2. If Moses was an Egyptian...

(1) If Moses was an Egyptian, Freud addresses the problem of what would induce an aristocratic Egyptian - a prince perhaps, or a priest or high official - to put himself at the head of a crowd of immigrant foreigners at a backward level of civilisation and to leave his country with them. The well-known contempt felt by Egyptians for foreign nationals makes such a move unlikely - probably why historians have accepted that his name was Egyptian, and ascribed to him all the wisdom of the Egyptians, but felt that Moses was not actually Egyptian. How did this single man create a new religion? Let alone one so different from the Egyptian religion of many deities. So from this first analysis that the religion that Moses gave to the Jews, was far removed from the Egyptian one, implies that he did more than simply try to educate them into the ways of the Egyptians.

(2) A second possibility is that Moses gave the Jews, a religion that was nevertheless his own, that it was an Egyptian religion, though not the Egyptian religion. This is supported by the fact that the Pharaoh of about 1375 B.C. set about forcing a new religion on his Egyptian subjects - a strict monotheism, however his reign only lasted for seventeen years, and after his death in 1358 B.C. the new religion was swept away. In his religion however he had simply taken the very ancient name of the sun God Aten, or Atum and developed the already developing idea of a universal god. Indeed the king even changed his name from 'Amenophis' to 'Akhenaten' to incorporate this name, and eradicate that of a detested god 'Amun'. Freud continues to emphasise the contrasts between this new religion and the popular Egyptian religion.

(3) On the basis of what has been discussed before, Freud proposes that if Moses was an Egyptian and communicated his own religion to the Jews, then it must have been Akhenaten's, the Aten religion. So having looked at the opposition between the Jews religion and the popular Egyptian religion, he now looks at the similarities and differences between that of Aten and that of the Jews. At a glance he notes that the name Aten (or Atum) sounds very like the Hebrew word for Lord Adonai. Both are forms of strict monotheism, their fundamental shared characteristic. Their essential difference is to be seen (apart from the God's names) in the fact that the Jewish religion was entirely without sun worship, in which the Egyptian one still found support. Furthermore, in the same way that Akhenaten formed his religion in deliberate hostility to the popular one, in the case of its attitude to death and life after death, we find that the Jewish one also has nothing to do with the next world, though a doctrine of that kind would have been compatible with monotheism. Freud takes this as a very strong point of agreement between the two religions.

A second strong point of agreement is that Moses not only gave the Jews a religion, but he also gave them circumcision. The evidence shows that the Jews could only have got the custom of circumcision from one place - namely Egypt, since it had long been indigenous there and no other Eastern Mediterranean people seem to have practised it. This circumcision would also play a similar role for Moses and his new people, as it had for the Egyptians - as a sign to keep them apart from the foreign people among whom their wanderings would take them, just as the Egyptians themselves had kept apart from all foreigners. Additionally, since it seems likely then that circumcision was an Egyptian custom introduced by Moses, that would be as much as to recognise that the religion delivered to them by Moses was an Egyptian one too - since there were good reasons for denying that fact, there were good reasons for contradicting the truth about circumcision too.

(4) At this point Freud acknowledges an objection to his hypothesis, namely that this would place Moses, an Egyptian, in the Akhenaten period - his decision to take over the Jewish people derived from the political circumstances in the country at the time. However Freud argues that it must not be supposed that the fall of the Aten religion brought the monotheist current in Egypt to a complete stop - thus the action of Moses is still conceivable even if he did not live at the time of Akhenaten, but rather in the time of a follower of the priesthood of On (the other name of the sun god) who survived the fall. Thus the Exodus is brought back to its usual date (around the 13th century B.C.).

In contrast, Meyer (1906) proposes that Moses is the ancestor of the priests of Kadesh, and intimately bound up with Midian and the cult-centres in the desert. Furthermore he proposes that Moses, being the son-in-law of the Midianite priest, is secondary to the interpolation of Moses in the legendary story -

  By PanEris using Melati.

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