Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Moses an Egyptian?

After I finished my second posts on Akhenaten and monotheism it came to me that I am not finished with this subject, not in the least I might add.
As written in my first post on the subject, Sigmund Freud was the first to argue that Moses was in fact an Egyptian and an Atenist priest. He even comes close to suggesting Moses and Akhenaten was one and the same person. If this thesis is true, this could mean that after ruling Egypt for 17 years, Akhenaten did not die but he was the one that leaded the Israelites out of Egypt during the Exodus. Taking this one step further, could mean that as some think the mummy found in the tomb KV55 is not Akhenatens at all but we should search for his body in the plains of Moab at the foot of Mount Nebo. Understandably this all sounds rater farfetched at first glance but so does the thesis that Moses was an Egyptian and not a Hebrew. I am just at the beginning in my search for answers on this subject but am sure that in the end I will not know the truth but just one or more possible truths.

In part one of “Moses and Monotheism”, “Moses an Egyptian” (1934) Freud gives several reasons for his believe that Moses was an Egyptian, the first being the origin of the name Moses.
Chapter ii of the book Exodus tells us he was given his name by the Egyptian princess that saved him from the water of the river Nile, giving the explanation “because I drew him out of the water”. Moses, written as Mosche in Hebrew means “He that was drawn out of the water”. At first glance this seems a logical explanation but how high are the chances of an Egyptian princess having knowledge of the Hebrew language?
The book “History of Egypt”, written by J.H. Breasted looks at it a bit differently stating Moses is an Egyptian name originating from the name Mose which means ‘child’. The final ‘s’ is an addition drawn from the Greek translation of the old testament.

In his search for prove of the fact that Moses was an Egyptian, Freud compares the myth of Moses with the theory written in the book “Der Mythus von der Geburt des Helden” written by Otto Rank. This book deals with the fact that “almost all important civilized peoples have early on woven myths around and glorified in poetry their heroes, mythical kings and princes, founders of religions, of dynasties, empires and cities in short their national heroes. Especially the history of their birth and of their early years is furnished with fantastic traits; the amazing similarity, nay, literal identity, of those tales, even if they refer to different, completely independent peoples, sometimes geographically far removed from one another, is well known and has struck many an investigator.”

According to Rank the myth of a hero in many cases follows the same line. Starting with the birth of the hero being the son of parents of the highest station and most of the time even the son of a king. During the mothers pregnancy or even before that and oracle or a dream warns the father great danger will come of the birth of his child. This results in the father (or someone representing him) giving the order to kill the child or put it in grave danger which in most cases means that the child is put in a casket and delivered to the waves.
After that the child is saved by animals or poor people, suckled by a female animal or a woman of humble birth. When the child is full grown and after many adventures he rediscovers his parents and wreaks vengeance on his father. After that he is recognized by his people and attains fame and greatness.
The first to whom this myth attaches is Sargon of Argade the founder of Babylon (c.a. 2800BC) but there are more like Karna, Heracles, Moses etc….
But the myth of Moses stands apart, he is a child of Jewish Levites. The second family, according to the myth the humble one in which the hero is brought up, is in the case of Moses a family of high standard, the royal house of Egypt.
This divergence has struck many researchers as strange and have brought them to the conclusion the original myth must have been different. A pharaoh being warned by a prophetic dream that his daughter’s son would become a danger to him and his kingdom. This being the reason for the child shortly after birth being delivered to the waters of the river Nile and being found and saved by Jewish people that are to bring up the child. “National motives” according to Rank could have been the motive for changing the original myth to the form now known to us.
The myth of Moses has to be from Jewish or Egyptian origin. But the Egyptians had no reason to glorify Moses, to them Moses was not even an hero. So the legend has to be of Jewish origin, that being a problem too in its “original” form because the Jewish people have no reason to have an Egyptian as their leader.
To Freud the possible origin of the name Moses and the analysis of the myth of an hero projected on the person of Moses are not enough prove for the possibility of Moses being an Egyptian and there is a need for at least one other fixed point like proof of the period into which the life of Moses, and with it the Exodus from Egypt, fall would have sufficed but there is none. This brings us to another way of looking at Moses, “If Moses was an Egyptian……”

Moses and Monotheism – Sigmund Freud

and Akhenaten – Ahmed Osman