WASHINGTON (JTA) — As the Burning Bush crackles, God is heard.
“Mow-zes,” God says in the mysterious mid-Atlantic accent that Hollywood once trained its actors to use — the one Anne Baxter as Nefertiti used to summon Charlton Heston’s Moses in the 1956 blockbuster “The Ten Commandments.” “Mow-zes, Mow-zes.”
That epic, earnest and seemingly endless film has much in common with the Museum of the Bible, the $500 million extravaganza gifted to the National Mall by one of America’s leading evangelical families, the founders of the Hobby Lobby chain.
The museum celebrates Jews and Judaism as the noble, beloved and even feared antecedents to Christianity, and argues that its best modern expression is in the State of Israel. And it makes the case that the Bible is not merely to be studied but to be believed.
Speaking at the dedication Friday, Steven Green, the president of Hobby Lobby and the museum’s chairman of the board, said museum-goers should come away realizing that the Bible “has had a positive impact on their lives in so many different ways and when they leave they will be inspired to open it.”
It especially celebrates the Bible’s Jewish origins, notably those made manifest in modern Israel. The dedication included a rabbi, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, the Israeli minister of tourism and the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
At times, the event seemed like a pro-Israel gala. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, celebrated the museum as a signifier of the Jewish claim to Jerusalem. The Bible nurtured Jews through 2,000 years of exile until they were able to “rebuild the original DC — David’s Capital,” he said.
Yariv Levin, the tourism minister,…