I believe some form of Moses existed but that, like Jesus, the story is greatly embellished, manufactured, etc. such that you can easily pick out certain aspects and disprove them, and thus many will say that person didn’t exist. However, just because you say you saw a guy with size 20 sneakers before, doesn’t mean size 20 doesn’t exist and it doesn’t mean the guy you saw had feet that big because you likely didn’t physically take his measurements.
But part of the reason I believe he existed is that, again, the story is so bad at certain parts, that it’s hard to believe (for me) that it was completely made up. And so I think Moses was simply a bad guy, like a pre-Hitler or a pre-chairman Kim, who used lies and deception to make the Hebrews believe that the god of their forefathers was the same God that he (alone) was introducing to them. We buy into this just like they did but there’s no reason to believe YHWH is the same God as the original “EL” who was more likely closer to the El, Ol, Al, of several large groups of people whereas perhaps Jethro was the one who influenced Moses that he could do this. And this is where, in my opinion, the mountain storm god that had another name to the Canaanites at large, was influenced by a man who likely lived near a mountain that may or may not have been active at one point in time. There were volcanoes in the middle east region however, I’m not saying this is where the eruption happened that fueled the YHWH mythology, but rather the Santorini eruption was so massive in scale that it was visible in this region; and visible to the extent that it would be weird for no one in that reason to write about it.
And since they were superstitious, which shouldn’t be a bad word, they would have looked to apply some meaning to the event. In other words, they couldn’t resist imagining that their god had something to do with what they saw and they really didn’t understand what they saw because not everyone gets to see a live volcanic eruption. I’ve only seen them in pictures. So imagine what these people were thinking when they saw a light on the horizon without seeing the mountain it was hovering over. And likewise the cloud.
They were far enough away not to recognize it for what it was. Villages who live closer to volcanoes often have a much different, much clearer understanding that it is more natural but, because of superstition, believe they can appease the god so that the volcano doesn’t erupt. Of course, whether it erupts or not has nothing to do with anything they could do but with the right kind of biases in place that wouldn’t matter to their beliefs.
So the Israelites could have been led by a volcano to the direction of a completely different mountain; one that Moses was already familiar with and had traversed with Jethro. And since no one saw anything from Moses going up to the top, Moses could have told a story of seeing something as if he was at the top of an active volcano, seeing that fire as the “hind parts” of God.
There was no way Moses could have survived the air at the top of an active volcano so no, that’s not where he was. But he didn’t need to be there. He already had the story of the burning bush. All of this “fire” elemental narrative simply ends after this period. Why? Because the whole narrative was based on a once-in-a-lifetime event.