1. Was Moses an Egyptian?

In his first essay, Freud looks at the evidence for and against the case of Moses being an Egyptian, versus that which argues that he was indeed Jewish. The evidence in favour of Moses as an Egyptian concerns firstly his name - 'Mosheh' in Hebrew. In Exodus we are told that the reason behind it was that it means 'he who was drawn out of water', however it seems absurd that an Egyptian princess would derive a name from Hebrew, furthermore, when in the Egyptian vocabulary, 'mose' meaning 'child' was often suffixed to the father's name to form full names such as 'Amen-mose' meaning child of Amen etc. Even if Moses did originally have a prefix of his father's name it is not unusual for this to have been lost in current usage. However for various reasons - reverence for biblical tradition, or fear of the idea that Moses could have been anything but a Hebrew, have prevented this line of inquiry from being furthered - until now.

Otto Rank (1909) published a book concerning the fact that 'almost all the prominent civilized nations... began at an early stage to glorify their heroes, legendary kings and princes, founders of religions, dynasties, empires or cities, in brief their national heroes, in a number of poetic tales and legends.' He proposed that the 'average' legend, consisted of the hero being the child of most aristocratic parents, his conception preceded by difficulties, and during pregnancy a prophecy cautioning against his birth, usually threatening danger to his father. As a result of this the newborn child is condemned to death or to exposure and given to someone - or often to the water in a casket. Afterwards he is suckled by a female animal or humble woman, and on growing up takes revenge on his parents and is acknowledged for fame - or subtle variations of this - e.g. Romulus, Sargon of Agade etc.

However with Moses things were quite different - his family was modest - the child of Jewish Levites, but his second family rather than humble, was aristocratic. This deviation has puzzled many, however it seems most likely that the only way that Moses' Hebraism could be legitimately concluded was if he was from a poor family, as if he were descended from the Pharaoh, he would doubtless have to have been Egyptian. So Freud proposes that Moses was in fact an Egyptian, probably an aristocrat, whom the reversed legend was designed to turn into a Jew. Freud then proceeds to look at the far-reaching prospects of this proposition, especially in its relation to the motives that may have lead him to obtain the grasp of the possible basis of a number of laws and religion that he gave to the Jewish people.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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