FOOD FOR THOUGHT: "Ignorance is an outlook on life."
YOU ARE IN DARKNESS.
by Mudarras Kadhir Gaznavi
THE HERO: 'MOSES' OR 'MO-USE' OR 'MOSE' OR 'MOSHE'
Was he an ordinary man or a messenger?
Was he a Midianite?
Where does his Egyptian connection come from?
I began with some of the questions related to this personality, who is described as the most famous of all the messengers in history. Questions are numerous, but before giving answers let us begin with what we know: The introductory story of the birth and upbringing of Moses in the Pentateuch (First five books of the Old Testament) is decorated with mythical and legendary motifs. He was said to be the son of Amram and Yochebed (Numbers 26:59). He was born when the Israelites, who had come to Egypt under Yosef, were under the Egyptian oppression. A new pharaoh came to the throne and said unto his people;
"Behold the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we" (Exodus 1:8) and gave orders to two midwives to kill every newborn Hebrew male child; then pharaoh charged all his people to drown every male child (Exodus 1:22).
But the mother of Moses had other thoughts. She was determined to save him alive. She placed Moses (he was three months old) in a basket (or ark) made of bulrushes, at the edge of the river where pharaoh's daughter came to bathe. The princess took pity on the child, whom she adopted as her own and called him Moses.
Egypt is thought to be the most likely origin of Moses. But was he an Egyptian? Moses sounds like an Egyptian name. The persons presented as his brother and sister, Aaron and Miryam, are thought to be later additions to the story (Exodus 15:21). Miriam is the person with whom is connected the oldest piece of literature in the Old Testament - Song of Miryam. What we know as the song of Miryam (Exodus) is said to be a genuine example which has come down to us from the Late Bronze period (13th century B.C.). After all, what Israel has managed to hold in memory before the arrival of writing was almost only pieces of poetry and some stories. The song of Miryam may have become a hymn by numerous additions to it over hundreds of years. It may have been expanded and enlarged, and turned into the hymn of Moses: It is about the passage of the children of Israel through the 'Sea of Reeds'. The text sounds, nothing but a probable memory of a storm. There is nothing divine(!) about it. We are told that Moses grew up, and aroused in an environment where his kinmen in Egypt were under persecution. So, he killed one Egyptian in their defence and fled to Midian and married the daughter of a Midianite priest there. He also took part in Midianite worship. In later history Midianites have become Israel's enemies (Judges 6-8). But the story in Exodus 18:12 is the evidence of a cultic comradeship between the Midianites and Israel.
Moses married to Zipporah/Tsippora, the daughter of a Midianite priest called Yetro. But there is something wrong here. In Exodus the name of the father-in-law is given first as Jethro (Yetro), then as Reuel; in Judges 4:11 his name is given as Hobab. But in Numbers 10:29 Hobab is presented as the son of Raguel the Midianite. So, who is he? Who is Raguel? Shouldn't we have Reuel instead. Surely this must be an error! Therefore;
Either Moses had three wives, thus three fathers-in-law, or;
There were two other persons in the Old Testament who were also called Moses(!), in other words we have three characters called Moses, or;
Maybe this father-in-law had three names.
I know that this argument is ridiculous! But there's more. Read Numbers 12:1:
"And Miryam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."
What is this? Didn't he marry Tsippora/Zipporah the Midianite as we are told in the Exodus story? Either he married again in the meantime and this Ethiopian woman is his second wife, or Zipporah may have died, or they may have separated or divorced. Maybe Midianites were Abyssinians (Ethiopia was Abyssinia then) or Midian in reality may have been Abyssinia(!). All of this is nonsense. They are pure inventions and fabrications. Any way, Zipporah or this Abyssinian woman, whoever it was, gave Moses two sons, Gershom ('a stranger here') and Eliezer ('my El helps'). Especially the second name shows that YHVH wasn't around yet, and El was the god of Moses. On their leaving Midian (Exodus 4:24) a strange incident happened. 'Something', an entity called YHVH (or, an angel as in the Greek version) attacked Moses and threatened to kill him. Zipporah circumcised Moses and saved his life (for an interpretation check the story on Prophet Abraham, page three).
