There are nine hundred and three sorts of deaths in the world; for the expression occurs (Ps. lxviii. 20), "Issues of death." The numerical value of "issues" is nine hundred and three. The hardest of all deaths is by quinsy, and the easiest is the Divine kiss (of which Moses, Aaron, and Miriam died). Quinsy is like the forcible extraction of prickly thorns from wool, or like a thick rope drawn through a small aperture; the kiss referred to is like the extracting of a hair from milk.
Berachoth, fol. 8, col. 1.
When Moses went up on high, the ministering angels asked, "What has one born of a woman to do among us?" "He has come to receive the law," was the Divine answer. "What!" they remonstrated again, "that cherished treasure which has lain with Thee for nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created, art Thou about to bestow it upon flesh and blood? What is mortal man
of earth that that Thou art mindful of him, and the son Thou thus visitest him? O Lord! our Lord! is not Thy name already sufficiently exalted in the earth? Confer Thy glory upon the heavens" (Ps. viii. 4, 6). The Holy One--blessed be He!--then called upon Moses to refute the objection of the envious angels. "I fear," pleaded he, "lest they consume me with the fiery breath of their mouth." Thereupon, by way of protection, he was bid approach and lay hold of the throne of God; as it is said (Job xxvi. 9), "He lays hold of the face of His throne and spreads His cloud over him." Thus encouraged, Moses went over the Decalogue, and demanded of the angels whether they had suffered an Egyptian bondage and dwelt among idolatrous nations, so as to require the first commandment; or were they so hardworked as to need a day of rest, etc., etc. Then the angels at once confessed that they were wrong in seeking to withhold the law from Israel, and they then repeated the words, "O Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!" (Ps. viii. 9), omitting the words, "Confer Thy glory upon the heavens." And not only so, but they positively befriended Moses, and each of them revealed to him some useful secret; as it is said (Ps. lxviii. 18), "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast captured spoil, thou hast received gifts, because they have contemptuously called thee man."
Shabbath, fol. 88, col. 2.
Nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created the law was written and deposited in the bosom of the Holy One--blessed be He!--and sang praises with the ministering angels.
Avoth d'Rab. Nathan, chap. 31.