Who was the real Moses?

Posted on April 13, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

With Moses and the Death of Heresy, Sonoma author Seth Beale takes readers back to the beginning, to the foundation of what became Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

Passover, which starts April 15, focuses on Moses’ “greatest hits,” says Beale. “But our sense of Moses’ legacy will forever change when we finally look at the shadow-bound sections of his story.” 

 Exploring the life and legacy of Moses led him to some unexpected places, admits Beale, a life-long student of religion, both academically and in religious communities. “Around the world, the narratives of his life are being used to justify hospitality and kindness, but they are also being used to justify hostility and violence.”

 Writing as JMS Beale, the author opens the book with a biography of Moses that goes beyond the familiar. In plain language, he examines how and why Moses’ legends have been changed across the past 3,000 years. 

“Moses does not resemble how he was first understood,” Bea;e contends. “We can look at the biblical story of Moses, with deep respect for its content, and arrive at profoundly different conclusions about him and his legacy.”

For Beale, Moses transformed religion into a matter of life and death. “We all live in a world subsumed by the consequences of this shift.”

Beale leads readers into an ancient world filled with Moses’ ancestors and contemporaries. 

“Before Moses, religion was a casual experience throughout the Mediterranean region.” Beale continues. “Since the time of Moses, laws and commandments have coerced us to live in the tight confines of religion that contain threats of punishment. It is our right to reclaim, and experience, actual freedom of religion.”

Beale and his wife Jessica moved to Sonoma from San Francisco during the early months of the pandemic. They have two children. And their grandmother, Jessica’s mom Kathleen McIntyre, lives nearby in El Verano.

 Moses and the Death of Heresy is available at Readers’ Books in Sonoma, via online retailers, and as an audiobook. Find more details at



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