According to the official story of Judaism, while grazing the sheep of his Midianite father-in-law Moses chanced upon the 'sacred mountain', Sinai (should be mount Horeb), which obviously was a frequented place of pilgrimage. There he experienced(!) the presence(!) of god. Mountains are very important and popular in almost all of the ancient cults, faiths and belief systems. The supreme entities are believed to have dwelt on a special mountain or descend on it either to establish some sort of a communication with the mankind or to reveal themselves to chosen persons (messengers) to give a divine law. The blackberry bush (Hebrew seneh) on mount Sinai (Horeb) was 'enwrapped' in fire which did not consume it, and out of it Moses heard the words of the supreme entity mediated to him by a heavenly being. In fact a new deity, which called himself YHVH appeared to Moses. He was unknown to Moses until this event. But Moses has understood him to be the same god as the one worshipped by his Hebrew ancestors. There Moses received(!) a new revelation while at the same time the continuity of Hebrew religion (the line starting with Av'ram) was preserved. What a story!
Then, the famousrebellion by the people, the followers of Moses is thought to have taken place on the slopes of the mount Sinai (Horeb). When Moses was up the mountain receiving the supreme entity's orders(!), the people down on the lower ground persuaded Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship, the supreme entity sent Moses down, people stood against Moses, the rebellion was put down by force and blood.
A covenant between YHVH and Israel is established. Then comes the40 years in wilderness, at the end of which Moses and his people arrive at the borders of the Promised Land, but because of what happened at the Valley of Jezreel, Moses was banned by the supreme entity from entering the Promised Land. Moses went up mount Nebo, saw the 'land' from afar, and died there, as ordered by his god -YHVH.
This is the possible shortest story of"a man called Moses.
MOSES AND THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Old Testament is the only source we could consult if we are dealing with the story of Moses. One can not find him in any other source. The Old Testament covers a period of nearly 1,200 years if we reckon from the Exodus, or nearly 2,000 years if we reckon from the time of the patriarchs. The Old Testament largely reflects the varied history of the people of Israel. Tradition is that the first five books of the Old Testament was written by Moses. Well,if it is the Old Testament don't ever believe right away what you are told. Read again, read the whole of it. See all those absurd utterances, contradictions. Read the statements giving away the ulterior motives, get bored with the repetitions, and think again, how a person could write his death while still alive, as Moses wrote of his own death in Deuteronomy. It is impossible. He has to go through his last moments to write down what has happened. Which means that he could start writing his last moments only after his death. Can you imagine? Well, the historical research done on the Old Testament has shown the world decisively that Moses is not the writer of the Pentateuch anyway. These first five books were brought together by collecting and writing down the Oral Tradition which has been in circulation for hundreds of years. These are the findings:
Thelanguage used in the five books is not coherent.
There are contradictions and repetitions.
There are differences in the fundamental theological tenets.
These three points show that various writers were involved in the writing of the first five books of the Old Testament. There are two writers who are described as the 'J' and 'E', because 'J' insists on using the word Jehovah/Yehova, whereas 'E' uses Elohim for the name of the god. Deuteronomy is written by another writer who is usually called 'D'. Then came the writer 'P' (denoting the Priestly Tradition) who started writing after the Babylonian exile. His interpretation of the events narrated by 'J' and 'E' were inserted into the Pentateuch. 'P' added two more books, Numbers and Leviticus. 'P' contributed to the Old Testament also by writing the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. In writing this creation story he used portions of the Assyro-Babylonian epic of creation Enuma Elish according to his wishes. In short 'P' has edited Enuma Elish, and 're-created the creation' which was already done by the Babylonian thinkers thousands of years before their era. Therefore, it is clear that various sources were used in the collection of these books, and different people wrote different sections at different times. I shall try to deal with the Old Testament later on but here I suffice by saying that the Old Testament is definitely a collection of various materials from the region. That material was interpreted and written down by different authors. The whole understanding of being a nation was fashioned around a concept of a pivotal supreme entity, which is again based on personal perceptions and interpretations of natural phenomena, dreams, visions etc.The Old Testament's real beginning and foundation is contained in Exodus. If you were you thinking about Genesis as the beginning you were wrong. The Old Testament is the book of god, is it not? It is also the book of the 'chosen people'. Then the beginning of the book should be with an established relationship between the 'lord' and the 'servant' in human terms. The beginning should be with the covenant.. Exodus is based on that covenant between the supreme being and Israel. Throughout this migration called Exodus the supreme being makes known of his power and his determination to liberate his people. The law in Exodus and Deuteronomy is basically the simplified version of the laws of Hammurabi. Proverbs of Shlomo (Solomon) and many Psalms are based on ancient Egyptian literature. When taken together Exodus and Leviticus summarize the establishment of Israel as god's covenant people and the enactment of the cultic and other laws that were to mark Israel's life as a covenant people. And the rest, in short, is mythology and some information on the history of Israel.
