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HORNS OF MOSES:

Owing to the representations of the old painters and sculptors, it has become a wide-spread belief that Moses, when he came down from Mount Sinai with the tables of the Law, had two horns on his forehead. This strange idea, however, is based upon a wrong interpretation of Ex. xxxiv. 29, 35, ("And behold the skin of his face shone"), in which means "to shine" (comp. Hab. iii. 4, = "brightness was on his side").

The old translations give = "shine," with the exception of Aquila and the Vulgate, which read "his face had horns." This misunderstanding, however, may have been favored by the Babylonian and Egyptian conception of horned deities (Sin, Ammon), and by the legend of the two-horned Alexander the Great (see the Koran, sura xviii. 85).

Bibliography:
  • Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. s.v.;
  • Dillmann, Commentary on Exodus, ad loc.
E. G. H. M. Sc.
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