Thursday, April 21, 2005

Who was Abraham? (10)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

My recount of Sigmund Freud’s investigation into Moses is based on a third party source, from Keith Laidler’s book ‘The Head of God’.


So Moses was left by his mother in a floating basket along the banks of the Nile.

“And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.” (Exodus 2:4)

The Egyptian princess came along and discovered him, knowing straightaway he was a child of the Hebrew slaves.

“Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” (Exodus 2:7)

Freud did not believe the story of Moses’ sister Miriam approaching the daughter of Pharaoh with an offer to look after the baby, whom the princess had then just picked up from the river, for the obvious reason it was impossible for a slave girl to ever approach any member of the Egyptian royalty unless he or she allowed it. Her personal bodyguards would not only have prevented that but probably made mincemeat out of Miriam.

The Egyptian royalty was matrilineal. This means that ascension to the Egyptian throne was decided by who married the principal daughter of the Pharaoh, thus explaining why sons of Pharaohs married their sisters to hold on to the throne. Should the crown princess marry someone outside the family, then that outsider and not the son of the previous Pharaoh would become the new Pharaoh.

Freud was absolutely correct in his observation that a girl of the depised Hebrew slaves would never ever have a chance of approaching a member of the Egyptian royalty, let alone such an august personality who was heir to the throne of Egypt.

“And the child grew, and she brought him unto the Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:10)

Again, Freud thought that name and the biblical explanation of its significance was very dodgy. Freud was a Jew, so he knew a few things about Hebrew names. For the Hebrew baby’s name to bear the meaning the Pharaoh’s daughter intended, he would have been called Moshui, and not Mosche (Moses).

(I’ll stop here on the issue of names as the technicalities of Jewish names are best left to people who know Hebrew, but suffice to say Freud knew an etymological error when he saw one)

Freud also considered that it was utter nonsense to credit an Egyptian princess with knowledge of Hebrew etymology.

In Egyptian the name Mose means child. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the extra s was added to its end. The name Mose was patently Egyptian and a very popular one too in compound names.

One hears of Amon-mose, Ahmoses, Tutmoses, and Ra-moses (or Rameses).

Remember these names well, for we shall hear of some of them again.

Freud also knew that circumcision was an Egyptian rite called Sebi, that predated the Hebrew custom. The father of European history, Herodotus mentioned this in his first volume of Histories. Archaeologists noted the many mummies and wall paintings discovered, bore testimony to Herodotus revelation. Laidler mentioned that during biblical times the Semitic tribes were known as the uncircumcised, while most Egyptian males, particularly highborn and priests, subscribed to the rite-practice.

Why then would Moses, if he was Hebrew, impose an Egyptian custom on his Semitic people?

Freud remarked:

“If Moses gave the Jews not only a new religion but also the law of circumcision, he was no Jew but an Egyptian, and the mosaic religion was probably an Egyptian one.”

Laidler commented that on the face of it, there was one problem to Freud’s assertion. The Egyptians were polytheist, and thus monotheism was not an Egyptian practice. From the 1st Dynasty until the last, lasting some three thousand years, the ancient Egyptians worshipped many gods.

With one exception …

In those 3,000 years, for a brief 20-year period during the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, coincidentally around the time of the Exodus, a Pharaoh considered to be religiously heretic did practise monotheism.

The Pharaoh was Amenhotep IV, or more famously known as Akhenaten.

To be continued ……..

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