The Horns of Moses

Take a close look at Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses in Rome and you will notice two strange protrusions on his head: horns. Some historians credit a mistranslation of ancient texts for the common practice in the 16th and 17th century of depicting Moses with horns, but closer analysis reveals this may not be the case.

The translation hinges on the word “keren” which was used to describe Moses’ face upon encountering God and can be translated as “horned” or “radiant” among many other meanings. Scholars suggest that St. Jerome didn’t make a translation error, but rather chose the word “horned” over “radiant” because when he was translating in the 14th century, horns were a symbol of power and honor.



We are not responsible for the contents of external links. Full disclaimer can be found here.


Information sources:

http://taylormarshall.com/2013/08/the-horns-of-moses-defending-michelangelos-horned-moses.html
http://rabbiartlevine.com/Home/tabid/2652/ID/840/Ki-Tissa-Moses-Horns-Not-a-Mistranslation.aspx

Photo Credits / Sources:

By Goldmund100 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Related Posts

  • In the 1600s an Ethiopian emperor by the name of Fasilides (1603-1667) built a large…

  • Many historians believe that it was partially an influx of rats that led to the…

  • The Benin Kingdom in modern day Nigeria was founded in 1180 and continued to exist…

  • The ampersand symbol ("&") is a longtime favorite of designers and typographers. The odd, curvy…