Festival stamps 5742 (1981)Festival stamps 5742 (1981)Festival stamps 5742 (1981)Festival stamps 5742 (1981)

  • Issue: August 1981
  • Designer: A. Glaser
  • Stamp size: 20 x 51.4 mm
  • Plate no.: 18 - 21
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

(IS O.70) "The bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed" Exodus 3:2

While grazing the flocks of Jethro his father-in-law in the wilderness of Sinai, the ageing Moses was amazed to see a bush ablaze but unharmed. Fascinated by this remarkable sight, Moses turned to look at it more carefully, when God spoke to him from the midst of the bush saying: "Moses, Moses, draw not nigh: put thy shoes off from thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground".

Afraid and overawed, Moses for the first time held direct communication with the Lord. He became God's messenger, who was to be instrumental in leading the Hebrews out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

Centuries-old folklore places the site of the burning bush, thought to be a plant called Acacia Nilotica, or the Egyptian Thorn, where the present Monastery of St. Catherine now stands at the foot of Mount Sinai, known also as Mount Moses or Jebel Musa. Built in the sixth century by Justinian and Theodora his wife, this great fortified monastic complex includes the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Here, behind the apse, is a small chamber housing a reliquary with the bones of the martyred saint, and here, it is said, is the exact spot where the burning bush once flamed.

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(IS 1.00) "Let my people go!" Exodus 5:1

Moses, like every male Israelite infant, had been condemned to death by royal edict, but was rescued from the Nile by Thermuthis, an Egyptian princess who adopted the child and brought him up at the royal court. Exodus tells how the adult Moses killed an Egyptian during a quarrel, then fled to Midian and joined the household of Jethro, a Midianite priest. Moses married Zipporah, one of Jethro's daughters, and acted as shepherd to his father-in-law's flocks.

Leading his sheep to pasture, traditionally in the Sinai desert, a reluctant Moses heard the Lord's voice insisting he return to Egypt, confront Pharaoh and demand the release of the children of Israel. "I am not eloquent", pleaded Moses, "I am slow of speech", and begged that someone else be sent. "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses", who finally agreed, and together with his brother Aaron, approached the Egyptian monarch asking for the liberation of the Hebrews. Pharaoh refused, and Egypt was smitten by the first of the ten plagues.

Nine times more was Pharaoh unsuccessfully petitioned; nine times the Egyptians suffered for their ruler's obstinacy. However, with the execution of the tenth plague - the slaying of the firstborn - Pharaoh "called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up and get you forth from my people". Exodus 12:31

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(IS 3.00) "But the children of Israel walked upon the dry land in the midst of the sea..." Exodus 14:29

One of the ,many miracles recorded in the book of Exodus relates to the crossing of the Red Sea, which the Israelites passed as if on dry land, while the pursuing Egyptians were overtaken and drowned in the resurgent waters.

The story begins when Pharaoh eventually agreed to release the Hebrews, who hurriedly fled with "the Lord before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light". Exodus 13:21. However, no sooner were they on their way than the king of Egypt regretted the loss of his army of semi-slave labourers and, at the head of 600 chariots, set off in pursuit.

It was then that God caused a strong east wind to blow all night, exposing the sea bed over which the refugees walked dryshod. When Pharaoh and his men reached midstream, the wind stilled, and the waters "returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh". Exodus 14:28. Overjoyed at this God-given victory, Moses - not only a leader but a poet and writer - composed and sang the Song of Moses, a lyric of praise for the exaltation of the Lord.

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(IS 4.00) "... with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand" Exodus 34:29

During Moses' first encounter with God, when he spoke from the burning bush, the Lord instructed Moses that "When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain" Exodus 3:12. This divine prophecy came to pass seven weeks after Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt, celebrating the Passover as they left slavery behind. Taking the difficult route through the wilderness to avoid clashes with the Philistines on the shorter coastal road, the children of Israel encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses had seen the bush "burning and not consumed".

Here, on the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) or the Festival of the Giving of the Law, the Lord descended on the mountain crest in a thick cloud and, through Moses, addressed the assembled congregation. He enunciated the tenets of the Ten Commandments - until today the basis of order, law and justice in all civilized countries - and inscribed them on two tablets of stone. Then Moses was bidden to "make an ark of acacia wood: ... and overlay it with pure gold... and put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee". Exodus 25:10-16.

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Festival stamps 5742 (1981)