«Most commentators have simply said that Jerome mistranslated "keren" as "horned" rather than "radiant." But Bena Elisha Medjuck, a McGill University Department of Jewish Studies graduate student, offered a more complex explanation in his 1988 thesis "Exodus 34:29-35: Moses' 'Horns' in Early Bible Translation and Interpretation." Medjuck explains that Jerome was well-acquainted both with the variant meanings of "keren" and with the prevailing translation of his contemporary Jewish scholars – with whom he consulted! Jerome chose the "horned" translation as metaphor faithful to the text: a depiction of Moses' strength and authority, and a glorification of the Lord! Jerome even explained this in his accompanying commentary!
Horns were almost universally viewed by ancient civilizations as symbols of power, not as the negative or demonic symbols they became for Christians thousands of years later. For example, both Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun were described as wearing horns. Mellinkoff reminds us that horned helmets were often worn by priests and kings, with the horns connoting that divine power and authority had been bestowed upon them.
Moreover, in his book Did Moses Really Have Horns? (URJ Press, 2009) Rabbi Dr. Rifat Sonsino reminds us that the Hebrew Bible contains many other references to "horns" as symbols of power and authority....»
Ki Tissa: Moses' Horns: Not a Mistranslation > Rabbi Dr. Art Levine