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The story of the finding of the infant Moses is told in the Old Testament (Exodus 2: 1-10). Pharaoh had ordered the death of all male infants of the Israelites, and to save her child Moses' mother set him in an 'ark of bulrushes' in the river where he was rescued by the Pharaoh's daughter.

Later Moses led the Israelites out of their Egyptian captivity, in search of the promised land (Exodus 14: 19-31). It was to Moses that God dictated the Ten Commandments, on Mount Sinai, written on two tablets of stone, which were the basis of Mosaic law.

Moses is usually depicted as having a long white beard and either rays of light around his head or a pair of horns on his forehead, the result of a misunderstanding of the Latin translation of the Bible, where cornutam ("horned") also means rays of light.

Moses is sometimes seen as having prefigured Christ; cycles of his life were painted, the best known being that in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.