Photo courtesy of Sidney Janis Gallery, NY/VAGA

Moses (right) and his older brother Aaron (left) bear the symbols of their authority as lawgiver and high priest in a painting by American folk artist Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946). Despite their prominence in the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, neither was permitted to enter the Promised Land. The Torah, the five books of Moses, offers not one but two explanations for this puzzle, as author William H.C. Propp shows. In one authorial strand, the Deuteronomic account, a guiltless Moses suffers exclusion because of the sin of the people he leads. The generation that fled Egypt was condemned to die outside the Promised Land because they doubted God’s power after hearing the fearsome report made by scouts sent into Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:19–46). In another authorial strand, the Priestly account, both brothers are kept from the Promised Land because Moses dishonors God while performing a miracle at Kadesh (Numbers 20:1–13).