THE STORY OF MOSES
Now let us start our journey through these events.
Moses, Mo-use, Mose, Moshe?;
Was he Egyptian or Hebrew?
According to some scholars Moses lived at the time of Ramessu II (Rameses,Ramses, Ramesses), which was not only a period of oppression and forced labour for Israel, but also a time when Moses, the great liberator of his people, has appeared:
"..and it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren....he slew Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Now when pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of the pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well..." (Exodus 2 ff.).
But Moses could also be an Egyptian name, where it means simply boy, son. There are pharaohs called Ah-mose, Thutmose, Thut-mosis. Was he not the person who gave freedom to Israel? Did he not give them their law and found their religion?
The concept of a 'man called Moses' (This is how he is called in the Old Testament, Numbers 12:3) goes back to such ancient times that the first thing needed is a research to establish whether he is an historical personality or a mythical hero. The first clue we have could be his name. Some scholars say that Moses was a Hebrew, who was brought up by the Egyptians. His name could be connected with a Semitic root meaning 'bring out, take out, remove, extract'.
The name is Moshe in Hebrew. If we go by the inference in the Old Testament and go along with the Hebrew elements, Moses can be separated into 'mo' and 'use'. 'Mo' is water, 'use' means save. So 'mo-use' may be translated as saved from the water. Which could be taken as a reference to Moses being found in a basket in the river Nile (Exodus 2:10). M. Soloweitschik in Jüdishes Lexicon wrote: "The Old Testament's interpretation of his name, 'taken out of water,' is a popular etymology, and it does not fit the active form of the Hebrew word, because Moshe could only mean, '(who) takes out.'"
On the other hand, J. H. Breasted in his work titled The Dawn of Conscience presents another approach: "It is important to see that the name Moses is Egyptian. The original of this word is 'mose' in Egyptian, which means 'child.' It is the shortened version of names like 'Amen-mose' (child Amen) or Ptah-mose (child Ptah). It is beyond doubt that Moses' father gave his son an Egyptian god's name like Ptah, Amon, and this name became shortened in time and turned into 'Mose'."
We know that the 's' at the end of 'Moses' is an addition originating from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This addition does not exist in the Hebrew version. If the name is Egyptian a lot of people should settle down for the option that the person is Egyptian as well. But no historian has done that. Though the reason is impossible to establish it may be due to the greatness of their respect for the Old Testament or the thought that Moses may not be a Hebrew is repulsive for them.
The Old Testament connects Israel's entering into and coming out of Egypt about 400 years later, to two Egyptian Israelites. One of them was the chief minister in Egypt and the other was the adopted child of a princess who has joined the pharaoh's entourage, but never forgot his origin. To the first one (Yosef) the ruler gave an Egyptian name - Zafenat-paneah. The name of the other one could be translated as 'born child' or 'seed of the water', 'came from the water' - Mose (there were no vowels in the Egyptian writing, so many pronunciations are possible). Admitting that this name was given by the pharaoh's daughter, the Old Testament interprets this story in line with the Hebrew mythology, and writes that the name means 'taken out of the Nile'. The story of 'Moses in the bulrushes' is picked by the general public. This story tells us that Moses' mother gave birth to him, and in order to save his life, put the baby in a basket which was covered with pitch, and put the basket in the river Nile. He was discovered later in the water, taken out, and raised by a second family. But I must point out that this story could be used also as a valid argument against the credibility of Moses himself, because the birth story of Moses is identical with the birth legend of king Sargon of Agade (Sharru-ken/Sharrum-kin). King Sargon is the founder of the Semitic dynasty of Akkad (Babylon) in 2360 B.C. As we have seen elsewhere superior(!) people like Sargon usually tell their stories themselves. Well, aren't we led to believe that the Pentateuch was written by Moses himself? That is the rule and King Sargon is not an exception.
