To escape the edict of Egypt's Pharoah, Rameses I, condemning all newborn Hebrew males, the infant Moses(Charlton Heston) is set adrift on the Nile in a reed basket. Saved by the pharaoh's daughter Bithiah(Nina Foch), he is adopted by her and brought up in the court of her brother, Pharaoh Seti. Moses gains Seti's favor and the love of the throne princess Nefertiri(Anne Baxter), as well as the hatred of Seti's son, Rameses(Yul Brynner). When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where he marries, has a son and is commanded by God to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. In Egypt Moses's fiercest enemy proves to be not Rameses, but someone near to him who can 'harden his heart'.