Monday, June 13, 2005

Who was Abraham? (20)

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.

In Who was Abraham? (19), we discussed the allegorical incident in the Book of Exodus, where after nearly three decades of Horemheb’s rule, Moses or rather Akhenaten tried to reclaim his Pharaonic rights. To validate his claims of kingship he showed his Pharaonic sceptre with the brass serpent. And as the Bible narrates, his serpent swallowed the serpents of the Egyptian Pretender, demonstrating allegorically his more solid royal credentials.

Incidentally, Ahmad Osman author of Moses and Akhenaten quoted the Haggadah, the legendary part of the Talmud, that the rod which Moses used ….. was shaped and engraved in the image of a sceptre”.

He also stated that the Hebrew word used to describe Moses’ staff was nahash, meaning both ‘serpent’ and ‘brass’.

Osman made particular mention of the biblical author of the Book of Exodus writing in Aaron rather than Moses as the thrower of the serpent-staff when in front of the Egyptian, whereas Moses did it by himself when he was with God. This was undoubtedly a deliberate attempt to distance Moses as far as possible from the royal Egyptian symbol.

Moses serpent rod was worshipped with incense in the Temple of Solomon until the time of King Hezekiah, who broke it up as part of his religious reforms (with political overtones).

"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake into pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan." (2 Kings 18:4)

The term Nehushtan might have also implied that the worship of serpents was of ancient date in Israel.

The Koran presents Moses as the one who cast the serpent-staff in front of the Egyptian court. We will discuss the Koranic version later.

The other proof of Akhenaten’s royal rights to the throne was again presented as another allegory in the Bible. Moses was apparently taught by God (apart from showing off his serpent-staff) what he had to do in front of the Egyptians:

“And the lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.” (Exodus 4:6)

Then he did the movement again, and the hand became normal. (Exodus 4:7)

And significantly God gave him this assurance:

“And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, then they will believe the voice of the second sign.” (Exodus 4:8)

It seems that the second trick, the hand signal was more important than the serpent sceptre. Ahmad Osman explains why.

The Egyptian kings celebrated the Sed festivals to rejuvenate their powers, which included rituals that required the showing of the serpent rod and secret hand signs. 

In his book, Osman provided an example of scenes found in royal tombs to confirm these rituals. Only the Pharaoh and his high court officials could recognise the secret hand signals of the king.

The movement God supposedly taught Moses was eventually demonstrated in front of the people - presumably the relevant court officials, even though the Bible states ‘children of Israel’, which not surprisingly could be another disguising attempt by the biblical author of Exodus.

Again, probably as another masking intention, the Bible does not have, contrary to God’s instructions, Moses demonstrating the hand signals in front of the Pharaoh. The Bible states:

“And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel;

And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.

And the people believed; and when they heard that the lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.”
(Exodus 4:29 to 31)

On the other hand, the Koran had no such qualms showing Akhenaten or Moses demonstrating the secret hand signs in front of the Pharaoh and court officials.

To be continued ……..

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