In cuneiform texts Sargon say the following about himself: "I am Sharru-ken the powerful king, the King of Akkad. My mother was an Enitu princess, I did not know any father. ..My mother conceived me and bore me in secret. She put me in a little box made of reeds, sealing its lid with pitch. She put me in a river...The river carried me away and brought me to Akki the drawer of water. Akki the drawer of water adopted me and brought me up as his son..."
The similarity between this account and the Old Testament story of Moses (Exodus 2) is striking. But one thing troubles the mind. There is no pitch in Egypt. There is pitch in Akkad, Babylonia. This 'basket' story, is a very old Semitic folk tale. It was handed down by the word of mouth through many centuries. The legend of Sargon of the 3rd. millennium B.C. is found on neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets of the 1st millennium B.C.
In addition to this confusion about the name, it is also impossible to form a coherent picture on the historical personality of Moses.This myth about the birth of Moses being identical with the Sargon of Agade, may be due to the children of Israel's positive feelings about Sargon's story when they became aware of it during their Babylonian exile. We wouldn't be far off if we say that they must have liked the story and adapted it to Moses.
Everything we read about Moses in the Old Testament has the characteristic of the adventures of a mythological hero. So, as I have brought to your attention earlier, the hero is born and lives despite the father's will to the contrary. Leaving in a basket out in the open is the unmistakable symbolism of birth. Basket is the uterus and the water the basket is left on is the amniotic fluid. In almost all the cases which could be tested, the family which leaves the newborn out in the nature is fictional but the family which finds the newborn and raises him is real. If we accept this rule, everything related to the mythical story of the birth of Moses becomes clear.Moses is an Egyptian, most probably an aristocrat, but the myth made him Jewish. Is there anybody out there with a different proposition?
There is a crucial point which separates this myth of Moses from the others. In those myths the hero raises his position progressively. But the myth of Moses exhibits a lowering of the status of the hero. His life starts as an aristocratic hero and falls down to the level of the sons of Israel.
FANTASTIC BIRTH STORIES
The birth stories and theincidents in the early lives of the leaders of nearly all the ancient civilized nations, exhibit similarities. Sometimes it is beyond similarity, where an almost perfect fit could be seen between the stories of these peoples of far away countries, with completely different origins, cultures, and traditions. These leaders are sometimes heroes, sometimes fantastic kings, princes; sometimes founders of a religion, a kingdom, an empire or a city. By creating these stories these peoples begin exalting their heroes. Why do they do it? Here are some suggestions:
They feel the need to have an extraordinary founder of their existence; they feel the need to create a leader figure, superior to the ordinary people; they look for an excuse for their bowing down to the authority; they look for something that would separate them from their neighbours (But they must have been unaware of the fact that their neighbours were doing the same thing).
According to Otto Rank, the births and the early lives of these leaders were decorated deliberately with fantastic characteristics. If we want to build up an average myth for these leaders, this is what we get:
Hero is the child of an aristocratic family of the highest grade. Before the conception their mothers, fathers were having difficulties due to abstinence, long lasting infertility, very old age or secret sexual intercourse because of external prohibitions and hindrance. Beginning with the period of pregnancy, or maybe earlier, there exists a prophecy (in the form of a dream or revelation) which forewarns the hero's birth, and generally contains a threat to the father. Based on this prophecy the newborn is condemned to death or to abandoning out in the open by an order from the father or a representative of his. As a rule the newborn in a basket is left in the water. Later on the newborn is saved by poor persons or an animal, and suckled by a female animal or a poor woman. When the hero becomes a grown-up he finds his aristocratic family, takes revenge from his father, wins the acceptance of the family, and becomes very successful and famous.
The earliest historical person who became the subject of such a birth myth was the founder of Babylon, kingSargon of Agade (Sharru-ken/Sharrum-kin). Sargon's birth myth is identical with the birth myth of Moses. Those who have similar birth myths are, Cyrus (Cyrus the Great, the Persian king), Romulus (A son of Mars, and legendary founder of Rome), Oedipus (A son of Laius and Jocasta who in fulfillment of an oracle kills his father and marries his mother), Karna (A hero in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata), Paris (A son of Priam whose abduction of Helen leads to the Trojan war according to Homer's Iliad), Perseus (The son of Zeus and Danaë and slayer of Medusa), Heracles (Hercules. A mythical Greek hero fabled for his great strength and especially for performing twelfe labors imposed on him by Hera.), Gilgamesh (Sumerian Gil-ga-mes. The king of Uruk and hero of the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh to whom is related according to the epic an account of the global flood that covers the earth), Amphion (A musician who built the walls of Thebes by charming the stones into places with his lyre) and Zethus (One of the twin sons of Zeus by Antiope. Brother of Amphion. A hunter and herdsman). Would you like some more examples?
