Figures of Prominence in the Old Testament Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein 8 - Moses The Moses story has been the subject of a couple of films; the C.B. DeMille one is seen on TV every spring, and the musical video version, Prince of Egypt. In brief, Moses, a Hebrew, was put in a water-tight basket as a baby and set afloat on the Nile, because all the Hebrew boy babies were being killed. He was saved from the river by the Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised as a prince until one day he saw an overseer flogging a slave; he killed the overseer and buried him in the sand, then ran away to the desert, where he joined a tribe of Midianites and married the daughter of the priest. While tending flocks in the desert, he heard a voice calling to him from a burning bush; it identified itself as “I am that I am,” or rather as Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh (YHWH), the Hebrew letters meaning, “I am that which is, was, and ever will be.” It told him to go back to Egypt and take a message to the Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go free. Moses didn’t want to do it, saying, “I am slow of speech,” (by this time he was 80 years old!) but God insisted. So Moses went back to Egypt and linked up with his blood brother Aaron, who went with him to Pharaoh’s court. And there he turned his rod into a serpent as a sign that he was powerful. Pharaoh’s court magicians then turned their rods into serpents, too, but Moses’ serpent ate their serpents. However, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (by God, who wanted the give several signs of His power), so Moses had to bring several plagues onto the people of Egypt. After the death of all the first-born children, Pharaoh let the Hebrews go, but then changed his mind once more and sent soldiers after them. Moses had to part the Red Sea for the children to cross to the other side, and he was just closing it back again when Pharaoh’s soldiers were in the middle of the sea bed, so they all drowned. The following are some points of similarity with earlier things we’ve examined: Moses went into the desert prior to being tapped as one of God’s chosen leaders; the desert experience is another form of ego death. He had an experience of spiritual enlightenment in his encounters with the Burning Bush. With the rod/staff he took to Pharaoh’s court (implements that actually belonged to his brother Aaron), we see another parallel with the rod/staff/tree and serpents, for when Pharaoh’s magicians threw down their staffs and turned them into snakes, his staff turned into a snake that ate their snakes. Is this story telling us something larger than life about his use of power and energy? When the pharaoh wouldn’t let the children of Israel go, Moses brought 10 plagues to Egypt, the last of which was the Angel of Death taking the first-born children of all families; the Jews were to put lamb’s blood on the doorposts so that the Angel of Death would pass over their houses. Hence, the origin of the celebration of Passover. There are some parallels among the stories of Moses, Akhenaten, and Oedipus. Freud actually wrote about all three, although he never drew the connections or suggested they all might have been the same person. But a group of French psychotherapists have made the connection from the parallels in their stories. Very briefly, other scholarship has suggested that some of the Hebrew patriarchs were in fact pharaohs of Egypt; if the suggested timeframe for the patriarchs was just a hundred years different, the great kings of the Hebrews would have lived at the same time as the pharaohs with whom their stories are parallel, so there is a project afoot to test the DNA of some of the royal mummies to see if it matches the DNA of the Hebrew people. Further, both Akhenaten and Oedipus were associated with cities called Thebes, and there was a lot of incestuous intermarriage in the families of Egypt, so the physician researchers have suggested Akhenaten was the source for the Oedipus story. The association with the Sphinx is also a link to Egypt. As for the similarities among Akhenaten, Oedipus, and Moses, it has been suggested that they may have all been the same person because of the following: o Both Moses and Akhenaten were monotheistic; Akhenaten worshipped the Aten, or sun; Oedipus was also associated primarily with Apollo, who was the Greek sun god. o Both Moses and Akhenaten were connected with the royal house of Egypt, the principal city of which was often in Thebes (the Egyptian one). Oedipus lived in Thebes (the Greek one). o Akhenaten is not among the former pharaohs who were mummified; where did he go? Egypt had had a growing problem with a plague for almost a hundred years. After Akhenaten became so unpopular, the researchers posit he was tapped to lead a group of plague victims into the desert and keep them there until they all died. Hence the source of the story of the Hebrews being 40 years in the desert! Afterward, in his old age, he supposedly went back to Egypt and moved the Israelites en masse to their new homeland. Oedipus also wandered in the desert with his daughter Antigone after he had blinded himself. He reached a “promised land” at the end of the play Oedipus at Colonus, when he was told his burial site would be a blessing for those who gave him sanctuary. o Oedipus and Akhenaten were involved in incestuous relationships. o All the stories involved plagues: for Akhenaten it was 100 years of plagues; for Oedipus a great plague; and for Moses 10 plagues. o Also, Oedipus encountered a sphinx, which is strongly associated with Egypt. For more detailed information on this subject, go to Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily