Why Moses Has Horns (And Other Translation Errors)
If you’ve spent time studying Old Testament iconography (and who hasn’t?), you may have wondered why Moses is often depicted with horns after having talked with God on Mount Sinai and descended with the ten commandments.
Why the horns? It’s the result of a faulty translation of tricky language from Hebrew to Latin. The more apt description of Moses’s countenance upon his return from the mountaintop is probably “glorified.” However, the translator, St. Jerome, wandered into usage of the term “horned.” Hence Michelangelo’s version of Moses, right, is which the prophet appears somewhat goat-ish.
Today in a modern healthcare environment, you can take this as yet one more example of how translation and interpretation can get seriously off the tracks. For a more thorough airing of this and other, similar blunders, see 9 Little Translation Mistakes that Caused Big Problems.