Let's continue with more personalities;Moses was the leader of the Hebrew tribes who gave them the Ten Commandments. Manu was the person who laid down the social and religious laws in ancient India. Manes was the lawgiver in ancient Egypt. Minos was the Cretan who codified in ancient Greece the laws he has learnt in Egypt.
Manu, Manes, Minos and Moses, four man, all belonging to the same archetypal pattern, great contributors to humanity. Each gave a law and established a community of priests. Though the weapons was the most powerful law for the primitive peoples, these cultural and spiritual leaders supposedly got their strength from a superior being. Men like these are surrounded with a mystery and their human origin becomes transfigured. They were considered messengers who have communicated supposedly the word of a supreme being. Why they and not the others? Because these were historical or mythical leaders who were the only ones around to explain, within the knowledge of their times, the why and how of the events of the prehistory. There was nothing divine(!) in it. They were either clever individuals or characters invented by other real persons to put across their personal views. What about the similarity of the names?
THE FIRST CASE OF MONOTHEISM?
At the end of the 18th dynasty Egypt becomes an imperialist state. With this imperialism comes the monotheism.God is the reflection of the pharaoh who is the absolute ruler of a great world empire. The influence of the priests of the Sun-god in On (Heliopolis) increases with the ideas coming over from Asia, and the idea of an universal god appears. The name of this god is Aton/Aten, who is not bound by a single country or people. Then a young Pharaoh comes to power in Egypt in 1379 B.C. Like his father he is called Amenhotep (IV) ('Amen is satisfied'). Later he changes his name to Akh-en-aton. He introduces an orthodox monotheism, the first example of its kind in history. But Akh-en-aton's belief system has lasted only 17 years.
The new god of this monotheistic era had to go beyond the boundaries and spread his sovereignty to the occupied lands. Amenhotep was a loyal follower of the Sun cult. He worshipped the Sun not as an object but as a symbol of a divine being whose energy is manifested as rays of light. He introduced for the first time the 'exclusion factor' (his god was the only god with no other) which transformed the doctrine of a universal god into monotheism. In one of the hymns he says: "O, Sole God, there's no other God beside you!" According to Akh-en-aton what is said about the other gods were all lies, and deception. He totally rejected the illusion of afterlife, which was very important for the Egyptians. Aton/Aten belief system banned everything connected to myths, magic, and witchcraft. According to Weigall,"..all the formulas, and gadgets related to magic were burned. Jinns, satans, monsters, spirits, demi-gods, demons, even Osiris was burned to ashes." Akh-en-aton accepted the energy of the sunlight as the source of life on earth, and worshipped this energy as a symbol of his god's power. There was no other representation or a personal image of the Sun-god 'Aten/Aton'. Akh-en-aton did not allow the making of the images of the Sun-god. The king said that the real god has no form, and has kept his position until the end of his life.
Here is an observation which deserves attention: "Churches have become the ground for atheism. Atheism begins with the emergence of monotheism. In the western intellectual culture, atheism's roots are within the self-alienation of the religion." Akh-en-aton is the first registered atheist in the history of mankind. Despite the fact that Akh-en-aton has worshipped the sole god, the Sun-god Aten, he was accused by his son-in -law, - who replaced him - with atheism, because he had rejected the official deity. The originality of Akh-en-aton was his 'monotheism with the sun at its focus.' Akh-en-aton banned all the other gods and insisted on his Sun-god to be worshipped as the sole god . He was really a monotheist but he was accused of anti-theism first, then with atheism. Buckley relates a marvellous hymn of the Aton/Aten cult:
"..O Sole God with no equal. You created the world as you wished, alone; Everything on earth, men, herds, wild animals, stood on their feet and everything in the sky took to wings (because you wished so)."
