8

Sh'mot 34:29 tells us that when Moshe came down from Har Sinai with the second set of tablets he did not know that קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו בְּדַבְּרוֹ אִתּוֹ -- horns of light were on his face from his speaking (with God). The gentile sculptor Michelangelo depicts them as short, knobby horns, similar to those that young goats have, if this city-dweller understands correctly. But that's not very stately, not the sort of thing you would expect as a divine symbol, and anyway we shouldn't trust the source to be familiar with our mesorah. Oh c'mon, the same guy painted God as a man, as if such a thing were possible! So surely this work has no hechsher (unless it's this one).

So the horns probably didn't look like this:

michelangelo

But what did they look like? Perhaps they looked like ram's horns, to remind us of the call of the shofar at Sinai even after the people moved on from there:

ram's horns

But that seems impractical if we assume that he needed to be able to lie down and sleep each night for the next forty years. So maybe the horns were more like this:

viking horns

But if so I can't determine what meaning we should take from it, nor have I found any source that might support it.

So maybe all of these are wrong. And anyway, it says on his face (panav), not on his head (rosho), and none of this reflects that.

What did Moshe's horns look like, and how do we know?


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closed as off-topic by Monica Cellio Mar 27 '16 at 4:19

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  • 1
    Did you mean to say "oh c'mon, the same..."? I highly doubt the O-Cmon would have certified Michaelangelo's works – Double AA Mar 10 '16 at 1:54
  • @DoubleAA you're right; thank you for that suggestion. Of course the O-C' would not certify such a work. – Monica Cellio Mar 10 '16 at 1:56
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    @DoubleAA and Monica, that's what the O-Cmon_CHAZER_TREIF is for. The crowd can come up with chumras, too! – Isaac Moses Mar 10 '16 at 2:22
12

You translated "קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו בְּדַבְּרוֹ אִתּוֹ" (Ex. 34:29) as "horns of light were on his face from his speaking (with God)", but in fact it means "a horn was on the skin before him during His speaking with him". A few notes about this verse:

  • First and most obviously, Moses was speaking to God on a cell phone, and the cell phone had a skin.
  • The skin caused the cell phone to look like a horn — that is, a landline phone. You see, Moses didn't have his filter yet, so of course wasn't using the Internet on his phone, as it's completely forbidden without a filter. In order that people shouldn't think he was using the Internet, he dressed his cell phone up as a landline phone.
  • While Moses was speaking on the phone, it was "before him", i.e. not at his ear. This is because he was using his phone to videophone with God, as the verse says (Ex. 33:11) "וְדִבֶּר ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים / God spoke to Moses face to face".
  • Rashi to 34:29 notes that this was Yom Kipur. How, you may ask, did Moses justify using his cell phone on Yom Kipur? Well, he figured it must be okay to use a cell phone, since, after all, God had asked him to bring the Jews two tablets.
  • 1
    Way to be mekayim this mehadrin min hamehadrin – Y     e     z Mar 11 '16 at 3:39
  • 1
    Can you videochat from a landline? – Double AA Mar 11 '16 at 5:22
6

This is all a big misunderstanding. Michelangelo got the idea that Moshe had horns because he mistranslated the verse you cite. In Latin keren sounds like cornu (corno in Italian), the word for horn.

So Moshe didn't have horns at all and none of your options are correct. Instead Moshe was equipped with light-rays (keren ohr), somewhat similar to this picture

superman using laser eyes

Some say these light-rays had previously been used by Moshe to disintegrate the Golden Calf in fire as the passuk (Shemot 32:20) says

וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶת־הָעֵ֨גֶל אֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשׂוּ֙ וַיִּשְׂרֹ֣ף בָּאֵ֔שׁ
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire

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