The Mosesbrunnen (Moses Fountain) is a fountain on Münsterplatz in the Old City of Bern, Switzerland. It is a Swiss Cultural Property of National Significance and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old City of Bern.
The statue dates from 1544. After storm damage it was rebuilt in 1790-1791. The Louis XVI style basin was designed by Niklaus Sprüngli. The statue represents Moses bringing the Ten Commandments to the Tribes of Israel. Moses is portrayed with two rays of light projecting from his head, which represent Exodus 34:29-35 which tells that after meeting with God the skin of Moses' face became radiant. The twin rays of light come from a longstanding tradition that Moses instead grew horns.
This is derived from a misinterpretation of the Hebrew phrase karan `ohr panav (קָרַן עֹור פָּנָיו). The root קרן Q-R-N (qoph, resh, nun) may be read as either "horn" or "ray of light", depending on vocalization. `Ohr panahv (עֹור פָּנָיו) translates to "the skin of his face".
With apparent Biblical authority, and the added convenience of giving Moses a unique and easily identifiable visual attribute (something the other Old Testament prophets notably lacked), it remained standard in Western art to depict Moses with small horns until well after the mistranslation was realized in the Renaissance. In this depiction of Moses, the error has been identified but the artist has chosen to place horns of light on Moses head to aid in identification.
- Media related to Fountains in Bern at Wikimedia Commons