Here, it is very important to keep in mind that Akh-en-aton has worshipped one god, the sole god; Aton belief system banned everything connected to myths, magic, and witchcraft; Sun was the only representation of god, because Akh-en-aton did not allow the images of the Sun-god; the king said that the real god has no form; and there was an absolute silence about Osiris and the kingdom of death, the afterlife. Akh-en-aton's example was the first attempt at monotheism, which has very important points for the second attempt, the original Mosaic faith.
THE SHADOWY PERIOD BETWEEN THE EXODUS AND KADESH-MERIBAHLet us go back to the second monotheistic attempt. Firstly, we have to summarize an interesting proposition by Sigmund Freud. Who was Moses? Let’s assume that he was an Egyptian. Could we find any kind of evidence which would show that a character named Moses, who did what he was said to have done in the Old Testament have actually lived in Egypt? No! Because there is no mention of a man called Moses anywhere except in the Old Testament and in the commentaries on it. But this does not mean that there would be no suppositions or propositions. According to some, Moses could have been the governor of one of the frontier regions of Egypt, most probably the region of Goshen where the Semitic people were living. Flavius Josephus in his work titled Jewish Antiquities, which seems to be connected to the prophecies (folklore which are not included in the Old Testament prophecy) tells about an Egyptian general called Moses participating in a war in Abyssinia, which ends in victory. This Egyptian general makes an agreement with the Semitic tribes, then he leads them, and accomplishes the Exodus by his strength and will power. This migration may have ended without fighting and pursuit. Moses' authority would have made this possible since there was no higher authority in the region than his.
The sole destination of this migration would be the Land of Canaan. The Aramaeans had invaded Canaan then, following the collapse of the Egyptian authority. Thus they showed that a determined and resourceful people could win a new homeland for themselves. These Aramaean invaders were called ‘Habiru’ in the letters found at the ruins of Tell-el Amarna. But this name (Habiru=Hebrew?) was given to the Hebrew invaders who could not have been mentioned in the letters found at Tell-el Amarna. Some researchers claim that Hebrew comes from Eber who is supposedly among the forefathers of Abraham. One should know that the list of them could be extended(!) as far back as Noah. Starting with the name Habiru these people were thought to be the ‘Hapiru’ mentioned in the records of the ancient Babylon, Tell-el Amarna, Nuzi, Ugarit and Bogazköy. In the Egyptian records they appear as ‘Apiru’. But these people called Hapiru are described as oppressors, mercenaries, captives, public workers, rebels, and slaves as well. They are thought to have been doing the odd jobs of the settled community. They could not be connected with any nation or religion. Therefore they were described as ‘nomads living in the desert.’ They could not have been Hebrews.
Some others say that the word Hebrew comes from the Hebrew word ‘ibri’ meaning ‘people from across’ or ‘people from the other side.’ This name is said to have been given to them in Egypt. Another interesting point connected to the origin of the Hebrews could be seen in Joshua 24:2: “..Thus said the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.”
If they were living on the other side of the flood, in other words, if they were ‘ibris’, could they have been the forefathers of the Hebrews? Could this be an attempt to connect the Hebrew tribes with the Bahram the Mandai, who has been presented to us as Av'ram, Abraham and Ibrahim?
The period between Exodus and the invasion of the land of Canaan is not clear. The supposition is that Moses had imposed on the people with him the laws thrown out by the Egyptians - laws of Akh-en-aton, and the doctrines of the Aten/Aton religion. These moral rules may have been much more orthodox than the ones put into effect by Akh-en-aton. Moses may have given up the Sun god which Akh-en-aton had worshipped, and replaced it with the sole god of his thinking.
Those who were looking into this period between Exodus and the invasion of Canaan have found two clues:
First one is the trace of a bloody event mentioned in the Old Testament, found by Ernst Sellin, who supposes that the people who came out of Egypt have rebelled and killed the ‘man called Moses’.
The second clue is about the coming together of the Semitic tribes coming out of Egypt with their next of kin in Kadesh (Kadesh-Meribah) situated between Palestine, Sinai peninsula and Arabia.
Exodus must be towards the beginning of this period and the reunion should be closer to the end. Kadesh-Meribahis an oasis with numerous water sources. The Semitic tribes accompanying Moses are thought to have adopted a new religion by the influence of the Midianite tribes living there, and started worshipping the volcano god YHVH. This coming together and the adoption of a new belief system must have taken place between the 13th and 12th centuries B.C. Then what about the story in the Old Testament, which relates the giving of the law on mount Sinai? Did this momentous(!) event take place at Kadesh or on the mountain in Sinai (Horeb)?
