Heaven must keep the Christ till the universal restoration come which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets.

         4.   One phenomenon of this ‘universal restoration’, for example, is, that ‘From among your brothers the Lord God will raise up a prophet like Moses.’

         5.   The people must ‘listen to whatever he tells them.’ Because ‘Anyone who refuses to listen to that prophet shall be cut off from the people’; [just like the people, who did not listen to Prophet Muh~ammad(pbAh), were cut off, as enjoined in Surah Tawbah of the Holy Qur’an].

         6.   In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted the advent of ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’ between the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ (pbAh).

Whatever the case may be, Jesus (pbAh) has never claimed to be ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’. It means that ‘The Promised Prophet’ was yet to come during the lifetime of Jesus Christ. Now it is only Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh), who fulfills all the requisite conditions of ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’. It is he who is the only prophet from among the brethren of Israel that has come after Jesus Christ (pbAh), and whom the Almighty Allah Himself has pronounced to be ‘like unto Moses’ as has been recorded in the Qur’an,

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًاOفَعَصَى فِرْعَوْنُ الرَّسُولَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُ أَخْذًا وَبِيلًاOفَكَيْفَ تَتَّقُونَ إِن كَفَرْتُمْ يَوْمًا يَجْعَلُ الْوِلْدَانَ شِيبًاOالسَّمَاء مُنفَطِرٌ بِهِ كَانَ وَعْدُهُ مَفْعُولًاOإِنَّ هَذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاء اتَّخَذَ إِلَى رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًاO[18]

Surely We have sent unto you a Messenger as a witness over you, even as We sent To Pharaoh a Messenger [‘Which Messenger had been sent to Pharaoh?’ Who doesn’t know that it was none other than Moses?], but Pharaoh rebelled against the Messenger, so We seized him remorselessly. If therefore you disbelieve, how will you guard yourselves against a day that shall make the children grey-headed?[19] Whereby heaven shall be split, and its promise shall be performed. Surely this is a reminder; so let him who will [,] take unto his Lord a way.[20]

The above dissertation affirms that ‘The Prophet like unto Moses’ had not come unto the time of John the Baptist (pbAh). Jewish scholars were waiting for him. Their inquiry from John the Baptist (pbAh) whether he was ‘that prophet’ testifies their wait for him. John the Baptist (pbAh) plainly explained that he was not ‘that prophet’. Jesus (pbAh) was the Christ and he never claimed or proclaimed to have been ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’. It means that there has not risen up ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’ among all the Jewish and Christian world until now. It is required that ‘The Prophet like unto Moses’ should have risen up in some reasonable span of time after Jesus Christ (pbAh). Ground reality is that:

            1.    Nobody has claimed to be ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’ so far except Prophet Muh~ammad(pbAh).

         2.   Nobody fulfills the prerequisite conditions and characteristics of ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’ except Prophet Muh~ammad(pbAh).

         3.    Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh)rose up as that prophet and he has practically claimed to be ‘A Prophet like unto Moses’ as stated above.

         4.    He fulfills the entire prerequisite conditions and characteristics of ‘That Prophet like unto Moses’.

If the claim of Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh), is not acknowledged and conceded to, then we shall have to affirm that the Bible is not true. It is now unto the reader to decide justly and carefully, because it has been warned by the Lord just after the very prophecy in the following words:

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he [the Prophet Like unto Moses] shall speak in my name, I will require[21] it of him.[22]