All stories pass the ultimate test of time. Many stories vanished and were forgotten before anyone ever bothered to waste a drop of ink on preserving their words. Other stories endured for centuries. From mouth to mouth, and ear to ear, they moved from one mind to another. Heart after heart pondered their meaning and their worth. And with every step, a verdict was repeatedly made that these stories were worth being preserved.
History tells us of one particular story that managed to gain immortal fame. That story endured for millennia; was told and retold by countless generations; was copied and recopied for centuries, leaving more manuscripts than any other ancient text. And ever since printing was invented, it remained the most printed text and the best seller of all times. It was translated into almost every tongue under heaven. Millions died to preserve its words. That story is written over the pages of the book famously known as the Bible, and it begins with the stories of the famous book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
By itself, the history of this book’s preservation should arrest one’s attention. Why did so many choose to preserve these words across the ages? What did they gain from reading and retelling its stories? Why did they choose to copy and recopy this text? Why all this attention and care? What is behind all this fame? Who wrote these words? And what is the secret of his or her irresistible charisma?
Finding an answer to these questions is not easy. For the stories of Genesis are old, very old; The saga of events older than humanity itself. Many of these events occurred long before humans even invented the art of writing. As such, the text itself provides us with precious light to understand the process by which its stories reached us.
There is a human dimension that was involved in writing a story of such magnitude. These words moved from parents and grandparents to children and grandchildren. They were told then retold for many generations. They were discussed among siblings and friends, students and teachers. Many minds shaped the words, and sculpted their form on every step of the way. Unimportant details were forgotten. Important ones were investigated and described with greater clarity. It was a vast and vigorous process that spanned centuries and involved many minds and multiple forms of communication. That process allowed the stories to acquire their unique timeless vintage flavor.
But even then, there was a need for prepared minds to collect these stories and give them their final polish and that refined literary treatment that they deserved. There was a need for one who was mighty in both words and deeds to become the chief editor of such a vast collection of words. That was when Moses appeared on the pages of that story.