The supposition that the children of Israel had risen against Moses and killed him sounds really fantastic. But it shouldn't be. Moses, with his character shaped by the Akh-en-aton doctrine employs an identical method with the pharaoh, imposes his belief with force on the people and makes them accept it. Moses' doctrine may have been harsher than the doctrine of Akh-en-aton. Moses could not have relied on the Sun god for support, because the On (Heliopolis) cult had no influence at all on his 'people of foreigners' (The Semitic group of people he has taken out of Egypt). But like the people of Egypt who could not put up with the 18th dynasty of Akh-en-aton and his religion, also thechildren of Israel could not put up with a religion unworldly to this extent, and could not respond to the necessities of this belief system. In both cases the Egyptians and the children of Israel, who were oppressed and whose needs were not met may have rebelled eventually and toppled this unwanted belief system imposed on them. Egyptians have waited until the destiny removed Akh-en-aton from the stage, but the Semitic group of people may have taken the matter in their hands and removed the tyrant (Moses) from their head; and consequently renounced this new religion.
The story told in the Old Testament, which is as follows: This Semitic people persuade Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship, and Moses "breaks the stone tablets in rage", and begs YHVH for mercy. Here 'breaking the stone tablets' could not be taken literally. Could you believe in Moses breaking the stone tablets on which god has written the Commandments with his finger? No. Therefore there must be a symbolism in this expression. But where? By being unable (as the action of the people shows us) to get his people accept this new god, which resulted in them going back to the worship of the golden calf means that Moses has violated the first two commandments of his god: "You shall have no gods before me...You shall not make unto thee any graven image or likeness of any thing." So, the meaning is clear: By being unable to force his will on his people he caused this uprising against him and his god; "Moses has violated the Law." This rebellion was suppressed, according to the scholars well versed in this subject, with much bloodshed by the Levites (Exodus 32:26-29). It was only after this victory that the worship of YHVH was reinstated. YHVH was in a terrible rage, and wanted to wipe out this rebellious people. Moses interceded, and conversed with the god face to face(!) in the tent of meeting containing the tabernacle, and the god's forgiveness is heard when Moses shouted "YHVH, YHVH, a god merciful and gracious" (Exodus 34:6). The merciful and gracious part of this formula appears exactly in Islam. After all it is the same god, is he not?
But our question is still valid: Where actually did this bloody event take place? In Kadesh or Sinai? The ignorant peoples of the time have attached great importance to mountains. Therefore an event which have actually taken place in Kadesh may have been projected to the majestic setting of a volcano called mount Sinai (Horeb), which admittedly should have been much more impressive and befitting YHVH. In those days inventing myths and getting the incognizant people to accept the out-of-this-world stories was simple. Myth and daily life were inseparable. What is disturbing is the fact that those credulous people still exist today.
I have mentioned earlier that YHVH has banned Moses from entering the Promised Land because of what had taken place at Jezreel. What has happened at Jezreel? There is a story in Hosea 1:4-5 where god gives orders to Hosea: "..Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."
Something very important must have happened in Jezreel (which was Esdraelon previously, not far from Kadesh), because YHVH is in rage. What was that terrible event in Jezreel? It must also have been a bloody event because the god is after an avenge with blood. That 'blood of Jezreel' must have been a very important blood. A 'blood' the spilling of which has necessitated punishment in like. Could that blood have been the blood of Moses? Could Moses have been killed there? No! Moses was dead already. The person killed in Jezreel was Saul, who was killed in the battle with the Phillistines.
