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Without disputing God's right to act as He had initially proposed toward the Israelites by destroying them for their rebellion, Moses told God that such an action would lead the nations occupying the Promised Land to attribute God's action not to His righteousness, but to weakness in the form of an inability to lead Israel to defeating them. Moses was thus, in effect, appealing to God's pride. (While pride is considered sin on a human level, God alone is entitled to it, because He is in fact all-powerful.) Moses also made an effective appeal in noting the promises that God had previously made to Israel, as well as God's higher qualities of love and forgiveness that God had repeatedly displayed toward the Israelites throughout their history, as arguments for God not to destroy the entire nation.
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