If you watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress this week, you noticed that he ended the speech with a reference to Moses’ message to the Jewish people to “be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.” As he did this, Netanyahu pointed out the sculpted image of Moses hanging over the congressional chamber. Yediot Achronot provides the interesting story of the marble relief of the biblical figure that overlooks the American legislature:
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referenced several cultural, political, and historical figures throughout his highly-anticipated speech to Congress on Tuesday March 3 – including Harry S. Truman, Queen Esther, Robert Frost, and Elie Wiesel – he concluded his historical address with the biblical figure of the prophet Moses.
The Israeli prime minister did not just mention Moses in passing, he also pointed to the image of Moses in the form of white Vermont marble relief, hanging over the gallery doors overlooking the lawmakers in the House of Representatives Chamber.
It was probably the first time that the marble relief portrait of Moses hanging in the House Chamber ever received such public acknowledgement …
The image of Moses and other leaders of civilizations and societies have been hanging in the chamber for 65 years. Scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Historical Society of Washington DC chose the subjects with the help of authoritative members of the Library of Congress over six decades ago.
A special committee of five Members of the House of Representatives and the Architect of the Capitol approved the selection, and the reliefs were installed when the House Chamber was remodeled from 1949-1950.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at the end of his speech quoted Moses from the Book of Deuteronomy, stating in Hebrew, “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them,” which were the leader’s parting words to the Israelites before they entered the land of Israel.
For Netanyahu, they were words that highlighted the strength of friendship shared by the United States and Israel, two countries with a deep respect for the timeless road of history and the challenges along the way.