Eduard Meyer is of the opinion that the adoption of a new religion by the Semitic tribes coming out of Egypt was because of the Midianite tribe. Sigmund Freud thinks that the bloody event that resulted in the death of Moses must have taken place before the coming together of the tribes. Because if Moses had been present at the reunion, the subsequent belief system would have been different. For instance, the concept of the sole god originating from where Moses came does not fit YHVH. YHVH is a volcano god worshipped by the Midianite tribes, and the Old Testament story told in the mount Sinai (Horeb) setting is the narration of a volcanic eruption in writing, decorated with mythological and divine motifs. There are no volcanoes in Egypt. But there are volcanoes along the western borders of Arabia. These volcanoes were active until recent times. Arabs call river Jordan (Yordan-Erden) as Shari'at al Kebira, the 'Great River,' and the valley it flows through is called the Jordan Valley, which is only a part of a huge fracture in the Earth's crust. The subsidence has released volcanic forces that had been lying dormant deep down along the whole length of the fracture. In the upper valleys of the Jordan near Bashan there are still the towering craters of extinct volcanoes; great stretches of lava and deep layers of basalt have been deposited on the limestone surface. This fracture enters the Gulf of Aqaba and extends to Ethiopia and beyond. The western shores of the Gulf is the eastern shores of the Sinai peninsula, and mount Sinai is situated on the southern tip of this peninsula. There is repeated evidence that this fracture along which the two continental plates brush past each other and move in opposite directions have produced violent earthquakes, subsidence and disturbances on the Earth’s crust. In one of these cases of subsidence produced by an earthquake 4500 years ago, the southern extension of the Dead Sea-Sea of Arabah moved further south when the methane gas coming out of the cracks exploded and the resulting heat and movement turned the ground to a flowing mass of sand which went under the waters of the Dead Sea. Bible records this event - the Sodom and Gomorrah story. In those days of incognizance this event was narrated as the destruction of the sinful cities by a divine intervention.
There must have been a large number of people with Moses when they left Egypt. But it wouldn't be wrong to assume that only a small section of the Jews have gone through the events in Egypt. In other words the tribe coming back from Egypt has joined the other tribes of the same stock, which were living for a long while in the region between Egypt and Canaan (Promised Land). Read the Old Testament and you will realize immediately that numerous different elements have come together in the formation of the Jewish nation. But the main factor creating the difference was having or not having gone through the events in Egypt and in the days thereafter. This dividing line naturally leads to the formation of two different groups, which may be seen in the later division of the nation into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
We are still searching for that bloody event, and in order to be able to solve the mystery we have to find another Jezreel first.
Sinai and Horeb are accepted generally as different names of the same mountain. We read about Kadesh and Meribah in various places in the Old Testament (Numbers 20:1, 20:13, 20:14, 20:16, 20:24). According to Eduard Meyer the name given to the intermediary between the god and the people was Moses. Whose father-in-law was the Midianite priest Yetro. Moses has received divine(!) messages as he grazed the flock of Yetro. Yetro has visited him in Kadesh and advised him on certain matters (Exodus 3:1; 18:2-27). Eduard Meyer goes on with his hypothesis:
"The Moses we know is the ' father ' of the priests of Kadesh. He comes from a genealogical myth; he comes to the fore due to his attachment to a cult,; he is a figure who is not historical (not real). Therefore apart from those who accept the origin of the belief as an historical fact, no one was able to fill him with content and present him as a concrete individual, and explain his deeds or what was his historical role."
In short, Meyer is of the opinion that this Moses is just a figure. But he becomes a person, the 'man called Moses' in the Old Testament. Meyer continues, "Moses is closely related with Midian and the cult centers in the desert. Inseparably linked with Kadesh (Massah and Meribah), and presented as the son-in-law of the Midianite priest." This last point is an additional support for Meyer's theory; Moses' connection with the Exodus and the story about his youth is secondary. In other words they are there as a result of Moses' integration with an unbroken and mythical story. According to Meyer the stories about Moses' youth were dropped completely:
"...The 'Moses' in Midian is no longer an Egyptian or the grandchild of a pharaoh. He is a shepherd to whom YHVH showed himself. He played no role in the Exodus. He is not mentioned in the downfall of the Egyptians. The heroic personality ceases to exist with the later Moses. He is only a subject of the god, and a performer of miracles provided with supernatural powers by YHVH."
This later 'Moses of Kadesh', one of the Midianite clan, who makes a figure of brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9) to cure the snake bitten people, could have nothing to do with the aristocratic 'Moses the Egyptian'. Because he was the one who imposed a religion which banned with severe punishments all kinds of magic and witchcraft. The only outcome that Eduard Meyer has established of the Egyptian connection is the tradition of circumcision. He gives us further clues to this end: Joshua (Joshua 5:5-9) orders his people to have their foreskins cut off, and circumcises all the children, then YHVH says "..This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt off you."
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